April 4, 1973

PRIVILEGE

MR. BROADBENT-ALLEGED FAILURE OF MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, TRADE AND COMMERCE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION

NDP

John Edward Broadbent (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa-Whitby):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege which concerns the failure of a minister to provide information to members of the House which legitimately he should provide.

Yesterday, while searching through the material related to the application by Bell Canada to the Canadian Transport Commission for increased telephone rates, I found a document dated December 28, 1972, presented by Bell Canada to the Canadian Transport Commission. It contains an item identified as No. 15 which reads as follows: "IRDIA grants credited to expense account, $1,212,482." This means that Bell Canada has declared in a public document that in 1972 it received federal grants administered by the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce in the amount of $1.2 million.

On January 4 of this year I put on the order paper a question asking for the names of recipients of grants under IRDIA and the amounts paid. On March 7 the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Gillespie) tabled his answer, which reads in part as follows:

Section 13 of the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act prevents the disclosure of this information.

My first point of privilege is that the members of the House of Commons are refused by the government information involving an expenditure of some $165 million since 1967 under the pretext of statutory secrecy, while a recipient of these grants, in this particular case Bell Canada, is at liberty to divulge the same information in a public document.

The second point of privilege arises from the fact that the minister is using the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act to withhold inappropriately requested information from members of this House and the public. The minister-and this is the important point here-referred to section 13 of the act. Section 13 reads as follows:

All information with respect to a corporation obtained by an officer or employee of Her Majesty in the course of the administration of this Act is privileged, and no such officer or employee shall knowingly, except as may be necessary for the purposes of sections 11 and 12 or in respect of proceedings relating to the administration or enforcement of this Act, communicate or allow to be communicated to any person not legally entitled thereto any such information or allow any such person to inspect or have access to any application or other writing containing any such information.

The point I want to make is that the information requested by me does not involve information obtained by

the department from the corporation but information which had been generated by the department itself, namely, the amount of the taxpayers' money which the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, in his wisdom, had decided to give corporations. I maintain that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce is therefore incorrectly using section 13 of the act to prevent members of the House and the public from finding out who is getting multimillion dollar grants from the federal treasury.

Therefore, if Your Honour agrees that this is a legitimate question of privilege-I think it is and I am sure you will agree-I would move that this matter be referred immediately to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BROADBENT-ALLEGED FAILURE OF MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, TRADE AND COMMERCE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I think I should advise the hon. member immediately that I have to disappoint him; I do not agree that this kind of question is a question of privilege that ought to be referred to a standing committee of the House and, in particular, to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

By way of introduction to the brief remarks I will make regarding the hon. member's proposed motion, I might say that the notice he filed with the Chair earlier today is not, I suggest, entirely within or does not fulfil the requirements of the Standing Order. Hon. members are required by the Standing Order to indicate to the Chair, for the guidance of the Chair, the substance of the matter that they propose to raise by way of a question of privilege. I think I should suggest to the hon. member that it is not sufficient, and it does not fulfil the requirements of the Standing Order, simply to say that he proposes to raise a question of privilege having reference to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. But I say this only in passing; it is not the substance of the comments I propose to make.

The hon. member claims that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce is not supplying him or the House with certain information, which the hon. member claims the minister is required to do. I suggest respectfully to the hon. member that that is debate between himself and the minister. I really do not think it would be conducive to effective study and consideration of the business of the House if, every time a minister refused to give information for one reason or another and an hon. member felt that the information ought to be supplied to the House, the dispute were to be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. That committee, I suggest, would then be overloaded with the business of dealing with such questions. I think this is a matter of argument between the hon. member and the minister.

April 4, 1973

Form of Committee Reports

The Standing Orders do provide ways and means by which hon. members can seek information by verbal or written questions, or by requiring the production of papers or documents. With all respect to the hon. member, I suggest that is the method or the procedure he should attempt to follow in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BROADBENT-ALLEGED FAILURE OF MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, TRADE AND COMMERCE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
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INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT


Second and third reports of Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development-Mr. Buchanan. [Editor's Note: For text of above reports, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I hesitate to seek the floor a second time but I do so only for a few minutes as I think this might be the appropriate moment to refer to certain procedural difficulties arising from the report of the Special Committee on Trends in Food Prices which was presented to the House on Monday of this week.

