Question of Privilege – S. O. 31

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Langley, as well as the hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright. As a specific case, may I say this is one of the most important points of privilege I have heard in the brief two years, almost, that I have been serving here? It cuts to the core of what is wrong with parliamentary democracy that the hon. government House leader could put before you a sports metaphor that we are here as teams, as brands or colours, and we are all to take instructions from our team boss.


We are not here as teams. The principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy is that we are here as representatives of our constituencies and our constituents. We are merely incidentally members of political parties. Political parties do not exist in our Constitution. They are not an essential part of our democracy. They have grown to be seen to be the most interesting thing going on, and we have grown to see politics as some sort of sport. However, democracy is not a sport. We are not playing on teams, and each individual member has individual rights, and the members for Langley and Vegreville—Wainwright feel their rights have been infringed.

I would add that I rose on a point of order to you some many months ago on the question of S.O. 31s and the fact that they were increasingly being used for purposes that, while not against our Standing Orders as they are written, are against the spirit of Standing Orders as described by former Speaker Madam Justice Sauvé, who pointed out that they should typically speak to matters of local concern in our constituencies and should not be used as a place for attacks on others, specifically ad hominem personal attacks.

At the time you said you might comment on that later. Perhaps this point of privilege might give you a chance to further elucidate when it is inappropriate for the approved S.O. 31s from the Conservative war room to be very vicious attacks and the ones that members wish to make about the concerns of their own constituents to be censored and prevented from being presented in this place.