Bill C-30 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.
Tony Valeri Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
November 2nd, 2006 / 9:25 a.m.
Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC
That's important to keep in mind.
On Mr. Warawa's last point, in the government's Bill C-30, many fundamental changes are proposed to CEPA right in that bill. That is what many of us in this committee are going to be engaged in on this special legislative committee. It feels like a practical application of this almost academic review of CEPA.
The committee must keep in mind that the review we're doing of CEPA is only a set of recommendations to government; there's nothing mandatory about them. The government can completely ignore what we do with CEPA, whereas Bill C-30 is a proposed bill; it is a proposed piece of legislation to change CEPA. It seems to me that as a committee we haven't yet resolved the cross-purposes of all these different pieces of legislation and review in front of us right now that are affecting the same act. The one that seems to affect the act the most, and most directly, is Bill C-30.
Civil Marriage Act
April 21st, 2005 / 4:15 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker
I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
April 21, 2005
I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marie Deschamps, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 21st day of April, 2005 at 3:33 p.m.
Policy, Program and Protocol
The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-8, an act to amend the Financial Administration Act, the Canada School of Public Service Act and the Official Languages Act--Chapter No.15; and Bill C-30, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No.16.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 12th, 2005 / 6:05 p.m.
The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-30.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
Budget Implementation Act, 2005
April 12th, 2005 / 1:05 p.m.
Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS
Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to speak to the budget implementation bill.
My colleague from St. John's South--Mount Pearl has already given a very good background history and chronology of the Atlantic accord. I am certainly going to speak to the Atlantic accord, but I also want to speak to some of the comments that have been made in the House. I hope to set the record straight on a number of issues.
I could not help but listen with amazement to the Liberal member for Mississauga South. He quite often has his own version of reality in this House, but to go back to 1993 and somehow blame the state of the country's affairs on a previous government which was in power 12 years ago is a stretch of the imagination even for the member for Mississauga South. He talked about a $42 billion deficit that the government inherited in 1993. I am not trying to deny that; that is a fact.
What the Liberals never seem to bring up is that the Conservative government of the day governed for 10 years and it had inherited $38 billion of that deficit from the Trudeau era government. The Conservatives operated for 10 years at 19% interest rates and only increased the deficit by $4 billion. They did not cut services to the provinces. They did not cut the transfer dollars. They did not cut health care.
The Conservatives signed, which is still the largest and most important environmental accord ever signed in North America, that being the acid rain treaty signed with the United States. They brought in free trade. They brought in the GST. They governed and they did that in difficult times.
The Conservatives laid the framework for the Liberal government to come into power and reap the benefits without a plan, without any course of action, without any road map for the country. The Liberals simply govern, reap the benefits of somebody else's planting, harvest the benefits of somebody else's crop and drive this country into the worst of times during the best of times. It is absolutely incredible that any member of the government would try to blame the situation it is in on a Conservative government that was in power 12 years ago.
When we listen to this fabrication of events that somehow, as my colleague from Newfoundland has said, we cannot cut the Atlantic accord out of this budget, that is absolutely ridiculous. We passed the health accord in this House in 11 days. We did not talk about it for four, five or six months. We were able to separate that out of the budget. We were able to put that through the House as stand-alone legislation. We passed it in 11 days.
My hon. colleague from St. John's South--Mount Pearl mentioned that this issue was brought to the House 35 times, including by our leader. Thirty-five times we questioned the government on the Atlantic accord before the Liberals finally succumbed and said that they were going to have to do something. On the eve of the last election and not before, when they saw that they were losing seats in Atlantic Canada, then they became supporters of the Atlantic accord.
The Liberals have an absolutely abysmal record and to somehow rewrite history and reconfigure the facts of what actually happened is not acceptable in any way, shape or form. We brought the issue up in question period 35 times, but what my colleague missed was that there were another 13 times we spoke about the issue in statements pursuant to Standing Order 31 prior to question period. The members from Atlantic Canada raised the issue 45 times, not counting the times our leader raised it.
We are at an interesting time in Canadian politics. There is a lot of discussion going on about the budget. There is a lot of discussion of how we cannot separate out the Atlantic accord, that it has to stay in. The Liberals managed to separate out Kyoto because it was wrong-headed and had no business being included in the budgetary items.
There are 24 items in the budget, one of them being the Atlantic accord. The challenge to the government is to separate out the Atlantic accord, pass it forthwith, send it to the Senate and make sure that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province of Nova Scotia get their funds from the Atlantic accord that they very rightly deserve.
The other thing we never hear the government bring up is the fact that last year's budget is still in the Senate. It is not as if it has been passed and has been implemented. Budget implementation takes time, but those guys are dragging their feet. It is still in the Senate.
