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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, through our monitoring and assessment report, we have learned to become concerned about some of the unintended effects of the 1996 reform. We are working on those. Our first announcement has been to double the parental benefits allowable under EI for maternity leave. We are also examining the question of hours at this time.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, a report released today shows that the 1994 Liberal rollback of cigarette taxes and the cave-in to the tobacco industry is killing our kids. More young people are smoking today than when the Liberals took office. What a legacy for the millennium.

I know the Minister of Health has had his own trouble standing up to the tobacco industry but it is not too late to start standing up for young people.

What level of taxation on cigarettes is he recommending to his cabinet colleagues? What measures is he taking to ensure that the government has a policy for linking pricing and prevention?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, ever since we brought in our national strategy against smuggling in 1994, we have been very strongly in favour of increasing the taxes on tobacco products. As a matter of fact, we have done this three times already.

We are currently in negotiations with our four partner provinces to bring these taxes even higher. We will raise those taxes just as high as the circumstances relating to smuggling will permit.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, why does the Prime Minister not admit what we already know: his direct culpability in the way security was implemented at APEC?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I reject out of hand the premise on which the hon. member's question is based.

Let us allow the APEC inquiry to do its work. All these questions are up to the Hon. former Justice Hughes to decide. So let us allow the tribunal to do its work.

Why does the hon. member want to hinder the important work of this inquiry?

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

October 25th, 1999 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 19 Elections Canada will be hosting a vote in schools across Canada. This exercise will require all school-aged students to select the right, as defined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which they feel is very important.

Given the controversial nature of the convention, why is Elections Canada involved in this exercise, and why have Canadians not been informed of this?

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Elections Canada and UNICEF together offer a simulated election program to young Canadians to help our future citizens in understanding and participating in the democratic franchise.

This exercise, of course, is binding on no one. It is merely a simulated election. It is part of the mandate in the Elections Act which we, as a parliament, have given to Elections Canada in terms of public education for our future citizens.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has made the ridiculous claim that it cares about people but its high tax policies hurt people.

The government chooses to take $6 billion in income taxes from low income people earning less $20,000 a year. Where is the proper fiscal management in that? Where is the wisdom for the economy? Where is the compassion for people? Where is that in a high tax policy?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, we are the government that has taken 600,000 low income Canadians off the tax rolls. We are the government that has extended the child tax benefit by $2 billion, up to a total of $7 billion.

The Reform Party's program calls for $52 billion in cuts. How do Reformers get this figures? Is it because there are 52 weeks in a year? Is it because there are 52 cards in a deck or did they just pull it out of thin air? That is what is criminal about that party.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish we would stay away from the word criminal today and for the rest of the day.

Telephone ServiceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the CRTC refused to create a national access fund for residents served by Québec Téléphone and Télébec. According to the CRTC in its decision, these subscribers will have to face increases in basic telephone service rates.

The Minister of Industry has shown his insensitivity to rural communities in the past in the matter of parabolic antennae and is showing it again today in the case of rural telephone service.

Does the Minister recall that the Telecommunications Act provides that rural populations like urban ones are entitled to basic affordable telephone service and that he has the power to act and correct the situation?

Telephone ServiceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the government's real priority is to ensure that all Canadians have access to quality telephone service. It may be said that over 98% of Canadians currently have ready access to one of the best telecommunications systems in the world at prices that are truly affordable compared with all of the world's other countries.

We have received this decision by the CRTC. There may be an appeal, and I cannot comment.

Nav CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the transport minister.

When Navigation Canada was privatized the Yukon was assured that there would be no reduction in service. The traffic controllers have been laid off. The new VOR navigational system that was installed does not work. Planes have been turned back. I was on one of those planes. It is not half an hour's drive to Vancouver from Whitehorse.

The suggestion was made that the problem was that Canadian Airlines' standards were just too darned high. It could land those planes without any visual assistance and without an air traffic controller.

Will the minister make sure that every plane can land safely in the Yukon?

Nav CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, not only can every plane land safely in the Yukon, but anywhere else in Canada because safety is the top priority for Transport Canada.

Nav Canada, as the hon. member knows, was commercialized some time ago. It now makes its own judgment on what staff to deploy in what circumstances following very technical requirements that are approved by Transport Canada.

On the specifics, I will certainly have a look at it to assure the hon. member that safety in the Yukon is really a priority.

Apec SummitOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PMO must be pretty worried about Staff Sergeant Hugh Stewart's testimony before the APEC inquiry. It was expecting the RCMP to assume responsibility.

Is the Solicitor General of Canada going to allow an independent judiciary inquiry into the extent of political interference at the APEC summit?

Apec SummitOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is well aware of the Public Complaints Commission. It is an independent body and it is entirely inappropriate that this member and other members want to conduct this hearing on the floor of the House of Commons.

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday in this House, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage told us that the meeting she had announced between the RCMP and her departmental staff had not taken place. Today, when asked why it did not, she told us that we are making unfounded allegations.

Why is the Minister of Canadian Heritage taking such care to sidestep our questions on an issue of such fundamental importance? What exactly does she have to hide?

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, once again during Oral Question Period, the hon. member is trying to make unfounded allegations.

Last week I asked him, not once, not twice, but three times, as did the parliamentary secretary, to deal directly with the RCMP if he has allegations to make. The RCMP will look into them and will then report to us.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period I asked the Indian affairs minister about his eviction notice to the Musqueam leaseholders which expires today. He told them that they have to pay their leases today or they are out of their houses. He said that he was not aware of a deadline.

