An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Eugène Bellemare  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of May 13, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Business of the House

February 2nd, 2004 / 4:45 p.m.
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The Speaker

Members will recall that on October 29, 2003, the House concurred in the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which had the effect of extending provisional Standing Orders in relation to private members' business until the earlier of June 23, 2004, or the dissolution of the 37th Parliament.

To ensure that private members' business will be conducted in an orderly fashion, the Chair wishes to clarify some of the provisions resulting from Standing Order 86.1, the Standing Order that deals with the reinstatement of all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons.

First of all, the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business, established on March 18, 2003, continues from last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.

This list is available for consultation at the Private Members Business Office and on the Internet.

The items themselves, either in or outside the order of precedence, whether Motions, Notices of Motions (Papers) or Bills, will keep the same number as in the second session of the 37th Parliament. However, considering that he is no longer a member of this House, all the items standing in the name of Mr. Harb will be dropped from the Order Paper.

Ministers and parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices. Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Don Valley West is withdrawn from the order of precedence.

Standing Order 86.1 states that at the beginning of the second or subsequent session of a Parliament, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that have been listed on the Order Paper during the previous session shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper or, as the case may be, referred to a committee and the list for the consideration of private members' business and the order of precedence established pursuant to Standing Order 87 shall continue from session to session.

So, pursuant to this Standing Order, the items in the Order of Precedence are deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation. Thus they shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper in the same place or, as the case may be, referred to committee or sent to the Senate.

There were five private members' bills originating in the House of Commons referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, Bill C-231, an act to amend the Divorce Act (limits on rights of child access by sex offenders), is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-338, an act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing), is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-408, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation), is deemed to havebeen introduced, read the first time, read the second time, and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Bill C-421, an act respecting the establishment of the Office of the Chief Actuary of Canada and to amend other acts in consequence thereof, is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 3:40 p.m.
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The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-408.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2003 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between the parties, and with the concurrence of the member for Ottawa—Orléans, I think you would find agreement to re-defer the recorded division requested on Bill C-408 to Tuesday, May 13 at 3 p. m.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I shall do. I therefore seek the unanimous consent of the House to take part in the debate on Bill C-408.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise because I represent Canada's first incorporated city by royal charter, Saint John, New Brunswick. We date back to 1783. We are not a republic. The head of state for Canada, and Saint John, is Her Majesty the Queen.

I have great respect for the hon. member who has put forward the motion. However when we take our oath, we refer to Queen Elizabeth II who is Canada's head of state. Therefore we are taking our oath to Canada.

On October 12, 2002, my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, when speaking against Bill C-219 at that time, stated his personal view that we should embrace our link to Great Britain, to our very origins and embrace the oath to the Queen. He said that we should embrace the fact that the Queen had continued in a very diligent and forthright way the lineage and connection to our country. As a Canadian, I feel very proud to continue this. When I take the oath and refer to Her Majesty, I definitely feel I am taking the oath to Canada, and I am proud to do it.

I know the hon. member is saying that he wants to add more to it. He is not saying that he wants to take that portion of the oath out. However now we are dividing it because she is our head of state.

I have met Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Her Majesty, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, all of the royal family. I have been in their company. They love Canada. I will never forget the hurtful comments by the Deputy Prime Minister on the Queen's visit to Canada. I was so very much ashamed. I felt so saddened when he made them.

I am sure all of us will remember Queen Elizabeth II's state visit to Canada last fall and the response of Canadians to her and to Prince Philip as well. The Duke of Edinburgh was truly amazing. Whether it was in the north, the west, central Canada or the east, the response was the same, welcoming communities, warm hearts, joyful crowds and thankful Canadians.

Queen Elizabeth II, who has served in her capacity as Queen of the commonwealth for over 50 years, has served us and served us well. We all know, with her diligence, steadfastness and unwaivering hand, we are a very special country in this world. Our Queen has been a role model for Canadians and the whole world. As such, we as a nation are blessed for her leadership and guidance.

