Thanks, Chair. I'll be brief.
Again, I reiterate. I don't like the bill. I can't think of an argument. I'll be open-minded, because it's important, it's our Constitution, but it's an uphill climb for somebody to convince me to vote for that bill for all the good reasons my colleagues have made. That's not the issue. What is in front of us is not whether we like it or not or would vote against it or not or whether we believe it's constitutional or not.
The question before us is just this. Forget the substance of the bill. I guess you can't completely set it aside, fair enough, but the matter that's before us, the decision, the instant case before us is, should this bill be allowed to go to the floor of the House of Commons for a debate and a vote?
The reason I asked for the floor, Chair, was that I heard Mr. Bittle and, in fact, it was at the last meeting that I agreed with Mr. Bittle that this turned on the question of whether this is constitutional or not. If it's clearly not constitutional, slam dunk, we support the subcommittee, case closed, next.
But, Mr. Bittle, I have to tell you that I'm very disappointed that you would use the argument based on that at the last meeting and you would now use the argument that the members themselves didn't offer up the legal argument or the legal case that the parliamentary law clerk just did, which by the way, was the sole purpose for us coming together. I find that intellectually dishonest.
There is not a requirement for us to hear from colleagues the definitive legal case, and that's the end of it. If you weren't smart enough to bring it to the table, well too bad. We as a committee decided that our next step was to ask for some legal advice, so at that point, if it's legal advice that carries water, whether it came from our parliamentary law clerk at our request or whether it came from the members when they were here is not the point. I just have a real problem with that.
Again, so far, everybody who has taken the floor is arguing the merits of the bill. I'm still not hearing a strong argument as to why we should extinguish the member's right to have a vote when the only thing that would preclude it is if it's clearly unconstitutional. I'm not hearing clearly from anybody that it's unconstitutional. That is debatable.
Some may think it's a weak debate against a strong debate, but is it so outrageous that it would never have a credible argument in front of the Supreme Court? I'm not hearing that. To me, that should be the test when we are going to extinguish a member of Parliament's right, especially a sacred one, especially when there's so damn few of them.
I still remain unconvinced, and I'm still listening.