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House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-35.

Topics

Forest IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is just plain nonsense. That is the Trudeau Salmon Arm salute to British Columbia all over again.

The government is prepared to let a vital industry in B.C. die. Where is its responsibility? Why does it show such ignorance toward British Columbians and why is it prepared to let 25,000 forest industry workers in B.C. lose their jobs?

The senior minister from Saskatchewan apparently knows where B.C. is. Why does he not tell the rest of his government about it and get some help for the problem they have out there?

Forest IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman asks why the Government of Canada is not doing its job. The responsibility of the Government of Canada here is delivering the science.

We delivered the science in 1995. We have not received a request from the provincial government, which indeed is the government responsible for forest management practices. We have not received a request from that government for further assistance at this time.

Ken HechtmanOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, freelance journalist Ken Hechtman, from the Montreal weekly The Mirror , has just been captured in southeastern Afghanistan. Information about him is distressing and contradictory.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs bring us up to date and tell us how successful the representations made by his emissaries in Afghanistan have been thus far?

Ken HechtmanOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have nothing new to report today. We have tried to find out more by sending two representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs based in Islamabad to the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan to try to obtain information.

At this point, there is very little available. We are also trying to maintain contact with the family, which, obviously, is very worried about the situation, which is very serious.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Children and Youth. Would the minister inform the House on what the government is doing to ensure that aboriginal people have the training and skills development they need to participate in the labour market?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, human resources development administers the five year $1.6 billion human resource development agreement with aboriginals which began in 1999 and is aimed at assisting aboriginal people to prepare for, find and maintain employment.

Under the strategy HRDC has signed 79 aboriginal human resource development agreements with first nations, Inuit, Metis and urban aboriginal organizations across Canada. They are meeting as we speak, from November 29 to December 1, to plan for future strategies and maintain their employment opportunities.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. This fall the immigration minister initially said she needed Bill C-11 to speed up the process and fix the system. Then she flip-flopped by contradicting herself and said she already had the existing tools to detain where there was any security risk. Now she claims we need Bill C-42 to fix the mistakes of Bill C-11.

Given her acrobatics as a serial flip-flop artist, does the minister want to give us her preview of what next week's position will be and, moreover, will she just admit that Bill C-11 was a very bad bill from the get-go?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, nothing the minister of immigration says or does could match the flip-flops in the hon. member's question. The measure with respect to Bill C-11 and Bill C-42 was not to fix Bill C-42. It was to advance the bringing into application some of the most effective and meaningful parts of Bill C-42.

If the hon. member were serious about protecting the security of Canadians and their rights, he would be supporting the bill instead of coming up with his ridiculous question.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Jean-Jack Queyranne, Minister of Relations with Parliament of the Republic of France.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Leeds—Grenville Ontario

Liberal

Joe Jordan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege arising from the debate of yesterday afternoon. I want to thank the table clerks and the clerks of the committee on procedure and House affairs who helped me in haste to put together the facts of this question of privilege.

In his remarks concerning Bill C-36, the Leader of the Opposition made repeated references to the findings, proceedings and evidence of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the matter of a breach of privilege brought to the House by the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast. The Chair will know that the matter was referred to the standing committee and the report was tabled this morning by the chair of that committee, the member for Peterborough.

As a foundation for my argument I draw the attention of the House to page 884 of Marleau and Montpetit:

Committee reports must be presented to the House before they can be released to the public...Even when a report is adopted in public session, the report itself is considered confidential until it has actually been presented in the House.

It goes on to say:

It is not in order for Members to allude to committee proceedings or evidence in the House until the committee has presented its report to the House.

I would argue that the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition contravened both conventions. On the first issue he twice referred to the fact that the committee concluded that there was no breach of privilege. The reference from the House required the committee to recommend on that issue and the issue of the alleged breach. That finding was the essence of the report. It was the committee's response to the reference from the House.

The committee did go in camera for a portion of the discussion so the notion that confidentiality was expected could not have been misinterpreted. On the larger issue of when and why committees go in camera, a practice that I think all members try to minimize, a major factor is the confidentiality protections that public proceedings enjoy as laid out in Marleau and Montpetit.

To take elements of the proceedings out of context and bring them to the floor of the House, using the argument that they were technically not part of the in camera discussions, may very well result in a dramatic increase in in camera activities by committees. In addition, the context of the member's criticism leaves no doubt as to the inference he was making. On November 28 the Leader of the Opposition stated in Hansard :

—why did the committee conclude that no breach of privilege occurred?

