Mr. FREDERIC DORION (Charlevoix-Saguenay):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The rules concerning the presentation of petitions are found in standing order 68, section 7 of which reads as follows
On the next day following the presentation of a petition the Clerk of the House shall lay upon the table the report of the clerk of petitions upon the petitions presented and such report shall be printed in the Votes and Proceedings of that day. Every petition so reported upon, not containing matter in breach of the privileges of this house and which, according to the standing orders or practice of this house, can 'be received, shall then be deemed to be permitted to be read and received.
My contention is that this petition contains irregularities that make it non-receivable. The practice of this house to which section 7 which I have quoted refers is well defined in paragraph 591 of "Beauchesne" third edition, which reads:
The language of a petition should be respectful and temperate and free from disrespect to the Sovereign, or offensive imputation upon the character and conduct of parliament, or the courts of justice, or other tribunal, or constituted authority.
I refer Your Honour to the fourth paragraph of the petition, which reads as follows:
That recent experiences of Jehovah's Witnesses in the province of Quebec prove that throughout the whole dominion basic personal rights are open to attack and loss because of a failure to have them guaranteed by a written constitution.
The words "recent experiences in the province of Quebec" cannot mean anything else than the legal proceedings that were instituted against Jehovah's Witnesses. Therefore this paragraph constitutes an offensive imputation upon the character and conduct of the courts
of justice, which, as is well known, have already rendered decisions on the conduct of Jehovah's Witnesses.
There is another reason why this petition is irregular. It is also a well known fact that matters pertaining to the conduct of Jehovah's Witnesses are at the present time under consideration by some tribunals, namely, courts of the sessions of the peace and the Supreme Court of Canada. Therefore, as it is a matter sub judice, it should not form the subject of a petition before the House of Commons.
Subtopic: HUGH KIRKPATRICK AND OTHERS-BILL OF RIGHTS-POINT OP ORDER, MR. DORION- RULING, MR. SPEAKER