I first of all want to make perfectly clear what has happened in this case.
On Thursday last, the hon. member for Bourassa rose after question period and alleged that certain statements had been made. There was no explicit contradiction of that. The member did not rise on a question of privilege or point of order. He rose to demand an apology from the minister. One was not forthcoming at that time.
The next day, the member for Newmarket—Aurora rose on a point of order and asked for an apology. She said that she felt she was entitled to one because she felt that the rules of the House had been breached.
The ruling I made at that time was only to say that I had no information before me, aside from the statements from the hon. member for Bourassa and, I believe, the hon. member for Ottawa South that they had heard these comments in the House, and that I had checked the record and could find nothing on the record which indicated that to me.
I had not listened at that point to the tapes. I had merely looked at Hansard and I had heard from staff that they had listened to the tapes and could not pick out these words.
I have subsequently listened to a tape and I cannot tell that the words have been said from the tape I heard, which was the official transcript, the video-play of the House proceedings during the time that the alleged offence took place. So we are left with an inability to prove it on the record of the House.
The hon. member for Mississauga South says there are affidavits. I have seen no such thing.
The dispute is clearly there. The members on one side are saying one thing. The minister is saying another. There is a dispute. I will examine the matter again with a view to it being a question of privilege.
I must say that hearing it as a question of privilege is new. This is the first we have heard that it is alleged to be a question of privilege and I must say I have some reservations on that score, but I will look at the matter.
I will look at the arguments that the hon. member for Wascana and the hon. member for Mississauga South have advanced on this point. I will look at the statements that have been made by the government House leader in this regard. If I find there is a question of privilege, I will be back to the House in due course.