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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

April 29th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Dr. Nahum Sonenberg and Dr. Samuel Weiss, Canadian winners of the 2008 Gairdner International Awards, given for outstanding discoveries or contributions to medical science.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I believe the hon. member for Louis-Hébert wishes to rise on a question of privilege. Is that correct? If so, he may now rise.

Unparliamentary LanguagePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, during debate, the hon. member from Abitibi used very unparliamentary language when referring to one of my colleagues, and I would really like him to withdraw his comments, since there are limits, after all, to what one can say in this House.

Unparliamentary LanguagePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thought it was a question of privilege, but clearly it is a point of order.

Since the hon. member from Abitibi is absent at the moment, there is nothing I can do because I did not hear anything.

The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier also gave me a notice concerning a point of order. He may now rise.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question put to him yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board quoted from a document, a sort of affidavit that the Conservatives had apparently submitted to the Federal Court and that was rejected. The rule of this House is very clear. When a minister or parliamentary secretary quotes from a document, he or she must table it.

I would like you to invite the member to table the document in this House, so we may all read its contents.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to this point and then present one of my own.

The document in question, I believe, was presented in this House by the House leader. If it has not been tabled, I would be happy to table it. I am going to confirm with our parliamentary staff to ascertain if that is the case. Once again, in response to the member's reasonable question, we will have it tabled if it has not already been tabled.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The member is rising on another point of order.

Elections Canada Investigation GuidelinesPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister referred in his remarks to Elections Canada's failure to follow its own rules.

I have here chapter 7 of the Elections Canada Investigators' Manual. Subsection 7.5, “Right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure”, refers readers to look at subsection 6.4 of chapter 8, which reads as follows:

It is the suspect's prerogative to refuse to produce or remit documents. In such cases, Investigators must advise the suspect that they accept the decision and record the matter accordingly in the statement report. They should also advise the suspect that the matter will be reported to the Commissioner who may consider requesting a court order...

I have been in contact with the Conservative Party lawyers, who have indicated to me that they had no such advice in the lead-up to the Elections Canada visit to the Conservative Party headquarters.

These are the rules that Elections Canada's investigators are obliged to follow before they take such a dramatic step of moving into a party's headquarters with other parties in tow with cameras. Elections Canada is obliged to follow these rules and unless it can produce evidence that it gave any sort of advice that it had been refused documents, then it has broken its own rules and then we have to ask whether or not it can interpret rules for other political parties.

Mr. Speaker, I conclude by telling you that I have here this entire document, which I will table forthwith. This is the Investigators' Manual from which I have extracted the rules that appear to have been broken by Elections Canada. If Elections Canada cannot prove that it offered advice to the Conservative Party that it was in search of these documents, if it cannot prove that it had provided advance notice that it was going to report to the commissioner, who may consider requesting a court order, if Elections Canada cannot show that it has done those things, then it is in a very critical and very serious breach of its own rules.

I conclude by saying if Elections Canada wants to interpret the rules as they relate to other political parties, it should start by following its own.

Elections Canada Investigation GuidelinesPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am afraid I fail to catch the point of order in the hon. parliamentary secretary's remarks. He may have had a complaint, but it did not appear to concern the rules or practices of the House and so, I do not think there is a point of order here.

Also, I can confirm that the document referred to by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier in his point of order has not been tabled. If the parliamentary secretary wants to check with the House leader, perhaps he could arrange for the tabling of the document at this point.

Is the hon. member for Wascana rising on another point of order?

Elections Canada Investigation GuidelinesPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to point out to the House that the government has, both today and yesterday, followed a very extraordinary practice of attacking Elections Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Elections Commissioner on the floor of the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, that is a practice that I suggest to you is dangerous in this House because it brings disrespect upon the institutions of Parliament and we should be very careful about going down that road.

I have one point of specific clarification. A search warrant cannot be exercised without the authority having been given by a Superior Court judge.

Elections Canada Investigation GuidelinesPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

This does sound like a debate. We are having a debate today on Elections Canada and maybe hon. members could get their remarks on the subject into the debate. There are opportunities for questions and comments at the conclusion of some speeches and, of course, hon. members are also free to participate in the debate.

