October 17, 1973

PRIVILEGE


MR. MacINNIS-DISCREPANCY BETWEEN DOCUMENT


PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

PC

Donald MacInnis

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald Maclnnis (Cape Breton-East Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege arising from an answer given me yesterday by the Minister of Justice when I asked him a question with respect to the discrepancy between a court document presented by the Cape Breton Development Corporation and evidence to the contrary as expressed in a letter, and before a parliamentary committee, by Mr. Tom Kent, the responsible officer for that Crown corporation.

I have evidence to substantiate my statement and refute what was said by the Minister of Justice, who told the House he had had this discrepancy investigated. Perhaps I should first quote what the Minister of Justice said yesterday as reported at page 6906 of Hansard in the second column:

I have had a report on the matter which leads me to believe there is no such element present.

I have here a letter dated April 14, 1969, referred to as exhibit E, presented to the court by the Cape Breton Development Corporation and signed by E. C. Cuddy, director of claims and benefits of the Unemployment Insurance Commission, in which a statement is made about preretirement leave as applied to Cape Breton miners. I do not intend to quote the whole letter, but this is part of it:

As mentioned in your sub-plan, payments are not earnings.

It is emphatically stated in this document, used in court, that they are not earnings.

I quote, now, from a letter directed to me by Mr. Tom Kent on April 3, 1973, after the court case had been terminated. The opening paragraph reads:

I think you must be misunderstanding PRL. The payment has always been considered earnings at all times.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question or doubt that the views expressed in court by Devco and those expressed after the court action by the president of that Crown corporation are diametrically opposed.

If this evidence is not enough to convince the minister that the whole system has gone wrong and that the miners of Cape Breton are not getting their due in accordance with the legislation passed in the House in 1967, I can provide the hon. gentleman with details of a discrepancy between the views of the late Mr. Justice Gillis and the Minister of Justice himself. Two points of view expressed in a letter from the minister to myself are diametrically

opposed to what was contained in the judgment handed down by the late Mr. Justice Gillis.

I am prepared to table the letter from Mr. Kent. I am also prepared to table a copy of the document used by Devco in order that these discrepancies may be fully examined by the minister. If the hon. gentleman wishes, I will also table his own letter and the judgment handed down by the late Mr. Justice Gillis so that he may be aware of the discrepancies in them.

During the hearings in the committee the discrepancies which arose were too numerous for me to mention at this time. I refer this matter to the Minister of Justice. What he is supposed to provide in this country is justice for all, not justice for the high-paid employees of this corporation who have taken care of themselves and who have yet to initiate any action to implement the legislation as provided in section 18(a)(1) and 18(a)(2) of the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act. I can provide document upon document, including one of the minister's own, pointing out the discrepancies in this whole affair.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

With respect, I suggest to the hon. member and to the Minister of Justice, who have been involved in an exchange of questions and answers for some time in relation to the very important matter which has been raised, that there should not be a debate at this time. The hon. member has raised this matter by way of a question of privilege, but it would be very difficult for the Chair to agree that there is here a breach of parliamentary privilege which ought to be looked into and investigated by a committee of the House.

The hon. member may have a grievance. He says there are discrepancies between statements made or letters which have been written. That is quite possible. But, with respect, I suggest this is not the type of situation which can be cleared up by means of a debate under the guise of a question of privilege. The whole matter to which the hon. member has been alluding has, in the past, been considered by the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. If the hon. member has a grievance, as may well be the case, maybe it could be revived in that way. As I said, I respectfully suggest it should be done in some other way than by a debate on a question of privilege.

The hon. member referred to the possibility of tabling documents. The Standing Orders do not provide for this procedure. If the hon. member has documents he would like the minister to see, he can always send them to the minister. Regretfully, I have to inform him that, as he knows, hon. members cannot table documents in the way he is now proposing to do. I would suggest that the documents be forwarded to the minister and that, with the agreement of the Minister of Justice and all members of the House we might for the time being allow the matter to rest on the statement which the hon. member for Cape Breton-East Richmond has made.

