Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank you for finding an appropriate time to hear this question of privilege in what has been a very busy week for us all.
I raise this question of privilege today at the insistence and urging of my constituents as well as people from across British Columbia and Canada who feel an important principle of democracy has been trodden upon. It is not about politics, but the principle of this matter. I will not be quoting any politicians today, but rather everyday Canadians who have written on this issue.
Specifically, it is my contention that my ability to properly function as the duly elected member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has been deliberately obstructed by the member for Cariboo—Prince George.
On August 21, the member for Cariboo—Prince George issued a press release which stated:
[The] MP for Cariboo--Prince George has named Houston Mayor and Conservative candidate Sharon Smith as the person that residents of Skeena--Bulkley Valley can contact when they have concerns or issues with the federal government...I and other BC Conservative MPs will work closely with Sharon Smith as she represents constituents of her riding to the government members. It will be a bonus for people of Skeena--Bulkley Valley to have direct representation to the government on so many issues.
This is a direct quote from the press release, Mr. Speaker.
The member then went on to give a number of interviews to the press, the transcripts of which I have previously forwarded to you. I believe that when you review the original press releases as well as those transcripts, that you will find that the member for Cariboo—Prince George was intentionally informing the media, and through them my constituents, that someone else was the de facto member of Parliament for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.
It is my contention that this is an obstruction of my ability to do the job that my constituents elected me to do in the last election.
Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to page 87 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit which quotes Speaker Bosley, from May 6, 1985, saying:
“It should go without saying that a Member of Parliament needs to perform his functions effectively and that anything tending to cause confusion as to a Member's identity creates the possibility of an impediment to the fulfilment of that Member's functions. Any action which impedes or tends to impede a Member in the discharge of his duties is a breach of privilege. There are ample citations and precedents to bear this out”.
On page 69 of the Twenty-first Edition of Erskine May's Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament it says:
Each House also claims the right to punish as contempts actions which, while not breaches of any specific privilege, obstruct or impede it in the performance of its functions, or are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its Members or its officers.
I highlight this passage because I believe the deliberate actions of the member for Cariboo—Prince George in fact obstructed and impeded the performance of my functions as a member of the House.
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, I have been strongly urged to seek this ruling by my constituents and indeed by ordinary Canadians from across the country who feel personally affronted by the actions of this member.
Harry Bradley of Toronto wrote:
I am outraged at the recent attempts made by the [member for Cariboo--Prince George] to usurp your power as elected MP of Skeena--Bulkley Valley. It is insulting to you and it is insulting to the constituents who democratically elected you. I wish you luck in the complaint process. You have my full support.
Mr. Ken Smith of New Hazelton, a small community in my riding, copied me on a letter he wrote to the Ethics Commissioner:
The appointment of a Conservative candidate in Skeena--Bulkley Valley riding is both undemocratic and the most blatant example of a conflict of interest I have ever seen. [The member from Skeena--Bulkley Valley] was elected by the people of this riding and as our representative--
Finally, Ashley Morton of St. John's, Newfoundland wrote in regard to the member:
I am a member of his party...There is no question in my mind that you are to be commended for your tremendously high volume and quality of work on behalf of the residents of the riding, and that my party has only made itself look at best ridiculous, and at worst corrupt, through his words.
These are only three of dozens and dozens of emails and letters that we have received from people right across British Columbia in my riding and from across Canada over the past several months, all of which have denounced the actions of the member for Cariboo—Prince George.
Just today in the halls, I met with constituents from my riding who obviously are familiar with this incident and familiar with the case. They are not voters of mine, they voted for another party, but who have urged me to defend the principles of democracy.
We have a duty to uphold the integrity and principles of this House on behalf of the people of Canada, who we all represent. We have a duty to represent and defend the principles of democracy in this place.
Once elected, we represent all of the constituents that come from our individual ridings regardless of their political affiliations, bias or vote. It is important for us to all remember that when the campaign ends, we all work on behalf of the people we represent in our communities right across this great country.
This is not a government for Conservatives. This is a government on behalf of Canadians. I think at times, in the to and fro of debate, parties forget this. Governments consistently forget this. While we might disagree on particular issues, and I think healthy debate is constructive and important for our thriving democracy, we cannot disagree on the one principle that each of us, in representing our constituents from across this country, have the right and duty to represent them fairly and have no right whatsoever to attempt to confuse who the elected and right representative is of constituents who are occupying another riding.
I feel that I have accurately described the situation and the impacts of the deliberate actions of the member of Parliament for Cariboo—Prince George, who intentionally confused my constituents and undermined an election.
Mr. Speaker, should you find a prima facie case of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion at this time. I move that the matter of the comments made by the member for Cariboo—Prince George be referred to the Standing Committee in Procedure and House Affairs as a question of privilege, and that the committee inform the House of any decisions made by the committee in this manner.