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Debate on a Question of Privilege

Debate on a Question of Privilege

Debate on a Question of Privilege

Hon. Jane Cordy: 

Thank you very much. I wasn’t planning on speaking. I have to correct a couple of things.

First of all, when I look in our rule book it says the question of privilege must be raised at the earliest opportunity. This meeting took place on Tuesday evening. It was on the media on Tuesday night when I got home and heard about it.

I have been in the Senate for over 18 years. It was absolutely the worst meeting I’ve ever attended.

The mood in the room was not helped by Conservative staffers who were drinking vodka and singing loudly. All had their song books. That was confirmed last night by the leader in the other place, the Conservative leader, who said he didn’t mind the staff members drinking because it was late in the evening. That was in an interview with Don Martin.

That was something I’ve never seen before. It showed no respect for the MPs and the senators who were there. It was unfortunate that security had to be called in to ask the staffers to leave the room.

The adjournment by the former chair was out of order. She did not ask for a motion to adjourn the meeting. She did not ask for the support of the majority to adjourn the meeting. In fact, she adjourned the meeting after the vote was taken on the point of order of the Conservative MP who was at the mic. When it came back that she agreed the order was — in fact, she was chairing the meeting, which I found unusual.

Then the adjournment came. She didn’t allow Liberal MPs or anybody except Conservative MPs to be at the microphone.

It was unfortunate also because I saw on a couple of occasions where Liberals were standing at the microphone and were actually — the Conservatives moved in front of them.

It was an improper adjournment.

When she was adjourning it, there happened to be a Liberal MP at the microphone saying she wanted to overturn the decision that had been made by the chairperson. The former chair just banged the gavel again. That, I believe, was improper.

The vice-chair of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly went to the front and continued the meeting, which the majority in the room felt had been improperly handled and was not done properly.

In fact, the honourable member from Etobicoke did not preside over his election. One of the staff members came to me and said I was on the list of people who could preside over the election of a new chairperson. I asked why. They said they weren’t really sure. I don’t know for sure, but I’m assuming it was because I was a former chair of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

The other person who was in the room was a Conservative MP. He said he would prefer not to do it, understandably so.

I actually presided — called for nominations for a chairperson, three times. One person, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, was the only person whose name came forward. He was elected unanimously.

I believe it was done in good stead. You could tell, coming into the meeting, that things were not — as I said earlier, in 18 years it was the worst meeting I have ever attended. You could tell coming in that there was no desire for friendliness — I’m not sure what terms you used — dignity and respect. And I agree with that, Senator Patterson. That was certainly not in evidence that night. But I do agree the majority of the people did not leave the room. The majority of the people stayed in the room after the former chair supposedly — and what I think was not correctly — adjourned the meeting. The majority of the people did stay in the room. Some people did leave, I grant you that. Thank you.