October 17, 1973

Privilege, Mr. Lewis

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
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MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING

NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Is the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis) rising on a question of privilege?

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. David Lewis (York South):

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am.

I rise on a very serious question of privilege. I appreciate that I have not given Your Honour notice as required by the rules, but I did not learn about the matter I want to raise until literally 12 minutes ago when the bells were already ringing.

I do not want to make a mountain out of this but it does concern a very important matter of privilege affecting the House of Commons, parliament and all members of parliament. I learned at about two o'clock-I grin a little about it because of events that have happened elsewhere-that we had a bug at our caucus meeting this morning. During the meeting of the caucus the hon. member for Oshawa-Whitby (Mr. Broadbent), who is our caucus chairman, pulled a little mike out from under the table, put it on top of the table, and said to me and to others: "This looks like a bugging device". Having no knowledge of such things, I could not tell him whether it was or not and we went on with the meeting. However, the person responsible for placing that bug there, a journalist working for the CTV network-

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

-was honest enough to come up to me at about two o'clock and inform me that they had done this in connection with a program that they have in mind, to be aired in the month of November, in which they will be attempting to show, so he informed me, how easy bugging a meeting is, and how important legislation to deal with the matter may be.

Whatever purpose, admirable or not, the people responsible for this in the CTV network may have had in mind, I suggest to you, Sir, that it is a violation of everything I can think of in connection with the privileges of parliament.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Whether or not it is illegal under the present Criminal Code, or any other statute of which I may not know, is irrelevant. Certainly it is totally illegal as far as the rules of parliament are concerned. I hope that those responsible will not find it more offensive than I intend it to be when I say that it is morally and socially wrong in every respect for them to have done this.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

No member of parliament, no politician, certainly not a leader of a political party, wants to alienate anybody in the fourth estate or fifth estate, or maybe all four or five estates that they now represent, as I sometimes think. But I believe that the search for news and for spectacular things in the news, particularly as far as television is concerned, should no longer justify and never should have justified the kind of action which is considered by everybody with any sense of propriety to be indecent and anti-social.

I have no motion to move, Mr. Speaker, though I am going to suggest something in a moment. I am not worried about what happened at the caucus or about the publicity it receives. I am certain that the people concerned, when they were honest enough to tell me about it, will be honourable enough to deal with the matter in a way which we will approve rather than in a manner which would be wrong. However, that is not the point. The point is that everyone in this country, every member of the press gallery and every other person concerned ought to know that this parliament will not stand for that kind of behaviour.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Even though I have the assurance from the person concerned that the tape will be brought to us, as a mark of official action by the House, if Your Honour considers there is a point of privilege. I would move that the person concerned be ordered by this parliament to deliver that tape either to Your Honour or to me, whichever you think more appropriate.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Erik Nielsen (Yukon):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the question of privilege raised by the Leader of the New Democratic Party. As the Chair is aware, I and other members on this side of the House have spoken to this matter on more than one occasion in the past. Indeed, Your Honour has caused two investigations that I know of to be conducted into allegations that bugging activities were taking place within the confines of the House of Commons and other buildings.

The example that has been exposed by the Leader of the New Democratic Party brings to the fore once again a situation which I, and I am sure all other hon. members, believe to be deplorable in the extreme. I am not satisfied that the activity is not more extensive and is as isolated as the instance which has been mentioned by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, particularly since the evidence which the standing committee examining the bill dealing with this matter has received indicates there have been well over 1,000 instances where telephone taps or electronic interventions on telephone apparatus have been placed by the police forces of this country.

I would go further than the hon. member for York South and suggest once again, particularly in light of the circumstances disclosed here today by him, that Your Honour cause a further investigation to be made into the whole matter of eavesdropping and electronic devices being placed on members' telephones and in offices as well as in their caucus committee rooms. I do not think it is enough that the House simply order the tape to be produced by the offender. This offence is serious enough to require the offender to come before the bar of the House and give an explanation of the whole affair.

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRESENTED TO COURT BY CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EVIDENCE TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
Subtopic:   MR. LEWIS-BUGGING OF NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS MEETING
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October 17, 1973