House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

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Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11 a.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved that Bill C-300, an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I know you are always well prepared and orderly, but I would just like to point out that one month from today will be Christmas, in case you had forgotten, sir.

I speak to this bill with a fair amount of trepidation because I know the track record of private members' bills in the House of Commons. All members become very enthusiastic and tied up with their bills but I feel very strongly that this bill is well worthy of consideration and hopefully of passing this House and the other place.

Bill C-300 is an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for UN peacekeeping to Canadians having served with a United Nations peacekeeping force. The Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping will be awarded to any Canadian, whether they be military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police or civilian, who qualifies as a result of United Nations peacekeeping activity. A clasp, to be worn on the medal ribbon, awarded to those who served prior to September 1988, will represent the honour they brought to Canada as recipients of the Nobel peace prize awarded to Canadian peacekeepers at that time.

Most of us think of peacekeeping in respect of Canadians starting with the Suez United Nations emergency force mission in 1956. However, Canadian peacekeeping actually started in 1949 with UNMOGIP, the United Nations military observer group in India and Pakistan which operated until 1979. In fact our first peacekeeping casualty was Brigadier H.H. Angle, DSO ED, of UNMOGIP who was killed on July 17, 1950.

The next Canadian peacekeeping commitment was UNCMAC, the United Nations command military armistice commission for Korea, which commenced in 1953 and is still in being today. Between 1953 and 1956, 43 Canadians lost their lives with UNCMAC.

In 1954 Canadian peacekeepers were committed to UNTSO, the United Nations truce supervision organization for Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria which is still operating today. This mission has suffered two killed, the first in 1958 and the second in 1985.

Also in 1954 Canadians became involved in the ICSC, the international commission for supervision and control in Indo-China until 1974. This mission cost five Canadian lives between 1954 and 1965. Three of those lives lost were foreign service officers from the Department of External Affairs. The remaining two were Canadian forces servicemen.

Then in 1956 came the Suez crisis and UNEF, the United Nations emergency force which operated from 1956 until 1967 and cost 31 Canadian lives.

I do not intend to take members through each of the peacekeeping missions we have participated in, but from the Congo to Cyprus, the Middle East, Bosnia, Haiti and now Rwanda-Zaire, they did and do go on and on.

In all, to date 150 Canadians have died as a result of peacekeeping missions. If there is discrepancy in this number from the 102 officially recognized by the Canadian government, my figure comes from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association which includes those peacekeepers who were committed with UNCMAC, the United Nations military command armistice commission for Korea, and those who have committed suicide while on a mission or following a mission. Thus this figure represents the people who died either as a result of the mission or on the mission.

The only specific further example I want to give is that of the nine Canadians who died when their aircraft was shot down in the Middle East. On August 9, 1974 Canadian Armed Forces Buffalo aircraft No. 115461 on a routine flight to Damascus had left Beirut and climbed eastward over the Lebanese highlands. It was being

tracked by Syrian radar. As it neared the village of Diemas, someone in the surface to air missile site there decided to terminate its progress. Several surface to air missiles were launched, at least one being on target.

The Buffalo, commanded by Captain Gary Foster, was blown out of the sky. Nine Canadians lost their lives in this bizarre incident. Although it was investigated by the United Nations, the Canadian forces and the Syrians, no satisfactory public explanation of the tragedy was ever released. The Syrians claimed that it had been accident, that the Buffalo had shown up as an Israeli aircraft on an attack mission in the area and had been mistakenly identified as an enemy fighter. The outcome was nine Canadians were killed.

Because August 9 was the day on which the largest number of peacekeepers have been killed, the Canadian Peacekeepers Veterans Association has designated that day as Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Day. This is officially recognized by British Columbia. In 1995 it was also proclaimed by Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta.

Peacekeepers voluntarily place themselves in danger. They endure uncomfortable conditions and long repeated separations from family and loved ones. They are exposed to horrors of human atrocities, degradation, inhumanity and suffering. They accept tremendous stress and live with the lasting impact these memories cannot help but impose. In so doing they have brought and continue to bring great honour to Canada.

And how does Canada recognize them? The United Nations medals, which are awarded to qualified participants in UN peacekeeping activities, at some time after they are awarded are accepted into the Canadian honours system. The second recognition they have is the dramatic and effective peacekeeping memorial on Sussex Drive which was unveiled on October 8, 1992.

How do other nations recognize their peacekeepers? Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Ghana, Poland and the United States not only accept the UN medals but also award a national medal. Sweden and Finland are at this time in the process of establishing a national peacekeeping medal and Australia and New Zealand are considering likewise.

In 1942 Canadian commander General Guy Simmons wrote to his commander saying: "The final criterion of a good or bad award is the reaction of the troops. If the troops feel it is a good award, it is a good award. If awards are criticized by the troops, they are bad awards. Before forwarding any recommendation, at each level the commander should ask himself the question: Would the frontline soldier, if he knew the facts, consider this well deserved?"

I did not dream this bill up on my own. It results from a tremendous amount of input from present and former peacekeepers as well as other Canadians from across our country. Bill C-300 has been formally endorsed by the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, by the Canadian Association of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping and by the Air Force Association of Canada.

The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association has received letters of support from: the municipality of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia; the city of Kingston; British Columbia Premier Glen Clark; former member of Parliament and Prince Edward Island Premier Catherine Callbeck; our Speaker; the Deputy Prime Minister; the chief government whip; the Minister of Public Works and Government Services; the member for Hamilton West; the member for Regina-Qu'Appelle; the member for Ottawa Centre; the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce; the member for Winnipeg Transcona; the member for Shefford; the member for Hillsborough; and many more.

In the 34th parliament two members proposed similar bills but unfortunately they were not lucky in the draw. Therefore those bills never came to the floor of the House of Commons. In 1993 the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs recommended the award of a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping but unfortunately Parliament was dissolved before that could be acted on and put into place. In addition, I personally have presented petitions from thousands of people from across Canada in support of a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping.

It is the perception of these people that the present Canadian recognition of peacekeepers is inadequate. I support that perception.

Our chancellery and the Canadian honours system accept United Nations peacekeeping medals as Canadian. They claim that only one honour can be won for any specific act or service, that new honours cannot duplicate existing honours.

Canadians want to maintain respect for our medals. We do not want to denigrate them or have medals considered as bobbles that are issued on a whim. It is vitally important that people recognize they are awarded only for true merit and good service.

Many of Canada's military traditions originate with the United Kingdom, and the British are often seen as the military example for Canada's forces to follow. But the British are far more generous with their medals and awards than are Canadians. For example, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team leaders quite regularly receive an air force cross at the completion of each successful tour of duty.

On the other hand, only one air force cross has been awarded to a Canadian since the second world war. This occurred for a young Sabre pilot on a low level mission when he was in collision with a hawk. The hawk struck the aircraft at the juncture of the windscreen and the canopy. It took out the entire left side of the canopy. As a result, the plexiglas from the canopy hit the pilot in the face. It blinded him in his left eye and caused severe contusions which led to a lot of blood. In order to see from his good right eye he had

to turn his head sideways to the left so the blood would be blown away from that eye.

Fortunately his number two was able to lead him back to the base at Baden-Soellingen. His landing was so good that the fire truck and ambulance drivers who had been sent to receive him thought there was no problem and they started to withdraw. At the end of the runway on his rollout he collapsed from loss of blood. The emergency vehicles were quickly recalled and he was extracted from the aircraft. No one would argue that flying officer Burrows deserved the air force cross which he was awarded in this instance.

On the other hand, there is an additional precedent to override the government concept that was set when the Canadian volunteer service medal for Korea was initiated by parliamentarians, approved in June 1991, and granted royal assent on July 10, 1991.

There is yet another precedent for additional Korean honours. A United Nations medal for peacekeeping had been awarded although it could not really be considered a peacekeeping mission. It was called a police action but was in fact a full blown war. Another Canadian medal, which shared a common ribbon with our Commonwealth partners of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, was also awarded. There were in total three medals awarded for the Korean action.

While Government House can no longer claim that only one honour can be awarded for an action, it has thus far been unwilling to consider submissions that recommend a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping and the clasp which would recognize the honour brought to Canada with the award of the Nobel peace prize to our peacekeepers in that year.

Moreover, I contend that in any case this is not a duplicate honour. A Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping and the clasp to represent the Nobel peace prize award would represent the first and only Canadian recognition of the death, danger, horror, deprivation, extended and repeated separation from family and loved ones that our peacekeepers endure.

I will compare the service of our peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia with those of the second world war. As the House is aware, the D-Day invasion took place on June 6, 1944. Victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945. The invasion of Sicily was on August 10, 1943 and our troops in Italy continued to fight throughout the war. Our people served for 11 months during the European invasions on the mainlands of Germany and France before victory was declared. For the Italian campaigners it was about 19 months.

During the service in Yugoslavia some of our peacekeepers did three or four six-month tours. I understand one soldier did five tours there. That would mean that they were at least as long in a combat theatre as those who served during the second world war. It seems to me this fact should be recognized. Thus I think the Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping would be the first and only recognition of the honour and esteem our peacekeepers have gained for Canada.

What we are talking about here are a couple of pieces of metal and some cloth. It is the significance of these pieces of metal and that cloth that really matters. What it says to those to whom they are awarded is that Canada recognizes the honour they have brought to our country and that Canadians recognize that our peacekeepers have voluntarily placed themselves in danger and have accepted uncomfortable and sometimes horrid conditions, along with repeated, extended separations from their families and loved ones.

This medal, this ribbon and this clasp will say that what our peacekeepers are and what they have done is respected and appreciated by Canada and their fellow citizens. It will say: "Thank you. We are proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourself".

The peacekeeping memorial on Sussex Drive here in Ottawa is dramatic, effective and very much appreciated by our peacekeepers. However, many Canadians, indeed many peacekeepers, will never visit Ottawa and thus will never see it. Besides that, the memorial does not provide the individual recognition to be worn personally by those who won that honour.

