Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide more detail on the three points raised in the question of privilege last Thursday, February 12, by the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby.
First, he noted that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts was considering the sponsorship program. It is actually studying the Auditor General's report. Second, he quoted from the Auditor General's report on the sponsorship program that funds appropriated by Parliament were, in the Auditor General's view, used in an inappropriate manner. Third, he noted that this was explicitly the matter before the public accounts committee.
Both the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby and his colleague, the member for St. John's West, suggested that this was a question of privilege which should be sent to a committee.
It is unrealistic and nonsensical because it is already before a committee. It is not logical on the one hand to state that the public accounts committee is studying this--we all acknowledge that--and on the other hand to assert that this is a question of privilege and should be sent to a committee.
It is inappropriate to suggest that there could be a prima facie question of privilege if a matter is already before a committee. The committee is in fact studying the matter and has not completed its work.
I suggest that we allow the public accounts committee to get on with its work and not take up the time of the House with attempts to meddle in the committee's work which is already underway.