House of Commons Hansard #227 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was punishment.

Topics

The Environment
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the material the member refers to is by Monsanto. In fact the company that actually owns the Irving Whale , the Irving company, knew that the PCBs were there and did not inform.

As a result of that lack of information, on July 6 I ordered a full investigation surrounding the presence of PCBs specifically cited in the Marex report but unfortunately not identified by the officials from the Department of Transport who were reviewing that study.

On July 6 I ordered a report. This week our officials will be meeting with officials from the Irving company. We intend, hopefully within the next four weeks, to have the investigation completed and proper prosecution if and when necessary.

Income Tax Act
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

As part of the last budget there was a requirement that as many as 400,000 small and medium sized unincorporated businesses in all of Canada be forced to change their year ends.

Knowing the commitment of the minister and the government to help small and medium sized businesses to create jobs, how has the minister come to the assistance of the business community?

Income Tax Act
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Durham has just said, in order to prevent an undue deferral of income there were certain changes brought within the last budget to the Income Tax Act.

Unfortunately we discovered, as the member has just said, that this imposed an undue burden on many unincorporated small businesses across the country. As a result we have been able to bring in changes that in effect allow small businesses to have a business year end and a tax year end.

Therein does not lie the whole story. The fact is that the matter was brought to our attention by the member for Durham and a number of members on the government side of the House. Not only did they bring it to our attention, but in a very constructive and imaginative way they worked with the department to come up with a solution. I thank and congratulate those members of Parliament.

Nunavut
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The previous Conservative government passed the Nunavut Act as its act of Parliament to ensure that the Inuit desire for self-government would be finally realized.

Will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development recognize the reports by the Nunavut Implementation Commission and its findings which clearly indicate Iqaluit as the best community for the capital?

Nunavut
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the report to which the hon. member refers is an advisory report to the Inuit people, to the

territorial government and to the federal government. It is no more or no less.

I am leaving next Thursday for a two-day meeting with the Inuit people in Rankin Inlet where the matter will be discussed. Hopefully at some point very soon we will be able to pick a capital.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in the gallery of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Delegation from the United Kingdom, led by Dame Jill Knight.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would also like to draw the attention of members to the presence in the gallery of members of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic region.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the hon. member for Roberval raised a point of order regarding a question asked by the hon. member for Vaudreuil.

Today, I would like to read you a few comments Beauchesne made on this subject. The question concerned a report on the cost of separation prepared for the Government of Quebec.

As I said, the hon. member for Vaudreuil directed his question at the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and this question concerned a report prepared for the Government of Quebec on the cost to the province of separating from our confederation. In my opinion, the question is in order as it concerns the obligations and duties of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I am quoting from Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms , Sixth Edition. Paragraph 410(16) reads:

Ministers may be questioned only in relation to current portfolios.

This question was asked of the minister concerning a matter that clearly falls within his jurisdiction.

He is responsible for the national unity office, and this report prepared for the Government of Quebec directly concerns his work in this office. Therefore, I think that the question is in order and that the point of order raised by the hon. member for Roberval is not relevant.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, as I said yesterday, I will review Hansard and make a ruling within a few days. It will not be long in coming.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to call your attention to irregularities in the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

For your information, Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I sought remedy within the committee to the problems which arose and we were unable to achieve or obtain adequate satisfaction.

Although committees are creatures of this Chamber, I understand they are masters of their business within limits prescribed by the standing orders. Your Honour has recognized that Speakers have always been hesitant to interfere in the proceedings of committees of the House.

However, as Speaker Fraser explained in a ruling on March 26, 1990, at page 9756 of the Debates :

The Speaker has often informed the House that matters and procedural issues that arise in committee ought to be settled in committee unless the committee reports them first to the House. I have, however, said to the House that this practice was not an absolute one and that in very serious and special circumstances the Speaker may have to pronounce on a committee matter without the committee having reported to the House.

Also there is Your Honour's ruling of June 20, 1994 at page 5582 of the Debates .

Mr. Speaker, this committee has a history of past irregularities, including the case to which I have drawn your attention. The irregularities from yesterday are as follows.

First, as soon as the clerk's gavel fell I submitted a motion to elect a chairman. As Your Honour knows, under the standing orders the first item of business for an organizational meeting is the election of a chair for the committee. However the clerk acknowledged my speaking and asked me to wait until he had read his first item of business. I asked that he recognize that I had given notice of a motion. After the clerk read the item of business he proceeded to recognize someone else first.

Second, once the chair was elected my colleagues repeatedly attempted to move a motion to elect a vice-chair, but the chair appeared to be intent on stalling so that a motion to elect a member of the Bloc could be put forward by the Bloc or by the government for the so-called opposition vice-chair.

