Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on some of the procedural aspects of the question of privilege that were raised by the member for Mississauga South on April 26, 2007.
I believe the Minister of National Defence has answered in terms of the factual issues and set those clearly on the record. In terms of the question of timeliness, I think that matter is now entirely clear.
There are still some other procedural issues that I would like to pursue further. I submit that this is not a valid question of privilege. At most the member may have a grievance. However, he has not demonstrated that the information provided by the minister has in any way impeded or obstructed any member of the House in the performance of their duties.
In order for there to be a valid question of privilege, there must be evidence that the minister intended to mislead the House.
Page 234 of the second edition of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada states that before the House will be permitted by the Speaker to embark on a debate on a question of privilege, there must be:
—an admission by someone in authority, such as a Minister of the Crown...either that a Member of the House of Commons was intentionally misled or an admission of facts that leads naturally to the conclusion that a Member was intentionally misled...
I submit that the member has not provided any evidence to this effect. There is no evidence that any minister has misled or misinformed the House at all, whether deliberately or not.
In fact, what we hear from the statement by the Minister of National Defence is that his facts are entirely accurately.
Citation 31 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's provides a lengthy list of issues that are not questions of privilege. Some of these include:
A dispute arising between two Members, as to allegations of facts, does not fulfill the conditions of parliamentary privilege.
The failure of a Minister to answer a question may not be raised as a question of privilege.
And Beauchesne's cites a Speaker's ruling from October 30, 1969, which states:
The question has often been raised whether parliamentary privilege imposes on ministers an obligation to deliver ministerial statements and to make announcements and communications to the public through the House of Commons or to make these announcements or statements in the House rather than outside the chamber. The question has been asked whether Hon. Members are entitled, as part of their parliamentary privilege, to receive such information ahead of the general public. I can find no precedent to justify this suggestion.
Those are three elements that are relevant.
I would also note that Marleau and Montpetit state, at page 433:
The Speaker, however, is not responsible for the quality or content of replies to questions. In most instances, when a point of order or a question of privilege has been raised in regard to a response to an oral question, the Speaker has ruled that the matter is a disagreement among Members over the facts surrounding the issue.
I would go further and add that the Speaker is not responsible for the quality of the questions either. In this case it is the question and the point of order from which the problems arise.
To conclude, I submit that the member has provided no evidence that the Minister of National Defence or any other minister has infringed the privileges of the House.
Mr. Speaker, as you can judge from question period last week, members may be in a debate over facts. None of this would constitute a basis for a prima facie question of privilege.