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House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we should listen to Justice Gomery, who said yesterday that this is not a witch hunt. We should respect his words and not use the House of Commons to turn it into a witch hunt. What we ought to be doing is allowing Justice Gomery to do his work in getting to the truth for Canadians. That would be the right thing to do.

While there are allegations against the Conservatives, while there are allegations against the péquistes in Quebec, there is only one leader who is actually dedicated to getting to the bottom of this issue and it is this Liberal Prime Minister who is doing the right thing, who is putting country above party, who is putting principle above partisan strategy. He is doing the right thing to get the truth for Canadians.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the stench of Liberal corruption has made its way directly into the office of the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant and transport minister. Yet the transport minister refuses to demand the resignations of his director of communications and special assistant.

At least provincial Liberals implicated in ad scam have resigned while their names hang under a cloud of scandal and corruption. Why is it that the federal Liberal standards are so much lower than those of the Quebec Liberal Party?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, Justice Gomery has had many things to say about this. On Friday, May 6 he said, “I think it has been established that the Liberal Party operated in a legal manner. This has been established and I accept it”.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister himself said that anyone who knew what has going on and did not act should resign immediately. In spite of that, the Minister of Transport is refusing to demand the resignation of his political aides involved in the sponsorship scandal.

Since the minister is refusing to take responsibility for the actions of members of his entourage, when will the Prime Minister accept his responsibilities and demand their resignation?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the comments from the member for Medicine Hat this morning about how some of these things are just technicalities. We notice that that party has a habit of treating these things as technicalities: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution, fundamental justice.

The people involved have denied it. They have taken legal action. Until there is evidence to the contrary, they deserve the respect of the House.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government was wondering where the dirty money went. Part of the answer was just provided by Marc-Yvan Côté, its former political organizer for eastern Quebec, who stated that he received $120,000 in cash in envelopes and that he distributed the money among the Liberal candidates in eastern Quebec in the 1997 election. This confirms what Jean Brault and Michel Béliveau said previously.

Now that we know where part of the dirty money went, what is the government waiting for to put the money in a trust account?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the party has been clear. If the party received funds inappropriately, it will reimburse the taxpayers. Our Prime Minister has taken action to deal with the sponsorship issue. The separatists should deal with their own problems, such as Gaspésia and Oxygène 9, where it would seem that millions of dollars in taxpayers' money were mismanaged.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his address to the nation, the Prime Minister said that, if so much as a dollar found its way into Liberal party coffers inappropriately, it would be reimbursed. We now know that the money found its way there in a bunch of envelopes.

So, I would ask the Prime Minister this. Will he hand that bunch of envelopes, with the dirty money inside, over to a trustee?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again the party has been clear and the Prime Minister has been clear that if the party has received funds inappropriately, the party will reimburse the Canadian taxpayer. It is impossible to make that transaction occur and to reimburse the taxpayer without all the facts. That is why party auditors are working with Justice Gomery's auditors to ensure that all the facts are analyzed thoroughly and we have, through his report, the analysis required to do the right thing and make this happen.

Let us be clear. The party will do the right thing because the Prime Minister will ensure that the right thing is done.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have heard confessions that Richard Mimeau, one of the top aides to the current Minister of Transport, received $6,000 in dirty money for working on Liberal election campaigns. What is very troubling is that Mr. Mimeau was not part of a parallel group; rather, he was another top supporter of the current Prime Minister. These revelations show that the current ministerial staff of this administration were directly involved in ad scam.

Will the Prime Minister have us believe that he was so inept that he was unaware of his key supporters being involved in swindling ad scam money?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that questions like that are even allowed in the House, given the advice that was received in Marleau and Montpetit.

I will say the same thing over and over again. If he has a charge or an accusation to make about people who cannot defend themselves in the House, he should step outside and make it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the last thing this assembly needs is to have the minister lecture members on making statements that might be harmful to someone's reputation. Perhaps it is not all the fault of the minister. Perhaps the fault lies in his genes.

We heard confessions, not allegations, from Richard Mimeau that he pocketed $6,000 of dirty money, yet he is still working for the government. When will the Prime Minister stand up for Canada, do what is right and fire every ad scammer that is currently working for the government?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, that is particularly unique coming from that member, but I would invite the member to do as he has done in the past, to step outside and make those allegations.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

May 11th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage--

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. We have moved on to the next question. The hon. member for Kenora has the floor.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently there has been some uncertainty concerning the future of the urban multipurpose aboriginal youth centre initiative. The program is important to aboriginal youth across Canada, particularly in my riding. For example, the Ne´Chee Friendship Centre in Kenora serves approximately 250 aboriginal youth with important projects that help restore their cultural identity.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage provide the House with some details of her department's plans for the future of this very important initiative?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, indeed this was a matter of great concern for the aboriginal people so I am pleased to announce the extension of the urban multipurpose aboriginal youth centre initiative for $125 million for the next five years.

This means the activity of engaging urban aboriginal youth to improve their personal prospects will continue until 2010. I am meeting the president of the friendship centres on Friday because they are very important in dispensing the program.

This commitment is included in the 2005 budget which I urge my colleagues to support.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in our gallery of the His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development concerning comments made by the hon. members for Calgary—Nose Hill, Simcoe—Grey, and Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam during the question periods of Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 10, critical of individuals who are not members of the House.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter, as well as the hon. President of the Treasury Board, the deputy House leader of the official opposition and the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill for their interventions.

