Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Holiday / Jewish Holiday Greetings

Mrs. Susan Kadis (Thornhill, Lib.):

"Mr. Speaker, let us not forget there is a third investigation underway. This one involves the Prime Minister’s Office and a breach of privacy, an allegation that should send chills down the spines of all Canadians.


My constituents, Mrs. Faulkner and Mrs. Donin, want an explanation. Both of their names mysteriously appeared on the PMO list to receive a Rosh Hashanah greeting, but neither is Jewish. They want to know how they were identified with a religious affiliation they do not hold and why there is such a list.


Calls to the PMO went unanswered, so today I ask the Prime Minister again if he will explain how his office compiled the lists?"


Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC):


"Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear that she did not enter into the happiness of the Rosh Hashanah new year, but I can quote from the executive vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who said, ‘I don’t think there is anything nefarious here whatsoever’ and that most people in the community would appreciate this.


Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith Canada said, ‘I really do think there’s a very sinister motivation by individuals who are asking for an examination of where these lists came from or how they were accumulated’. What is her sinister motivation?


Before she answers that, I would like her to tell us whether she has ever sent out Rosh Hashanah cards, or other Liberals have, to members of the Jewish community."


Mrs. Susan Kadis (Thornhill, Lib.):


"Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect their privacy to be protected, not exploited.


The Prime Minister’s Office has dodged calls on questions on this issue from my constituents. I have had to write a letter to the Privacy Commissioner at the request of one of my constituents for an answer, but they want to hear from the Prime Minister. How did their names get placed on the list? The PMO could not have received their names from public lists as they are not constituents of the Jewish faith.


How did the PMO access their private information? Will the Prime Minister explain how the list was compiled?"


Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC):


"Mr. Speaker, I understand why the member did not want to answer my question. Perhaps it is because this morning I received an email from a constituent of hers, Mr. Arthur Burke, and I would be happy to table this. It says:


Dear Sir:


I received a Rosh Hashanah card from my MP, [the MP for Thornhill]. I don’t know from where she received my address or how she knew my religious affiliation. I would be very appreciative if you might be able to look into this


We know that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, but it seems for that member it is the high holiday for hypocrisy."



Hon. Garth Turner (Halton, Lib.):


"Mr. Speaker, the Secretary of State for-"


Some hon. members: Oh, oh!


The Speaker:


"Order, please. I know members on both sides seem to disagree on this point, but we have to have some order in the House so we can proceed with the discussion.


The hon. member for Halton has the floor now."


Hon. Garth Turner:


"Mr. Speaker, now that the Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity) has admitted that the government used private information to send unsolicited mail to Canadians, will he now apologize and, better still, tell us where that information came from? Are Conservative members of Parliament collecting that from their constituents, yes or no?"


Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC):


"Mr. Speaker, that proves once again that those members cannot think on their feet or retool during question period.


The fact is, like all members of Parliament, we have a program to provide holiday greetings. Most MPs perhaps over there only do it at Christmastime, but because we believe in multiculturalism we share holiday greetings on important festivities for all communities based on publicly available lists of information.


Those members should be apologizing for saying one thing and doing another."


Hon. Garth Turner (Halton, Lib.):


"Mr. Speaker, we are here to represent people. We are in our ridings to serve people.


Conservative members of Parliament have a party database in their offices in which is entered the private information of individual Canadians. Now he has just admitted that it is used.


Will the Prime Minister apologize for an unethical invasion of Canadians’ privacy?"


Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):


"Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Halton has always said that ethics are very important to him.


He talks today about the importance of representing people, including the people of Halton. That is why he said on February 10, 2006, ‘I think anyone who crosses the floor should go back to the people for ratification’. That is one of his ethical standards and I know he wants to follow that ethical standard today."