I hope that the members of the 35th Parliament will take advantage of this opportunity to award this long overdue recognition to our Canadian peacekeepers.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to speak to Bill C-300, standing in the name of the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands. The bill before us is being presented for the most laudable of reasons, to recognize the men and women of our country who have served with distinction in many peacekeeping missions.

I am glad to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians who have served wherever their country has sent them. The medals they have received represent our small attempt to tell them how much their service has meant to all of us. Without them we would be much diminished.

It is impossible to determine exactly how many Canadians have received medals. In the first world war over 427,000 Canadian military personnel were eligible for one or more medals. During the second world war some 700,000 were eligible to receive one or more medals. More than 25,000 Canadians served during the Korean war. To date, almost 100,000 Canadians have earned UN or other international medals.

In addition to the military, almost 500 UN medals were earned by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other Canadian police assigned to these UN missions. As well, the UN has authorized and Canada has approved the issue of numerals on UN medals to note subsequent tours in a mission for which a medal has already been earned.

At the present time the UN has awarded service medals to personnel who served with some 30 UN missions. These medals are accepted for wear by Canada.

It is somewhat unfortunate, and likely only an oversight, that the bill before us refers only to UN veterans. There have also been five non-UN missions where Canadian peacekeepers played a significant role. I am sure the hon. member would not wish to exclude these worthy Canadians. It is in the interests of improving the discussion that I raise the issue here.

These five missions, two in Indo-China, one in the Sinai and two in the former Yugoslavia, each had a specific medal associated with it. These medals, like those of the UN, were also accepted for wear by Canada, and over 5,500 of these medals were earned by Canadians, including 52 members of the then department of external affairs who participated in the second mission in Indo-China.

A special medal was struck and issued for those Canadian personnel who took part in the gulf war in 1991. Just under 4,500 were awarded.

For those missions which were not recognized by a specific medal, the Canadian special service medal with peace-paix bar is available to anyone who has served on such a mission for 180 days or more. This medal, authorized in 1984, issued for the first time in 1990, is never issued without a bar.

Almost 65,000 Canadian military personnel, retired and serving, have been awarded this medal for one or more bars for special service with NATO, Alert, Pakistan and for humanitarian issues.

The peace-paix bar has been awarded to just over 1,000 personnel where the U.N. has not issued a specific medal for a mission. I am sure the Chair will recall the debate that took place in this Chamber some two and a half years ago around the motion of the member for Winnipeg-Transcona concerning his proposal for a medal for the veterans of the Dieppe raid.

While the original motion was amended, some interesting thoughts were developed during the debate and I can recommend it to my hon. colleagues for their information.

There was much goodwill displayed on the part of many during the debate and many participants went away, I believe, with a new determination to seek a solution. One was found, one which I know was welcomed by the valiant men who were a part of that historic battle and by their survivors.

On July 14, 1994 the Secretary of State for Veterans announced on behalf of the Government of Canada the awarding of a distinctive decoration for Canadians who participated in the August 19, 1942 raid on Dieppe, France. The silver bar to be attached to the ribbon of the Canadian volunteer service medal was designed featuring the word Dieppe in raised letters on a pebbled background. Above this the bar bears an anchor surmounted by an eagle and a Thompson sub-machine gun.

The design was created in consultation with Dieppe veterans and the Prisoners of War Association and was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. Members will know the decoration was a long awaited, special recognition for a very special group of veterans who had waited 50 years for this honour.

I hasten to add that I do not raise the Dieppe decoration as a reason not to award a special recognition to those who have served us with distinction in many peacekeeping missions since then. I do raise it to suggest that there are alternatives to the separate medals proposed by the member opposite.

As I understand it, approximately 80,000 to 90,000 Canadians would be eligible for a medal such as that proposed by the private member's bill. I realize that the number is significantly higher than that mentioned by my colleague opposite and I can only say that we need to get our experts together so that we can give a very definitive answer.

This number is a very important reason to consider such a bill favourable and equally a very important reason why we have to be sure that it is right the first time.

I also want to take a moment to comment on the announcement on November 13 by the Minister of National Defence that the Government of Canada will seek approval from Her Majesty the Queen for a medal for service in Somalia.

In December 1992, almost 1,400 Canadian forces drawn from both the regular and reserve forces were deployed to Somalia under United Nations resolution 794.

As a chapter 7 mission, it is appropriate that a separate Canadian medal be awarded. During this mission Canadian forces members restored order, ensured that convoys of badly needed food and medical supplies reached people in desperate need and assisted in rebuilding war ravaged communities in Somalia. Now that the government has given its approval to proceed with the Somalia medal, an order in council must be established for this new honour. Once the order in council is signed, the Queen's approval will be sought through letters patent.

While we can wish that all was speedier and the process faster, it may take between six to twelve months before Canadian forces' members actually receive their medal. Much attention has been paid in recent years to certain tragic events that occurred in that theatre. The government is saying by proceeding with this medal that it wants to acknowledge the vast majority of courageous and self-sacrificing individuals who represented us all with pride and honour. I believe that Canadians have wanted us to take this action, to speak for them in recognizing those who served.

May I say in conclusion that I will listen very carefully to the debate on this bill and for the moment urge all members only to give it their earnest consideration. Perhaps when next we return to this debate we will find we have come a long way toward finding a common understanding of how we can achieve this objective.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to Bill C-300, the initiative of a Reform Party member, which is an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp for United Nations Peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Of course, more and more Canadian soldiers are taking part in peacekeeping missions, given the number of major regional conflicts throughout the world, particularly in certain areas. Given the growing role of the United Nations as well, there are more and more interventions of a military or humanitarian nature, aimed at securing a lasting peace in regions emerging from a conflict.

At this time, nearly 2,000 Canadian peacekeepers-the number depending, of course, on how many are sent on the African great lakes operation-are located in various parts of the world, or may be by the end of this year.

This is a substantial figure, representing a substantial contribution by Canada to various missions. As well, we have to accept that the armed forces, particularly in a country like Canada, now play a dual role. In addition to providing civil assistance within the country, they participate in these peacekeeping missions carried out by the United Nations, or in others which may, while under the auspices of the United Nations, be commanded by a specific country.

I must make it clear immediately that we are in agreement with the bill proposed by the hon. Reform member. It might, however, be worthwhile to broaden the first point in clause 4 to indicate that it is a mission authorized by the United Nations, not necessarily an operation under the command of the United Nations.

This would cover such cases as the operation in Zaire and Rwanda, not in its present form, but as it was initially going to be. So in this case, it is not necessarily a mission initiated by the UN but rather a mission authorized by the UN under Canadian command.

So these cases as well should be included if we want to extend the scope of this bill, whose purpose is to recognize by means of a distinctive medal the contribution of soldiers from Quebec and Canada who were involved in this type of mission and, who knows, may be in the future as well.

There are also people who are not parliamentarians who support this bill, one example being the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association.

In 1993, the creation of a similar medal was suggested in a report by, I believe, the national defence committee or the foreign affairs committee. I would like to read part of this report, which was tabled shortly before the election in 1993. Because of the election, there was no follow-up.

The report said that the government should establish a medal for volunteer service in peacekeeping operations, to be awarded to members of the military and non-military employees-I will get back to this-who are on UN peacekeeping missions. This was in a report by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, dated June 1993.

The bill also recognizes the contribution of those who take part in these missions without necessarily being members of the military. In certain cases, these people are sent on peacekeeping missions. They would also be entitled to the medal. So it would be more than just recognizing the contribution of the military.

At the present time, there is a UN medal, but none offered by the Canadian government. Other countries do have their own awards. The bill makes it possible for the Canadian authorities to give special recognition to those who volunteer for such service, whether they are members of the military or other people involved in these operations who served on peacekeeping missions. There have been many instances of members of police forces or the RCMP who were sent on such missions. Some people may be involved in the delivery of medical assistance and other services. There are also others who make a significant contribution.

I would also like to mention something our constituents often ask us, and it is whether this kind of assistance, these operations in which Canada is involved are not too costly. Considering our relative wealth, we have a duty to contribute to restoring peace. We have everything to gain by bringing a more lasting peace to all parts of the world, a world that is rapidly shrinking as a result of the

extraordinary development of communications. I think working towards a more lasting peace is everybody's business.

The United Nations can intervene, co-operate and bring a more lasting peace to an area through the presence of peacekeepers. Such co-operation is particularly significant when it makes it possible to introduce democratic government. I am sure those taking part have powerful memories, some of which are no doubt distressing, others happy ones.

The people in the armed forces have done extraordinary humanitarian things. Some operations, particularly in recent years, have not been huge successes. The Somalia inquiry has revealed an operation that failed on many counts. That said, there is no need to exaggerate or generalize the fact that some people may have lacked judgment in certain operations.

Generally, the behaviour of the vast majority of peacekeepers brings honour to us all. Our international reputation, which is very important in some respects, enviable even, in certain instances, is often thanks to those who represent us abroad. These people are from families we know, sometimes from our own family. Here in Parliament, there are people who have served in the armed forces. All have contributed to a positive image of us as Quebecers and Canadians.

This then is an act intended to honour people who often make significant personal sacrifices during peacekeeping missions. Generally these missions last six months. During these six months, they live far from their families in conditions that are not always easy.

They must be extremely careful at all times, because they are in zones that most of the time have been in conflict, and so their work is extremely delicate. They carry out their mission brilliantly. It is indeed a very good idea to want to honour them with a special award, and I see no reason why Parliament would not support such a bill.

The bill also contains provision for a retroactive award in order to honour participants in earlier peacekeeping missions. Tracing these people may be a lengthy process, but it should be done where possible.

The bill's aim as regards future missions is certainly readily achievable. I have no doubt that it may be done without costing a whole lot. It is fair compensation for what these people give and the contribution they make.

