May 16, 2000

LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health spends nearly $1 billion annually on health care for native peoples. If the hon. member has details on this situation, I would be very pleased to examine them and answer in detail.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health
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NDP

Wendy Lill

New Democratic Party

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The president of CBC told the heritage committee today that due to chronic underfunding the CBC would be cutting local supper hour shows. After the president left, the committee passed a unanimous motion asking the federal government to provide adequate and stable funding to the CBC to provide enhanced regional television capacity.

Will the Prime Minister intervene and save local television?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the decision is one that has to be made by the president and the board of CBC. We provided in the budget almost $1 billion for CBC. It was voted as adequate by the House of Commons. At this moment, we are not reviewing the budget. It will not be reviewed until next February.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
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PC

Gerald Keddy

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the government is purchasing fishing licences in Atlantic Canada in order to integrate first nations into the Atlantic fishery.

Of the licences purchased so far, can the minister tell us whether any of them were already owned by the Mi'kmaq, the Maliseet or Passamaquoddy band members?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Fisheries And Oceans
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LIB

Herb Dhaliwal

Liberal

Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report to the House that we have signed 17 agreements as of today and 4 more agreements in principle.

We said right from the beginning that the way to resolve this was through dialogue, co-operation and by making sure we negotiate and not litigate. That is exactly what we are doing. The voluntary licence buyback was something the committee recommended. The hon. member is a member of that committee. It is something that the fishing community recommended and that was exactly what we followed.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Fisheries And Oceans
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Sierra Leone reminds us that thousands of children around the world are exploited in armed conflicts. The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently co-hosted a conference in Ghana on war affected children.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell the House today what follow-up will come from that conference?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sierra Leone
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has pointed out, one of the most tragic stories in Sierra Leone is that 50% of the rebel soldiers are young children who have been abducted, drugged and turned into killing machines.

Canada has been actively working with the 15 states in West Africa to try to provide a response to that problem. At the ECOWAS conference that we co-hosted, leaders of the West African state agreed on a blueprint of action. We will have very specific measures for rehabilitation and response.

Canada will be supporting a special unit from ECOWAS to help in that measure. It is one way we can come to grips with the horrible violation of children that is taking place and the contribution we can make to the security of that region.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sierra Leone
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REF

Myron Thompson

Reform

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the phone call that I referred to with the commissioner ended abruptly with him stating that any further information needed from his office would no longer be available. The report from Grierson Centre detailed intimidation and threats by management to staff. I personally know how they feel after the bulling my office staff got yesterday.

I understand the institution has now been threatened to be shut down because of this report.

When will the solicitor general tame this organization, which is obviously out of control, and fire—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Correctional Service Canada
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?

The Speaker

The hon. solicitor general.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Correctional Service Canada
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LIB

Lawrence MacAulay

Liberal

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, if I was to fire everyone that my hon. colleague across the floor wanted me to fire, I would be busy doing a lot of firing.

The fact is we have an excellent correctional system in this country that is renowned. Many countries around the world come to Canada to learn how to run a proper correctional service. We do studies to make sure that there is a good relationship between staff and management in our institutions.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Correctional Service Canada
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?

The Speaker

I draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Eamon O Cuiv, Minister of State of Ireland, responsible for Gaeltacht and the Islands.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Presence In Gallery
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Presence In Gallery
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REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, my question of privilege arises out of a motion that the government intends to move with respect to time allocation on Bill C-25. Yesterday, the government House leader gave notice of his intention to close off debate on this important bill.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

The Speaker

I believe you are raising a question of privilege on something that has not occurred as yet. Therefore, I do not know how we can argue a point of privilege as a matter of fact on something which may occur or may not occur. Perhaps the hon. opposition House leader could explain.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Chuck Strahl

Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me to give this entire point, I think I can explain why you should not even recognize the government House leader and you should look the other way when he tries to move the motion. The problem is, once the motion is moved the House must be seized of it. I hope to argue and convince you, Mr. Speaker, with this question of privilege that you should not even hear the motion to invoke a record number of time allocations.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

The Speaker

My colleague, I find it difficult to accept that we should be arguing a point that has not come up and that is not before the House. I would rule that we should not be discussing a point of privilege on a matter that has not occurred. Therefore, I rule that this point of privilege is not acceptable at this time.

I am going to go to the second point of privilege which is from the member for Wild Rose.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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REF

Myron Thompson

Reform

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in regard to a matter relating to what I believe constitutes intimidation and a deliberate attempt to withhold information from me because of my activities in the House during a proceeding of parliament.

Yesterday after I asked a question during question period, Lynn Ballice, the assistant to the commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, phoned my assistant for particulars of a report which I spoke about during question period. She told my assistant that it was a report done by an independent consultant they had hired and it was given to Jan Fox, their regional director in March.

While my assistant offered to fax the report to her, she pointed out that the report came from Correctional Service Canada and that is where Ms. Ballice should start looking. Ms. Ballice then called back a few minutes later and said all her management people were out west at a conference and insisted that my assistant fax her the report.

When I returned to the office I instructed my assistant not to fax the report. To me, the situation was getting beyond what was at first maybe humourous and quite frankly was beginning to get just a little frightening. I was beginning to wonder if anyone was in charge at Correctional Service Canada.

At 4:30 p.m. Lynn Ballice phoned back to my office and said she had the commissioner of corrections, Ole Ingstrup, on the speakerphone. She asked why my assistant had not faxed a copy of the report. When advised of my decision, Lynn Ballice said that Correctional Service Canada would not offer me any help or information on this particular report in the future.

This threat came about because of a question I asked in the House. I appreciate the frustration and the embarrassment that this may have caused the commissioner but that does not give him the right to deliberately deny information to a member of parliament, and it does not give him the right to intimidate the staff of a member of parliament.

On December 16, 1980 a Speaker made a ruling in regard to information to which a member of parliament was entitled. The Speaker said it would be bold to suggest that no circumstance could ever exist for a prima facie question of privilege to be made where there was a deliberate attempt to deny information to an hon. member.

Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada on page 71 states:

—the events necessarily incidental to petitions, questions and notices of motions in Parliament—are all events which are part of the “proceedings of Parliament.”

On page 72 there is a quote from a report of the Select Committee on the Official Secrets Act of 1939 which states “a proceeding in parliament covers both the asking of a question and the giving written notice of such a question”.

Erskine May's 21st edition describes contempt as:

—any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.

It is imperative that members of parliament have the confidence to perform their duties with accurate information which is not deliberately misleading or deliberately withheld from them. When a public servant deliberately withholds information because of what was said in the House of Commons is a clear contempt of parliament. Information that is entitled to members of parliament should not be linked to the actions of a member inside or outside the House.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you consider this a prima facie question of privilege so that this House can determine whether the actions of the commissioner of Correctional Service Canada is in contempt.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

The Speaker

Before I listen to the member for Kootenay—Columbia, did I understand correctly that the hon. member was speaking directly to the commissioner? Was the hon. member speaking directly to the commissioner?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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REF

Myron Thompson

Reform

Mr. Myron Thompson

No, Mr. Speaker. My staff was speaking directly to the commissioner and his staff. They were all on a speakerphone.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

The Speaker

Was the hon. member privy to that conversation on the speakerphone? Did he hear the conversation?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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May 16, 2000