Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Regina—Lewvan.
It is a privilege to rise today on what happens to be a question of privilege. I am a member of the House of Commons in Ottawa, and I represent the people who duly elected me in 2015, the people of Drummond. It is a privilege to speak on behalf of all of the nearly 100,000 people of the greater Drummond area. It is a privilege to rise here today, a privilege of particular importance because we are in fact debating a question of privilege.
A few weeks ago, an incident transpired on Parliament Hill that had to do with security on the Hill. We must ensure that the Prime Minister can move about safely and that dignitaries can do so as well, all under the watchful eye of the RCMP with the necessary security measures in place. However, problems arise when we are called upon to do our job, to do our duty as MPs and politicians. We come to the House of Commons to give speeches, attend question period, and present petitions on behalf of our constituents. For example, hundreds of petitions about mandatory GMO labelling have been presented. This is an issue of great concern to the people of Drummond, Quebec, and Canada.
My colleague from Sherbrooke is doing great work. He tabled a bill that should come to a vote in the next few weeks. I hope the members will support this bill. These days, people in Drummond, Quebec, and across Canada want to know what they are eating. They are in favour of mandatory GMO labelling.
It is important that I, as an MP, have access to the House of Commons to be able to table petitions regarding mandatory labelling for GMOs, for example, on behalf of Canadians. In order to do so, I must be able to move freely on the Hill.
Some of my colleagues had a bad experience recently. They had to go from one area to another to attend a vote, but unfortunately, they were prevented from doing so. They were not allowed to go through because of a security issue. Given that the Prime Minister's security motorcade was on the move, my colleagues had to wait. MPs must not be prevented from getting to the House of Commons, because that is their privilege.
When we speak of “privilege”, we are not talking about anyone being “privileged”. MPs are not privileged individuals. We are not talking about privilege in the sense of a Prime Minister who spends his vacation on a private island. That is not what this is about. When we speak of “privilege”, we are talking about a duty. MPs have a duty to represent their constituents. In order to do so, we must carry out various tasks, and this includes being present in the House of Commons to give speeches, to table petitions, to attend question period, to ensure that the government responds to questions from Canadians, and to vote. In fact, we will be holding some extremely important votes shortly.
I myself introduced a bill to require Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. For many Canadians, it is extremely important that they be able to speak the official language of their choice when they appear before the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court before which Canadians can defend their rights. Canada has two official languages, going back to the founding of this country.
It is extremely important for Canadians to be able to use the official language of their choice when they are before the highest court in the land. That is why I introduced a private member's bill. It is my privilege and duty as a citizen and a member of Parliament to do my work on behalf of my constituents and of all Canadians, whose interests I defend, including every official language minority community across Canada.
My bill will be put to a vote in a few weeks. I hope that members of the House will vote in favour of it. It is extremely important that all Supreme Court justices understand the arguments and are able to read all the evidence and arguments submitted to them when ruling on a case before the Supreme court so that citizens are properly represented.
Let us come back to the question of privilege, which brings me back to my journey as an MP. I was first elected on May 2, 2011. Tomorrow it will be six years since I was first elected. To me, it is extremely important to acknowledge that and to thank my constituents for the confidence they have placed in me. I will continue working hard for them to protect their rights.
I remember very well that at the very beginning, in May 2011, I was new at this or, as they say, I was green, or inexperienced. I was learning all about this job. We were given a lot of training at the beginning. Among other things, we learned about our privileges as members of Parliament and, especially, what that meant in terms of our duties. As MPs, we have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to show up and vote on behalf of our constituents. We have a responsibility to speak to all sorts of issues and stand up for our constituents.
In June 2015, there was a lockout at Canada Post. People have forgotten that it was not a strike. In fact, people believed that it was a strike rather than a lockout. The NDP did everything in its power to encourage management and the union to negotiate an agreement because there is nothing worse than an imposed solution. We worked hard. We gave speeches into the early morning hours. I remember giving my speech at three o'clock in the morning because our constituents asked us to work on getting a negotiated solution.
When we speak of privilege, we are talking about the privilege of being able to stand up for our constituents and being able to share opinions that represent their interests so that we can find the kinds of solutions that the people who put us here expect. That is why, in June 2011, I had the privilege of speaking in the House at three o'clock in the morning. It was not because I am privileged that I was awake at three in the morning fighting for my constituents. I was there because it was my duty.
When it comes to this question of privilege, it is important to understand that it is the duty of MPs to come to work, to do all that is required of them, and most importantly, to vote.
We need to resolve this issue once and for all. How is it that obstruction is occurring even today, in 2017, and that a member was prevented from coming to work and doing her duty of defending and representing her constituents? Something needs to be done about that. That is why we are asking that this matter be sent to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and that it be given priority, so that we can resolve this problem once and for all and so that all members of the House can do their duty and properly represent their constituents. I consider it an honour to do that.
I am pleased to represent my constituents.