Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning on a question of privilege concerning the cancellation of private members' hour today.
I learned yesterday afternoon that the member for Vancouver North, whose motion appeared at position number one for today, had notified the office of Private Members' Business that he would not be appearing. I spoke with the hon. member this morning and in fact he had notified that office at the opening hour, 9 a.m. yesterday morning.
Prior to that I had a bill put on the order of precedence, as published yesterday in the Order Paper at No. 28. It was submitted to the private members' office at 5.55 p.m. Wednesday evening. I advised the clerk that if a substitution was to be made that I was looking for one. The next morning at 9 a.m. the clerk was advised.
Standing Order 94(1) states that "the Speaker shall make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of Private Members' Business, including ensuring that all members have not less than 24 hours' notice of items to be considered during private members' hour".
As of yesterday morning at 9 a.m., notice had been given. In fact on the evening prior, at approximately 5.55 p.m., notice had been given of a bill on the Order Paper that was published yesterday. At no time did I receive from that office an opportunity to be substituted or to be placed on the Order Paper for today. I appreciate that the rules also say that a member will give 48 hours' written notice.
I want to suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that is one test. However, there are other tests. Certainly the office had more than 24 hours to contact other people and to ensure that the orderly conduct of private member's hour would continue.
Although 48 hours is one point, 24 hours is another point. Somewhere in that 24 hour interval there was opportunity. The office did know I was looking for a substitution. Had I been offered that place, it would have meant the rules requiring that 24 hours' notice be given and would have been published yesterday at 6 p.m.
I would suggest that as a result of this that my rights and my privileges have been usurped. In fact it is within your authority, Mr. Speaker, to do one of two things. Either to cancel the continuation of government business at 1.30 p.m. today, or to add a private member's hour following that one hour that has been apparently removed at this point.
I should point out that the bill to which I am referring has passed through the House, has passed through the Senate and only needs to come back on the Order Paper here. Notwithstanding the fact that the 48 hour notice has not been complied with in the sense of Standing Order 94(2)(a), that the orderly conduct of business could have continued. The 24 hour notice provision would have been complied with.
The 48 hour notice is not a precedent in the sense that a member must give written notice. I am advised that often members will call from distant places and say: "By the way I am not going to be there". Someone may call on a Monday from some remote place in the world and say he or she is not going to be here and not be able to provide written notice to the clerk, who on many occasions has acted. They have I understand also acted in terms of this window of opportunity being the point between 24 and 48 hours.
It is on that basis that I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that my privileges have been usurped and I ask for this extension or substitution of government business from 1.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.