Mr. Speaker, as you know from the letter I deposited with your office this morning, I am rising on a question of privilege relating to Motion No. 6, which is on today's Notice Paper in the name of the government House leader.
Through my brief remarks today, and in more detail at a later date, I will ask you to eventually rule that there exists a prima facie case that the privileges of members of Parliament have been breached by this draconian motion.
I think you will find others who will want to intervene in coming days as well. I include in that the parliamentary House leaders of the Conservative Party and Bloc Québécois and the leader of the Green Party. I think they will all want to speak to this question of privilege.
I preface my remarks by saying that this is a sad day for our democracy. Today, the Liberal cabinet, through its leader in the House, introduced a motion that rewrites our Standing Orders in more than 17 different ways so that the executive has unilateral control over all of the procedural tools in the House.
This motion moved by the Liberal cabinet uses parliamentary procedure to put all the other members in a straitjacket and limit their rights and privileges. That includes independent members, members of the Bloc Québécois, members of the Green Party, members of the recognized opposition parties, namely the NDP and the Conservative Party, and even the Liberal backbenchers.
That, Mr. Speaker, cannot and must not be allowed, and you may be the only person who can stop this unilateral and autocratic rewriting of the regulations governing our democratic institutions.
In this straitjacket of Parliament, cabinet, according to the motion, would not need to consult other MPs on the timing of debate, on when we return to our ridings for the summer or at all, or even when MPs can go to bed. So much for a family friendly Parliament. Liberals should be hanging their heads in shame to move this motion.
Further, it would deny MPs the right to spark debates on the crucial work done at committee. It would force MPs to debate their bills in the middle of the night, ensuring absolutely no votes will interrupt the Prime Minister's beauty sleep while opposition MPs have to be available, wait for it, 24 hours a day in the possibility that a bill for which they are responsible is brought forward. The list goes on and on in 17 different areas through the course of more than a dozen clauses and subclauses to tilt the playing field in the favour of the government.
I am wondering how the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was able to justify this type of undemocratic motion to his caucus this morning or whether he told his party's backbenchers about it at all.
From what we heard in question period today, it seems that even the Prime Minister does not really understand what this motion does.
Motion No. 6 does not merely, as the Prime Minister claims, allow for more debate. It gives cabinet ministers unilateral control over when the House adjourns. If he or she is not happy with how a debate is unfolding, the minister can simply stand up at 8 p.m., at 9 p.m., at 10 p.m., at midnight, at 3 a.m., whenever, and adjourn the House or keep it going until the next morning. It invests the power of a dictatorship in the heart of our democracy.
Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament defines privilege in the following way on page 75:
Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively...and by Members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions....
It is clear the executive is attempting to set aside those rights and privileges for all MPs, other than for cabinet ministers, and when we have had more time to digest this draconian legislation that affects 17 important areas in our Standing Orders, I intend to return to the House with a much more fulsome intervention.
I will continue another day, but I will say this. No government in history has introduced a motion that has had, or will have, such a draconian impact on Parliament. Liberals should be ashamed of themselves.