Mr. Speaker, this is in fact not a new question of privilege. It refers to something that was raised in the House yesterday. I committed yesterday to return to the House on the question of privilege at the earliest opportunity, which of course is today.
Yesterday the hon. member for St. Albert asked about details on the firearms funding in the supplementary estimates by way of a question of privilege.
A total of $77.5 million was requested for Justice in the supplementary estimates. Of this amount, $59.4 million was requested in support of the Canadian firearms program, of which $50.5 million is in Justice vote 1, operating, and $8.8 is in vote 5, contributions. The remaining $18 million is to cover four additional items, namely: incremental funding--which has an asterisk beside it and I will get back to that in a moment--to address core operational requirements, $16.4 million; public security and anti-terrorism initiatives, $.4 million; additional operating costs, $1 million; and partnering with the voluntary sector, $.2 million.
On the use of Treasury Board vote 5 for Justice, as it was alleged yesterday, in the 2002-03 supplementary estimates part B, the member for St. Albert also asked whether Treasury Board vote 5 was used for firearms funding. As I answered yesterday, and I am willing to provide more detail now, the answer is no.
As I indicated yesterday, $14 million was provided from Treasury Board vote 5 specifically for prosecution and legal costs associated with an increased workload in drug prosecution. When the minister appears before committee he can give details of that. That is the custom. The remainder is for aboriginal litigation cases.
The asterisk in the supplementary estimates denotes the fact that the request was made by the Minister of Justice for access to vote 5 for this specific item only. The department will use this temporary allocation only for this purpose.
It should be noted that all departmental expenditures in either the main or supplementary estimates are approved by Parliament and reported in the public accounts, which of course ultimately is the verification method. They are subsequently reviewed, as we know, and verified by the Office of the Auditor General.
I am pleased to inform the House on this. I hope it will assist the Chair in making its decision as to whether or not the privileges have been breached, which of course we maintain they have not.