I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques about the remarks made on Tuesday, May 6, 2008, by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development.
During the adjournment debate on May 6, 2008, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques asked a question about seniors and felt that some of the remarks contained in the response from the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development were unacceptable because, she believes, they reflected on her reputation. In her opinion, such remarks should not be tolerated and she therefore asks the hon. parliamentary secretary to retract them.
As it says on page 503 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice:
One of the basic principles of parliamentary procedure is that proceedings in the House of Commons are conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse.
The Chair has frequently reminded hon. members to be judicious in the comments they make in this House.
In this instance, however, I do not believe that this is a matter of privilege, because the remarks deemed offensive did not obstruct her in the performance of her parliamentary duties. Accordingly, I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege in this case.
I would nevertheless like to take this opportunity to reiterate my request to all the hon. members to choose their words more judiciously in order to avoid remarks such as this that, unfortunately, occur too frequently in this House, in my view. It is perfectly normal to have divergent political opinions, but remarks that question the integrity, effectiveness or utility of another member are bound to be provocative and do nothing to enhance the image of this institution.
I thank the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.