An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces)
Devinder Shory Conservative
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Second Reading and Referral to Committee
Subscribe to a feed of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-425.
- Feb. 27, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
May 9th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Speaker, I will be somewhat brief, but it is important that we be perfectly clear about what is happening here.
I sit on the citizenship and immigration committee. I am very familiar with the motion that has been proposed by the government and I want to make two quick points.
It is interesting to note that both the mover and the parliamentary secretary who spoke to this issue are implying motives in one sense. We are not using this in any form to filibuster or to prolong debate on Bill C-425, and that is important to note. We raised it as a point of privilege a couple of weeks ago because we believe it is important that private members' bills be respected for what they are as they go through the process, and you, through your office, Mr. Speaker, will be reviewing that. This is not a delay tactic in any way.
The parliamentary secretary made reference to “perfect and complete”. He is suggesting that the amendments that the government wants to propose at committee stage are going to make it “perfect and complete”, and he cites Beauchesne's and other rules of order to substantiate that comment, but what is clear is that the government, and particularly the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, intends to change the scope of the legislation.
The legislation can be best described as proposing two things. First, it would reduce the amount of time that a landed immigrant would be required to be here in Canada in order to receive his or her citizenship. As opposed to waiting three years, the individual would only be required to wait two years to acquire citizenship if that individual is a member of the Canadian Forces. That is the number one reason behind Bill C-425. Second, if a Canadian citizen commits an act of war against the Canadian Forces, that individual would be deemed to have denounced his or her Canadian citizenship.
Those were the two issues related to Bill C-425. Then guests were invited to participate in the committee hearings, and individuals started to change the focus of the bill. Then we found out that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration wanted the principle of the bill to be about terrorism as opposed to the issue of citizenship and the act of war on the Canadian Forces.
As a result, government members on committee recognized that they were attempting to change the scope of the private member's bill, and that was the reason government members put forward a motion for the bill to be brought back to the House before we went into clause-by-clause consideration: it was because they recognized that they had to change its scope.
I cannot tell the House how many times I have sat in a committee or in caucus where there has been a discussion about members not being allowed to change the scope of legislation. That is very clearly what is happening here. My concern is that the government wants to use its majority in the House to override a very important principle of private members' bills as well as the process involved with them.
Let me talk about the process of a private member's bill very briefly. First there are two hours of debate in the House, and then the bill goes to committee. The bill can be discussed for 60 hours at committee stage; it then comes back to the House, where it is debated for two hours and then ultimately voted on.
We do not want to use private members' hour as a back door for government legislation, and that is what we would be opening it to.
I caution all members of the House to review what has taken place and what the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration hopes to do. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should be bringing in his own piece of legislation.
My advice to all members, and particularly to you, Mr. Speaker, is to protect the rights of individual members to bring in their own bills without having them hijacked by the government making changes to their scope.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
May 9th, 2013 / 10:15 a.m.
Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to the interventions made by the hon. members for Toronto Centre and Saint-Lambert concerning the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
This report contains the request that the committee be granted the power to expand the scope of Bill C-425, an act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), such that the provisions of the bill not be limited to the Canadian Armed Forces.
One member suggested that the report itself is out of order, while the other suggested that the recommended instruction is deficient and, therefore, out of order.
I disagree with both of these assessments.
Let me address the first of these objections, the one put forward by the hon. member for Toronto Centre.
At the core of his presentation, he argued that Standing Order 97.1 excludes the possibility of a committee seeking an instruction in relation to a private member's bill, because that Standing Order enumerates three reports—not two as the honourable and learned member said—that a committee may present within 60 days of an order of reference.
The hon. member made reference to one approach to legal interpretation in support of his view. On the other hand, I would offer a different school of thought on interpretation, the mischief rule; in other words, what problem or mischief was being remedied when a law was enacted.
To this end, I would refer members to the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented during the first session of the 36th Parliament, back in 1997.
In the section on the disposition of bills by committees, the report observes:
A number of private Members' bills that have received second reading and been referred to committee have unfortunately disappeared and never been heard from again.... We are not in a position to comment on specific cases, but we do wish to prevent this situation from arising in the future.
There you go, Mr. Speaker. The intent was not to interfere with or restrict the manner in which a committee can consider legislation, but just that a committee cannot sit on a private member's bill indefinitely.
