Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask that you would allow us to weigh in on this very important issue. I understand that your job is to manage this place and to ensure that government business is able to proceed as planned.
My concern, and why I would like to make a few comments regarding this, is that this goes to the very heart of what we as parliamentarians do and how we function in this place. It has been said previously, and it has been said more and more, that power is being centralized more and more in one office, the Prime Minister's Office. In this case, whereby the Liberals have the majority, if an edict from the Prime Minister comes down to the Liberal members of Parliament, they then can enforce the Prime Minister's wishes because they simply have the majority.
This is vital not just to our privileges, because somehow we as members of Parliament need a privilege, but we are elected by the people of Canada to uphold our democracy. It is the tools we have in the House of Commons, which we are able to use to uphold that democracy, that are at risk. If we let little things go, these little things become bigger and bigger. A lot of the discussion over the last couple of weeks has been around potential changes to the Standing Orders. We have not been talking always about the specifics of those changes. There have been some specifics, but a lot of the concern has been around the way the government is trying to ram through these changes.
What we saw happen yesterday is in that same vein. It is pretty well the same type of behaviour, and if it is let go and nothing happens, it is clear the government will do what it wants to do regardless of the process. Again, this is not about the end result. I think we all agree that this question of privilege should be looked at at PROC. However, there is a process and the way that PROC receives this, and that is by the House being able to vote on this question of privilege.
No one can argue that the motion moved yesterday was a privilege motion. The Speaker ruled that it was a privilege motion and as such it was granted the status that it deserved. It seems to me that any member could now put the motion that flowed from the ruling yesterday on notice and that notice should would appear as a privilege motion on the Order Paper of the next day. We see this as common sense. A superseded concurrence motion goes back on the Order Paper as a concurrence motion, as would a superseded travel motion, for example. All superseded motions can return to the Order Paper with the same status as it left the Order Paper.
If the Speaker rules that the motion should go back as something else, such as a private member's motion, then I am curious to hear what the Speaker's explanation would be as to why a privilege motion would be the only type of motion that would morph into something else by virtue of the adoption of a motion to proceed to orders of the day.
What is more disturbing in that scenario is the fact that this magical metamorphosis produces inferior results. That is an insult to every member in the House. Members' privileges are just that, privileged, and they should be treated as such. Nothing else will do. The right of due process was taken away from two members who missed the vote on March 22. It is one thing for the majority to stand in its place and vote against a privilege motion, and that might happen. However, it is another for Liberals to hide behind a superseding motion where that matter has neither been decided in the affirmative or negative.
I would respectfully say that nobody can stand by and allow the rights of members to disappear into the either. Their rights cannot be snatched away on a technical glitch, no matter how much the government would like it to be so. I know the Liberals are trying to make some case that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will be dealing with the issue. However, they are dealing with it in an unorthodox manner, and that is not the point. That is why this is so important.
The normal due process in matters of privilege has three elements. First, the matter is raised. If the Speaker finds a prima facie question of privilege, he invites the member to move a motion. Then we have debate in the House where the members give their opinions on the matter. If the House so chooses, it can send the matter to committee. If the House chooses to send the matter to committee, then the committee has the testimony of all those members who participated in the debate to consider.
The process of yesterday is missing a few parts: the House has not pronounce itself on the question; members have not concluded their remarks, since the motion has not yet been decided or adjourned; and, the committee does not have a proper reference to consider the matter and even if it pretends that it does, it is missing all the opinions of those members who wanted to speak.
What about the fact that the two members who missed the vote were members of the opposition and their right to due process was snatched away by a majority of government members? Do we not believe and think that should be a concern to all of us and to you, Mr. Speaker? It fits right into the theme of this Parliament. Every reform idea proposed by the government attempts to strip away the rights from the opposition, from Motion No. 6 to the recent batch of Standing Orders changes and the botched attempt and approach taken by the Liberal government to process them.
I appreciate being allowed to intervene on this. It is of vital importance. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you rule on this matter and allow the privilege motion to be decided by the House in the manner suggested by my colleague from Perth—Wellington, or by a member placing the motion back on the Order Paper, where it belongs. We need to deal with this in the proper process. We cannot allow a majority or a different unorthodox process to take this out of the House and illegitimately give it to the committee, although we agree with the result but it has to be done in the proper way. We ask that the Speaker would make that ruling.