March 27, 2003

LIB

Lucienne Robillard

Liberal

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would suggest that the hon. member listen to Canadians, who place a high value on linguistic duality.

This is why it is perfectly normal that the public service of Canada would promote this linguistic duality. I should point out that close to two thirds of all positions in the public service are unilingual.

The federal public service is open to all citizens of this country.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bilingualism
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BQ

Mario Laframboise

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, farmers are criticizing the Minister for International Trade for his lack of firmness regarding supply management, for letting too many products come in.

However, at the Liberal caucus held in Chicoutimi, the minister pledged to farmers that he would take action to settle this issue. We know that a study was conducted and recently submitted to the minister, at the end of February.

Can the minister tell us when he intends to table the findings of that study here in the House?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Agriculture
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LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, indeed, when we were in Chicoutimi, the Minister of Agriculture and I set up a working group with dairy producers and supply management officials.

Our officials worked together and, last week, they submitted to the Minister of Agriculture and myself a report which we have reviewed. A number of possibilities are being examined. These are rather complex issues, and we have to look at the legal impact of any scenario that we may adopt.

Therefore, we will follow up on this request in the coming weeks.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Agriculture
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?

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Vancouver East.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Agriculture
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege with respect to contempt of Parliament.

As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, on March 20 the House voted on the following supply motion moved by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and seconded by the member for Laurentides:

That this House call upon the government not to participate in the military intervention initiated by the United States in Iraq.

That question was debated, put and passed on the following division: yeas, 153; nays, 50.

On many occasions leading up to and after the motion was passed, members have asserted that Canada will not and is not participating in the war. On March 20, for instance, the Prime Minister said “We don't have any troops and there will be no troops”. However, since then it is clear from the Prime Minister's statements in the House that this is not the case.

I would cite the following comment made by the Prime Minister in Hansard on March 26:

--of course we have ships in the ocean there....

He went on to say:

The people who are involved in flying in AWACS planes are covering many countries in their surveillance, not only one country. They are doing the job today that they have been doing for many months.

The AWACS to which the Prime Minister referred helped coordinate the bombing in Iraq. The ships he referred to are escorting American and British ships into war and which are now permitted to travel as far north as Kuwait for that purpose.

On March 25 the Prime Minister said:

They have been on loan for some time with the British and American armies.

Canadians are with British tank brigades outside Basra. Clearly this is combat.

On March 17 the Prime Minister said:

If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.

As we know, there has been no second resolution to the Security Council, but there was a motion in this House that clearly compels Canada not to participate. The motion does not distinguish between participation in combat or non-combat. It simply deals with participation.

Nevertheless, not being in combat is being cited as an acceptable reason to be there, as the Minister of Defence has indicated. He does not deny participation, he merely tries to explain the type of participation. In his comments on March 18 he said:

As for these 31 persons, they are not in positions that involve direct combat.

On March 19 the Minister of Defence stated:

The reason there is a small number, some 30 personnel, in non-combat roles....

Yesterday, March 26, the Department of National Defence confirmed that Canadian troops were helping in the war on Iraq, that Canadians were aboard American AWACS radar planes flying command missions over Iraq, and that 31 soldiers were serving on exchange assignments with U.S. and British armies.

Today in question period in terms of the question I raised and the response from the government, clearly there was confirmation that our presence and our participation was there.

This is clearly participation but Parliament has explicitly said no participation.

As well, it is being reported today that six members of the Armed Forces are serving in logistical or support positions with combat troops on the ground.

I would say that there is a strong inconsistency between the claims that the government has made in the House and the vote that took place on March 20 which called upon the government not to participate in the war. I believe this has misled the House and that it is a contempt of this Parliament.

I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to consider these facts and the issues and if you find a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament against the government, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have this referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the normal process around here, when one is dissatisfied with the answer to a question, is to fill out one of the forms that we have in our desk which says that we want to debate the item further during the adjournment at the end of the day. That is when we put the proposition again, give the government a second opportunity to respond, and that process was even improved under the first modernization committee report. In essence that is how we debate items of that nature.

The hon. member refers in her argument to the fact that there was a motion in the House which, in her view, because it called upon the government to take a specific course of action, specifically forbade any other course of action.

First, what she says was called upon did not exclude what our military is doing now; and second, even if it did, which clearly of course it does not, it does not specifically prevent the government from having that course of action in any case. However, as I indicated, it does not apply

More important perhaps, there was a motion from the Bloc Quebecois, as was very clearly outlined by my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, under which, if adopted, not that it was binding either, was calling for the repatriating of those some 30-some soldiers in question, and that was clearly defeated by some three-quarters of the members of the House.

Either way, this sounds more like a point of debate. I am sure if the hon. member files the appropriate adjournment motion someone on our side will respond enthusiastically to what she has just referred.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I agree with my colleague, the government House leader. This is really a matter for the adjournment debate and, for my hon. colleague, I think, it is more a point of letting off steam than anything else. I think we should get on with the business of the House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver East has raised what she suggests is a question of privilege with respect to the involvement, whatever it may be, of Canadian troops in activities in or about the gulf, and has referred to the motion of the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie that was put to the House which read:

That this House call upon the government not to participate in the military intervention initiated by the United States in Iraq.

She notes that the motion was carried. I note that it was a motion that called upon the government to do certain things. It was not a directive. Therefore it is very difficult, in my view, for her to suggest that it would be a contempt of Parliament if the government proceeded to do something other than not participate, since it was called upon to do this, and particularly so since decisions of declarations of war or involvement in conflict are executive matters under the Constitution of our country.

