Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to be here representing my constituents of Hamilton Centre who have imbued me with this very serious duty of coming to the House of Commons to exercise our parliamentary privileges: ones that have been outlined by the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil as perhaps being in question or under attack. A lot has been said on many of these points of privilege here today.
I want to congratulate you on your preferment, and I would share that when we elected you yesterday, Mr. Speaker, we did so knowing that we were trying to set a direction for the course of this 44th Parliament that would respect the rights and privileges of every member present in the House.
In trying to learn more about these privileges, I have turned to the jurisprudence, much in the same way my colleagues have, referencing Derek Lee's The Power of Parliamentary Houses to Send for Persons, Papers and Records: A Sourcebook on the Law of Precedent of Parliamentary Subpoena Powers for Canadian and other Houses. I am sure it is on the Speaker's shelf, along with a long list of other jurisprudence that goes back to the 1600s and protects our rights and assures that in this Westminster parliamentary system, we have a balance of power on both sides of the House.
I rise as a New Democrat and think this is an important consideration for your priority, Mr. Speaker, when setting the tone for this 44th Parliament because the Liberal government did have a penchant for circumventing the rules and, in many cases, violating the parliamentary privileges of members of the House of Commons. That has been outlined seven times in this particular point of privilege, three times previously in other points, and multiple times in the last session of Parliament, when you had to intervene in legal proceedings, which was unprecedented.
With this particular case, as committees are being struck it is going to be especially important for you, Mr. Speaker, to provide a clear ruling to show the government and the opposition how seriously we are going to take the jurisprudence on our parliamentary privilege. Because we had a government that chose to run out the clock on the last session, to prorogue it and use procedures to frustrate the basic application of our parliamentary privileges, I believe we would be better off if this was prioritized in a ruling brought forward that clearly defends, with proper evidence, the right for us to use our subpoenas, and to send for documents and records as has been accorded through the historical practices and usages of the House.
Without getting into details or arguing the points and principles of this particular case, I would suggest that this case ought to be used as a precedent for future potential circumventions of our privilege.
I will state in closing that a precedent will be set either way, because a non-decision in this case is also a precedent. It will actually reward, in some instances, the government side's behaviour of circumventing what is, I think, a very clear and well-laid-out long-standing tradition of respecting our parliamentary privileges.
With that, I rise as a member of the New Democratic Party in support of the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil. I ask that you put express priority particularly on the matter of principle and privilege that has been raised today, because it will send a message to the government about what it is able to get away with in the months to come. I look forward to the Speaker's very learned decision on the matter.