Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will allow me to put before you very briefly the government's position with respect to a discussion that took place concerning the member for Red Deer and the question of privilege that he raised.
In his presentation we believe he omitted a number of facts that are relevant for your contemplation of the matter. Therefore I will very briefly place them before you for you to consider when rendering your ruling.
The essence of the hon. member's complaint was that a debate and vote of the House of Commons was ignored by the government when it proceeded with the appointment of Mr. Glen Murray to the national round table on the environment and the economy. We believe the following facts were omitted.
On March 8, 2005, the clerk of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development wrote to the assistant clerk of the Privy Council for orders in council indicating that the committee had, on a recorded vote, called for the Prime Minister to withdraw this appointment. At that time the committee had made no report on the matter to the House and, indeed, the letter specifically stated:
The Chair advised members that even though the motion passed, the committee does not have the power to revoke an appointment. No further meetings have been scheduled on this appointment so the Chair feels that the matter is disposed of.
On March 18, 2005, the government chose to proceed with the appointment and pass the relevant order in council. The information provided to the government at this point by letter and not by report to the House was that the committee had completed its work on the matter in the full knowledge that it did not have the power to revoke the appointment.
Subsequently, on March 24, 2005, the committee reported its motion to the House and some time later the hon. member proposed a motion of concurrence that the House then adopt it. All of this took place after the appointment had been made and in the full knowledge that the committee did not have the power to revoke the said appointment.
The assertion that the government's action was a contempt of the House we believe, therefore, is completely unfounded. The government took its action in passing the order in council because of its apparently reliable official information that the committee had completed its consideration of the matter. It was only subsequent to the passing of the order in council that the committee decided to reopen the question. In other words, the hon. member is claiming that a contempt of the House can be constructed by some sort of retroactive decision, an assertion that we believe is contrary to every principle of parliamentary practice.