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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, in March the Minister of National Revenue admitted that customs officials were opening mail coming into Canada. A government bill has just been introduced in the Senate allowing customs officials to open mail leaving Canada.

Why does the Minister of National Revenue want to invade the privacy of Canadians?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

Sophia Leung LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the CCRA is responsible for bringing forth controls on imports and exports. We know there are people taking advantage of our deficiencies in law to control these imports and exports.

We have to exercise more control so that we will not get into trouble with smuggling or illegal products entering Canada.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, controls, entry and exit. As it stands right now, customs officials can read mail coming into Canada. If the government has its way, customs officials will read mail leaving Canada.

The question is very simple. Why does the Minister of National Revenue want to turn the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency into big brother and spy on Canadians' mail?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

Sophia Leung LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we have the most concern for the safety and security of Canadians. Because we know people are taking advantage of our deficiencies in law and are trying to smuggle in illegal products, such as meat products and others, we need laws. Any products over 30 grams will be examined.

TourismOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question that is actually relevant to Canadians right now. My question is for the Minister of Industry.

In rural ridings like mine of Simcoe—Grey the tourism industry is offering enormous potential for economic prosperity and for opportunities for future generations. The challenge for smaller municipalities is their inability to develop the necessary infrastructure to accelerate growth in this critical industry.

Would the minister tell the House what our government is doing to assist rural communities like mine in developing their tourism base?

TourismOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for his very persistent and hard work in developing Canada's great tourism potential.

As he knows, the Canadian Tourism Commission is now up and running. Indeed I understand the chairman of the tourism commission will be visiting the member in his riding to look at the potential of that area.

All the agencies of government, in particular those regional agencies across the country, have priorized tourism as one of the great economic generators of Canada. We intend to work hard to see that it grows.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

April 4th, 2001 / 2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the parole board recently did its job by denying parole to Karla Homolka. It recognized she is likely to repeat what it referred to as her monstrous and depraved crimes. Clearly the parole board believes the public is still at risk after her eight years imprisonment.

Now that the parole board has protected Canadians from Karla Homolka during the first two-thirds of her sentence, what will the solicitor general do to protect them after she serves the remaining four years?

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the parole board is an independent body and it has made its decision. What will happen is that the individual will serve her full term.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has implied that there is no way to stop it after she has served her full sentence. He is correct, but there should be and it is his job to see that there is.

Last year an all party committee reviewed the legislation governing paroles and prisons. The Alliance Party pushed for changes that would have dealt with the issue but it got no support from the government.

When will the solicitor general stop being the caretaker of inadequate Liberal policies and start doing his job? When will he put the rights of Canadians ahead of dangerous offenders?

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government has passed a number of laws with regard to dangerous offenders and long term offenders. Such laws come into effect when an offender appears before a court. However, it is not my job to decide what a judge does or does not do.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, 32 of the 34 countries of the Americas signed a declaration to stabilize greenhouse gases.

Canada and the United States are the only ones that did not sign that document. Yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed his disappointment following the decision made by the U.S. president.

If the Prime Minister firmly believes in Kyoto, will he stop acting like a political weather vane, ratify the Kyoto protocol and make representations to his American counterpart?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the meeting to which the hon. gentleman refers, the first ever meeting of the environment ministers of the Americas, took place in Montreal. Many items were on the agenda but the question of climate change was not, although it was discussed. A number of points of view came forward and some nations signed. The Latin American nations signed an agreement.

We chaired that meeting. Climate change was not on the agenda and it was inappropriate for the chair to take a position on it.

Nevertheless, as the Prime Minister made clear yesterday and in previous statements, Canada is committed to the Kyoto protocol. We want to implement its provisions and we urge other countries to do the same.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege today pertaining to comments made by the government House leader yesterday in the House.

On page 2668 of Hansard , the government House leader is quoted as stating:

Both speakers from the Alliance who have preceded my remarks have been sued, both successfully and both for saying wrong things about Canadians.

I was one of the speakers to whom the minister referred. When the government House leader stood and made that comment he spoke about a case he had heard as a member of the Board of Internal Economy. As a member of the board, he had firsthand knowledge of the details of the case.

As the House leader was making a definitive assertion, one not in the public domain, it is logical to conclude that there was only one place he could have obtained the information, which was via his role as a member of the Board of Internal Economy.

As every member of the House knows, members of the Board of Internal Economy are bound by oath or affirmation of fidelity and secrecy as legislated in the Parliament of Canada Act. It is my contention that the government House leader violated his oath as a member of the Board of Internal Economy, the Parliament of Canada Act and my privileges as a member of parliament.

There are no public documents or media reports which show that I was ever successfully sued. The court documents show that the lawsuit against me was dismissed without cost. In an October 15, 1999 Ottawa Citizen article, authored by Jim Bronskill, there was only mention of an out of court settlement.

When the government House leader claimed that I was successfully sued, he obviously obtained the information from a source outside the public domain.

As a member of the Board of Internal Economy, the government House leader has firsthand knowledge of the disposition of my lawsuit. In fact, he played more of a role in determining the outcome of the lawsuit than I did, as I was not privy to the discussions of the BOIE.

When the government House leader stood in the House yesterday and said that I was successfully sued, people would infer that he knew what he was talking about because he had access to information not available to the public.

