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Results: 1 - 15 of 223
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2024-02-15 10:22 [p.21158]
I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on February 6 by the House leader of the official opposition concerning allegedly misleading statements made by the Prime Minister about invitations during the visit to Canada of the President of Ukraine.
In his intervention, the House leader argued that the Prime Minister offered misleading responses to questions in the House about the invitation offered to Mr. Yaroslav Hunka for President Zelenskyy's joint address to Parliament. The member referred to several exchanges where the Prime Minister reiterated that neither he nor his government had any knowledge of the invitation that was made to Mr. Yaroslav Hunka.
He pointed to recent media reports establishing that an invitation was sent under the Prime Minister's name to the same individual for a separate event to honour President Zelenskyy. This, according to the member, demonstrated the Prime Minister was, in fact, aware of this individual.
The House leader of the official opposition claimed that this constituted contempt of Parliament, in the sense that the Prime Minister's statements were misleading, that he knew that they were misleading and that he delivered them with the intention to mislead the House. The House leader asked the Chair to find a prima facie case of privilege so that a motion could be moved to deal with this matter. His comments were later echoed by the member for La Prairie.
The Government House Leader, for his part, disagreed with the premise of the question of privilege, arguing it was based on speculative assumptions. He argued that the House leader of the official opposition was conflating two separate events, leaving the impression that these events were planned together by the Prime Minister, his office, or both.
The Government House Leader stressed that only the former Speaker had knowledge of the invitation to Yaroslav Hunka to Parliament, and that there were no facts presented that would suggest otherwise. In his view, this was a matter of debate and not a question of privilege. He also reminded the House that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was currently examining the matter of the invitation of the individual by the former Speaker, and he suggested that the House should allow the committee to complete its work.
In the past, members have raised questions of privilege alleging that other members made misleading statements to the House. As was referenced in the various interventions pertaining to the present case, the Chair considers three essential conditions before making a positive determination that a member has deliberately misled the House: It must be proven that the statement was misleading; it must be established that, when making a statement, the member knew it to be incorrect; and finally, it must be demonstrated that the member intended to mislead the House.
As one of my predecessors stated on February 26, 2015, at pages 11707 of the Debates, and I quote:
The conditions are admittedly and deliberately not easily met. This is because, as Speaker, I must take all members at their word. This underscores the way we function every day in our proceedings; all members rely on this and draw advantage from it.
I assessed the facts that were brought to this House through the lens of our stringent three-part test.
The Chair is mindful of the recent media reports about another invitation sent to Yaroslav Hunka for a separate event, a government reception in Toronto. While that provides additional information to the general controversy from last September, it was not referenced during the exchanges in the House between different members and the Prime Minister last fall.
On January 31, 2008, Speaker Milliken made a useful point about what the Chair can consider for such disputes. He said, at page 2435 of the Debates:
...any dispute regarding the accuracy or appropriateness of a minister’s response to an oral question is a matter of debate; it is not a matter for the Speaker to judge. The same holds true with respect to the breadth of a minister’s answer to a question in the House: this is not for the Speaker to determine.
Based on the evidence that has been presented and my own review of the proceedings last fall, the Chair has not been able to establish that the statements made by the Prime Minister were in fact deliberately misleading. Accordingly, I do not find there to be a prima facie question of privilege.
The Chair does note that the issue of the second invitation has surfaced in public debate, which offers members many opportunities to raise it in the House, in the context of debate, in any number of ways, including through additional questioning of the Prime Minister during question period.
There is also an ongoing study of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the issue surrounding Yaroslav Hunka's invitation to and recognition in Parliament on September 22, 2023. Both the House leader of the official opposition and the government House leader referred to this study in their interventions. It might also offer members an opportunity to raise these new issues that have recently come to light.
I thank all members for their attention.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2024-02-08 10:20 [p.20816]
Madam Speaker, I rise to respond to the question of privilege raised on February 6, 2024, by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle concerning the statements the Prime Minister made in the House.
The member across the aisle has attempted to conflate two separate events. The first event took place in a joint sitting of Parliament for an address by the President of Ukraine. The second was a special event outside Parliament.
The Prime Minister was asked questions in the House about the events during the joint sitting of Parliament for the address. The Prime Minister said that neither he nor his office was involved with the invitation to the individual in question for the parliamentary event.
The former Speaker admitted to the House that the decision to invite the individual was his, and his alone. The Prime Minister stated, with respect to the parliamentary event—
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2024-02-08 10:22 [p.20816]
Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister was asked questions in the House about the events during the joint sitting of Parliament for the address. The Prime Minister said that neither he nor his office was involved with the invitation to the individual in question for the parliamentary event. The former Speaker admitted to the House that the decision to invite the individual was his, and his alone.