Let us consider a couple of points on the budget implementation process. Last year's budget is still in the Senate. The previous budget implementation bill, Bill C-30, was introduced on March 31, 2004 and passed in the House of Commons on May 5, 2004. It took 35 days. These bills do not have to take time. The government is dragging its feet because it is caught up in the middle of the biggest scandal ever to hit Canadian politics since the railroad scandal during John A. Macdonald's time in 1872.
This is not about the Atlantic accord. This is about a Liberal government grasping with its fingernails trying to hold on to power. It is all about power. It is not about doing what is right for Canadians and doing what is right for Atlantic Canada.
Let us go back a little further in history. The last budget took 67 days to pass the House. The one previous to that one took 35 days. The one previous to that one took four months because the government was expecting to go into an election and it wanted to tell Canadians what a great job it was going to do for them. If the health accord went through the House in 11 days, in contrast the Atlantic accord could go through the House in 11 days. The average time that it took the last four budget implementation bills is 51 days.
Are we supposed to wait 51 days before Newfoundland and Labrador gets its just and fair share of its offshore resources, before the province of Nova Scotia gets its just and fair share of its offshore resources, or are we going to separate this out from the budget? We have challenged the government to do that. Our leader has challenged the government on many occasions to separate it out, send it to a committee of the whole, and pass it in the House in one day. The opposition parties are in agreement.
The government needs to show some leadership, but we have not seen leadership. The country is absolutely dying for leadership.
We have a budget here that is supposed to address the difficulties that Canadians are facing, difficulties that seniors are facing, difficulties that low income Canadians are facing, difficulties with delivery of health care services, difficulties of equalizing the transfer payment system. Unfortunately, the government would rather try to cling to power than deal with the issues of Atlantic Canada, of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Nova Scotia.
We have a unique history in this place. What we say in the House is on the record. I challenge Canadians and I challenge those watching this debate today to look at the Liberals' record. Listen to what they have been saying. I challenge them to take a look at the Atlantic accord and ask themselves why it cannot be a stand-alone piece of legislation. There is no reason it cannot be.
Canadians should take a look at the record, the deliberate shading of the facts, the obfuscation of the facts, that the Liberals have embarked upon. They should ask themselves why they would not simply set out the Atlantic accord in a separate, stand-alone piece of legislation and pass it forthwith. I think they will all come up with the same answer.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:40 p.m.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:30 p.m.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Madam Speaker, my question is quite simple. It relates to my very brief remarks on third reading of Bill C-30 today.
The main contention that my hon. colleague from the Bloc has, for which there is some argument to be made, is that the Prime Minister should not be making less than the people he appoints, especially the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
In my remarks, I put forward an idea that I believe would certainly be supported by the majority of people in Canada, and not only the majority of people in Canada but also the majority of people in Quebec. That idea is that members of Parliament should not be in a position where they get what I think would widely be viewed as an exorbitant raise.
If there is no increase in our responsibilities, why should we be getting 2% per year, or 10% per year, or 10% over four years, or 11% or whatever it is, if people out in the real world are getting substantially less? That is the whole point of tying our future salary increases to this index of the average increase that Canadians will be getting in what I refer to as the real world outside this place.
Having said that, my contention is that the government should have brought in amendments to the Judges Act to ensure that the judges would likewise be tied to that same index. I still believe the government should bring forward those amendments to do away with the commission that sets the salary and compensation for judges and should likewise tie the judges in Canada to this same index that Canadians in the real world face.
Would that not solve the problem? I know that my hon. colleague is really anxious to get up and have his say on this, but why that would not solve the problem? Instead of raising our compensation, our remuneration, up to the 11% that it is rumoured we would get if it goes ahead and stays the same way, why not bring judges down to the same salary increase that real Canadians out in the real world get?
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:30 p.m.
Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mississauga South for his question.
In January 2001, when we adopted the principle of linking the salaries of MPs and judges, the consensus was that the Prime Minister should earn as much as the highest official he appoints, namely the chief justice.
I do not want to get into mathematical formulae because, first, math is not my strong suit and second, I do not want to confuse the public. However, if, based on the industrial index that will serve as the reference for Bill C-30, this results in a maximum increase of 8% for the next four years instead of 10.8% spread over the same period, this means that at the end of that four-year period, starting in 2005-06, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada will earn more than the Prime Minister.
This violates the principle. This means that, ultimately, the Prime Minister will earn less than the highest official he appoints. I am not defending the Prime Minister and his salary increases. He has no need of his salary. With all the perks he gets, he does not need his salary.
