I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Wednesday, November 6, 2002 and again yesterday by the hon. government House leader concerning certain questions put to ministers earlier in the day during the oral question period.
I would like to thank the hon. government House leader for having raised this matter.
I have carefully reviewed the objections made by the hon. government House leader and the questions put to the government on Wednesday.
As he pointed out, our practice does not allow questions to be put to a minister relating to his or her former portfolio, or concerning a minister's responsibilities which fall outside his or her current portfolio, or to any regional political responsibilities a minister may have.
With reference to the question asked by the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, I must agree that the manner in which the question was phrased seems clearly to transgress our practice. I would ask all hon. members to be mindful of House practice in this regard and more judicious in their choice of words in phrasing their questions.
The Chair views the proper conduct of question period as especially important. I assure all hon. members that I try to be vigilant in enforcing House practice, though I seem to have missed an infraction on this occasion.
Concerning another question to which the government House leader objected but which was not clearly identified, I note a question asked by the hon. member for Roberval found on page 1346 of Wednesday’s Hansard . I have some difficulty with this question, as it appears to be directed to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in respect of a former portfolio, but this is not clear.
Yesterday, the government House leader made the same complaint about a question for the hon. member from Roberval. This question troubles me also but it is not clear to whom it was directed.
I would like to remind all hon. members of the importance both to the House and to all Canadians of conducting question period in an orderly fashion, respecting the rules and practices which the House has adopted over many years.
I would also like to thank the hon. government House leader for the assistance that he has provided to the Chair in drawing these exchanges to my attention.