This was echoed in the Private Members' Business Practical Guide, 9th edition, which was published in October 2008 under the authority of the Clerk of the House of Commons. At page 16, under the heading of “Committee Consideration of Bills”, one reads that:
A votable Private Members' bill follows the normal procedure for a bill: if second reading is agreed to by the House, the bill is referred to a committee for the hearing of witnesses, clause-by-clause study and possible amendment.
The guide then discusses the rules that are particular to private members' bills: deadlines to report and proceedings on recommendations not to proceed further.
Nothing is suggested in this publication of the House to suggest that these types of bills are exempt from procedure on instructions.
I would further argue that Standing Order 97.1 has also not been circumvented by the eighth report. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration remains seized by Bill C-425, and it remains subject to the 60-day sitting deadline established by that standing committee to dispose of the bill. Indeed citation 684.1 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, 6th edition, advises that:
The Instruction should not be given while a bill is still in the possession of the House but rather after it has come into the possession of the committee.
Therefore, it follows that the committee remains seized with Bill C-425 and, consequently, has not made, yet, any of the reports required by Standing Order 97.1.
Having demonstrated that Standing Order 97.1 does not exclude the ability of the House to give an instruction to a committee on a private member's bill, as argued by the hon. member for Toronto Centre, I will now turn to the argument advanced by the hon. member for Saint-Lambert about the requested instruction itself.
Instructions are not common in our contemporary practice, which page 752 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice explains:
Motions of instruction derive from British practice during the second half of the nineteenth century. They were carried over into the practice of the Canadian House of Commons, although they have rarely been used.
Therefore, I will be referring to some of our older texts and United Kingdom authorities in addition to our contemporary procedural books.
Page 752 of O'Brien and Bosc states:
Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as...expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.
Then at page 992, the manner for committees to obtain additional powers is described. It states:
If a standing, legislative or special committee requires additional powers, they may be conferred on the committee by an order of the House...or by concurrence in a committee report requesting the conferring of those powers.
Indeed, the chair of the citizenship committee cited this at the committee's meeting on April 23, and then added, “That's what...[the hon. member for St. Catharines] is doing with his motion”.
Citation 681(2) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, observes that:
The purpose of the Instruction must be supplementary and ancillary to the purpose of the bill, and must fall within the general scope and framework of the bill. It is irregular to introduce into a bill, by an Instruction to the committee, a subject which should properly form the substance of a distinct measure, having regard to usage and the general practice of enacting distinct statutes for distinct branches of law.
Citation 222 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition, traces that proposition to an 1893 ruling of Mr. Speaker Peel of the United Kingdom House of Commons.
In the present instance, we are considering a proposal for the extension of the objects of Bill C-425. These types of instructions are explained in citation no. 686(1) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition. It states:
An Instruction is necessary to authorize the introduction into a bill of amendments, which extend its provisions to objects not strictly covered by the subject-matter of the bill as agreed to on the second reading, provided that these objects are cognate to its general purposes.
This statement, as distilled from citation 226(2) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition, quotes at length pages 398 and 399 of the 13th edition of Erskine May. There is one portion of that passage that I would like to add to the record. It states:
The object of an instruction is, therefore, to endow a committee with power whereby the committee can perfect and complete the legislation defined by the contents of the Bill, or extend the provisions of a Bill to cognate objects....
Page 559 of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 24th edition, offers the same abbreviated advice we saw in Beauchesne's sixth edition. The British text then goes on to recite several examples of instructions to this effect. The first bill on that list offers a compelling parallel. It states:
The Public Bodies (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Bill 1959-60 was limited to the single purpose of admitting the press to meetings. An instruction was necessary to extend the bill to the general public.
The Chair may be interested in knowing that the bill was also a private member's bill. In fact, many of the bills on that list, as I understand, were private member's bills.
As a historical aside, members may be interested in knowing that the sponsor of that 1959 bill was a then young, up-and-coming member of Parliament by the name of Margaret Thatcher. To be clear, though, the text of the instruction in relation to Mrs. Thatcher's bill bears similarities to the case now before us. The British motion is found at column 1,064 of volume 619 of the United Kingdom House of Commons Debates for March 14, 1960. It states:
...That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to make provision in the Bill for requiring members of the public other than representatives of the Press to be admitted to meetings of bodies exercising public functions, and for matters arising out of their admission.