Marleau and Montpetit specifically included findings from public meetings to reinforce the fact that the finding is not the conclusion of the committee until the report is tabled in the House. Members are prohibited from cherry-picking aspects of the process without the context of the full and complete report. The hon. member continued his critique of the committee:

Then for some reason the committee decided to abandon its responsibilities in the incident related to Bill C-36.

I would argue that the responsibilities he refers to being abandoned were not fulfilled until the report was tabled in the House. That happened this morning. He continued:

I do not know how the committee will explain why it concluded that no breach of privilege had occurred when it tabled its report.

In fact the report had not been tabled. As I understand it, it was delayed at the request of the Alliance Party.

The words in context of the member were a conscious criticism of the findings of the committee, again before the actual findings were tabled. The member chose to exploit findings of the committee to potentially strengthen his political argument. The finding of no breach was a fait accompli. He referred to it in the past tense. He went on to disagree with and criticize the Liberal members of the committee in the House for that finding.

The only issue I take exception to is the timing. He should have waited until the finding was tabled in the House like all other members of this place. By pre-empting the finding and the reference that it was the final conclusion of the committee prior to the chair tabling the report this morning, the Leader of the Opposition, an officer of the House, showed contempt for the rights and privileges of all members of this place.

On the second issue of the reference to evidence and proceedings the transcript is clear. The member repeatedly described evidence and the voting pattern of the committee on a number of motions that were dealt with. I rose on a point of order at the time to object to the content of his remarks but was told it was a matter of debate. I would appreciate some clarity on this issue from the Speaker.

I put the issue in your capable hands and learned mind, Mr. Speaker. Should you find there is a prima facie breach of privilege I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's question of privilege cannot be taken seriously for two reasons.

First, everything the Leader of the Opposition said came from a public meeting of the standing committee on November 22, including the motion to report to the House that a breach of privilege had not occurred. I invite the Speaker to review the proceedings from November 22 and compare them to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. Any mention of the report by the Leader of the Opposition was in the context of a request. Again, if you review the leader's request and the report, you will see that they do not match.

Second, the member's question of privilege is out of order because the proper procedure to raise a question of privilege involving a committee is to bring the matter before the standing committee. If the standing committee concludes that a breach has occurred, it could report the breach to the House. I refer the hon. member to page 128 of Marleau and Montpetit:

Speakers have consistently ruled that, except in the most extreme situations, they will only hear questions of privilege arising from committee proceedings upon presentation of a report from the committee which directly deals with the matter and not as a question of privilege raised by an individual Member.

I bring your attention to the fact that the hon. member was in the House affairs committee earlier this day and did not raise the matter whatsoever. The hon. member does not understand the parliamentary procedure and definitely does not understand privilege. It is evident today in the manner in which he raises the issue and by his behaviour at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs when dealing with the question of privilege regarding the premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-36.

During the public proceedings of the committee the hon. member, as the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, led his Liberal members to shut down the opposition, gag the privy council and sweep the matter under the carpet. His members made the lamest excuses to discontinue the study such as it costs too much to investigate the matter, the committee has gone far enough and it is too difficult a task.

If the hon. member wants to talk about contempt he should look no further than at his behaviour and efforts today. He should take note of another aspect of parliamentary privilege. Page 26 of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada declares:

“One of the first and greatest of its privileges is free speech and one of the advantages of legislative bodies is the right of exposing and denouncing abuses by means of free speech”.

If any privilege is under siege today it is the right of a member to speak freely in the House and expose and denounce the abuses of the government. The premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-36 is one example. The lack of action to deal with the matter is yet another. The government use of closure on Bill C-36 is yet another example.

The member's attempt to question the right of the Leader of the Opposition to speak freely in the House is conclusive evidence that the government's contentious behaviour regarding the proceedings on Bill C-36 is pathological. I ask the member and the House to consider the report in question and the Deloitte & Touche findings which my leader referred to. The report stated at page 11:

The disquieting aspect, however, is that a small portion of the article contains or alludes to information, which, at the time prior to the tabling of the bill itself, was classified secret and was subject to protection as a confidence of cabinet.

In addition, my leader made reference to the fact that it was disclosed to the committee that the PCO had the Deloitte & Touche report edited prior to its delivery to the committee. The opposition smelled a rat and moved to use the authority of the committee to obtain a copy of the unedited report. However the member, probably acting on the instructions of the PMO, led his Liberal majority once again to vote the motion down.

All this took place at a public meeting. I invite the Speaker and the public to examine those minutes, not just to clear the air but to expose the disrespectful and contemptuous actions and behaviour of the Liberal government in this cover-up.

