Mr. Speaker, it is with some regret but with a sense of responsibility that I rise on a matter of privilege.
I refer to Marleau and Montpetit under “The Structure of Privilege” on page 70 where it states:
--both the House in its collective capacity and Members individually have the responsibility to protect from abuse their rights and immunities, particularly freedom of speech.
Under “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” on page 71, it states:
...a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties.
That is what freedom of speech refers to.
It permits them to speak in the House without inhibition, to refer to any matter or express any opinion as they see fit, to say what they feel needs to be said in the furtherance of the national interest and the aspirations of their constituents.
Yesterday, just prior to the taking of the recorded divisions, I rose on a point of order on a matter of relevance and this was with regard to the member for Nepean—Carleton who was in the process of addressing the House.
In Marleau and Montpetit, on page 83, under the section, “FREEDOM FROM OBSTRUCTION, INTERFERENCE, INTIMIDATION AND MOLESTATION”, it states:
Members are entitled to go about their parliamentary business undisturbed. The assaulting, menacing, or insulting of any Member on the floor of the House or while he is coming or going to or from the House, or an account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament, is a violation of the rights of Parliament. Any form of intimidation...of a person for or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament could amount to contempt.
I refer further to dealing with a matter of privilege. On page 121 of Marleau and Montpetit it states:
The House of Commons is certainly the most important secular body in Canada. It is said that each House of Parliament is a “court” with respect to its own privileges and dignity and the privileges of its Members. The purpose of raising matters of “privilege” in either House of Parliament is to maintain the respect and credibility due to and required of each House in respect of these privileges, to uphold its powers, and to enforce the enjoyment of the privileges of its Members.
That includes the freedom of speech.
A genuine question of privilege is therefore a serious matter not to be reckoned with lightly and accordingly ought to be rare, and thus rarely raised in the House of Commons.
Finally, Marleau and Montpetit, in guiding members with regard to matters occurring in the House, said that a complaint on a matter of privilege must satisfy two conditions before it can be accorded precedence over orders of the day. First, the Speaker must be convinced that a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been made, and second, that the matter must be raised at the earliest opportunity.
Dealing with the second matter first, as I indicated, this matter happened yesterday during debates at approximately 5:25 p.m., just prior to the sounding of the bells for recorded divisions, at which time I rose on a point of order due to relevance.
Mr. Speaker, at that point I was approached by the member for Nepean—Carleton who had crossed the floor and came to my desk. He told me that if I were to continue to raise these frivolous points of order that there would be retribution. This is a matter of threatening or intimidating a member of Parliament in the conduct of their responsibilities. The member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, who was in his seat, observed and heard all that was said.
I have been in this place since 1993 and I have a great deal of respect for the House. I take this matter very seriously because there is a pattern, there is a history, with regard to the member for Nepean—Carleton. However, I will not go into those as the Speaker is well aware of them.
I have raised this question of privilege because I do not think any member should be approached by another member, particularly in the House, and told that they should not be doing something that is their right and that, if they do, they would be subject to some sort of retribution.
I believe I have satisfied the two conditions with regard to a matter of privilege: first, in regard to making a case that it is a prima facie breach of my privileges as a member not to be threatened or intimidated by another member in the performance of the conduct of my duties; and second, having raised it with the Speaker at the earliest opportunity.
Should the Speaker find a prima facie case of privilege, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.