Mr. Speaker, you are right. If we were to focus on the admissibility of amendments then that would be traditionally a point of order. However, what I am dealing with here is the privilege of the member from Alberta to speak freely by amending a motion.
I will not focus any more on this point as I believe it has been well exhausted but I think you should note that that privilege, which is afforded to all members, to amend a motion was infringed upon by a heavily partisan chair bent on advancing his own partisan interest.
On the subject of the member's point of privilege, the member from Alberta is correct to say that he was not even capable of uttering a full sentence before being aggressively interrupted by a highly partisan chair who would abruptly push any member who tried to speak off the speaking list and silence them immediately.
I know the member from Alberta who spoke earlier to be a statesman of this House. He presented himself in the committee to make intelligent arguments on behalf of his constituents and advance careful consideration of a highly partisan motion. He was interrupted again and again by a chair who did not want that member to have his voice heard.
The chair has a right to his private opinion and, as we all know, the chair in this particular committee is heavily opinionated, which is his right, but it is not his right to impose his personal opinions and his personal urges on that committee. That is exactly what he did in denying the privileges of the hon. member from Alberta to speak his mind freely in that parliamentary setting.
I was present throughout and I can corroborate exactly what the member from Alberta indicated. I can say that my privileges were equally denied. I know we are not speaking of my privileges at this point but it is important to show that there is a pattern here. There is a pattern of behaviour on the part of that chair who refuses to permit members of the committee to carry out their work and to speak freely, which is a fundamental right of members of any committee.
As we move forward in this discussion, I think it will be found that this committee cannot go on functioning like this because it will deny members of the committee the privileges with which they were vested when they were elected by their constituents.
The chair might not be pleased or happy with the fact that members on this side were elected and given the privileges of parliamentarians, and it is his right to be displeased with the choice by Canadians in the last election, but it is not his right to take away their choice by silencing the members who Canadians have elected, which was exactly what he attempted to do when he silenced the member from northern Alberta and other members of the same committee.
The intention of Conservative members on the committee was to see a fulsome investigation of the financial practices of all political parties in this House, including our own. We are more than happy to defend and have our finances investigated, which was what the member was speaking about at the moment he was interrupted. This shows that the topic on which he was intervening was completely germane and, therefore, totally permissible in the committee context. He was indicating as well that he wanted to see an investigation of the Conservative practices in concert with a similar investigation of all parties.
If I may, Mr. Speaker, I will move to my final point by reiterating the words of one of your predecessors, Speaker Fraser. On the quote I raised earlier, I would like to unpackage it a little more. It states:
The privileges of a Member are violated by any action which might impede him or her in the fulfillment of his or her duties and functions.
Speaking in a parliamentary committee is a duty and a function of a parliamentarian. Were the member from Alberta to refuse to speak in committee, he would be abdicating his duty to represent his constituents. Were he to be prevented from speaking in that same committee, he would be deprived of his ability to carry out the functions of a member of Parliament.
As such, it is not only permitted for him to speak, but it is essentially obligatory that he do speak. He was denied the right to do that. He was denied the right to carry out his functions and shoulder his duties when the chair slammed that gavel again and again with the fury and wrath of a northern Ontario thunderstorm.