It’s dangerous generally to dwell on the points of order and privilege raised each day in the House—many are silly, some are whiny and the rest are merely irrelevant.
But let’s take a moment for Louise Thibault, who rose with this last week and which I’ve yet to point out only because the implications of this point of privilege are altogether mind-blowing.
Mr. Speaker, I will very briefly explain why I am raising a question of privilege concerning the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. Yesterday evening, during the adjournment debate, in response to something I had said, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development said, and I am quoting directly from Hansard:
“It must have been frustrating for the member during her three years with the Bloc Québécois when she had to sit idly by while it was completely incapable of accomplishing a single goal on the seniors file.”
The Conservative government and all its spokespeople routinely disparage the other parties in this House, and this is tolerated. However, it is unacceptable, in my opinion. I will let the parties decide whether or not to take action. However, when the parliamentary secretary directly disparages a member, namely me, in a mean and calculated manner, it is a personal and collective affront to the people I legitimately represent in this House.
This sort of insidious and damaging remark, which reflects on a member’s reputation and was made in this House, should not be tolerated. I therefore ask the parliamentary secretary to retract her comments.
You can be almost certain nothing will ever come of this. Peter Van Loan stood afterwards and moaned that this was debate and therefore not technically a point of privilege. The Speaker will surely find a way to forget it.
But. Imagine, if just briefly, what would happen in the Speaker accepted Thibault’s argument and ruled that she deserved an apology. Effectively, he would be ruling against all disparaging of members in the House. Essentially, he would be ruling out of order almost everything this government says in Question Period each day.
What on earth would come of John Baird? Would Peter Van Loan suddenly show an ability to deal with the opposition in a straightforward and respectful manner? Or would he spontaneously combust in his seat?
And what of the Prime Minister? Would he even be let in the House? Would Question Period have to be abolished? Would Parliament cease to function? Would the very foundation of our democracy crumble, giving way to total anarchy?
It is a frightening future for sure. And one the Speaker must not permit Ms. Thibault to force upon us.