Mr. Speaker, I thank you for entertaining what I think is a very important question of privilege. The detail has been gone into at some length here. I invite you to examine that record and the more detailed information that the hon. member will provide to you.
What I think it comes down to is this, and it is a very important thing. There are a couple of important things to remember about this question of privilege. First, as has already been detailed by the hon. member, the question of contempt is an open-ended one. It may not be with precedence, and I do not think you will find precedence for this, Mr. Speaker. Certainly I was not able to find precedence in a question of privilege, but contempt of parliament is an open-ended subject and in this particular case I hope you will find a prima facie case for contempt and will refer it to committee.
The second thing I want to mention, which the member did not bring up but which is important for all members to remember, is that if a member of parliament is sued by anyone else in Canada and the person who does the suing receives substantial support from a government department, there is no way that a member of parliament, with few exceptions, has deep enough pockets to fund an adequate defence against an entire government agency.
I can think of another very troubling case that was settled some time ago involving former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney over the airbus incident. I do not want to cast any idea of who is right or wrong, but what was interesting was that the government eventually had to settle for over $2 million to pay for the legal bills that Mr. Mulroney, because he is a wealthy man, was able to put forward in his own defence.
How many members of parliament could have ever done that? If he had been an ordinary member of parliament without those kind of deep pockets, I think Mr. Mulroney would be hanging on the ropes today instead of free and clear of that issue because he was able to fund that defence.
That is why I think it is important that a government agency versus an ordinary member of parliament is an unequal fight and a contempt of parliament and we should see it that way.