Mr. Speaker, I referred to the hon. member for St. Albert and indicated that he reads the following statement to all witnesses prior to testimony:
--the refusal to answer questions or failure to reply truthfully may give rise to a charge of contempt of the House, whether the witness has been sworn in or not. In addition, witnesses who lie under oath may be charged with perjury.
That is on page 862 of Marleau and Montpetit, House of Commons Procedure and Practice .
In Mr. Gagliano's opening statement he said:
First of all, and please bear with me as I explain to you what a minister does in our system and what he does not do, a minister does not run his department. He has neither the time nor the freedom to do so.
I am certain the ministers opposite will agree with me when I say that the statement I have just read is just as misleading as it is false. This is but one example of the type of declaration Mr. Gagliano insisted on presenting our committee with.
In response to a question I asked on March 18 requesting the former minister to provide us with names of members of his staff who were involved in the operation of the sponsorship program, Mr. Gagliano gave no response. Instead, he stated that he would need to question his former chief of staff.
The next day, March 19, Mr. Gagliano indicated in response to a question from the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill that he in fact had been in contact with his former chief of staff.
Over the course of two days, Mr. Gagliano provided a series of strategic answers, most of which served to prevent me and my fellow committee members from truly being able to investigate and proffer solutions into the ongoing sponsorship scandal.
While I know, Mr. Speaker, that you often refer matters of this nature back to committee, I respectfully submit that this is a question which must be brought before the whole House. Mr. Gagliano's refusal to fully answer the committee members' questions is an affront to the entire parliamentary process and it is my opinion that Mr. Gagliano be found in contempt of the House.
Mr. Speaker, should you rule in my favour, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion and reference to the committee.