Mr. James A. McGrath (St. John's East):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege, notice of which has been given to Your Honour in accordance with the Standing Order. My question of privilege, in my view, affects the rights of all hon. members of the House.
Yesterday the Minister of the Environment and Fisheries released a statement to the Press Gallery in which the minister announced that a "stop-order" had been issued on the construction of the new oil refinery at Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland, in accordance with the provisions of sections 33(1) and 33(2) of the Fisheries Act. This is a very important statement and one that should have been made in the House in accordance with well-established practice. The minister does have the right to make a statement outside the House. My question of privilege, however, is based on the fact that the minister did not release copies of the statement to members of the House until this morning, thereby denying us the right to question the minister in the House yesterday. There is provision in the rules under Standing Order 41(2) to table statements in the House. The minister, in failing to do so and in failing to provide members of the House with copies of his statement at the time of its release to the press, in my opinion, is guilty of flagrantly violating the rules and practices of the House. If Your Honour rules that I have a prima facie question of privilege, I would move that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.
Subtopic: MR. McGRATH-CONSTRUCTION OF OIL REFINERY AT COME-BY-CHANCE-MANNER OF RELEASE OF STOP-ORDER STATEMENT