On both occasions when the matter was raised, I indicated that I would take it under advisement, check the transcripts, and get back to the House. I have done so and am now prepared to rule.

In her initial submission on May 9, the hon. parliamentary secretary stated that during question period that day, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill had made accusations about an individual who does not sit in the House and who cannot respond to the allegations. Yesterday following question period she rose again to complain of unfair criticism of the same individual by the hon. members for Simcoe—Grey and Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam.

In her initial comments the hon. parliamentary secretary drew the attention of the Chair to pages 76 to 78 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice concerning the misuse of freedom of speech. She cited a ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser quoted in Marleau and Montpetit where he urged members to exercise extreme caution when referring to individuals who are not members of the House. The same text was also quoted by the hon. President of the Treasury Board on Tuesday.

The hon. parliamentary secretary called upon the official opposition, and in particular the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill, to refrain from impugning motives and making accusations and allegations about people who could not defend themselves in the chamber.

Yesterday, the hon. parliamentary secretary again urged the Speaker to ask members to refrain from mentioning those who do not have the protection of the House.

In his intervention on Monday, the hon. deputy House leader of the official opposition stated that in his opinion the questions were in order and that it was legitimate to comment on testimony before a quasi-judicial inquiry. He repeated this again yesterday, noting that the opposition had no compunction about repeating here in the House of Commons, where free speech prevails, comments in the public domain based on sworn testimony.

The sage advice of Mr. Speaker Fraser quoted on Monday and yesterday by the hon. parliamentary secretary and the hon. President of the Treasury Board addressed what he calls the grave responsibilities on those who are protected by the absolute privilege of freedom of speech.

I have reviewed the full context of that quotation and wish to draw to the attention of the House the fact that these remarks of Mr. Speaker Fraser refer to statements or allegations initiated by members in the House itself. However, the remarks that offend the hon. parliamentary secretary make reference to testimony given in a public forum, before an inquiry, and widely reported in various media.

I have carefully reviewed the situation to ensure that the references made here in the House are already in the public domain and I am satisfied that this is indeed the case. If the disputed statements were thus not linked to reports in the public domain, I might be inclined to view the matter quite differently. However, under these circumstances I fail to see how I, as your Speaker, can enjoin members from referring at all to this testimony or to these media reports, all of it already public. To do so would be to impose upon the members of this House restrictions that go well beyond the normal restrictions that apply outside this House.

That said, I will continue to urge hon. members to be more judicious in their language and more temperate in their arguments, as I always do. However, I can find no prima facie case of privilege in the matter raised by the hon. parliamentary secretary at this time, although of course we will continue to monitor the questions to ensure that the material mentioned in them is already in the public domain.

I thank all hon. members for allowing me to clarify this matter.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the ruling, but at the same time you did say at the end that we must caution hon. members in terms as to the extent. I would like to know if “in the public domain” means that any Canadian citizen's name appearing in any public domain forum in fact can be used in this House in the way that a name was used by certain hon. members in this House. They are not prepared to do it outside. There must be some limit in terms of the freedom of speech in this House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I think if tomorrow, the hon. member for Ahuntsic reviews the ruling I just gave, she will see, as I believe, that I have answered her question. If allegations are made in a courtroom, those allegations can be repeated in the media, however damaging they may be to the individuals they concern, and the media cannot be sued for reporting what happens in a public inquiry. It seems to me, to give a very brief explanation, if those same comments are then repeated here in the House of Commons, if the same allegations are repeated in the House of Commons, it has not changed things.

What I am concerned about, as I stated, were comments about other people who have not had their names bandied about in a public inquiry or in a court, where the matter can already be reported. The report should not start on something that happens here. I think that is clear from reading my judgment, if I can put it perhaps in layman's terms.

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has a question of privilege. I am going to hear him now.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

A ten percenter was sent by the Conservatives in the riding of Windsor West. The question of privilege was debated in the House of Commons. You recommended that the issue be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. That recommendation was accepted and the committee worked to settle the issue.

Yesterday, following oral question period, another question of privilege was raised by Conservatives who were not pleased about a ten percenter in their riding, and the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley disclosed comments that were made when the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was sitting in camera. This is in violation of the rules as stated in Marleau and Montpetit, where it says, “May 14, 1987, ...the divulgation by John Parry (Kenora—Rainy River) of the results of a recorded vote held at an in camera meeting of the standing committee”.

Yesterday, the Conservative member violated that rule. I will not get into further details, because I do not want to take the time of the House of Commons, but I am asking for your opinion on this issue. My recommendation would be to refer the issue to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, since there was unquestionably a violation of the committee's privileges as has already been recognized in this House.

Yesterday, the member told the House of Commons, and I quote:

The unit could not say to what ridings the 10 percenters went or who got them. It could not say how to reach back and correct that. Therefore, today we passed a motion in the committee for the House of Commons to issue an apology to the communities involved with this. I think that was the proper way to deal with it.

That is a direct violation of the in-camera meeting that we had. Mr. Speaker, I want you to give a ruling on this situation.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, if I inadvertently made statements I should not have, I certainly apologize for that and withdraw them.

We went on for some time and allegations were made that a Conservative member of Parliament deliberately mailed a householder into another riding, which he did not do. He did not deliberately do that. It was not his fault. The House of Commons postal unit came to our committee and apologized for it, but if I did say anything that I should not have said, I certainly apologize. I did not mean to do that.