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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was als.

Topics

Alleged Actions of Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in ChamberPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I would like to thank the member for Victoria for his intervention in relation to the question of privilege.

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Alleged Actions of Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in ChamberPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is a well-known rule that committees are meant to be masters of their own domain, and we have all been told that the motion to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that was presented by the hon. member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame is not being coordinated by the government. In question period today, the government House leader said, “I have asked the committee to expand the scope of the study”, and she went on from there.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to enforce the well-known rule on committee independence and tell the government House leader to stay out of it before she makes matters even worse.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

This would appear to be a matter of debate.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:14 p.m., pursuant to order made on Friday, March 10, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities concerning the extension of time to consider Bill C-243.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #235

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Incident at U.K. ParliamentRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. There have been discussions among representatives of all the parties in the House, and I understand that there is consent to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attack at the Parliament of the United Kingdom. I invite hon. members to rise.

[A moment of silence observed]

The House resumed from March 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (rehabilitation of historic property), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to an order made on Friday, March 10, 2017, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-323 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #236

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from March 21 consideration of the motion.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Friday, March 10, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 103, under private members' business, in the name of the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.

The question is on the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #237

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Access to House of CommonsPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to comment on the questions of privilege raised yesterday by the hon. members for Beauce and Milton. As you know, both hon. members were delayed by security from coming to the House and as a result missed a vote.

On December 1, 2004, the Speaker found sufficient grounds to find a prima facie matter of privilege on a similar matter where members' free movement within the parliamentary precinct was interfered with during the visit to Parliament of the president of the United States.

Stemming from that incident, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs stated in its 21st report:

The denial of access to Members of the House—even if temporary—is unacceptable, and constitutes a contempt of the House. Members must not be impeded or interfered with while on their way to the Chamber, or when going about their parliamentary business. To permit this would interfere with the operation of the House of Commons, and undermine the pre-eminent right of the House to the service of its Members.

On September 14, 2014, regarding the member for Acadie—Bathurst, the Speaker found a prima facie question of privilege and ruled:

The denial of access by members to the precinct is a serious matter, particularly on a day when votes are taking place.

On May 12, 2015, the Speaker found that a prima facie question of privilege existed after the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the member for Toronto—Danforth complained that, while attempting to access the parliamentary precinct through the East Block entrance in order to attend a vote in the House, the shuttle bus they were on was stopped temporarily by an RCMP officer. While acknowledging the need to keep Parliament secure, the members insisted this physical obstruction constituted a denial of reasonable timely access to the parliamentary precinct, thereby impeding these members from performing their parliamentary duties.

In 2012, there was a question of privilege raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre, regarding difficulties experienced by certain members in gaining access to the parliamentary precinct during the visit to Canada by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. On March 15, 2012, the Speaker ruled that this constituted a prima facie question of privilege.

In view of the strong body of jurisprudence I have presented today, I trust that you will find there are sufficient grounds for a prima facie matter of privilege.

In conclusion, yesterday two members of the opposition were denied the right to vote. This is a very serious matter, particularly at a time when the government is attempting to ram through reforms that will cripple the opposition's ability to hold the government to account. I look forward to learning more details of this matter, and if necessary, l will return to the House to add further submissions based on those details.

Access to House of CommonsPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the member for Perth—Wellington.

I see the hon. member for Hamilton Centre rising on the same question of privilege.

Access to House of CommonsPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as members know, we have dealt with this issue on a number of occasions, and the most recent was not that long ago. While I was not a party to the incident that is on the floor now, I had been involved in discussions at PROC and the issuance of those reports.

I know how seriously you take this, Mr. Speaker, but you also know how seriously we took this at PROC. In fact, I cannot quote exactly, but I made the comment that I would not be very surprised, given my experience in this place, if no matter how much assurance we got, somehow we would find ourselves right back here again. It seems as if that has happened.