I conclude by saying that initiatives such as this are easy to support. I would like to congratulate the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, for his initiative. He has my support and that of my colleagues.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and honour to debate Bill C-300, an act respecting the establishment and award of the Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with the United Nations peacekeeping force. The award as envisaged by the promoter of the bill does not restrict itself merely to those who serve in traditional armed forces capacities but also would include people involved in peacekeeping areas such as policing, local administration, the delivery of aid, medical assistance or even election assistance.

I want to speak to this bill because I strongly support it. The bill is a well thought out initiative that recognizes the realities of the future. We know that the world is changing. We know we are entering a new era. Increasingly we see signs that peacekeeping in the wider sense, not just the traditional sense, will become a more and more important function of our armed forces and many other armed forces in the world.

We have traditionally focused our recognition and awards on traditional combat roles and traditional war theatres. It is time to update some of the recognition and awards. Domestically we are prepared to have medals and recognition that are more appropriate to the future roles that is seen for our armed forces.

In speaking in favour of this bill I would like to pay tribute to the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands very briefly. He has brought this bill forward and is one of my colleagues who is retiring at the end of this Parliament. I want to pay tribute to him for bringing this bill forward. He was a distinguished member of the armed forces who has been a great help to us. It has been a pleasure for all of us on both sides of the House to have him here. He is closing out his career by participating in the ultimate phoney war back and forth across the House of Commons and has been willing to act as our deputy whip, perhaps also to engage in his last peacekeeping assignment.

The bill has an interesting history, as other members have pointed out. For some time voices have been calling for this kind of award.

In the last Parliament this initiative was supported through the introduction of two private members' bills. The House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs called for the establishment of a Canadian volunteer service medal for United Nations peacekeeping. That committee was made up of the Liberal Party, now the present government, the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party. Those were commitments which those parties made in a unanimous report. Endorsement for this has come from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and the Canadian Association of the United Nations Peacekeeping Chapter.

Other countries already have similar awards: Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Ghana and, of course, the United States.

I could go on to mention the various groups that have pressed for this award: many members of the government, all parties, past and present, municipalities and petitioners. I will not dwell too much on that because I have a limited amount of time and I want to speak about other issues.

Mr. Speaker, I have a base in my riding which is being gradually relocated to your city. I am sure that is a coincidence on your part. However, the base is being relocated. During my time as a member of Parliament, having the military in my riding has given me a chance to deal with military personnel on a wide range of issues, including their experiences with peacekeeping assignments.

In my dealings with the military I have always been impressed with their commitment to their various engagements, including their peacekeeping engagements. In that context I want to express my concern about the previous failure to approve this bill. I hope that this time the government will approve it.

Bill C-258 was a non-votable bill when it was introduced by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands in the last session. As a non-votable bill the official representatives of the ministry spoke against it for what I consider to be the flimsiest of reasons. Basically the excuse was that Government House has a process for this and that process should be followed, that there is a decorations committee which has a process and that the United Nations has a process and we are partly involved in that process. They were all excuses based on these processes.

It amazes me how fast the government is to send people into conflict and how slow it is to recognize their contributions, whether it is in wartime or in peacekeeping missions. Reading over the debates from this session and from the last session when we debated Bill C-258, one is really struck by the glacial speed at which governments make decisions to recognize the contributions of our military.

Dieppe, Hong Kong, the merchant marine: we are talking about coming to terms with the full recognition of some of these activities a full 45 to 50 years after the events. In the case of Somalia, we have dragged our heels both in recognizing the contributions our peacekeepers made and also in finding out exactly what happened during the unfortunate incidents which occurred there. Of course, in that process the reputation of everyone who served has been tainted.

We are tremendously slow in dealing with the real contributions that military people make, yet not only are we quick to send them, we are quick to mobilize the resources of the state to make sure that the contributions of a handful of people are always recognized. The Prime Minister is recognized when he is at the United Nations or when he calls the President of the United States. He is getting the best publicity for his contribution. Our diplomats are being fully recognized. We have had some outstanding generals who have played particular roles in these missions. We make sure that they receive their full recognition and honour here in the House or at Government House or wherever else. However, we have been consistently slow in recognizing the real contribution of our military people. These people go into these situations, often risking their lives. In many cases they are dangerously under-equipped, assuming not just the risk of the mission but additional risks imposed on them by the general mismanagement of our armed forces over the past 20 years.

I have always been impressed by the fact that whenever one of these missions is called or conceived-somebody's brainchild somewhere-at how quickly the military people are to get their bags packed, to come out saying publicly from the general right on down to the private that they are ready to do, they feel confident and they are looking forward to the challenge.

Everyone who deals with the military knows that most of the time these people know that there are no clear rules of engagement. Half the time there is not a clear objective. Almost all the time they are grossly under-equipped, grossly undermanned and in great danger. Privately they will tell you about these concerns and they are always bothered by the fact that these concerns are not taken seriously, but they are good soldiers.

Good soldiers do not complain publicly, they just do it and this should be recognized. It is about time we started to recognize these things. I must admit I am very tired of this attitude, this tendency to praise people at certain levels and then to not recognize fully the people who do the work.

We are coming out of an era finally where it seems to be a noble thing for Liberal politicians to spend other people's money so they could get credit for presumably fixing problems. I am glad we are finally starting to come out of that era and to recognize that money cannot fix everything and furthermore it is not necessarily the government's money to start with.

I see this attitude still with us in military operations and military policy. Somehow it is noble for the Prime Minister or for the government or for others to be willing to put other people's lives at risk in order to solve or deal with military and humanitarian situations around the world. Let us not forget whose lives are at risk and who are making the contributions. It is the men and women on the ground and their leaders and commanders. That is on what this bill is focused.

Let me conclude by saying that rather than hear once again in this debate all about the processes and all about the impediments to getting this approved, the protocol and the fact that Government House should be first, let us just get on with doing on the basis of recognition what we do not hesitate to do whenever the telephone rings from New York or from the United Nations. Let us recognize our peacekeepers.

It about time that the government and the ministry got off their duffs and passed this legislation.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands on his initiative. The member is well known to us on this side of the House. He has had a very distinguished career as a jet fighter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a reminder, because of age and other factors, of the very few members of Parliament who have served in the armed forces and the special contribution that they make. He is, I think, for this reason appreciated on matters that go to the core of our armed forces.

All of us on both sides of the House are concerned about the reputation of our armed forces. We have great reason to be proud of their contributions in two world wars and their contributions to UN operations. It should not be forgotten of course that Canada devised UN peacekeeping. It was the idea whose time was right, of our then foreign minister, Lester Pearson. He recognized, at a certain point in history that when you have combatants who fought themselves to a stand still that sometimes a third party, offering grace under fire and interposing themselves can allow both sides to retreat without intolerable loss of political face.

That was the genius of Mr. Pearson's suggestion for the original UN peacekeeping force, for which he won a Nobel prize. It is also the result of the characteristics that Canadians represent-I speak of our whole country-decency and tolerance of others and moderation in action. We are always sought by the United Nations' secretary-general when it is a matter of a peacekeeping operation.

We should pay tribute to the service given by the Canadian Armed Forces as part of various UN missions. It is right to remind us, of course, as my hon. colleague from my party said earlier, that there have been other UN operations to which Canadian forces have contributed and which are not covered by the term UN peacekeeping. Therefore, it would be within the spirit if not the actual wording of the bill as proposed by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands that any new decoration would be extended to cover them too.

UN peacekeeping, as we know, is limited to operations under chapter VI of the United Nations charter. Other operations before that time, before Mr. Pearson's suggestion adopted in 1956 for the Suez war and also subsequent operations should also be covered.

Part of the difficulty that our armed forces have been meeting is due to the confusion, or better still, the blurring of the line of demarcation between a chapter VI and a chapter VII operation under the charter. People start off with a mandate and a specific function but then, operationally, other exigencies emerge and they are asked to move from one role to another. It is not really fair for the people taking part because peacekeepers, as such, are trained for this mission which is 50 per cent to 60 per cent diplomatic and perhaps only 30 per cent to 40 per cent military in operation with the peacekeepers involved interposing themselves without weapons and without the ability to use armed force between combatants who have privately agreed to separate if somebody will allow them to do so without loss of face.

Chapter VII operations involve a totally different style of military engagement and they require special troops. I would add the further category which some countries have developed, the sort of SWAT team operation which sometimes is entrusted to civilian police and sometimes to the military. I suppose its apogée was in the German venture in Mogadishu a number of years ago which liberated hostages held by terrorists in a civilian passenger aircraft and achieved it with minimal loss of life or casualties.

However, it is unfair to the troops to blur these distinctions even if for high reasons of policy it may be necessary to ask them to move from one role to the other. A good deal of the problems of perception of the operation of our Canadian Armed Forces, encountered in recent months, stems from this fact. I think we have placed on record our great pride in the achievement of our armed forces and a great pride in what they have done in UN peacekeeping. Therefore, the suggestion for a medal to recognize this is something we all endorse and agree with. It is something we can all support.

There are some matters and I would simply take the liberty of suggesting them to the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands because I do not think they are opposed to the spirit of what he is suggesting. It is perhaps an error to get too many specifics in a bill of this nature: the coloration, the arrangement one might say of a medal. These are issues of design which on the whole have been handled very well by the Canadian and Commonwealth military. I suppose most of the medals we have are from that. I think that is probably best left to them.

There could have been more deference given to the role of the governor general in the awards. It may not be a function that any governor general has sought, but the source of the medals historically is from the sovereign, from the king, and the governor general vestigially holds this office. In the formulation or concretization of

these proposals the role of the governor general and established committees could be recognized.

On the main principle, this is a timely gesture. It is something Canadians would certainly endorse. I believe medals awarded by the UN properly qualify as Canadian medals. Although I do not know the exact ruling made by our order of precedence it seems they would be entitled to precedence in medal ribbon rows ahead of any foreign or other decorations that might be integrated into the Canadian system.

