Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague has raised a point of privilege I feel is of such importance that it requires us to intervene at this time, adding our voice to theirs and to that of the leader of the official opposition, in order to call for this matter to be addressed with the utmost urgency, as well as the serious accusations made in the information commissioner's report.
I believe it is appropriate to point out at this time—since we have gone to the heart of the matter—that I myself asked under Standing Order 52 that there be an emergency debate at the end of the day today on this matter, given the serious nature of the accusations and the fact that the report states in black and white, and I quote:
PCO refuses to accept the clear words of Parliament giving the Commissioner the powers of a Superior Court of Record in the conduct of his investigations.
Of all the accusations, the serious nature of this one is without precedent. Privy council shunts aside and rejects the wishes of parliament to which the information commissioner is answerable. I would be prepared, in one way or another, to go along with the hon. member's request for an immediate debate on this issue, for a motion to be introduced and the issue debated. If that were to be done, it would pre-empt the emergency debate we had called for this evening, or the Chair should bear in mind in its ruling that if it does not allow an immediate debate, we should at least use the evening to debate the matter pursuant to Standing Order 52. Whatever is decided the final days of this government are a sorry spectacle.
As its mandate draws to a close, a matter of days now, our worst fears and doubts are being confirmed. Our complaints to the House about the answers being given by ministers about the unavailability of documents under the Access to Information Act are being borne out. This is a very serious situation.
For three and a half years, the Bloc Quebecois has had a hard time because it has been systematically unable—this was how the privy council wanted things—to obtain any useful documents that would show the public what was actually going on behind the scenes in this government.
It is quite terrible that this is happening in a system such as ours. The control of information is something we thought was reserved for certain dictatorships, certain totalitarian countries. The first requirement of a dictatorship is to control information and release only what it wants.
It is a sad day for this parliament. It is a very sad conclusion to the government's stay in office.
It is vital that the question of privilege raised by the hon. member be debated immediately or that you at least allow an emergency debate on the matter in the coming hours. Otherwise, we will no longer know what deference to the will of parliament means.
The spotlight is now on the PMO and the privy council.