In the case of Bill C-425, we have legislation that proposes to make two changes to the Citizenship Act with reference to the Canadian Armed Forces. The eighth report simply proposes that the citizenship committee be empowered to consider amendments that extend the application of those two objects to circumstances not involving the Canadian Armed Forces specifically.
As I understand the context, it became apparent at committee that the “act of war” is not defined clearly in either our domestic law or international laws, so that those references in Bill C-425 needed to be clarified. Amendments were to be proposed to address and clarify this.
Moreover, the committee heard suggestions about convicted terrorists in the context of the provisions for deemed applications for renunciation of citizenship. Amendments were also to be proposed in this vein.
I am further informed that there was an interpretation by the committee clerk that these amendments could be outside the scope of the bill. I am also told that the 8th report, which is now before the House, was drafted with the assistance of one or more committee clerks.
This report specifically addresses what committee members have been grappling with through their study of the bill, while at the same time being careful not to hamstring their own deliberations or to risk bringing forward a report with inadmissible amendments, as contemplated at pages 775 and 776 of O'Brien and Bosc.
Ultimately, it is up to the House to decide what to do with Bill C-425. The discretion of the House and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration remains unfettered. Should a motion to concur in the 8th report be moved, the House would have a concurrence debate and vote in which all members would have an opportunity to have a say on the proposed instruction. Should the report be concurred in, the instruction to the committee would be permissive; that is to say that the committee is not mandated to amend the bill in such a manner.
Should the committee report the bill with amendments consistent with the instruction, it remains up to the House to accept the amendments, reverse them or propose further amendments when Bill C-425 is considered at report stage. Alternatively, the House retains the option of defeating the bill.
In summary, the intention of the instructions sought by the citizenship committee is not overly broad and results in an intelligible outcome. It is consistent with instructions authorizing the extension of the objects of a bill. It is for a purpose cognate to Bill C-425. It does not import a different subject matter into the bill or seek to amend other parent acts.
Finally, it does not propose an alternative scheme contradictory to the principle of the bill adopted at second reading.
Therefore, I respectfully submit that the 8th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is admissible.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
May 9th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB
Mr. Speaker, I feel I need to address the question of privilege raised by my hon. colleague opposite regarding my private member's Bill C-425, which amends the Citizenship Act. From the time I tabled my bill, I have been clear in saying that I am open to friendly amendments that are in line with the aims and intent of my legislation, which is to create more pathways to integration, reward those who put their lives on the line for Canada and underscore the immense value of Canadian citizenship.
The second part of my bill revokes citizenship from a person who demonstrates deep disloyalty to Canada and Canadian values. My colleagues opposite want the House to believe that amending my bill to articulate acts of terrorism is not in line with the original intent of my bill. I can tell the House, as the author of the bill, that strengthening it to include acts of terrorism in addition to treason is well within my stated aims and intentions.
I also want to remind my colleagues opposite that as feared, the threat of terrorism has become very real to Canadians in recent days and months. I believe we, as members of Parliament and members of the committees of this House, have an obligation to take these threats seriously and need to be able to deal efficiently and effectively with the issues that touch the lives of Canadian citizens in a timely manner.
The members opposite perhaps forgot that a national poll conducted on this matter showed that over 80% Canadians agreed that the citizenship should be revoked of those who commit acts of terrorism. I hope my colleagues opposite are not using delay tactics to thwart the will of Canadians, but from this side of the House I am afraid that it looks as though they are. Perhaps they should be clear about their intentions. Do they oppose stripping citizenship from convicted terrorists? If they do, they need to come clean and say so.
Adding serious convicted terrorists to my bill wholly conforms to the spirit and intent of my legislation. I have been talking about stripping the citizenship of those who act against our Canadian values and commit violent acts of disloyalty. Being a terrorist is absolutely against our Canadian values and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
I would hope the opposition members would appreciate an extra three hours to debate my bill and make their case. Perhaps they could use the extra time to clarify their position. Do they support removing citizenship from convicted terrorists or not? Canadians need to see their Parliament able to act and act quickly in the interests of safety and security of its people.
