Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to the question of privilege put forward by the member for Central Nova stating that I had deliberately misled the House through false information. It is one that I take very seriously and one to which I want to respond.
On Friday, November 19, I stated the following:
Mr. Speaker, I have asked the ethics commissioner to give me advice on whether or not I have breached any of the ethical codes, but I would like to tell the member something else.
The deputy leader of the Conservative Party requested a permit a couple of weeks after the election for a personal friend. I have since learned that the hon. member's personal friend was a former Conservative candidate and has been a big political contributor to the Conservative Party. I guess I should have asked, did he not work on the campaign.
That was exactly what I said. I would like to clarify that a little bit further. My sentence could have been, and I will rephrase it for the clarity of the House, “Did they work on the Conservative campaign”.
In answering the question, I was not trying to attack the integrity of any member of the House or to provide misleading information. I was simply trying to point out that in dealing with people's lives, as we do in immigration, partisan politics is simply not the basis for my intervention. By asking a rhetorical question, my intention was to demonstrate that the process was not influenced by politics. I was attempting to illustrate that I judged each case based on its merits, no matter which member brought it forward to my attention. It is not a question of fact, but of misunderstanding.
When the hon. member's staff called my office on August 13, my office was led to understand that this individual was a friend of the member. The person who was the member's friend was making representation on behalf of the applicant. The applicant was not the member's friend, but the member's friend was the person representing the applicant.
Therefore, I return to my original point: Politics did not impact my decision. It was on the merits of the case that I intervened, as I do on all of these cases.