Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Privacy Commissioner concerning the Privacy Act for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
2008-12-04 10:03 [p.605]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, once again, a petition signed by the constituents of Ottawa—Vanier and people from the entire national capital region.
This petition is about the same issue I have been talking about since the beginning of the parliamentary session, and that is the need to get heavy trucks out of our national capital's downtown core.
The signatories are asking for a bridge to be built to the east of the city, and perhaps another one to the west in order to create a ring road around the national capital region. The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to direct the National Capital Commission to conduct an in-depth study of a bridge linking Canotek industrial park to the Gatineau airport, that is, option seven from phase one of the interprovincial bridge study conducted some time ago. The final report on that study is expected in a few weeks.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Malpeque on November 27, 2008, concerning a letter that the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board sent to grain producers to encourage them to support particular candidates in upcoming elections for directors of the Canadian Wheat Board.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Malpeque, who kindly provided the Chair with a copy of the letter sent by the parliamentary secretary, for having raised this important matter, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, and the hon. member for Yukon for their comments.
In raising this question of privilege, the hon. member for Malpeque alleged that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board inappropriately used confidential mailing lists and the franking privileges of the House for political purposes. He argued that the use of a member's parliamentary letterhead and franking privileges to influence a democratic process constituted a violation of members' privileges.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, in his reply, suggested that the actions of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board did not impede any member’s ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. He added that there was no evidence that the Parliamentary Secretary had used any confidential list.
The members for Winnipeg South Centre and Yukon reiterated the concerns expressed by the member for Malpeque regarding the use of franking privileges, parliamentary letterhead and confidential lists, and questioned whether the parliamentary secretary's use of some of the House's resources for this purpose was appropriate.
It might be useful to remind hon. members of some of the principles involved. Franking privileges are granted to members of Parliament by way of the Canada Post Corporation Act.
The question of franking privileges has arisen and been ruled on in the past. One of the cases dealt with the use of the frank by some members of the House to send messages in support of a political party in a provincial election. In his ruling, found in the Debates of October 16, 1986, on pages 405-6, Mr. Speaker Fraser stated:
--I think it is clear that there could be cases where, depending upon the content of the communication sent under the frank, it could be a question of privilege if the content worked against the right of Members to free expression and the carrying out of their obligations as Members.
In that instance, he ruled that there was no question of privilege.
Another case pertained to a member's use of householder mailings of a partisan political nature in the course of a by-election. Just as with the interventions of the members for Winnipeg South Centre and Yukon, several members at that time questioned the interpretation of the House's guidelines and use of resources in this regard.
In that case, Speaker Fraser stated on March 18, 1987, on page 4301 of the Debates:
“In any case, the breach of guidelines does not necessarily constitute a breach of privilege. (…) It seems to the Chair that nothing which has been complained of has in any way obstructed the House or any of its Members in carrying out the activities for which they were elected.”
As in the cases cited, the current dilemma contains two elements. First, the question of whether the franking privileges granted by law to members were used appropriately. Such questions are better addressed through administrative avenues.
The second component is whether the mailing affected the member's privileges. The Chair could find a prima facie privilege in this case if arguments had been made that the distribution of the material in question defamed or in some way interfered with the member's ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. But no such arguments have been made in this instance and there is no evidence to this effect.
The Chair listened carefully to the arguments of hon. members and reviewed the content of the letter sent by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board. I have considered the matter in light of earlier Speakers’ decisions on the same subject and the wording of the House of Commons Board by-laws.
The Chair has concluded that there are not sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie breach of privilege in this case.
The member for Malpeque may wish to pursue administrative avenues on the general issue of franking privileges or the contents of frank mail.
I thank hon. members for their interventions in this matter.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I rise in this 40th Parliament, my first words are those of thanks to the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for having elected me to be their member of Parliament a second time.
As the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, I would like my voters to know that I have worked hard to represent them here in the House of Commons over the past three years and I will continue to do so.
I am proud to stand in the House today in support of our government's economic update, one of the many initiatives our government is taking to protect Canada's future. In our economic and fiscal update, we asked politicians to put the interests of Canadians ahead of their own by making sacrifices in solidarity with the tens of millions of Canadians across this country who are themselves making sacrifices to get through these tough and uncertain economic times.
