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House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bank.

Topics

MarriageGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

MarriageGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

MarriageGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

MarriageGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #94

MarriageGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion defeated.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the question is about House business going forward for the rest of this week and into next week. I know the House leader for the government is anticipating an adjournment of the House, according to our calendar, on December 15, if perhaps not sooner than that.

I wonder if he could indicate how certain he is of the holiday season beginning on December 15 and how he would propose to ensure the House is productively engaged in the intervening eight days.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to confirm that the holiday season will be beginning in due course. In the meantime, we will continue with Bill C-37, the tax convention; Bill C-12, financial institutions; and Bill C-36, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act.

Tomorrow we will begin the third reading of Bill C-28, budget tax measures.

We will continue next week with the business from this week, with the addition of Bill C-40, sales tax; Bill C-32, impaired driving; Bill C-33, technical income tax; Bill C-35, bail reform; and, of course, as is the tradition, as the member would know, it is great to get into a prebudget debate and that usually lasts about two days.

We have a busy agenda and I look forward to the cooperation of the hon. member. I am sure we will have further discussions on this.

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2006 / 3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you hearing this question of privilege. I know this matter has come before you once before as a question of privilege about question period and the veracity of members in the House during question period.

However, I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I would not rise on this matter if I did not believe that question period today revolved around a question which is essential for the security of Canada, the security frankly of the western world, and the security of individual citizens in our country. This is an extremely grave matter when the government members in this House believe as if they were reading from a textbook written by Mr. Goebbels when he was preparing for power in Germany. It is absolutely shameful.

Yesterday the Prime Minister alleged that this party and myself as foreign minister did nothing. He said that we did not utter a peep in respect of Mr. Arar. Today he repeated that allegation and the Minister of Public Safety did the same and sought to distort the evidence before the House and yourself, Mr. Speaker.

The O'Connor report clearly shows the following facts: that I attended on the minister from Syria at the United Nations, that we had regular phone calls, and that I attempted to write a letter to the minister himself, but was unable to do so because of instructions from the RCMP to the solicitor general at the time.

This matter was only resolved because of the intervention of the then prime minister, Mr. Chrétien. While all this was going on, all these efforts being made to get Mr. Arar out of jail, we were unable to do so because of the actions of the RCMP and egged on by the present public security minister who in this House alleged that we were helping a known terrorist. He said it on the floor of this House. It is disgraceful to have him stand up and say what he said today. It is dishonourable.

Some of us here have spent our lives in honourable service to our country and to this House of Commons. To have dishonourable allegations of that nature made on a file of such importance to the security of Canada and Canadians is not acceptable to the House. It is not acceptable to the country. It is not acceptable to our decorum and I suggest it affects the privileges of all members of the House.

It is just not possible to have a question period in which hon. members are allowed to distort the truth so much and tell lies about what took place on the public record. It totally destroys the credibility of this House of Commons and I raise it as a personal privilege.

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, first, the basis or the genesis of the discussion today arose from a number of very serious remarks that were made by members opposite saying that I had labelled a certain individual as a terrorist. In fact, there is no record of that whatsoever. I take that as emotional and misinformed debate. I do not rise and shriek to the rooftops here in the chamber.

However, since they raised it, we may as well have on the record that I did ask some questions related to Mr. Arar, none of which, there is not one quotation, indicate that I said that man was a terrorist.

As a matter of fact, I have one quote where I said:

--one thing is clear: his basic rights have been violated. Why hasn't the federal government demanded an apology from the Syrian government?

That is one thing I said. There is another thing that I said. When I was talking to the wife of Mr. Arar, I said:

That's clear...Was there information sharing that went on, involving the RCMP and related to concerns with Mr. Arar?

I was asking questions about the RCMP and what information they may have shared that had resulted in Mr. Arar's dilemma.

I also said, related to Mr. Arar, when I was in the opposition:

Is it normal that a Canadian citizen could be held in another country for such a period of time and the foreign affairs minister does not even know where he is?

