Content of Flyer–Speaker’s Ruling
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this motion. Quite frankly, and I say this both on a personal basis as a member of Parliament, but also on behalf of my party, I have been extremely offended by the tactics and the use of this ten percenter and the content of the ten percenter. Tomorrow, I will be here nine years and this is absolutely the worst ten percenter I have seen. I say that without any reservations. It is absolutely the worst one.
There may be one good thing that comes out of this. I really want to praise the Speaker for his ruling. It was absolutely appropriate, and I will come back to that in a minute. I am hoping that out of this, when this gets to the committee and the committee reviews it and comes back to the House with recommendations as to how the breach of the privilege should be dealt with, we may in fact clean up the process around the ten percenters, their use at taxpayers’ expense. I am hoping that we never have to face this type of material going out at taxpayers’ expense in the future. That should be our goal. That should be the goal of all sides of the House coming out of this experience.
I want to praise the Speaker for his ruling. He was absolutely right to look at this material in its general context. We can play semantic games with this kind of material. If we take it out of context, try to limit it in its scope by using semantics, we could argue that it is not what in fact it is.
What in fact it is, is a document that, to any objective observer reading it, accuses the Liberals of being anti-Semitic. There is no other way of interpreting this if we take the whole context, if we look at the ridings it was sent into and if we look at some of the people who were targeted, some of the Liberal members who were targeted. I would say in that regard, I have had the pleasure, and I hope this does not show up in a ten percenter or a householder at some time, of working fairly closely with both the member for Mount Royal
and the member for Winnipeg South Centre
. Their ridings were two of the ridings that were targeted. To accuse them, given their long history, both of them, of fighting for human rights, fighting for civil liberties, fighting for a just society, quite frankly is inexcusable. The same could probably be said for some of the other members. It is just that I know those two better than the others. To send it into those ridings is an all-time low for this House.
We could almost see how this comes up. It is political people, party people, who write these things. That is probably something that should be changed by all the political parties. We should take a look at the orientation. We could see this coming out in a pamphlet during the course of an election, written by people in political parties who go over the top in attacking other members of the House and candidates in other political parties. However, when we recognize that this is a document that is going out at the expense of taxpayers, it is a document that is going out under the authority of the House, which is the only way these are allowed to go out, again the content is just reprehensible. It should not have happened.
I want to go back to the contextual arguments, because the Speaker was right in doing this. When we look at that, there is another form of discrimination going on here in the targeting of specific ridings known to have a large Jewish community. It is discriminatory to them, to the members of those constituencies, because it makes presumptions about how they vote, about what their biases may be, and about what their orientations may be. It presumes, and I think this is where the discrimination comes in, how they are going to react based on their faith, their ethnic background or whatever, in this case particularly on their faith.
That type of targeting, again, should not be allowed. It should not be allowed in any context, but certainly if there is a document that is being paid for by taxpayers and authorized by this House, it simply should not go out.
This is probably more appropriate for the committee to be taking into account, but I want to go back to my opening statement about looking for some good to come out of this. I have to say that I would not be satisfied if the recommendation coming back from the committee were simply for an apology.
An apology is acceptable if a mistake has been made, a factual mistake. That is not the case here. This goes way beyond that. It cannot be argued that somebody preparing this material and sending it out did not know, did not intentionally know what the consequences were going to be, how it would be interpreted and how it would be seen by the recipients of this material.
In my opinion, an apology in this case is not sufficient. That should be forthcoming from the government. In fact it should be forthcoming today. It should have been given when this first came to the public’s attention. That alone is not sufficient. There has to be some other consequence of this type of egregious behaviour.
One of the suggestions we will be putting forward to that committee is that the cost of this to the Canadian taxpayers should be reimbursed to the Canadian government by the Conservative Party. I think that would be a much more appropriate penalty, not just for the riding of Mount Royal but for all 10 or 12 ridings it went to.
It will be a fairly expensive penalty, but maybe the message will get through not only to the Conservatives, because I think there have been other political parties from time to time that have crossed the line, again, though as I said earlier, not as badly as this one has. The message will go out.
The final point I will make is that hopefully there will also be recommendations regarding the content of ten percenters in the future, and regarding how we might restrict that so that these types of attacks and discriminatory, bigoted allegations would never be allowed again.
Those are all the comments I have. Again I want to praise the Speaker for his ruling. I think it has been an excellent one and maybe it will bring us to some conclusion that will help this House to function more efficiently and fairly in the future.
To view the complete debate in the House of Commons click here