Mr. Edmund Asselin (Notre Dame de
Grace): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal privilege affecting my honour and the rights and privileges of all Members of the House. The question of privilege arises from an article which appeared on the editorial page of the Montreal Star, Friday, May 28, 1965, entitled "The Asselin Judgment". The editorial refers to a judgment rendered May 25, 1965 by the Honourable Mr. Justice Paul Trepanier in a case before the Superior Court, Province of Quebec, district of Montreal, No. 660-374 and to a transaction which I had with the Protestant School Board of Montreal in 1960 and 1961, before I became a Member of the House of Commons. This editorial says that I am not fit to sit in this House because, and I quote from the article:
Mr. Asselin's dealings in this case were called into question by two inquiries.
Mr. Justice Paul Trepanier's judgment, while dismissing the action and assessing costs against the school board, rejects out of hand the allegation that I was in a position of trust or an agent or a mandator of the board, in these words-and I quote from the third paragraph of the judgment on page 12:
For the foregoing reasons the Court has come to the conclusion that the Plaintiff-
That is the school board.
-far from proving an express or a tacit mandate, has rather confirmed the allegations of the defence.
That is myself.
His Lordship deals with the other allegations in these terms. First I will quote from the last paragraph of page 12 of the judgment:
However, because of the publicity surrounding this matter and because of the allegation of subterfuge attributed to the Defendant and the obtaining of confidential information which might have a damaging effect on the reputation of the persons concerned in this matter who hold public offices the Court considers itself justified in glancing at these allegations.
Then at the bottom of page 13, after having rejected the allegations of subterfuge and having looked at the allegation of obtaining
confidential information, he rejects both, in these words:
Here again this allegation is absolutely contrary to the evidence.
His Lordship, in summing up in the fourth paragraph on page 14 of the judgment, goes much further; and I quote again:
On the whole, the Court has searched in vain for some motive to cast any blame whatsoever upon the Defendant or upon the officers of the Plaintiff-
That is the school board.
-in this whole transaction.
Mr. Speaker, if the Montreal Star's proposition were allowed to stand, then any Member of this House whose actions, even before he became a Member of this House, were called into question by an inquiry would ipso facto become unfit to sit in the House of Commons, even though the only basis or premise on which his actions were questioned was later declared by a properly constituted court to be unfounded and contrary to the evidence.
[DOT] (2:40 p.m.)
If such were the case, Mr. Speaker, then any Member against whom unfounded accusations were levelled would be unfit to sit in this House, even though a judge of the Superior Court declared that there existed no impropriety and no reason to cast any blame whatsoever on that Member.
The Montreal Star's editorial denies the right to equality before and recourse to the courts for all Members of this House who have or who might be subjected to unfounded accusations, particularly with regard to their conduct as private citizens before being elected to this House.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.