Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege this morning as my rights as a member of parliament have been abused again.
I speak of the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission which you just tabled in the House immediately prior to my speaking, but which has been reported extensively in the press this morning. For example, the Toronto Star and other papers have reported it at length.
This contempt of parliament by this unelected and unaccountable commission and the Minister of Justice is quite obvious. This is the second time in a month and a half that the commission has leaked one of its reports to the media prior to it being tabled in the House of Commons. I raised this as a question of privilege on February 15, 2001 at page 714.
When it comes to government doing business, I sometimes have to wonder if this House means anything to it or is it just a superfluous adjunct as it jumps over the heads of this institution to communicate directly with Canadian people.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that you speak out and protect the privileges of this House and its members.
Erskine May describes contempt as:
—any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent for the offence.
We do have precedence here. There are news articles, as I have referred to, the Toronto Star , the Hamilton Spectator and the London Free Press , detailing the exact contents of the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Annual reports to parliament are to remain secret and confidential until tabled in the House of Commons. Other agencies, crown corporations, the auditor general and so on are able to respect this tenet. Why is it that the Canadian Human Rights Commission believes that it is above the normal protocols and trashes them instead of respecting them?
The member of parliament for Provencher raised a similar point of order on March 14, 2001 at page 1646 of Hansard when he argued that his rights as a member of parliament were breached because of the contempt shown by the Minister of Justice to this House in excluding members of parliament from briefings on a bill prior to it being tabled in the House. Yet the media had the contents and substance of the bill published prior to its tabling.
Mr. Speaker, you ruled on March 19, 2001, at page 1839, that the member for Provencher had a prima facie case of privilege. Today we have a repeat of the same situation. The media had the contents and substance of the annual report while the members of parliament are in the dark.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission falls under the purview of the Minister of Justice.
While the commission is a quasi-judicial body, it still has to answer to both the minister and to parliament. There is a pattern here where the minister has contempt for this honourable and venerable institution.
Mr. Speaker, the situation is becoming intolerable. I ask that you find that there is prima facie case of the breach of my privileges. Since you ruled that way so recently, and it was obviously ignored, I ask that you recommend that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs deal with the matter sternly.