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House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I just want to confirm what the Minister of the Environment has, in effect, now admitted. He has admitted that the language he referred to in question period was in fact in the Calgary Herald, not in quotation marks and, therefore, not attributable to the Leader of the Opposition.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am sure that all hon. members appreciate the clarification that we now have in respect of statements made during question period.

Parliamentary Precinct--Speaker's RulingPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington on March 29, concerning the issue of confidential files in the possession of the Liberal Party of Canada. The hon. member commented further on the matter on April 17 and April 27. In reviewing this important question, the Chair also considered carefully the documentation forwarded by the hon. member on May 1.

I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. member for Ajax-Pickering for his comments.

In his remarks, the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington referred to statements made to the media by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, in which they indicated that they had in their possession several boxes of documents which they claimed to have found in drawers and filing cabinets in the offices customarily occupied by the staff of the leader of the opposition.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington confirmed that the documents in question were the property of the Conservative Party of Canada, that they were confidential in nature and that they included the personnel files of approximately 30 past and present employees of the party, himself among them. He stated that the hon. members for Ajax—Pickering and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine had admitted inspecting the documents in question and that the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering had made specific reference to “five years worth of performance appraisals of Conservative staffers” before going on to allege “gross ineptitude” on the part of the Conservative Party.

In response to the claim that the documents had been found in drawers and filing cabinets, the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington disputed this assertion. He noted the presence, on the boxes containing them, of address labels that he said had been placed there by Conservative staff, clearly indicating the intended destination.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington also reported that while the majority of the documents had been returned to the Conservative Party, the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering had told the press that, and here he said he was quoting the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering, “the Liberal caucus is retaining possession of some of the documents to determine whether or not they contain other issues that are in the public interest”.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington expressed concerns that documents of the Conservative caucus were still in the possession of the Liberal caucus and were being retained with a view to making them public at such time as this might be politically damaging to the government.

In reply, on April 17, 2007, the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering stated that all of the remaining documents had been returned to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms on April 10, 2007. He declared that the documents had not been copied or mishandled and that only one Liberal staff member had been involved in their examination. He denied that all the documents had been boxed and the boxes labelled, stating that “the only labelled box contained videotapes of the 2004 Conservative election ads and all other materials were found in desk drawers and cabinets”.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington then made a further submission on his point of order, commenting on the manner in which confidential documents had been displayed at a news conference on March 26, 2007 and on the detailed description offered to the media by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering of their contents. He identified discrepancies among a number of statements to the media by the member for Ajax—Pickering and others in his caucus, and he emphasized the diligence with which Conservative staff ordinarily manage the relocation of confidential documents.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington charged that the Leader of the Opposition was “guilty of facilitating actions that are an ongoing contempt of Parliament” if some of the documents had not been returned. He demanded that the identities of those involved in inspecting them be disclosed, that he be told whether any of the documents had been scanned or otherwise reproduced, and that the Leader of the Opposition explain why some of them had been displayed on his website.

In seeking recognition from the Chair that a prima facie breach of privilege had occurred, the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington maintained that his ability to discharge his duties as a member of Parliament had been impeded. He cited Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, page 229, to the effect that interference with the functioning of a member of Parliament “may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence”, and he adduced a precedent from 1996 in which an inappropriate press release by a member of Parliament had been deemed to constitute a prima facie case of privilege.

I have looked into this question with care, as I indicated was my intention when the issue was brought before the House. House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at p. 50:

“Parliamentary privilege” refers … to the rights and immunities that are deemed necessary for the House of Commons, as an institution, and its Members, as representatives of the electorate, to fulfill their functions. It also refers to the powers possessed by the House to protect itself, its Members, and its procedures from undue interference, so that it can effectively carry out its principal functions which are to inquire, to debate, and to legislate.

Members are aware that parliamentary privilege is strictly limited in its application. With respect to individual members, privilege provides them with a guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom from arrest in civil actions, exemption from jury duty and from appearing as a witness, and freedom from obstruction, interference, intimidation and molestation.

As I indicated in my remarks on April 17, 2007, the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington may have a grievance. However, as Speaker, I am limited to a determination of whether or not the treatment of the documents in question has interfered with the member's ability to carry out his responsibilities as a member of Parliament. It does not seem to me that this is the case.

