Mr. Speaker, without laying out properly the facts of this case as we know them, it is awfully difficult to present a prima facie case, but regrettably a cloud has been placed upon the House administration, and it certainly has given Conservatives cause to reflect on what extent to which we can collaborate. In fact, the same paranoia is, as we have seen, among House officials themselves.
In my view, the House could and should refer this whole mess to the procedure and House affairs committee for full and proper investigation. As much as some of the reactions of the media have referred to some secret external review, it has been completely uncontested in the reporting that this review has never considered any of the partisan revelations that have come to light.
To that end, we should bear in mind the words of Mr. Speaker Milliken's February 1, 2002 ruling, at page 8582 of the Debates, where he said:
...in view of the gravity of the matter, I have concluded that the situation before us where the House is left with two versions of events is one that merits further consideration by an appropriate committee, if only to clear the air.
Surely, when it appears that perhaps one side is not aligned with this, all sides should agree that the air needs to be cleared here. That is why the Conservatives last week asked for the Liberals to release all correspondence and records they had with the clerk so we could see whether the allegations were true or just how big that pipeline was, yet the Liberals have not been forthcoming to this point, which speaks volumes. That is why stronger tools are now needed to clear the air.
A parliamentary committee is a strong vehicle to do just that, as Mr. Speaker Milliken ruled on October 15, 2001, at page 6085 of Debates:
There is a body that is well equipped to commit acts of inquisition, and that is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which has a fearsome chairman, quite able to extract information from witnesses who appear before the committee, with the aid of the capable members who form that committee of the House.
The House must stand up for its own dignity and self-respect. If you find a prima facie case of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared, as I said earlier, to move the appropriate motion for a committee study. This is the only way, I am afraid, that the cloud can be cleared and these foundation-shaking allegations can be either confirmed or purged so we can get to the real business of Parliament.