Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Bloc House leader, the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie, rose on a question of privilege. I would like to reply to some of the points he raised, as they referred to a document he tabled in the House yesterday.
In the course of his intervention the hon. member referred to an advertisement in a Quebec newspaper and said that it was similar to the GST advertising in 1989. By analogy he claimed that it was inappropriate, just as the advertising was in 1989, because it implied that specific legislation was in place, that it referred to specific provisions it purported were already law when the bill still was not passed. That was the reference the hon. member gave the House when he raised his question of privilege.
While I acknowledge the precedent exists, the matter before us today is in clear and stark contrast because the advertisement now in question does not refer to any provisions of any law or any proposed law.
The advertisements that were placed in the Canadian media present a number of facts about conditions that relate to the use of tobacco. The advertisements do not claim that the provisions of any bill are already enacted. Mr. Speaker, on careful reflection of both the English and the French versions you will see that is the case. The French version of the advertisements call on the readers to support la loi anti-tabac. In English it refers to anti-tobacco legislation. If one wanted to be an absolute purist one might argue that the French Translation ought to say "le projet de loi" and in English it ought to say "bill".
However, one must bear in mind that we are dealing with advertisements. It is common in such cases to use colloquialisms that may not, in the strictest sense, be precise. To the layman, however, the meaning is very clear. In French one frequently hears the phrase "le projet de loi" referred to merely as "la loi" even though it has not yet passed, just as in English one often refers to a bill as legislation, even though in the strict sense of the word it is not legislation until enacted.
There is very substantial proof that these advertisements do not in any way represent Bill C-71, which is still before the House, as having been enacted.
Clause 1 of the bill gives us some very important information on this matter of privilege. Clause 1 of the bill gives it a short title, namely the tobacco law, or in French la loi sur le tabac. The advertisements refer to anti-tobacco legislation, la loi anti-tabac, which is not the short title, the long title or in fact any title of the bill before the House.
In conclusion, the advertisements do not in any way interfere with the ability of the House to consider the legislation before it. They do not refer to the number or the title of any bill before the House and they do not describe the provisions of any bill before the House. They describe a reprehensible public problem and urge citizens to support unspecified legislation to deal with these problems. This does not in any way impair the ability of the House to do its duty. Respectfully, I would submit, it is not a breach of privilege. It does not encroach on the privileges of the members of the House.