Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege resulting from the outrageous and disturbing remarks made by Mike O'Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the Leader of the Opposition. It was recorded in the National Post today that Mr. O'Shaughnessy wrote in an email distributed to reporters that I “think it is okay to get rid of the life-saving gun registry, because in her mind”, referring to me, “domestic violence committed with a firearm is not a criminal activity”.
There are two issues here, one relating to using House of Commons resources to transmit inaccurate information about a member, and one relating to a slur upon my reputation, so grave that I must raise this in the House as a question of privilege.
On March 16, 1983, Mr. Mackasey raised a question of privilege in order to denounce accusations made in a series of articles appearing in the Montreal Gazette. On March 22, 1983, on page 24027 of Hansard, the Speaker ruled that he had a prima facie question of privilege. The reasons given by the Speaker are on page 29 of Jeanne Sauvé's Selected Decisions which states:
Not only do defamatory allegations about Members place the entire institution of Parliament under a cloud, they also prevent Members from performing their duties as long as the matter remains unresolved, since, as one authority states, such allegations bring Members into "hatred, contempt or ridicule". Moreover, authorities and precedents agree that even though a Member can "seek a remedy in the courts, he cannot function effectively as a Member while this slur upon his reputation remains." Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the Member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.
To suggest that I would somehow condone domestic violence is offensive and way beyond the standard even for political debate.
On page 214 of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, there is a reference to reflections on members. It says, “The House of Commons is prepared to find contempt in respect of utterances within the category of libel and slander and also in respect of utterances which do not meet that standard. As put by Bourinot, 'any scandalous and libellous reflection on the proceedings of the House is a breach of the privileges of Parliament...and libels upon members individually'”.
I would also refer you, Mr. Speaker, to a Speaker's ruling on October 29, 1980 at page 4213 of Hansard. The Speaker said:
...in the context of contempt, it seems that to amount of contempt, representations or statements about...members should not only be erroneous or incorrect, but, rather, should be purposely untrue and improper and import a ring of deceit.
The comments were made by the spokesman for the Leader of the Opposition who, according to the House of Commons database, is employed by the Liberal Party's research bureau and therefore his salary and his email account, from which he made this libellous comments, are provided through the House of Commons. They are not only incorrect, but his statement was politically motivated and was a deliberate attempt to tarnish my reputation in a way, as I stated earlier, that is way beyond the standard.
I will now address the other point regarding the use of House of Commons resources to transmit inaccurate information about me.
There was a prima facie finding on November 19, 2009 regarding the use of House of Commons resources to present inaccurate information about a member of Parliament. In a mailing sent to some of the constituents of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, you concluded that the mailing contained information that was found to be factually wrong regarding his position on the long gun registry, as well as on his voting record on that matter. Of course, it turns out that today that mailing would have been correct, but at the time, it was viewed by the Speaker to be inaccurate.
I trust, Mr. Speaker, that you do not and will not view the statements made by the spokesman for the Leader of the Opposition to be accurate. In your ruling you stated:
The situation before us today is analogous to the 2005 in which a similar mailing was sent to the constituency of the hon. member for Windsor West. That mailing had the effect of distorting the member's voting record, again on the gun registry and thereby misinforming his constituents. In finding a prima facie case of privilege, on April 18, 2005, Debates, page 5215, I stated: “This may well have affected his ability to function and may have had the effect of unjustly damaging his reputation with voters in his riding”.
I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you find that there is a prima facie question of privilege on the matter of using House of Commons resources to transmit inaccurate information about a member and on the matter of the attack upon my reputation.