Mr. Speaker, I am rising to provide further comment on the question of privilege raised by the member for Essex concerning the government's treaty tabling policy. As I have previously stated, the matter raised refers to government policy and does not concern parliamentary procedure.
The treaty tabling policy that the member has referenced relates to governmental and departmental activities. As such, I submit that the issue does not fall under the purview of the House and is beyond the jurisdiction of the Speaker.
Furthermore, rulings made by the House consistently support this notion. Speaker Bosley, in his May 15, 1985 ruling, said, “I think it has been recognized many times in the House that a complaint about the actions or inactions of government departments cannot constitute a question of parliamentary privilege.”
Mr. Speaker, in his ruling on February 7, 2013, your predecessor stated, “It is beyond the purview of the Chair to intervene in departmental matters or to get involved in government processes, no matter how frustrating they may appear to be to the member.”
He further echoed this in his ruling of May 2, 2014, in response to a point of order regarding the very matter that is before us today. In that ruling, the Speaker referred to the treaty tabling policy and said, “It is clear to me that the policy in question belongs to the government and not the House. It is equally clear that it is not within the Speaker's authority to adjudicate on government policies or processes, and this includes determining whether the government is in compliance with its own policies.”
The member for Essex contends that her ability to properly discharge her parliamentary functions was impeded by the tabling timeline of CETA. The member opposite should know that in the acting legislation to implement the terms of the treaty, Parliament has no formal role in treaty processes. The tabling of the treaty helps members to prepare for debate on the enabling legislation. Therefore, I submit that the tabling of the treaty before the bill was introduced in no way affects the ability of the member to fully discharge her duties in scrutinizing the bill.
I would note that the bill was introduced on October 31 and has yet to be called for debate at second reading. Moreover, a technical briefing was provided to the member on November 2, and the text of the treaty itself has been publicly available online since February of this year. Furthermore, the committee, of which the member for Essex is a member, was briefed about CETA last March.
The government's policy on tabling of treaties provides that enabling legislation wait 21 days following the tabling of a treaty. Section 6.3 of the tabling of treaties policy provides for exceptions. An exception for CETA was granted.
We have seen exemptions granted by the government in the past. Under the previous government in the last Parliament, five exemptions were made for the amendments to the International Convention against Doping in Sport.
I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to the fact that in the previous Parliament, the NDP voted in favour of a free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea in 2014, which was also subject to an exemption. The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement was signed on September 22, 2014, and the enabling legislation was introduced in the House the next day.
I submit that the matter raised by the member for Essex does not constitute a legitimate question of privilege. On the contrary, the tabling of the treaty in advance of the introduction of Bill C-30 will only serve to assist the member in fully scrutinizing the bill and exercising her parliamentary duties.