Mr. Speaker, I had hoped to raise an independent point of order, but I think there are a number of points of order on the floor, particularly this one, which might permit me to raise with you concerns that we had arising out of question period.
I want to make it clear, Mr. Speaker, that I welcome your effort in trying to get the House to respect the regulations with respect to inquiries under the auspices of the Ethics Commissioner. We also feel though that there is a need for greater certainty or greater clarity, as the case may be, as to what is permissible in the House and what is not. It may be that there is a bit of a conflict between the section of the Parliament of Canada Act which established the Ethics Commissioner in the first place and the regulations. The part which you quoted to us in your advice comes from the regulations, I believe, under section 27(5), where it states:
Once a request for an inquiry has been made to the Ethics Commissioner, Members should respect the process established by this Code and permit it to take place without commenting further on the matter.
By and large that is good advice and if we had been able to adopt a similar attitude, although not by regulation but with respect to other inquiries going on, Parliament might actually pay attention to its own business from time to time instead of what is going on in other venues.
Having said that, the Parliament of Canada Act, which established the Ethics Commissioner, states under section 72.05(5):
For greater certainty, this section shall not be interpreted as limiting in any way the powers, privileges, rights and immunities of the House of Commons or its members.
Therefore, on the one hand we have the act which says that our privileges and our abilities presumably to raise questions in the House will not be limited in any way. On the other hand we have advice which advises us that we should behave in a particular way; not that we shall, but that we should. That is perhaps a critical distinction, particularly in light of what happened in question period.
I certainly was prepared not to ask a question having to do with that, Mr. Speaker, after you said what you did at the beginning of question period. However, then it followed from there that the leader of the Bloc Québécois was able to raise a question anyway in the context of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, even though when one talks about the Prime Minister's chief of staff doing whatever he was doing along with the Minister of Health, it is a little hard to separate them.
I noticed, Mr. Speaker, that you did then permit questions, perhaps out of respect for the fact that all you advised us to do was based on a should rather than a shall, I am not sure. I think greater certainty from you as to what you expect of us in this matter would be very helpful. I would ask you to consider the matter and perhaps, as soon as you feel it is possible, to come back with some further advice for us on how you wish us to conduct ourselves in respect of this investigation.
I want to make it clear that I do not think it is a bad thing for you to lay out guidelines with respect to this sort of thing. The House would be well advised to have such guidelines, but what we have so far, I would submit, is not enough and I would ask you to provide further clarification as soon as you are ready.