Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond briefly to last night's further intervention by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands on the question of privilege respecting Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. My intervention will be brief and I hope it will be the final of many interventions on this point.
On the report tabled on Thursday, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage pointed out last night that the hon. Minister of Justice had sought, and did in fact receive, unanimous consent to table that document. For example, page 433 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at footnotes 111, 112 and 113, notes several examples when documents have, with unanimous consent, been tabled in only one official language.
Mr. Speaker, in the case currently before you, the Minister of Justice sought such unanimous consent to table the report for the very reason that it was produced in only one official language. Otherwise, he would not have had to seek such consent in the first place. The minister did so in the fullness of transparency, to provide members with the document as quickly as possible. Of course, once the translation is complete, the document will be tabled in the other official language as well.
On the tabling of a Microsoft Word track changes version of the document, it is my understanding that this was deliberately chosen as the means by which the House could most easily, readily and quickly determine what had changed between the two versions of the report. Rather than the member opposite trying to ascribe the most nefarious possible motivation to the minister tabling the track changes version, I would suggest that he, instead, consider the most plausible explanation: the minister was simply trying to be as transparent as possible. What he did was provide the House with an easy-to-reference version specifically highlighting the differences. For those not satisfied with that, he also provided the website address where a clean print of the updated version of the report could be located.
It is important to bear in mind that the original version of the report, which I will note was marked as final by the author in November 2012 and with consent to release, as tabled in a response to Order Paper Question No. 1169, was upward of 200 pages in length, thus making the need for track changes or the benefit of track changes rather obvious.
On the matter of the response to Order Paper Question No. 1169, I would refer to what was asked in the order paper question itself. In paragraph (a), the government was asked for certain information relied upon “in developing this legislation”. That is a very important part of the question. The material that was provided in answer to that was the earlier version of the report. I am left wondering how data received well after second reading debate started—that is, the revised report—could be responsive to a question related to the development of the bill, which was the question on the order paper.
Despite that, my colleague should be commended for noting in his response to that order paper question that a revised version of the report had been received. Therefore, not only was he responsive to the question, he was also transparent and open at the same time.
Finally, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands offered some comments on a systemic remedy, which he proposed. Despite his creativity, I disagree that there is a prima facie case of privilege to be found here. As such, I need not respond further to his suggestion on how to craft an order of reference to the procedure and House affairs committee.