Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I understand under McCarthyism there were the same kinds of hearings with the Republicans yelling and screaming at witnesses. I gather that's what Mr. Lukiwski is trying to do.
If he's lost it and he's screaming, it's because he's losing.
Let's go to the issue that was raised both by the deputy law clerk and by the former Law Clerk. The deputy law clerk actually raised this in his memo, Mr. Chair, to all of us. The deputy law clerk actually analyzed the original order and said that the determination around the use of resources was exclusively given to the Board of Internal Economy. He did say that. The fact that the Board of Internal Economy has now been deformed into an ugly, partisan, secretive body is something to debate in another place, but here, very clearly, he said that the Board of Internal Economy was given that mandate under the mandate of the Parliament of Canada Act. So we're talking about statutes.
Then further on, warning the committee, he said, “Subject to the discussion below...one could then conclude that the study before your committee does not squarely fall within its mandate”. He said very clearly that this study does not fall within the committee's mandate. This was the deputy law clerk stepping forward and saying, hold on, this is not within your mandate. He continued, “However”—and this is the one caveat, the one exception, which is on page 3, and Mr. Lukiwski can follow along, of the guidance provided to this committee—“the matter is before your committee following the adoption on March 27, 2014...of a motion of instruction of the House of Commons.”
That was a procedural dirty trick pulled by the Conservatives at the time.
We allowed the leader of the official opposition to come forward to speak, because we knew Canadians would like to see him, and that worked very well. The next day we appealed the decision and, given the Speaker's ruling that says it was inadmissible, that eliminated the only exception the deputy law clerk found, that it is not within the mandate of the committee. However, because of that motion of instruction of the House of Commons, the committee could consider it.
Then, of course, Mr. Chair, following that, the deputy law clerk went over a whole range of cautions to this committee, many of which have not been observed and many of which we would love to ask him about, because he warned the committee about conducting exactly the kind of kangaroo court we've seen at procedure and House affairs, in a despicable way.
The deputy law clerk actually cautioned that the only reason we could study this was because of that instruction. Now we have the Speaker saying, “Mr. Chair, well, hold on now. That was inadmissible”, and the question of the admissibility of that motion, that dirty trick, the Standing Order 56.1, stepped beyond what the House has come to accept as being within the confines of Standing order 56.1. That is the conclusion of the Speaker of the House.
Mr. Chair, the issue of the former Law Clerk and the cautions he provided are very germane to this discussion. Mr. Chair, even though I like you personally, I know you're in a framework in which the PMO tells Conservative members what to do, so I have no doubt about the eventual outcome of this point of order.
I see this majority every day in so many ways just trying to crush and attack opposition, whether it's the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Parliamentary Budgetary Officer, the Chief Electoral Officer, or the leader of the official opposition, it's all the same. And it is important to note, because Canadians believe in fair process, and I'm speaking, through you, to those Canadians who believe in fair process, that the former Law Clerk said:
To allow the use of House proceedings for any purpose whatsoever would be to license parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority over the minority parties sitting in opposition if not also over outside third parties.
The former Law Clerk also warned that the committee is at risk of creating double jeopardy by pursuing matters that are traditionally the exclusive purview of the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Chair, here we have a Speaker's ruling that very clearly falls within the purview of what the deputy law clerk instructed us in terms of this not being a mandate of the committee. However, you have the House mandate. The Speaker then said, “Well, hold on. It's inadmissible”. That motion was inadmissible, and very clearly, he said, it stepped beyond the bounds of what is considered appropriate. Then you have the former law clerk saying that to “allow the use of House proceedings for any purpose whatsoever would be to license parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority...”. This is exactly what is happening here, Mr. Chair.
In what we've seen over the last few months, this is an unprecedented attack on an opposition party. We have had no opposition to having the Conservative mailings, the Liberal mailings, and the New Democrat mailings evaluated independently. What we've seen instead at the Board of Internal Economy is that the House administration has been prohibited from analyzing the despicable, partisan, personal attacks in the Conservative mailings that are going out every day and the Liberal mailings that follow the same guidelines as the NDP mailings.
We don't object to having the mailings analyzed. Of course we don't. What we do object to is the parliamentary tyranny that the former law clerk warned us about: a licensing of parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority over the minority parties. We see this now in the turning of the Board of Internal Economy, which always functioned on a consensus model, into an ugly, ugly, secretive partisan body that targets whoever they want.
We see this in ministers now trying to say that crown corporations can be part of any witch hunt. We now are seeing this when the deputy law clerk, the former law clerk, and the Speaker have all cautioned this committee.
