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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on November 23, 2021, by the member for Barrie—Innisfil concerning allegations about the Clerk of the House.
First of all, I want to point out that the Clerk recused himself from this matter and did not participate in the preparation of this ruling.
In his remarks, the member for Barrie—Innisfil said he was troubled about a report about the Clerk on the CBC a few weeks ago. According to the member, the House must defend its dignity and its integrity and that is why the matter should be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The member for Calgary Nose Hill also expressed concern about the way in which harassment complaints were being dealt with, adding that if employees could not do their work in complete safety, then members could not properly fulfill their parliamentary functions.
For his part, the Leader of the Government in the House said that the House must not be used to spread rumours and that it was not the appropriate place to consider the matter because the people involved could not defend themselves. In his opinion, and in that of the members for Saint-Jean and New Westminster—Burnaby, the Board of Internal Economy was the appropriate forum for such matters.
First and foremost, the Chair must reiterate, in light of certain remarks about harassment made by the members for Calgary Nose Hill and Saint-Jean that there are indeed mechanisms in place in the House of Commons to deal with all forms of harassment in order to ensure a safe and secure workplace for everyone. There are policies in place, for members and their employees and for House administration staff, to prevent workplace harassment and to investigate complaints. Earlier this year, these policies were updated to reflect the most recent statutory requirements. All members of this House can rest assured that any complaint is taken seriously and investigated diligently using well-established processes.
It is not in anyone’s interest to have allegations of this sort dealt with on the floor of the House of Commons.
That being said, given the concerns raised in the correspondence from the member for Calgary Nose Hill from September 2021 concerning the policy applying to members, the House administration is conducting a review of the policy and its application. It will then report to the Board of Internal Economy, which will be able to review it and decide if changes to the policy are required. The matter is on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Internal Economy.
As regards the allegations against the Clerk, the Chair considers the most appropriate forum to deal with these issues to be the Board of Internal Economy. It is the administrative body responsible for human resources issues.
Indeed, section 52.3 of the Parliament of Canada Act gives the Board of Internal Economy jurisdiction over administrative and personnel issues. As has already been mentioned, this matter will be on the agenda of the next board meeting. Since the board is already seized of this matter, the Chair cannot conclude, at this stage, that there is a prima facie question of privilege. However, if members were to conclude that certain elements related to privilege should still be raised in the House after the Board of Internal Economy has considered the matter, it would be possible to raise them at that time.
I thank the hon. members for their attention.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am disturbed by the attack on individuals in our administration from either side. Something we have to look at is that these items are personnel items and normally dealt with at the Board of Internal Economy. To attack someone with allegations who is already in our administration I find very troubling. I feel that if the hon. member wants to deal with that item, I would feel much more comfortable and would ask him to have his members of the Board of Internal Economy bring it forward and actually look into the facts rather than the allegations that are being brought forward.
To attack someone who cannot defend themselves in the chamber, I feel, is very troubling, and I must stop that attack. I ask the member to talk to his representatives on the Board of Internal Economy so that we can look into it deeper, find out what the facts are and then proceed from there.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-11-23 16:06
Mr. Speaker, let us not start this Parliament in this way, by attacking servants of the House. There is a forum for this. You have stated that that forum is the Board of Internal Economy. That is where we deal with personnel matters. We do not deal in this chamber in parlaying in rumours and things that people received in their inboxes, with all due respect to the member across the aisle.
Every individual who works for this place, particularly those who are servants of this place and do not have the ability to defend themselves or stand in their places to give their side of the story, should have these matters adjudicated in camera, with the opportunity for all of the facts to be present as opposed to a one-sided smear of an individual who is trying to serve this place and to do so with distinction and honour.
Mr. Speaker, we have heard enough. Please let us end this.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just so that the hon. member has some background here, sexual harassment is something that is being dealt with as part of the agenda in the next Board of Internal Economy meeting. Looking at the facts is very important.
