Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
As members of the committee will no doubt recall, at our last meeting the committee asked the library to provide a briefing on past instances of questions of privilege that are similar to the one that has been referred to the committee by the House on May 3 of this year. With that in mind, I will provide a summary of the seven past instances involving members being impeded or delayed from accessing Parliament Hill and the parliamentary precinct freely.
I will be going over these incidents in reverse chronological order, so if you were to follow along in the briefing note that was provided to the committee, it would actually be the other way around. You would have to start at the end of the briefing note. The reason for that is that you'll find the most recent cases to be the more relevant ones as compared to the ones that are 20 or 30 years old.
Of note, four of these incidents took place in the most recent Parliament, one incident in 2012, one in 2014, and two in 2015. The other incidents that I will review are the 2004 visit of the President of the United States, which was probably the most egregious instance of members being denied or having their access delayed to Parliament Hill. There is also a case from 1999 involving the Public Service Alliance of Canada protest. Perhaps what's interesting about that particular incident was that PROC's report in 1999 indicated that the right of members to access the parliamentary precinct was not well known at that time. The report, in fact, states:
We note that it is rare in Canada for Members of Parliament to be obstructed or impeded in carrying out their parliamentary functions. It is not surprising, therefore, that some Members or PSAC picketers may not have been fully aware of the right of Members to unimpeded access, and this may have occasioned some delay.
That was in 1999.
Lastly, I'll review the incident that took place during the 1988 protest on the Hill over the GST.
With that I will begin. If committee members have any questions or would like any clarification while I am talking, please feel free to ininterrupt at any time.
I'm hoping to provide a few more details than are in the briefing notes. It may be a little longer than the actual briefing note itself.
The two most recent incidents were dealt with in a single ruling by the Speaker on May 12, 2015.