Despite taking an oath of secrecy, the minister chose to discuss the case in public because it suited his political purposes.

The Board of Internal Economy finds its authority in the Statutes of Canada, specifically the Parliament of Canada Act. Subsection 50(5) of the Parliament of Canada Act reads:

Every member of the Board shall, as soon as practicable after becoming a member of the Board, take before the Clerk of the House of Commons an oath or affirmation of fidelity and secrecy in the form set out in Form 3 of the schedule.

Form 3 of the schedule reads as follows:

I,..., do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will faithfully, truly and to the best of my judgment, skill and ability execute and perform the duties required of me as a member of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.

I further solemnly swear (affirm) that I will not communicate or allow to be communicated to any person without due authority in that behalf any information relating to matters of employment and staff relations, tenders, security and investigations in relation to a member of the House of Commons, nor will I allow any such person to inspect or have access to any books or documents belonging to or in the possession of the Board and relating to the business of the Board. (In the case where an oath is taken, add “So help me God”).

I know that members of the board generally hold their oaths very dear because when my case was heard the level of secrecy was so high that even I received extremely limited communication from the board.

However, for reasons of his own, the government House leader chose to ignore his oath, which is the law, and to make a new allegation.

Under no circumstances should the government House leader or any other member of the board discuss in public a case they have heard as members of the Board of Internal Economy. He certainly should not have made an accusation that was not in the public domain when he had firsthand knowledge of the true facts of the case.

It is clear that the government House leader's comments were not just an off the cuff mistake. He led the government's opposition to our motion yesterday and his attack on me was obviously part of his strategy.

The government House leader's accusation was also made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister during debate and by the Minister of Industry during question period. This was clearly a planned and deliberate act by the government House leader.

If the government House leader's assertion that I was successfully sued is true, then he is obviously in clear violation of his Board of Internal Economy oath, the Statutes of Canada and my privileges as a member of parliament.

This situation is even more egregious. Not only did the government House leader talk about a case that he had dealt with at the Board of Internal Economy, he chose to deliberately misrepresent the facts of the case. By no legal measure could it ever be considered that I was sued successfully.

It must be pointed out that the very next government speaker, the Minister of Industry, who was not a member of the BOIE at the time in question, presented a more accurate portrayal of what transpired and carefully avoided any mention of me being successfully sued. The truth, therefore, was obviously known to the government side.

However, for purely partisan, political purposes, the government House leader chose to ignore the truth. Instead, despite having firsthand knowledge of the truth through the BOIE, he deliberately chose to present a misleading statement to the House.

As stated on page 119 of Erskine May's twenty-first edition:

The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt.

As previously mentioned, this was not an off the cuff remark by the minister. It was obviously a calculated strategy devised by the government House leader.

Mr. Speaker, I also refer you to the twenty-second edition of Erskine May, where on page 63 it states:

It is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament...Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.

I do not believe members of the House will have a great deal of confidence in the Board of Internal Economy if members of that board believe they can discuss in public the cases they have heard. Certainly there will be no confidence in the BOIE if its members are free to not only discuss cases in public but to deliberately misrepresent them.

In conclusion, the government House leader made a definitive statement about me. It is either true or false. If the statement is true, the minister has violated his oath as a member of the Board of Internal Economy, the Parliament of Canada Act and, by extension, my privileges as a member of parliament.

If the statement is false, and I contend that it is, not only has the government House leader violated his oath as a member of the Board of Internal Economy, the Parliament of Canada Act and my privileges as a member of parliament, he has also deliberately misled the House and is therefore in contempt of the House.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you find this a prima facie case of both privilege and contempt. I am prepared to move the appropriate motion in that case.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully to the remarks of the hon. member. I have sat on the Board of Internal Economy since the beginning. I have heard cases of hon. members of assorted kinds, and I have never and will never—

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

What is that pin?

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, someone is making fun of the pin of les Jeux de la Francophonie in the middle of my remarks. I do not know how that contributes to what is being said here.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

No I am not. I am just asking what it is.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I will wear it proudly, Mr. Speaker.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

You should.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. government House leader has the floor.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have not and will not reveal anything that happens before the board. Members who serve with me know how much I value the work being done by the board and how much I value its secrecy. I think everyone on all sides of the House knows that. I will leave it at that because I think many witnesses would agree with me, privately if not publicly.

I do not believe I did that yesterday. My reference was to media reports of a settlement and nothing else. I will not discuss things the board did or did not corroborate because that would reveal what I said a moment ago I would not reveal. I will not do so to defend myself or for any other reason because it would be inappropriate. I have not done so and will not do so.

That being said, if the hon. member feels that the media reports were wrong and that the word “successfully” was inappropriate in this context, I will unequivocally withdraw the reference to the word “successfully” at page 2668 of yesterday's Hansard . I say unequivocally, notwithstanding the sarcastic and snarky remarks of the hon. member from Edmonton, who is obviously not interested, that I do apologize.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I think that concludes the matter.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's response to three petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the second report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding its order of reference of Wednesday, March 14, 2001, in relation to Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act.

The committee has considered Bill C-13 and reports the bill without amendment.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, March 26, 2001, the committee has considered Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence, and reports the bill with amendments.