I urge opposition members to stop playing politics with this issue as it can have dire consequences. Or they should tell Canadians why we need to keep convicted terrorists in Canada. The House should be allowed to have a debate regarding the scope of my bill, especially in the light of recent, timely events that have put homegrown terrorism front and centre in the minds of Canadians and have put Canada's reputation at stake at the international level.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
April 30th, 2013 / 1:35 p.m.
Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the question of privilege—which is not truly a question of privilege—raised by my colleague from Toronto Centre. The question has to do with the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which recommends to the House that it:
...be granted the power during its consideration of Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces) to expand the scope of the Bill such that the provisions of the bill be not limited to the Canadian Armed Forces.
I want to share why I think this question should be ruled out of order. However, before I share my arguments, I would like to correct what has been said so far. When the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the member for York—Simcoe, spoke on April 25, 2013, he misled he House. In speaking about the amendment, he implied that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is:
...asking the House to debate it for a number of hours and decide whether we think it is within the scope [of the bill]...
As you know, Mr. Speaker, that is not at all the case. This report does not ask us to determine whether the proposed amendments are within the scope of the bill. On the contrary, as I will explain later on, the committee clearly showed that it knows the proposed amendments are outside the scope of the bill. The report asks the House to give the committee the power to expand the scope of the bill and not to make judgments about amendments that could be made in committee.
I must also add that the member for Toronto Centre clearly did not do his homework before he spoke prematurely on the concurrence of this report before a motion to concur even made it to the order paper. A committee may seek an instruction from the House to expand the scope of a bill. In the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc are clear:
Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example...expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.
That is exactly what the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is trying to do with its eighth report.
However, and this is the reason for my speech, there is a limit to the instruction that the House can give to a committee. I would like to quote from O'Brien and Bosc once again:
A motion of instruction will be ruled out of order if it does not relate to the content of the bill, if it goes beyond the scope of the bill (for example, by embodying a principle that is foreign to it...
That is why, Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that you must intervene and rule that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration's request for instruction is out of order. This request is far too broad and does not allow the House to determine if the committee is likely to include a principle that is foreign to the bill.
There is some precedent where motions of instruction were deemed to be in order and were debated in the House. However, in each of those instances, the instructions were far clearer than those sought by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration today. One example is from April 27, 2010, when the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan moved the following motion of instruction:
That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, that it have the power during its consideration of Bill C-3, An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs), to expand the scope of the Bill so that a grandchild born before 1985 with a female grandparent would receive the same entitlement to status as a grandchild of a male grandparent born in the same period.
This motion was very clear and was ruled to be in order with good reason. It gave the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development permission to expand the scope of the bill in question, while providing strict limits as to how the committee could do that. By voting on this motion, the House was assured that the committee would not include a principle that is foreign to it in the bill.
In contrast, the motion of instruction that we have before us is simply asking the House for the power to expand the scope of the bill so that it is not limited to just the Canadian Armed Forces. What does that mean exactly? What amendments does the committee want make to the bill so that it applies to more than just the Canadian Armed Forces?
As it currently stands, the bill allows permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces to get their citizenship more quickly. By asking that the bill apply to more than just members of the Canadian Armed Forces, is the committee suggesting that it would like to amend the bill so that permanent residents who are working in professions that are not related to the Canadian Armed Forces can also get their citizenship more quickly?
It is not at all clear. How can the House decide on such a motion of instruction when it does not know how the committee will proceed or whether the committee will try to include a principle that is not foreign to it in the bill?
I would also like to add that, if the committee's motion of instruction were to be found in order, it would set a dangerous precedent. By allowing a standing committee to expand the scope of a bill without specific instructions, we would be going down a very dangerous path under the current circumstances. Given this majority government's tendency to use private members' business to forward their own agenda, private members' business would be used as a way for the government to get around the rules.
Catherine Dauvergne, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, appeared before the committee as an individual during the examination of Bill C-425. She could not have provided a better explanation of the danger associated with such solicitation of instructions. She said:
...such a profound change to our Citizenship Act such as the one the minister is proposing must not be done by a process like this, by a private member's bill. That process reduces the time allowed for debate and for this committee to do its work and it protects the changes that the minister is proposing. This is controlling democracy.
Mr. Speaker, as you know, section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Examination Regulations states:
In the case of every Bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a Minister of the Crown, the Minister shall, forthwith on receipt of two copies of the Bill from the Clerk of the House of Commons, (a) examine the Bill in order to determine whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...
