Mr. Speaker, it is kind of you to clarify that debate will be interrupted at 6:30 this evening and not tomorrow morning. I would be filibustering if I were to speak for 12 hours. My colleague opposite would not like that.
I would like to give an introductory course to the people of my riding; those in the galleries; and the Canadians who watch us every day on CPAC, the television station that broadcasts the proceedings of the House of Commons.
Heaven knows that the House of Commons is an esteemed place in Canada. It is a very important place for our democracy. This democracy is guided by a book entitled House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which is our bible. The book is updated any time changes are made by Parliament and its parliamentarians, not by a political party. There is a fundamental difference between the two because, historically, any changes to the way the House of Commons operates were made unanimously by all of the parties.
Earlier, I was pleased to hear my colleagues say that the Conservatives never went as far as the Liberals. I do not know if it is because the Liberals were the third party in the last Parliament and they were insulted or frustrated to have been left out in the cold for four years. It seems that their frustration is causing them to treat all members in an extremely disrespectful manner.
Once again, the NDP criticized the Harper government a great deal. I will not speak to all their criticism, but I can say that, clearly, most of it was not founded. I will say that their criticism of the government today is even more severe. We have the right to say that the Liberals are much more disrespectful than the Conservatives were in the last Parliament.
It is important to understand that the question of privilege that we are discussing today is very important. We need to tell Canadians that the privileges we have as parliamentarians are important.
It is almost as though we are in a bubble here on Parliament Hill. Canadians do not necessarily see everything that happens every day here, but we are the ones, as parliamentarians, who look after the Canadian Constitution and the business of Parliament so that the country can be properly administered, despite the fact that we have some serious reservations at this time. We can come back to that.
We are in this situation today because the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs should examine an issue. Indeed, the government moved a motion to implement some fundamental changes regarding how the House of Commons operates. Obviously, some elements of the changes are debatable, but at the same time, some elements require discussion and openness on the part of all parliamentarians.
The reason the Liberals say they want to change all this is to bring Parliament into the 21st century. We take no issue with that, but it has to be done in a way that is respectful to all members of the House, by giving them the chance to vote and make a decision together. We have to be able reach a consensus. That is not happening.
The Liberal Party is literally trying to shove down our throats new ways of running Parliament, including having the Prime Minister come here only one day a week. We would no longer sit on Friday. There is a whole slew of fundamental changes on the horizon. It is important for all parliamentarians to be able to express their opinion. We need to have an open and frank discussion. We have not had that, and are not seeing that in committee.
Several people have mentioned that even during the Liberal years of the Chrétien government, all the changes made in the House of Commons were made unanimously. It is fundamentally important.
This is a fundamental issue. As the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has not tired of repeating for the past several weeks, she wants to have a discussion, a conversation. Those are important words.
I am in business. If I had the kind of discussions and conversations that the member wants to have with us or says she wants to have with us, then I am sorry, but I would be in business alone. No doubt about it. I would not be able to have a conversation with someone who does not want to listen to what I have to say and does not want me to participate in making decisions. It is like a company with a number of shareholders. People have to talk to each other and understand each other. They have to make a decision and vote on it. The same general principle applies here.
It is of vital and fundamental importance that all parliamentarians have a chance to speak. This is not the kind of thing I say often, but once again, I would like to thank my NDP colleagues for recognizing that the Conservatives never tried to go as far as the Liberals are going now. This is utterly indefensible. Those of us on this side of the House, along with the Green Party member, are unanimous in saying that consensus in the House of Commons is the only way to change the Standing Orders.