I stated earlier that I had great respect for the hon. member who has put forth this private member's bill. However I want the hon. member to know that when we take our oath, we take our oath to Canada through the head of state of Canada.

One major concern I have is that just recently we took reference to Her Majesty out of the oath for the public servants. Public servants no longer take the oath to Her Majesty. Not that the hon. member is saying this, but before we know it, we will not be taking our oath either. Some tried before in the House of Commons to take out the oath to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. I worry about that.

There are two parts of the oath, one that has existed since 1867 and the one that is being proposed today. They seem to be part of almost the same package, reaffirming essentially the same sentiment.

What is particularly important in our actions as members of Parliament is that we act in conformity with the norms that govern the behaviour of members of Parliament and that we act in a spirit that conforms with the constitution of the country.

I think there is a danger that members of either the federal or provincial houses can act in a manner that is in contempt of their oath. The important thing is we must always remember the substance of our oath of office.

As I said earlier, I represent Canada's first incorporated city, Saint John, New Brunswick and I am truly proud of that. Who worked to build this wonderful country? It was our francophone people, our anglophone people, our aboriginal people, we all built it.

It is an honour and a privilege to be a member of Parliament and sit in the House of Commons. When I look at the top of your chair, Mr. Speaker, and its insignia, some of it represents Her Majesty and some of it represents Quebec. We should be very proud to stand in the House of Commons and take our oath.

I also belong to the Monarchist League of Canada, a group which tries to ensure that Her Majesty receives the respect that she deserves.

When I read Bill C-408, I asked myself what she would say. She was just here in October. She did not receive the respect that she should have, not only from the Deputy Prime Minister but from some others. If we were to divide the oath, it would say to her that we felt she was no longer the head of state of Canada. When we take our oath, we swear allegiance to the Queen: “Faithful and bear Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”.

I cannot believe we would get into this kind of debate in the House of Commons of Canada once again. We are here to work for all our people no matter in which province they live. We have the Governor General, who represents Her Majesty. We have Lieutenant-Governors in every province in Canada who also represents Her Majesty, and they do it with dignity.

If we pass this bill, the next thing we know we will not have a Governor General representing Her Majesty. We will be looking at a different organization altogether down the road.

The hon. member who proposed the motion is an honourable member. He used to sit right across from me. He always encouraged me. In fact both those members who sit side by side always encouraged me, and I have such great respect for both of them. However I am very worried because we have some members who do not want to take an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty. That oath of allegiance must be there. When we take that oath, we take an oath of allegiance to Canada as a whole, through Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved that Bill C-408, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a proud Canadian member of Parliament. I have the pleasure to present Bill C-408 which aims to modify the swearing of allegiance by members of Parliament.

As we all know, when elected to the House of Commons, members must swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. The present oath reads:

I, ...., do swear, That I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

I propose that henceforth newly elected members of Parliament be asked to add to the swearing of allegiance to the Queen the following affirmation:

I, ..., do swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will be loyal to Canada and that I will perform the duties of a member of the House of Commons honestly and justly.

I am proud to say that I myself have made this added affirmation the last three times I was re-elected to the House of Commons in 1993, 1997 and 2000. I encouraged my colleagues from various parties to do the same. To my pride and joy a great number of newly elected members from various parties followed suit, and I wish to applaud and thank them today.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in declaring that the new proposed oath of citizenship in Bill C-18 would include a pledge of allegiance by new Canadians, not only to Her Majesty the Queen, but also a pledge of allegiance to Canada. I find this to be an addition that depicts a more realistic view of Canadian values.

We as members of Parliament have an obligation to our constituents and to all Canadians to affirm our loyalty to Canada and, I would add, perhaps even to its Constitution. It is not just a principle of patriotism, it is a principle of accountability. I know of no members in the House who would deny their sense of obligation and accountability to the community they represent.

It is a matter of patriotism, pride, and accountability. We live in a country we are all proud to call home, one which, ever since its early days, has distinguished itself by an impressive series of achievements, both internationally and nationally. This is a great country in which to live, a country where hundreds of thousands of people looking for a new life settle every year.

