Mr. Speaker, I have a brief point of order.
On behalf of my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, I am appealing to you with regard to a decision made by the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on December 6. The chair deemed that an amendment introduced by my colleague on behalf of the Bloc Québécois was out of order.
I will explain very quickly. This has to do with Bill C-3 concerning security certificates. The bill already allows an appeal, but only in very restricted circumstances. An appeal can be made only if a judge believes that a serious question of general importance is involved. Only then can the case be re-examined.
Since the bill opened the debate on appeals and in light of the serious consequences of security certificates, we amended this appeal process to broaden it. People can be detained for several years on the basis of these security certificates. We therefore wanted the appeal process to go beyond what the bill allowed and be governed by more or less the same provisions as in the Criminal Code.
When my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin introduced his amendment, which we felt was in order because it amended an existing part of the bill—namely, the appeal process—the amendment was ruled out of order because it was considered to be outside the scope of the law. Consequently, we were unable to discuss the amendment in committee, and our colleague was not even able to present his arguments.
I would like to bring to your attention the French and English dictionary definitions of “scope of the law”, which in French is rendered as portée de la loi. The English term is found in the eighth edition of Black's Law Dictionary.
It states that “scope of authority” is:
The range of reasonable power that an agent has been delegated or might foreseeably be delegated in carrying out the principal's business.
The French term “portée”, or scope, is defined in the third edition of the Dictionnaire de droit québécois et canadien:
Scope: term used to refer to the area of application or effects of an act, agreement, legal decision, etc.
Consequently, in our opinion, the amendment introduced by the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin was completely in order because it pertained to an existing clause of the bill. Certainly, it broadened that clause, but in our opinion, when a bill is being studied clause by clause, nothing prohibits a member from introducing an amendment that broadens or restricts an existing clause of the bill—in this case, the appeal clause.
We are therefore calling on you to rule that this amendment was in order, so that we can introduce it here, in Committee of the Whole, when we discuss Bill C-3 regarding security certificates.