June 4, 1993

LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Brian Tobin (Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte):

Madam Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege regarding actions that are being taken. I believe these actions interfere with my ability to do my job as a member of Parliament.

I received in the lobby a minute or two before Question Period from the law firm of Radnoff, Pearl, Slover, Swedko, Dwoskin notice of its intention to reserve the right to bring action against me unless I make certain withdrawals. This notice was served to me in the lobby of the House of Commons a few minutes ago. I regard it as a deliberate act to prevent me from doing my job. I shall explain why.

Even as I speak, the government House leader is reading from that legal notice given to me. The government House leader obviously had in his hand in advance of the notice being served on me in the lobby, a copy of the letter from the law firm in question. During Question Period the government House leader quoted directly from the letter in question served on me. He is looking at it now, as I speak.

You quoted from it earlier, Harvie. Somebody sitting behind you in the Chamber watched you quote from it. I tracked you as you quoted from it.

I am prepared to make the letter available to the Speaker. I am prepared to have you, Madam Speaker,

Privilege

check Hansard and see that the government House leader quoted directly from this letter.

It is crystal clear that the communications manager of the Charest campaign, Mr. Ralfe, his law firm, which I have just named, and the government House leader are acting in consort in attempting to intimidate and prevent a member of Parliament from doing his job and to undertake his duties.

Madam Speaker, I ask you to investigate this co-ordinated attempt to shut up a member of Parliament, to introduce libel chill. If you find a prima facie case for this question of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

I ask the government House leader to table the letter he quoted from in Question Period. It will be crystal clear that it is exactly the same document I myself only received a minute or two before Question Period. Clearly he had it in his hands. As part of a co-ordinated attempt to shut down, to intimidate, to shut up a member of Parliament who is doing his job, the minister opposite chose to use it. I am sure by now he regrets his rather foolish action.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Harvie Andre (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons):

Madam Speaker, finally at the end we got the truth.

Indeed I was told that this letter had been given to the member.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Tobin:

You have it.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Andre:

I was given a copy of the letter and he admitted that he received the letter before Question Period. I received it after it was sent to him.

The quote I read-and he can check the "blues"-was right from the document the hon. member circulated. The point is the quote is exactly what I read from the letter. It was exactly out of this document. The word is this:

Ralfe whose contracts exceeded $50,000 in the last fiscal year,

had his contract renewed in April. Although he seems to be working

full time on the Charest campaign, Ralfe has an active contract with

the department.

That is a false statement.

The hon. member distributed this false information outside in the lobby during the scrums endeavouring to ruin another reputation. Somehow he thinks it enhances the political system and his own reputation by going out and spreading false information.

I will let the recipient or victim of this deal with it on his own.

I maintain the point is that the level of respect in which this institution is held is not aided by hon. members using parliamentary immunity to stand up and slander individuals who do not have the privilege of coming in to defend themselves. I will let the hon. member deal with that.

In any event, at no time did I hear in his comments anything having to do with the rules of privilege in this House. I fail to understand what his point of privilege would be in respect to how he was prevented from doing his duty in the House by whatever is happening.

He has the letter in his hand and if he chooses to table it he may do so. I do not care. The point is I believe the letter deals with what the hon. member said in particular out in the scrum by handing out material which is slanderous and wrong.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Sheila Maureen Copps

Liberal

Ms. Sheila Copps (Hamilton East):

Madam Speaker, I think the electronic Hansard will show that during Question Period the minister did quote directly from a two-page letter. I believe that the tradition of the House is that when a minister or a member quotes from a document that person is required to table that document.

I would ask that the minister table the document he used in his response, which was a two-page letter.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

Frank Oberle (Minister of Forestry)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Frank Oberle (Minister of Forestry):

Madam Speaker, in your examination of this letter I would also draw to your attention the fact that my hon. friend opposite indicated that the Liberal Party does have people sitting in the gallery who are reading mail and the documents that ministers have in front of them. If there was ever a question of privilege to be raised that ought to be it.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell):

Madam Speaker, I think when deciding upon this decision there are two points which you might want to consider.

The first thing that you might want to consider, Madam Speaker, is whether this is an attempt to intimidate an MP in the exercise of his function.

The second point to consider is the fact that the hon. member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte was served with this letter from this law firm here on Parliament Hill. As Madam Speaker will be well aware, a member cannot be served with a legal notice of this nature here if it is a court document. In a civil case that cannot be done on Parliament Hill. Given the fact that it cannot be done,

June 4, 1993

the purpose of this letter is to have the same effect, in other words, to serve this upon the member in like manner from what I have described previously. Therefore I claim, and I ask Madam Speaker to consider the fact, that particular letter should not have been delivered to the hon. member on Parliament Hill by the law firm in question.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

Delivered not served.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Boudria:

I regret to interrupt the member for Halifax West who undoubtedly has something terribly important to tell us. However if the government maintains that everything is appropriate here, then surely it would welcome the parliamentary committee investigating this situation and reporting to the House forthwith. If not, I will be left with the conclusion that the point of the hon. minister is hard to defend.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Andre:

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity of having a committee of Parliament look into the slanderous and false accusations of the hon. member to see whether that is appropriate parliamentary behaviour.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Tobin:

Madam Speaker, he has not tabled the letter. Table the letter. Madam Speaker, you should secure that letter. It was quoted from in this House. The minister is now running out of the House without tabling the letter. Madam Speaker should not allow the government House leader to run from Parliament, to run from the House of Commons, with the letter still in his pocket. This gives proof to my suggestion that this has been a co-ordinated attempt by people outside the House and inside the House to shut up a member of Parliament.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

I have listened very carefully to what was said during Question Period and during the exchange following the hon. member raising that question of privilege. I have listened to all sides. I will, of course, take everything under advisement.

However two points need to be made at this time. The hon. member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte kept asking me to force the hon. minister to table the letter. The minister can only be forced to table a state document, which is not the case at this point. I cannot force the hon. member to table a document that is not a state document. This document does not come from the Government of Canada.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Boudria:

That is not in the rules. I am sorry.

Routine Proceedings

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

We can discuss that later on. At this point this is my decision.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Tobin:

He is burning it as we speak.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

We will review Hansard.

There is also a question about legal documents being served or delivered on the precinct without the Speaker's express permission. That is also something that causes me some concern.

The whole situation will be reviewed and I will come back to the House as soon as possible.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Permalink

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

AGRICULTURE

PC

Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Shirley Martin (Minister of State (Transport)):

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I would like to table, in both official languages, the following proposals to amend the Western Grain Transportation Act, the National Transportation Act 1987, the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the Farm Income Protection Act.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROPOSALS
Permalink

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

June 4, 1993