Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Monsieur Mayrand, for being here.
Mr. Mayrand, I'm glad you're back here, because clearly we're here because of the letter you originally sent to Speaker Scheer invoking subsection 463(2).
That letter, in regard to subsection 463(2), indicated that a member shall not “sit or vote” if he has not complied with your request to file either a return or a corrected return, but in examining the Elections Act, Monsieur Mayrand, with all the greatest of respect, I believe you did not have to send that letter. I believe that we do not have to be in this position right now, that you had choices, and that you chose to send the letter when you did not have to.
I point out to you—as I'm sure you're well aware—that under Elections Act section 457, you and you alone make the decision as to when a member of Parliament, or a candidate, for that matter, will have to comply with a corrected return. You chose originally the date of May 6. My understanding is that Mr. Bezan filed a return on May 5. You examined that return, you disputed it, and then gave a further deadline of May 17 by which to file a corrected return. You pointed out what you considered to be inaccuracies in his previous return.
Although Monsieur Bezan did not file a corrected return as per your request by May 17, he did inform your office that he would be seeking a court-ordered injunction. Under section 459, the candidate—or the member of Parliament, in this case—has a perfect right to do so.
Now, the sanction that you suggested or pointed out to the Speaker is, quite frankly, the most serious sanction, or least one of the most serious, that could possibly be invoked upon any candidate or, in this case, a sitting member of Parliament: that a sitting member of Parliament would not be able to sit and vote. It's not just the embarrassment and the tarnishing of the reputation; it's the fact that tens of thousands of voters who have voted for that member to be their representative are now disenfranchised or would have been disenfranchised had Mr. Bezan been removed from his seat.
My point is, sir, that according to my interpretation of elections law, you did not have to do that. It was your choice. Because, under paragraph 459(2)(a), it says that even though, in this case, Mr. Bezan did not comply with your request to have a corrected return in your hands by May 17, he could have up to two weeks to file a request to a judge, who would then be able to either authorize an extension or relieve the candidate of his obligation.
Mr. Bezan had informed your office that he would indeed be seeking that relief from the courts. You had two weeks in which to grant that to him, but yet you sent the letter to Speaker Scheer a week after the May 17 deadline, or in other words, a week prior to the deadline by which Mr. Bezan had to file a court injunction. I'm just wondering why you chose to do that, because as I mentioned at the outset, this is what has transpired because of your letter. My interpretation, sir, is, quite frankly, that you didn't have to do that but you chose to do so, and I'd just like to know why.