There may be an issue of duplication of awards should a UN medal and a Canadian medal for a UN operation be held simultaneously. It is understood that Canadian medals are viewed as area medals. With the specific location I do not see any problem with duplication.

My compliments to the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands for a measure that clearly stemmed from the heart in his case. It reflects the great pride that all members of the House take in the achievements of our armed forces, in the special contributions the forces have made since 1956 when Mr. Pearson's idea was adopted of UN peacekeeping operations.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk to the bill. I was a little taken aback by the time allocation. How much time would I have?

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

The member's question is a good one. Private Members' Business ends at 11.04 a.m., in about three minutes.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will see what I can slip in during the allotted time.

My basic point concerns what the medal is all about. Why should there be any medal? We can get down to real basics by asking such questions as what training do members of the Canadian Armed Forces go through and what does a medal represent in their ethos.

The training the members of our military get prepares them to give their lives for their country or their unit. This is instilled in them throughout their training so that when the time comes they will be prepared. A medal is simply recognition of that among other things. A medal can be a campaign medal that tells all who want to look on its bearer that the individual has had service in a foreign land.

At the same time it tells those who look at that medal or the medal ribbon, its representation, that individual has put it all on the line during his training and has said: "I am prepared to give my life for my country or my unit, and all I expect in return is the loyalty of my fellows in the field and of my country toward me, the representation of which is this medal".

I will say more at a later date. This is a very worthwhile bill for this House as an entity to support.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have approximately seven minutes when the debate resumes next time if he wishes to use it.

The hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

I have notice of a point of order from the hon. member for St. Albert before I recognize anyone on the government side.

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the notice of time allocation for Bill C-63 given on Friday, November 22, 1996, pursuant to Standing Order 78(3)(a). This standing order states:

A Minister of the Crown who from his or her place in the House, at the previous sitting, has stated that an agreement could not reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order-

It continues. I checked Hansard , and on page 6628 of Friday, November 22, 1996 the minister said:

Mr. Speaker, while there are continuing discussions on a number of issues, out of an abundance of caution I wish to inform the House that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and the third reading stage of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act.

Mr. Speaker, if you review Hansard you will note that I immediately stood on a point of order and objected because the deputy House leader for the government and I were sitting talking about that particular issue at that very time. To emphasize my point, the government has resumed negotiations on its own initiative this very morning.

On Wednesday, November 20, 1996, I rose on a point of order to complain that documents regarding the royal commission on aboriginal affairs were not going to be made available to members. The government whip stood up and challenged my point of order, claiming it was "speculation at this time".

The Deputy Speaker agreed and this point was well taken and applies to this situation as well. One cannot give notice of a hypothetical fact based on speculation. Procedurally, pursuant to Standing Order 78, there is either an agreement or there is not. If the intent of the standing order was to allow for a condition, it would say "in the event of no agreement". But that would be another matter.

There was a similar challenge to time allocation notice in August 1988 by the member for Windsor West. The Speaker ruled on August 16, 1988, page 18381 of Hansard :

Standing Order 117 provides for a minister to act if there is no agreement and, as I stated on June 6, 1988, the Chair must take a minister's declaration at face value.

The minister's declaration in 1988 was simple: "An agreement could not be reached". The minister's declaration from Friday, November 22, 1996 does not meet that standard because the minister stated on record that he has given notice just in case he cannot reach an agreement.

The standing orders do not allow for a conditional notice. The proper procedure for notice for the purpose of being cautious is a procedure set out in Standing Order 57 regarding closure. Standing Order 57 is not concerned with consultation nor is it concerned with agreement that might be made, can be made or should be made.

The minister cannot cut corners and take shortcuts by giving an ambiguous notice under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3). If we allow this notice to stand, then a minister could give notice for every bill based on an anticipated or hypothetical situation. No longer will consultation be necessary because notice would be allowed to be given before consultation or any effort to make an agreement. The notice given on Friday, November 22, 1996 by the Minister of Industry is out of order because the provisions of Standing Order 78(3)(a) were not met.

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to this point of order, I think it is important for the Chair to note that at the time the minister gave the notice there was no agreement on time allocation. In fact, it is accurate to say there is no agreement now on time allocation. The discussions taking place were in relation to the substance and not to the time allocation.

I would respectfully submit to the Chair that the notice that was given is perfectly in order. The notice is related to the fact that there could not be agreement. There is not an agreement now. The discussions that have been ongoing, which I acknowledge I have been part of, are related to the substance but we still have not reached an agreement. There is no agreement.

While I accept what my hon. colleague is trying to put forward, there is just no agreement. The discussion is on the substance of this matter, not on time.

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rebut the comments by the deputy House leader of the government.

While the negotiations were concerning a substantive amendment to the bill, they were in order for us to grant concurrence and agreement with the time allocation proposed by the government, thus the substantive negotiations. We were quite prepared to accept the offer of time allocation by the government provided we had agreement on these issues. Therefore they were very much part of an ongoing process that still continues at this very moment regarding us and the government.

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for St. Albert and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

The member for St. Albert quoted from Speaker Fraser's ruling, page 18381 in Hansard of August 1988. I would add to his quote the second part of that paragraph:

-the Chair must take a Minister's declaration at face value and cannot judge the quality of negotiations or of any proposals that may have been made. In this case I was not even asked to judge on the quality of the negotiations because there is a document that indicates the arrangement at least had been entered into with two of the parties in the House, albeit, not that of the government.

The Speaker, as the member for St. Albert will remember, ruled that the notice was in order.

There are other judgments which appear to go the same direction on the same basis. Speaker Fraser on March 29, 1990-

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

On a point of order.

Point Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

No, there are no further points of order.

The Speaker ruled, at page 9917, that he accepts the minister's motion as being in order.

The Chair regrets that I do not have time to consider the precedents and so on and come back with a coherent and hopefully cogently worded decision, but on the basis of what I have heard today from the member for St. Albert and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, I am satisfied that the notice was proper and that the negotiations have not completed and if the minister takes the view that it has not been possible to reach an agreement, then the notice is acceptable.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Fernand Robichaud Secretary of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and second reading and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
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12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

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

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed from November 22, 1996, consideration of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Elections Act and the Referendum Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 3.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motions in Group No. 3 concerning Bill C-63, an act to amend the Elections Act and the Referendum Act, were considered briefly on Friday.

As agreed, the hon. members for Stormont-Dundas, Calgary West and Kootenay East had the opportunity to speak at that time to help set the debate in context.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest the debate be adjourned at leisure so we have a chance to concentrate on the debate.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Bellechasse has a point of order.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, until such time as we can have an intelligent debate, I suggest the debate be adjourned at leisure.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

My colleagues, could private conversations please continue outside the House? I thank the hon. member for bringing this matter to my attention.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but not for reasserting your authority, because it took less than 15 seconds to show that you were still in control.

We made progress in the debate last Friday, and the motion of the hon. member for Beauséjour, which was just agreed to, will enable us to proceed much faster, perhaps even too fast for our taste. As I indicated on Friday, there is something basically reprehensible in rushing through an amendment to the elections act. The members who will take a second look at this bill will, of course, have to take into account the circumstances of its passage.

The substance of the bill may be debated and debatable, but its form is essentially out of bounds because, in my opinion, this debate has been flawed from the start. I will address this point in my remarks at third reading.

As for polling stations' hours of operation, last spring, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs examined various scenarios put forward and explained by Elections Canada before the committee.

Subsequently, this House passed and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs a bill proposed by the hon. member for Vancouver East and concerning polling hours, Bill C-307. I listened carefully to what the hon. member for Stormont-Dundas and the hon. member for Calgary West said about polling hours. If we look again at Elections Canada's scenarios in the official report, we can see that this proposal does not fit in with any of the scenarios in question.

This is a sui generis proposal that the government came up with and was even forced to amend at report stage, because it was not given enough thought.

Motion No. 21 proposed by the hon. member for Calgary West would extend polling hours, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia. Allowing polling stations to close at 8 p.m. instead of7 p.m. would protect what can be considered the golden hours, that is, the hours during which those who are allowed to vote can do so. This is a very important time of the day, a time when election organizations get people to come out and vote.

Having polling stations close at 7 p.m. in certain regions of the country seems to me to be extremely early. On Friday, the hon. member for Kootenay East stated his views in a very objective fashion on this legislation, which should not be subject to partisanship in any case. It is only because of the government's haste if the debate has now become a partisan exercise, although we, on this side, are trying to remain as objective as possible.

The hon. member for Kootenay East said on Friday that the problem is essentially a matter of perception, since all votes in Canada, whether in St. John's, Newfoundland, or in Langley, British Columbia, carry the same weight. This is true. It is also true that the feeling of alienation felt by many western Canadians is due to the fact that when the media can begin broadcasting the results, the outcome is already decided, regardless of how they vote. Central Canada, in which 176 ridings will be contested in the next election, will probably seal the fate of this whole exercise. The fact remains that all votes are equal, but I can understand the perception

explained by the hon. member for Kootenay East. Therefore, the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Calgary West would help improve the situation.

However, the member for Calgary West goes a lot further. He proposes that section 160 of the Canada Elections Act be amended so that the counting of the ballots would start at the same time everywhere in Canada. Whether in Newfoundland or in British Columbia, the counting of the ballots would begin at the same time, which means that people in Newfoundland would have to wait about an hour and half before starting to count the votes.

In the best of all possible worlds, the proposal by the hon. member for Calgary West that the count take place at the same time would of course be extremely interesting. If people did not have to sleep, eat, go to work the next morning, and so on, having the count at the same time would be a definite advantage.

