Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to bring to your attention a situation which arose yesterday in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources during a debate in connection with a time allocation motion presented by a Liberal member of the committee.
While we were debating that motion, and while my colleague from Winnipeg Centre had the floor, a member of the Liberal Party, namely the member for Miramichi, raised a point of order with the chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources and moved the previous question, which is not allowed by the Standing Orders. To quote page 786 of the House and Commons Procedure and Practice :
The moving of the previous question is prohibited in a Committee of the Whole as it is in any committee.
Further on the same page it states:
—the moving of the previous question would prevent Members from proposing amendments and considering the legislation to the fullest extent possible.
In this case, the motion in question was a time allocation motion, and my colleague from Winnipeg Centre had the floor.
The committee chair ignored this procedure, this Standing Order, and allowed the previous question to be moved. We challenged this decision by the chair. It is immediately obvious that the chair was, and still is, in complete contradiction with the Standing Orders of the House, and those applying to committees.
It is true, as you stated yesterday, that the committees are masters of their own proceedings and procedures, but still those procedures must comply with the Standing Orders of this House and those applicable to the proper conduct of committee business.
In this case, the committee—and in particular its chair, by his actions—has demonstrated that it needs to be brought back in order. It has very clearly gone beyond the Standing Orders and, as the preceding citation demonstrates, is preventing the members from doing their job properly and effectively.
I would, moreover, like to submit to you another situation that occurred in this same committee during the first part of its deliberations yesterday. The chair used disgraceful language, unworthy of his office, unworthy of the institution we respect, and unworthy of any member worthy of that name. He used foul language, calling me “chien sale” and “enfant de chienne”. He repeated these terms several times.
I appeal to you today, given these two situations which do no honour to the institution or to the chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. Since the chair of my committee was not able to act as the guardian of my rights and privileges, therefore, according to House of Commons Procedure and Practice , page 261, you are:
—the guardian of the rights and privileges of Members and of the House as an institution.
Moreover, on the previous page of that book, we see that:
The duties of the Speaker of the House of Commons require balancing the rights and interests of the majority and minority in the House to ensure that the public business is efficiently transacted and that the interests of all parts of the House are advocated and protected against the use of arbitrary authority.
Thus, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to intervene, because the chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources contravenes the Standing Orders by his cavalier management of debates, and cause the chair to reverse his decision to allow the moving of the previous question.
I also ask you to intervene to have him stop using disgraceful, unparliamentary language that is particularly unworthy of a committee chair, because we cannot continue in this way; we cannot work effectively to defend the interests of the people we represent in this kind of working environment.