Content of Flyer–Speaker’s Ruling
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, I am sad and disappointed to be rising to speak to this issue. This regrettable set of ten percenters and this breach of privilege through misleading, false, pernicious, defamatory information targeting a religious community is so damaging in so many ways.
It was a very sad day when these were sent into our communities, and it is a sad day when we have to hear from the members opposite defending this completely outrageous and undermining project.
These ten percenters undermine people’s trust in government. They feed into the very kind of mistrust that the public has of their elected representatives. They undermine democracy. We are at a time when barely 60% of the public bothers to vote. Why? Because they do not trust their political representatives.
In my view, every parliamentarian should be aware at every moment that it is their job to restore that trust because that means restoring our democracy. To see those members of the House deliberately and sneeringly undermining the public trust with this kind of divisive, totally distorted smear piece is very sad for our democracy.
I think the previous speakers have pointed out where the information in these ten percenters is loaded with mistruths and where it is propaganda of the worst kind aimed at a religious group. That by itself is more than disappointing. It is outrageous. To then use the public’s dollars to do that certainly is, and I do not want to say icing on the cake because there is nothing good about this.
The undermining of the public’s trust is a huge breach of the contract that we have with the public. So to use taxpayers’ dollars for this is completely and utterly unacceptable.
This is part of a pattern with the government. This is a government that talked about Kyoto and climate change as being a socialist plot to take money out of people’s pockets, and then turned around and pretends to care about climate change though we know that with an absence of a plan in four years, it actually does not. It is hypocrisy and an undermining of the public’s trust.
These ten percenters are an illustration of hypocrisy that undermines the public, that undermines the public’s belief in their—
Mr. Jeff Watson:
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Correct me if I am wrong, but the issue of climate change is not the content of the ten percenter in question. I would certainly instruct—
Mr. Massimo Pacetti:
Sure it is.
Mr. Jeff Watson:
We are talking about a specific ten percenter and its content in the debate, Madam Speaker. Now we are talking about climate change. I would at least ask you to advise the member to stick to the discussion at hand.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Denise Savoie):
Order, please. I have heard members from both sides of the House wander considerably from the subject close at hand, but I would urge members from all sides of the House to come back to the point of the ten percenters, specifically as raised.
Ms. Joyce Murray:
Madam Speaker, I am using that example to underline the hypocrisy of these ten percenters. I would point out that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister spoke on a range of issues that was not directly related.
One of the things these ten percenters do is undermine Liberals. Their reputations are impugned, particularly the member from Montreal who has been speaking on this. The undermining of the fight against anti-Semitism causes me to be beyond disappointed and angry.
Members opposite, including the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, went to London, under the leadership of a Liberal member of Parliament, to attend a conference to fight anti-Semitism. Out of that came an agreement that anti-Semitism was far too important to be a partisan issue and we needed to fight it together.
This ten percenter sends the complete opposite message. It says that members will use anti-Semitism as a partisan issue to wedge Canadians and drive dissension in the Jewish community. There are certainly differences of opinion on the appropriateness of the ten percenter.
Sending out slanderous and defaming materials, after having agreed that this issue is too important to be a partisan one, undermines other activities of the House. One of those activities is the inquiry into anti-Semitism, of which I am a panel member.
To have this kind of material sent across the country into opposition members’ ridings, targeting Liberal opposition members, and at the same time expecting the public to believe that this inquiry, for which imminent scholars are coming from London and places around the world to give testimony on anti-Semitism, makes a mockery, unfortunately, of the inquiry’s work.
It is very difficult to hold up our heads as a country in which anti-Semitism is such an important non-partisan issue. How can we inquire into the incidents and causes so we can help reduce and combat anti-Semitism when the House allows this kind of breach of privilege and defamation of the Liberal Party, this kind of targeting of a religious community and these kinds of statements, which are deliberately misleading?
I would encourage the members on the opposite side of the House, who are part of the Canadian parliamentary committee combatting anti-Semitism, to think about holding their heads high as we bring people in from thousands of miles away to talk to us about this very important issue that involves human rights, racism, humanity and compassion. To have this kind of breach of privilege going on at the same time undermines the work we are doing in that inquiry. That is a very discouraging.
I know members spend hours per week on this issue because they care about it. Racism is not acceptable, nor is anti-Semitism. Why can Canada not find a way to work with dignity and determination on this issue?
Canada has a parliamentary group of some 20 people who are working very hard to combat anti-Semitism. If some of those members believe that it is acceptable to target members of the opposition with this kind of pernicious, taxpayer-funded garbage, I find that very unfortunate.
What must the public think about Parliament when it gets this kind of literature, which clearly distorts,which is clearly untrue and out of context and which smears an hon. member whose life’s work has been fighting anti-Semitism? What must the public think about our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism together?
