Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same question of privilege. I thank the hon. member for raising the matter. It is a serious matter that a minister of the crown should take it upon himself to announce the existence of an interparliamentary group.
This concern is twofold. First, there is the question of process and whether the minister has any right to do so. I would submit, along with the hon. Reform whip, that the minister had no right to do so. I was part of discussions prior to minister's departure for China, along with other parliamentarians from all parties, about the advisability of trying to go beyond what exists now in terms of the Canada-China friendship group and what that might be called.
I was concerned and I expressed my concern at the meeting I was invited to that not only might it be wrong for the minister to announce the existence of such a group, but it is obvious the concerns I expressed at that time about the appropriateness of calling it an interparliamentary group were also ignored.
One of the traditions of the House with respect to parliamentary associations is that parliamentary associations are associations between parliaments. There is no way whatever one thinks of communist China that one can maintain that it has a parliament in any sense of the word that we have a parliament. In fact in other parliamentary associations we have had countries expelled or temporarily suspended because they did not have a parliament that met Canadian standards of what a parliament was.
One of the concerns I expressed at the meeting to which I was invited was that we were to have some kind of elevated level of exchange with China, which I was not absolutely against but was concerned as to what we called it. I did not want it to be named in such a way as to call into question the very important tradition in the House of only having parliamentary associations between parliaments. We could call it legislative exchange or any number of things. Certainly there are legislators in China. How they are elected and whether it is a one party state and all those kinds of things do not take away from that fact, but whether or not we should call it an interparliamentary group is a very serious matter.
The minister is to be doubly condemned, first, for doing it without the permission of parliament and, second, for not having the sensitivity to call it something other than an interparliamentary group.
It just goes to show, Mr. Speaker, that it appears that they are willing to breach any principle, to destroy any tradition we might have had in the name of trade. It does not matter any more.
The communist Chinese leadership said it wanted an association, the equivalent of what we had with the United States. The old Canadian ministers were over there just doing exactly what was required of them. No matter what parliamentary process or traditions of parliamentary associations, if that is what the Chinese want they will just give it to them because they will do anything. They will kiss anything in order to get more trade. That is what this amounts to. The government will kiss anything, anywhere of anybody in order to get more trade and stomp all over parliamentary procedure and a strong parliamentary tradition about democracies and parliaments. What for? So they could please their masters in Beijing.
It is disgusting, Mr. Speaker, and I think you should rule it a contempt of parliament.