Mr. Speaker, I do not want to add fuel to the debate, but I do feel there are a couple of points I would like to make to contribute to what has been put forward on the point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker, as a member and presiding officer of the Board of Internal Economy, you know that the issue and the facts of the case should not be tried in the House of Commons. We have now heard extensively about what ultimately could become points of contention in a civil trial that is before the courts or pending.
We have heard discussions about what parliamentary privilege may be attached to certain comments that were made in a householder that was sent out to a constituency. We can argue about the merits and the intent of that, but I find that you, Mr. Speaker, are being put in the unenviable position of being asked essentially to be a court of appeal before a court finding has been made on many of these important facts.
I also know that questions of privilege that are brought forward are often brought forward after certain circumstances have arisen. Much of the discussion that we have had before the House today already took place at the Board of Internal Economy. Mr. Speaker, you are being asked in essence not only to be a court of appeal for a civil trial but also for a Board of Internal Economy decision that has been made.
As I am also a member of that board, I know that oftentimes we will revisit decisions if new factual information comes to light. However, this is the first time in my short tenure in this place that I have seen a Board of Internal Economy matter essentially appealed to the Chair.
It is important to state that in the member's remarks—and I take some offence to this fact—he portrays himself as if speaking for the House in this matter. That is perhaps taking a rather broad swipe at what has occurred here. It was an individual member who decided, along political or philosophic lines, and he is entitled to say things. We also know there is privilege that attaches us to this place. However, this is a factually different situation where an individual member, for whatever reason, took it upon himself to make some very provocative and potentially personally offensive remarks about an individual in the other place. This has played itself out in such a way that he now finds himself the target of a civil suit.
I take great sympathy for what he is going through and the personal cost that this may entail. However, there is a degree of fiscal and moral accountability that is playing itself out here. It is one thing to say something in this Chamber and then rely on privilege, but to say things outside the House or to take it one step further and actually publish something about another individual or an institution, one has to be prepared to reap what one sows.
I do not want to prolong this, but I feel it is pre-emptive for the Chair to rule on the appeal at this point, particularly given that this is still the subject of a lawsuit that is pending, and particularly given the fact that we have already dealt with this, I would suggest, in a fairly substantial way at the Board of Internal Economy.