He will squeeze the truth out of them.
This is not an "if, and or but" question. This is not a question of: I wonder what the Liberal Party meant? It is absolutely crystal clear that two deputy speakers should be appointed from the opposition benches.
The member for Kingston and the Islands co-authored the report which suggested that should be the case. The Prime Minister signed the red book promise which said that will be the case. The Prime Minister said that he would honour the red book commitments which have not yet been completed as soon as possible. That was on the weekend. I was at the convention to hear that.
The first opportunity to complete one of those promises is today. Today the government can say: "We are about to complete more of our promises. Today is the day that we put our money where our mouth is". What is it he said? We do not just talk the talk, we walk the walk. To use another analogy, this is where the rubber meets the road.
Suddenly a position is open in the House of Commons. It is a very important position. Mr. Speaker, you had the best of health before they took your best of health away, in a sense. Your good right hand man is now the government whip. We appreciated his work in the Chair. We always supported his work, but he is no longer here. Now there is a vacancy.
The symbolism of this comes down to the integrity of the Prime Minister, the promises made during the election and the promises made by the proposed deputy speaker. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has a decision to make in the next few minutes or in the next few days. What is his response to a specific proposal that he himself proposed, that he himself endorsed, that he himself submitted as the red book position, the Liberal Party position on how deputy speakers should be appointed?
What the member for Kingston and the Islands said, and I know him to be an honourable man, was that the position should not go to
a government member. Those are his words. It should not go to a government member. It should go to somebody on this side of the House.
The conundrum facing the member for Kingston and the Islands now is a serious one. All of a sudden, talking the talk and walking the walk and doing what is right not only in Canadians' minds but following through on the promises made by the governing party, suddenly 24 hours after the Liberal convention is shut down we find out that promises are like the Prime Minister's imaginary friend, they do not really mean anything and they do not really exist.
Mr. Speaker, the motion we are debating at this time is symbolic of the non-partisanship that you have shown toward this House. The position of deputy chairman is an extension of yourself. It is an opportunity, as the member for Kingston and the Islands recognized in his report, to show that your position, Mr. Speaker, is not partisan but is open to all members of the House. Not only that, it has been promised as kind of a balancing act to show that very thing.
At the convention that I sat through on the weekend there were a lot of shoulder strains. A lot of Liberals were patting themselves on the back and tore ligaments in their shoulder. At a convention, that is their right to do that. They can pat themselves on the back all they like.
The Prime Minister says "we will not demand your vote, we will not buy your vote", although Bombardier would perhaps question that, "but will earn your vote because you will watch us and you will see us fulfil the promises that I have made".
What is one of those promises? The very first thing that the Prime Minister can fulfil, acknowledged as an unfulfilled promises, is the appointment of the deputy speaker. It will be the test.
I do not want to politicize your position in the chair of course, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to politicize the deputy chair, or compromise his or her position. The Chair absolutely has our respect. I should not say it has nothing to do with you, as I do not want to cut you out of the picture, but the argument here has nothing to do with your position which, of course, is without disrepute. It is held in the highest esteem.
However, the promises of the Liberal Party of Canada and the promises of the Prime Minister are at stake. Think of that. When someone does not fulfil a promise and fills a role in the deputy chair's position, a very important role, and that person gets to that position in spite of a promise by the Prime Minister to the contrary, what message does that send? It sends the message that the promises of the red book are hollow, the promises of the red book are only expedient, the promises of the red book whether they are 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent are more of an accident of birth than they are of a grand design.
If the Prime Minister pushes ahead with this appointment, the member for Kingston and the Islands will have to take a serious second look at his acceptance of his position. He needs to do some soul searching on this issue.
I spoke with the hon. member at the Liberal convention, and he knows this. I told him this was going to come up if his name came forward. I told him exactly where this was going: "Your name has been talked about here in the hallways and it may or may not come up in the debate. But if it does, this is what I am going to say". I told him because he has been so outspoken on this issue.
It is not enough just to speak about it. He put together a report. He argued persuasively on a position, basically saying this role should not go to a Liberal, it should go to the opposition. It was so persuasive that I have quoted it back to him on several occasions.
I said that the hon. member, the hon. House leader and the Prime Minister have the experience and they have collectively endorsed the 81st report of the Standing Committee on House Management and have appended their own report to the Liberal red book saying: "This is what we will do when we form government. We will give the deputy chairman of the committee of the whole to the opposition parties. You can count on it. You can rely on us. You can trust us. You can know that we will not deviate from our red book promises". It is now bunk, bunk, bunk coming from the government side.
It is not "if the GDP exceeds 3.3 per cent we will consider this option". It is not one of those promises. It is not a promise that we will somehow have a rolling target on deputy speakers. None of that. As far as I know we are not going roll all four positions together and call it the Canada health transfer subsidy. We are not going to do anything like that. This is just a cut and dried promise, succinctly put in the red book, appended, which says "when we form government we will make sure that the opposition party is represented in the chair with not one but two deputy speaker positions".
If I had put together a report in a learned study as the member for Kingston and the Islands had done and said that it was my opinion, so take it for what it is worth, I think the government would say it was an interesting thought, that it will look it over and maybe refer it to a procedure and House affairs committee and maybe study it, as opposed to precedents of other Parliaments of the world". Who knows? Study it until time ran out.
I did not submit the idea. It is not my idea. It did not come from the official opposition. It did not come from the Reform Party. It did not come from the independents. Where did it come from? From the member for Kingston and the Islands, the very member
who is being nominated today in contravention of everything he has written about that position.