June 4, 2003

LIB

Susan Whelan

Liberal

Hon. Susan Whelan (Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Canada has delivered on its commitments. The $500 million Canada fund for Africa is focusing on African priorities like health and education, trade and investment, and peace and security. Canada has also committed an additional $6 billion over the next five years to deal specifically with Africa.

We have committed to double our international assistance by the year 2010, at least half of which will go to Africa. Our relationship with Africa is strong because we are committed. We delivered and we will continue to do so.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   International Aid
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CA

Chuck Cadman

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, in February 2000, 16 year old Richard Jung was swarmed and beaten to death. A young offender plea-bargained from second degree murder down to manslaughter and got two and a half years, and that is bad enough, but four adults involved were just convicted of manslaughter. The sentence? Members guessed it, two years less a day at home.

The Minister of Justice, who gave us conditional sentencing, said it was not intended for violent crimes. Would the current minister please explain why he is allowing conditional sentences to become the rule for virtually anything other than murder?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Justice
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LIB

Martin Cauchon

Liberal

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the opposition knows very well that conditional sentencing was put in place some years ago. It has been used by the courts as well. The opposition also knows that the justice committee went through a review as well.

We are waiting to see the outcome of that review, but having said that, conditional sentencing is not used when an offender could represent a risk to the public. It is one of the tools at the disposal of the court. Judges are not forced to use it. They use it based on each and every case, depending upon the circumstances.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Justice
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CA

Chuck Cadman

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, following Richard Jung's death, I sat with his dad for hours as he tried to come to terms with the senseless killing of his son, and he expected justice. Prosecutors wanted three to six years. Even the defence expected jail time. The Crown quoted the judge's own words from an earlier case when she said the court will not tolerate “senseless, gratuitous, recreational violence” before imposing an eight year sentence for aggravated assault, and now, four house arrests for manslaughter. When will the minister say enough is enough?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Justice
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LIB

Martin Cauchon

Liberal

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member is referring to what we call the Young Offenders Act. There is a designated offence and that may end up as being what we call a sentence for adults.

With regard to conditional sentencing, I will repeat essentially what I said over and over. We went through a review process. We will wait to see what will be the outcome. It is a tool at the disposal of the court, and judges are not forced to use it. They use it when the offender does not represent a risk to our society.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Justice
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BQ

Caroline St-Hilaire

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage claimed last year that Radio-Canada, which was preparing to stop broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada in French, had to respect the rights of francophone minorities.

This year, Radio-Canada will pull the plug on its nightly sports report, depriving francophones without cable of the only daily amateur sports forum currently on public television. While the English network runs six hours of sports per week, the French network runs only two.

Can the minister tell us if she approves of Radio-Canada's decision. Is it normal, in her opinion, that francophones are not entitled to the same service as anglophones?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Société Radio-Canada
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. Many people in this House are concerned about this. Guy Lafleur is here today; I know that he is particularly interested in sports issues.

The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport and I have already agreed to meet with representatives of Radio-Canada's union, and we will certainly work with Sport Québec and others that, currently, are appealing directly to the CRTC.

Different possibilities are being explored and, with the hon. member's help, perhaps the House can adopt a unanimous stance on this issue.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Société Radio-Canada
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LIB

Sarmite Bulte

Liberal

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.

Could the minister please inform the House how her department plans to promote, encourage and engage Canadians on the issue of multiculturalism and diversity?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multiculturalism
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LIB

Jean Augustine

Liberal

Hon. Jean Augustine (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to tell the House that I have just announced a three year strategic partnership with Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council which will leverage $3 million over the next three years.

This is to help us to find the kind of research that is indispensable for developing informed and relative policies and programs due to the diversity of Canada.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multiculturalism
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?

The Speaker

I would like to draw to hon. members' attention the return to the House of our colleague, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Member for Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Member for Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis
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?

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Guy Lafleur, one of our hockey greats.

Mr, Lafleur is very much involved in National Environment Week, as a supporter of the not-for-profit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Presence in the gallery
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Presence in the gallery
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CA

Vic Toews

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in respect to the answer of the Solicitor General to the question of the member for Crowfoot. The Solicitor General specifically referenced a current trial and made certain comments in respect to that trial. As a former provincial attorney general and a member of the House, I am very concerned that the comments of the Solicitor General may have prejudiced the fair trial of an accused.

I refer the House to the House of Commons Procedure and Practice , by Marleau and Montpetit, at page 534, which states:

The sub judice convention is first and foremost a voluntary restraint on the part of the House to protect an accused person, or other party to a court action or judicial inquiry, from suffering any prejudicial effect from public discussion of the issue.

I refer members also to page 535 where that is discussed further.

Because I do not want to repeat the comments, I would ask the Speaker to review the videotape and Hansard , review those comments and consider whether there is a prima facie matter of privilege vital to the public interest.

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, this is hardly a question of privilege. Yes, ministers during question period have invoked the issue of sub judice in order not to affect someone's trial when a member raises and asks for the opinion of the Crown on a matter that is before the court. The issue that a member on the other side of the House may be dissatisfied with an answer that a minister has given during question period has nothing to do with this.