However, we do not live in the best of all possible worlds. We live in a world where compromises must be made. One such compromise could be to adopt Motion No. 21 of the member for Calgary West, but drop the other motion calling for an amendment to section 160 of the Elections Act, so that the count could take place immediately after polling stations officially close in a given province. This is what the official opposition will be favouring with respect to hours and count.

The official opposition presented its own amendment, Motion No. 22, asking that the four-hour period voters now have in which to vote be maintained. We are essentially proposing that these four hours be maintained, by saying: "employers must ensure that eligible employees are allowed at least four hours". This would be better than giving them only three hours.

It must be borne in mind that, under the government bill, polling stations would close at 7 p.m., Pacific time, and voters would have only three consecutive hours in which to vote. The four hours that have been traditional in Canadian history for years would disappear with this amendment to the Canada Elections Act regarding the number of consecutive hours required and allowed.

I do not think it is a move in the right direction to shorten the period allowed by one hour. It is true that if polling stations in central Canada have to close at 9.30 p.m., it becomes academic whether three or four hours are allowed. But it is with these two extremely important factors in mind, that is, the local time at which polling stations close and the effective period of time people have in which to vote, that the official opposition has presented Motion No. 22, so as to ensure that voters from coast to coast have the benefit of four hours.

This concludes my remarks on the third group of motions.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think anyone really opposes the concept of reducing the election period from 47 days to 36 days in principle, although I have some specific examples of problems this can create which I will get into a little later.

With regard to the Group No. 3 motions, I refer first to Motion No. 5 proposed by the government which would make it possible for the chief electoral officer to extend the voting hours from the current 11 hours to 12 hours. We consider that this extension is costly and unnecessary and really does not achieve any particular purpose. We would suggest that the 11 hours currently laid aside for Canadians to vote is adequate. Therefore this motion is not required and we will oppose it.

With regard to the staggered voting hours across the country, as a parochial British Columbian representative, I contend that the change in the voting hours to close the polls on the west coast or in British Columbia at 7 p.m. does not do justice to the British Columbian voters and those in the Yukon. A lot of people, because of their occupations and their location away from their voting stations on voting day, tend to exercise their vote at the end of the day. Therefore the rescinding of that last hour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. would impact dynamically on the vote.

In my own constituency it is quite common for 87 per cent or more of the voters to come out to vote. I suspect that if this particular motion is carried we will see a lower turn out. I do not think this is what was intended by the electorate.

Alternatives were proposed that would allow for the voting to be substantially the same as it is now but that would provide for the avoidance of the perception on the west coast, or in the west for that matter, that the decisions were already taken and the government was chosen and formed before it came to voting at that time. No one to my knowledge has been able to assess the impact on the western voters of knowledge of what the eastern vote has been.

Whether people would say that the government has been formed and they are going to vote against that government or that the government has been formed and they want to vote for that government so that there is government representation out there, I do not know. However, I suspect that it does have an impact and that this should be avoided.

My own personal preference would be to have the voting hours remain exactly as they are now but to delay the count of the vote and have the count occur simultaneously. This might mean starting the count of the vote the following day. Understandably this might not sit well with the election committees, campaign workers and

so on because they get all hyped up on the day of the vote and they want to know what happened.

I submit that the purpose of an election is to select a government. It is a very important purpose which should be an overriding concern in the election process. Therefore I think it makes eminent good sense for the ballots to be taken on one day but to be counted simultaneously across the country the following day.

As I mentioned earlier, the reduction of the electoral period from 47 to 36 days with its commensurate saving of money and of the campaigning that people perhaps tire of during the actual election campaign are pretty good. There is a lot of substantiation for that. However we do feel that it would impact negatively on byelections.

For instance it is within the power of the government to make a byelection happen by virtue of promoting a member of Parliament from this House to the other place. The government would thereby have an advantage in that it would know when and in which area that is going to happen. This would leave the opposition parties and the independents scrambling to try to make up for lost time. That might not be possible.

I also think that the reduction to a 36-day election period impacts rather negatively on geographically large ridings. Obviously there is a lot more territory to cover. The residents are dispersed and for an individual candidate to get around to visit those areas takes more time than in a congested urban area.

As an example, there are 14 large northern ridings which would be so affected. They include Skeena, B.C., Prince George-Peace River, B.C., Peace River, Alberta, Athabasca, Alberta, Churchill River, Saskatchewan, Churchill, Saskatchewan, Kenora-Rainy River, Ontario, Timmins-James Bay, Ontario, Abitibi, Quebec, Manicouagan, Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland; Yukon, Western Arctic and Nunavut. All would be dramatically affected by the reduction of the campaign time from 47 to 36 days.

Perhaps there is some way to overcome this. However, it is important that this be remembered and taken into consideration when the election act is being changed.

It is vitally important that we also remember that the government has rather pushed this thing through. If I was a suspicious individual I might think there was subterfuge here, a dateline it wanted to meet in order to call an election. But that may not be the case.

One thing which was not considered and which should have been considered in the bill is the idea of a fixed election day. The Prime Minister in the Canadian Parliament has a tremendous amount of power in that it is his choice when Canadians go to the polls to select a new government. He can choose a propitious time for the polls, choose a time when people are distracted elsewhere. It gives him tremendous power.

I think that for the good of the country we should consider and perhaps institute a fixed election date. Of course, Reform would advocate that these election dates be every four years, on a specified date so that there is no doubt in anyone's mind when the next election is going to be.

I personally found it a little questionable in committee when the matter of allowing inmates to vote was raised. Granted, that is not a direct concern in this bill, but it was certainly discussed. It is unacceptable to me that an individual who has broken the law, been convicted and incarcerated that they should still have all the rights in elections as a normal, law-abiding citizen. I would think that anyone who is incarcerated after being convicted should forgo the privilege and the honour of being able to vote until he or she has completed that sentence and thereby paid his or her debt to society.

We think it should be mandatory that in the case of a byelection that the Prime Minister's ability to control the agenda should be constrained. We suggest that when byelections are called they should take place within six months of a seat being vacated, rather than the current time which is pretty well open to the Prime Minister. This obviously leaves some constituencies without representation in the House while the seat is vacant. That is neither right nor appropriate in the democracy in which we live.

Another point which is worthy of consideration is that of requiring people to prove their identity, either when they register to vote or when they actually cast their ballot. The permanent list with which the bill is mainly concerned is made up of things like drivers' licences, birth certificates and so on. It seems to me that it would not be inappropriate for an individual to be required to prove to the registrar or to the voting official when he or she goes to vote, exactly who he or she is and that he or she has the right to cast a ballot to elect the next Government of Canada.

The truth is that in the present day electronic world in which we live there is no way that election results from the east will not get to the west, if they have been counted, before the polls in the west close. With E-mail and the Internet there is no question that this information will be transmitted, either via the United States or other countries. Therefore, no matter how carefully we control the vote, if the ballots are counted the results are going to be known very shortly thereafter.

In conclusion, I would say that Reform is not diametrically opposed to the concept of a 36-day election campaign as opposed to 47, but we do question the wisdom of running a separate enumeration, which is very expensive, outside the normal voting process. We would advocate that the next election campaign be the normal 47-day period and that the enumeration list compiled for the next election comprise the basis for the permanent list with

which this bill deals. We find the idea of having an enumeration in April unnecessary and expensive. It would be better to put it off to the normal election call.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

On debate?

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

On debate? Is it questions or comments?

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are no questions or comments. The question has been called. Had the member who wishes to debate been out of the House?

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak.

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We normally extend courtesies to members. The question had been called. The hon. member, obviously, would like to speak to the issue. Accordingly, the Chair will give the hon. member the right to speak.

Canada Elections Act
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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There was a slight bit of confusion. I stood when you were calling for debate. You were looking over to the side and did not notice me. I appreciate you recognizing me.

I would like to speak on behalf of British Columbians and I do not necessarily agree with my colleague.

This bill proposes to stagger the times that the polling stations are open. I do agree with my hon. colleague who just spoke that staggered times would not be conducive to the voter in British Columbia if the polls are closed at seven o'clock as opposed to eight o'clock.

Most of the people who live in the constituency of Surrey-White Rock-South Langley work in Vancouver. The commuting time from Vancouver to Surrey-White Rock-South Langley is anywhere from one hour to an hour and a half. Many people work in businesses which are open from nine to five. However, some people work until 6.30 p.m. or 7 p.m. to miss the rush hour traffic. They would not have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. It would be terribly unfair to the constituents in my riding who commute to Vancouver. Closing the polls an hour before the normal time would be an undue hardship to them.

I know some allowance was made in the bill to change the number of hours, but I believe it was to reduce the number of hours that an individual could take off from business to make sure they were back at their place of residence for voting. On that point I would agree with my hon. colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands. However, I do not think the object is to count the votes the next day. It is unfair to Canadians to expect them to vote and then wait for 24 hours before finding out the results of their voting privilege.

I do feel that allowances can be made to stagger the hours, keep the voting hours in British Columbia with the polls closing at eight, but perhaps the votes could be counted at a later date. With modern technology in voting where the votes are actually counted at the same time as the ballot is deposited, or at least they were in the municipal election, there is no reason why the results of those votes taken could not be released at a reasonable time in the evening even though the polls might close at eight o'clock in British Columbia.

Perhaps opening the polls later in the morning in the maritimes would not be as a great a hardship to the voters as it would be closing the polls earlier in British Columbia.

The cost of having an enumeration will be there, whether it is done in April or laterally when the election call comes. I think it is important to have a permanent voters' list for convenience sake and even just for accuracy. This is a very important issue that has to be addressed.

If the time is taken at enumeration to clarify the people who have the right to vote and are duly Canadian citizens is followed through on a permanent list, the end result is that people who have a legitimate right to vote and who are Canadian citizens and exercise their vote would probably clarify a lot of confusion come election day across the country.

In my riding, election day poses numerous problems because of the large number of new immigrants who are coming to the lower mainland area. They do not understand that in order to exercise their right to vote they must be Canadian citizens.

