The Chair has heard all the arguments from hon. members on this point: the Minister of the Environment, the government House leader, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill who raised the point, the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, the hon. member for Témiscamingue, the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie and the hon. member for St. John's West. I hope I have named everybody who participated. I have considered the matter with some care.
Matters of press conferences or release of documents, the policy initiatives of the government, are not ones that fall within the jurisdiction of the Speaker of the House unless they happen to be made in the House itself.
This was a meeting that was organized, apparently by the Minister of the Environment from what we have heard, to brief hon. members concerning material that was to be tabled in the House, and in fact I understand was tabled this morning. How the government or the minister organizes these briefings is not something that is done in consultation with the Speaker or has anything to do, technically, with the Speaker. The minister could have five meetings. I know for some they have one for the media and some for MPs. For others they might have a meeting in a caucus meeting setting and tell stories in there, of which the Speaker has absolutely no control and does not even get to go and hear.
It is very difficult for the Chair to intervene in a situation where a minister has chosen to have a press conference, or a briefing or a meeting and release material when the Speaker has nothing to do with the organization of that.
If documents are tabled in the House, this must certainly be done in compliance with the Standing Orders. The Chair can enforce this, but not anything that goes on outside the House.
In this case, even if the hon. members have complaints about how this morning's meetings were run, this is not a situation where the Speaker can intervene on their behalf.
The same thing goes for those who are invited to meetings and for the way people are notified of meetings. Whether there is one meeting, or three or four, makes no difference. In my opinion, it is impossible for me to intervene in this case.
I can only say that I think the hon. House leaders, who are the ones who organize these things generally, who work out the way these will happen and who normally discuss these matters, should continue to have discussions. I urge them to cooperate in these discussions so we avoid this kind of conflict both in the House and in our dealings done outside.
Beyond making that recommendation to the hon. members who serve as House leaders in this House and who do such a wonderful job, I am afraid there is little the Chair can do on this point.
The hon. member for Surrey Central also has a point of order. This seems to be a day for points of order, but we will want to go the debate on modernization as obviously this is a matter of interest.