Tuesday, April 12, 2005

April 12, 2005: Grewal demands apology from Volpe in Parliament

From Parliamentary Hansard, April 12, 2005

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Newton—North Delta, CPC): Mr. Speaker, during question period today a Liberal member and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made statements tarnishing my character, integrity and honesty.

The minister accused me of having my constituents post bonds payable to me. That is absolutely false. Neither I nor my staff have ever done so. This issue was raised in the media and has been corrected in the media. The minister should do the honourable thing and stand up and apologize to me and my constituents.

I reserve the right to raise a question of privilege down the road after I review the blues from question period.

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I guess members of the opposition are learning the damage that is caused by allegation, innuendo and slander. However I am not into that game.

All I did was simply read the transcripts from a committee hearing wherein the member for Newton--North Delta actually admitted to all of those things that he now alleges have been fabricated by those on this side of the House. Not only is that type of feeble defence absolutely abhorrent, it is doubly so because the activity to which the member admitted compromises the integrity not only of the immigration system but in fact of the concept of government and service by members of Parliament to their constituents.

If there is anything for which to apologize, I think that the Leader of the Opposition, who is so smug in his concern that others abide by his standard, might stand up in the House and dissociate himself from that practice or admit that he has actually been directing it.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I certainly will take a look at the blues on that kind of allegation. I think the member knows full well that was a news story that was not correct. He would have us believe that the member of Parliament for Newton--North Delta got up in committee and admitted to some kind of inappropriate or criminal behaviour. Seriously, nobody believes that.

There was a story in the newspaper that was erroneous. I believe the newspaper has even corrected the record on that. We will certainly look at what the hon. member said.

However I must say, with this minister, that I read with some interest his comments about the Sikh community in Toronto. I now see him slandering a Sikh member of Parliament. I think this kind of behaviour toward Sikh Canadians on behalf of the minister of immigration is unacceptable.

The Speaker: It seems to me that we are getting into a debate. If the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has something new to submit to the Chair on this I will hear it, but I do not want to have a continuation of the kind of debate we are getting into here.

Hon. Joseph Volpe: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to at least address a point of order that must be raised. I never suggested that there was criminality. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition accuses his own members of same. I would remind him as well that all the constituents who approached his member of Parliament are from that same Sikh community that they have so desperately maligned. Perhaps it is time that he came out of the closet and stopped being the spineless chameleon that he is known to be.

The Speaker: We will hear one more submission on this from the hon. member for Newton--North Delta but I do not think we need to hear more than that.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, the minister has restated false information and has misled the House with respect to the citizenship and immigration committee meeting. I clearly stated in the committee that I had not taken money from anyone. Why--

Hon. Joseph Volpe: There is a transcript. Read the transcript.

Mr. Scott Reid: You're a bigot, Joe.

Hon. Joseph Volpe: Who gets the money?

The Speaker: Order, please. I would urge hon. members to come to order in this case. I have heard enough argument on this matter. My suspicion is that this is a dispute as to facts. However, in the circumstances I am going to review the transcript of the committee that was mentioned. I will also review the remarks made today by hon. members and get back to the House in due course.