The Prime Minister stated, with respect to the parliamentary event, “The Leader of the Opposition knows that not one parliamentarian was aware” and “no parliamentarian knew the name or the identity of the person he welcomed to this House and recognized.” The member acknowledges the fact that it was the Speaker who invited the individual to the parliamentary event, when he said, “it is understood that this individual's son approached the then Speaker's constituency office about securing an invitation to the Ottawa address.” The Speaker then, according to his statement in the House, invited the individual to the parliamentary event, and he stated that it was his decision to do so, apologized to the House for doing so, and, as a result of this action, resigned as Speaker.
The member alleges, or, I would say, speculates, that the Speaker invited the individual only because that individual was invited to another event by the Prime Minister. There are no facts to support this claim, and it should therefore be treated as a speculative assumption. However, the Prime Minister has been clear that neither he nor his office was involved in the invitation of the individual in question to the parliamentary event. The former Speaker stated this fact in the House, which clearly corroborates the statements made by the Prime Minister and other ministers in this place. There is a long tradition in the House that members should be taken at their word, especially when there are no facts that would bring the remarks into question.
By conflating the two events into one, the member is trying to leave the impression that these events were coordinated as one. That claim is not supported by the facts and is not supported by statements made by the Prime Minister or his ministers in the House. I would point to the statement the Prime Minister made, which was referenced by the member across the way, on September 27, 2023. He stated, “we apologized today on behalf of all parliamentarians. For the past few days, we have been saying how sorry we are about the mistake made by the Speaker of the House of Commons.”
The matter of the invitation of the individual by the former Speaker is currently before the procedure and House affairs committee for consideration. Let us let the committee do its work. The referral of the matter to the committee was founded on the former Speaker's acknowledgement of his sole responsibility for inviting the individual to the parliamentary event. The member referenced page 85 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, where it states that cases of privilege involve “the provision of deliberately misleading information to the House or one of its committees by a Minister or by a Member.”
There are no facts that support either that the Prime Minister misled the House concerning the invitation of the individual to the parliamentary event, or that any minister or member deliberately provided information that misled the House. The facts speak otherwise. The Prime Minister has been clear. The Speaker has been clear. There are no facts to dispute those claims. By trying to conflate two separate events, the member is twisting the narrative into a situation that bears no resemblance to what the House was debating in the fall.
The question is a matter of debate and not a question of privilege.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I appreciate the hon. government House leader's providing additional information. It will certainly be taken into consideration as the matter continues to be looked into.
We have a point of order from the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, with respect to the House leader's point of order, I request that he table for the House all of the documentation to back up every statement he made, including the invitation that the former Speaker sent to this individual. All MPs know that it is a matter of record and practice for the Speaker of the House to send a formal invitation for any event they have.
We look forward to being provided with that information and all other supporting documents for every statement he made.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I will take the hon. member's comments, in addition to the point of order, under advisement.
We are now going to another point of order, from the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
View John Brassard Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Brassard Profile
2024-02-07 14:17 [p.20763]
Mr. Speaker, the former Speaker of the House of Commons was forced to resign after a scandal that saw an SS soldier recognized in this place last September during President Zelenskyy’s visit.
I want to read a few quotes about the former Speaker during the period that led to his resignation. “I can’t see, based on the conversations I have had, how he can continue to have the support of Liberal members of Parliament,” said the Liberal House leader in calling for the Speaker to resign. “What happened on Friday is completely unacceptable. It was an embarrassment to the House and Canadians,” said the foreign minister.
Last week, after months of denial, written evidence in an email came to light that the Prime Minister did in fact invite the same SS soldier to a government reception in Toronto, so where is the same condemnation for the Prime Minister from those cabinet ministers and Liberal MPs who threw the former Speaker under the bus? The Prime Minister and his office are guilty of the exact same sin as the former Speaker, and because he is, he deserves the same punishment for embarrassing our nation once again. Like the Speaker before him, the Prime Minister needs to resign.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2024-02-07 17:04 [p.20787]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to the question of privilege that was raised by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle yesterday regarding who was responsible for inviting Yaroslav Hunka to attend events with the President of Ukraine during his visit to Canada in September 2023. I must say that I agree with the House leader of the official opposition on this issue.
Here are the facts. On the afternoon of Monday, February 5, The Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister's Office had invited Yaroslav Hunka, a former soldier of the Ukrainian Waffen-SS who received ovations in the House of Commons during Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit on September 22, 2023, to a reception that was held in honour of the Ukrainian President that evening in Toronto at the Fort York Armoury. The article also stated that the Prime Minister's invitation had in fact been sent by Canada's protocol office four days before the reception.