We have also taken immediate action to address the concerns of vulnerable Canadians such as our seniors, in light of the current economic situation. These measures include reducing the required minimum withdrawal amounts for their registered retirement income funds by 25% for 2008.
Let me remind everyone that this fiscal update is about taking certain specific measures and making urgent updates to this year's tax code. The economic and fiscal update is not a budget and it was never intended to be a budget. A budget is a budget and I congratulate our Minister of Finance on his initiative to accelerate the tabling of the budget to January 2009. This will be one of the earliest tablings of a federal budget in the history of Canada and we are doing this in order to address the exceptional economic circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Since becoming the government, we have consulted with financial experts and a wide variety of stakeholders on how best to protect and grow Canada's economies. We continue to work with these financial experts and stakeholders as we prepare the government's 2009 federal budget, which will build on our strong record of providing responsible and focused spending to address the needs of Canadians and to stimulate our economy.
It is important to remember that our Conservative government saw this economic situation coming long ago and we have been taking action all along, but particularly since early last year when we tabled our 2008 budget entitled “Responsible Leadership for Uncertain Times”. It is in this budget that we moved ahead with our historic $33 billion infrastructure plan and continued to lower taxes for all Canadian families and businesses.
While other countries around the world are now scrambling to come up with ways to address the current economic situation, Canada is ahead of the curve, with an ambitious infrastructure plan already in place and more money flowing through our economy, thanks to the tax reductions we have introduced.
We are taking action in these uncertain economic times, but as we are focusing on the economy, the opposition is putting its own interests ahead of the interests of Canadians. The Liberal, NDP and Bloc refuse to accept the results of the election we had just six weeks ago. They are now conspiring through secret meetings and backroom deals to seize power and to install an unelected coalition led by a leader that Canadians overwhelmingly rejected on October 14.
This is a desperate move on behalf of the opposition and the result would be disastrous for Canada and for our Canadian economy. Do not take my word on it. The Leader of the Opposition himself said in the September 23 edition of the Toronto Star only 10 weeks ago, “[The leader of the NDP] does not understand the economy. I cannot think that Canadians will give their support to a man who will kill jobs everywhere in the country in raising the corporate tax”.
In addition, he said on October 10, only seven weeks ago, in the Chronicle-Herald, “I can't govern with somebody who wants to raise the taxes by $50 billion”. The Leader of the Opposition has turned his back on his previous comments and now he is ready to put the interests of our country at stake for a self-serving and highly irresponsible power grab.
Not only would Canadians have forced upon them a coalition led by a party that promised a job-killing carbon tax, they would be working hand in hand with a socialist party that has promised to raise business taxes and, worst of all, that would be propped up by a separatist party whose sole purpose is to break up Canada.
It is important to understand that the opposition parties have the right to disagree with our economic update, and they even have the right to vote against it. If the government falls during a confidence vote, it results in an election. Canadians have a right to choose their government. That is how democracy works. Canadians should not suddenly be led by a coalition government simply because that is what the coalition wants.
During the last election, no Canadians voted for a coalition government, not one.
The opposition is trying to install a coalition government led by the Liberal Party of Canada, a party that received its lowest level of support since 1867. The opposition is talking about installing the Leader of the Opposition as prime minister, the same leader who was massively rejected by the Canadian voters barely six weeks ago. Now Canadians are learning that the NDP and Bloc were making backroom deals even before the economic update.
Canadians understand that the separatist coalition is not about the economic and fiscal update. It is about seizing power without an election. It is not about a budget or about the economy. It is about seizing power without an election. It is not about democracy. It is about seizing power without an election.
As the Prime Minister stated earlier this week, the great privilege of governing must be earned from the electorate, not taken. A prime minister receives his mandate from the Canadian people and it is unconscionable that the Leader of the Opposition wants to see himself crowned without a mandate from Canadians based on a backroom deal with the NDP and the separatists. The opposition leader and his Liberal coalition absolutely do not want to face the people of Canada. They simply want power with no election.
The people in my riding are against the coalition. In this past week, I have been to all four corners of my riding and the vast majority are not happy with the idea of a coalition for several reasons.
The majority of the people in my riding are francophones and are proud of their heritage. As a Franco-Ontarian member, I share their pride. I was honoured to serve Canada's francophones as the Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages during the 39th parliament. Franco-Ontarians are fiercely opposed to Quebec sovereignty. Not only are we proud of our language, but we are also proud of being Canadians. We want a united, undivided Canada.
