Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Good afternoon, colleagues. I would like to provide at this time my ruling on a point of order raised yesterday, Wednesday, November 1, 2000.
The point of order was raised by the Member for Weledeh, the honourable Mr. Handley, and is contained on pages 1479 and 1480 of the unedited Hansard.
The point of order was raised during question period when the Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger, was questioning the Premier. The point of order raised by Mr. Handley, and I quote from page 1480 of the unedited Hansard:
"Mr. Speaker, the Member is referring to a document that is not before the House. That is my point of order."
A review of the unedited Hansard on page 1478 indicates that Mr. Miltenberger's question concerns statements the Premier, the honourable Mr. Kakfwi, had made on page 1415 of the unedited Hansard of October 31, 2000 concerning job descriptions for executive assistants. However, upon further review of the preamble to Mr. Miltenberger's question, he did make mention, and I quote again from page 1478:
"That there was compelling legal evidence that pointed to the fact that Cabinet had probably contravened its own legislation"
Although the actual question related to the Premier's comments concerning job descriptions for executive assistants, the Member for Thebacha did mention the matter of legal evidence.
The question I have to answer, is there precedent that requires a Member to table a document that they refer to in debate, or in this case, during question period? There have been a number of rulings by my predecessors, but those are related to the requirement for Ministers to table documents that they mention in debate. The rulings have focused on the tabling of Cabinet documents or sections of documents that may or may not have fallen under Cabinet confidentiality.
There are three rulings that I reviewed to assist me in this matter. One was made on June 12, 1995, by Speaker Gargan; on February 13, 1998, again by Speaker Gargan; and lastly, again by Speaker Gargan on February 18, 1998. These rulings did not directly deal with a document being cited by an
Ordinary Member, but dealt with documents being mentioned by a Minister.
In considering my ruling, I referenced two parliamentary authorities: Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms 6th Edition; and Marleau and Montpetit - House of Commons' Procedure and Practices. The question is not the tabling of a document that may have been cited or quoted from, in part, by a Minister as there are precedents for that occurrence, but whether an Ordinary Member can be compelled or required to table a document that he or she may cite or quote from.
In making my ruling, I was guided by Beauchesne's 6th Edition, Citation 495.(1) which again addresses documents cited by a Minister. I quote from 495.(2):
495.(2) "It has been admitted that a document, which has been cited, ought to be laid upon the table of the House if it can be done without injury to the public interest. The same rule, however, cannot be held to apply to private letters or memoranda."
It may assist Members if I indicate how the term "cited" is interpreted in the parliamentary context. Again, I quote from Citation 495.(5) of Beauchesne's 6th Edition:
"To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate. The admission that a document exists or the reading of the salutation or address of a letter does not constitute citing"
Another reference contained in Beauchesne's 6th Edition should also be considered. I quote:
"A private Member has neither the right nor the obligation to table an official, or any other, document."
When it comes to tabling a document, a practice has been developed in this House which is not common among other jurisdictions in Canada. Other jurisdictions vary from only Ministers that are permitted to table documents to tabling documents by any Member, which is the case in our House.
There are, however, limitations as to what is permitted to be tabled. In considering our precedents and other authorities, I rule that the Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley, does not have a point of order.
As the rules and practices do not indicate that an Ordinary Member can be compelled to table a document unless expressed through some formal discussion in the House, I indicated that the requirement for Ministers concerning the tabling of documents is different and would depend on the circumstances as they arose.
However, if an Ordinary Member feels that a document that he or she continues to cite from would be in the public interest to make public, then the opportunity does exist under the item on the orders of the day. That item is tabling of documents. Thank you.
Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.