However, when the Prime Minister was repeatedly asked about it in the House in the week following President Zelenskyy's visit, he blamed the Speaker of the House without taking any responsibility himself. He said on September 27, 2023, that the Speaker was “solely responsible” for inviting and paying tribute to former Nazi soldier Yaroslav Hunka. He said, “we all recognize that the former speaker of the House made a serious mistake.” He also said, “the Speaker of this House of Commons invited an individual without apparently doing that Google search, but it is not up to the government of the day to oversee or to have a veto power over those who the Speaker or, indeed, members of official parties choose to invite into this House.”
The then speaker took full responsibility for this situation and decided to resign from that role. Two weeks ago, in an interview with CTV News Northern Ontario, he explained that it is actually the Prime Minister's Office that approves invitations for major international events organized on Parliament Hill, such as President Zelenskyy's address during his visit to Parliament in September. Let me quote him directly: “Normally, it goes to the Prime Minister's Office, and they go through it with a fine-toothed comb, and then the invitation goes out from protocol.”
According to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it is appropriate to raise a question of privilege when the House has been misled following statements made in the chamber by one of its members, whether they are a member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's statements on September 27, 2023, seem to meet the three criteria set out in previous rulings by Speakers of the House under similar circumstances.
First, the Prime Minister's statements were misleading, in that they implied that the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office did not know Yaroslav Hunka and had nothing to do with inviting him to the House when members of all the opposition parties were attempting to find out exactly what role the PMO or the Prime Minister himself had played in inviting Mr. Hunka during President Zelenskyy's visit. As a matter of fact, acting on behalf of the Prime Minister, the PMO itself had invited the Ukrainian former SS member to a reception that very evening in Toronto.
Second, the Prime Minister must have known that those statements were misleading because he would be hard-pressed to claim that he was not aware that the PMO had extended such an invitation on his behalf.
Third, it seems entirely reasonable to believe that the Prime Minister intended to mislead the House because, at the time he made those statements, since the entire world was focused on the Parliament of Canada, the Prime Minister had every reason to hope that he would not be held responsible and that the blame would fall on someone other than himself.
In his apology on September 27, the Prime Minister described this mistake as a “horrendous violation” of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust and said it was “deeply, deeply painful for Jewish people...Polish people, Roma people, 2SLGBTQI+ people, disabled people, racialized people and the many millions who were targeted by the Nazi genocide.”
This demonstrates how seriously the Prime Minister was taking this matter. Anyone in this situation would have every reason to hope that they would not be associated with this mistake and not be held responsible.
In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois is of the opinion that there is a prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege and that the matter must be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for study.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2024-02-06 12:57 [p.20692]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege about a very serious matter: the misleading comments of the Prime Minister concerning the invitation of Yaroslav Hunka, a former soldier of the Waffen-SS military unit in World War II, to attend events with the President of Ukraine during his recent visit to Canada.
As we all recall, last September this chamber was the epicentre of a grave international embarrassment for Canada when this individual, a former SS soldier, was recognized and given a standing ovation during President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to our Parliament. This gave Vladimir Putin a major propaganda coup and caused significant pain for Jewish Canadians and all victims persecuted in World War II.
The government, and the Prime Minister in particular, were at great pains to distance themselves from any connection to this individual, claiming that they had absolutely nothing to do with his invitation and subsequent recognition. Lo and behold, Global Affairs Canada recently released, through access to information, a copy of an email sent to Yaroslav Hunka inviting him to a reception with President Zelenskyy, which was reported on yesterday afternoon by The Globe and Mail and, subsequently, other media outlets.
Here is the kicker: It was the Prime Minister's invitation.
On Monday, September 19, 2023, some four days before the President's address to Parliament, an email account called "RSVP Official Events/Événements officiels RSVP" sent an email with the subject line, “INVITATION FROM THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA — SEPTEMBER 22, 2023”. The body of the email begins, “Dear Yaroslav Hunka, The Right Honourable...Prime Minister of Canada, is pleased to invite you to a special event.”
As members may recall, until the visit was formally announced a few days later, there was a lot of coded language being used, like in the case of this "special event", but the point remains, that the Prime Minister invited this former SS soldier to attend an event honouring the President of Ukraine. Of course, members will recall that the Prime Minister and his government were under sustained questioning in the House in the week following the visit about just how such a colossal mistake, with international reverberations, could take place.