However, this is about the principle and we fight for principles. After four years, the chief justice will earn more than the Prime Minister and that makes no sense.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:15 p.m.
Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC
Madam Speaker, I would begin by saying that my colleague, the hon. parliamentary leader of the Bloc Québécois and member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean had indicated that our party would be voting against this bill, for a number of reasons which I would like to explain in the few minutes available to me.
We know that the compensation of parliamentarians is the perfect subject when it comes to grandstanding. We have had proof of that here in the comments made on this by the Prime Minister of Canada, which once again reflected his attitude.
I have just heard the Conservative House Leader say that it is not right for MPs to determine their own remuneration. That is true, and that is why a committee on the modernization of Parliament, which was struck in January 2001 and made up of the parliamentary leaders, reached the following conclusion: we should stop discussing whether MPs ought to vote on their own salary increases. After that came the idea of linking increases to those given to judges.
If it is decided in an independent committee that judges get a salary increase, by that very fact, due to their linking, the MPs also get an automatic increase under this legislation, not because they have taken any action themselves. We cannot decide to raise our pay 25% or 30% simply because we have had no increase for the past seven or eight years. That is totally unacceptable.
I want this to be clear: the Bloc Québécois is opposed to Bill C-30, as it is to any increase in MPs' salaries. We want to retain the status quo. We want to continue to receive the fair and proper salary we are currently receiving. This is where the hypocrisy lies in the mechanics of Bill C-30, which disengages us from the judges' salary increases, although this has been settled since June 2001.
The underlying principles behind the linking with judges' remuneration were as follows: Is it normal and acceptable for the Prime Minister to earn the same amount as the highest official he appoints? Is is normal and acceptable for an elected representative to earn less than a public servant? Take the example of a minister, who is earning less than a deputy minister. Is that acceptable? No it is not.
The first principle was established by the House leaders of all the parties, the leader of the Conservatives, the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country; the former Liberal House leader, the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell; the NDP House leader, the then hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona; and my colleague, the Bloc Québécois House leader. The basic principle was that the Prime Minister should earn the same salary as the highest ranking official he appoints, not a penny more, not a penny less. Who is the highest ranking official appointed by the Prime Minister? It is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a position currently held by a woman. That was the first principle.
Second, do we agree that a minister should earn a certain percentage less than the Prime Minister? The answer is yes.
Third, is it normal for an MP with no ministerial responsibility to earn half the Prime Minister's salary? It was established that, yes, this is normal and the ministers' salaries should be somewhere between the two.
So that we do not discuss our own salary increases, there is an independent committee in charge of reviewing judges' salaries. As an aside, I do not want anyone watching to think that the Bloc Québécois wants to be mean to the judiciary. The Bloc Québécois is a party of law. It has enormous respect for the courts, judges and their decisions. People should not think the Bloc Québécois wants to be mean to judges. On the contrary, we think that instead of elected representatives voting on their own salary increases, those increases should be tied to salary increases for judges.
So we have Bill C-30 and the Prime Minister takes a cheap shot at parliamentarians. I am going to make a non-partisan comment on that unfortunate remark. I think that, basically, we parliamentarians take our jobs to heart. We take it to heart that we need to properly represent those who trusted us enough to elect us.
I would ask each of the 135 Liberal members over there whether they think they earn their salaries, whether they are doing their jobs and deserve what they are paid? We have had some informal discussions and many of the members of the Liberal caucus do not agree with the comment, the mean-spirited, partisan and vengeful comment, made by the Prime Minister, who is incidentally a millionaire. He owned a shipping company and some of its ships were under foreign registration in order to escape having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. It is easy for the Prime Minister to make comments like that.
These are the reasons that we in the Bloc Québécois cannot agree with this bill. It delinks MPs' salaries from judges' salaries, yet that question was settled back in January 2001.
Why reconsider that decision in Bill C-30, when it was made with the unanimity of all the parliamentary leaders? Does denying work that has been done correct the democratic deficit? Does it mean that all consensual decisions reached by the parliamentary leaders before this PM was here no longer count?
Does parliamentary consensus only date from the arrival of this Prime Minister? I regret to say this, but we do not need any lectures on morality from this PM. I am certain, I repeat, that many of the 135 Liberal caucus members across the way agree with me. I even know that they told their caucus that this was not right.
I may seem to be repeating myself, but it is to be sure there is no ambiguity. The Bloc Québécois does not want to be mean to judges, nor to the workers who will serve as reference points for this new legislation if it is passed. That is why we are saying that, if they want to delink us from the judges, they ought to maintain the salary. If the present salary is not maintained, then the link ought to be.
