Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed to read several stories yesterday about the Khadr report that the foreign affairs committee has under consideration. Since the newspaper quoted directly from the draft report, I can come to no other conclusion except that this report was leaked to the press by a member of the either the foreign affairs committee or the subcommittee.
Steven Edwards of the Ottawa Citizen wrote, and I will read only one line, “In a report marked confidential because it has yet to be officially released...”.
In the Toronto Star, Tonda MacCharles lists the recommendations that the report includes.
This is a serious beach of the confidentiality of the committee. The subcommittee and the main committee have to be able to meet in confidentiality to debate what recommendations the committee wishes to make. If one member feels he or she has the right to break that confidentiality and leak what happens during in camera sessions, or the draft report that the committee looks at, then both the credibility of the committee and the significance of the report are attacked.
If members of the committee cannot keep a draft report secret until it is tabled, do we think any foreign diplomats who meet with us from time to time in camera would be able to trust that their comments would stay off the record? If the committee cannot be trusted to keep in camera confidentiality, when we ask for in camera briefings on matters such as the war in Afghanistan and other sensitive military or diplomatic issues, would the government be willing to cooperate? I think not.
In case members have forgotten or are simply ignorant of the rules, let me read from page 838 of Marleau and Montpetit:
At in camera meetings, neither the public nor the media is permitted, and there is no broadcasting of any kind...Minutes of in camera meetings are publicly available, but certain information usually found in the minutes of committee meetings is not included... Divulging any part of the proceedings of an in camera committee meeting has been ruled by the Speaker to constitute a prima facie matter of privilege.
Page 884 of Marleau and Montpetit states in reference to committee reports:
Committee reports must be presented to the House before they can be released to the public. The majority of committee reports are discussed and adopted at in camera meetings. Even when a report is adopted in public session, the report itself is considered confidential until it has actually been presented in the House. In addition, where a committee report has been considered and approved during in camera committee meetings, any disclosure of the contents of a report prior to presentation, either by Members or non-Members, may be judged a breach of privilege. Speakers have ruled that questions of privilege concerning leaked reports will not be considered unless a specific charge is made against an individual, organization or group, and that the charge must be levelled not only against those outside the House who have made in camera material public, but must also identify the source of the leak within the House itself.