I also believe that having a permanent voters' list will make it much easier for new immigrants who do take Canadian citizenship to be added to that voters' list in a manner that is efficient and up to date. That would certainly solve a lot of the confusion that happens when we try to rush through citizenships in order to allow people to have the vote. That process is often looked on with a little bit of misunderstanding and sometimes suspicion.

If we have a permanent voters' list, one that has been updated in a routine fashion, those kinds of situations where one brings to question why things are being done would not be quite so blatant.

The concept of a permanent voters' list is a good one. Staggered voting hours are reasonable but the times could be put into effect that would respect the needs of the various regions of the country. I certainly believe this legislation goes in the right direction but still could be improved.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The vote is on Motion No. 5 in GroupNo. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 20. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 20 stands deferred.

The next vote is on Motion No. 22. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to the order adopted, the recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next vote is on Motion No. 23. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next vote is on Motion No. 25. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

We will now move to Group No. 4 for debate.

Canada Elections Act
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1:30 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

moved:

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-63, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 28 on page 2 with the following:

"polling day in the case of a general election or the forty- seventh day in the case of a by-election."

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise on Motion No. 6 which stands in my name. The motion concerns the length of a campaign for byelections under the new proposed regime.

Let me reiterate what has been said on the length of the election period. Our party has indicated that we are prepared to support in principle the shortening of an election campaign. I have said that is my preference.

The proposal in this bill is that we move to a 36 day election calendar. That is one of the three main features of Bill C-63. This has been a longstanding proposal in that for a number of years there has been some pressure from the public and from political parties to shorten the election campaign period if possible. In the past, technical difficulties in terms of the ability of Elections Canada to implement a shortened electoral period have prevented the shortening of the period below the current 47 days. Mr. Speaker, you may recall in your political life that the campaign was longer than 47 days.

The Lortie commission heard a lot of submissions on this subject. At that time my party was not particularly supportive of shortening the campaign period although many who made submissions to the commission were. The Lortie commission had suggested it was possible to move to a 40 day election campaign.

What is the origin of the 36 day campaign in this bill? It is the implementation of the computerized register of electors and the ability to implement it prior to the next election by virtue of a pre-election enumeration. Thirty-six days in effect is the shortest campaign that Elections Canada felt could comfortably be executed by the people who run the campaign nationally. It is fair to say that this will cause some problems for some parties. It will certainly be a new experience for most parties but I suspect that most major political parties will be able to adjust.

There are some advantages to the new calendar. However even if one supports a 36 day election campaign there are other problems that are raised by the way it is implemented in this piece of legislation. One was addressed by the hon member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, the expense of running an initial pre-election enumeration to start the register. I will have more to say about that later in this debate.

The government is going about the implementation of this shorter period in a way that in our opinion will actually be much more expensive initially than it needs to be. This is a significant problem. Another significant problem that we raised repeatedly before the bill came to committee and in committee has been the problem of the implementation of a shortened election period for byelection campaigns. That is what this motion addresses.

There have been two kinds of problems with byelections in the past. The first is the problem this motion seeks to address and which we witnessed in this Parliament. That is the sudden calling of a byelection in a riding that was occupied by a sitting member on the government side for which there was no expectation whatsoever of a vacancy but which occurred overnight and then a snap byelection was called to deal with the situation. These have always been in ridings that are very favourable to the government. In the case of this Parliament they have freed up members and freed up ridings to bring in new people and to move other people on to greener pastures, be they appointments, Senate seats or whatever.

There is much to object to in this process. Obviously there is the unnecessary expense, the patronage angle and a number of things that are quite infuriating about this particular practice. It is fair to say that in the case of byelections this does create some considerable difficulty for the opposition parties even under the present calendar.

Last winter byelections were unexpectedly called in safe government ridings. They were also called at a time of the year when nobody was anticipating campaigning, in the dead of winter just at the end of the Christmas period. These situations create serious enough organizational problems as it is without moving to a 36 day campaign.

The other problem with byelections is something the Reform Party has been concerned about for years. It is the opposite problem, that byelections are held off indefinitely and ridings are kept open for extremely long periods of time for other reasons. If the government thinks it will be defeated in a particular riding it does not want to have a byelection and therefore the riding unnecessarily goes unrepresented for months and sometimes for over a year. In the last Parliament the government deliberately called byelections for a date so far into the future that it knew there would be a general election before the byelection ever occurred. There are snap byelections but this is the opposite problem.

The Reform proposal deals only with the problem of a snap byelection and deals with it only in the most peripheral way. What we propose is simply that the new 36 day campaign period would not apply to byelections. Instead the 47 day campaign would remain in effect for byelections.

I should say that our ideal proposal on this particular problem would be quite different. Our ideal proposal would give a a significant period of time between the occurrence of a vacancy and the calling of a byelection on the one hand and on the other hand it would set a maximum period of time within which a byelection must be called.

Frankly the time we have in mind for that would be something in the order of 60 days between the occurrence of a vacancy and the actual holding of a byelection and no more than six months between the occurrence of a vacancy and the holding of a byelection at the other end. The minimum period would provide the opposition parties with some assurance that a byelection will not be

called just to surprise the opposition and return a government supporter. The other provides the reasonable expectation that voters will be represented in Parliament within a reasonable period of time.

The reason we have not proposed it in this amendment is that the actual calling of a byelection as opposed to the campaign period falls under the Parliament of Canada Act rather than the Canada Elections Act. That makes it impossible for us to put forward our ideal proposal in this particular piece of legislation.

It was pointed out during our discussion in committee that technically speaking, because it is in the Parliament of Canada Act, our ideal proposal falls outside the scope of this legislation. It does fall outside the scope of this legislation and the principles of this legislation, but it certainly does not fall outside the subject matter of the legislation because this bill affects the process for byelections in quite an intimate way. However as the legislation is drafted, this falls outside its scope.

I return to the comment I made on Friday which is that this House has not approved this bill in principle. It has only approved it for committee study. The bill went to committee. The purpose of committee study before second reading is supposed to be to examine all aspects of the bill including material that while within the subject matter of the bill may fall outside of its scope.

I am disappointed that this issue was not addressed during the committee hearings. I still hold out some hope that we will consider this issue before we complete our deliberations on this bill here in the House.

I urge the House to support this particular motion which improves the bill in a very small way. It does not force a byelection to be held. It does not even force a byelection to be delayed. It simply says that a byelection campaign should be at least 47 days in length. I put that to the House for its consideration.

Canada Elections Act
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1:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Calgary West for bringing up the important issue of byelections and especially the period within which these are supposed to be held.

Generally speaking, when we are looking at a byelection, especially from the opposition's point of view, we mainly want to know when it will be called. The government should not wait too long. But the reverse is also true, as the hon. member for Calgary West pointed out. The government should not be able to call a snap election that catches the opposition parties off guard.

We could consider something like a minimum of 90 days after the vacancy occurs, up to a maximum of 180 days, in other words, between three and six months. Actually, in committee, because of the gruelling pace, it was impossible to discuss this aspect. In fact, it was hardly possible to discuss anything at all.

We will probably have a second opportunity, as I pointed out earlier, to look at all these questions, now that everyone has simmered down, and I am referring to voting hours, byelections and establishing a register of electors. Since today is Monday, the beginning of the week, perhaps I may explain what the debate is about, for the benefit of those who were not listening Friday.

We are now talking about shortening the electoral period to 36 days, down from 47. Is anyone opposed to this? Not many people. A few members from large ridings object, but a large majority of members are in favour.

Earlier, we saw that the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley did not agree with his colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands on the subject of voting hours. It would probably be the same in our own caucus. The issue of voting hours came up all of sudden, and now we have to take position on the matter. Perhaps it could be left out of the debate, but there are many other things that should be left out as well.

If we can have an election within a shorter period of time, it is only due to a procedural trick. There would be a pre-election enumeration, probably during the first three weeks of April, so that as soon as the writs were issued, the chief electoral officer would have enough information so he would not have to order a second enumeration but could proceed immediately with revision as necessary.

We agree with the principle, but as we pointed out on Friday, not at this stage, not in the last year of the government's term. None of these last minute changes in the rules of the game. What we would like is one last election with the current rules, which everyone knows, with one last census, which would be held during the election campaign and would be valid for the election of the 37th Parliament.

I raise the point the hon. member for Calgary West raised earlier. There are problems in our system, which can be fairly easily fixed and which cause the powers of the government to be blatantly out of proportion with those of the opposition. Our preference would have been elections on a set date, which probably does not require an amendment either to the Constitution or to the statutes or ordinary legislation.

The Prime Minister could simply announce from his seat at the opening of Parliament that the next general election would be held, say, five years from the last one, unless the government were overturned in the meantime. The current Prime Minister could have said, when the House began sitting in January 1994: "The next election will be on the third Monday of October 1998". Everyone would know the date of the election. Everyone-Liberals, Reform-

ers, Bloc members and others-could prepare for the third week of October 1998. This could have been done through a ministerial statement, without changing provisions of the law and the British North America Act of 1867 and without taking any powers away from the Queen by prohibiting her from dissolving Parliament if she so desires. We all know very well that Her Majesty does not intervene in this sort of thing, except on the recommendation of the government.

This constraint could easily be eliminated. A ministerial statement, rather than a major constitutional change, is all it would take. We would feel much more involved in the process, not to mention the fact that, in the last 18 months of a government's mandate, the opposition keeps wondering when a general election will be called. If we knew the date, we would all be on an equal footing, as has been the case for over 200 years in the United States, where Democrats, Republicans and Reformers all know that, on the first Tuesday of November, they elect all members of the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate every two years, and the president every four years. We could have exactly the same provisions without amending the Constitution. I believe a private member's bill to that effect was introduced and will be reviewed by a committee.