The hon. member for Banff—Airdrie.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to thank the hon. member for that point, and I agree with him on the point of process and how the Clerk is appointed. That is something that gets decided by members, and that is something we can look at.
However, when it comes to personnel issues, I feel very strongly that these should be dealt with at the Board of Internal Economy. When these come up, they should be dealt with there by all members. There is representation from all sides on that one.
I will let the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil continue, but I want to ask for less innuendo. Just stick to the facts, please. That is all I ask, to say something that we can prove. We want to see the facts.
I will ask the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil to continue.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-11-23 16:15
Mr. Speaker, this is a terrible precedent. If we are going to adjudicate claims or rumours of harassment in this forum, where there is parliamentary privilege and where the individuals in question cannot defend themselves, it is an abhorrent precedent. We have the Board of Internal Economy. We have a process for this.
I stand not only because of this situation, but for any person who would ever wish to serve the House and who could imagine themselves in a situation where their accuser was given the opportunity to fully display the arguments of the accusation, but the person who was being accused was afforded no opportunity of defence or to produce their evidence. There is a process for that, called in camera. It is called the ability to examine these facts.
I remind members that we are talking about the Clerk of the House of Commons, a servant of 40 years whose integrity is being questioned at this moment. On the allegations, a third-party independent report was done that stated the attacks on his integrity and honesty were “baseless”.
To litigate these matters in the House without the opportunity for the individual in question to stand and defend himself or to produce evidence to the contrary is an abhorrent violation of what any employee should expect in terms of protection so these matters can be looked at. There is a precedent being established in this chamber right now. There is a line being crossed.
I ask the Speaker to please, for the sake of this place and the people who would serve it, to stop this absolute farce from continuing.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
These are allegations. The facts should be found and discovered. I would be very happy to put this on the agenda, as the Chair of the Board of Internal Economy, to be dealt with in the right process. It is something that I would be very comfortable with. An open chamber such as this is not the right place to debate this issue. That is my view of it. The whip of the opposition is on the Board of Internal Economy.
Does the hon. member for Banff—Airdrie have something to add to that? Does he agree with me?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil must keep it very concise and to the point. Please do not bring up allegations that have not been proven. We are talking about a personnel issue. When personnel issues are dealt with they need to be dealt with in the Board of Internal Economy, normally as in camera items because they involve personnel. Most big corporations, private corporations and small companies do not discuss personnel issues in public. I honestly feel very strongly about this.
I will let the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil continue. Again, you have a very quick point to make. As I said, you have my word that it will go to the Board of Internal Economy as part of the agenda and be dealt with in the right process.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do I have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: I am afraid we do not have unanimous consent.
I will let the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil continue.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-11-23 16:30
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is this what we are doing? Are we hearing evidence on this case? I am hearing the member opposite posit a number of different items that she is stating as fact that, again, there is no opportunity to respond to or hear other evidence of. Is this what we are doing? I just want to understand what the ruling is in this matter.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I will come back to the House with a ruling. I have made a commitment to bring this to the Board of Internal Economy to get down to the bottom of it one way or another. I think that is a fair offer. I want to bring that to the board, find out what is going on and then come back with a ruling before that. I just need some time to process it.
We have points of order all over. We will go to the hon. member for Banff—Airdrie and then come back to the member for Calgary Nose Hill.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
If the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill can make her point, then I will take it into consideration and come back to the House with a ruling.
The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to thank the hon. members.
I think what we are hearing is partially process. What is going with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill has one implication and the other one is on a particular case. If members do not mind, I would not mind taking some time in going over this and returning with a judgment at some point in, hopefully, the next week. It is something that takes a lot of time and consideration, so we do the right thing and not go in the wrong direction and have the wrong allegations or facts twisted so we end up in the wrong place. All of us want this place to be safe, and sexual harassment is something we take very seriously on the Hill.
Results: 1 - 13 of 13

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