Maybe there will be agreement to extend hours since there is such enthusiasm for this debate.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the member for Selkirk—Interlake stated that the previous Liberal government had not established a national child care program. In fact, not only did--

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Do I get to speak?

Not only did the government establish a national child care program with an agreement with every province in this country, with $5 million, $1 million was already flowing, but that government cut the program and this--

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I think that concludes the points of order today because I am afraid that was not a point of order. It seemed more of a debate.

I would urge hon. members to perhaps check the practice relating to points of order so we do not have these speeches made under that guise. It would be helpful to the Chair.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before the interruption for oral question period, the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead had the floor. She has five minutes remaining for her presentation.

The hon. member for Compton—Stanstead.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue with equal enthusiasm my presentation on the Bloc Québécois motion.

I was amused to learn, this past weekend, that three Conservative MPs from the Quebec City area were trying to get off the hook through an open letter printed in the daily Le Soleil.

These three somewhat confused crooks mixed up a lot of things in trying to vindicate themselves. Among other things, they claimed that the Conservative Party is after Elections Canada and not the opposite. That is all very well, but the little Conservative accounting operation took place in 2005-06 while their party's suit dates from 2007.

They also claim that all parties use the same scheme as the Conservatives. Yet the only political party being investigated by Elections Canada is theirs. No charges have been laid against any other party.

In fact, the Conservatives are inventing all manner of arguments, each one more fallacious than the last, in their attempt to deflect attention from their turpitude.

This is why the Conservative MPs blocked the work of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for months, when it wanted to get to the bottom of this business. Rather than cooperating and redeeming themselves, the Conservative Party decided to paralyze the committee. Because of the Conservatives' refusal to cooperate, Elections Canada was forced to get the RCMP involved.

They have only themselves to blame. If they had provided credible documents justifying their expenses, we would not have ended up with the circus we now have.

Now that emails have been seized, more is known about their strategy to redirect the costs of the national ad campaign to certain local candidates who had not yet reached their spending ceiling, not to mention the completely identical invoices bearing the letterhead of a company that denies having issued them.

The funniest thing of all in this is that, in the last election, the Conservative Party claimed to be pure as the driven snow, squeaky clean compared to the Liberals. In fact, while criticizing the Liberals for their misdeeds, they were merrily engaged in getting around the electoral rules themselves.

I would remind hon. members that this is not the first time that the Prime Minister has gone after Elections Canada. In the past, he challenged the right of this federal body to impose limits on election spending and to disallow financial contributions from lobby groups during election campaigns. I have no reason to believe that he has changed his opinion. I do not share that opinion.

We in the Bloc Québécois have full and complete confidence in Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections. We know that, whatever the tactics used by the Conservatives, they will get to the bottom of this affair.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, while listening to my hon. colleague from the Bloc, I noticed she made the statement that her party has full confidence in Elections Canada.

I wonder if she could explain why the whip of her party was so aggressive toward Elections Canada at committee with respect to the use of bingo cards and the accuracy of the voter list. The member was very aggressive toward Elections Canada personnel. It did not seem to me that her party had that much support or faith in Elections Canada. Perhaps she could comment on that.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for my whip, because I am not him and I do not know what he is thinking. But I can say one thing. The bingo cards—

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

If he would listen, I could answer and he might understand a bit better.

The bingo cards already exist at the provincial level. It is completely legal. It is done all over the place.

That is why I personally have full confidence in my whip and my leader.

By the way, we are not the ones being investigated. The Conservatives are. If I were the hon. member, I would watch what I said.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question for the hon. member is very short and simple.

In and out scheme aside, do the member and her party think that a candidate can legitimately and legally pay for national advertising, and then obtain or request that 60% be reimbursed as election expenses?

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, if it is national advertising, if I appear alongside my leader, if I pay to have my name appear, if it says “paid for by the official agent”, and if all the expenses are completely legal, I am entitled to be reimbursed for 60% by Elections Canada, and I feel comfortable doing so. I do not think this breaks the law.

National advertising where I appear in the photo with my leader is important so that people can become familiar with me.