I also refer her to the amendment that was moved by the hon. member for Saint-Jean which suggested amending the original motion, which I read, by adding after the word “Iraq” the following:

and, consequently the government repatriate all soldiers and military material in the region that could be used in a war effort in the conflict in Iraq.

That particular amendment was defeated and it was also part of the call. Therefore, having been defeated, it is hard to imagine how there could be contempt of the House in respect of either given the wording of the motion and given the wording of the amendment that was defeated.

Accordingly, I must find there is no breach of privilege in the circumstances and I am unable to accede to her request that I find such a breach of privilege which would allow her to make the necessary.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order arising out of question period wherein the right hon. Prime Minister implied that I had misled the House in a question I had put to him yesterday regarding statements attributed to the hon. Senator Laurier LaPierre yesterday in the Senate.

Yesterday, at page 4713 of volume 138, number 078 of the official report of Hansard of the House of Commons debates I said:

...Hansard recorded that Liberal Senator LaPierre shouted “Screw the Americans” in the Senate yesterday.

This is the statement I made. I attributed it simply to the Senate Hansard . I have here the relevant Senate Hansard which confirms the absolute veracity of my remark in the House yesterday. I would be prepared to table that if there is unanimous consent. I wanted to clarify that.

Secondly, the Prime Minister indicated to the House that he would no longer accept questions from me given his misunderstanding of this matter. I believe that would be a breach of my privileges as a member and a violation of the convention of prime ministerial responsibility in question period.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may be correct in citing the preamble to his question of yesterday. However, beyond the preamble of course there was the question itself.

I do believe that when the Prime Minister states that a direct accusation against the senator was made in the question, that is not factually inaccurate. That is in fact quite accurate given what the hon. member has just said. He might be quite correct in saying that he did in a preamble to a question yesterday make his statement, but when he referred to continued anti-American slurs on the part of which the hon. senator was, in his view, guilty, that is not correct and that should be withdrawn. Everyone recognizes now that the senator, and we all know him for being a man of unimpeachable integrity, made no such statement and that has now been confirmed. I do think it would be appropriate to withdraw that remark now as the right hon. Prime Minister suggested.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that since yesterday when the question was asked and the Prime Minister made an answer that he agreed it was put wrong that the senator in the other place has corrected the version of Hansard. We all accept his change without any debate in this House at all as we normally do. I do not think anybody has to apologize any further. We accept what the senator said, and there is no question about that.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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?

The Speaker

I think hon. members see we have a debate about what was said or not said. Things obviously have changed and are changing as time goes on. I do not think there is a need for intervention on the part of the Chair in respect of this matter. While the hon. member for Calgary Southeast feels he has a grievance, I am not sure that the Chair can do anything to compel any minister or even the Prime Minister to answer questions despite my considerable powers.

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Southeast for raising the matter, but I can only wish him well as he continues his quest for the truth and the accuracy in all respects that I know he likes to pursue in the House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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PC

Loyola Hearn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Loyola Hearn

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I would like to give you notice that at the earliest possible opportunity I will be raising a question of privilege based on comments made today by the Prime Minister. I maintain that the Prime Minister gave deceiving information to the House and had it done in an underhanded way. When we get a chance to research Hansard, I will be raising the appropriate question of privilege.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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?

The Speaker

The hon. member for St. John's West is very experienced and knows the rules of the House. He can send a written notice to the Speaker as required by the rules. Naturally, the Speaker will be delighted to hear the hon. member's point of order in due course.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, in the modernization committee we will get some new rules about the Thursday question and make sure it is first on Thursday after question period. We thought it was already, but we will make sure it gets in the rules anyway.

I wonder if the government House leader could tell us the business for the rest of this week and for next week. We noticed at the House leader's meeting that Bill C-10A is on the agenda again. I wonder if he could tell us whether, on the day it is put on the agenda, he will use the time allocation motion that is sitting on the Order Paper right now.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as you know there is no time allocation motion on the agenda. There is however a notice, should that notice need to be exercised.

It is the intention of the government to continue this afternoon and tomorrow with Bill C-28, the budget implementation legislation. I wish to confirm to the House that it is my intention to continue to do so notwithstanding the opposition's dilatory motion to stop the bill from proceeding which was introduced in the House earlier this day.

If and when the bill is completed, we will then turn to Bill C-20, the child protection bill, either tomorrow if the budget bill is completed, or if not, on Monday. This will be followed by Bill C-23, the sex offender bill.

I then propose to bring back to the House for third reading Bill C-13 on reproductive technologies, which was concurred in by the House yesterday. That would probably bring us at least some way into next week and there will be further consultations at that point.

There have been discussions among parties and it has been agreed that the House shall not sit next Friday, April 4. Given that is the case, I now seek the consent of the House pursuant to that consultation to move the following motion. I move:

That when the House adjourns on April 3, 2003, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, April 7, 2003.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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?

The Speaker

If the Chair may intervene for a moment to say to the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, his desire for changes in the rules to ensure his question is put first, having had notice of one point of order and a question of privilege, I deliberately waited so I could have the benefit and advice of the hon. member and of course the hon. government House leader on these matters, appreciating as the Chair does, the great wisdom that comes from the two hon. members on matters of this kind.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Business of the House
Permalink

The House resumed consideration of the motion. that Bill C-28, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 18, 2003 be now read a second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.


March 27, 2003