Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate today as well as to previous submissions that have been made in Parliament. I recognize that you are the longest-serving Speaker of this chamber, and it says much about your ability to be able to parse an awful lot of the stuff that ends up going in your direction. It also says a lot about the confidence members have in your judgments.
I would suggest there are a couple of practical issues here. First off, I happen to sit on the special committee on Afghanistan and I have never been able to figure it out. Even if the information was given to the members of the committee, myself being one, we could not use it. It is information that is highly secret, information that many nations in the world would have a lot of difficulty with the release of, if we take into account the submission of my colleague.
We may be able to consider it, but how would we be able to put it in the public domain, in any event? It is information that is being shielded because of the public interest, information that is being shielded because of our concern for our armed forces and personnel who are putting their lives on the line minute by minute, second by second, not only in Afghanistan but in other parts of the world. If this information is given to the committee, how can the committee use it? It cannot.
It cannot use it, because if it were to use it and come forward with particular conclusions without revealing what the information was, the people of Canada still would not accept that explanation. They would want to know on what basis the committee came to that conclusion. The fallacy of committee members asking for uncensored or unredacted information is evident in and of itself.
Furthermore, I take a little exception to my friend from the NDP trying to indicate that these redactions, these blank pages, happened by some kind of whim, as if there were no organization to it. Mr. Speaker, of course, you would be fully aware, as I think most Canadians are, although perhaps my friend from the NDP is not, that redactions are very common in legal proceedings and are covered under the Canada Evidence Act.
These are not whimsical redactions. These redactions are done by people who are completely outside the political process, particularly the partisan political process, who are looking at the best interests of our nation and the people who have gone to Afghanistan and are putting their lives on the line.
Here is where we are. I have been really quite interested over the last decade in watching many of the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly on the issue of the charter. As we have seen the Supreme Court come to some conclusions, some of us have been marginally and sometimes grotesquely critical, but nonetheless we watch what has been going on.
It has come to the conclusion in many instances, notwithstanding what the law is, that for the common good, for the good of the nation, the people of Canada and society, notwithstanding what the charter or the Constitution may say, the decision to go in the other direction would be in the best interests of the people of Canada. Mr. Speaker, I suggest that you have that opportunity.
I recognize, as did my colleague from Saskatchewan, the expertise of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, particularly his ability to bring forward many of these historic precedents. These are good lessons, lessons that could be taught in universities well into the future. It is good history, which is good to know, but we come down to the basic fact.
Number one, the evidence the committee is looking for, should it be brought forward, in practical terms could not be used by the committee in any event. You, sir, have the opportunity to judge that, notwithstanding all the arguments, the fact is that this information, for the good of our nation, for the protection of our armed forces, cannot possibly be brought forward. As a consequence, I would suggest your judgment might be to consider that, notwithstanding all the arguments, you might save the opposition members from their own folly, you might give them a way out of this box they have put themselves into, because there is no responsible government of any partisan description that, as Government of Canada, could possibly release these documents in an unredacted and a grossly irresponsible form. It could not happen.
Mr. Speaker, I suggest you might come back with the judgment that, notwithstanding all the good arguments that all lead in this particular direction, the practical reality is that my judgment must be that this question of privilege fail.