Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my good friend, the member of Parliament for Elmwood—Transcona.
This is déjà vu all over again. We have had this issue more than a few times in my brief time in the House of Commons. An event takes place, members of Parliament are unable to access the Hill, we redress it through the Speaker, and always, from my experience, we take it to the procedure and House affairs committee.
The “he said, she said” that is going on right now with the member for Winnipeg North is unhelpful in actually exploring what we need to understand to make sure this does not happen again.
For folks who do not understand, or perhaps appreciate, why this is so important, the ability of members of Parliament to actually gain access to the House of Commons to cast their votes on behalf of our constituents is a right and a privilege that extends back to the creation of Parliament itself. In olden times, there were kings and queens who did not like what the commoners had to say. They did not particularly want a certain thing to pass, and they would physically bar members of Parliament from coming in, speaking, and voting.
We extend that forward. We appreciate and recognize the power of any majority government and the power of a Prime Minister. At no time could we ever allow one inch to be given over to the idea that the Prime Minister, or anyone connected to the Prime Minister, could prevent, block, or inhibit a member of Parliament from gaining access to a vote.
One can easily remember the scenario in which we had a minority Parliament, and we had many confidence votes on which the government could fall or stand. I can remember a former colleague, who has now since passed, casting a deciding vote as to whether the government would continue on in its function and duty or whether the country would return to an election. That was within the last decade. That was not that long ago.
One understands the importance of what we are talking about here today. It is paramount to the basic role and duties we have as members of Parliament.
Let us take care of one thing right away. It is the Liberals who seem to be standing in the way of taking this debate to its proper place. We are meant to be talking about the budget and some other important things in the House of Commons that concern all Canadians, yet this has come up from a Speaker's ruling we had earlier today, which takes precedence over everything else that goes on in the House of Commons. However, to properly understand and analyze what it is that happened and how to make sure it never happens again, the floor of the House of Commons is not necessarily the best place. We cannot call witnesses forward here today. We are not able to request interviews with the security officials or with my colleagues who first raised this issue. We have the debate as it takes place under our given rules. Clearly, the best place to take it is the committee, where the committee can explore and understand and bring the witnesses it needs and then, finally, support the Speaker's ruling as to what actually happened and how to make sure it never happens again.
The Liberals have decided not to accept that amendment so far. So far, they have said no, let us just keep talking about it in the House of Commons. The Liberal representative so far has also tried to infer from the Speaker's ruling that the Speaker has determined what actually happened and that it was the media bus that caused the problems.
I too have read the Speaker's ruling several times. I have read it in great detail, and in no place does the Speaker say that. All the Speaker does is recount the events of the day. There was one bus that had a bunch of media on it. It went through the gate. There were several buses behind it that contained members of Parliament and that were picking up other MPs. They were prevented. All we have is the testimony, so far, and I will call it testimony, from my friend from Beauce, who said that he went to the security official who has there and asked what the problem was, what the hold up was. He said they needed to get to the House to vote. He was told, and I believe him, because I have no reason not to, that the Prime Minister's motorcade, which was empty, was in the way and that the security protocols at that time said nobody was allowed to move.
I have been in that scenario in which the Prime Minister's motorcade, all MPs have seen this, is coming through the parliamentary precinct. It is long, with big, black SUVs, and on it goes and everything stops around it, as is right, because we need to have security around the Prime Minister. No one denies that. However, in this instance, the motorcade was empty. MPs were trying to get to a vote in the House of Commons and hear the debate on the budget. These are important things. If that was the case, if MPs were denied on that excuse, then we have a problem, because that excuse could arise at almost any time the Prime Minister's motorcade wanted to just park somewhere and block the gates of Parliament, or a gate of Parliament that is often used. There is one we predominantly use if we are taking a bus up onto the Hill.
Clearly, if that is what we have in front of us, that is serious. That matters. That could, in future, and we are not suggesting it now, be an abuse of power to prevent MPs from coming in.
