Mr. Speaker, citation 3 in Beauchesne's 6th edition outlines some elements of the Constitution Act and our system of government which I believe is relevant to this very point. It states:
More tentative are such traditional features as respect for the rights of the minority, which precludes a Government from using to excess the extensive powers that it has to limit debate or to proceed in what the public and the Opposition might interpret as unorthodox ways.
Earlier arguments regarding time allocation suggested that the Chair intervene on behalf of the collective rights of parliamentarians to ensure that traditional features, as outlined in citation 3, were upheld.
While the Speaker ruled not to intervene in the 69th time the government closed off debate or the 70th, 71st and 72nd time I would argue that since then, and since we are embarking on the 76th motion, considering that the last filibuster tool has been taken away, the moment has arrived to declare the measures imposed by the government today as excessive and unorthodox as described by citation 3 in Beauchesne's. Since the Chair possesses discretionary authority to refuse to allow a motion of time allocation to be put, now is the time to do it.
On May 2, 2000, during a discussion of the time allocation rule at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the former clerk of the House of Commons, Robert Marleau, responded to a question regarding the Speaker's authority to protect the minority in the manner described earlier. He said:
...it exists intrinsically in the role of the Speakership all the time—where there could be the tyranny of either side. It could be the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the minority.
At a subsequent meeting on May 4 the former clerk suggested that with time allocation the Speaker was less likely to intervene. There is a reference to this in House of Commons Procedure and Practice on page 570. However, the clerk stopped short of suggesting that the Speaker would never intervene. He used an extreme example that if the government time allocated every bill at every stage the Speaker might intervene.
My interpretation of what the clerk said is that there exists a limit to what a majority government can do with respect to time allocation. My interpretation is supported by the citation I mentioned earlier from Beauchesne's which states that a government is precluded from using to excess the extensive powers it has to limit debate. The clerk used the extreme example in his response because he knew it was not up to him to establish the limit. We know that 69, 70 and 75 is likely not the limit. On Friday the government House leader gave notice of his intention to move the 76th motion.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like you to consider the matter of using Standing Order 56.1. In the last parliament the government used this procedure in all sorts of unorthodox ways that went way beyond its powers.