I do not think it is necessary to point out the merits of Canada or the respect we owe to our country. I am sure that my hon. colleagues in this House share my sense of pride in being representatives of the people in the House of Commons.

The Canadian public itself certainly seems to feel this national pride. According to Statistics Canada's 2001 census, when asked to identify their ethnic origin, more than 11 million citizens indicated Canadian; that is more than any other possible nationality, and this of a total population of approximately 31 million.

This tendency on the part of citizens to identify themselves as Canadians has increased since the 1996 census, when 8 million citizens indicated Canadian. This is happening across Canada.

Until then, citizens were more likely to refer to their English or French, Irish or Italian origins, to give just a few examples. Clearly, the population of Canada is undergoing change and continuing to grow.

We must lead the way in reconciling modern and historical Canada. I insist that my bill in no way diminishes the importance of Her Majesty the Queen. To swear allegiance to Canada and its Constitution is consistent with today's reality and the current wishes of Canadians, without losing sight of our history and traditions. The new oath would simply be in addition to the oath of allegiance to the Queen.

This private member's bill in no way negates or removes our allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. Our parliamentary monarchy is part of our Canadian Constitution, our Canadian history, and our Canadian heritage. Even if I intended to remove the Queen from our swearing of allegiance, which is not the case, we in the House know that the Constitution cannot be amended by Parliament alone without the consent of the provinces and the territories.

It is not my intention to embark on such a course. My proposed oath of solemn affirmation to Canada would be but an amendment to the Parliament of Canada Act, not the Constitution, and is therefore in proper order. This affirmation comes as an addition to swearing allegiance to the Queen and is in no way an attempt to diminish Her Majesty's role in Canada.

The Canada of today has become a multicultural society, depicting citizens from all over the world and not just from Commonwealth countries. Amid this impressive mosaic, Canada, as a word, as a symbol, applies to everyone in the country regardless of geographic region, race or background. This is in large measure because Canadians feel an overriding sense of patriotic pride and a sense of belonging to this country of theirs.

Recently, while he was being sworn in, a new senator added the word “Canada”. This gave rise to a short debate in the other place, where it was decided that it might be desirable for everyone in Parliament to swear allegiance to Canada. This is interesting coming from the Senate.

I suggest to my hon. colleagues of the House of Commons that it is desirable that we go ahead, take the lead and not wait for the Senate to do so.

We can only benefit from an initiative showing our pride in and gratitude to a country that has given us so much happiness and good fortune.

The added affirmation that I am proposing today is not just a series of words or a patriotic cheer. It is a recognition of democracy and accountability. This is about what our actual form of government is all about. It is a representative democracy. We owe our allegiance and accountability to the people who elect us and who we represent. This is in accordance with democratic principles around the world.

Democratically elected officials in countries around the world swear allegiance to their countries and to the people they represent. Some will state that we are part of the British Commonwealth and that we should not include our sense of patriotism or accountability to our constituents when swearing allegiance. I would inform them that Jamaica, South Africa and India are but three examples of British Commonwealth countries that amended their oath to include their country. Many other British Commonwealth countries are also debating similar measures, such as Australia for example.

As members of Parliament, we have to recognize that we were elected by the people to represent their interests, their well-being and their concerns. We answer to Canadians at election time. We are accountable to the Canadians who elect us and who we represent. Let us make it official and further enhance the trust that Canadians have in their parliamentarians. As members of Parliament we owe our allegiance to Canada.

Vive le Canada.

Parliament of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

March 17th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-408, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation).

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to introduce a bill that would modify the oath of allegiance sworn by members of Parliament when they are elected.

At the present time, we swear allegiance to the Queen. I have no intention whatsoever of calling for the reference to the Queen to be taken out. What I am asking instead is for an addition, a proof of our pride and responsibility toward our constituents, the people of Canada. I therefore wish to add loyalty to Canada to the oath.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)