House of Commons.

AuthorNickel, Sophia
PositionLegislative Reports

This account covers key highlights of the period from January to the end of March, 2022.

Procedure and privilege

Question of privilege

On February 1, 2022, Gerard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent) rose on a question of privilege concerning the premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-10, An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19. Mr. Deltell alleged that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau) had divulged the contents of the bill at a press conference held while the bill was on notice, several hours before it received first reading in the House of Commons. Peter Julian (New Westminster--Burnaby) rose to support the question of privilege, noting that it is common practice to give opposition parties early access to bills with the understanding that their contents will not be made public, and that all opposition parties had upheld this convention for Bill C-10. Elizabeth May (Saanich--Gulf Islands) added her support. The next day, February 2, Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) rose to argue that there was no breach of privilege, given that the Prime Minister had spoken about C-10 only in very general terms. He also held that sharing a draft of the bill with opposition parties before its introduction satisfied the requirement that members must be the first to be informed of its contents.

On February 8, the Speaker delivered his ruling. He acknowledged the convention that the House has the right of first access to the contents of bills. Given that there was no evidence that the bill itself had been leaked, he found that there was no prima facie breach of privilege in this case. He explained that the text of the bill was extremely short, and the subject matter of one of its two clauses had been public knowledge for some time. The Speaker invited the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to review the recent points of privilege related to the premature disclosure of various bills as well as the practice of sharing government bills with the opposition before first reading and report its findings to the House, if necessary.

Point of order: Wearing masks in the Chamber

On February 15, 2022, Mike Morrice (Kitchener Centre) rose on a point of order and asked the Assistant Deputy Speaker, Carol Hughes (Algoma--Manitoulin --Kapuskasing), to enforce the requirement that members wear a mask while in the Chamber. Mrs. Hughes responded that while the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) strongly encourages members to wear masks in the Chamber, they may take them off when seated in their places. Later in the sitting, the Speaker ruled on the matter. He reminded members that chair occupants had been encouraging members to follow public health guidance and wear masks since the beginning of the pandemic, and that the BOIE had the authority to require masks outside of the Chamber, but not inside it, since the House has sole authority to determine the rules that will apply to it. He encouraged House leaders to discuss the issue among themselves. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke) then rose on a point of order to confirm that masks were mandatory outside the Chamber, but not inside it; the Speaker responded in the affirmative. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) requested unanimous consent to make masks mandatory in the Chamber, except for when speaking, but it...

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