Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege to bring to your attention an issue which I think compromises the rights and privileges of all members of this House.
I speak in particular of a news release dated Thursday, October 23 brought to my attention last night in which the Government of Canada announced that provincial and federal governments had constituted a nominating committee to nominate candidates for the new Canada pension plan investment board.
This nominating committee consists of 10 members and will be responsible for drawing up a list of recommended candidates for the new CPP investment board proposed by Bill C-2 presently before this House.
From this list the federal Minister of Finance will select 12 directors, including a chairperson for this board. This is what the finance minister is quoted in his release as having said, that “the nominating committee will play a key role in selecting the CPP investment board”.
The press release ends by saying that the nominating committee is expected to submit its list of recommended candidates to the federal finance minister and the finance ministers of the participating provinces before the end of this year.
The nominating committee I have just described is provided for under clause 10(2) of Bill C-2 which reads:
The minister may establish a committee to advise the minister on the appointment of directors. The committee shall consist of a representative designated by the minister and a representative of each participating province designated by the appropriate provincial minister for that province.
I want to refer to two precedents from Hansard .
On March 9, 1990 Speaker John Fraser ruled on a question of privilege brought by the member for Kamloops in which a pamphlet regarding the GST was disseminated by the government prior to the passage of the GST legislation. Speaker Fraser ruled it not to be a question of privilege but only because the pamphlet stated within it that the legislation was before the House and that the information in the pamphlet was only a proposal.
The second precedent also concerns the goods and services tax. The member for Cape Breton—East Richmond brought a point of privilege on March 16, 1991 on exactly the same point. Speaker Fraser once again ruled on March 25, 1991 that it did not constitute a point of privilege, on the grounds that the newsletter indicated that the information it contained were proposals only. Specifically he decided that the minister had not acted as if the House had already passed the budget measure approving the GST and that the advertising did not prejudice a future decision of the House.
The situation before us is similar but much, much more serious. Obviously the Minister of Finance has already designated a committee defined under clause 10 of the bill. He clearly expects the committee to meet, to incur expenses and to make important decisions that will obligate the Government of Canada in various ways, in other words to perform a function that is essential to the thrust of Bill C-2.
The question of privilege arises in that the bill only went to the Standing Committee on Finance for consideration on second reading yesterday. Members of the committee may want to alter clause 10 of the bill and the government is proceeding as if Parliament has already given the minister authority to act under that section when it clearly has not done so.
If the government is allowed by the House to proceed to enact a bill that has not been passed by the House, a dangerous precedent will have been set, a precedent that undercuts the authority of Parliament and derogates from the rights and privileges of every member to have input into legislation prior to its enactment.
Once again the action considered today is a matter of privilege for the reasons I have already stated. The minister has actually designated a committee under an act yet to be passed or even considered in the standing committee, and the nominating committee has already been given a deadline to submit names as the bill directs if it were to be passed in its present form. Since the bill only went to committee yesterday, this matter is very timely and is very time sensitive.
Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to give this matter careful consideration so that the rights and privileges of all members of Parliament and ultimately the rights and privileges of all citizens of Canada will be protected and preserved and that the proper constituted authority is followed.