Mr. Speaker, with the remaining time that I have after the House adjourns today, I will be splitting my time when the debate resumes.
I would like to focus us back on what we are actually debating, which is the question of privilege. The motion we are debating that was introduced by the House leader for the opposition, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, reads:
That the question of privilege related to the statements made in the House of Commons by the member for Mississauga—Streetsville be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
I hear members opposite saying that this is trivial and not worth the time of debate, but I want to make the case in the very few minutes I have that we are fundamentally talking about questions that are very foundational to our democracy. That is the ability of members elected to speak in the House to speak with privilege. Privilege means that we have the trust of other parliamentarians, and in fact, of all Canadians, that when we speak we are speaking with honesty and with our best attempts to make statements that are accurate and true. Therefore, when we might occasionally make mistakes, we still have the privilege of immunity in the House.
The comments we are discussing today refer to the elections act bill. I heard it referred to by a member opposite as “awesome”. I prefer to call it the voter suppression act. The comments of the member for Mississauga—Streetsville pertain to the vouching system. I want to read his comments about the vouching system and talk a bit about that. On February 6, he said:
Mr. Speaker, I want to talk...about this vouching system again. I know the minister represents an urban city. I am from a semi-urban area of Mississauga, where there are many high-rise apartment buildings. On mail delivery day when the voter cards are delivered to community mailboxes in apartment buildings, many of them are discarded in the garbage...or the blue box. I have actually witnessed...people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID.
This is not some random reference. This is very specific. One imagines a very vivid memory in the member's mind when he makes this statement. I should also say that he made this statement when the bill was under time allocation. In other words, the time for debate of the bill had been restricted by the government, for a record number of times, which itself challenges our democratic system. Then we had this statement by the member. It kind of defied belief in the sense that one would imagine the member opposite trotting after people who had picked up these random voter ID cards, following them to opposition campaign offices, and then seeing these distributed. One would wonder how the member himself would be able to do this. Nevertheless, we operate with this notion of trust, this notion of privilege, which the member is entitled to.
Then, lo and behold, a couple of weeks later, on February 24, he rose again in the House and said he was not exactly accurate. He said in fact he had not personally witnessed individuals retrieving the voter notification cards. He did not apologize for his statements.
The question here is whether he was deliberately misleading the House. I would argue that, yes, he was. Others, including our House leader, have outlined in detail how he deliberately misled the House.
He said himself that he had misled the House, and we believe that was deliberate. This was the rationale for one of the key changes to the voter suppression act, which would deny thousands of people the ability to vote because far too many voters need to have somebody to vouch for them at the polling station. There were 100,000 of such people in the last election, and Elections Canada had not determined that there was fraudulent activity.
There was activity that the government side was responsible for—