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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-65.

Topics

JusticeOral Questions

October 18th, 2005 / 2:55 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there is no question when it comes to the protection of children that the opposition has anything on us.

We believe the priority of children is important. We have taken Bill C-2, our first bill in this session of Parliament, and brought it forward for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons.

We believe in the protection of children. We believe that Bill C-2, when it comes into force, will meet that challenge.

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will not see to it because they will not change the law.

Over the weekend the same predator with 42 prior convictions and a high risk to reoffend turned himself in to the local RCMP detachment saying that he was bringing a risk to the community. That mirrors recent comments by the serial rapist Larry Fisher, who said that he himself was surprised that he got out of jail so quickly after so many rapes. While he was out on parole he raped and murdered.

When are the laws going to change? The Prime Minister refuses to listen to citizens who want the laws changed. Will the Prime Minister start listening to the criminals themselves who are saying that these Liberal laws are dangerous?

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, obviously the first and paramount purpose of a corrections and parole system is the protection and safety of the public. That is why I have asked the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to look at our parole system.

In fact, I am open to the fact and I have said that we may need to rebalance that system. That is why I am seeking the advice of all parties in the form of a reference to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. I would just ask that the members get to work.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, two investigation reports prepared in 2004 show that the Department of Canadian Heritage blindly paid millions of dollars to Liberal cronies at the Canadian Unity Council. These damaging reports have forced the department to conduct a more in-depth audit, which may possibly lead to the recovery of the overpayments. Canadian Heritage is refusing to release the results of a third investigation conducted last year.

Why is the minister refusing to release this report? What does she have to hide?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am quite bemused with the question. My hon. colleague across the floor has given examples and claims that there is money owing, but there are no particulars. If the hon. member could provide me with some of the particulars, I would be happy to address the issue.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, since she is the parliamentary secretary to the minister, perhaps she could read the two internal audit reports that have been at her disposal for the past year.

At the Gomery inquiry, a former director of the Liberal party, Benoît Corbeil, revealed the existence of a Liberal network that included the Canadian Unity Council.

Does the minister not realize that by refusing to table immediately the most recent investigation report on the funding of the Canadian Unity Council's activities, she is raising suspicions that she too is trying to protect the Liberal cronies involved in this council?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that we understand what audit we are talking about. It is the Canadian Unity Council audit. In fact, that audit revealed 10 recommendations and the department has acted on those recommendations.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, until recently the government was considering sole sourcing aircraft projects worth billions of dollars with no competition and no checks or balances. Now it is indicating that the projects are going to competition, but this is just smoke and mirrors. The government is setting requirements that are so restrictive and specific that its preferred choices will win. Other competitors will not have a fair chance.

Why is this government so determined to abandon fair competition? Who will benefit from this?

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, members of the House will recall that it was the hon. member who suggested in the House that we were going to sole sourcing, not I.

I said at that time to please give me a chance to sin before I get punished for my sins. Now the hon. member is saying that we have changed in the direction he wanted us to take and he still wishes to punish people before we have announced what we are going to do.

Once again, would hon. members in the House allow us to come forward with a plan? Then maybe they can criticize the plan.

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister has sinned. The fix is in.

The government has also abandoned open competition. It is declaring the aircraft projects matters of national security. They will not be subject to scrutiny by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, leaving those unfairly treated with a long court process well after the winner has been chosen.

There is no justification for the national security designation. It is simply a way to bypass scrutiny and open competition. Why is the government so resistant to open competition when billions in taxpayers' money are involved?

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I return to what I said earlier. I wish hon. members would allow us to come forward with a plan. They can criticize it or not criticize it based on what it provides.

I do not know where the hon. member is getting his questions from. I can only speculate that he is being provided misinformation by people within the department or some other place. If he wants to speculate on what we are going to do, he would be happy to speculate, but there is no point in us speculating on the floor of the House. The government will come forward with a procurement plan which is in the best interests of our forces and of our country.

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, recently a Conservative member of the House made a ridiculous allegation when she suggested that the DART is a waste of time and money. Could the minister remind the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey and other members opposite about how the DART is an important and valued component of our relief efforts?

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have just returned from the region. I have to tell members that it was with great pride we saw the members of our DART going off to a dangerous region, 10,000 feet up in the mountains, to provide medical aid and to provide much needed water and engineering capacity.

In their medical capacity, they are going to have some 34 members, of which 15 will be women, women who will be able to provide young girls and women in that area with the essential aid they require.

Before the armchair quarterbacks at home take cheap potshots at our men and women when they go abroad, they should give them a chance to do their work. Let us listen to what the Sri Lankans said—

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The time for oral questions has expired. There have been discussions among representatives of all parties in the House and I understand that a representative of each party will make a short statement with respect to the death of Major-General Maurice Gaston Cloutier, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons and Canadian Secretary to the Queen.

