Content of Flyer–Speaker’s Ruling
Madam Speaker, one of the things that I would like to make clear is that as a relatively new member of the House, I do find these mailings to be important.
They are important for a couple of reasons. One is that they help a democratic debate. They help to explain policy. They help to explain other people’s policies. While we are talking about this particular issue in the House today, which I am sure the government will admit was an error, I would not like to see the program stymied in any way, because I find it very important in terms of getting my message out.
I just wonder if my colleague would like to make a comment on the value of these ten percenters.
Mr. Joe Comartin:
I am glad the member asked that question, Madam Speaker, because it was a point I meant make in my address.
There is no question that the ten percenters are a valuable tool for us to be able to communicate not only with our own constituents but with the country as a whole. They should be, and in a lot of cases have been, a tool to educate, to share information with the general public on issues that are in the public domain currently.
It is additionally important to note, and this is the point I wanted to make in my speech, that the Liberal Party has been publicly stating that it wants to stop the regrouping and not allow the ten percenters to be sent by individual members or by party leaders to ridings other than their own.
I think that ignores the reality of political parties in this country having regional areas in which they do not have any representatives. Those areas would in effect be deprived of the arguments, the issues and the policies of the party that had no representation in those areas.
Therefore I think it is important to continue that ability. My argument is very strong. We have all sorts of laws that restrict what one can say in terms of liable. I think we have to remember that and put some parameters in place.
It is my understanding, and I intend to do more research on this, that the Ontario government has a mail-out program for their members who sit in that legislature but there are restrictions on what the content can be.
I think we need to look at that idea as well. I hope that would be another recommendation coming from the procedure and House affairs committee when it reviews this issue of privilege.
To view the complete debate in the House of Commons click here