As for the date of a byelection, it goes without saying that there is a danger in putting it off for too long, as is currently possible. The government must, in the six months following a vacancy, announce the date at which a byelection will be held. However, that date does not have to be within the six-month period. We should follow the example of some Canadian provinces. I will take the example of Quebec, since I am more familiar with its legislation. In Quebec, a byelection must be held in the six months that follow a vacancy.

No one is caught by surprise, since the byelection is held within a set timeframe. An exception could be made whereby, in the last year of a government's constitutional mandate, that is to say, between its fourth and fifth year in office, a byelection would not have to be held.

Otherwise, given that the whole process requires a number of months, a member elected in the last year of a mandate might sit for just a few weeks. In fact, should the House adjourn, that member could be elected, sign the roll, be sworn in, and never actually sit in the House.

So, an exception could be made whereby, in the fifth year of a Parliament, a byelection would not be required if one or more seats became vacant. In the other four years, a byelection would have to take place between the 90th and the 190th day following a vacancy. Therefore, we will support Motion No. 6 in Group No. 4, tabled by the hon. member for Calgary West.

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1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this motion is rather important one from the point of view of maintaining balance and democracy. For example, if the chief government whip were to be appointed ambassador to Minnesota-well, that is hockey they say-all of a sudden that would happen in the same way that it happened with our ambassador to Israel or any number of the other wonderful appointments the Prime Minister has bestowed on members.

In terms of keeping a balance in democracy, we all recognize that within any contest, which politics truly is, we want to have a set of rules that will not create the outcome but will see that the outcome is fair and balanced and that everyone has an equal chance to participate.

My colleague from Calgary West was mentioning that there is a provision under the Parliament of Canada Act for the government to call an election within six months. However, that does not mean that it has to be held within the six months.

Again, we address the problem then for the people in the constituency where the vacancy has occurred as opposed to this situation of the government whip's going to Minnesota. We have other situations where things are less controlled, where there is perhaps illness or even the death of a member of Parliament and people are simply not represented.

I would like to speak specifically to the issue of a 36 day campaign period, particularly for the opposition party, where we have a situation such as the heritage minister's being hounded from this House on the basis of her GST promises. It is widely reported that she made that decision after seeing an opinion poll which showed that she would be re-elected in her own constituency. So boom, that was it. She was gone.

Other vacancies have occurred. I am thinking primarily of the vacancy that was created so that the person who now fulfils the role of minister of immigration could come to this House. Those vacancies occurred, as it were, at the whim and at the direction of the Prime Minister.

Everyone in the House will be aware of the fact that every political party has its own specific set of rules, but there is, after all, a nomination process. Therefore, we would have the government members of the day, in this case the Liberals, who will have absolute control over what is to be going on. They will have all of their ducks in order. If we need any evidence that in fact the Liberals did have the ducks in order, on the day the heritage minister resigned and then was going to be coming back to this Chamber by way of the vote in Hamilton, all of a sudden she was appearing at a political rally that evening with all of the signs, banners and organization, everything completely in place.

I am not speaking to that particular election. I am just pointing out that clearly she and the government had absolute control over that situation. With a 47 day campaign that absolute control ends up being somewhat diluted by virtue of the fact that as the other parties have to go through a nomination process, a fundraising process and a team building process, they could have up to 30 of the 47 days. In other words, they could have virtually a full month to go through that entire process and then conduct a very aggressive political campaign in the last 17 days.

What would happen if we were to reduce the byelection period to 36 days? If in fact it did take 30 days, and clearly it can very easily take 30 days to go through the nomination, fundraising and team building processes, then the other parties would have less than a week to get themselves organized. There would only be six days left in the election campaign for those parties to try to affect the results.

All members of the House are aware of what goes into an election campaign. Signs must be printed. Offices have to be organized. Telephones have to be installed. Billboards have to be organized. Advertising time has to be purchased. All of these things having to be put in place in a 36 day period clearly puts the advantage in the hands of the government of the day.

Motion No. 6 calls for a sense of fairness and a sense of balance. Motion No. 6 must be supported by all members of the House. This motion will provide fair and balanced political competition for the important role of member of Parliament.

Many of the proposed amendments to this bill demonstrate clearly that collectively, with a minimal amount of partisanship, we are creating rules which are fair, balanced and, above all, equitable. Democracy will be protected through this process.

Isis Canada
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the untold stories of the University of Manitoba is the existence of ISIS Canada. Part of the Canadian network of Centres of Excellence, ISIS Canada technology works to develop solutions to Canada's infrastructure problems.

Headquartered at the University of Manitoba, the ISIS network brings together researchers from universities in every province of Canada who are designing the new composite materials which will build the smart structures of the future.

Using carbon fibre for reinforcement and optical fibres for sensing, they are creating structures which are stronger, lighter, which last longer and which monitor themselves.

Thanks to the ISIS network, Canada leads the world in the development of this technology, a fact which will allow Canadian businesses to become leaders in a $900 billion global market.

This is only one of the many stories which can be told about the University of Manitoba, one of Canada's great universities.

Old Age Security
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, in September, I invited the retirees and preretirees in my riding of Bourassa to attend a meeting to exchange ideas and information on the old age security system, where the new seniors benefit was discussed.

I wish to extend my warmest thanks to the 200 participants, and particularly to the AQDR of Montreal North and the Regroupement des personnes à la retraite CTM-FTQ. I listened to what my constituents had to say. They are very concerned and they raised several points the Minister of Finance would do well to look into, including preserving the universality of the old age security system, reviewing the tax system in favour of low income seniors, and maintaining the retirement age at 65.

I urge the government therefore to take into account the demands made by retirees and preretirees in reforming the Canada Pension Plan.

Communications
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I live on a small island on the coast of British Columbia. In common with my fellow islanders and hundreds of thousands of other rural Canadians, I can only receive two or three regular TV channels. We have no cable TV and no prospect of getting cable, but that is not our complaint.

Here is the problem. The air around us out there is filled with a cornucopia of good TV programs and movies but our government here in Ottawa says we may not receive those programs because it is illegal.

If a Canadian company were to make this programming available, my neighbours would be happy to buy Canadian but there is no such company. Therefore tens of thousands of rural Canadians

are being made to do without or break the law by receiving American signals.

It is just as wrong for the Canadian government to deny its citizens the ability to legally receive TV signals as it is for the Government of North Korea to dictate to its people what they will hear and see on radio and TV.

Credit Cards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Gilles Bernier Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, last March and May, I raised in the House the question of the usurious interest rates charged by banks and major department stores on credit card balances.

I am pleased to note that 84 of my colleagues have decided to join with the member for Beauce in denouncing this shameful practice and asking that they reduce by at least half the interest rates on their credit cards.

If the major banks and department stores do not respond promptly to this request, I think that the House of Commons should bring in legislation to resolve the issue. The time is long overdue to end this scandalous practice, which hurts not just the most disadvantaged members of our society, but also the middle classes, who may not be middle for much longer. I implore the government not to side with the bankers on this issue. Having sounded the alarm, let us take action.

Campobello Business Centre
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday evening, November 19, I had the honour of participating at the official opening of the Campobello Business Centre on Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

The realization of this infrastructure project was the result of co-operation and partnership between the sponsor and the federal and provincial governments. Not only does this new business centre provide necessary services to the citizens of Campobello Island, it has also directly provided 14 new jobs for Campobello Island residents.

The Campobello Business Centre is a textbook example of what can be accomplished through partnerships when the community and community groups work together with all levels of government. The infrastructure program has been and will continue to be a great success.

I take this opportunity to add the Campobello Business Centre to the growing list of infrastructure accomplishments from across Canada.

Congratulations to all of our partners and the citizens of Campobello Island for a job well done.

Guru Nanak
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, today members of the Sikh community around the world celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion.

Although historians differ regarding the date of Guru Nanak's birth, it seems most probable that he was born in 1469. He was born in Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib, located in Pakistan about 35 miles southwest of Lahore.

According to various biographers during his infancy he would become very troubled on seeing misery and when he was able to walk he would carry articles of food and clothing away from home and give them to the needy.

To this day members of the Sikh community have a profound respect for the needs of others and they live their lives according to this principle. It is this same humanitarian and compassionate nature that we as Canadians strive for as our country grows and continues to mature.

I ask members of the House and all citizens of Canada to join me in celebrating the birth date of Guru Nanak.

Allison Sawatzky
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honour the courage of Allison Sawatzky, a young woman from the riding of Burlington.

In the spring of 1995 Allison and her family were devastated when she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, otherwise known as flesh-eating disease.

Since surviving the first few weeks against all odds and with the help of countless doctors and even more prayers, Allison has endured numerous surgeries, gains and setbacks. She has demonstrated remarkable determination and indefatigable spirit and she has been there to help other young Canadians through their trials.

Allison's courage and triumph were recognized November 21 when she received the Clark Institute of Psychiatry's Courage to Come Back Award.

Allison Sawatzky is a role model for all Canadians and for each of us in this House.

Please join me in recognizing Allison's triumph and her generosity to others. Way to go, Allison.

War Victims
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the newspapers have been reminding us recently that there is a terrible hidden side to all wars: the mass rape of women and the abandonment of thousands of children.

In the village of Gisenyi alone, over 4,000 Rwandan children were wandering the streets in search of their parents, whom they may well never find.

At the same time, in the same region, aid workers were distributing large numbers of "morning after" pills to Rwandans raped in Zaire, so as to avoid a repetition of the births that followed the rapes of thousands of Rwandan women at the time of the 1994 genocide.

Over the ages, the rape of women has always been a corollary to war. In a different way, but just as dramatically, children see their future disappear forever. Our so-called civilized world must do everything it possibly can to end these horror stories, which are devastating on a personal and on a social level.

Indian Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, in February 1996 the government signed the Nisga'a agreement in principle, the first of the modern day treaties in British Columbia.

