Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on a question of privilege. I believe my ability to carry out my duties as a member of Parliament has been impeded.
Specifically, it has been brought to my attention that the individual who preceded me as the member for Labrador, Todd Russell is publicly maintaining that he is the current MP for Labrador. Currently on Mr. Russell's website, www.toddrussell.ca, there are numerous offending pages.
Although I provided printouts of the offending pages with my letter notifying you, Mr. Speaker, of this question of privilege, I would be prepared to table the links and a complete package of those pages, but Mr. Russell's website is not in both official languages.
I have contacted Mr. Russell on this matter and requested that he remove the inappropriate use of the website title. He has not removed these references.
This action impedes my ability to fulfill my parliamentary duties and responsibilities as the actual member of Parliament for Labrador. As such, I believe it should be considered a prima facie breach of privilege.
O'Brien and Bosc, page 111, notes “the usurpation of the title of Member of Parliament” as being among the matters found to be prima facie cases of privilege.
On page 113 of O'Brien and Bosc, we learn about two previous cases when Mr. Speaker Bosley and Mr. Speaker Milliken found the usurpation of the title of MP to be a matter of privilege. I will read those passages into the record:
The misrepresentation of someone who is not a sitting Member as a Member of Parliament has been found to constitute a prima facie case of privilege on two occasions. On May 6, 1985, Speaker Bosley ruled that there was a prima facie question of privilege in a case where a newspaper advertisement identified another person as a Member of Parliament rather than the sitting Member. He stated:
It should go without saying that a Member of Parliament needs to perform his functions effectively and that anything tending to cause confusion as to a Member's identity creates the possibility of an impediment to the fulfilment of that Member's functions. Any action which impedes or tends to impede a Member in the discharge of his duties is a breach of privilege.
In 2004, a similar question of privilege was raised concerning a booklet published in connection with a fundraising event and which contained an advertisement identifying a former Member of Parliament as the sitting Member for the riding. The matter was found to be a prima facie breach of the privileges of the House and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Although the two previous cases related to print advertisements, a misleading Internet presence should be treated in the same manner.
Mr. Russell's misleading website, including contact information for his parliamentary office and three constituency offices, could cause confusion among the constituents of Labrador and, therefore, impede me in my ability to represent them.
I would ask for Mr. Russell to update his website immediately.
The leader of the Liberal Party needs to explain why he has allowed one of his party's former MPs to deliberately confuse my constituents, saying that he is their MP when the voters of Labrador have rejected him and his party.
I believe that the evidence shows this is a prima facie case of privilege. If the Chair so finds, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.