I have a copy in my hand of a letter signed by the department of Indian affairs confirming that deadline. Will the minister reverse that decision, or will he see these people evicted out of their homes and on to the streets?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I sent a demand letter asking the leaseholders from Musqueam to pay their rent. After the 25th we will look at our options.

There is no eviction notice, and quite frankly the member should get his facts straight.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am looking at a few more statements on a question of privilege. I would ask the hon. member who brought forth the question of privilege or contempt to be very concise in what she will say.

The reason I say this is that I do not want to get into a back and forth debate. I realize, and I can say this, the hon. member was not here the other day through no fault of her own when the government House leader made his statement. That is why I am permitting the hon. member to intervene now, but I would ask her to be very precise in what she has to say.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to respond to the comments of the government House leader of Thursday, October 21, 1999, concerning my question of privilege.

Most of the comments of the government House leader in arguing that this was not a question of privilege concerned the CSIS answer to Question No. 36 on Document No. 17.

I wish the government House leader had read further in my submission of documents. If he had he would have seen document 20 which shows that in responding to question 36, CSIS provided an inaccurate answer by not mentioning the 107 press releases, newspaper clippings, and radio and television transcripts as part of the material that CSIS forwarded to the plaintiff.

At document 21, in responding to question 36, CSIS claims that videotapes were passed to the plaintiff in response to a request from him. Yet in the plaintiff's own sworn testimony he stated “They were provided to me without my asking”.

At document 22, in responding to question 36, CSIS claims that it provided only one CSIS policy document to the plaintiff. Yet in the very affidavit that CSIS was being cross-examined on it listed five separate policy documents.

In this one answer CSIS has provided three separate inaccurate responses, yet the government House leader would have us accept this very same answer as the authority that CSIS did nothing wrong.

On the topic of collection of information by investigative bodies, I would like to bring the following to the attention of the House. Beauchesne's 6th edition, citation 98, states in part:

Members have raised, as a matter of privilege, the question of police files being maintained on members.

The Speaker refused to recognize these as questions of privilege unless the charge was specific and unless the dossier referred to the individual as a member of parliament rather than as an ordinary citizen.

My circumstances are certainly specific. Not only are we aware—

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, not only are we aware that CSIS collected my press releases but also newspaper clippings, radio and television transcripts of my comments. I have provided the House with a list of 107 such documents that CSIS collected. It is also clear that every one of those documents referred to me in my role as a member of parliament, not as an ordinary citizen.

In 1971 in the House the then solicitor general mentioned that the RCMP held files on some members of parliament. A question of privilege was raised by Ged Baldwin, the member for Peace River. Speaker Lamoureux ruled on April 20, 1971, as reported in Hansard at pages 5071-2, that:

—it would be imprudent of the Chair to project the question of police files beyond the circumstances or conditions raised by the...member and beyond the particular circumstances alluded to by the minister in his reply.

However, he went on to state that the matter was very serious and if any special circumstances were brought to the attention of the House and the Chair to the effect that members were in some way intimidated in their work or prevented from discharging their duties freely and without hindrance, there would be no hesitation in recognizing the matter as a breach of privilege.

I contend that the circumstances in my case are exactly the type of special circumstances to which Speaker Lamoureux referred. I remind the Chair that when that incident took place CSIS did not exist but was in fact the RCMP security service.

Thus I suggest that there is precedent that the mere collection of information by the police or similar agency is sufficient to find a breach of privilege. However in my case there is so much more.

In his comments the government House leader stated that the CSIS disclosure of information was not improper. He made no reference to section 19 of the CSIS act which is found at document 9 and specifically prohibits unauthorized disclosure.

He also failed to refer to section 3.7 of the chapter on conduct in the CSIS human resources policy manual, which is document 10 and states:

Employees must not support or oppose any person, organization or product by using information obtained through their employment by the Service, except when authorized by the Director.

The government House leader did not even attempt to defend the CSIS abandonment of the non-partisan role of the public service by taking an active role in the preparation of a lawsuit against a member of parliament, including having its legal counsel provide the plaintiff and the plaintiff lawyer with advice.

Nor did he attempt to defend CSIS for its efforts to frustrate my ability to resolve the lawsuit by misusing its extraordinary authority to protect national security and by being twice sanctioned by the federal court for misconduct and deliberately misleading the court.

Instead the government House leader says I should take my complaint to the Security Intelligence Review Committee just like any other Canadian. However in my role as a member of parliament I am not just like any other Canadian. Members of this House and the House of Commons in Great Britain have for centuries recognized the need for members of the House to protect their rights and privileges if they are to carry out their duties in an effective manner.

Speaker Sauvé confirmed the need for such protection in 1983 when she found that there was a prima facie question of privilege when a newspaper accused a member of a criminal offence. The parallel to this case is that there was another avenue open to that member, namely the courts, and in my case the government House leader is suggesting that I have SIRC available to me.

In her decision of March 22, 1983, as reported in Hansard at pages 24027-8, Speaker Sauvé found that the authorities and precedents agreed that even though a member can seek remedy in the courts “he cannot function effectively as a member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

While I do indeed have the right to complain to SIRC, it is more important for myself, all my colleagues in the House and those who follow us that we make a clear statement in defence of our rights and privileges as members of parliament. If we are to follow the advice of the government House leader then we are abrogating our responsibilities and abilities to protect our rights and privileges. Thus there is absolutely no reason why we should feel compelled to defer the protection of our rights and privileges to an outside body.

I believe the defence of our rights and privileges can only be accomplished with your finding a prima facie case of privilege and/or contempt, Mr. Speaker, and I urge you to do so.