Those are things that I said. Is it not interesting that opposition members will take something I never said and say I said it, but they will not take what I did say and reflect on it?

And I will say, in reflection to the former minister of foreign affairs, with whom I have worked on many issues and for whom I have great regard, in light of these totally ridiculous--

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

An hon. member

He was not shrieking--

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Well, he was shrieking, and that is his right. Members can shriek in this House. I have heard them do it a number of times.

I want to point out what I said in regard to these allegations about somebody calling somebody a terrorist. It is very clear in Justice O'Connor's report. On page 240, he talks about the fact that the way the former minister of foreign affairs raised the issues about torture related to Mr. Arar, it was Justice O'Connor's view, and reflected clearly on that page, that the manner in which he raised those could have caused others to think that in fact Mr. Arar had not been tortured. That is simply what I said and I was quoting Justice O'Connor. It is on page 240.

I say that in light of the former minister of foreign affairs, as an individual I have worked with on many different files, and I find him to be a fine and upstanding individual.

I am sorry he does not like the fact that nobody in the media ever raised page 240. None of his colleagues certainly ever raised it, but I did raise it today. It is there for everybody to read and it is no reflection on his good character.

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to add to what the Minister of Public Safety has indicated in terms of the fact situation.

I just want to express my disappointment that, when this was raised, the former leader of the opposition would refer to members on this side or ministers on this side in terms of Goebbels, who was a Nazi cabinet minister. I think that is reprehensible. I heard what he had to say about decorum and I think this works both ways.

We just had a very sensitive vote that touched people deeply. I was very disappointed that the members of his party, and he will confirm that, were yelling out things like “shame” and yelling at our members as they got up to vote in favour of that motion.

Let me just remind hon. members that when this vote came up last time, in the summer of 2005, the members of my political party were respectful of everybody's point of view and that is the way that debate should have been conducted.

Again, in terms of decorum, these things work both ways, but I think the hon. member should withdraw that reference.

Alleged Veracity of Answers to Oral QuestionsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am certainly prepared to examine the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Toronto Centre in some detail and get back to the House if necessary.

My initial reaction is that we have a disagreement as to what was said and I thought the explanation offered by the Minister of Public Safety appeared to deal with the issue, but of course I will look at the questions and answers that were given today on this subject as part of the issue, since those are the ones that were complained of in question period.

Having said that, I think the government House leader raised a very good point about decorum in the House, which I stress the importance of to hon. members, and in preparation of questions particularly, because we do allow preambles to questions in this House. Members do have a limited time but they can make preambles and preambles can contain statements that we hope are always accurate. Accuracy I think is important, as both the Minister of Public Safety and the government House leader pointed out.

The member for Toronto Centre pointed out the importance of accuracy as well, although he was making it in reference to answers. If the allegations in the preambles were more accurate, I suspect maybe we would get more accurate answers, and if we did not, we would have more complaints.

I would urge all hon. members, in the preparation of their questions and answers, and I know there is some preparation that goes into this, as spontaneous as it may look from time to time in the House, to have due regard to the actual statements and references that are made, so that they are an accurate reflection of what they are quoting from or what they are alleging someone else said, rather than a summary which may distort what in fact was said and put words in the mouth of some other hon. member, which the hon. member later will deny having said.

It is not helpful to our debate if there are inaccuracies of this kind, and it is a question period to elicit information and to hold governments to account. That is the whole purpose of it and so questions can be framed in such a way that they do not necessarily distort what members of the House or ministers may have said on other occasions.

I think that is very important for all of us and I would urge hon. members on both sides of the House to bear that in mind in the course of preparation for question period, whether it be for questions or for answers, and as I say, I will get back on the question of privilege later if need be.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a correction in response to a question from the member for St. Paul's. I made reference to funds being available on April 1, 2008. It should be corrected to read April 1, 2007.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Wild Rose is rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, during question period I was concentrating on what was happening and I was rudely interrupted by my seatmate when he came in and proudly announced that he was the father of a new baby girl, named Vienna Fitzgerald, born on Tuesday. I think we should congratulate him, and the point of my point of order is: where are the cigars?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am not sure that is a valid point of order, but I am sure the hon. member will find the cigars in due course.

