March 23, 2011

LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, due to the importance of what I think are the documents, the minister was not quite clear as to what he was tabling. Is this all of the information initially requested by the finance committee, so members will know what information is available?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

John Baird

Conservative

Hon. John Baird

Mr. Speaker, they did not even read the documents before they said they did not answer the questions they had asked. This shows what a kangaroo court that committee had become.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. Order, order.

We are in the period of questions and comments. If members have a question for the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, he will answer it.

The hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London will answer the question and then we will move on to another.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston

Mr. Speaker, when the House was presented all the information just now, I was still finishing my response to the question from the member for Kings—Hants. He asked me if I was discouraged. I did share in my speech that I was discouraged. I certainly was discouraged with the behaviour of the members last week at the meeting and have been discouraged with some of the emails I have had about their behaviour since them.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member from the Conservative Party. I heard him say how discouraged he was about the way the committee acted, about all the emails he is receiving and all that. It is odd, but I am not receiving the same kind of emails.

Given the way it was presented, I would like to pursue the matter. He was talking about the way that big stack of information was delivered. Does he remember when Professor Franks from Queen's University told us during his testimony that it would take at least until July to read everything in detail? The Standing Committee on Finance had requested these documents four months earlier. It took the Speaker of the House of Commons to force the government to present its stack of documents through the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who is not even answering members' questions today.

I would like the hon. member to say a few words about that.

Also, I noticed in committee that the Conservatives were able to illustrate every possible way a committee should not work.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the member from the NDP shared most of his time at committee with the member for Winnipeg Centre which really was part of the problem. I have received more comment on the behaviour of the member for Winnipeg Centre than anything I have ever seen in this House. As chair of a committee, I have never seen a more disruptive member than that member. I would ask his own whip, and perhaps his leader, to take him under control.

There is a meeting of volunteer firefighters and fire chiefs right here on the Hill tonight. For those who are thinking of voting against the budget, why do they not go and talk to them?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Blaine Calkins

Conservative

Mr. Blaine Calkins (Wetaskiwin, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and ask my hon. esteemed colleague a question about this. I want to ask him what his constituents think? Because back home in Wetaskiwin here is what my constituents see. They see the plaintiffs, who consist of the majority of coalition members, putting a motion before a Speaker, who is elected as one of the members of the parties, who makes a ruling that sends it to a committee where the plaintiffs actually outnumber the defendants, and they come to a conclusion that we are in contempt.

Do this member's constituents see this as the sham that it actually is, as my constituents do?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with my colleague's question, that yes I do. However, the real answer is it went further than that. The report was written before the committee was finished hearing witnesses. There was the report in front of us to try to find the guilt. This is like the members of a jury, before they arrive to be picked, all agreeing that it is going to be that way.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst on a point of order.

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Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives were already of the mindset that there was no violation of the rules of the House or the rights of the MPs. They were already of the mindset to defend their government without even listening to the witnesses.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order.

The hon. member for Mississauga South is rising on a point of order.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, the House is now seized with a question of the government being in contempt of Parliament and the questioner and the chairman of the committee both have stated in this place, denigrating Parliament and its processes under the rules of this place. This appears to be yet another example of contempt for the rules of Parliament.

I would like both members to withdraw their comments about characterizing Parliament as a kangaroo court.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin

Mr. Speaker, I have a hard time with a Conservative MP saying that the Speaker referred the question of privilege to committee because the Speaker was not from his party.

The Speaker was democratically elected by the elected members of this House. The hon. member may recall that his party also voted for this Speaker. He is showing a lack of respect for the Speaker of the House of Commons.

I would like the hon. member to apologize to the Speaker of the House of Commons. What he just said in the House is shameful.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Gordon O'Connor

Conservative

Hon. Gordon O'Connor

Mr. Speaker, there is no way we call into disrepute the Speaker of this House. He is an honourable gentleman. He makes his decisions on the basis of the law.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin

Mr. Speaker, the member should apologize for what he said about the Speaker.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I have not heard anything that would require an apology. The Chair will examine the transcript. If there is any reason to come back to the House to make any kind of request, we will do so in due course. We will move on.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Joliette.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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BQ

Pierre Paquette

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

You have 10 minutes left for your speech.

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Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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BQ

Pierre Paquette

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre Paquette

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to take the whole 30 minutes allocated to the Bloc Québécois. I would have shared my time with the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. The government used an unfair tactic and moved to proceed to the orders of the day when there were mere minutes left. We obviously could not start debate on the budget. I believe that it was an attempt to muzzle the opposition parties, in particular the Bloc and the NDP.

I would remind the members that after the Liberal member for Kings—Hants raised a question of privilege, the Speaker gave a ruling in which he found a prima facie breach of privilege. He allowed the member to move a motion, which concluded as follows:

...Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for a final determination on the government's compliance, or lack thereof, and that the committee report back its findings and recommendations no later than March 21, 2011.

Whether the government and the Conservative members of the committee like it or not, the majority decision of the committee is very clear. I would like to read the end of that decision:

...the Committee concludes the following:

1) That the government has failed to produce the specific documents ordered to be produced by the Standing Committee on Finance and by the House;

2) That the government has not provided a reasonable excuse;

3) That the documents tabled in the House and in Committee do not satisfy the orders for production of documents; nor do they provide a reasonable excuse [a point on which the Chair placed particular emphasis in his decision];

4) That this failure impedes the House in the performance of its functions; and

5) That the government’s failure to produce documents constitutes a contempt of Parliament.

The Bloc would be completely in favour of concurring in the report if ever there is a concurrence vote in this regard. Clearly, the government did not comply with the request of the Standing Committee on Finance and the House, under false pretences. First, the government told us that it would not submit the documents because they contained cabinet secrets. That was the response the government gave on November 24 regarding the F-35s and the tax cuts.

On December 1, the government gave the same response regarding the justice issue: it was a cabinet secret. As the debate progressed, the government knew it was in hot water. It tried to avoid the question of privilege that had to be raised.

On February 17, the government tabled documents. This is the first rather incredible thing. On November 24 and December 1, the government said that it could not table any documents because they contained cabinet secrets and then on a Liberal Party opposition day on the issue—

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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March 23, 2011