Mr. Speaker, thank you for coming back to the chair in order to take my question of privilege.
On Monday, February 1 at 10:59 a.m., I received on my House of Commons BlackBerry an email from the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic. This email, from the list of names to whom it was also sent, appears to have been sent to all members of this House.
When I perused the articles and images contained in the email from the Bloc Québécois member of Parliament for Ahuntsic, it immediately became clear to me that it contained text and images supporting and glorifying three organizations that the federal government has deemed to be terrorist organizations.
That is not all. Several of the text and the images contained in this email can only be characterized as hate propaganda against a religious group; that is to say, they incited hate against Jews.
I am proud to have been part of a government that amended Canada’s Criminal Code to include the criminal offences of hate crime and to provide a legislative framework with a clear, objective criterion for determining whether an entity is a terrorist organization and thus be listed as such with all of the legal ramifications that follow.
However, even more to the point, it is a privilege to be elected to this House of Commons, which is a point I made today in my Standing Order 31 statement. In my view and, I believe, in the view of all members of this House of Commons and reflected in our standing orders, is that part of the privileges that ensue from being elected to the House is that we are each allotted moneys through a member’s operating budget and equipment that we are allowed to use in fulfilling each of our parliamentary duties and privileges.
We have a Conflict of Interest Code for Members of Parliament. We also have the standing orders that explain and determine how these resources can be used. However, beyond that, we each have an ethical and a moral duty, beyond any requirement under our Conflict of Interest Code for Members of Parliament, beyond but including our standing orders, to use the resources, material and human, provided to us as members of Parliament through the House of Commons and which are paid for from the public purse, wisely, prudently, legally and in full respect of our laws and the rules of the House of Commons.
The content of the email from the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic can only expose and did expose myself, other members of this House, communities within my riding and communities in the ridings of other members of Parliament to anti-Semitic propaganda. They were an incitement to hate and, in my view, constitute a clear misuse of the resources of the House of Commons.
It was not even sent to my House of Commons email. It was sent to the BlackBerry, which is the personal email address of each member of Parliament which normally is given to us precisely so that we can screen out and ensure that we only receive emails from certain individuals and certain organizations, and it is not widely publicized. It is only publicized to other members of Parliament as a matter of course through the whips’ offices and then each member of Parliament can determine to whom else they will allow access to the BlackBerry email address.
Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to actually view and peruse the email that was sent from the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic. I believe it will become clear to you that there is an incitement to hate against Jews, clear anti-Semitic statements and images that are contained in that email, and that there is a glorification of three organizations that have been deemed to be terrorist organizations by the federal government under our duly adopted and constituted laws.
I believe that it was a clear misuse by the member for Ahuntsic to have used parliamentary equipment and parliamentary services, i.e. our intraparliamentary Internet service, in order to disseminate this information.
The member apparently has stated that she had not viewed all of the images. Given that we do not pay for this equipment or the services and that it is paid from the public purse, I do not know how she was raised, but I was raised by my parents to take care of whatever was given me. If it belongs to someone else and I am using it through the good graces of someone else, in this case the public, it is a privilege that is given to each and every one of us as a member of Parliament to have access to a member’s operating budget, to have access to all of the services provided to us, including Internet services and intraparliamentary Internet services through the House of Commons, then I have an added duty to ensure that I do not intentionally or unintentionally expose members of the House to incitement to hate, to anti-Semitic comments, statements and images, and statements and images that glorify terrorist organizations that are all dedicated to the eradication of a certain population, the Jewish population.
If the member did not do so intentionally, then she was derelict in her duty because when using parliamentary services and resources she must ensure that anything that she sends out is not contrary to our laws, is not contrary to our morals and is not contrary to the privileges of every other member in the House.
I have not heard an apology from her because the statement she sent the following day was not an apology. Nowhere in that statement did I see the words "I apologize for not having carried out my duties, to ensure that I did not expose my colleagues to hate and to the glorification of terrorist organizations, and that I used parliamentary resources in order to do so".
Everyone who was sitting in the House when I made my statement about Black History Month now knows why I take that kind of hate propaganda and that kind of incitement to hate seriously. I find it repugnant that a member of the House would misuse services, which are paid through the public purse and which are a privilege to each and every one of us, to expose other members and other Canadians to that kind of hate propaganda and incitement to hate.
Mr. Speaker, I hope you will rule that it was a misuse of parliamentary services and it did indeed constitute a violation of my privilege as a member of Parliament and as a Canadian.