Mr. Speaker, in light of your ruling and based on the fact that Motion No. 1 is still on the floor before us, I rise on a question of privilege with regard to that matter which is a personal charge against me as contained in the motion put forward by the member.
In a sense that charge is one that is criminal in nature and reflects upon my reputation. This has and will continue to affect my ability to function effectively as a member of Parliament while the matter remains unresolved.
On March 22, 1983 on page 24,027 of Hansard the Speaker ruled:
A reflection upon the reputation of an hon. member is a matter of great concern to all members of the House. It places the entire institution under a cloud, as it suggests that among the members of the House there are some who are unworthy to sit there. An allegation of criminal or other dishonourable conduct inevitably affects the member's ability to function effectively while the matter remains unresolved.
The Speaker was concerned with the matter remaining unresolved. I raised a point of order with regard to private member's Motion No. 1 in the name of the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
I thank you today for considering that and I appreciate the ruling you have placed before this assembly. This type of motion and the affect of this motion is considered an anomaly of the rules. Although the motion is in order, I would like to demonstrate that its presence infringes upon my and other members' privileges in the Chamber.
The motion accuses me of intimidation and coercing others to intimidate. The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell's charge against me is in the form of a motion and so he is allowed on a technicality to get away with what I believe is unparliamentary language.
For the purpose of my question of privilege, the fact that the charge against me is in the form of a motion is immaterial. What is important is that the motion is non-votable. It is non-votable by the virtue of our standing orders. It is unresolvable and therefore prima facie.
I would also like to address at this time the issue of raising this question of privilege at the earliest opportunity. Before raising my point of order regarding Motion No. 1, I felt it necessary that the motion be at least scheduled for debate, and I believe we are at that course of events here today.
The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell agreed with me because despite the impression I was under at the time, the motion was not before the House that day and the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell argued that he ought not bring the matter up until it was before the House. For once I agreed with him. Fortunately I was allowed to present my argument on that day in May.
The fact that the motion of the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is a product of our rules led me to originally pursue the matter as a point of order.
At this point my only hope for a remedy to resolve this charge against me a question of privilege because the matter remains unresolved, as you have said so eloquently, Mr. Speaker.
In the ruling I referred to earlier from 1983, the Speaker considered:
The question for the Chair to determine, therefore, is whether the hon. member for Lincoln should seek his remedy through the courts, or whether, in order to bring the matter to a swifter resolution, the Chair should accord this question of privilege precedence over other business.
As you are fully aware, Mr. Speaker, I do not have the luxury of bringing this matter before any court. The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is protected by parliamentary privilege.
The Speaker in 1983 had another concern:
Given the precedence I have studied, it is clear to me that while the hon. member could seek a remedy in the courts, he cannot function effectively as a member while this slur upon his reputation remains. The process of litigation would probably be very lengthy and there is no knowing how long it would take before the issue is finally resolved.
Once again there is the emphasis on resolving the matter.
The Speaker was also concerned here with the length of time the matter was to be unresolved. The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell could, through a series of trades, avoid debating the motion. If we do finally get a debate on the motion it will disappear from the Order Paper after one hour of debate.
Regardless of those two scenarios, the matter will never be resolved by this motion. My reputation will be hanging out to dry forever. As Speaker Sauvé was concerned with, the entire institution of Parliament will be left under a cloud without ever being resolved.
Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada , page 210, states that the practice relating to taking up the conduct of members is a matter of privilege.
If the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell raised this as a question of privilege the matter would have been dealt with, but it was not.
To protect my reputation and the reputation of the House I must raise this matter as a question of privilege. Mr. Speaker, if you rule this to be a prima facie question of privilege I will be moving the following motion:
That the member for Lethbridge and the Reform Party of Canada be exonerated of the allegations levied by the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell of attempting to coerce, intimidate or incite others to coerce the hon. member for Welland-St. Catharines which are contained in his non-votable private member's Motion No. 1; and that the matter of the use of non-votable motions to charge members with contempt of Parliament be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, if you do not consider this a prima facie question of privilege I would appreciate your guidance and maybe that of the law clerk on how I can resolve this allegation against me of criminal intent. I cannot allow this motion to stay on the Order Paper all summer. This charge has been hanging over my head long enough. It must be resolved now.