It is no wonder that the contents of Bill C-42 were also leaked to the media prior to being tabled in the House. Why should any government official be deterred from leaking information to the media ahead of parliament when the majority in control of the House is too weak-kneed and complacent to take any corrective action to avoid it? There is contempt here today, but you will not find it on this side of the House. You should look to your right.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it will be up to you to ultimately decide this question. I have not had an opportunity to examine what the Leader of the Opposition said, but if it turns out he was quoting from a committee report that had not yet been tabled in the House then in fact he would have been doing something that was inappropriate and inconsistent with a lot of complaints his party and mine and others have made about the releasing of committee reports before they are tabled in the House.

On the other hand, if he was referring to information that was in the public domain, that was available in the course of a public meeting and that was part of the public proceedings of the committee, people may not like it but I do not see it as something that was reprehensible.

It will be up to you to examine the record to see whether or not the Leader of the Opposition was behaving in a way that was inconsistent with good practice in the House and inconsistent with what the Leader of the Opposition and his party have condemned on occasion. I would urge you, if the latter is the case, to rule accordingly.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and I do not particularly want to engage in this debate, but as it is the committee on procedure and House affairs it might be useful to you if I were to lay out how we handled this matter.

On October 15 when the House leader of the official opposition raised the question of privilege you referred it to our committee. On October 18 we had our first public meeting on this matter. Our witnesses included the House leader of the opposition and the Minister of Justice. On November 1 we had another public meeting and the witnesses then were from the Privy Council Office. They described to us the inquiries which were in progress.

On November 21, following some hundreds of interviews, all members of the committee received copies of the documents circulated by the Privy Council Office. These included the Deloitte & Touche report and a comparison which an official of the PCO provided between the National Post article and various ministerial public announcements.

On the day following, November 22, there was another meeting of the standing committee and we had witnesses again from the Privy Council Office. The meeting was mainly held in public but we went in camera for members to be able to direct the chair and officials on the drafting of a report.

Members of the committee who supported this and I have gone to a great deal of trouble to avoid in camera meetings, except where they are absolutely necessary. On November 27 we had another public meeting. The report was agreed to and it was agreed that there should be dissenting opinions attached.

On November 29, today, and a day later than I had originally intended, at the request of the official opposition I tabled the report. Mr. Speaker, I thought those facts would be useful to you.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the opposition House leader made an interesting argument essentially attacking me personally. I want to point out to that member that if he wants to attack my credibility that is fine. However I am standing here protecting the rights and privileges of 301 MPs and I will not let him run roughshod over those rights and privileges. There is no absolute right of free speech in this place if it infringes on the privileges of members of the House.

I brought this issue here and I would argue it is the appropriate forum for it. I do not feel that his counterargument that I am in contempt is treating this issue with the respect it deserves.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has heard enough on the point and will take the matter under advisement. I will review the remarks of the hon. Leader of the Opposition and I will review the proceedings in the committee as I have been invited to do by hon. members on every side.

I will review the very pertinent comments made by the hon. parliamentary secretary, the hon. House leader of the official opposition, the hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona and the hon. member for Peterborough. I thank them all for their kind assistance. I will get back to the House in due course on this matter.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue involving question period. That is why I raise it.

A question was asked by the hon. member across the way to the hon. Minister of Natural Resources, who is also a member of parliament from Saskatchewan, regarding a Saskatchewan issue involving transport. It was clear from the question, and we can review the blues, that both the question and the supplementary referred to the minister being the regional minister from Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan's only representative in cabinet, and so on and so forth, each one of them of course asking the question because the minister is a representative from Saskatchewan, obviously not because he is the Minister of Transport, because he is not.

I protested that, as probably the entire House heard. I want to remind the House that citation 412 of Beauchesne is quite clear on the rules.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

What is the point, Don?

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

As the hon. member used to be a minister of a previous house, I am sure he will know about rules. He is asking what the point is. I am surprised that he even has to ask. The point is this.

Citation 412 of Beauchesne states:

A question may not be asked of a Minister in another capacity, such as being responsible for a province, or part of a province, or as spokesman for a racial or religious group.

I did not decide that. This is referenced as October 16, 1968, at pages 132 to 134 of the Journals. I am sure the hon. member knows that very well. I am sure he has read that portion of the Journals.

The more contemporary Marleau and Montpetit, or M and M as we sometimes refer to our own procedural manual, at pages 426 and 427, refers to this. The reason I raise it is because in the supplementary question a criticism was made that this excellent minister was not representing his region properly.

This is what the reference states:

These two statements, along with some of the guidelines adopted by the House in 1965, are used today by the Speaker as a reference in managing the Question Period.

That is in reference to you, Mr. Speaker.

It further states:

In summary, when recognized in Question Period, a Member...should not...address a Minister's former portfolio or any other presumed functions, such as party or regional political responsibilities.

