Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to prolong this debate, this discussion, this presentation on a matter of privilege raised by the member for Québec East, unduly.
I just want to react to the intervention by the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party when he says that, to all intents and purposes, this is an appeal from a ruling by the Board of Internal Economy.
With great respect, I would say that this is not the case, insofar as the facts presented by the member for Québec East are an attempt to show that, in the situation he is now facing, he finds himself a victim, as it were, of a suit brought because of his political opinions.
Earlier, mention was made of personal accusations, or personal attacks of which the senator in question was allegedly the victim. I submit to you and to the members of this House that one of the pieces of information in my colleague's householder concerning this senator in particular was taken directly from the Senate's Internet site. This site was modified after my colleague mailed out his householder to his constituents.
My colleague made this statement in all good faith on the strength of information taken from the Senate's Internet site. If this site was not up to date, I do not think the member for Québec East should be held responsible.
As for the other accusations or other incorrect statements allegedly made about members of the Senate in general, the member for Roberval explained clearly that the member for Québec East made all the retractions it was humanly possible to make in the time allowed.
For instance, he was asked to mail out a retraction to all his constituents within five days. As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, for delivery alone, Canada Post requires eight days. This makes no allowance for the time needed to put together and print a mailing.
In other words, under the circumstances, the expectations of those who are bringing this suit against my colleague were completely out of line. Given that they were completely out of line, he did what was humanly possible to set the record straight.
That said, the senator, and the leader of the government, attempted to belittle this effort, the senator posing as an injuriously affected party or victim of defamatory libel as a member of that institution that is the Senate.
There is no legal precedent by virtue of which a person is a victim of libel because that person's occupational group or the institution to which he or she belongs has been attacked publicly. There is no such case.
What is going on here, and it is important to point this out, is an attack directed against a member of parliament in order to restrict his freedom of speech because of the political opinions expressed by him. This colleague was elected so that he could express himself, express his ideas. That is what he has done, and that is why he is now being sued.