Request for Emergency Debate – 41st General Election

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same issue and ask for an emergency debate on what appears to be a coordinated attempt to subvert a free, fair and full vote on May 2.

Nothing is more important in a democracy than citizens being allowed and also in fact encouraged to exercise their right to vote, and the subversion of this is deeply alarming.

I am mindful of precedents. Certainly, Speaker Anglin back in 1978 said that the matter must be immediately relevant and of attention and concern throughout the nation. With all respect, I think that point has been made.

We know that the matter need not be of the kind of “emergency” or “crisis” as in the general sense of those words. Speaker Jerome spoke to this, as found in the Debates of February 22, 1978, at page 3128, which states:

—the provisions of the rule are such that I cannot hear any argument….

It seems…the Chair is in a rather invidious position.

Mr. Speaker, I sympathize with you at this point.

Speaker Jerome continued:

To take too restrictive a stance…would mean it would be almost impossible to get the benefit of this rule and to bring to the House a discussion of a matter which is important and requires urgent consideration, although it is not necessarily an emergency or a crisis, as the words have been used.

The precedents on this matter suggests that a matter such as this one that has been discovered now, although we have certainly known of it for some time, falls into the kind of category to which the Speaker referred back in 1977, where RCMP malfeasance in 1973 was discovered in 1977, and the Speaker found that those circumstances gave rise to an urgent matter that required an emergency debate.

I join my friend from Toronto Centre, and just as we had the unanimous consent of all members of this place to provide evidence of the wrongdoing that took place on May 2, I would hope we have the support and unanimous consent of all members to have an emergency debate on this matter today.

The Speaker: I have no doubt that members take these concerns very seriously.

One of the criteria in O’Brien and Bosc in setting out how the Speaker determines whether or not to grant an emergency debate mentions that when matters are being investigated by other administrative bodies, they are generally rejected. Given the fact that it is my understanding that these matters are being investigated by Elections Canada at this time, I do not think it meets the criteria for that reason.