That is page 427 of Marleau and Montpetit.

Obviously this was in clear breach of our rules of the House. The hon. member who made that reference was not only allowed to get away with it but was allowed to get away with it twice. He was eventually cut off by the Speaker for his obvious lack of respect for the rules of the House. However the mistake was obviously made and made twice. That is an improper accusation against a minister of the crown and is in breach of our rules.

This is serious. The hon. member does not think that representing Saskatchewan is serious. I believe it is.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, in defence of my two questions in question period, there are three reasons I phrased my questions as I did.

First, the government has made it a virtue, in fact it is a virtue, to appoint someone to cabinet from every province in this country. There is a cabinet minister from P.E.I., some from British Columbia and one from Saskatchewan. In fact, that is a virtue in a country such as ours.

Second, as such, in the media, whenever a serious issue arises relative to that province, that minister is the first person delegated from cabinet to handle that issue in defence of that province. This government approaches public policy that way.

Third, frankly without a Senate that is balanced and represents the equal interests of the province, there is no other way to effect public policy and the influences of a specific province.

The government makes a virtue out of appointing cabinet ministers from every province. This is the only way to ask a province a specific question and to hold the government accountable. My aim was to hold the government accountable for its public policy as it reflects on Saskatchewan. It has appointed a cabinet minister responsible for Saskatchewan. I expected an answer. Unfortunately I did not get it. Perhaps in the future this government will be more eager to answer questions and defend the provinces of this country.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam during question period did ask a question. It appeared to the Speaker to be regionally based and accordingly, and in accordance with the citation cited by the hon. government House leader, I did not believe it was in accordance with the usual practice in this House. The Deputy Prime Minister chose to stand up and respond to the question and the response was given.

When the hon. member started his supplementary, he obviously was treading on the same ground, which produced disorder in the House, and it was another question along the same vein so I terminated the hon. member's question and moved on to the next because I believed it was not in accordance with the usual practice.

The practices are there. The hon. member can go to the procedure and House affairs committee and its chairman, who was just here, and present evidence as to why the practice should be changed and possibly persuade the committee to agree to submit a report changing the practice. We have done it before. I recall we changed practices in relation to questions just a few years ago, allowing questions that previously had not been permitted. The House is free to do that.

But for the time being, I think that the point raised by the hon. government House leader has been noted.

My ruling is that the question asked by the hon. member was out of order, and I pointed this out in connection with the supplementary. I will do the same thing again if another similar problem arises.

I invite all hon. members to comply in every respect with the practices set out in Marleau and Montpetit, M and M as they like to call it. It is wonderful reading and I commend it to hon. members, especially those sections dealing with question period. I know it will help them phrase questions and of course answers that are in accordance with the rules.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to challenge something that my colleague from Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam said in his statement. He said that the government had ministers in Saskatchewan and other provinces. Given the way the government has regarded British Columbia, it is impossible to believe that it has ministers out in that province.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not think the hon. member's comments are helpful in dealing with the point of order with which we have just dealt. I know it is very tempting, because the government operates in a particular way, to say that in the House we must operate in accordance with that practice. The difficulty is we have a set of rules that govern the way the House proceeds and we know that sometimes proceedings outside the House are at variance with proceedings inside. That goes for every side.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, after we have had this delay from the government, when I thought we had more important business to do, I would like to now ask the government House leader what is the business for the rest of the day, tomorrow and next week?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

November 29th, 2001 / 3:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond somewhat belatedly, as a result of the disorder created by the opposition.

The business of the House will be as follows. We will continue this afternoon with Bill C-27 respecting nuclear waste. Following that I propose we move on to private members' hour.

Tomorrow the business will be Bill C-44, the aeronautics bill for which the House gave its unanimous consent earlier this week and for which I thank it.

On Monday we will consider the report stage and third reading of Bill C-37, the Alberta-Saskatchewan claims bill. That would be followed by Bill C-39, the Yukon Act amendments.

Tuesday shall be an allotted day. This is the final day in the supply cycle with the resulting supply votes and so on at the end of the day.

On Wednesday we will complete any of the business that I previously mentioned that has not been finished, if such is the case, and we will consider the report stage of any bill that is reported from committee in the interim. I am told for instance that Bill C-41 has been reported today or will be tomorrow. That will be on the list as well.

Finally, there has been agreement among House leaders that on Monday, after we complete the deliberations on the two bills I mentioned, we would have a short debate on a motion on employment equity. That is a compulsory requirement according to our rules, to have a committee review of the employment equity legislation. The House leaders have agreed, and I have since put it on the order paper, that we would consider that motion toward the end of the day on Monday, in addition to the business I have just announced.