Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I also want to rise and speak to the point of order that has been put to you by the hon. House leader of the official opposition.
The legal opinion we have before us, regardless of the content, without getting into whether we are for or against the CBC, or whether there is a hidden agenda, is a grave and serious matter. It cuts to the heart of the rule of law, on the Constitution of this country, and the proper respect for boundaries, roles and responsibilities of this place, respect for our courts, and adequately understanding the role of Parliament.
Other sections of Mr. Walsh’s fine legal opinion have been read out this morning, but I was particularly taken by the words of Mr. Justice Binnie, Supreme Court of Canada, in the 2005 case, the House of Commons and the hon. Gilbert Parent v. Satnam Vaid. It is a case in which we are generally familiar with the facts.
It is a very strong statement from the Supreme Court of Canada. I will quote:
It is a wise principle that the courts and Parliament strive to respect each other’s role in the conduct of public affairs. Parliament, for its part, refrains from commenting on matters before the courts under the sub judice rule. The courts, for their part, are careful not to interfere with the workings of Parliament.
It goes on to note that Mr. Walsh, as the law clerk, our legal adviser, warns that in some circumstances the interference of a parliamentary committee in matters that are before the courts could be “seen as a contempt of court.”
In other words, this cannot be a matter left with the committee. The committee, for whatever intentions it has, and I am not commenting on those, is placing the House of Commons at risk of further court proceedings in which this place, the Parliament of Canada, could be found by the courts to have entered into a relationship which constitutes contempt of court.
We must respect our roles and responsibilities. This will be a difficult ruling for you, Mr. Speaker. I think this may be your watershed moment as our Speaker. I trust in your wisdom and judgment on this, but Mr. Walsh’s legal opinion is not easily dismissed.
I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to find in favour of the point of order from the official opposition.