Mr. Speaker, on February 19, I raised a question of privilege and accused the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of misleading the House. During my remarks, I provided you with an account of the events as they were related to me by officials at the CBC, an account that differed from the explanation provided by the Deputy Prime Minister in her point of order on Friday, February 20.
On Tuesday, February 17, the producer of the Zone Libre show at CBC assured me by phone and e-mail that no one had called from the Canada Firearms Centre or from the minister's office.
After I informed her that I was going to raise the matter in the House of Commons, she double-checked and, in another e-mail received on Wednesday, February 18, the CBC producer assured me that they had not received a call from the government asking for their calculations. Based upon this information, I sent you notice and raised my question of privilege in the House on Thursday, February 19.
Since the Deputy Prime Minister provided her officials' versions of the communication between her department and CBC last Friday, I asked CBC to check their records again.
Yesterday the CBC producer of the Zone Libre segment on the gun registry provided the following explanation. I would like to give you this quotation and read it into the record:
Irene Arseneault, media relations for the Firearms centre, left a phone message on Anne Panasuk's office voice mail Sunday February 15th with questions regarding Zone Libre's content.
Anne P. picked up the message on Monday morning on arriving to work. Ms. Arseneault's message did not refer to [the Deputy Prime Minister] nor the urgency of Monday's question period so we did not associate this call with the Deputy Prime Minister.
Anne and I received no other calls from the government on Monday. Anne P. was unsuccessful in reaching Ms. Arseneault on the phone so she responded by e-mail Monday afternoon, (i.e. after question period). And we have not heard from Ms. Arseneault since. But this may be the call to which [the Deputy Prime Minister] was referring.
We have never objected to giving the details of our calculations and indeed have done so in the days that followed specifically to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, when the request was clearly made by her office on the following Wednesday, February 18th.
That is the end of the quotation.
Now that the full facts are known about the exchange of the phone calls and e-mails between the CBC, the Canada Firearms Centre and the Deputy Prime Minister's office, I revisited the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister in response to my question on Monday, February 16. It is clear now that someone from the minister's department did call Zone Libre and left a message, so the minister was correct on that point. It is also clear that CBC's Zone Libre never did refuse to provide their calculations of the $2 billion expenditure on the firearms program.
Given the confusion over the communication between the CBC and the department and the minister's office, I am prepared to concede that the minister's officials may have simply used a poor choice of words when advising the minister about why they did not have the CBC's calculation by the time question period started.
Given that mistakes were made on all sides, I am prepared to concede that the Deputy Prime Minister was answering my question with the best information available at the time, just as I was presenting the most factual information I had available at the time I raised my question of privilege. Had CBC provided me with the information that they had in fact received a call from an official in the firearms centre on Sunday, February 15, I would not have raised a question of privilege.
Consequently, I withdraw my question of privilege. I apologize to the Deputy Prime Minister, to the Speaker, and to the House of Commons. I am sorry.