Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order which I will make very brief. I know there is a very important debate on Bill C-33 before the House.
This point of order is relative to the business of the House tomorrow and concerns the private member's motion in the name of the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, which is listed as Motion No. M-2 on today's Order Paper. This motion is scheduled for debate tomorrow during private members' hour and I believe that you should rule it out of order.
Beauchesne's sixth edition states that the conduct of a member may only be discussed in the House of Commons by way of a substantive or a distinct motion, that is, a self-contained proposal submitted for the approval of the House and drafted in such a way as to be capable of expressing a decision to the House.
That is a very key point. This is the first time that a motion charging another member with contempt has been scheduled for debate under the new rules governing private members' business.
Before the rule change, all private members' items were votable. If a member attempted to use a private members' motion to charge another member with contempt under the old rules, the motion would be automatically votable.
The situation in which we find ourselves today is a first. It will be the first time that the House receives a non-votable motion that charges another member with contempt. If allowed, it will set a dangerous practice because there is no conclusion at the end of the process.
If a member is going to make a charge against another member, then he or she had better present the House with a votable motion. If you are going to make a charge you had better put your money where your mouth is. Anything else would be unjust, improper and against the practices of the House.
If this motion is allowed to come forward, we will be engaging in an unfair and dishonest hit and run attack on a member. It is unparliamentary and unethical because of a loophole.
When the rules changed, no one considered the point I am raising today regarding a charge of contempt. The subcommittee on private members' business, or the committee it reports to, does not have the power to deny debate on this motion. Also, it is not obliged to automatically deem such motions votable. That is why it is up to you, Madam Speaker, to decide whether or not it is right to deal with this matter. I ask for your guidance.
Charging another member with contempt of Parliament is not something we in this House take lightly. Considering that every reference and every precedent of a charge of contempt against another member from Erskine May, Beauchesne, Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada , without exception, take the form of a votable motion, we should not now break with this practice and allow a motion charging a member with contempt to go forward if we are not prepared to take action.