Mailings by Senators

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Honourable senators, I have noticed recently, that a number of Conservative senators have attached petitions to their newsletters advocating various positions. I have noticed that these Conservative senators seek names, addresses and email addresses.

Can the minister tell us if this information is passed on to the Conservative Party or party officials? Can the minister tell honourable senators what the senators are doing with this information? Are the senators compiling information for campaign lists or for prospective donors?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Honourable senators, this is not a government matter. This is a matter between a senator and the Rules of the Senate.

Senator Munson: Honourable senators, given the government’s huge deficit, is it appropriate for Conservative senators to use taxpayers’ dollars to distribute thousands of partisan brochures and pamphlets critical of Liberal positions into the ridings of elected Liberal MPs?

Senator Tkachuk: I have one of the pamphlets with me; would you like me to read it to you?

Senator Munson: Senator Tkachuk, you are not allowed to use props. You should know better than that.

No one has an issue with the newsletter from Senator Runciman or Senator Plett or whomever, but the issue inside of these things, from my perspective, is that it is unlike the Liberals. Advocating a position is one thing, but taking a critical position into the elected —

Senator Tkachuk: You should read all of these things. Read your own literature.

Senator Munson: Members from the other place, particularly Minister Van Loan, used to take great delight in describing this as the “unelected, unaccountable Liberal-dominated Senate.” My, how times have changed.

Can the leader explain why the Conservative senators are using the back door of the Senate, as opposed to the front door of the House of Commons?

Senator LeBreton: All senators in this place, whether Conservative, Liberal, Independent or otherwise, have privileges to communicate with the Canadian public, and I believe all senators on both sides have availed themselves of this practice.

It is not my position as Leader of the Government in the Senate to dictate to Senator Mitchell, or any senator on this side, how they should communicate with the public. Individual senators make these decisions. As far as I am aware, senators on both sides of this chamber abide by the Rules of the Senate.

Senator Munson: May I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if she feels it is appropriate for individual senators in this chamber of sober second thought, this chamber of review, this chamber where minority rights are to be respected, does she believe it is right for senators to be sending thousands of brochures into individual Liberal MPs’ ridings?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, when I was a child, my father used to say, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Senator Tkachuk: You got it.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, individual senators are responsible individuals. Obviously members on this side support the government’s policies. Some senators on this side have their own track records, particularly in areas of law and order issues. Senators on the other side have interests in the environment and other issues. Those senators who choose this method to communicate with the Canadian public are entirely within their rights to do so and, as long as they abide by the Rules of the Senate as provided by the Senate, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have no comment to make because that is not the responsibility of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is the responsibility of individual senators.