That could happen, if that is what took place. That is what we have. At no point in his ruling earlier this morning did the Speaker say the problem was the media bus, to correct my friend from Winnipeg North, as loud as he would like to say it and as often as he would like to repeat it. That is not what is in the Speaker's ruling. He is entitled to his opinions, but not his own facts.
These are the facts. We have the testimony from the member for Beauce who had asked the security official. We have the Speaker's ruling in front of us, which said that all that happened is these buses lined up and could not get in.
When it comes to the Liberals, as Shakespeare would say, methinks they doth protest too much. They are asking us how we dare accuse the Prime Minister of trying to ramrod something through, how we dare accuse the Prime Minister of trying to bully Parliament or prevent MPs from speaking on behalf of their constituents.
Wait. What is going on at the procedure and House affairs committee right now? Right, there is a Liberal motion at committee that speaks to what is exactly relevant today, which is the ability of members of Parliament to have the privilege that is given to us, not by the government, not by the Prime Minister's office, but by our constituents, the privilege of access to the Hill.
This is relevant for my friend from Winnipeg, who likes to say that there is too much heckling in the House of Commons, yet sometimes, from time to time, he just cannot seem to resist it himself. He needs to heckle and get into the debate, and then minutes later will rise to his feet or speak to the media and say that what is wrong with our democracy is that there is too much heckling. Then he returns to the House of Commons to continue his practice of heckling members of Parliament while we are trying to speak.
The question today is this. Is there some sort of pattern developing within the government? I think that is a relevant question. We see the Liberals trying to take the rules of the House of Commons and force down the throats of the opposition that the government of the day should have unfettered power to shut down debate, that it should have new prorogation rules, that it should have the Prime Minister only come in on Wednesdays to answer questions, and that it does not need the support of opposition parties to change the rules of the House of Commons.
We are now asking a question about access to the House of Commons, and how that access was denied. These are good questions to ask, which should be of grave concern to all parliamentarians. Liberals might enter into some delusional world in which they say that they are the government now and will be the government forever. They may think they can change the rules of Parliament to favour the government, because that will never come back to bite them. They think they can make it so that a prime minister's motorcade can block MPs from gaining access to voting on behalf of their constituents, because they are the government right now and maybe it works for them.
I remind my Liberal colleagues of recent history when it was not them in government, and that our role as we pass across this stage is to make sure that we leave the place better than we found it, to make sure that we can do the jobs that people send us here to do. It is nothing more complicated or more simple than that.
However, we see the tendency in the government to say that rules only apply to other people, but that it is special because it is Liberal. The Liberals feel they can have special rules that help Liberals. As the House leader for the Liberals said on the floor of the House of Commons, when we asked about the Prime Minister taking special advantages, he is the Prime Minister after all. Oh goodness, he is the Prime Minister after all.
When the Prime Minister stands in this place, he is just another member of Parliament, which is what we all are. We have the Westminster style of governance. We do not vote in prime ministers. We vote in members of Parliament. News flash to the current government members: as much Kool-Aid as they have drunk, the actual reality of how our system works is that we all have the right to access this place, the right to speak freely on behalf of the people we represent to the best of our abilities, and the right to challenge the government when it makes bad decisions, as we are doing at the procedure and House affairs committee right now.
Why, in heaven's name, is there some discussion? It is real and it is important. The Speaker has ruled that we have a prima facie case of privilege that members of Parliament, two in this case at least, had their rights of access denied, which is as serious as it gets in an open and free democracy. When members are blocked from voting, this is a question worth exploring and understanding so that it does not happen again. We have done it several times now.
The best place for this to take place, the best place for us to investigate what actually happened, to hear from security, to hear from the members who were actually present is in a House of Commons committee. The committee that handles that is the procedure and House affairs committee.
Why would Liberals want to block that particular investigation? One has to ask the question why. Are they worried about an answer that may come out of it? I do not know. Let us just do the right thing. Let us make sure that the guaranteed rights to access this place are guaranteed for all members of Parliament, and that this place functions as it should once in a while.