Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. Yesterday in the House the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism used the cover of parliamentary privilege to slander my reputation by stating that I uttered, in his words, “a complete, blatant and I believe deliberate falsehood” after I questioned him about the Conservative cancellation of an historic $12.5 million acknowledgement, commemoration and education agreement signed by the previous Liberal government and the Ukrainian Canadian community.
Parliamentary privilege is a right that members use to assist them in getting at the truth and should not be used as cover to slander other members. I will give the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism the benefit of the doubt that he really is not aware that $12.5 million from the ACE program, which was cancelled by the Conservatives, was dedicated to the issue of internment of Ukrainian Canadians. If he tables in this House page 4 of the “Sources and Uses Table” from the Department of Finance, dated November 24, 2005, he will see that the funding was budgeted.
I request that the member fully retract his slanderous statement so as not to further sully this House with his verbal vulgarities and to salvage his own reputation.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am confident the Speaker will find that this is not a question of privilege. Perhaps the member could have raised this as a point of order yesterday following question period. He chose not to. It is clearly not a question of privilege. I think that in fact it is a point of debate.
In that respect, I stand by my remark yesterday in this place. The member said at page 7506 of Hansard that:
--the Liberal government signed an historic agreement for $12.5 million with the Ukrainian Canadian community....
I have that agreement in my hand and I quote from page 2 of that agreement:
The Government of Canada plans to provide an initial amount of $2.5 million to the Shevchenko Foundation....
This agreement in principle does not mention $12.5 million. The budget does not mention $12.5 million. None of the three Liberal budgets in the year 2005 mentioned $12.5 million for Ukrainian redress with respect to wartime measures.
Yesterday the member said that there was a $12.5 million agreement. This is the agreement. It says $2.5 million. He was wrong by 500%. Perhaps he could explain to the community why he is not telling the truth.
The Deputy Speaker: If there are no more interventions, the two members have had an interesting debate as to the facts of the case, but nevertheless the fact of the matter is that the hon. secretary of state is recorded in Hansard as accusing the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre of “a complete, blatant, and...deliberate falsehood”, which the hon. member knows is not parliamentary language.
He may want to continue to argue about the facts with the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre, but accusing another hon. member of a deliberate falsehood is a no-go zone and I offer the hon. member an opportunity to retract.
Hon. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the words.
The Deputy Speaker: I heard the hon. member retract the words that I asked him to retract. He has done so. The matter is closed. The hon. members can continue to argue about the facts.