Thank you, Mr. Chair.
That is one example of the issues faced by members of an unrecognized party, and even by independent members, although there is a difference between a member from an unrecognized party and an independent member. Since there are fewer than 12 members of the Bloc Québécois, it is not a recognized party; the same thing applies to Ms. May's party. Independent members have chosen their status, or they have been excluded by their caucus. Whatever the case, the difficulties I was referring to remain the same: the members from an unrecognized party have to ask for the committee's unanimous consent to speak on a topic that concerns them. That is one of the problems we encounter.
I will not take all of the remaining time to discuss this, but I would like to suggest the following: rather than debate a motion on the amendments, I would like the committee to devote a few sessions to studying the rights of members belonging to unrecognized parties, and those of independent members.
To illustrate what I mean, I would like to refer to what happened at the Quebec National Assembly. At the time, the Action démocratique du Québec party, which had four members, was an unrecognized party. The other parties had discussed the possibility of having these members take part in parliamentary committees, which are known as parliamentary commissions in Quebec. That had been accepted. The same thing goes for the party Québec solidaire. At the beginning, that party had only one member; today, it has two. These members also have the opportunity to take part in committee studies, and they have the same rights and privileges as the other members.
I'm not taking about equality here. We understand full well that the Conservative Party is the majority party and that the NDP is the official opposition, and then come the Liberals. We can't have the same speaking time as they do. Our interventions cannot be as long as those of the members of those parties. Nevertheless, we would like the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine this question more in depth, and not simply through a single motion.
As for the motion as such, I would simply like the “blues” to reflect what the Bloc Québécois has to say on the matter. I'm going to talk about the inherent rights of all of the members regarding the tabling of amendments. Following the speaker's decision last June, we went to a few committees to submit amendments, but that is all we did. We had the right to submit amendments, and perhaps to a few minutes to present our case. That is where there should be a difference. The motion should be clearer for the members. When amendments are tabled, at least in committees, the members of an unrecognized party and independent members should have the right to answer questions raised by their amendments and to question witnesses. We should also have the right to vote, at least on our own amendments. As you can see I am even limiting our rights there.
Actually, there are two categories of members, the members from a recognized party and the members from an unrecognized party. There are also independent members who are in a second category and do not have the same rights as the others, with all due respect. Of course, the relative weight we have in the House of Commons has to be taken into account. I will never ask to have the same speaking time as the members of the official opposition or the government party, but I would at the very least like to be able to submit arguments on my amendments.
In light of what I have just said, this motion is incomplete. That is all I am going to say for the time being, but that is my party's opinion. I hope that I will be able to take part in your discussions again.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.