The hon. member for Toronto Centre on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that if you sought it, I am sure you would find unanimous agreement in the House that we would support the recent declaration in respect of the birth of the hon. member's child.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Agreed.

The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine is also rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, during oral question period, I asked the Minister of Public Safety two questions in which I referred to some comments he made in 2002 regarding Mr. Arar.

In light of the admonition you have just given, indicating that members must ensure beforehand—before asking a question—that they are accurate in how they present the facts, I would like to read to the House the quotation I attributed to the Minister of Public Safety, and emphasize that this quotation is from November 19, 2002, and is definitely accurate.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

I would ask you to table that. You'd better table that.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

I will. It is in Hansard.

I would refer the Speaker to Hansard of November 19, 2002 and the then member of the official opposition, who is now the Minister of Public Safety, in which he specifically refers to “answer concerning Maher Arar and his possible terrorist ties”, and it goes on. The quotation that I gave is accurate. It comes from Hansard.

I also made reference to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, and I will refer the House to Hansard of November 18, 2002, in which the member, now Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, states, “Arar was given dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship by the government.” She is referring to the Canadian government and says, “It did not pick up on his terrorist links and the United States had to clue it in”. The member, now Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, went on, but I would refer Mr. Speaker to Hansard of November 18, 2002.

I also made reference to the present Prime Minister having equally called Mr. Arar a terrorist or having made reference to Mr. Arar having possible terrorist links. I wish to inform the House of where the reference comes from. I refer the Speaker to Hansard of November 18, 2002, in which the present Prime Minister, who I believe was then the Leader of the Official Opposition, and I could be wrong, or of some party, said:

Mr. Speaker, the government's right hand does not know what its left hand is doing when it comes to national security.

The foreign affairs minister said for two months that the United States had offered no justification or information for the deportation of Maher Arar. Yet we now know that the RCMP knew of [Mr.] Arar's activities. They questioned him nearly a year ago and they were notified weeks ago by the RCMP of its information.

My question is, when did the minister know of the RCMP's holding of information on this matter?

The present Prime Minister also stated on the same day, November 18, 2002, that:

--he said he did not know. It would be nice if there were somebody here to actually answer a question on this.

While the minister participated in high level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist, it apparently took a trip by the U.S. Secretary of State for the minister to admit what he really knew.

The present Prime Minister made that statement in reference to Mr. Arar as a “suspected terrorist” on November 18, 2002.

When I asked my questions, my questions came from the official transcript, Hansard, wherein the now Minister of Public Security, the now Prime Minister and the now Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance referred to Mr. Arar back in November 2002 as either a suspected terrorist or an individual having links with possible terrorists and, at that point, accused and denounced our government for, in their own words, trying to secure the liberation and freedom of a “suspected terrorist”.

When I ask these questions and the Minister of Public Security, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and just about every Conservative there laughs and makes jokes, and when we are talking about a Canadian citizen who was tortured, possibly as a result of their own statements in this House in 2002, it is appalling and it is a question of privilege.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I appreciate the clarification offered by the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I will certainly bear it in mind in the course of my review, as I have indicated I will be doing, of the question of privilege raised by the member for Toronto Centre. I am not sure whether the hon. member is raising her own question of privilege. If so, I assume that she was adding this to the comments made on the earlier one, and we will proceed on that basis.

The government House leader raised his point about the yelling during the vote and I would point out to all hon. members that Standing Order 16(1) states:

When the Speaker is putting a question, no Member shall enter, walk out of or across the House, or make any noise or disturbance.

I know all hon. members will want to bear that rule in mind the next time we have a vote in the House and maintain absolute silence while the vote is being conducted. There will be no noise or disturbance. There will be no yelling across the House at anyone, I am sure, from now on, because I have reminded hon. members of this very old and very important rule as part of our Standing Orders.