Mr. Lukiwski said no, just go right ahead, and let's bring a lynch mob out and attack the opposition. That is completely inappropriate, Mr. Chair. This is an inappropriate process. This is a process that very clearly was inadmissible from the start and is clearly inadmissible now. What we see is a government with its parliamentary tyranny, as the former law clerk very clearly cautioned all Canadians prior to the start of this hearing. We're seeing a parliamentary tyranny of the majority imposing itself.
Mr. Chair, I don't think Canadians sided with the Prime Minister when he attacked the chief justice. I don't think Canadians sided with the Prime Minister when he attacked the Parliamentary Budget Officer, or the Chief Electoral Officer, or Sheila Fraser. I don't think Canadians side with the Prime Minister in attacking the official opposition.
What Canadians would expect is, as we have.... I know that our motion is going to be coming forward this week from the NDP saying that the Auditor General should come in and look at all mailings and at parliamentary resources. We've been trying that. As you know, Mr. Chair, we tried that last fall. We said that the Auditor General should be brought in—independent—and he will evaluate everybody appropriately. He will look at the overall use of parliamentary funds, including some of the things that the Board of Internal Economy has been doing, and then Canadians can have trust in that result.
It was refused by the Conservatives and Liberals last fall. It was refused again in the spring, when we brought it forward to the House of Commons. But it's what Canadians want. There is no doubt, Mr. Chair. Canadians believe that the Auditor General should be independent in evaluating things. It shouldn't be a partisan, secret, ugly, backroom Conservative committee making these types of decisions and attacking—in the same way they attacked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—the parliamentary opposition.
Mr. Chair, in conclusion, even though Mr. Lukiwski tried to avoid actually reading the words of the Speaker, we have a Speaker who said, in response to the question of “At issue then is whether the motion in question was an admissible motion, pursuant to Standing Order 56.1”.... He asked the question and gave the answer: “...it leads the Chair to the conclusion that the motion” stepped “beyond what the House has come to accept as being within the confines of Standing Order 56.1”—inadmissible.
The parliamentary secretary can say, “Well, no, I wanted this particular word and if I don't have this particular word, then the Conservatives can do whatever the hell they want.” That's not the way it works in a real democracy, Mr. Chair. Perhaps in some banana republics potentially, yes, but in Canada, Canadians actually believe in due process.
They believe in having the essential fairness that whether you go into a court or before a jury you're evaluated in the same way that everybody else is evaluated. You're not evaluated differently because you're a New Democrat and you're the strongest official opposition the Prime Minister has ever seen. You're not evaluated differently from how a Conservative mailing would be evaluated. You don't have a secretive Conservative body saying that you can attack the leader of the official opposition in an intensely personal way, in a partisan and personal way, and that's okay, because “we've decided it's okay because we set the rules because we're Conservatives and we can do whatever we want”.
That is not how Canada functions. That is what the former Law Clerk cautioned us against when he said:
To allow the use of House proceedings for any purpose whatsoever would be to license parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority.
We have the Speaker's ruling. We have the deputy law clerk very clearly saying this is not within the mandate of procedure and House affairs. However, with that instruction, perhaps it could be allowed, except that the instruction was inadmissible. We have the very prescient warnings from the former Law Clerk saying the kinds of things we're seeing now, that the use of House proceedings for any purpose whatsoever would be to license parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority over the minority.
Mr. Chair, though I have no hope that this will get fair hearing, we are not talking about the kind of rules of evidence that work in a court of law. The courts will eventually, as they have rejected so many Conservative bills, reject these kangaroo courts proceedings, I think, as well. I have no hope in this particular venue with a Conservative majority, even if you were sympathetic, even if you said, yes, that's true, and all the points the NDP have raised are true. Even if you said, “as Chair, I will rule that this continued witch hunt is inadmissible,” the Conservative majority would overrule you. I've seen a few times that Conservative chairs have tried to stand up for justice, rule of law, and due process. I've seen Conservative majorities just steamroll them out. So I have sympathy for your position. I like you as a person, but I know that the Conservatives will force you, if you don't do it yourself, to rule against and defy the Speaker's ruling and the clear warnings and concerns raised by both the deputy law clerk and former Law Clerk.
I find that appalling, Mr. Chair. I think the vast majority of Canadians would say we need a return to due process in this country. We actually need in this country a system of checks and balances so that the parliamentary tyranny by a governing majority, which the former Law Clerk warned us about, does not come to pass in every facet of Canadian life.