The chair stalled by insisting that we were to consider motions for government vice-chair. This is a false distinction. The standing orders do not recognize a government vice-chair per se. The standing orders only require that two of the three positions go to the government side.

As soon as a motion to elect a vice-chair is put forward, whether to elect a government or opposition member that motion is surely in order. The chair made it clear that he was accepting no motions from the Reform.

Third, once a member of the government moved to elect the Bloc to the vice-chair, my colleagues and I asked for debate on the motion. We were not only cut off; we were not allowed to debate at all. As Your Honour knows, Standing Order 116 makes clear that there is no limit on debate on a regular motion in committee.

Fourth, when we put forward a motion to overturn the election of the Bloc member as vice-chair, the chairman refused to entertain the motion, which was surely in order. The chairman then summarily adjourned the meeting.

We appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, to uphold the standing orders and our rights. This kind of conduct by committee chairs is surely less than acceptable. Are the committees and their chairs obligated to conduct their business according to the standing orders and according to the rules, or can the standing orders and the rules be ignored or changed at any committee chair's whim?

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the points raised by the hon. member.

First, the member acknowledged that it is customary for these issues to be dealt with in the committee and not in the House. Having said that I want to respond to some of the matters that were raised because I believe there are some factual inaccuracies in what was said.

Second, there is an inaccurate knowledge of the rules, at least in my opinion. I would like to so submit, Mr. Speaker.

The matter of which position to be elected is dictated by the agenda duly prepared by the Committees Directorate of the House of Commons. I have a copy of the agenda in front of me which has the draft motions written on it as well as the various positions to be elected.

The member suggested there was no such thing as a vice-chair from the government. I read here from the draft agenda point number two, which I will gladly table or at least give a copy to you, Mr. Speaker, to consider. "Moved by" whatever member rises to make such a motion. Then there is a "that" and there is space for the person nominated "be the vice-chair from the government". It says so in the draft agenda prepared by the staff of Mr. Speaker, by the clerk staff, to be utilized by the person elected as chairman to then select names or invite nominations for those to be the two vice-chairs.

Even if such a draft agenda did not exist at all, the member across has acknowledged that two of the three positions had to be from the government and one from the opposition.

In view of the fact that the chair had already been elected from the government at the time that the two vice-chairs were elected, it stands to reason mathematically that at least one more position had to come from the government and one from the opposition. Otherwise, there are some mathematical differences in calculating things between the hon. member opposite and the majority of the rest of us.

In addition to that the hon. member makes a claim that there was some difficulty in having a point of order recognized. It should be brought to the attention of the Speaker that under our rules members of the committee are recognized by the chair at the chair's discretion. There is also a provision whereby members of the House who are present in the room but who are not members of the committee can be recognized at the chair's discretion.

In fact, the point of order was raised by the hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley. The hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley did not receive recognition for his point of order. He was not a member of the committee nor was he a substitute at that particular time because both members of the committee representing that party, the hon. member for North Island-Powell River and the hon. member for Surrey North, were present in the room. As the Speaker knows, a member can only be a substitute provided that the regular member is not in attendance at that particular meeting. In view of the fact that both of them were in attendance, then the other member was not a member of the committee at that particular time.

That should take care of that point.

Finally, I have before me the blues, or at least the rough Hansard of that particular committee, in which the hon. member, who in fact was not a member of the committee, the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley, asked the chair for the following: ``Can we receive assurance that the vote on the nomination of Mr. Murphy will be called?'' In fact, this was the second nominee. He asked if we could have that assurance.

Furthermore, the hon. member stated the following: "What we asked, Mr. Clerk, was that both names be put on the ballot, which the members of the Liberal Party agreed to do", and so on.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are quite aware of citation Nos. 781, 782 and 783 of Beauchesne. Citation No. 782 states that the clerk of the committee conducts the election of the chairman by putting a motion moved by a member of the committee. It says further that if this motion fails successive motions are moved. In other words, there was no provision for the two names to be on the ballot. It is contrary to our practices and contrary to the standing orders. What the hon. member was asking the clerk to do was to be in breach of the rules in order to gain something that he wanted.

The clerk of the committee obviously followed the rules and so did the chairman subsequently. Just because the member has brought the matter to the House does not mean that the rules were breached. Perhaps it means that he did not have his way, but that is not the same thing as the rules not being observed.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not want to get into a debate on this.

If there is something that is relevant I will recognize it. Is the Reform whip rising on the same point of order?

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, very simply, in view of the counter argument given by the chief government whip and in view of the fact that he has used some of the argument here himself as a whip in opposition or as a member of a committee, I respectfully ask that the deposition by the hon. member for North Island-Powell River be taken by the chair and be given back in written form as an answer, not just accepting the verbal answer given by the chief government whip today.