Mr. Louis Plamondon: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and all of its members, I would also like to pay tribute to our veterans.
I rise here today to recognize Veterans’ Week. It is very important to commemorate—
The Speaker: The hon. member must have unanimous consent to respond to a minister’s statement.
Does the House give unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: There is no consent.
Hon. Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Let the record show that when a member of the House rose to pay tribute to the veterans of our country on behalf of his political party, a party with which I do not agree, the members of the Conservative Party would not allow that member to speak.
It is shameful that there are people in this House who do not want to hear the opinions of others. It is shameful.
Mr. Stephen Woodworth: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise an objection to what the member just said. There is no question that I said nothing in response to the request for unanimous consent. I do not know how many of my colleagues over here did or did not. It is inappropriate for the member to make that a partisan comment by referencing the members on this side of the House.
The Speaker: Order, please. The Chair sought the consent of the House and consent was not given.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent once again, as dean of this House, as a member of this House. Like all other members, I would like to pay tribute to veterans on behalf of the four members of my party. I also ask on behalf of the Green Party. I do not see this as a partisan act. I see it simply as a noble gesture in order to say to those individuals who went and fought, and those who gave their lives, that we pay tribute to them.
How is it that I cannot get unanimous consent? This is not meant to be a precedent that I will use any other time. Today is a special day. That is all. I simply want to pay tribute to veterans, like everyone else, as we have always done.
I am seeking unanimous consent and I appeal to the Conservative members to grant it. It is only fair. The minister said in his speech that this House is a symbol of our freedom and democracy. He said that. I think I should have the right to speak.
Hon. Gordon O’Connor: Mr. Speaker, the Standing Orders say, in response to a minister’s statement, that only members of recognized parties can make statements. The Bloc is not a recognized party.
The Speaker: I hesitate to allow this to evolve into a debate. Consent has been sought and consent has been denied. It seems rather straightforward to the Chair.
I will hear the hon. member for Winnipeg North, but I hope it is not just a continuation of debate. Normally, in order to seek unanimous consent, some proceedings have to precede before the Chair would entertain the same question. However, I will hear the hon. member for Winnipeg North and hope that it is on a specific point.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, you will find that parliamentary tradition says that, yes, we do have Standing Orders of sorts. Those are what we are expected to follow. However, if you look back in terms of the tradition of the chamber, what you will find is, on occasion, members have stood and asked for leave to go outside the Standing Orders in order to do the right thing. I would suggest that this is an appropriate request when a member would like to comment on the importance of November 11.
The point of order is to ask for the government to give consideration that this is an exceptional situation in which we believe in the—
The Speaker: Order, please. I am going to stop the member there. As I said, it is very simple for the Chair. In order for the Chair to recognize members of parties that are not recognized parties there needs to be unanimous consent of the House. There is no discretion in that. Consent was sought and consent was denied. We will have to move on.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: Mr. Speaker, just to be absolutely clear, when the point was raised by the leader of the Liberal Party that consent had been denied, a member of the Conservative Party rose to say that he had not denied consent. I think, as put on the floor now, the question is was consent denied or not.
Could we have some clarity on that point, since from our side it seemed that some Conservatives said “no”. A Conservative has risen in his place to say that this is not the case. Could we seek clarity on whether consent was or was not denied.
The Speaker: I am happy to provide clarity. Consent was denied. The Chair clearly heard members withhold their consent.
Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I recognize that a similar point of order was raised by my hon. colleagues from the Bloc, but in this circumstance we have heard it said that members of recognized national political parties, such as the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party, do not have as a right the opportunity to speak when other leaders have spoken as a result of a ministerial statement.
We also know that the House is the master of its own procedures. By unanimous consent, anything is possible. Surely on an occasion when we mark the sacrifices for democracy, voters in the hundreds of thousands who have supported our parties should not be silenced in this place, while we mark the sacrifices of our veterans.
The Speaker: Requests for unanimous consent are neither debatable nor technically votable. It is consent or not. Clearly in this case, to the Chair, there was no consent. It is very simple in that regard.
I now invite the House to rise and observe two minutes of silence to commemorate our war veterans.
[Two minutes of silence observed]