I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Mississauga West on February 25, 2003, concerning a letter sent to him by the hon. member for Calgary West.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Mississauga West for having raised this issue as well as the hon. opposition House leader and the hon. member for Calgary West for their comments on the matter.
The hon. member for Mississauga West, in presenting his case, stated that he had received a request from the hon. member for Calgary West to write to the Prime Minister concerning the Falun Gong. The request was accompanied by a draft letter addressed to the Prime Minister from the hon. member for Mississauga West, ready to be signed by him should he decide to do so.
The objection raised by the hon. member for Mississauga West focuses on the fact that this letter was written on House of Commons letterhead. He has expressed disagreement with this approach because, among other things, it seems to give an official seal of approval to what is really only an MP's personal initiative.
The hon. member for Mississauga West protested that the draft letter, printed as it was on House letterhead, made it more likely that his own position might be misrepresented or taken out of context. All hon. members are acutely aware of the difficulties that may arise when this happens and the Chair agrees that every member of this House has an obligation to ensure that they are not the source of such a misrepresentation, even if done unintentionally or inadvertently.
In the present case, however, I fail to see that any such misrepresentation has occurred, let alone that any aspect of parliamentary privilege is involved. The use of generic House of Commons letterhead on a document submitted to another member for his or her consideration and possible signature hardly seems to involve misrepresentation or an attempt to interfere with the right of hon. members to conduct the business of Parliament without obstruction.
In past rulings, the Chair has tried to assist hon. members by indicating the limits of parliamentary privilege as it applies to them as individuals. Members who have an interest in this aspect of our rules will find it discussed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at pages 71 to 95, and I invite hon. members to revisit those pages for a comprehensive explanation of this issue.
Meanwhile, I can see no infraction of any of our rules in the case now before us and I therefore find that no prima facie breach of privilege or of contempt has occurred in this situation.