Parliamentary privilege is an important concept as it allows MPs to debate openly and without fear, however, as Dean Del Mastro's recent misuse of privilege demonstrates there needs to be some limits applied.
Last Thursday, Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the prime
minister, rose in the House on what’s called a “question of privilege”
to complain that an investigation into his 2008 campaign financing was
violating his rights as an MP.
Frank Hall, who ran Ottawa research company Holinshed Research, was
named in a court order compelling him to release records to Elections
Canada investigators who are looking into allegations Del Mastro’s
campaign breached spending rules in the 2008 election.
Speaking on a point of privilege last week, Del Mastro wondered why
Hall’s background wasn’t checked before the court order was issued.
Del Masto said “it is inconceivable that the presiding justice in
this matter would not have asked the investigator quite simply, what do
we know about Frank Hall? He is the person who has levelled all of these
allegations against me.”
Elections Canada “would have found some concerning details, facts
that I was able to assemble in a matter of a couple of hours, facts that
are in some cases public record, facts that I provided to Elections
Canada for its consideration many months ago,” Del Mastro said.
It's interesting to note that Del Mastro chose not to repeat these allegations outside of the house where he could be held to account for his words. Therein lies the rub, as vital as privilege is it should not be used to malign a private citizen.
Scheer should honour Hall's request and direct Del Mastro to withdraw his remarks and apologize and in the future rule out of order the use of privilege when discussing a private citizen especially one who is providing evidence in an investigation involving an MP