Parliamentarians went to London, most of them on their own dime, to attend a conference. U.K. parliamentarians worked together on an inquiry looking into anti-Semitism. It was important work and they came up with important conclusions. They concluded that anti-Semitism was not being tracked properly, that it needed to be tracked so they could try to prevent it from happening again. Never did we hear a breath of implication that those members were undermining and smearing each other on a side initiative like this. That is simply not the case.
This makes it embarrassing to be a Canadian just as it makes it embarrassing to be a Canadian when the government is blocking action on climate change.
This is an example of complete hypocrisy. On the one hand, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism goes to London under the leadership of the Liberal member for Mount Royal. On the other hand, he sits in the House and defends this kind of garbage. Unfortunately, that reflects on the quality of the executive council of the Government of Canada. I find that very unfortunate because we need to restore the public’s trust in its political representatives.
This is just one of a number of examples of government hypocrisy, whether it is the government stating that it will be accountable for public dollars and then spending public money on advertising, or whether it is failed economic policies such as the government promising not to tax income trusts and then turning around and doing just that.
These flyers went into people’s mail slots, people who may not have access to thoughtful information on this issue, people who may not read newspapers or go on websites and get both points of view. People think because they see the Prime Minister’s picture on a flyer, the information in the flyer must be true. There are many people like that across Canada.
This is a huge undermining of the public trust. Each and every member opposite should be embarrassed with these kinds of slanderous statements, falsehoods, misrepresentations and out and out defamatory claims.
It is very disappointing to me personally who in good faith has been working with Conservative members, Bloc members and NDP members to combat anti-Semitism. It makes me wonder whether I should resume my role next week as a panellist on a panel of inquiry into anti-Semitism, which was set up under the principle that this issue was too important to be partisan. All parliamentarians involved on that panel decided that. They decided we would all work together and put partisanship aside on the issue of anti-Semitism.
Does that make sense to members opposite? It certainly did to the members who were part of the inquiry panel and part of the association to combat anti-Semitism. I will point out that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is a member of that group, the group that said this issue was too important to be partisan.
I would ask the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the members opposite this. Is this no longer an important enough issue to be non-partisan? Do they believe this issue is just one more thing on which to use divisive partisan tactics? Is this human rights? Is this racism? Is this disgusting, historic, human failing and weakness that we call anti-Semitism not matter to them any more? Is this not one of the things they think is worth countering? How can anyone take the members opposite seriously when this kind of drivel goes out to neighbourhoods and to household after household across the country?
I will challenge any of the members opposite who agree with me to make public their disgust at these materials. For the members who agree that anti-Semitism is too important to be partisan with, I challenge them to say publicly that this is not acceptable. We have Liberals who have been leaders on this issue. They have included members of all parties, to work together in a collaborative fashion, to draw in members of communities, community leaders, people from outside of Canada, experts, academics to bring forward their views, case studies, analyses, statistics and sociological understanding of anti-Semitism.
This ten percenter, this breach of trust of the public, this breach of privilege is not part, I hope, of the Conservative Party because it is certainly not part of our Liberal Party. The member for Mount Royal has created an international definition of the new anti-Semitism that is accepted and respected around the world. People who fight anti-Semitism around the world work with him.
To implicate that member in this defamatory breach of privilege has gone beyond anything the Conservative Party has done to date with all of the other hypocritical stances it has taken such as it claiming to be for accountability. The RCMP had to raid its offices because of alleged attempts to cheat on election advertising rules. There is a long list of hypocritical actions on the part of the government, but this is absolutely the lowest. Whether it is about advertising or tax, yes that hurts people, but this is about anti-Semitism. This ties into the kind of prejudice and hatred that we have no place for in Canada. This ties into human behaviour that is from the darkest side of humanity, behaviour that has, as we know, caused unspeakable tragedies in other parts of the world in other eras, tragedies that we must never forget and we must work toward ensuring never happen again.
One way we have been doing that, as an interparliamentary group, is through the coalition to combat anti-Semitism. It is through the inquiry that we find out what is happening on campuses and on the streets. Are people of the Jewish faith able to feel safe in their communities? The inquiry is looking into that. What can we do about it so all Canadians can feel safe, so they can be protected by the rule of law, our human rights, and have their differences and their religion respected?
We are working on that together, or we were working on that together. It is very difficult to see how that group can work together day after day, week after week, and have the trust, confidence and support of respected academics and respected leaders from the United States, Britain, and elsewhere around the world come and help us work on this.
How can we expect that with this kind of breach of privilege happening, this kind of disgusting piece of abuse of taxpayer dollars? How can we expect them to take Canadian parliamentarians seriously? How can we expect them to take a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism seriously when this kind of abuse is taking place?
To view the complete debate in the House of Commons click here