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Major-General Maurice Gaston CloutierOral Questions

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Major-General Maurice Gaston Cloutier was our longest serving Sergeant-at-Arms. Indeed, he spent the best years of his life in the service of Canada. He was a man of tradition and a man of our time, and he is dearly missed.

Gus Cloutier was the keeper of the rules and customs of this House. He recognized their importance to democratic life in our country, despite the fact that they sometimes seem strange.

Gus Cloutier was able to see beyond the history and ceremony of the House to recognize its humanity. He knew well the duties of his office, and he knew us well too.

He looked after all of us. When we first arrived here, he might raise his eyebrows at the new crop of MPs. He had a sense of humour about us, but he knew what we were here to do. He recognized that he could help us and make us feel at home here. He also recognized all the little ways in which he could assist the members in their duties and which would make a big difference in their lives here.

We appreciated him for that, right from the very first days and weeks we spent here and the many years after, during which we had the privilege of serving under his watch.

It would seem unfair to remember Gus without a story, because he was of course both the source and the subject of some great ones. At one time he was aide-de-camp to the then Minister of National Defence. His rank was Lieutenant-Colonel.

Gus was no doubt the most dashing and the most competent and intelligent aide-de-camp that the minister had ever been blessed with. One evening, as I understand it, they were having a drink, perhaps more than one, and the minister, to his credit, observed how Gus would make a fine general.

Naturally Gus had to agree. In fact, he asked the minister if he would not mind repeating himself on the phone if he could get the Department of National Defence on the line. Sure enough, Gus did, and that was that: Major-General Gus Cloutier came into being.

Needless to say, when the right thing needed to be done, our Sergeant-at-Arms could find a way. He merited his elevation to the post of Major-General. He had a distinguished career, one that all could be proud of, and he had a distinguished career that he left when he came here, one that any man or woman could be proud of.

We could say many things about Major-General Cloutier, but the fact remains that he was quite simply a true gentleman and a friend to us all, a Canadian who served his country in both war and peace.

This House was never better served. He will be forever missed.

Major-General Maurice Gaston CloutierOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if Parliament Hill had to elect a mayor, Major-General Cloutier would have served more than one term in office.

Over the past 27 years, he was a loyal friend and devoted associate to several generations of MPs.

Gus was blessed with a charming sense of humour. The Prime Minister said that he perhaps sometimes had his eyebrows raised at a crop of new MPs. My experience with Gus is that sometimes I think those eyebrows stayed raised for an awfully long time.

In any case, everybody came to know our Sergeant-at-Arms. He lent dignity to official functions and helped many of us understand the historic role of our parliamentary institutions.

Whether in discharging his duties as secretary to Her Majesty, officiating at the opening of Parliament or finding a parking spot, Gus brought the same graceful efficiency to all his many responsibilities. He was many things to many people, but above all, he was a friend to so many who knew him.

Before entering this place, Major-General Cloutier also had a distinguished career in the public service and in the armed forces, where he occupied many important posts.

History remembers the contributions of many MPs, ministers, prime ministers and sometimes even leaders of the opposition who have sat in this chamber. However, sometimes we forget the irreplaceable work of the officers of the House. I am convinced that the contributions of Major-General Cloutier will long live in the annals of Canadian parliamentarism.

On behalf of my party, I extend to the family and numerous friends of Major-General Cloutier our sympathy and heartfelt condolences.

Major-General Maurice Gaston CloutierOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we are taking these few moments to pay tribute to a man who served democracy loyally for over 50 years. Major-General Gaston Cloutier, the longest serving Sergeant-at-Arms Parliament has ever had, served democracy as well in his other career in the armed forces.

In paying tribute to him here today, I also pay tribute to all those who serve democracy from the wings of this House of Commons and other parliaments. We do not pay tribute to them often enough, yet without them nothing would be possible.

I believe I can speak not only for all my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois but for all members of this House, I am sure, in saying that everyone liked Gus Cloutier. This dignified, generous and courteous gentleman focussed on keeping the duly elected members content as they fulfilled their role. He was an essential cog in the wheel of a smoothly running Parliament.

We were all greatly saddened by the news of his passing.

It seems to me, however, that he is still here with us, making sure everything is going well, that the members are in a position to carry out their duties, that the House of Commons preserves all of its authority, and that democracy is working as it should.

Gus Cloutier is still with us in spirit and we salute him today. Thanks for everything, Gus.

Major-General Maurice Gaston CloutierOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I begin by saying how much I wish we could have done this while Major-General Cloutier was still with us, but as we all know, he requested that we not do so and we respected his humility in this regard.

Now we are free to say in public what I presume many of us said to him in private and certainly what I had an opportunity to say to him when I wrote him a letter during his illness.

As one who was elected to this place barely a year after Major-General Cloutier was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms, I count myself fortunate to have had the honour of knowing him and working with him for well over 25 years, and for seven of those years as a colleague on the Board of Internal Economy.

The chamber does not seem the same place without the elegant, discerning and humble presence of this special person who served the House with dignity, with distinction and with discretion.

