Canada's NDP


June 6th, 2024

MP Mathyssen Asks for Resolution to Question of Conservative Hypocrisy

Madam Speaker, I am rising to put further information on the record concerning the matter that I first brought forward last Thursday regarding the Deputy Speaker.

This Chamber has debated, several times in recent weeks and months, the very important issue of impartiality by Chair occupants. As members will recall, I did bring forward, one week ago today, my concern about a posting from the member of Parliament for West Nova on October 31, 2023, in which he was referred to as the Deputy Speaker and in which he appeared in his Speaker robes. The posting was for a fundraising event being held by a local Conservative constituency association.

Later that evening, the member did rise to offer what I thought to be a perfectly reasonable explanation. He says the posting was made without his knowledge or consent and that it should not have happened. I take the hon. member's word at face value and I appreciate his apology to this House.

As indicated by the NDP House leader at the time, this case is strikingly similar to another recent case which involved the Speaker and an unauthorized posting by the Liberal Party of Canada. As members may recall, at that time we asked for and received an apology from the Liberal Party of Canada. I will remind members that when that very similar situation arose, despite the apology, regular debate was still set aside, and ultimately a vote on a prima facie matter of privilege occurred.

Despite that precedent, as our House Leader has indicated, we are prepared to consider the matter closed once that apology from the Conservative Party of Canada has been provided. However, without that apology from the relevant Conservative official, we cannot do so.

Using Speaker's office resources for partisan gain is a serious offence, whether it is done by the Speaker or by one of his deputies. If and when it is done by the member intentionally, it is of course an affront perpetrated by that member toward their colleagues. In fact, that in this case it would appear to have been done without the member's consent is of course material, but does not change the fact that this House is owed an apology by those responsible.

As outlined in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice:

The House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege: tends to obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions; obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of the House in the discharge of their duties; or is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House, such as disobedience of its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its Members, or its officers.

It continues:

The House of Commons enjoys very wide latitude in maintaining its dignity and authority through the exercise of its contempt power. In other words, the House may consider any misconduct to be contempt and may deal with it accordingly.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that we take the member's statement at face value. We appreciate his apology to the House in this case. However, we do consider this matter to be unresolved and are looking for that resolution soon.