I would like to provide my ruling on the point of privilege raised by the Member for Iqaluit, Mr. Picco, on October 7, 1997. The Member for Iqaluit raised a point of privilege during question period. The Member indicated, and I will quote Mr. Picco's comments from pages 2424 and 2425 of the unedited Hansard and I quote: "Mr. Speaker, my point of privilege is that as a Member by identifying me as a Chair of a committee he insinuated that my question was not appropriate." Mr. Picco in his point of privilege indicated that he was asking his question as an Ordinary Member, not as Chair of a committee.
To consider whether the Member of Iqaluit has a point of privilege, you have to refer to the series of questions and supplementary questions asked earlier in the question period by Mr. Picco to the Minister responsible for the Liquor Licensing Board, Mr. Todd. Mr. Picco had asked a question and three supplementary questions on the matter of deposit fees on Liquor containers. Mr. Picco's point, as I understood it, centred around Minister Todd's previous comments, and I quote Mr. Todd: "My honourable colleague is the Chair of the Committee", and "I am surprised my colleague would ask that questions given his experience, depth of knowledge and as a Chair and active opponent in this House ...", end of quotes from page 2418 of unedited Hansard.
I considered the relevant authorities contained in Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, including citation 92, and I quote: "A valid claim of privilege in respect to interference with a Member must relate to the Members' parliamentary duties and not in the work the Member does in relation to that Member's constituency." Also, citation 31 provides guidance as to circumstances that may arise that on the surface may appear a question of privilege but are not, and I quote: "A dispute arising between two Members, as to allegations of facts, does not fulfil the conditions of parliamentary privilege", end of quote. There is always a difficulty for Members and sometimes for the Chair to differentiate between questions of privilege and questions of order. As to this particular point, I did not find that the two comments made by the Minister responsible for the Liquor Commission as to the role of the Member for Iqaluit, as Chair of a Committee, to be a question of privilege. However, the Chair does understand how at the time of the questioning the Member for Iqaluit perceived that the comments of the Minister appeared to respond to him as a committee chair rather than as the Member for Iqaluit. This still does not establish a prima facie case of privilege. As citation 69 clearly states, and I quote: "It is very important ... to indicate that something can be inflammatory, can be disagreeable, can even be offensive, but it may not be a question of privilege unless the comment actually impinges upon the ability of Members of Parliament to do their job properly", end of quote.
While sitting in the Chair and later in reviewing the point of privilege, however, I noted both Members were very close to having the Chair call them to order for other comments they each made. I must once again remind Members that questions and answers should not be argumentative nor provoke debate or contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions. I would hope all honourable Members will continue to be guided by these guidelines for asking and answering questions. Thank you.
Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Morin