Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the government House leader, because his government obviously does not understand the nature of the decision that was made, and quite frankly, the nature of the law on this point.
The Conservatives are absolutely right that a parliament cannot pass legislation that would prevent a subsequent government administration from passing laws to change that law or do away with it completely, but it can restrict subsequent parliaments as to how they do it. That is exactly what was done in the Canadian Wheat Board Act, and that is exactly what was found as being proper by Justice Campbell of the Federal Court in his decision yesterday.
The position the Conservatives are taking obviously shows a significant lack of knowledge and understanding of that legislative constitutional principle. I hear from the government House leader that he thinks it is stupid. It may in fact be stupid, but it is the law of the land, and the Conservatives do not get the opportunity to unilaterally break the law of the land. I think this actually would require a constitutional change in order for that principle to be altered.
Mr. Speaker, I am, however, cognizant of his argument that he makes with regard to your status as Speaker to rule on this matter. Obviously the statute is no longer here; Bill C-18 has passed and has gone on to the other house, and so it should lie in the hands of the Speaker there. I have to admit ignorance in this regard in that I do not understand the rules of the other place. I am not sure anybody understands its rules, quite frankly, but I admit that I do not. Whether there is jurisdiction in the Speaker in that place, I simply cannot say.
At first blush one might wonder what jurisdiction and authority you have to rule on this, since this House has passed the bill. I want to say at this point, Mr. Speaker, and I am reserving my right to come back to you tomorrow if I can find more on this, that your jurisdiction may lie in the fact of being able to say to the minister of the day, “Your conduct has in fact breached our privilege. You should have known the law of the land. Every government is supposed to know that. Either out of incompetence that you did not know or out of refusal to acknowledge the law of the land, you went ahead, placed the bill before the House, voted it through the House by your majority government, and that has now clearly been determined by the courts of this land to have been improper conduct, to be illegal conduct on your part”.
Mr. Speaker, your order then would be, because you do have control over that member even though he is a minister, to in effect cease and desist, to find the prima facie case. I think anybody can argue clearly that our privileges have been breached. Our reputations as members of Parliament have been breached very clearly. We are a laughing stock in the general public. The bill went through this House clearly by that decision, and I will not give the government any hope at all that it will be successful on appeal. The government will lose that appeal, almost certainly.
It is a simple finding of fact. The bill reads this way. The existing law reads this way. It fits into the constitutional framework of our country. It is not a substantive issue of law. It is simply a form, how this law is to be changed. The Conservatives are bound by that. Parliament is bound by that. Our reputation has therefore been damaged, the reputation of all of us.
I will leave it at that point, but I would reserve the right to come back to you one more time, at least by tomorrow, if I can find more on it, Mr. Speaker.