By asking standing committees to broaden the scope of bills to include suggestions from ministers, the government is not fulfilling its responsibility to examine the bills, as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Examination Regulations.
Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(1), the constitutionality of private members' business is studied only by the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business, before a bill is debated at second reading.
By trying to expand the scope of the bill after second reading, the government is avoiding the constitutional test and will therefore be able to amend private members' bills as it sees fit, instead of presenting those concepts in government bills that must pass the constitutional test of the Minister of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by urging you to pay particular attention to the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which the NDP feels should be ruled out of order.
Such a request for instruction is much too broad for the House to be able to ensure that the changes subsequently made by the committee will not include concepts that are foreign to the bill and will not violate the charter.
Giving such latitude to a standing committee will set a very dangerous precedent that this majority government will certainly use in a partisan and anti-democratic fashion.
Thank you for your attention. To help you with your study of this important issue, I will provide you with the evidence from the study of Bill C-425 conducted by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
I am convinced that, once you look at the evidence, you will also agree that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is out of order.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
April 25th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, there has been a fair bit of discussion in code here about what is being discussed.
In its original form, the private member's bill, Bill C-425, intended that if individuals with dual citizenship, those with citizenship in another country and in Canada, were to commit an act against a member of the Canadian military, they would be subject to the sanction of losing that citizenship. This was very much inspired by events in Afghanistan in particular, where the Canadian military were constantly exposed to these kinds of acts by people from all kinds of places.
As we have seen in recent events, such as the situation at the Algerian gas plant where Canadians were involved in a terrorist act and the recent events that have gripped us across North America, including the recent arrests in Canada, there is a concern that the kind of terrorist act that was captured by the original drafting of the bill perhaps could be worded a little differently to capture the full intent of what was intended. I understand that is the purpose of the amendment, so let us understand what we are talking about here.
The member for Toronto Centre and the opposition House leader are trying to find a way to prevent that particular definition that members of the committee thought they would like to have. There may be a legitimate difference of opinion as to whether it is beyond the scope of the bill or not; some believe it is within the scope of the bill, some believe it is not. Therefore, they are asking the House to debate it for a number of hours and decide whether we think it is within the scope, whether it should be within the scope and whether it is important for Canada to have the ability to provide that sanction against those who decide to take up arms as terrorists as well as those who take up arms against the military. It is part of the same thrust.
It is important for everyone to understand that this is what the member for Toronto Centre and the opposition House leader appear to indicate they wish to defeat on this kind of a technicality. They are raising it so that if they are successful in the arguments they are making to you, the consequence will be that the genuine will of members who are observing events and dealing with legislation in front of them to try to address this terrorist threat will be frustrated.
The easy answer to that is to say that it does not matter, so let us just go back and do another bill and take time and delay, because we do not really need to respond to these things quickly and in a decisive way. That is reminiscent of the theme from the Liberal Party for the past week and a half, so it does not surprise me that it is coming from them. We also saw how the New Democrats voted this week on the bill to address terrorism, so we clearly know how lacking their view is on how urgent and important it is to be able to address these threats.
That said, I would like an opportunity to explore this issue fully, because I did not anticipate this. Frankly, I must say that I am quite surprised that those parties would take this position on an issue of such contemporary urgency to Canadians, the issue of protecting us from terrorism, and I was unprepared for these kinds of procedural arguments. I would like the opportunity to come back and fully discuss the procedural aspects.
Scope of Private Members' Bills
April 25th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege that I want to raise. I know it will shock you to hear this, but I actually think it has some merit.
Last week the parliamentary secretary moved that the committee should recommend to the House that it be granted the power during the consideration of Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), to “expand the scope of the bill such that the provisions of the bill be not limited to the Canadian Armed Forces”. That is going to be reported to the House of Commons.
This is an issue that affects the rights and privileges of all members, and indeed the very structure of the relationship between private bills, public bills and private members' bills.
My argument is quite simple. It is that if we were to allow the government majority to do this in order to allow for the consideration of other amendments that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has asked be added to the list, we would basically be allowing the government majority to completely expand the nature of private members' bills, which deal with a specific subject, and in fact to change their very nature from being private members' bills to being public bills.