All members, I am sure, appreciate the seriousness of this incident. Issues of personal privacy are of importance not only to those of us in this place but to all Canadians. At the same time, I can see no grounds at present to justify a finding that the use made of the documents in question constitutes a breach of the privileges of this House or of the individual member in this case, the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington continues to participate in debate fully and freely, and to attend to his other responsibilities as a member. While he may have concerns about what has occurred with respect to these documents, the Chair cannot see, on a prima facie basis, that the member's privileges have been violated.

Perhaps the hon. member should bring his concerns on this matter to the attention of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in respect of the proper handling of found documents pertaining to matters of parliamentary business and belonging to another member or to the caucus of another recognized party.

In respect of his concern regarding the privacy rights of individual members or employees of members and caucus staff, perhaps the hon. member might ask the Board of Internal Economy to review the matter of how found documents are to be handled, as an administrative matter, where the documents relate to individuals in their personal or private capacity. However, I do not think this is a case requiring the intervention of the Chair, since it fails to meet the standard required of a question of privilege.

Once again, I thank the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington for having brought this matter to the attention of the Chair.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the Table the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation to the Hellenic Republic, the United Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Norway, from March 8 to 18, 2007.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women entitled “The Impacts of Funding and Program Changes at Status of Women Canada”.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999--Five-Year Review: Closing the Gaps”.

In accordance with its order of reference under Standing Order 108(2) and section 343 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the committee has considered and held hearings on the subject matter of the statutory review of the act, and agreed to it on Tuesday, April 24, 2007.

Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in relation to the statutory review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

In the interest of transparency something has been brought to my attention in the last hour or so. There are a couple of dissenting opinions, and the last sentence of one of the dissenting opinions reads “Minister Day's letter is attached as an annex to this dissenting opinion”.

Unfortunately, when the dissenting opinion was provided to the clerk, the letter was not attached and therefore it does not form part of this report. We will try to deal with that when we publish the report that is going to be disseminated to the public. I want to make sure that is on the record.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-438, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (consent).

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my seconder, the member for Parkdale—High Park, for her support.

This bill is brought forward to deal with the problem we have within our legislation; specifically, section 159 of the Criminal Code. This section of the Criminal Code has been struck down by a number of courts, including two courts of appeal, as being against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It, unfortunately, continues to sit on our books. Both the previous government and the current government, even though they have had opportunities, have not brought forward amendments to the Criminal Code taking that out completely.

The purpose of this bill is to do just that. It is a bit lengthy in the sense that it is deleting one specific paragraph, paragraph 159, but it also has a number of consequential paragraphs that need to be amended. That is the reason for the length of the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

May 2nd, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, in the interest of moving this along, I will make my best effort to move this motion and seek the assistance of the opposition House leader in ensuring that I have it right. I move:

Whereas Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen who was travelling in Uzbekistan on a Canadian passport, and was extradited to China;

Whereas the Chinese government has refused to recognize Mr. Celil's Canadian citizenship;

Whereas the Chinese government has refused to grant Canadian officials consular access to Mr. Celil, as per the 1999 Canada China consular agreement; and

Whereas there are serious allegations that Mr. Celil was mistreated and possibly subjected to torture while in Chinese custody, which would constitute a serious breach of the UN Convention against Torture, to which both Canada and China are parties;

This House calls upon the Government of China to grant consular access to Mr. Celil and investigate the claims of mistreatment and torture both promptly and impartially, and to ensure that Mr. Celil's rights are fully protected; to review the allegations against Mr. Celil with a view to returning him to Canada; and this House calls upon the government of Uzbekistan to explain why Mr. Celil was extradited to China instead of Canada, since he was travelling with a Canadian passport.

I would seek the support of the House for the motion.

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think that consent is indeed forthcoming. However, might I suggest that we just take a moment to make sure we are absolutely agreed upon the language and make sure there is no mistake. It is only a matter of moments.

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Perhaps we can complete routine proceedings and then we will put the question on the motion after routine proceedings, if that is agreeable. By then I will have a copy that I could read to the House.

Corporate Social ResponsibilityPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by over 900 people from a number of regions of Canada. This petition follows up on the final report of the national round tables on corporate social responsibility of Canada's extractive industries in developing countries.

The final report was prepared by an advisory group made up of members of civil society and of the industry. The document includes a series of recommendations based on the consensus reached by stakeholders regarding the development of good overseas practices for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies operating in developing countries. The multi-party round table process and the ensuing final report are a world first.

The petitioners are pleased with this report and are asking the government to demand that Canadian businesses conduct their operations abroad in compliance with clearly defined corporate responsibility standards, to establish effective monitoring processes, and to pass appropriate legislation.

