Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few of my own comments to my colleague's request that you look at this as a point of privilege.
I want to begin by congratulating the member for New Westminster—Burnaby on his new position as House Leader for the NDP.
There are a couple of things that I think are important to note around this issue.
First, this issue is so important that the House will recall that two weeks ago, when I requested an emergency debate in the House on the issue of the SNC-Lavalin cover-up, the emergency debate was granted. The Speaker saw how important it was that we get to the bottom of this issue, that we, as parliamentarians certainly, and Canadians, understand and know the truth around the circumstances whereby the former Attorney General was pressured to interfere in a criminal prosecution. That pressure was brought to bear by the Prime Minister and his office.
The House will also recall that when this broke, the story from the Prime Minister changed continually. It first was denial. He said that nothing happened, that there was no pressure. He then blamed Scott Brison. He then said that her experiences were different from his. Overall, the story has changed continuously.
What has added not only to the confusion but what appears to be a massive cover-up are the different stories being presented by the current Attorney General, and the information, and as my colleague pointed out, the answers, given to the House by the current Attorney General, which we now know are not true.
We have had to have an emergency debate about it. The justice committee has been complicit in the cover-up, working with the Prime Minister's Office to help cover this up. We have seen the current Attorney General, the individual who is tasked with keeping the laws of this land, mislead the House, saying that he believes whatever the Prime Minister said and whose own story has been changing.
This is a crisis of moral authority in this country. This is not just a political discussion that happens in the chamber sometimes. This is not just a “he said, she said”, or “he said, he said”. This goes to the very fabric of our country and the moral authority to govern this country.
I appreciate that there have already been examples brought to the Speaker on previous times that the House was misled and a prima facia question of privilege was found. The one that was talked about was in 2002, when Art Eggleton, the then minister of national defence, was accused of deliberately making misleading statements.
In 2011, Bev Oda, the then minister of international cooperation, was accused of deliberately making misleading statements. That point was about the confusion created by the minister's contradictory statements. Speaker Milliken ruled that a prima facie question of privilege did exist, and the House agreed to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
In 2014, former colleague Brad Butt from Mississauga—Streetsville was accused of making misleading statements to the House, and again the Speaker found that it warranted a prima facie question of privilege.
Those were both instances that, although important in terms of not making misleading statements to the House, did not go to the very fibre and fabric of our system of democracy and the independence of the judiciary.
I make those points because this is a gravely important issue, and I want to add one more comment.
Another angle to this could be that the Attorney General himself has been misled by the Prime Minister. He could have not been told the truth by the Prime Minister. There is also a precedent for that. Page 116 of Bosc and Gagnon explains the following:
Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and, thus, a prima facie breach of privilege. For example, on December 6, 1978, in finding that a prima facie contempt of the House existed, Speaker Jerome ruled that a government official, by deliberately misleading a Minister, had impeded the Member in the performance of his duties and consequently obstructed the House itself.
We do not know. Would it have been Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, who possibly mislead our current Attorney General? That is another question.
Either the Attorney General was misled by the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council or their officials, or the Attorney General deliberately misled the House on an issue of grave importance, so grave that we had an emergency debate on it, so grave that we have been consumed with this.
The government, today by the way, just had its third cabinet shuffle in less than six or seven weeks. The government is not consumed with issues that are affecting the country, such as pipelines, canola exports to China, massive deficits and job losses. The Liberals are consumed with saving their own skins and moving cabinet around as they are constantly trying to fill holes that are being created by their own scandal and their own cover-up.
I fully support my colleague's request that a prima facie case be found, and I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to this. I would ask that if more information becomes available, we could be afforded the opportunity to address this again.