Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)
Mr. Gray (Windsor West):
Mr. Speaker, I note the Government said nothing about whether it intends to deal with the question of abortion either through the motion it has on the Order Paper or otherwise. I ask this not in any confrontational way but to seek clarification in terms of the operation of the House and because of the great interest in the how the Government will deal with this subject on the part of the public.
As the Government House Leader will recall, the Deputy Government House Leader said last week when I asked this question that he intended to call the Government's motion on abortion on Monday with a view to enabling any procedural issues to be argued and ruled on by the Speaker. Then it was well known and understood that the Government would call a motion for formal debate, if I am not mistaken Thursday of this week, today. Then on Monday morning I, and I presume my NDP counterpart, received a telephone message hours before the House was to open saying that the Government was not going to call the motion. The Deputy Government House Leader later said to the press and to myself that, in effect, the matter was going back to the government caucus.
I go through this because I want to provide an explanation as to why I am asking the question and also to make clear that contrary to what was said by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Hnatyshyn) in Question Period, there was no obstruction on the part of the Official Opposition preventing the Government from calling this matter for debate or bringing this matter for debate. In fact, we do not have the authority or ability to obstruct even if we wanted to because the Government controls absolutely the use of government time and designates what measures will be discussed.
I repeat, I am not raising this in a confrontational way. I think, however, that I should try to clear the air on this subject so as to give the Government a chance to clear the air because of the perplexity on the part of many people over what has happened on this subject this week as well as the interest of the public at large in having some clarification.
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE