Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege with regard to the member for Provencher who on Thursday, April 22, 1999, deliberately divulged information from an in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The evidence is prima facie and is now a part of the record of the House, recorded at page 14225 of Hansard . The member made a reference to something I said at that standing committee meeting, and I quote:
—when in the standing committee he was arguing to have the budget tripled and to move quickly on the Nisga'a treaty.
He went on to say:
I reiterate that the member for Skeena asked for a tripling or a doubling of the budget of the standing committee on Indian affairs to bring in people and to hear witnesses on this particular issue.
The meeting he was quoting from was an in camera meeting of the Standing Committee of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which was held on April 13, 1999. Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 851, reads:
When a committee chooses to meet in camera , all matters are confidential. Any departure from strict confidentiality should be by explicit committee decision which should deal with what matters should be published, in which form and by whom.
Without divulging the discussion of the in camera meeting, I will only say the committee did not make a decision to make the minutes public.
What is further disturbing, and I would add a further contempt, is the fact that the member has misrepresented the confidential information by also misquoting me.
Since I cannot divulge the confidential minutes of the committee, I can correct the record of Hansard which is public. The member should have accurately quoted me as saying that I urged the committee to increase the base funding being proposed by the Indian affairs committee at that time because the Nisga'a legislation was coming down and I wanted to ensure that we had adequate funds available for the committee to travel to British Columbia. I in no way asked that the committee move quickly on the Nisga'a treaty, as the parliamentary inaccurately stated.
On April 20, 1999 the matter of the government leaking a government response to a report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was raised in the House. The next day the government House leader apologized for the leak and assured the House it would not happen again.
The very next day after he issued that apology, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development stood in the House and quoted from an in camera meeting. The apology from the government House leader has just been negated by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The House must take action and protect its authority and the authority of its committees. If you rule this to be a prima facie question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move the following motion:
That the hon. member for Provencher, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, be charged with contempt and ordered to appear before the bar of the House to be admonished by the Chair for breaching the confidentiality of the in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development held on April 13, 1999.