Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence. As was mentioned by my colleague from the Liberal Party, this question of privilege relates to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development's sixth report, which was tabled this morning.
From subsequent submissions you have received from other hon. members, Mr. Speaker, including from me on December 13, it is clear that the Minister of International Cooperation statements to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development with regard to who was responsible for the government decision to reject a funding proposal for the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives known as KAIROS were deliberately misleading. I believe my rights and the rights of all hon. members have been breached by the minister's misleading comments.
As has been noted in the December 9 testimony by the minister in front of the committee, when asked who was responsible for inserting the word “not” that led to the denial of funding to KAIROS, she told me and members of the committee that she did not know. As you know, Mr. Speaker, recently in the House it was established by the minister that she did know and she had directed someone to insert the said word.
I want to reference your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on February 10. You said that while giving voice to the disturbing questions with regard to the integrity of the decision-making process conducted by the minister, the absence of a committee report on the matter put a key limitation on your ability to find that there was a prima facie question of privilege arising from the minister's comments to the committee. Such a report was tabled in the House today. This report refers to the transcript of the minister's testimony to the committee on December 9, 2010, as well as a copy of the doctored document.
The original question of privilege submitted to you on December 13, 2010, Mr. Speaker, charged that the minister had deliberately misled the House and the committee on the origin of the government's rejection of the funding for KAIROS. For months, hon. members were led to believe the rejection had been advised by officials at CIDA.
In my submissions to you, Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to your attention new and troubling facts arising from the minister's statement to the House on February 14. Her statement indicated that her testimony to the committee on December 9, 2010, was knowingly incorrect and deliberately misleading.
I believe that contempt against me, against the citizens of our country, whom I and other hon. members represent, and all parliamentarians, has been one where you will, if you see the evidence before you, find a prima facie case of contempt of the House.
I have three other references which I believe to be relevant citations for the Speaker's deliberation on this matter.
With regard to the issue of contempt of Parliament, I reference Joseph Maingot. In particular, I reference pages 227 to 229, of the second edition, which indicate the parameters of the issue of conduct constituting breach of privilege or contempt. You will find, Mr. Speaker, that this is relevant in this case.
A prima facie, case of privilege for those who are not aware of the Latin meaning, is a case where the Speaker finds evidence enough for us to carry on with a case of contempt of Parliament. Therefore, is there enough evidence in front of the Speaker for us to proceed further with a motion.
I would also like to reference O'Brien and Bosc, page 115, where there is reference to a case that was ruled on and reference to:
Misleading a Minister or a Member has also b2een considered a form of obstruction and thus a prima facie breach of privilege.
The example cited is from December 6, 1978, in a finding that a prima facie contempt of the House existed. Speaker Jerome ruled that a government official, by deliberately misleading the minister, had impeded the member in the performance of his duties and consequently obstructed the House itself.
I have one final reference. It is the same case on which Speaker Jerome ruled. On page 1856, of the December 6, 1978, issue of Hansard, there is his the full ruling on privilege. The complaint is the subject matter of a question of privilege and it is one that you will find relevant to this case.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, if we are able to establish, and if you are able to rule, that there is prima facie case of contempt with regard to our privileges, I would ask that you consider a motion, as my colleague has, with wording along the lines that the matters raised in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, including all circumstances leading to and related to the addition of the word “not” on the official document contained in appendix A of the report, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.