Do you know what lies behind this? The independent committee on judges' remuneration has set the increase for the next four years at approximately 10.8%.
The aim was to avoid having to respond to those who might say: “That makes no sense. The MPs have just voted and given themselves 10.8% over four years based on the cost of living index.” If we do not think this 10.8% makes sense, we need only say: “It is true it makes no sense. While it may make no sense for parliamentarians, it makes no more sense for judges.”
There is a saying that a woman cannot be just a little pregnant. Either she is pregnant or she is not. The government should clue in. If it makes no sense for parliamentarians to be paid this—the government has an obligation to be consistent—the government should set the same criterion for the judges. If a 10.8% increase makes no sense for parliamentarians, it does not make any more sense for judges.
So, logically speaking, as parliamentarians—this is what the Bloc would like, and we made our position very clear on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, where we opposed all government amendments to this bill—we should just reject Bill C-30 and have a policy of no salary increase.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:10 p.m.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary noted in his brief remarks a moment ago, I have indicated that the official opposition will be supporting Bill C-30 and, I might add, we have always maintained that we should not place ourselves in an ongoing conflict of interest by having to debate and decide our own remuneration. Indeed, this bill's predecessor, which linked us to the judges' remuneration, was actually the reason that the House went down that road before. This is a fairer way to go about setting our remuneration and I indicated that during my remarks at report stage as well.
As was indicated, Bill C-30 proposes to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act to establish a new method of indexation of salaries and allowances for members of Parliament and ministers. It will come into effect from April 1, 2004. Salaries and allowances will no longer be adjusted by reference to the increase in the annual salary of the chief justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, but rather in accordance with the index of the average percentage increase and base rate wages for each and every calendar year resulting from major settlements negotiated with bargaining units of 500 or more employees in the private sector in Canada, as published by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.
The original objective for linking compensation for members of Parliament to that of the chief justices, which is determined by the Judicial Salary and Benefits Commission, was to discontinue the practice whereby members themselves legislate their own compensation. However when the commission recommended an 11% increase in pay, an unjustified increase I might add, the government changed its position that compensation for MPs should not be linked to judges.
On that point, I think the general public will recall the debate that took place just before and during last spring's election campaign. We and others raised the issue of the impending judges' increase which would have the ripple effect on our remuneration as well. To the government's credit, at that point in time it agreed with us and said that an increase of that amount would be unacceptable. Therefore last fall it brought in Bill C-30.
When the bill was introduced it created a public issue regarding compensation for judges as well. While the government has indicated that amendments regarding compensation for judges is forthcoming, we believe, and I have stated it repeatedly, that the government ought to have accompanied Bill C-30 with that, since it was the 11% pay hike proposed for judges that triggered the need for a new method to determine compensation for members of Parliament.
The link between compensation for judges and compensation for members of Parliament and the excessive pay hike proposed for judges led to the need for legislative change. Bill C-30 solves only half the problem by establishing a new mechanism for MPs only, leaving judges with a process that provides them, potentially, at least at this point, with that 11% pay hike, which is almost four times the Canadian average increase in wages.
Therefore the Conservative Party calls upon the government, as we have in the past, to forgo the 11% pay hike for judges and immediately introduce legislation to establish a new mechanism for compensating judges similar to what has been proposed for members of Parliament in Bill C-30. That would ensure that significant salary compensation adjustments would only occur when it can be demonstrated that responsibilities have changed accordingly.
Parliament of Canada Act
April 6th, 2005 / 4:05 p.m.
Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me today to speak to Bill C-30 on compensation for parliamentarians.
Bill C-30 fulfills a commitment by the Prime Minister to delink compensation for parliamentarians and judges and to allow parliamentarians to receive salary increases in line with those of Canadians in the private sector.
Parliamentarians, under the proposed legislation, Bill C-30, would receive salary increases adjusted yearly according to what is called the major wage settlement index. This is a highly respected index used by governments, businesses and unions. It is published annually and measures the annual salary increases negotiated by collective bargaining for private sector units with 500 or more employees. Accordingly this index represents more than 800,000 private sector employees in Canada.
As members will have noted during report stage of this legislation, our colleague from Prince George—Peace River indicated that the official opposition supported the bill because future salary increases would be tied to those in the private sector. He called this initiative commendable. I thank him and his party for their support of the legislation.
Similarly, the member for Timmins—James Bay told the House that his party, the New Democratic Party, found the index fair and supported the bill as well. I also thank them for their support of what we believe to be fair and reasonable legislation.
The bill has been recognized as a fair and reasonable way to deal with the salaries of parliamentarians. I believe that when we vote on this legislation, we will find it receives the very broad support of members of the House.