Employment Insurance ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been long established that 50 weeks of maternity benefits under the Employment Insurance Act are beneficial to the well-being of mother and child for at home parental bonding, but it ignores the reality of some like Roxie Malone-Richards and her beautiful new daughter, Jessie, in my riding of Edmonton East, who are deprived of the right to have this full experience due to complications with premature birth.

Roxie Malone-Richards and over 1,000 petitioners are calling for consideration to be given to amend the Employment Insurance Act and allow additional maternity benefits to start when the child leaves the hospital to go home.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the following petition from my constituents of Bramalea--Gore--Malton. The petitioners call upon the minister responsible for Canada Post to review Canada Post's decision to locate community mailboxes along formerly designated rural routes and restore home mail delivery for my constituents of the Castlemore area.

The residents of the neighbourhood of Castlemore must either cross or stand alongside these roads to collect their mail and there is a clear danger to personal safety, particularly for the elderly and children.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to bring forward today.

The first one is from the very wise citizens of the city of Timmins and the communities of Englehart and Earlton in northern Ontario and it is on raising the age of consent. The petitioners are bringing forward to the House the following: that the protection of children from sexual predators must be a top priority of the federal government; that the Canadian Police Association, a number of provincial governments and a parliamentary committee report all recommend raising the age of consent; and that studies show that 14 year olds and 15 year olds are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Whereas it is the duty of Parliament to enforce the Criminal Code to protect the most vulnerable members of our society from harm, the petitioners are asking the government to take the necessary steps to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.

PassportsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will continue the second petition, signed mostly by the good citizens of the city of Timmins, about the need for passport services in northeastern Ontario. The petitioners point out to Parliament that: passport delays have become increasingly long; it is difficult for people from the northeast to access passport services; there is no fully operational passport facility and no expedited services available for the citizens of northeastern Ontario; and this lack of service is hampering numerous economic opportunities for the region because our region is dependent on mining exploration and a lot of our citizens travel.

The citizens of Timmins--James Bay are asking the government to approve the granting of a fully operational passport office in the city of Timmins to serve the people of northeastern Ontario. It would also be able to serve the citizens of northwestern Quebec and would alleviate the current workload and delays.

Canada Summer JobsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling two petitions today.

The first one deals with the Canada summer jobs program. The petitioners are asking the government to not only maintain the program, but to improve it. They are opposed to the cuts announced for next year, and they are also opposed to those that have already been made.

They also point out that this program is very useful to students looking for a first job, and they hope that the government will maintain it in its original form, and improve it.

Kyoto ProtocolPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from a group of seniors in the riding of Ahuntsic, who are asking that the Kyoto protocol be respected, as it was originally signed.

Human TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I continue to get petitions on this important issue from across Canada. There are several hundred here today. The petitioners are requesting that the government continue its work to combat the trafficking of persons. This is a very important issue and I am grateful for the opportunity to present it.

Corporate Social ResponsibilityPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour of presenting a petition signed by nearly 2,000 Canadians from across the country. These petitioners call on the Parliament of Canada to require Canadian businesses operating abroad to respect the environment and human rights before they can receive any financial assistance from the Canadian government.

SeniorsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by numerous Canadians regarding the issue of newcomer seniors. The petitioners point out that many of our seniors who have come recently to Canada are struggling to make ends meet and yet their presence here in Canada is much needed in terms of family reunification and support for our multicultural society. The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to amend the Old Age Security Act and to look at the requirements for OAS and GIS to eliminate the 10 year residency requirement.

The petitioners also look for action from provincial governments on sponsorship obligations and changes to public transit, and they would like government funding for more ethno-specific affordable housing for seniors.

Summer Career Placement ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by nearly 300 people from the riding of Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, mainly people from the Île d'Orléans and upper north shore areas, who denounce the cuts made to the summer career placement program.

This is a program that is very important to young people. It often helps them land their first job. It also helps them financially by enabling them to work through the summer and earn money. Let us not forget that, when a young person gets a summer job, this provides relief to his or her parents at the same time. So, we are asking that the government restore, maintain and even enhance the summer career placement program.

Fisheries ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I stand to present a petition today signed by well over 200 constituents from Glace Bay, Catalone, Main-à-Dieu and Louisbourg, who have voiced concerns about the forthcoming legislation, the changes in the Fisheries Act, Bill C-45. There is a great deal of concern about provisions in the owner-operator regulations and transfer of licence.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to not go forward with debate and call upon the government to go forward with honest and open dialogue with fishing communities and fishers, so that any change in legislation will have the best impacts on those affected.