If the hon. member is dissatisfied, and that is very legitimate, people feel that way from time to time, even though the answers are usually excellent, he can put in a late show and get further amplification on the issue being raised.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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PC

Joe Clark

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite accurate in his recollection of what was said by the Solicitor General. It was the Solicitor General himself who volunteered the reference of which my colleague from Provencher has rightly expressed concern.

I would certainly add my voice to others in the House urging the Speaker to look at the actual tapes to see if in fact there has been a breach of the conventions of the House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

The Speaker

The Speaker always enjoys reviewing tapes and transcripts of the proceedings in the House and will do so in this case and get back to the House in due course.

The hon. member for Yorkton--Melville gave notice of a question of privilege to the Chair. I will hear him now.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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CA

Garry Breitkreuz

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege concerning the justice minister's direct contravention of the Firearms Act and contravention of one of your rulings.

On November 21, 2001, at Commons debates pages 7380 and 7381, Mr. Speaker, you ruled on a question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Surrey Central concerning the failure of the minister of justice to table a statement of reasons for making certain regulations as required by subsection 119(4) of the Firearms Act.

I would like to now cite three separate quotes taken directly from the Speaker's ruling. I quote:

I should point out to hon. members the Firearms Act provides that where the minister is of the opinion that the ordinary regulatory process in section 118 should not be followed she may in cases specified by the law proceed directly to the making of new regulations or to the modification of existing regulations. However in such cases the minister is required by subsection 119(4) of the act to table in both houses a statement of her reasons for so doing.

The hon. member for Surrey Central drew to the attention of the House 16 cases between September 16, 1998, and December 13, 2000, where the minister made use of this exceptional power but failed to table the required documents in the House. He argued that although no deadline is specified in the Firearms Act it is surely unreasonable for the House to be kept waiting for up to three years for the tabling of the minister's reasons.

The ruling went on:

In the case before us, the legislation drafted by the justice department contained from the outset the provisions obliging the minister to table in parliament reasons why section 118 should not apply for certain regulations. Furthermore, in the orders in council relating to each case, a standard paragraph is included which reads as follows:

And whereas the Minister of Justice will, in accordance with subsection 119(4) of the Firearms Act, have a statement of the reasons why she formed that opinion laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, Her Excellency, the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, pursuant to paragraph X of the Firearms Act, hereby makes the annexed regulations--

The Chair must conclude from this evidence that far from being an arcane technicality cloaked in some dusty statute or other, the requirement for tabling of reasons is not only perfectly clear in the legislation but is invoked as an integral part of each such order in council. All the more reason, it seems to me, for the department to comply readily with the requirement given a modicum of efficiency in advising the minister.

The ruling went on:

Strictly speaking, these defects do not negate the minister's fulfillment of her statutory obligation, but they do point to a carelessness that appears to be characteristic of the way in which these matters are being handled by the officials in her department.

Were there to be a deadline for tabling included in the legislation, I would not hesitate to find that a prima facie case of contempt does exist and I would invite the hon. member to move the usual motion. However, given that no such deadline is specified, I can only find that a legitimate grievance has been identified.

I would encourage the hon. Minister of Justice to exhort her officials henceforth to demonstrate due diligence in complying with these and any other statutory requirements adopted by parliament. I look forward in future to the House being provided with documents required by law in a timely manner.

That was your ruling, Mr. Speaker. The parliamentary research branch has informed me that despite your stern warning and contrary to your explicit instructions, the justice minister has on four more occasions failed to table his statement of reasons for avoiding the laying of his regulations before Houses of Parliament, as required by subsection 119(4) of the Firearms Act.

The four orders in council identified by the Library of Parliament are: SOR/2002-440, 5 December 2002, regulations amending the importation and exportation of firearms regulations; SOR/2002-441, 5 December 2002, regulations amending the authority to export or import firearms regulations (businesses); SOR/2002-444, 5 December 2002, regulations amending gun show regulations; and, 5 December 2002, regulations amending the public agents firearms regulations.

While you ruled that the member for Surrey Central did not have a prima facie case of privilege, mainly because there is no deadline in the Firearms Act for the minister to table the statement of reasons, the situation we have today is different.

The minister is now in a clear contempt of Parliament, because not only has he shown complete disregard for the legislative requirements of this House, just as his predecessor did, but he has ignored your very clear instructions in your previous ruling.

I ask the Speaker: At what point does the minister's disregard for the legislative requirement of an act passed by this House become contempt? How many times does the minister have to be caught before it becomes contempt? Sixteen times last time. Four times this time. If not this time, will the minister be in contempt the next time we catch him?

Finally, how can we expect ordinary Canadians to obey the Firearms Act if the justice minister himself does not, cannot, or will not, regardless of what you say or rule?

If the Speaker rules that these four new violations of section 119(4) of the Firearms Act by the Minister of Justice constitute a prima facie case of breach of privileges of this House, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

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, I have heard what has just been raised by the member. I consider it to be very serious. I will raise it with my colleagues. I will endeavour to report either to the House myself, or himself; it is mid-week now but hopefully by the end of the week or at the least sometime next week about the--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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?

An hon. member

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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June 4, 2003