Members of Canada’s Parliament warned on Monday morning that it could hold Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and executive Sheryl Sandburg in contempt if they continue to ignore a subpoena to testify in front of a committee.
Officials from countries located in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are joining the House of Commons privacy and ethics committee in a re-assembling of an international coalition.
It is the same coalition that met last year in the United Kingdom where Zuckerberg also failed to make an appearance. His only questioning before a government was over a year ago in the United States.
The House committee extended invitations to the some of the most well-known from Silicon Valley including Facebook, Twitter and Google as well as domestic players such as Blackberry.
Earlier this month the committee voted to subpoena Facebook executives Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to appear as witnesses as part of the coalition’s talks on digital privacy, data collection and preserving democracy.
“I don’t think it would send a good message internationally about, you know, blowing off an entire country of 36 million people,” said Conservative MP Bob Zimmer, the chair of the committee, as reported by national media.
“The bottom line is that they show up and answer our questions, so my hope is that still happens.”
Finding the Facebook pair in contempt is move rarely used in Canadian political history. The committee would first have to vote on a motion requesting a contempt finding before it could go to the House floor for a vote.
If Zuckerberg and Sandberg are found in contempt, Ottawa has several methods of punishment, including fines, but “a finding of contempt is offen considered sufficient in itself”, a study from the Library of Parliament says, reported CBC on Monday.
The committee will be meeting starting at 7 p.m. on Monday evening.
Holding the pair in contempt has no-partisan support. Reports have shown that both the ruling Liberals and the NDP back a ruling if appropriate.