There were questions like those asked by the Leader of the Opposition on the first occasion the Prime Minister appeared in the House after the scandalous events, such as, “did the Prime Minister's national security, intelligence or diplomatic officials vet the names of the people the Prime Minister allowed within mere feet of President Zelenskyy?”; and “the Prime Minister has just said that he allowed the president of a war-torn country, who is perhaps the biggest target of false propaganda and potential assassinations, to be surrounded by hundreds of people who had not been vetted for their security background, the potential risks they present or, in this case, the massive diplomatic disasters they could have brought to the event. Is the Prime Minister really saying he did absolutely nothing to protect the Ukrainian president from all those many risks?”
Repeatedly, we were assured that the blame lay exclusively at the then-Speaker's feet, as if the address to Parliament was the only opportunity for this former SS soldier to come near President Zelenskyy. For example, the Prime Minister told the House on September 27, 2023, “The Leader of the Opposition knows that not one parliamentarian was aware”, and, later, “no parliamentarian knew the name or the identity of the person he welcomed to this House and recognized”.
Now we know, that this is just not so. The Prime Minister invited this individual, by name, to an event with President Zelenskyy. The Prime Minister also said that day, “the Speaker of this House of Commons invited an individual without apparently doing that Google search, but it is not up to the government of the day to oversee or to have a veto power over those who the Speaker or, indeed, members of official parties choose to invite into this House.”
Who does the Prime Minister blame for not doing “that Google search” for his own personal invitation?
Before the Liberals jump up and claim that these are two separate events, two separate guest lists and whatnot, let me quote an interview the former Speaker, the honourable member for Nipissing—Timiskaming, gave to CTV Northern Ontario two weeks ago, explaining the central role the Prime Minister's Office plays in guest invitations for major international events held on Parliament Hill, like President Zelenskyy's wartime address, stating, “normally it goes to the Prime Minister's Office and they go through it with a fine-tooth comb” and then the invitation goes out from protocol. “So who invited him? That's up for grabs....”
Besides the fact that there was no sign of a comb, fine-tooth or otherwise, to be found, yesterday afternoon's revelations add new context to the last words in that quotation: "who invited him? That's up for grabs".
According to news reports at the time, it is understood that this individual's son approached the then Speaker's constituency office about securing an invitation to the Ottawa address. Knowing on the Monday of the week of the visit that there was a personal invitation from the Prime Minister to attend the Toronto event, it is not hard to picture this invitation becoming part of the discussion in the North Bay constituency office.
One can put themselves in the shoes of the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. One is told about the individual's connection to Ukraine and is shown an invitation in the Prime Minister's name, the name of the leader of the party whose label one is elected under. Is one really going to sit there and think they better second-guess the judgment of the PMO, the PCO and the diplomatic protocol office? I sincerely doubt it.
As the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming said, “So who invited him? That's up for grabs”. That statement makes a whole lot more sense in light of yesterday's Globe report.
I would respectfully submit it is now obvious that the Prime Minister invited Yaroslav Hunka to meet the President of Ukraine, and the then Speaker took it on good faith and, in turn, authorized his own invitation. At the very least, it shows us that the protocol office itself, in the Prime Minister's Office, had the name of this individual on its guest list.
Whatever happened between the Speaker's office and the Prime Minister's Office in terms of the invitation, we now know that this individual, this former SS member, was already on the protocol list. He was already on the list of people to be invited.
On September 27, the Prime Minister told the House, “we apologized today on behalf of all parliamentarians. For the past few days, we have been saying how sorry we are about the mistake made by the Speaker of the House of Commons.” The only mistake, Mr. Speaker, was that your predecessor put blind trust in the fact that an invitation was issued by the Prime Minister.
I am aware the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has agreed to conduct some form of a study on the matter; although, the Liberal-NDP coalition does not seem to consider the matter important given that no hearings have yet to take place some five months later.
However, these revelations and the obvious concern that the Prime Minister appears to have misled the House are of a whole new dimension, one which engages the privileges of the House and rises, in my respectful submission, to a contempt of Parliament.
Page 85 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, notes that cases of privilege have involved “the provision of deliberately misleading information to the House or one of its committees by a Minister or by a Member”.
It is a well-established principle that to make out a prima facie case of privilege in relation to a claim of misleading the House, three elements must be established.
Firstly, it must be proven that the statement was misleading. Knowing what we know now from the Global Affairs Canada access to information release, we can see it was misleading. There is no doubt that members of Parliament, of all opposition parties, were trying to find out exactly what interaction, what role, was under the purview of the PMO or the Prime Minister for inviting this individual.