Hon. members will have observed that there stands in the name of the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway a motion to concur in this report, and presumably this motion could come forward for debate as early as tomorrow.

I draw the attention of hon. members in particular to recommendation No. 6 of the report, which is to be found at page 234 of Votes and Proceedings for Monday, April 2. It states:

That the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs make specific moneys available to consumer groups to present briefs to various governmental boards, where appropriate.

It may be that there is available to the department funds to cover the recommendation I have alluded to, so perhaps the objection is not substantial or serious, but I feel that a direct recommendation of this nature appears to be a departure from the procedure and practices of the House. I would draw to the attention of hon. members, without reading it, citation 260(1) of Beauchesne's Fourth Edition.

Hon. members will have observed also that the chairman of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development has, a moment ago, tabled two reports of the committee, and it is possible that the House may be faced again with a motion to concur in these reports in the immediate future. I particularly draw the attention of hon. members to the recommendation dealing with the allocation of federal funds for the settlement of certain claims. Here again, the recommendation is a departure from the well established form which is to the effect that the government is required to give consideration to the advisability of a certain recommendation proposed by a committee. As hon. members will appreciate, this question really goes to the root of our whole system, and in my view the House should not embark lightly on a new procedural course which would appear to be at odds with the Standing Orders and, as I have said, with the long established practice of the House.

I make these observations at this point merely as a caution in order that members may consider the difficulty. I make no ruling. It may well be that hon. members can easily satisfy the Chair that in at least one instance there is no particular difficulty. Perhaps the Chair does not interpret correctly the word "recommend", and that a recommendation of a committee is not in itself binding on the government. But I do feel this is a matter of some importance which should concern all hon. members and which perhaps should be looked into further in due course, not necessarily today.

As I said, I am making these remarks at this time only so that hon. members may give some thought to the possibility that a point of order could be raised when concurrence in these reports is moved in the House later.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the point of order which in effect has been raised by the Chair. I realize one is not supposed to question the Chair from the floor, but I wonder if I might pose this issue? Is the comment from the Chair a comment on the validity of the report of the Special Committee on Trends in Food Prices, or does it involve the procedural acceptability of the motion for concurrence in that report?

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

As the hon. member says, the Chair should not be involved in a debate on procedural points. I think I have made the point sufficiently clear. I have raised it not as a formal issue but as a caution. I thought hon. members would want to give some advance consideration to the point I have raised for the guidance of hon. members. In any event, at the point when the motion for concurrence is proposed the Chair might be prepared to entertain the advice of hon. members on this matter, not in respect of the whole report but rather in respect of the particular recommendation contained in these reports.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I take it that what Your Honour is doing is filing a caveat which might have to be considered at the time a motion might be made which if passed, might place the House in the position of accepting the report. The practice of filing caveats is one this party takes so often, Mr. Speaker, in respect of government measures.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member is correct, of course, in his interpretation of what I tried to say.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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MANPOWER

PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN

SC

Henry P. Latulippe

Social Credit

Mr. Henry Latulippe (Compton):

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 43, I ask the unanimous consent of the House to introduce a motion on a subject which is of urgent necessity, concerning the Local Initiatives and Opportunities for Youth Programs.

Therefore, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Fortin):

That this House do appoint immediately a special committee made up of representatives of all parties to examine the possibility of entrusting the provinces and municipalities with the Local

April 4, 1973

Initiatives and Opportunities for Youth Programs so that the funds appropriated for these agencies be used more adequately for the needs of the people.

Topic:   MANPOWER
Subtopic:   PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN
Sub-subtopic:   PROGRAMS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The House has heard the motion. Under Standing Order 43, this motion requires the unanimous consent of the House. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   MANPOWER
Subtopic:   PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN
Sub-subtopic:   PROGRAMS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   MANPOWER
Subtopic:   PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN
Sub-subtopic:   PROGRAMS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   MANPOWER
Subtopic:   PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN
Sub-subtopic:   PROGRAMS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

There being no unanimous consent, the hon. member's motion cannot be put.

Topic:   MANPOWER
Subtopic:   PROPER USE OF FUNDS PROVIDED FOR CERTAIN
Sub-subtopic:   PROGRAMS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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COMMUNICATIONS

BELL CANADA RATE INCREASES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION

April 4, 1973