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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was park.

Topics

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

Noon

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for endorsing the words of the Prime Minister. This is great praise indeed coming from the NDP.

HealthOral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, in response to me earlier, the minister said that he will not say yes or no on bill 11. I suggest that he does not have the nerve to say yes or no, and is hiding under—

HealthOral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

It is getting a little bit rambunctious. Please, go directly to your question.

HealthOral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will shift gears a little bit and go to a minister who may may give me a response.

HealthOral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

I do not think so. That brings to a conclusion our question period today.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

May 5th, 2000 / noon

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of a delegation of honourable ministers from the countries of Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. They are participating in the Africa Direct Conference.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

Noon

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have given notice of a question of privilege and I want you to refer first to Joseph Maingot's second edition, chapter 12, wherein it is made clear that a question of privilege is a proper vehicle for bringing to the attention of the House a matter which the House may consider to be a contempt of this House. I particularly direct your attention to pages 224 and 225.

I make this point at the outset, Mr. Speaker, to remove from your mind any consideration of the usual test that you would apply for any breach of the immunities of parliamentary privilege. I am compelled to use the vehicle of a question of privilege to ask that you find there is evidence of a prima facie contempt of the House.

I have a letter on House of Commons stationery, which was procured at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer. The letter solicits attendance at a meeting to meet representatives for the leadership race for the Canadian Alliance. The letter was signed by the member of parliament for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby. It was sent out using first class postal frank, which is again using a publicly financed facility. I am prepared to table that letter.

Apart from the hypocrisy of using public funds by a member of a party who says it is for fiscal responsibility, or stands for fiscal responsibilities, and less use of public expenditures, this is a gross misuse of the facilities put at the disposal of members of parliament.

There is a place for partisan activity in every member's office. However, I submit that it is a gross impropriety for a member to finance his party's leadership race using publicly paid for facilities and supplies. Supporters of the member's party should pay for this sort of message not every Canadian taxpayer, whether it is my riding, your riding, Mr. Speaker, or any other member's riding.

I submit that every member knows that this is wrong and that there has been a deliberate abuse of the system by the member for New Westminister—Coquitlam—Burnaby. This offends the unwritten practices of the House and, as such, constitutes contempt of the House.

The question that arises is just how much more of the Canadian Alliance leadership race is going to be publicly financed by the Canadian taxpayers? Why should I, as an MP, have to defend to my overtaxed constituents this sort or abuse? This brings into disrepute the reputation of every member of the House. This sort of action brings public life into disrepute and, for this reason, it is contemptuous of the House.

Party leadership races should be financed through the party or private contributors. By abusing the trust which every member has to use public supplies and services in a proper manner, the member for New Westminister—Coquitlam—Burnaby has, in my opinion, brought the House into odium and public disrespect. As members of parliament, we are all offended by this.

Should you, Mr. Speaker, find that there is a prima facie case to be answered by the member, I am prepared to move the necessary motion to refer the matter to committee.

On that, I rest my case. I am sure other members will also want to engage in the debate on this question of privilege.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Before I hear any other interventions, this has occurred before in the House of Commons. Madam Speaker Sauvé gave a ruling on December 15, 1982. The ruling stated:

The Speaker does not interfere to tell Hon. Members in what instances they may use their frank or may not use their frank. This is up to the Hon. Member to determine. He does it within his own conception of what is or is not proper. If something improper arises, Hon. Members usually discuss it in the Committee.

Where this usually comes up is in the committee for internal economy and would possibly be sent to the committee for procedure.

I think what you are asking, if not me, the House to do is to look at all the material that members send out under their frank. This would be extremely difficult. The House, or a committee of the House, or the Speaker would become a censor to what members can or cannot send out.

I appeal to hon. members to use their good judgment when sending out material. I think we have members here now who sit on the Board of Internal Economy, where this should perhaps be brought up, if not by one of the members here, by the hon. member's spokesperson on the Board of Internal Economy.

I suggest that we handle this particular case in this way. I will wait to have some kind of direction from the Board of Internal Economy, which may or may not choose to forward it to the procedures committee.

I have a point of order that I want to listen to now. The hon. member for Peace River.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the Minister of Industry suggested that it was the first time I had asked a question of him since becoming the industry critic for our party. Hansard will show that is not true, and I—

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

That is not exactly a point of order, but I am sure the hon. member has made his point. Of course I did not like the words “not true”, but we will let it roll for today.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the foreign affairs critic of the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance, I asked a question today. In his response, the Deputy Prime Minister gave some information which, in my view, did not justify the situation. I would like this clarified so that the Deputy Prime Minister can retract the baseless information and the wrong premise that was said about me.

Before the last election, one newspaper, which did not do the proper research, published some comments about me in the newspaper. I contacted the newspaper and, at the same time, I contacted the ambassador of Liberia to Canada. The ambassador wrote a letter to me justifying the truth and giving the information surrounding the circumstances. Thereafter, I contacted the newspaper. The newspaper confessed that its research was not right and it verbally retracted the information.

I would like the House, and the media, which are not doing their research properly, to know that I was an assistant professor of management at the University of Liberia. As an assistant professor, I had absolutely no connection with the government. The ambassador's letter indicates that for one to participate or get involved in Liberian politics, one has to be a Negro by origin. That is what the ambassador wrote in the letter and I have a copy of it.

Lastly, I had a business which dealt with agricultural products. People in that country were dying of hunger because they did not have enough food to eat. I wrote a letter to the president of the country, simply to launch a green revolution. I wanted them to invest in the soil so that people could be self-sufficient in producing food, which would alleviate poverty, malnutrition and hunger. Is that a crime? I would suggest—

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think the hon. member has moved his point, that the information which was alluded to in the House was not absolutely accurate. He has given ample information for us to make up our own minds.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have 15 more seconds.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

All right, I will give you 15 more seconds.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister to retract his statement. Rather than appreciating someone who is helping a poor country, he is accusatory. That is wrong.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

That is what happens in debate. Sometimes people misinterpret things, but we are here to debate. The hon. member is going to be on record and I am sure all hon. members will read his explanation.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, after the referendum for the Reform Party took place, we came into the House and handed a letter to the Speaker stating quite clearly that members of this party were going to be called members of the Canadian Alliance.

We hear at every occasion the government and members on the other side referring to us as Reform members. I would like you to advise—

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has advised them but I will bolster that. The party should be known as the Canadian Alliance. I guess they can refer to it as the former Reform Party, but I wish that they would address it as the Canadian Alliance.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your indulgence, but on my question of privilege I am asking for direction from the Chair. What I am looking for and hoping to get would be unanimous consent to refer this issue to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and permission to table the documents which I have in my possession.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I see the hon. member is in no way questioning my ruling and that is fine. I appreciate that. Second, if I understand, the hon. member is now asking for permission to put a motion seeking unanimous consent. Is that correct?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

That is correct, Mr. Speaker.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.