However, if we allow the majority members to do that, they would be basically bypassing all of the requirements with respect to public bills. Those requirements include first reading, second reading, votes on both, and then referral to a committee to consider the whole structure.
Mr. Speaker, if we allow this to happen or, more specifically, if you allow this to happen, sir, the consequence will be very clear. It basically would mean that governments could increasingly use private members' bills as a way of getting other issues in front of the House, bypassing ordinary debate in second reading and the due consideration of this House so that after only two hours of debate on one subject, which in fact was what took place, the government would then suddenly be permitted to introduce other issues into the debate.
There are basically two points that I want to make in my argument. I feel so strongly about it—and this is a historic first—that I actually have some notes that I may consult from time to time as I deal with this matter.
First, Standing Order 97.1, which sets out the rules with respect to private members' bills, restricts a committee to making only two kinds of reports. The first is a report that brings back the bill, with or without amendments. Those are amendments that are within the scope of the bill, approved by the whole House at second reading. The second is a report requesting a 30-day extension to the committee's report deadline. No other report is allowed, and if that were not the case, it would be mentioned specifically in S. O. 97.1 or somewhere else in the chapter of our Standing Orders that governs private members' bills.
Mr. Speaker, you will be familiar with the simple legal thought that the expression of one thought is the exclusion of all others. I will not bore you with the Latin tag for that phrase, but it means that the fact that this procedure that is now being proposed by the government is not contained anywhere in Standing Order 97.1 or anywhere else in the Standing Orders dealing with private members' bills means that the scope of a private member's bill cannot be broadened to consider other matters, because the impact of that would be to completely change the reporting mechanisms that are basic to the relationship between private bills, private members' bills and public bills.
Mr. Speaker, my second point is that I think you also have to consider the impact that this can have—and, I would argue, will have in this instance—with respect to the procedures and considerations that we have.
Mr. Speaker, if you allow this to take place and allow a motion to be put to the House that basically broadens entirely the scope of a private member's bill to include the rest of the government's public agenda, imagine for a moment what the consequences would be.
It is very simple. The effect will be that the government could, by extrapolation, even add an omnibus feature to a private member's bill and say it is using its majority to add everything, the whole kitchen sink, into the measure.
Mr. Speaker, you have to say very clearly to this majority government that it cannot misuse and abuse private members' bills in this way. Private members' bills are intended for private members to put forward issues, items, agendas and concerns that they have. They are not intended to be a way by which the government skirts around the purposes of private members' bills and drives home its own agenda.
If the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has a variety of things that he would like to do—and we know that he does, because he has made speeches about them and has told the press that he intends to proceed with them—let him come into the House with a public bill. Let him come forward with a bill that pertains to the questions that he wants to raise. He cannot use a private member's bill to force his own agenda onto the Parliament of Canada.
This is a problem, and it is very clear that if the minister has something to present to the House of Commons, he must introduce a public bill, which will be thoroughly debated in the House at second reading, be sent to committee and come back to the House at third reading so that we can discuss it.
That is why we are not only concerned about the government's proposal, but we also think it is basically illegal. This proposal is not included in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Therefore, the House should not allow such a thing.
April 23rd, 2013 / 8:55 a.m.
April 23rd, 2013 / 8:50 a.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Chairperson, when I think in terms of the Boston tragedy, there are a number of thoughts that run across my mind. Right at the get-go, I want to acknowledge that no matter where you live in North America, what took place in Boston was horrific and at the end of the day we want to be able to see that there is justice done. We've heard from everyone from the President of the United States to the average Canadian in terms of how they feel about what has taken place. We give our best wishes and condolences to family members of victims and those who have been directly touched by this particular terrorist act. We can't say enough in terms of just how horrific this was.
Having said that, yesterday members of our law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with others, were able to discover a plot that would have led to Canadian lives possibly being lost and in many ways destroyed. Again, we congratulate all those involved in it and thank them, ever so grateful that we were able to prevent it from happening.
Yesterday I spoke at length on Bill S-7, combatting terrorism. It's now in third reading inside the House. Individuals are being afforded the opportunity to get on the record. We're doing what we can. In fact, the Liberal Party of Canada has indicated its support of Bill S-7, wanting to see the bill passed for all the right reasons. Yesterday I questioned why it is that the government was bringing forward Bill S-7 at that time, believing that maybe there was some political manipulation that was being conducted here, maybe even taking advantage of that tragedy that took place in Boston. I think there is a great deal of merit in terms of many of the things we're saying in terms of motives that were being used yesterday surrounding Bill S-7.
