Allegation and refutation of intimidation in the House

After Question Period yesterday, and after the House had finished celebrating the career of Peter Milliken, Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt rose on the following point of privilege.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, the member for Mississauga South rose in the House and accused me of intimidation. I was not in the chamber when he raised the issue so I would like to take a moment now to respond. I want to make it clear that I did not make the gesture alleged by the member opposite, nor did I in any way intimidate the member opposite. Indeed, I am very cognizant of the fact that my two children, who are eight and five, watch question period and I would not make that gesture as a result of that, and not only that but also because I have respect for the House. Accordingly, there is nothing for which I can apologize to the House or its members. I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to address the incident. I regret that we have to take the House’s time to respond in this way. We should be debating and facing the real issues of Canadians: crime, criminal sentencing, stimulating the financial recovery of industry, protecting jobs and protecting the environment. Those are the things that actually matter to the people of Canada from coast to coast to coast.

Paul Szabo’s original complaint, with description of the alleged “rude finger gesture” in question, was filed October 2. His colleague Bryon Wilfert rose the following Monday to say that he had witnessed the same “rude gesture.”

Absent other evidence, the Speaker has declared the matter closed.