Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege with regard to a committee matter that is so unique and extraordinary that I must bring it directly to the attention of the House.
My question of privilege charges the chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology with contempt. This morning at the standing committee's meeting, the chair abused her authority by ruling out of order a motion concerning her decisions as chair of the committee. Such motions are in order.
Referring to Marleau and Montpetit, on page 858 it states:
Disorder and misconduct in a committee may arise as a result of the failure to abide by the rules and practices of a committee...If a committee desires that some action be taken...it must report the situation to the House. The House may make a decision on disorder upon receiving such a report.
That is exactly what I was attempting to do. How can the committee comply with the practices of the House if the chair rules such motions out of order? What I find most objectionable is the fact that the motion was concerning the actions of the chair.
The motion was to report to the House the matter of the chair's rulings regarding numerous motions concerning the ethics counsellor to the House. Her refusal to allow a motion to report her own actions to the House is a conflict of interest and impedes the committee from being master of its own proceedings.
I would gladly ask the committee to report this conflict of interest to the House, but the chair, based on her decision today, does not entertain motions concerning her decisions. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, my only recourse is to bring the matter to the House directly.
The House is entitled to all reports and has a duty to deal with contempts or misconducts that occur in committee. Since that is not possible, since the chair has impeded the committee's ability to decide to report the matter to the House, I must submit the chair's actions directly to the House. The chair's rulings regarding certain motions were biased and inconsistent with the practices of the House.
The final motion she disallowed was a motion to report her rulings to the House. That goes to the very heart of the question of privilege. The member cannot procedurally or legitimately disallow a motion that might jeopardize her position as chair. She cannot silence criticism against her authority and refuse to implement the wishes of those who elected her.
On page 119 of Erskine May there is a reference regarding a select committee that was appointed in 1977 to inquire into the conduct and activities of members and to consider whether any such conduct or activities amounted to a contempt of the House and whether any such activities were “conduct inconsistent with the standards the House was entitled to expect from its members”.
I consider the chair's decisions at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to be conduct inconsistent with the standards that the House and the public expect from a member.
There is a great deal at stake here. We cannot let the matter go unresolved. The hon. member for Essex must be found in contempt by the House. While my rights as a member of the standing committee are immediately at stake, ultimately the threat is to the democratic rights and freedoms of all members of the House.
The member is contributing to the inability of the House to resolve the matter of the appearance of a conflict of interest regarding the Prime Minister's involvement with the Grand-Mère Golf Club and Grand-Mère Inn.
Her role as chair is not to protect the Prime Minister but to protect the rights of all members of the committee and to uphold the rules and practices of the House. In that regard she has failed, and she has no right to impede my efforts to report those decisions to the House.