Now we're in committee, and there are two things that I get out of what Mr. Dykstra has said. Number one is the fact that in the motion it's very clear, Mr. Chairman, that the government does want to make significant amendments to Mr. Shory's bill, and he realizes, as the government has realized, that it is really out of scope, if we take a look specifically in terms of what it is that Bill C-425 was attempting to do. It's very precise. All you have to do is take a look at the summary. There are two things:
This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to require the Minister, on application, to reduce by one year the required years of residence in Canada to grant citizenship to any permanent resident who is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has signed a minimum three-year contract and who has completed basic training.
That's the number one objective. If we look at what happened in second reading, most of the discussion was on that issue. If we take a look at the reports that were coming out and being commented on, even by Mr. Shory himself, that seemed to be the primary reason for the bill itself.
The second part of the bill, Mr. Chairperson, is in regard to this:
It also amends section 9 of the Act to provide that an individual is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship
What's important here is that it's very specific. It's saying “if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces”. That's all that was meant with this particular private member's bill.
Why it's important for us to make note of this, Mr. Chairperson, is that the government has acknowledged that it is outside of the scope. But now the government wants to allow us to be able to make any sort of change we see fit, even though they would be out of scope. The biggest problem I have personally with that is that the rules that apply to a private member's bill are significantly different from the rules that apply to a government-sponsored bill.
I would be a whole lot more sympathetic to what Mr. Dykstra was talking about if we were suggesting that, given the situation that has been taking place over the last number of days, we should bring this bill back into second reading and allow for a more wholesome debate. We only allowed for one or two hours of debate, because it was a private member's bill. I can assure you that we would have critics—whether it's the member from Mount Royal, or our public safety critic, not to mention the leader of our party—who would love to contribute to the debate. Given the manner in which we're proposing legislation, this is really way outside the scope.
We talk about the manner in which citizenship is going to be changing, the establishment of a two-tier type of citizenship. We were provided a series of amendments that the government was possibly considering to bring forward to the committee. Late last night, I was told that what I was provided has now been changed. So I don't really know what to expect from all these amendments. I don't believe we're doing a service to private members bills when we break the rule and go beyond the scope.
I would recommend that we continue to move forward with Mr. Shory's bill at this time, clause by clause, as you suggested at the opening, Mr. Chairperson. If the government wants to bring in amendments, we can listen to them, and you'll rule whether or not they're within the scope of the bill. Even by his own admission, Mr. Dykstra has said he wants us to go back to the House because the amendments they want to move are beyond the scope of the private member's bill. I think that gives us some direction.
We might want to consider having a recess. This would allow our respective House leaders to see if they can work out a compromise that would achieve something that would protect the integrity of private members bills and at the same time respond to the government's need to bring in something more all-encompassing regarding terrorism/citizenship and so forth.
Mr. Chair, my recommendation would be that, if anything, we leave it to our House leaders and see what they come up with. If we want to continue on clause by clause today, I'm okay with that. But I would be very reluctant to suggest that we recommend to the House that we allow this committee to change the scope of the legislation.
April 23rd, 2013 / 8:45 a.m.
The Chair David Tilson
Good morning. This is the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, meeting number 77. We are studying Mr. Shory's bill, Bill C-425, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, honouring the Canadian Armed Forces.
We are into clause-by-clause. We have some witnesses here to assist us if needed. Most of the people you've met from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. We also have representatives from the Department of National Defence. They're available for questions.
We can start on the clause-by-clause.
April 18th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC
I understand your explanation, but that said, a Canadian citizen without dual citizenship could, eventually, commit this kind of act. So, it is really important to think about the comparison between someone with dual citizenship and someone with single citizenship, in this case Canadian citizenship. In this case, we are faced with a somewhat arbitrary decision, as one of our witnesses said. That was really the context for my question.
I have a second question. One of our witnesses, Catherine Dauvergne, talked about a cost of $40 million to process 13 cases of citizenship revocation since 2002. Do you think we will have to take on similar amounts to apply Bill C-425?