Mr. Speaker, I rise to reply to the question of privilege raised by the MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, a riding adjacent to my own riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie.
In essence, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine argued that I have infringed upon her privileges as an MP by placing an ad in a weekly newspaper that announced that I would be holding a meeting in a coffee house and that I was welcoming citizens from both my riding and her riding to join me for coffee. This would have been on January 25.
More specifically, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine argued that the ad I prepared for publication was trying to make it sound as though I was actually the MP for her riding.
I should point out a number of things that are relevant here.
First, the ad in question was placed in the NDG Free Press weekly newspaper. This weekly newspaper's distribution straddles both my riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie and the neighbouring riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Second, while my riding is called Westmount—Ville-Marie, it actually includes approximately 45% of the population of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. When the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine stated yesterday that she represented the vast majority of NDG, she was wrong. Approximately 30,000 of my constituents live in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. I am perfectly entitled to notify them of an upcoming meeting by placing an ad in a newspaper inviting them to join me.
Third, the MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine accuses me of trying to present myself to her constituents as their MP. The ad very clearly identifies me as the member of Parliament for Westmount—Ville-Marie and nothing more. I believe it is a reasonable assumption, on my part, to say that her constituents know very well what riding they live in and that my ad did not confuse them in any way.
Finally, given that our ridings are adjacent, it is also reasonable to assume that we share some common preoccupations. One example is the plan to build a third rail line for the Montreal AMT train service, a public transportation service that crosses both my riding and a good part of the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I have been very active on this file and have organized meetings with citizens impacted by this major infrastructure addition to public transportation. As the MP for Westmount—Ville-Marie, I consider it acceptable to invite all those who might be potentially impacted by such a project to join me for a coffee, and I always make it very clear that I am the MP for Westmount—Ville-Marie.
This is no different from my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine getting up in the House of Commons a little while ago for a member's statement and telling everyone that the NDG Food Depot, which we both support because it is a good cause, was in her riding, when in fact it is in my riding.
Both of us care deeply about the work done by the NDG Food Depot, which serves both our ridings, but the fact remains that she was wrong when she said that it was in her riding.
Am I upset? Are my privileges undermined? No. I made nothing of it at the time, because it was not, in my opinion, worth doing that.
My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and I both work with a number of organizations that serve both our ridings. Some of these organizations are based in my riding while some are based in her riding. I do not consider this a cause for partisanship, since in the end, the interests of our constituents should be our common priority.
It did not occur to me for one minute that when she was meeting with organizations based in my riding that serve her riding she might be passing herself off as the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie. That would be very petty on my part.
I do not want to say much more about my colleague's question of privilege other than to state that it is a frivolous question of privilege. It is a frivolous question that has been clearly raised because the NDP is trying to distract from its abuse of mailing privileges in the ridings of Bourassa, Toronto Centre, Brandon—Souris, and Provencher during the recent byelections, ridings where it used taxpayers' money to mail literally hundreds of thousands of NDP documents designed to identify votes and partisan fundraising in ridings, possibly during the writ period. It is no wonder that the Board of Internal Economy has taken the unusual step of referring the matter to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Mr. Speaker, I urge you to rule quickly on this frivolous question of privilege and put this matter to rest.