Mr. Speaker, I do not want to burden your ears too much, but in light of some of the comments that have been made, I want to make a couple of points to, I hope, clarify the situation. Obviously, it has been a matter of some contention over the last several months and a matter of some emotion between members. That is understandable, with the many allegations and accusations that have been made flying in almost every conceivable direction.
With the comments made by my colleague and also by the member for St. John's East and my colleague from the Bloc, with whom I have served with on the Afghan special committee, as well as my friend from Scarborough, whose leadership on this issue for many years has been outstanding, it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of issues.
It is a serious mistake for the government to believe that what is being asked or sought is simply that documents be laid holus-bolus on the table without any regard for national security and, to borrow the phrase from my colleague from Regina, looking at the question of the issue of protection of the military.
The protection of the military and questions of national security are matters of utmost importance to all members of the House, certainly to members of our party. What we believe can be done is not beyond the ability of the House. It is done in many other parliaments. Indeed, there are circumstances under which it has even been done in this House. It is perfectly possible for unredacted documents to be seen by members of Parliament who have been sworn in for the purpose of looking at those documents.
There is a clear difference of opinion between the opposition and the government. The government believes the appointment of Mr. Iacobucci as its special counsel provides a suitable implementation of the House of Commons resolution in December. We believe it does not, that in fact there is a legitimate issue still as to how the House can find a way to implement the resolution without having a negative impact on the issues which the government has raised as concerns.
It was for the purpose of making that one intervention, Mr. Speaker, that I wanted to rise to say that there really is a misunderstanding on the part of the government, and I take it in good faith that it is not deliberately misinterpreting what people are saying.
We are saying that it should be possible for the House to find a means to implement the resolution without having a negative impact on national security. The government is saying that the route it has taken is the only possible or the best possible implementation of the House resolution. That is a legitimate difference of opinion. That is why you are the Speaker. You are asked to make these judgments and to make these determinations, and we look forward to the judgment call that you make.
It is an important question as to the rights of Parliament to be able to deal with documents. I want to endorse the comments that my friend from Scarborough has made with respect to the question of the letter that went out from the Department of Justice, which could only be interpreted as having a chilling effect on people who are appearing before a parliamentary committee. I think it is entirely inappropriate.