Mr. Speaker, I would just make a brief point of order. The Chair will be aware that yesterday the Prime Minister made a major policy announcement, perhaps we should call it the Glebe doctrine, at a high school in Ottawa with respect to Canada's position on a possible war with Iraq.
Earlier this week we had a number of occasions to complain that the House of Commons was not being taken seriously and that major policy announcements, for instance the announcement with respect to softwood lumber which was made in British Columbia, were being made outside the House. Yet yesterday the Prime Minister answered a question that many people had been asking of the government for weeks and months, ever since the debate about a possible war in Iraq emerged, and the Prime Minister made this announcement outside the House. He may have had his reasons for doing that.
However, when we come to the House the next day, neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs are here to answer questions with respect to a policy decision that has obviously now been made and announced. When the opposition raised a question with respect to that policy announcement, as I did of the Deputy Prime Minister, did the Deputy Prime Minister answer on behalf of the government? He has the ability to answer on behalf of the government. Did the Minister of National Defence, who was also present, answer? No. Instead, and I think this is a matter of procedure, we received an answer from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
My understanding of the role of parliamentary secretaries is that they answer in the absence of their ministers. I did not ask a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I asked a question of the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity, presumably, as one who would be able to defend, explain, reannounce or whatever the policy announcement made yesterday by the Prime Minister outside the House of Commons. It is one thing to do it outside the House of Commons. It compounds the error and the lack of respect for the House if, on the next day when questions are asked of the government about that policy announcement that has been made outside of the House the day before, we cannot even get anything higher than a parliamentary secretary, with all due respect to the parliamentary secretary. She did her job just fine.
The fact is we the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence were here and they declined to answer the question. I think that shows disrespect for the House, and I want to register the way I feel about it.