Mr. Speaker, subsequent to the point of order my colleague from Joliette raised on November 8, I would like to share some additional observations that I hope will inform your consideration of the matter. I also believe that the vote was marred by irregularities and should be retaken.
As my colleague from Joliette said, the code of conduct for members of Parliament, which is part of our Standing Orders, clearly prohibits an elected member from furthering his or her private interests. In addition to taking part in the vote on Motion No. 42, a motion that will have an impact on his private interests, the Minister of Finance influenced the debate through his then-parliamentary secretary, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain.
As stated in the “Guide for Parliamentary Secretaries”, issued by the Prime Minister on January 16, 2016, a parliamentary secretary speaks on behalf of the minister. In other words, when a parliamentary secretary takes the floor in the House, it is the minister's words that we hear, as we can see on pages 1 and 2 of the guide. On page 1, under Your Role and Responsibilities, it says:
Section 47 of the Parliament of Canada Act sets out the following succinct job description: “The Parliamentary Secretary or Secretaries to a minister shall assist the minister in such manner as the minister directs.” In this context, the responsibilities of parliamentary secretaries generally fall into two broad categories: (1) House business and (2) department-related duties.
On page 2, under House Business, it says:
In this context, the role of parliamentary secretaries in supporting ministers’ House duties includes:
--attending Question Period;
--piloting the minister’s legislation through the legislative process on the floor of the House, in parliamentary committees...and with caucus and opposition MPs;
--supporting the minister’s position on Private Members’ Business;
Later on, the guide specifically talks about the role of parliamentary secretaries with respect to private members' business. On page 4, under Private Members' Business, the guide states:
Given that ministers do not generally participate directly in debates on Private Members’ Business, this is an opportunity for parliamentary secretaries to bring their parliamentary skills to bear. This is particularly so since all Private Members’ Business comes to a vote. Parliamentary secretaries play a key role in the Government's handling of Private Members’ Business, in that they:
--may be called upon to speak for the minister during Private Members’ Hour;
--work with the Government House Leader’s office to organize and deliver the minister’s response to Private Members’ Bills and motions;
As members can see, Minister of Finance, by way of his his parliamentary secretary, reassured members of the House about the government's actions on this matter. He also urged them to vote against Motion No. 42. I remind members that if this motion had passed, it would have affected the minister's personal interests.
I want to be clear. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance should have recused himself from the debates on Motion No. 42, since he speaks on behalf of his minister. I repeat, this minister's interests are directly affected by Motion No. 42. As my colleague from Joliette pointed out, we are talking about the results of a vote and about the integrity of the House of Commons as an institution, which you oversee, Mr. Speaker. We are here, at the heart of representative democracy, and at the heart of the trust that the public must have in its representatives. This vote should be taken again, since it was tainted.