Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my friend from Elk Island on his normal loquaciousness and eloquence on the subject of empowering individual members through the private member's bill process.
If we were to have a vote for parliamentarian of the year, I am sure that the member for Elk Island would rank in the top two or three. I am sure members opposite would agree that he is one of the most diligent, thoughtful and hardworking and one of the most present of parliamentarians. He is always here and always participating in debate.
For that reason, it is really quite disturbing to learn, as the hon. member just instructed us, that in his several years in this place he has not once had an opportunity to have a private member's bill come forward and be deemed votable, or even debatable as I understand it, because of the absurd arbitrariness of the luck of the draw system we have here.
I would ask the hon. member if he could expound on that. Has he in fact brought forward private members' bills on the order paper? If so, why have they not been allowed to be debated in the House?
Second, I had an experience where I had a private member's bill on the non-controversial subject of opening the national archives for research purposes for access to the census records of 1901. Unfortunately, a government member, I am sure on the instruction of the minister responsible, moved an amendment to my motion that essentially gutted it and rendered it effectively meaningless. All of the work I had done, dozens of hours of work, and all of the tens of thousands of letters, phone calls, faxes and e-mails from Canadians expressing concern about the issue and support for the bill, was vitiated by a dilatory motion introduced by a government member and passed by the government, which had the effect of completely gutting and undermining my private member's motion.
I wonder if my colleague from Elk Island would also reflect on whether he believes that private members' bills, should they be deemed votable, should be protected from such dilatory legislative manoeuvrings on the part of the government.