I wonder if I could return to the matter that engaged us for a moment or two during Question Period. I asked the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca to remain in the Chamber and I see that he has done so.
I think all of us who are in public life know that there are times when we feel very strongly about issues. That is a good thing, because as I have said many times, this is not a tea party and the long history of this place is that the men and women who vote in our country and in the country from which our institutions came have insisted on sending strong-minded and idealistic people to the House of Commons. We all understand that.
The dispute that took place a few minutes ago no doubt stems from strong-minded views on both sides of the House.
The difficulty is that one could make light of this. I sometimes have said to the many groups of students that come to the House of Commons that the distance between both sides of the Chamber has at least been considered to be two sword lengths. It is an adversarial system, and for better or for worse, we who have inherited it and adjusted it to our own needs have nonetheless maintained it. Because we believe as we do in our court system, the adversarial system is probably as competent a way of getting at the truth and the facts as has been developed by any civilized people anywhere. It is not the only way and it is obviously not perfect but that is what it is.
However, it only works if we respect the traditions of this place and the rules we have set for ourselves. It means that conduct in the Chamber has to have some restraints upon it.
March 24. 1993
I take nothing away, as I said at the beginning of these brief remarks, on how strongly we may feel about things. As your Speaker of course I am all sweetness and light, and kindness and gentleness, and I am not supposed to have a single thought in my head. Perhaps some of you will remember that there were times when I was sitting there that I may have provoked some anguish on the part of a Speaker myself. Most of us have probably been in that position at one time or another.
The point is that the institution and our countiy has to take precedence over our own anger or our own convictions when it comes to remarks in this place. I have never said that there had to be some kind of antiseptic, absolute order in a place like this. There never has been and I doubt there ever will be unless we just send zombies here. But there has to be reasonable order. When I say reasonable order I say that because without it there is no free speech and that is the fundamental that this place is all about: the right to speak.