Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus, I would like to comment on a point of privilege brought forward by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the House leader for the Conservative Party.
The point of privilege arises out of the tabling of the annual report of the information commissioner for 1999-2000. I would just like to remind the House, but more specifically the government, that Mr. Reid presents his report to the Speaker of the House. He says:
Dear Mr. Parent:
I have the honour to submit my annual report to Parliament.
This report covers the period from April 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000.
The point I am trying to make here is that this report and the officer who has made this report is a creature of parliament and answers to parliament. What we see developing here in the report of the information commissioner is part of a larger disease that affects the Canadian body politic, and that is, the relationship between the government and parliament is not what it should be. What we have reported here, and which should be a concern for anyone, especially the Chair who is concerned with the integrity and the reputation of parliament, is evidence of what most of us see here every day, and that is that the government has contempt for the role of parliament and the democratic process.
In this case, it is contempt for an officer of parliament. In this case, we see evidence of the systematic attempts to frustrate the efforts of an officer of this parliament, the information commissioner, the person who reports to this parliament, to obtain the kind of information that he is mandated to obtain under the freedom of information act.
This report comes from someone with extensive experience in government and who was actually once a Liberal member of parliament. This would certainly, in fairness, give the lie to some of the things we sometimes think, that just because someone has partisan considerations he will never give the government a hard time. This guy is giving the government a hard time and properly so, but it points even more so to how bad the government practices must be in this particular instance.
I think, Mr. Speaker, that you should consider this point of privilege very favourably. For me it is just one more symptom of a larger disease, and that is the contempt that this government has for this House.
I am not pointing fingers at the government House leader. In many respects, as is too often the case unfortunately, the people above the government House leader, those people in the Prime Minister's Office, in the senior bureaucracy and in treasury board, treat us all with contempt.
It is not a question of government members treating opposition members with contempt. It is a question of the Prime Minister's office, that small circle around him, and the senior bureaucracy treating all of us with contempt, whether we are a government House leader or an opposition House leader. We have all fallen into the same basket as far as they are concerned: people whose will is to be thwarted, whose status is to be diminished and who, instead of being respected because they are elected, are held to be the very people that obstruct their will.
Time and time again we see the collective consensus of those in the senior bureaucracy and in the Prime Minister's office. The information commissioner has laid bare the reality of this as far as freedom of information is concerned. It behooves us all, including you, Mr. Speaker, to seize this opportunity to initiate a debate on what is a growing problem.
Although points of privilege cannot become election issues, this frankly is something that the Canadian people ought to take into account. We have seen another contempt of parliament just today when people are appointed to cabinet who have never been elected. It is better to be an unelected friend of the Prime Minister than an elected member of parliament who the people vote for. Imagine that. Let us bring in some of the backroom boys.