Mr. Speaker, on March 13, 2008, I rose in this House on a question of privilege concerning the fact that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages had misled the House.
This week, on April 1, the minister said:
Mr. Speaker, on March 13, 2008, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst rose on a question of privilege regarding the invitation I received to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I responded as follows and I quote:
Appearing before the committee is a ministerial responsibility. Since being appointed, I have had the privilege of appearing before the committee on several occasions, most recently on December 6, 2007. I will be pleased to appear before the committee to discuss the next phase of the action plan as soon as I have finished working on it.
Thus, it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and I will indeed be pleased to appear before the committee when the action plan is presented.
The invitation was extended to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages because the Standing Committee on Official Languages was studying the action plan. I think that the minister neglected to read the first page and the last paragraph of the letter she sent the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on February 25, which reads as follows:
It would be premature for me to appear before the committee concerning the follow-up to the action plan before I have even had an opportunity to read Mr. Lord's final report. I will not be able to provide you with any further information for your study, because we are still working on the plan. I must therefore respectfully decline the committee's invitation.
This is where she misled the House.
I do not want to take up any more of the House's time, but I do want to set the record straight. I have a recommendation to make if you should recognize that the minister misled the House, because I am talking about the House, not the Standing Committee on Official Languages. She told the committee that she would not be coming. She declined the invitation and refused to appear, but she told the House of Commons that she had not refused, that she had appeared in December and that she would be appearing once the action plan had been completed.
That was not the issue. We wanted her to appear before the committee while it was studying the action plan. She declined that invitation. With respect, we just want her to say that to the House of Commons and not to mislead the House.
If she refuses, I would like the matter to be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for review.