We've heard quite a bit today. I think Mr. Davies' line of questions established the obligations of the government under both the House order and the order of the health committee.
Mr. Dufresne, thank you for all your work in this regard, and thank you for your ongoing efforts to provide transparency to Parliament. It has been disappointing to not be able to have access to some of these documents, given the gravity of the situation. I would be remiss if I didn't say I feel as though we should talk about Britney Spears and her conservatorship today and I feel as though I should just say “Free Britney” on the record. However, given that and the amount of testimony we've heard today, I'm fairly confident in what needs to be done next.
Therefore, I move:
That the analyst and clerk be directed to prepare a brief report to the House, outlining the material facts of the possible contempt, discussed with Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of Department of Public Works and Government Services, concerning the documents ordered by the House on October 26, 2020, and further requested by this Committee on February 19, 2021; and that report be tabled as soon as it is ready.
Chair, it's very clear to me that the government is in contempt of both the House motion and the motion in front of this committee. I believe Mr. Davies has provided a master work to this committee in terms of laying out the obligations of the government that they have failed to comply with. Certainly the government's parliamentary secretary has not responded in any factual way that would provide a case otherwise, and that's disappointing.
Parliament is supreme. The questions that have been raised by all opposition members today really show that regardless of political stripe, Parliament is supreme and we have a right to this information. When the House or the committee orders this information, it's not up to the government to try to sue the Speaker of the House of Commons or to try to obfuscate. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. If there's no problem, then there should be no issue providing these documents to us.
If there are problems, then it is up to Parliament and to this committee to consider best ways forward. Certainly I look forward to the clerk and the analyst providing this report and I look forward to ensuring that Canadians, regardless of how they vote, know that Parliament functions; and that whatever flavour of government is in office, but certainly this Liberal government right now, understands that its power is limited by each of us. We don't report to the government. We hold them to account. That is our role here.
To the Liberal members on this committee, including the parliamentary secretary, your role is to hold the government to account. It is to ensure that every action is happening in the best interest of Canadians, not to toe the party line, not to cast aspersions, but to ensure that transparency is provided, accountability is provided, and good and just government is provided.
What we have seen from this government, on the obfuscation and delay of government, is an affront to Parliament and an affront to democracy. We might not agree on policy and we might not agree on political stripe, but we should agree that Parliament is supreme. We should agree that our rights as parliamentarians are paramount.
On the work of Mr. Dufresne and the law counsel, I know you've tried to do your best—and the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner. I strongly feel this. What has happened over the last several months in Parliament is very concerning to me and many people. Of course, there might be times when the government might not want certain facts to come to light. That is true of any stripe of government, but we cannot ignore the fact that Parliament is supreme, that we have the right to look at these documents, to ascertain what happened, to pass orders for production of documents, and then provide a better path forward where we see deficiencies.
There are ways to put constraints around the release of documents. For example, Mr. Barlow's motion talked about reviewing things in camera. These are deliberations and bounds that can be put on release of information, but that's not what this government did.
That's certainly what Mr. Davies exposed with his line of questions today. There was no effort to work with Parliament. There was no effort to work with the opposition. It was a borderline dictatorship move, and that's enough. Enough of that. We don't want that.
This motion is important, and I hope every member on this committee agrees that we are supreme and we have an accountability to our constituents. I hope it passes, and I hope that light is shed on these matters.
Again, in my closing words to you in this Parliament, I would just go to Mr. Dufresne.
You have a big job ahead of you in coming days, and I want to say to you on behalf of the 120,000-plus constituents who I represent, they are depending on you to make a case for our place of democracy. We cannot allow what has happened to continue. As Parliament adjourns for the summer, we look to you now to ensure that the torch is borne and to ensure that we're not silenced by rulings that preclude our supremacy.
Thank you, Chair.
I now pass it over to the rest of my colleagues, hopefully in support of this motion.