Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again I would like to reiterate my original comments in rebuttal to the arguments put forward by the government whip. He pointed to an incident where a bill was deferred sine die, without a date, so that it might be recalled at some future indeterminate date. There is a major difference between deferring it to some future point and deciding unilaterally that a committee will not deal with the issue. Note the specific difference.
I would like to continue by putting my argument on this point of privilege. I feel that my privileges and the privileges of the House have been breached.
The justice committee has thwarted the rights of individual members to discuss a private member's bill on the Criminal Code and has instead promoted the interests of a ministerial bill, Bill C-45, above the interests of a private member's bill on exactly the same matter.
The order of precedence and the logical conclusion to debate Bill C-234 was ignored. According to Beauchesne's 6th edition, paragraph 1010, after committee consideration, a bill such as this is placed back on the Order Paper for consideration in the House at report stage.
The subject of Bill C-234 is section 745 of the Criminal Code. By not reporting the bill back to the House, the justice committee has unduly intervened in the performance of all members' individual legislative duties. The committee has obstructed the rights of all parliamentarians. It has also given the appearance of prejudice toward the minister and the government.
Erskine May's 21st edition states that:
-any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as contempt even though there is no precedent for this offence.
By not reporting back to the House, the justice committee has interfered in two ways. First, it decided that the business of a minister was more important than due process or the business of a private member. Second, the committee has circumvented the authority of the whole House in this decision. On an issue as important as this one, the matter should have been brought to the House for a decision.
According to Beauchesne's, 831(2):
A committee is bound by, and is not at liberty to depart from, the Order of Reference. (Bourinot, p. 469.)
In this case, the committee circumvented the order of reference. In so doing it has created the appearance of preferential treatment to the government. Members cannot fulfil their duties if the committee does not report back to the House.
Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada , page 14 states:
Individual privileges of members of the Senate and House of Commons are the absolute immunity they require to perform their parliamentary work; corporate privileges are the necessary means for each House to effectively discharge its functions. Thus a breach of any privilege constitutes a contempt of the House rather than of the member-
Mr. Speaker, if you rule this to be a prima facie question of privilege, I am prepared to move a motion. Again, I draw your attention to the fact that the committee decided not to report back the House rather than deferring it sine die as the government whip would suggest.