Mr. Speaker, as you know my request relates to two questions of privilege. If I may, I will deal with one at a time.
The first question of privilege relates to a matter of obstructing or impeding a member of parliament from conducting his business. Mr. Speaker, I would refer you to Marleau and Montpetit, chapter 3, Privileges and Immunities, the section on “Freedom from obstruction, interference, intimidation and molestation” on page 83.
The matter relates to an item of which I cannot deal in much specificity because I cannot address the absence of a member in the House. However I believe that dealing with the generic case would provide a remedy to my concern.
As a parliamentary secretary, when called upon, I am obligated to represent the minister in the House of Commons with regard to adjournment proceedings, that is, questions from a previous question period which members would like to deal with in a more fulsome fashion.
It appears that either a member, or the table, or the vacuum of guidelines within the standing orders, has led to a situation not only on the particular occasion in question but on similar occasions where parliamentary secretaries are required to be here in the House to discharge their responsibilities but a member does not show for that proceeding.
It appears to me that the standing orders are silent on the matter of what constitutes due notice in these matters. It also appears to me that the standing orders are silent on what constitutes a valid reason for a cancellation at a very late period of time, what period of notice and what the consequences are if there is no notice or if there is no valid reason for a member not to appear for the adjournment proceedings.
In the particular case, I had other business to attend to but my first responsibilities were to be here in the House to respond at the adjournment proceedings. I was impeded and obstructed from doing my other business in the House simply because the member did not appear for some reason, or the table did not inform me, or that the standing orders of the House did not provide the guidelines in this regard.
I raise this, Mr. Speaker, as a question of privilege. Marleau and Montpetit states on page 84:
Over the years, Members have brought to the attention of the House instances which they believed were attempts to obstruct, impede, interfere, intimidate or molest them.... In a technical sense, such actions are considered to be contempts of the House and not breaches of privilege. Since these matters relate so closely to the right of the House to the services of its Members, they are often considered to be breaches of privilege.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I have risen today on a question of privilege as is sometimes the custom of this place to seek remedy from the House with regard to circumstances where members do not appear, or where notice or cancellation notice, or reasons are not given. I hope that the standing orders will be clarified and that specific instance which involved me will be looked into and resolved to the satisfaction of the House.