Mr. Speaker, not only are we aware that CSIS collected my press releases but also newspaper clippings, radio and television transcripts of my comments. I have provided the House with a list of 107 such documents that CSIS collected. It is also clear that every one of those documents referred to me in my role as a member of parliament, not as an ordinary citizen.
In 1971 in the House the then solicitor general mentioned that the RCMP held files on some members of parliament. A question of privilege was raised by Ged Baldwin, the member for Peace River. Speaker Lamoureux ruled on April 20, 1971, as reported in Hansard at pages 5071-2, that:
—it would be imprudent of the Chair to project the question of police files beyond the circumstances or conditions raised by the...member and beyond the particular circumstances alluded to by the minister in his reply.
However, he went on to state that the matter was very serious and if any special circumstances were brought to the attention of the House and the Chair to the effect that members were in some way intimidated in their work or prevented from discharging their duties freely and without hindrance, there would be no hesitation in recognizing the matter as a breach of privilege.
I contend that the circumstances in my case are exactly the type of special circumstances to which Speaker Lamoureux referred. I remind the Chair that when that incident took place CSIS did not exist but was in fact the RCMP security service.
Thus I suggest that there is precedent that the mere collection of information by the police or similar agency is sufficient to find a breach of privilege. However in my case there is so much more.
In his comments the government House leader stated that the CSIS disclosure of information was not improper. He made no reference to section 19 of the CSIS act which is found at document 9 and specifically prohibits unauthorized disclosure.
He also failed to refer to section 3.7 of the chapter on conduct in the CSIS human resources policy manual, which is document 10 and states:
Employees must not support or oppose any person, organization or product by using information obtained through their employment by the Service, except when authorized by the Director.
The government House leader did not even attempt to defend the CSIS abandonment of the non-partisan role of the public service by taking an active role in the preparation of a lawsuit against a member of parliament, including having its legal counsel provide the plaintiff and the plaintiff lawyer with advice.
Nor did he attempt to defend CSIS for its efforts to frustrate my ability to resolve the lawsuit by misusing its extraordinary authority to protect national security and by being twice sanctioned by the federal court for misconduct and deliberately misleading the court.
Instead the government House leader says I should take my complaint to the Security Intelligence Review Committee just like any other Canadian. However in my role as a member of parliament I am not just like any other Canadian. Members of this House and the House of Commons in Great Britain have for centuries recognized the need for members of the House to protect their rights and privileges if they are to carry out their duties in an effective manner.
Speaker Sauvé confirmed the need for such protection in 1983 when she found that there was a prima facie question of privilege when a newspaper accused a member of a criminal offence. The parallel to this case is that there was another avenue open to that member, namely the courts, and in my case the government House leader is suggesting that I have SIRC available to me.
In her decision of March 22, 1983, as reported in Hansard at pages 24027-8, Speaker Sauvé found that the authorities and precedents agreed that even though a member can seek remedy in the courts “he cannot function effectively as a member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.
While I do indeed have the right to complain to SIRC, it is more important for myself, all my colleagues in the House and those who follow us that we make a clear statement in defence of our rights and privileges as members of parliament. If we are to follow the advice of the government House leader then we are abrogating our responsibilities and abilities to protect our rights and privileges. Thus there is absolutely no reason why we should feel compelled to defer the protection of our rights and privileges to an outside body.
I believe the defence of our rights and privileges can only be accomplished with your finding a prima facie case of privilege and/or contempt, Mr. Speaker, and I urge you to do so.