House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rcmp.

Topics

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I have two questions of privilege but I will hear first a point of order. You will see the reason why.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hope to beg the indulgence of the House to have all members of the House of Commons join me in wishing the honorary clerk at the table and the former member for Winnipeg North Centre, Mr. Stanley Knowles, a happy birthday on his 88th birthday.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I have received notice of a point of privilege which takes the form of a personal statement. I would like to explain to you before the statement is made that it will be made simply as a solemn declaration. It is not meant to in any way incite debate.

I recognize the hon. member for Charlesbourg.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

June 18th, 1996 / 3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I wish to make a solemn declaration today relating to a question of privilege raised in this House on March 12 by the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, a question of privilege you yourself described as extremely serious, and to which you attached vital importance, stating, and I quote:

The House today is being faced with one of the more serious matters we have been faced with in this 35th Parliament. I believe the charges are so grave against one of our own members that the House should deal with this accusation forthwith.

I hereby declare that the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, through his overzealous accusations of call to arms and sedition, has deliberately led the House and yourself astray, thus bringing doubt and suspicion to be cast upon a member of the House of Commons, without any proof, since his charges were based solely upon false interpretations of my press release dated October 26, 1995.

The report by the Liberal majority and the dissenting report by the Bloc Quebecois issued by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs conclude that this entire question is a matter of political debate and ought never to have been raised before the House on a question of privilege, particularly one supported by unfounded accusations.

What is of the most concern to me, apart from the attack on the rights and privileges of a parliamentarian, is that it is also an attack on the freedom of expression of all Quebecers and all Canadians.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, solemn declarations are generally free of what I might call any additional accusation. At this point, although the Chair has a decision to make, I find, with all due respect, dear colleague, that the words being used today tend more toward a debate than a solemn declaration. I would like to put an end to the statement at this point.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Oder, please. My colleagues, I would prefer this matter to remain closed at this time. I have made my ruling on behalf of all of the hon. members and I would ask you to respect it.

This point of privilege, this statement, is terminated. I would ask members to respect my decision as your Speaker. I ask you that with the full authority of the House and of my position.

I will now hear a second point of privilege from the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege with regard to a personal charge that is against me in this assembly, a charge that is criminal in nature and which reflects on my reputation. This has and will continue to affect my ability to function effectively as a member of Parliament while the matter remains unresolved.

On March 22, 1983, at page 24027 of Hansard the Speaker ruled:

A reflection upon the reputation of an Hon. Member is a matter of great concern to all Members of the House. It places the entire institution under a cloud, as it suggests that among-

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Perhaps the hon. member would withhold this point of privilege. I am prepared to rule on the point of order to which the hon. member has referred. I would propose to do that after I have heard any other points of privilege that come up, if the hon. member permits.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with that procedure.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised on May 9, 1996 by the hon. member for Lethbridge concerning the procedural acceptability of Motion M-1 standing on the order of precedence for Private Members' Business in the name of the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

The hon. member for Lethbridge argued that the motion is procedurally unacceptable because it contains allegations of contempt by one member against another and yet had not been designated as votable by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. In other words, the House must be capable of taking a decision on any motion which contains a charge against a member. In addition, he questioned the current rules governing Private Members' Business which have allowed this situation to occur.

The rules governing private members' business are indeed complex. Members may put bills or motions on notice, and then those members whose names have been chosen in a draw decide which item they wish to put forward for debate in the House during private members' business hour.

Once the chosen items are placed on an order of precedence, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs selects which ones will come to a vote of the House. In the case of Motion M-1, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs chose not to designate this item as votable.

Pursuant to Standing Order 92(2), the report of the committee concerning votable items is automatically deemed adopted, and therefore stands as a decision of the House. This is how the House has decided, through its Standing Orders, to deal with private members' business.

The hon. member is quite correct in his assertion that the conduct of a member can be brought before the House only by way of a specific charge contained in a substantive motion. Often, in such cases, members will choose to raise the matter on the floor of the House without giving the required 48-hour or two-week notice and ask the Speaker to give it priority or right of way for immediate consideration by the House, thus putting all other regular House business aside.

What is at stake here is whether or not your Speaker can override the rules governing the transaction of Private Members' Business in order that such motions come to a vote even when the sponsoring member has selected to bring it before the House under that procedure. I humbly must admit that unless the House changes its rules I do not have that power.

For the benefit of the House, please allow me to point out that this is not the first time this type of motion has come before the House without the possibility of a vote.

On a number of occasions on supply days the opposition has moved non-votable motions to condemn or challenge ministers for their actions.

In one case a motion condemning a minister for "failing to provide full and satisfactory information on the blatant conflict of interest situation involving the minister" was moved as a non-votable motion on a supply day.

I refer members to the Journals of the House of Commons of May 12, 1986, page 2160: ``In at least one other instance, a non-votable supply motion contained a specific charge of contempt of Parliament against the minister''. The text of this motion can also be found in the Journals of June 17, 1982, page 5025.

The content of the motion and the fact that it has not been designated as a votable item under Private Members' Business does cause the Chair some difficulty.

I understand the concerns of the hon. member for Lethbridge. As your Speaker I suggest this situation could be corrected either by the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, the hon. member for Lethbridge or, for that matter, the House itself. There are procedures at the disposal of the House to ensure that a sense of fair play prevails in all of its proceedings so that members are not placed in this type of position.

In the current circumstances I find that the rules for Private Members' Business have been followed and that there is therefore no point of order.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this point and the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for his contribution to the discussion.

The hon. member for Lethbridge on a question of privilege.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, based on your ruling, I would like to rise on a question of privilege.