Mr. Speaker, I do have a question of privilege and I also have a point of order. They are related, but I would like to begin with the question of privilege.
Yesterday, we heard in the House from the member for Scarborough—Guildwood and the member for Ottawa Centre about the question of the Minister of International Cooperation and the belief and allegations that the minister has deliberately misled the House and the committee.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add some information on that same question of privilege by bringing to your attention a very recent ruling from the legislature of Saskatchewan. It is a speaker's ruling from Tuesday, May 4, 2010. It has to do with representations by a minister and, in this particular case, whether or not the minister of health had committed contempt by purposely misleading the assembly about a particular matter.
While I will not go into the case, I do want to quote a section of that speaker's ruling, because I believe it will assist you, Mr. Speaker, in your deliberations on the matter before you.
The speaker from the Saskatchewan legislature said:
The charge that a member has made deliberately misleading statements, if well-founded, has been treated as contempt by this Legislative Assembly and other parliaments. On November 3, 2009, I addressed another case of alleged contempt for misleading statements. In that case I referenced precedents that established differences in the way such cases are treated in Saskatchewan compared to other jurisdictions. I will not repeat those precedents except to say they are dated November 18, 1975 and July 13, 1982. These precedents established that in Saskatchewan, the threshold of proof of an offence is not restricted to an admission of guilt. Contempt has been found on the basis of evidence. In this situation the minister has not admitted to have misled the Assembly so the case must be reviewed on the documentary evidence provided by the Opposition House Leader.
The speaker in the Saskatchewan legislature, in his ruling, then went on to look at the evidence in that particular case. I will not go into that, but I do want to quote the conclusion of the speaker in Saskatchewan:
Because of these troubling questions and inconsistencies, I find there is sufficient evidence and reason to warrant the Assembly taking up this question, and as such find that a prima facie case has been established.
I believe that in this ruling, the speaker in Saskatchewan clearly established that the test is not the member's statement in reply to an allegation, but it is actually the evidence before the speaker that establishes the prima facie case. I do think that is relevant to the case that was put yesterday in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I know that you have yet to hear from the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, but I hope you will consider this information from Saskatchewan relevant to your deliberation.