I do not want to go on at any great length, but as members know, there are times when we know that there will not be regular procedures here, regardless of what they are. Over and over again, we had the assurances from the people responsible that one of the first things they would do is always ensure that the constitutional right of members of Parliament to have access to the House, especially when there is a vote, would be paramount. Yet, time and time again, we find ourselves right back here again. In the incident case, the security argument can be made, but our problem is that we keep saying that, if this is planned ahead of time, and we are told they do plan, then we would not have these incidents.

I will not go on, except that I want to shore up the arguments of the hon. member and add my voice and support to having this matter go to PROC where, yes, once again we will go through this, and we will keep doing it until we finally have the 100% guaranteed access that the Constitution provides for every member of the House.

Access to House of CommonsPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Hamilton Centre for his intervention. I appreciate his determination to be persistent on this important matter.

I will be coming back to the House with my ruling on the question of privilege.

I believe the hon. opposition House leader will be rising on the usual Thursday question.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am normally very quick and direct in asking my Thursday question, but I will just say today that, with everything that has gone on, the real big issue that the opposition is facing in terms of how we want to be able to speak and be part of some of the discussions that are going on at committee does relate to what is going on in the House and in the future of the House. It is almost at the point where I wonder if it is worth my asking the question, because I wonder if the government House leader truly does want to know what the opposition thinks.

I will just leave that there and ask the House leader if she could please tell us what business the government has for the rest of this week and the week we return.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

4:05 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, as I have said in this House time and time again, of course, I want to work with all members of Parliament. I know that we each have a role to play. I want to work better together, and that is why I will continue to communicate.

I appreciate the opportunity to answer the hon. member's Thursday question.

This afternoon, we will continue with the budget debate. Tomorrow, we will begin third reading of Bill C-22, an act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain acts.

Next week, members will be working in their ridings.

We will continue with the budget debate on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

I wish everyone a good constituency week, next week.

Alleged Actions of Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in ChamberPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my comments to the question of privilege raised by the opposition House leader earlier today.

Caught on video was the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs' attempt to intimidate the opposition House leader. This outburst was intended to prevent the opposition House leader from doing her job.

The House Leader of the Official Opposition moved a motion that put into the spotlight of the nation waiting to hear the presentation on budget 2017 the fact that the government was attempting to use the budget presentation as a shield to hide its underhanded attempt to change the rules of this House, changes that would cripple the opposition's ability to hold the government to account, give backbenchers an extra day off a week, and require the Prime Minister to only show up in the House once a week. She was successful in exposing the government's skulduggery, and I understand why the minister would be angry.

It should be noted that responding to threats is the first matter of parliamentary privilege dealt with in Canada. Page 198 of the second edition of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada tells us of an incident in 1758, where the Nova Scotia House of Assembly proceeded against someone who made threats against a member.

In a ruling on September 19, 1973, by Speaker Lamoureux, at page 6709 of Debates, stated that he had:

...no hesitation in reaffirming the principle that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.

Mr. Speaker Bosley, on May 16, 1986, at page 13362 of Debates, ruled that the threat or attempt at intimidation cannot be hypothetical but must be real or have occurred.

On March 24, 1994, at page 2705 of Debates, Speaker Parent stated:

Threats of blackmail or intimidation of a member of Parliament should never be taken lightly. When such occurs, the very essence of free speech is undermined. Without the guarantee of freedom of speech, no member of Parliament can do his duty as is expected.

I can go on and on, but the point is that, just because a government is given a majority, it does not mean that cabinet ministers have the authority to intimidate members of the opposition. The Liberal backbenchers should grow a backbone and understand that cabinet is subordinate to this House and there are more of us than them. We could actually do something about their dismissive view of Parliament.

Liberal prime ministers are notorious for describing members of Parliament in quaint ways: Pierre Trudeau with his “nobodies” slur and Jean Chrétien with his insult about terracotta soldiers. Almost immediately after the slogan “sunny ways” was out of the box, the passing of Parliament's role into the shadow of the Prime Minister's agenda began. We had Motion No. 6 last—

Alleged Actions of Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in ChamberPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. My hon. friend from Flamborough—Glanbrook is getting into matters of debate rather than the question of privilege. I have the impression that he may have finished, and I thank him very much for his intervention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment, and of the amendment to the amendment.