Mr. Speaker, today we saw in Quebec's major newspapers an advertisement in which Health Canada refers to "the act", and I mean the government's anti-tobacco "act".
First, this advertisement is false and affects the privileges of this House. Indeed, the ad suggests that the House has passed Bill C-71. The fact is that, while the government did its utmost to gag the opposition regarding this issue, the act has yet to be passed.
The Speaker of the House made an interesting ruling on October 10, 1989, regarding a similar situation concerning a GST ad, when the legislation had not yet been passed. The Speaker ruled, and I am quoting page 4461 of the Hansard :
-if your Speaker ever has to consider a situation like this again, the Chair will not be as generous. This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur. I-remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy-
In 1989, when the Liberals formed the opposition, they had welcomed the ruling made by the Speaker of the time. Therefore, I am asking the Minister of Health to apologize in this House, on behalf of his department, for the false advertisement which he authorized and paid for with taxpayers' money.
Moreover, I believe I can get the support of the House in asking the Minister of Health to pay back to taxpayers the costs of his false advertising. The minister should use the taxpayers' money to make young people aware of the harmful effects of tobacco.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you. If you deem that the issue raised is indeed a question of privilege, I am prepared to table the usual motion. But first I will listen to what you have to say.