Mr. Speaker, I will leave to your capable judgment whether it is. I do raise this as a question of privilege of which I have given you notice today.
On December 8, the Department of Revenue updated its website concerning payroll deductions and has published new tables reflecting those changes proposed in Bill C-2 as if those rates were now law.
These are found at website WWW.RC.GC.ca/menuemenuHSA.HTML. The House has passed and sent to the Senate Bill C-2, as members are well aware, which amends the law respecting the Canada pension plan.
To date, no message has been received from the Senate concerning the passage of this bill. The Senate is capable of protecting its own privilege in this case, however the House is also seized with the issue since the content of Bill C-2 is not settled until both Houses have agreed on the final content and royal assent has been granted.
It is still open to the Senate to remit this bill to the House for consideration of amendments, including the alteration of those matters that the government is publishing as though they are now law.
By publishing these tables before the enactment of Bill C-2, the government seeks to preclude this House from any consideration of amendments that the Senate might remit as a result of its deliberations. I submit that this constitutes a contempt of the Parliament of Canada.
I draw the Speaker's attention to page 226 of the second edition of Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada which states:
Contempt cannot be codified: Contempt has no limits.
This is why it is said that the “privileges” of the House cannot be exhaustively codified; there are many acts or omissions that might occur where the House would feel compelled to find that a contempt has taken place, even though such acts or omissions do not amount to an attack on or disregard for any of the enumerated rights and immunities.
Further on the same page, it states as follows:
As a Speaker said, “—the dimension of contempt of Parliament is such that the House will not be constrained in finding a breach of privilege of Members, or of the House. This is precisely the reason that, while our privileges are defined, contempt of the House has no limits.
When new ways are found to interfere with our proceedings, so too will the House, in appropriate cases, be able to find that a contempt of the House has occurred.
Mr. Speaker, you will also want to refer to the ruling of Speaker Fraser on October 10, 1989. At that time, the Speaker warned the government that he would not treat similar situations lightly.
Mr. Speaker, you yourself have made a similar ruling at least twice in this session.
Mr. Speaker, it is my submission to you that the time has come for the Chair to adopt the doctrine set out at page 227 of Maingot:
In the final analysis, in areas of doubt, the Speaker asks simply: Does the act complained of appear at first sight to be a breach of privilege—or, to put it shortly, has the Member an arguable point? If the Speaker feels any doubt on the question, he should leave it to the House.
Mr. Speaker, I will not abuse the time of this House. The precedents are before you and are known to you and indeed in this Parliament you have dealt with this issue, I would suggest. Your ruling cautioned the officials of the Department of Finance in that instance. Now I would suggest the disease has spread to the department of revenue. Obviously your admonition has carried little weight with the government and those public officials concerned with the electronic publication of this table at the web site which I have placed before you.
This matter should be put to the House through Mr. Speaker and considered as an abuse of Parliament by this government.