Comments made by the leader of the Bloc Québécois and Mr. Parizeau about their true intentions are alarming:
A weaker government in Ottawa is eminently satisfying. Sovereignists have no interest in people looking at Ottawa as a stable serious government. The image must be one of a weak, disoriented government, which will become weaker and more disoriented in the future. This is perfect.
Who said that? Mr. Parizeau, the best friend of Mr. Duceppe, who has an alliance with—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2008-12-04 10:19 [p.608]
Order, please. I would remind the hon. member not to use proper names but riding names or titles. I thought I heard the proper name of a member of the Bloc Québécois.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
We also need to remember that former premier Jacques Parizeau wholeheartedly applauded the impressive victory by the Bloc leader and the Bloc Québécois in the recent election. The Bloc is now part and parcel of the proposed coalition government in Ottawa.
Canadians can see for themselves the threat to our national unity that the separatist coalition poses. The second concern is also with the Leader of the Opposition presuming that he will be the next prime minister. There is a pride here that offends Canadians. Canadians do not like arrogance in politicians and the Leader of the Opposition was soundly defeated by Canadians in the last election and Canadians, Liberal Party members and supporters included, feel strongly that he should not be the prime minister just because he says so.
Even though we wanted to lead by example by depriving our own party of subsidies, it is now clear that the opposition parties are not willing to put Canadians' interests ahead of their own. We have withdrawn our proposal to eliminate the subsidy for politicians and political parties.
We have shown that we are willing to compromise with the opposition parties in order to have our economic statement passed, which would be in the interest of all Canadians. I therefore invite the opposition to show wisdom and patience and to wait for the 2009 budget, which will be tabled in the weeks to come.
Given these unprecedented events here on the Hill, I would like to reassure the people of my riding that I am their member of Parliament. They elected me, gave me a strong mandate and that will not change during these challenging times.
However, the Liberal Party and the NDP have crafted a deal with the separatist Bloc party, a party whose main aim is to attack the unity of Canada. They have formed a coalition and are trying to seize power and install the Leader of the Opposition as the prime minister, the same leader who was overwhelmingly rejected by Canadians and by my constituents just seven weeks ago. They want to do all of that without an election.
I encourage each of my constituents and all Canadians to make their views known on this very important issue. There are many websites, including mine, that will help them make their voices heard. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to stand up for Canada.
View Brian Murphy Profile
Lib. (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the hon. member, and I know he was a member of the Canadian Forces, but I must ask him two simple questions.
The first question goes to the issue of arrogance and honesty that he said were so important in a leader. Did the Prime Minister tell the truth when he said that there were no flags behind the table where the three signatories to the coalition entente took place? Did he tell the truth?
I have a second question. If the support of the Bloc Québécois is so heinous and awful, why did his government rely on that vote 140 times in the last Parliament? Why did they accept the support 140 times for bills they thought were important to move their agenda forward if it is so awful to accept the support of the Bloc Québécois on bills before Parliament?
I hear a member from Alberta raising an issue that is divisive to the country. We, in this chamber, want unity in this country.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague raised the question of the flags. The answer is, categorically, that there were no Canadian flags directly behind the three leaders who were signing that agreement. The Canadians flags were pushed well off to the side and they were not behind the three leaders signing that backroom deal contract. I thank the member for giving me the opportunity to clarify regarding the absence of Canadian flags behind the three leaders during that signing agreement.
With respect to the separatist Bloc party, if the Bloc party chooses to vote for legislation that the government has put in place, that is fine and well, but we do not and never will have a formal power-sharing agreement through which the government will be ruled with the separatist Bloc. That is the difference, and it is a huge difference. The opposition has given the separatist Bloc veto power over matters that affect Canada.
View Thierry St-Cyr Profile
BQ (QC)
View Thierry St-Cyr Profile
2008-12-04 10:25 [p.608]
Mr. Speaker, everyone wants to speak this morning. According to the Conservatives' logic, your chair will have to be changed, because the flag to your right will have to be positioned behind you. According to the Conservatives, it is not good to have a flag off to the side. It must be behind people. This is a completely fallacious argument.