He had a rare understanding of the unique institution that Parliament is and the unique vocation that members of Parliament embrace when they come to this place.

Major-General Cloutier, or Gus, could be counted on to put the legitimate interests of MPs and the well-being of Parliament ahead of any pressure originating in uninformed criticism or bureaucratic fad.

He knew how this place worked, and when we needed something attended to, we knew that if we spoke to Gus there would be something done about it.

Without being an MP himself, he was nevertheless what the tradition has in mind when someone is paid the high compliment of being referred to as “a House of Commons man”.

On behalf of the NDP, we give thanks for his life and for his service to this place, and we extend sincere condolences to his family.

Major-General Maurice Gaston CloutierOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I now invite all hon. members to a memorial service in honour of Major-General Cloutier. It will be held in room 237-C of the Centre Block at 4:00 p.m.

Perhaps we could also observe at this time a moment of silence in honour of Major-General Cloutier.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising out of question period today. During question period, in response to a question that was asked of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development by my colleague from Calgary Centre-North, if I recall events, you seemed to imply that the word “mislead” was inappropriate and that were my colleague to use it again you would indeed rule him out of order.

In order for you to provide a bit more clarification on that, Mr. Speaker, I would refer you to a few rulings from the past. Speaker Lamoureux ruled on March 22, 1971, that “in 100 years of parliamentary history” accusing another member of “deliberately deceiving...has never been accepted as a parliamentary term”. The member making accusations can always suggest that a member has “misled” a fellow member of the House, he said. For 100 years, it has been acceptable.

Then, on October 10, 1980, Speaker Sauvé ruled, at page 3591 of Hansard , that “in more recent practice in the House of Commons” this expression, being misled, “has been allowed provided it was not qualified by the words 'intentionally' or 'deliberately'”.

That would make it 110 years during which the term “misled” has been allowed.

Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to a more recent Speaker's ruling. Indeed, it was the Deputy Speaker, who, on March 19, 2005, said:

Again I would ask the co-operation of the hon. member. I know we have already put that phrase on the record, knowing that in the House the Chair would not accept one member from one side of the House to charge another with [deliberately misleading the House]. If we could at best blank the word deliberate, it would be helpful.

Mr. Speaker, I would contend that this makes it 130 years during which this practice has been acceptable. I wonder if you would review your ruling and get back to us.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not stating all the rulings in question. The word “mislead” has been ruled in the past to be unparliamentary. As Beauchesne's informs us at citation 489, it occurred in 1958, 1960, 1964 and 1966. Even misleading the public, not even a member, was ruled to be out of order on February 1, 1960.

The point I am making is that, in addition, the Speaker always has had the discretion to rule anything that causes disorder to be out of order. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Speaker was quite correct based on historical precedents to rule the way he did, were that precedent not there, the Speaker would still have that authority.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two brief points. I would remind the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell to cast his mind back to his time in the House from 1984 to 1993. I know he and his colleagues used the word “mislead” in the House in question period collectively, I am sure, thousands of times. We could do the research if we would like to bother the Library of Parliament.

Further, because I am intimately involved in question period, I am aware that Your Honour has accepted the term “mislead” in dozens of questions put by members of the opposition in the duration of this Parliament and of your presidency. Therefore, Sir, I would ask you, as it is difficult for members who have observed a pattern of your accepting, as is the historic convention, the word “mislead”, if suddenly you have changed your own practice and that of the House in this matter.

We need consistency on this because I think all members try to put questions that are in order. Based on your acceptance of this term over many months and indeed the past number of years, I think members are entirely within reason, as was the member for Calgary Centre-North, to have used it today.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I am more than happy to look into the matter further and I will certainly get back to the House. Quite frankly, the use of the term in debate I have always permitted. Often in preambles to questions the word has been bandied about, however it might be bandied about. I will not go into details on that. That is one thing.

I agree with the precedent cited by the hon. House leader for the official opposition in respect of the word being used without adjectives that would turn it into something different. That is not a problem. However, when the question is put to a minister asking why he misled the House, I suggest the tone of it implies that there was something deliberate about it. That is my concern and that is why, in my view, the question was out of order. As I say, it happened twice. We did not sit last week so it was either the last week we were sitting or the week before and I indicated my dissatisfaction then. It has happened a second time.

However, I will get back to the House on the matter. I will look at it as suggested by the hon. member. He will hear a full ruling on the issue and we will be able to proceed from there. I hope it will help the hon. member for Calgary Southeast in his question preparation as well.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been pointed out to me that I was mistaken in the date that I cited for a ruling by yourself as March 19, 2005. I wish to correct the record. It was March 19, 2002.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would also like to correct the record on a matter that I believe was very serious. I want to set the record straight.

Immediately before question period I asked a question of the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. In my preamble I stated that the frequency that front line police officers consulted the national gun registry was 3,000 times per day. I apologize to the House. I was mistaken. In fact it is 5,000 visits per day or 1.8 million visits to the registry each year.