Mr. Speaker, what my friend, the government House leader, just did is completely unacceptable. He disregarded the ruling you made on June 17.
If the member had something to say about this matter, he could have done it at the appropriate time, 10 days ago, when the member for Kingston and the Islands responded to my well-researched speech. That was when the government leader should have made the argument he made just a couple of minutes ago, instead of having the member for Kingston and the Islands give a speech, although I must say it was an interesting one. However, you considered the strength of the arguments and made a decision. You acknowledged that our proposal was a fair one.
We proposed that the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada attend at the bar of the House to receive an admonishment and to deliver the documents. When this matter was duly put to a vote on June 17, it then became an order.
That order contained two elements. The first was that the president, Mr. Stewart, attend at the bar of the House. I see that he is still there, which is good. The second is that he be admonished by the House, and that is what you did.
However, the story does not end there. The June 17 motion was very clear. The majority of the House of Commons, all of the opposition parties, voted in favour of it. He was supposed to deliver up the documents related to the Winnipeg lab without redaction. That demand has not been met.
That is why I am informing you that I am raising a question of privilege related to the fact that this order of the House was not followed, given the refusal of Iain Stewart, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, to produce certain documents when he attended at the bar, contrary to the order adopted by the House on Thursday, June 17.
Standing Order 48(2) normally requires that I give one hour's notice if my question of privilege is not one “arising out of proceedings in the chamber during the course of a sitting”.
Mr. Stewart received the order to attend at the bar of the House this day for the purposes of “delivering up the documents ordered by the House, on June 2, 2021, to be produced, so that they may be deposited with the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel under the terms of that order”.
Mr. Stewart was here but he did not deliver what we were asking for. This is why we are talking about a question of privilege here today.
I want to stress that that is the real issue. The order of the House required two things: that Mr. Stewart attend the House to receive the admonishment, which he has done, and that he produce the documents, which he has not done.
That is why the House is once again debating this issue. This is an important question of privilege related to what happened here a few minutes ago.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 82, lays out the well-established list of types of contempt of Parliament.
I will refer members to the ninth and tenth items.
...without reasonable excuse, refusing to answer a question or provide information or produce papers formally required by the House or a committee;
without reasonable excuse, disobeying a lawful order of the House or a committee;
Both of those have happened before our eyes today.
There is no question that Mr. Stewart was aware of the order made Thursday. He testified before the Standing Committee on Health on Friday, and said he was aware of the motion adopted in the House of Commons. That is a good thing.
Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, second edition, states, at page 240, “Disobedience of rules or orders is an obvious contempt and would include refusing to attend at the Bar of the House after the House had so ordered, refusing to personally attend and to produce the documents requested by a committee…”.
The documents Mr. Stewart was to produce were requested on four distinct occasions, last spring.