I have a slightly more serious question about how the Conservatives are changing their tune, depending on whether they are speaking French or English. It is funny: when I listen to the interpretation provided by the people in the booths, who do an outstanding job, I notice that when the word “separatists” is used in English, it is translated as “séparatistes” in French and that when the word “souverainistes” is used in French, it is translated as “sovereignists” in English. Everyone understand that. Only the Conservatives are using double-talk. In French, so as not to offend Quebeckers, they are using the term “souverainistes”, and in English, to do a little Quebec-bashing, to show their hatred for Quebeckers, they are using the term “separatistssssssss”.
Is the hon. member aware that he is taking people for fools with this double-talk?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to point out, and the member opposite should realize this, that different languages have different terms and different meanings. It is fine to say separatists in English and to say souverainistes en français.
However, I want to clarify that we are delivering exactly the same message and the Bloc is a separatist party. It admits that. The Bloc leader and Mr. Parizeau admit that. I also want to be clear on our messaging.
We are not talking about Quebec or Quebeckers, Franco-Ontarians, francophones in Quebec or francophones in Canada. We are not talking about francophones. Rather, we are talking about Bloc Québécois members who are separatists or sovereignists. That is the biggest problem.
I thank members for giving me the opportunity to clarify our messaging and to point out that it is the Bloc MPs who are the separatists.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2008-12-04 10:28 [p.609]
Mr. Speaker, we have reached the point where we have to fight to determine what side the Canadian flag is on. I listened to the Prime Minister's address to the nation last night. The Canadian flag was not behind him; it was on either side of him.
In short, this shows how low people have sunk in this House of Commons. We should instead be focusing on the economy and people who have lost their jobs.
I will speed things up. During the election, the Prime Minister said that if he obtained a minority government, he would work with the opposition. The day after the election, he also addressed the nation and said that since it had elected a minority government, he would work with the opposition to make Parliament work.
Did the Prime Minister call the three opposition leaders so as to be able to examine the economic problems and come up with a budget? Yes or no?
Meanwhile, putting all that aside, I would like the hon. member to answer the following question. Supposing there is a budget in January, and the Liberals and the NDP vote against it, while the Bloc Québécois—the so-called separatists—vote with the Conservatives, will the Prime Minister say that he cannot accept a vote obtained from the separatists and that he must call an election?
I hope the hon. member will not beat about the bush and give us a bunch of rhetoric. I would like him to answer those two questions.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am surprised how shallow the questions really are. I think the member should be taking things a little more seriously.
As I mentioned, when it comes to a party, if they want to vote in favour of legislation that the government has tabled, that is fine, and the government will not reject that, but to put in place a formal power-sharing agreement with which to govern Canada, that is wrong.
Speaking about minority governments and wanting to work with the opposition, once again last night the Prime Minister, on national television, asked the opposition parties to submit their ideas and to work with the government. They will not do so and the leader of the NDP had a secret deal with the separatist Bloc from long ago. That is right from the mouth of the leader of the NDP, and that is the problem. Does the NDP really want to work for Canadians and work with the government when it is putting in place, behind the backs of Canadians, a secret deal with the Bloc party. I think not.
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
View Laurie Hawn Profile
2008-12-04 10:31 [p.609]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to get back to the issue of the economic update and some facts. The fact is that Canada represents about 2% of the world economy. Some people seem to think that we can go it alone without taking account of what the other 98% is doing, and that, of course, is ridiculous.
Could my hon. colleague comment on the wisdom or folly of getting out ahead of what is happening in the U.S., particularly as it has the most interlinked economy and industries with us, and the wisdom of waiting until January 27 to field a budget that would take account of what the Americans are doing?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the member has highlighted a key point.
In our economic update, we were very clear that stimulating the economy was important and necessary. However, it is also necessary to work with our biggest trading partner, the United States, which is about to have a change of government.
The auto industry is interconnected between the United States and Canada and it would be imprudent for Canada to charge ahead with our own stimulus package without co-ordinating this with the impact the U.S. package may have in Canada. It is better that we take the time to consult, as I mentioned, with our financial experts, stakeholders and Canadians, keeping an eye on what the Americans are doing, and that we all work together.
I would like to reiterate what the Prime Minister said last night. We are asking the opposition to participate in this process. The Minister of Finance has said that the budget will be tabled in January. There is time between now and January for the opposition to participate in this budget and in this very important process for all Canadians.
I ask the opposition to put aside its power grab. Let us work together for the interests of our economy.
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