March 24, 1993

MEMBERS

PC

Gerald R. Ottenheimer (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I wonder if I could return to the matter that engaged us for a moment or two during Question Period. I asked the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca to remain in the Chamber and I see that he has done so.

I think all of us who are in public life know that there are times when we feel very strongly about issues. That is a good thing, because as I have said many times, this is not a tea party and the long history of this place is that the men and women who vote in our country and in the country from which our institutions came have insisted on sending strong-minded and idealistic people to the House of Commons. We all understand that.

The dispute that took place a few minutes ago no doubt stems from strong-minded views on both sides of the House.

The difficulty is that one could make light of this. I sometimes have said to the many groups of students that come to the House of Commons that the distance between both sides of the Chamber has at least been considered to be two sword lengths. It is an adversarial system, and for better or for worse, we who have inherited it and adjusted it to our own needs have nonetheless maintained it. Because we believe as we do in our court system, the adversarial system is probably as competent a way of getting at the truth and the facts as has been developed by any civilized people anywhere. It is not the only way and it is obviously not perfect but that is what it is.

However, it only works if we respect the traditions of this place and the rules we have set for ourselves. It means that conduct in the Chamber has to have some restraints upon it.

March 24. 1993

I take nothing away, as I said at the beginning of these brief remarks, on how strongly we may feel about things. As your Speaker of course I am all sweetness and light, and kindness and gentleness, and I am not supposed to have a single thought in my head. Perhaps some of you will remember that there were times when I was sitting there that I may have provoked some anguish on the part of a Speaker myself. Most of us have probably been in that position at one time or another.

The point is that the institution and our countiy has to take precedence over our own anger or our own convictions when it comes to remarks in this place. I have never said that there had to be some kind of antiseptic, absolute order in a place like this. There never has been and I doubt there ever will be unless we just send zombies here. But there has to be reasonable order. When I say reasonable order I say that because without it there is no free speech and that is the fundamental that this place is all about: the right to speak.

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Some hon. members:

Hear, hear.

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PC

Gerald R. Ottenheimer (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

If we do not abide by the rules that we set for ourselves, that right to speak will be lost.

The hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is well and honourably known to me. When I say well-known that implies many things. I know the hon. member very well. I also know his passion, his convictions and his principles. Along with most decent-minded people in British Columbia, I admire that. I also know that he has had a great deal of parliamentary experience, not just in this place but as premier of my province in the legislature of British Columbia. His contribution to public life has been extensive and no doubt will continue to be.

Now that is as far as I can go in this disputatious place. I think I heard some hon. member say a moment ago: "Just a minute, Mr. Speaker, you are going to get him re-elected". That of course is not my purpose.

My purpose is to ask him upon consideration if he could, in the interests of this place and of our traditions, just very quietly say that he withdraws his offensive words and then perhaps we could end that part of the issue. The issue to which he takes such umbrage continues and there are other places to debate it.

I wonder if the hon. member could assist the Speaker. The hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Oral Questions

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NDP

David Barrett

New Democratic Party

Mr. David Barrett (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca):

Mr. Speaker, it is true that I have had a great deal of experience, all of it positive. I have had a great many wounds, most of them self-inflicted. But, Mr. Speaker, I am not talking here about a difference in debate; I am talking about a matter of fact. There is a passionate difference in debate between myself and the government on this issue. Mr. Speaker-

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Some hon. members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

Gerald R. Ottenheimer (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I have asked the hon. member to make his remarks, and I hope that they will be of assistance to the Chair. I want to hear his words. He may have said something which I may not have heard because of comments in the House. The hon. member.

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NDP

David Barrett

New Democratic Party

Mr. Barrett:

Mr. Speaker, the rare thing in this experience of being in public life is not being told the truth. In the presence of the member for Etobicoke North I was told that that committee would be travelling to Mexico and the United States to further expand questions that we had about the nature of it. Mr. Speaker, I was lied to. That is what I referred to-

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PC

Gerald R. Ottenheimer (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Just a minute. It may be that things were said. Whether they were said with the intention to mislead, which is what is necessary in order to amount to a lie, is a matter of opinion. But we cannot use those words here. I am going to ask that the hon. member consider perhaps for a few hours his position, and I hope that he will find it appropriate to withdraw.

The right hon. the Prime Minister.

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PC

Martin Brian Mulroney (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. Brian Mulroney (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might, as a statesman on his way out, make a comment that my hon. friend might reflect upon.

The Speaker in his very eloquent comments asked the member to withdraw his remarks. Mr. Speaker, if you spoke like that about me I would be ready to withdraw my resignation.

May I just make a suggestion to my hon. friend. I am not aware of the to and fro but may I just point out, out of respect for someone who has emerged as one of the most remarkable and successful Speakers in modern history, and given the point of view expressed by Mr. Speaker, why does my hon. friend, as a statement of respect for the Speaker and for the House not simply withdraw the remarks and we will get on to other things?

March 24, 1993

Routine Proceedings

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NDP

David Barrett

New Democratic Party

Mr. Barrett:

I have profound respect for the Chair and for this Speaker in particular. There is no finer son of British Columbia, if that is what is being measured, than the hon. gentleman who now sits in the Chair of this House. This is not a dispute with the Chair. This is not a dispute with the rules of the House. This is not a dispute with the Chamber that I love and the British parliamentary system. It is simply a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, that I cannot change. I have been lied to. And no number of hours will change that.

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Some hon. members:

Withdraw.

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PC

Gerald R. Ottenheimer (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I have asked the hon. member to reconsider his position and I have to take it that he has considered his position and is not going to change it.

This is regrettable, I think. But under the rules which we have set for ourselves, this is a situation in which I think now, and the right hon. the Prime Minister has probably spoken for most of the members in this place, we have tried to urge our colleague to withdraw but he is not going to do so. The only sanction that the Chair has, I think under these circumstances, is regrettably to name the hon. member.

Mr. Barrett, I have to name you for disregarding the authority of the Chair. Pursuant to the authority granted to me by Standing Order 11, I order you to withdraw from the House for the remainder of this day's sitting.

[Editor's Note: And Mr. Barrett having withdrawn:]

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POINTS OF ORDER

LIB

Maurice Adrian Dionne

Liberal

Mr. Maurice A. Dionne (Miramichi):

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In crossing from the other side to my seat-

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An hon. member:

A point of order.

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PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

I have no idea who is apparently screaming at someone, but I cannot hear two points of order at the same time. I have already recognized one of your colleagues, if I may. The hon. member for Miramichi has the floor.

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LIB

Maurice Adrian Dionne

Liberal

Mr. Dionne:

Madam Speaker, in crossing from the other side of the Chamber to this side I inadvertently crossed in front of the Speaker. I simply want to apologize.

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ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie (N.D.P. Deputy House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona):

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would simply like to raise for the consideration of the Chair what I consider to be the inappropriateness of what happened from the Chair during the course of Question Period.

In a way that I have never seen in my years here, and as far as I am concerned it has probably never happened before, the Chair saw fit to ask a leader of a particular party to rise in Question Period to state a position with respect to something that a member had said from the leader's party.

This was totally inappropriate behaviour as far as I am concerned on the part of the Chair. I would ask that the Chair and the Clerk consider the appropriateness of this behaviour. I look forward to an apology for the inappropriateness of that behaviour.

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March 24, 1993