Mr. Speaker, today we begin our last day of debate on Bill C-44, and all we have left is two hours and fifteen minutes.
We will not have an opportunity to speak at third reading because we are 34th in line at the eleventh hour of debate. I therefore submit to you that my parliamentary privilege has been violated. What had not yet happened three days ago is happening now. Time allocation is preventing a political party from speaking on a bill.
I would like to remind you that, last month, I raised a question of privilege about the government's plan to use more closure motions, thereby preventing members of non-recognized parties from participating in debate, stifling diversity of opinion, and basically bypassing the views and interests Bloc Québécois voters in what looks an awful lot like democracy denied.
In your ruling of June 6, 2017, you recognized that my concerns were legitimate:
The privilege of freedom of speech is undoubtedly the most important right accorded to members of this House.
However, you refused to fully endorse my arguments:
As the member's claims are more speculative in nature at this point, it would be premature and presumptive for the Chair to rule based on assumptions of what might transpire.
Well, now we are no longer speculating. Things that had not yet transpired three days ago are happening today. The Bloc Québécois will not be able to speak to Bill C-44, the budget implementation bill, the most important bill of the parliamentary session. However, the Bloc Québécois is the only party that caught one worrisome aspect of the bill.
By giving the infrastructure bank the status of agent of the crown, even on projects that are entirely private, Bill C-44 puts the financial sector above Quebec's laws. With the infrastructure bank, after an order of the government, agricultural zoning, environmental protections, and municipal bylaws will no longer apply. This raises serious constitutional issues.
For a private construction project to be exempt from Quebec law, an old colonial-inspired power must be invoked, namely, declaratory power, but that needs to be done by Parliament on a project-by-project basis. Bill C-44 therefore invokes the government's power over public property to federalize the bank's projects. However, we are not talking about public property. We are talking about private investors. Bill C-44 may be unconstitutional. The Quebec National Assembly is unanimously opposed to this bill and the Government of Quebec is prepared to challenge it in court.
I know what you are thinking, Mr. Speaker. You are thinking that I am raising a point of debate. You are partly right. This issue definitely deserves to be debated, but that debate will never happen because the Bloc Québécois, the only party to raise this issue, would not be able to participate because of the discriminatory rules of the House.
In your June 6 ruling, you said that you cannot go against the will of the House. I find that unfortunate, but I understand. That being said, it is not time allocation motions alone that exclude the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party from debate. It is time allocation motions and the fact that we are relegated to 34th place in the speaking order.
Mr. Speaker, the hypothetical question that was asked three days ago has become a reality today. I am asking you to find that my parliamentary privileges have been violated. I am asking you to review the speaking order for debates in the House to ensure that all points of view can be heard, despite the repeated gag orders. That is the basis of our democracy. I am asking that all parties, recognized or not, be able to speak in the House in the first round of speeches.