Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise the question of privilege for which I already gave notice to the Chair. It relates to a householder sent by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, and to similar documents sent by other members of his caucus, to whom I will refer by riding: Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, Québec, Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Saint-Jean, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Drummond, Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, Louis-Saint-Laurent, Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Saint-Lambert, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Abitibi—Témiscamingue, Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, Trois-Rivières, Mégantic—L'Érable, Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Alfred-Pellan, Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Beauport—Limoilou, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia et Richmond—Arthabaska. There are surely others. We are continuing our research.
I sent a copy of this householder to the Chair. This document contains false allegations on some members, including myself. Printing and mailing these false allegations not only violates the existing rules, but also seeks to tarnish the reputation of these members, and therefore adversely affect their ability to fulfill their parliamentary duties.
During the 30th Parliament, the Special Committee on Rights and Immunities of Members stated that the purpose of the parliamentary privilege was to allow members to fulfill their responsibilities as officials representing the public, without unjustified interference.
In 1990, the Special Committee on the Parliament of Canada Act said in a report that a member must enjoy constitutional rights and immunities, and must be able to fulfill the duties and functions of his mandate without interference or intimidation.
On March 25, 2005, the member for Windsor West raised a question of privilege on a 10 percenter sent by the member for Medicine Hat to areas of his riding. The rules governing 10 percenters and householders are quite similar. Neither one is subject to the franking privileges of a member of Parliament, but is considered to be an information bulletin printed and paid for by the House of Commons, and for which a member must assume responsibility.
In a ruling issued on this matter on April 18, 2005, the Speaker said the following, as regards the sending of false information about a member, “This may well have affected his ability to function as a member—”. He also quoted Speaker Fraser, who said, on October 16, 1986, “Depending upon the content of the communication sent under the frank, it could be a question of privilege if the content worked against the right of Members to free expression and the carrying out of their obligations as Members”.
The matter was referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which in its 38th report considered the publication of false information about an hon. member to be an infringement of privilege. In the report, the Committee also notes that the growing number of incidents involving householders and 10 percenters warrants a review of the guidelines on these matters by the Board of Internal Economy, which seems not to have been done. Whence the necessity, once again, of raising a question of privilege.
I know that you do not want me to give a detailed description of the document in question, so I will be brief. A document is mailed; it is a householder. That means that all the households of these hon. members have received a copy talking about the sponsorship scandal and the money trail. Regarding the money trail, they draw arrows and clearly state that the money moved through the current Prime Minister, the former Prime Minister, then through a series of ministers, myself included. This is slanderous and untrue. It is frankly disgusting
What is more, they make ill-advised use of the logo of our political party. Since when does an opposition party have the right to use the logo of the Liberal Party of Canada in a householder? These are criminal allegations, and this is totally unacceptable
In passing, since they like to talk about the Gomery Commission, as I understand it, under section 13, which all the media are talking about, we are supposed to receive a letter if we are implicated in the scandal. I have received no letter from the Gomery Commission, nor has my colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie, nor my colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. This is false. How is it that, two weeks before the Gomery report is to be tabled, certain people are abusing the frank and the public purse, paid for with our taxes, to send householders everywhere?
We know the adage: Lie, and something of the truth will always remain. What is even more appalling is that this can be found on their own website. That means it can go all over the planet. Everyone has access to this sort of thing.
I learned this morning that the Bloc Québécois has prepared a pre-recorded program that it wants to broadcast next week. We know how this usually works on the community channel. They use our research budgets, they organize a program and then they broadcast it on the network. It goes to every region in Quebec. This means that next week the Bloc Québécois is going to use this program to spread its criminal allegations. That is totally unacceptable.
But the worst is yet to come. For the hon. members for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord have loudly proclaimed that the content of this householder was approved by the House of Commons. That was their defence; that was what they replied to the journalists’ questions. Yet, after verification, that is not true. There was no request for authorization, and what is more, the content of householders—not ten percenters—is the responsibility of the members, who sign the householder themselves. They have to assume their own responsibility. We are responsible for the content of our own householders.
I would ask the members to prove what they say. In fact, they blame House employees, for whom I and all of us here have the utmost respect.
It is also clear that the use of our logo is improper and a major infringement of our privileges. The more I look, the more I find and the more this mailing damages my reputation and besmirches my honour and integrity.
I am proud to be the member for Bourassa, a Canadian and a Liberal. My parents taught me the importance of honesty and of speaking up for those who cannot. They said above all that it was important to protect our reputation. It is time that we restored the dignity of this House, of this Parliament, of the very cradle of our democracy, which I so cherish. We must realize how fragile our institutions are and that we must protect them. It is our duty to do so.
I demand justice and redress. I expect at the end of this privilege process to receive nothing less than apologies from the Bloc, its leader and all its members who approved the printing and mailing of this rag. I expect the Bloc to pay back the entire cost of this householder and to send out another at its expense to all the homes in ridings that received this untrue, defamatory libel. I expect as well that no one will broadcast this pre-recorded program that was supposed to be broadcast next week in all parts of Quebec. I also expect a formal correction in the media, paid for out of Bloc Québécois funds.
The more I look, the more I find. That is why my lawyers and I are continuing to assess the extent of the damages I suffered.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier said that starting is half the battle. It is time to sort out all these questions about householders and 10 percenters. It is totally unacceptable for the privileges of members of Parliament to be abused in this way. There is an abuse of public funds and an abuse of members' privileges.
I say that the printing and mailing of this document is against the rules. By damaging the reputation of certain members, including myself, this document intimidates them in the exercise of their parliamentary duties and is a breach of the privileges of this House. If you agree, I am prepared to introduce a motion immediately.