There were multiple questions coming from many different angles, and the government always gave the same explanation that it had absolutely no knowledge of this individual's background and that it had nothing to do with his invitation. We now know, through this access to information release, that is false and, therefore, misleading.
Secondly, it must be established that the member making the statement knew it to be misleading. The invitation that was released is in the name of the Prime Minister. To claim he had no knowledge of this individual is now absurd.
Thirdly, the misleading statement must have been offered with the intention to mislead the House. The House was engulfed in a massive international scandal, one which saw our own Speaker resign, falling on his sword for the Prime Minister, so there is little doubt that the Prime Minister was eager to deflect his own role and responsibility and to lay the blame elsewhere.
Of course, before the Prime Minister might stand up and assert that he was blindsided by his own officials' denials, let me quote Bosc and Gagnon at page 116:
Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and, thus, a prima facie breach of privilege. For example, on December 6, 1978, in finding that a prima facie contempt of the House existed, Speaker Jerome ruled that a government official, by deliberately misleading a Minister, had impeded the Member in the performance of his duties and consequently obstructed the House itself.
No matter how one cuts it, the House was misled. Its privileges were breached, and action should be taken immediately.
Should the Speaker agree with me that the Prime Minister's words amount to a prima facie contempt, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2024-02-06 14:05 [p.20702]
Mr. Speaker, last September, shamefully, a former SS soldier was honoured in this House during the address of the President of Ukraine.
The Prime Minister claimed he had no idea that this individual had been invited, even though it happened at his event, organized by his office. Instead of taking responsibility, he threw the now former Speaker under the bus, but we now know that the same SS soldier was invited by the Prime Minister to his exclusive reception with the President of Ukraine. This completely shatters the Prime Minister's claim that he had no idea and that his office was not involved.
The Prime Minister knew all along, and he hid the truth from Canadians. The Prime Minister is responsible, and he must be held accountable for this shameful affair.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2024-02-06 14:24 [p.20706]
Mr. Speaker, he has hiked the cost, and he has hiked the crime. He is not worth the cost, and he is not worth the crime. After eight years, the Prime Minister is also not worth the hypocrisy.
The Prime Minister has been claiming for months that he had no involvement in or knowledge of the invitation sent to a former Nazi soldier to the visit of the Ukrainian President. Now we know that he personally invited that same individual. He said the opposite. He said that the former Speaker had to resign over doing the exact same thing.
Will the Prime Minister hold himself to the very same standard and admit that he is not fit for office?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2024-02-06 14:25 [p.20706]
Mr. Speaker, the attack that the Leader of the Opposition is choosing to make against the Ukrainian Canadian Congress demonstrates the extent to which this Conservative Party no longer stands with Ukraine.
They will have an opportunity in just a few minutes to stand and vote in favour of a free trade deal that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, himself, is asking this House to pass. The Leader of the Opposition is choosing to not stand with Ukraine, not stand with Ukrainians and not stand with Ukrainian Canadians.
Why are the Conservatives abandoning Ukraine?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Melissa Lantsman Profile
CPC (ON)
View Melissa Lantsman Profile
2024-02-06 14:31 [p.20707]
Mr. Speaker, after months of feigned outrage and apologies on behalf of everyone else, a new report from The Globe and Mail shows that the Prime Minister's Office invited a Nazi to his diplomatic reception in Toronto. The Prime Minister blamed the Speaker, saying that he acted alone. The Prime Minister is saying he had no idea about any of it. He called for the Speaker to take responsibility. He watched him resign, and yesterday he tried to blame the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
After all of the embarrassment all over the world, why is the Prime Minister above the rules he applies to everyone else?
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2024-02-06 14:31 [p.20707]
Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is a name that came from a community organization. Obviously, the Prime Minister had no knowledge of this, but we know what is happening over here. We are voting today at third reading on the Canada-Ukraine free trade arrangements. Mr. Zelenskyy stood here and asked us to pass this. The Conservatives' opposition to this bill is a moral failing of historic proportions in response to an effort to support our friends in Ukraine and repel the Russian invaders.
View Melissa Lantsman Profile
CPC (ON)
View Melissa Lantsman Profile
2024-02-06 14:32 [p.20707]
Mr. Speaker, what an embarrassment it must be for the House leader to have to clean up the Prime Minister's mess every day. The invitation had the Prime Minister's name on it. It came from him, and for months he said only the Speaker invited Hunka. That turned out to not be true. The Prime Minister's own House leader said that the invitation merited a Speaker's resignation. The Speaker resigned because of him, and all of the Liberals watched him do it.
Will the Prime Minister be subject to the rules he imposes on everyone else?
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