I recently asked the people of Prince George-Peace River for their views on the Nisga'a agreement. While 39 per cent of the respondents believe the Nisga'a government should have fewer law making powers than municipal level governments, 56 per cent believe it should have the same powers but not more; 65 per cent believe non-Nisga'a living in Nisga'a lands should be allowed to vote in local elections. But fully 93 per cent want this precedent setting agreement to go to a provincial referendum so their voices are heard.

Will this government and the government of B.C. give my constituents the right to vote on this agreement, an agreement that will further entrench special rights in the Constitution?

The government constantly talks about the inherent rights of native Canadians, but what about the inherent right of all Canadians to equality?

Trade
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rex Crawford Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week we were honoured by the visit of Chilean President Mr. Eduardo Frei. As chair of the Canada-Chile Friendship Group, I am proud that Mr. Frei's first visit to Canada is in tandem with the signing of a very important bilateral trade agreement.

Chile is a thriving democracy whose similarities with Canada go beyond geographical beauty. In an era of worldwide trade, our relations with Chile are a stepping stone to more trade negotiations with other countries in our hemisphere.

I am certain that the agreement with Chile will benefit Canadians from coast to coast. This trade agreement will make it much easier for Chile to one day enter into NAFTA.

I am sure I speak for many of my colleagues by congratulating the Prime Minister and the Minister for International Trade for signing this free trade agreement with the people of Chile.

Interest Rates
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the issue of credit card interest rates. Unfortunately, it is not the first time and probably will not be the last time that I speak on this issue.

First, I would like to take the opportunity to commend the member for Fundy-Royal for taking the initiative to petition the banks and major retailers to drop their interest rates on credit cards. In addition, I support the private member's bill introduced by the member for Davenport which would limit the interest rates and fees charged on consumer credit cards.

At a time when the prime rate is less than 4 per cent, banks still insist on charging an average of 17.5 per cent on outstanding credit and balances. Some major retailers are charging a whopping 28 per cent. Incredible.

The government is doing its part to put money back into the pockets of Canadians by bringing interest rates down. Now we are asking the banks and the department stores to do the same. If they refuse, the people demand and deserve an explanation. Failing that, maybe we should boycott them altogether.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Larry McCormick Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to share three success stories from by riding of Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington.

The government's policies aimed at restoring Canada's economic health are working. This month the new $160 million Destec co-generation plant will be supplying energy in both steam and liquid form to Celanese Canada and electricity to Ontario Hydro.

In the process, innovative technology is being used and an estimated 19 jobs are being created. Celanese is another success story. In October the ribbon was cut on a $192 million expansion. The financial investment in Ernestown secures 350 jobs that were

at risk in 1992 and provides employment for an additional 60 people.

Bombardier employs approximately 500 skilled and talented people at a neighbouring plant that manufactures rail transit equipment and provides transportation systems support domestically and around the world. Currently Bombardier is working on a contract to supply a system to Malaysia for the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

Please join me in applauding these companies for creating jobs locally and for participating in the cutting edge of technology globally.

Peacekeeping
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, our troops have been twisting in the wind for over a week, waiting for a political decision to be made on the future of the mission to Rwanda and Zaire. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is off selling nuclear reactors to China and the rest of the cabinet is tongue-tied.

I am sure that most Canadians are now wondering just how long the government is going to stall before making a decision. While Reform has suggested that military intervention may not be necessary, the government has ignored our advice. Nonetheless it must face the facts.

It is becoming increasing clear that the Rwandan government will not play ball. Either we must accept that it has sovereign control over its territory and the multinational force is no longer needed, or the international community under Canadian leadership is going to override Rwandan sovereignty and send the force in anyway.

The government cannot have it both ways and the time for stalling is over. What is it going to be?

Banks
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the big six banks are rejoicing over their early Christmas gift of $6 billion in record profits, but we know that many more Canadians cannot be part of this celebration.

While bank profits soar, so do bank service charges. On the heels of celebrating its windfall profits, the CIBC is hiking the fee for using another bank's cash machine from $1 to $1.25.

While the Bank of Canada prime rate has dropped to 3.25 per cent, the big banks continue to charge 18.9 per cent on Mastercard and 16.5 per cent on Visa.

The banks have been quick to lower the interest paid on the savings accounts of hardworking Canadians, so low that they pay only one-quarter of 1 per cent per annum on these savings.

I challenge this Liberal government to take legislative action that will bring debt relief and fair treatment to Canadian consumers, small business people, seniors and working families. They too deserve an early Christmas gift.

Parlement Jeunesse Des Francophones De L'Ouest
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, November 10, I had the privilege of attending a session of the sixth Parlement jeunesse des francophones de l'Ouest in Edmonton.

More than fifty young people from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon spent four days in the seats of the Alberta legislative assembly, familiarizing themselves with the role of the legislator and the rules of parliamentary procedure.

Speaker Marco Roy guided the debates with a firm hand. Premier Christiane Moquin and House Leader Joëlle Leclerc acquitted themselves of their duties with skill and verve. The serious approach taken by all of these young people to their undertaking is eloquent proof that our future is in good hands.

The slight majority of young women participating in this youth parliament gives us grounds for believing that, on the eve of the third millennium, we shall be seeing increasing numbers of women in positions of political responsibility at all levels of government.

Parti Quebecois
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend's PQ congress has provided us with the perfect example of a political party which places its ideology above everything else: the economy, social and health services, minority rights and so on.

Thumbing their noses at the results of the two referendums they themselves organized on the separation of Quebec, PQ members continue to prepare for the next referendum as if nothing had happened.

In the close to 2,000 resolutions contained in the delegates' kits, the PQ members did not see fit to consider, even once, the desire expressed by a majority of Quebecers to remain within Canada. The PQ continues in its desire to impose its separatist obsession on the majority of the Quebec population.

That population has spoken twice on the separation of Quebec. It is time for the Parti Quebecois, and the Bloc Quebecois, to agree to respect the democratic will of Quebecers and to move on to other things: the economy, social services, and the respect of minority rights.

Quebec Premier
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, Lucien Bouchard urged delegates at the PQ convention last weekend to endorse his partnership proposal.

He reminded militants that partnership proved to be a winning formula in the last referendum, adding that, with an additional two months, the yes side would have won.

We do not believe in Lucien Bouchard's partnership project, and nor do the militants representing Montreal Centre, who said: "After condemning the excessive number of government and decision-making levels, we cannot propose another source of duplication and inefficiency".

Partnership, as described by the PQ leader, is nothing but a ploy, a marketing technique and an illusion to give the impression that separation would be smoother if achieved in conjunction with a partnership proposal. Lucien the magician strikes again!

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the official languages program and, accordingly, for supporting the francophone minority outside Quebec in order to prevent its being assimilated by the anglophone majority.

How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage fulfil her ministerial responsibility and protect the two official language minorities, when she in fact refuses to acknowledge that Canada has a real problem in the assimilation of francophones outside Quebec, as Statistics Canada figures prove beyond a doubt?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member really wants to know what I said, he can read the minutes of the committee in which I said, following the comments by the minister, Ms. Beaudouin, that the problem of anglicization exists throughout the country, including in the Province of Quebec.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has said a lot of things, so many things that she was awarded the Montreal Gazette 's brickbat of the week. No mean feat.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

I would recall some statistics for her: the rate of assimilation of francophones in New Brunswick is 8.7 per cent; in British Columbia, 72 per cent; in western Canada, 55 per cent; in Ontario, 37 per cent and in the City of Hamilton, her city, 65 per cent. These are Statistics Canada's figures. And this is why associations representing francophones in English Canada have criticized the minister's remarks.

Instead of concealing the problem, by promoting bilingualism, does the minister not think it is time to recognize the facts, to open her eyes and to perhaps offer some solutions?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, if the member is really interested in the well-being of the francophone community across Canada, I would ask him to contact his counterpart, the Quebec minister of education, who has introduced a system that discriminates against francophones outside Quebec in French language post-secondary education.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec introduced a system of higher costs for out of country students, as did Ontario. In Ontario, it is good management; in Quebec, it is discrimination.

In the case of out of province students, Quebec charges them the average cost of education in Canada, which means that it costs even less for an Ontarian than studying in Toronto. Those are the facts. It is time the minister woke up. If she wants to talk money, we will talk money.

Does the minister not think that one way to meet her responsibilities, because she does have responsibilities although she may not realize it, is to look carefully at the use the other provinces make of the money intended to go to educating official language minorities that went to other things, like heating schools or setting up public washrooms in Kingston?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I asked the hon. member, who, I assume, supports the policy of his colleague, the hon. member for Québec-Est, who supports a policy of bilingualism across the country, which we support, whether he is prepared to acknowledge that the education policy of his counterpart in Quebec City, Pauline Marois, discriminates against 1,500 students registered at Laval, the University of Sherbrooke and the University of Montreal. Most of them are francophones who wish to continue their studies in their own language.

Why is the Government of Quebec a part of such discrimination against Canada's francophones?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps hammering at Quebec because she cannot do her own job properly. That is the problem.

Marcel Beaudry, president of the National Capital Commission, said before the Joint Committee on Official Languages that Ottawa was, to all intents and purposes, a bilingual city. However, only last summer the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne condemned the national capital's English unilingualism.

Considering that the assimilation rate of francophones within the federal capital has reached 30 per cent, does the Minister of Canadian Heritage not think it is high time she reminded Mr. Beaudry that it is part of the NCC's mandate to actively promote linguistic duality?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, one thing is certain and that is that someone who refers to francophones outside Quebec as paraplegics in wheelchairs is hardly in a position to say anything about the state of the French language.

That being said, what I said, and what is falsely denied by the hon. member for Québec-Est is that now, and this was not the case 30 years ago, 99 per cent of francophones outside Quebec who wish to be educated in their language have that possibility, thanks to federal policies.

Of course the policies are not perfect. But if the hon. member wants to victimize francophones in this country, I think he is barking up the wrong tree.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, I challenge the minister to prove that 99 per cent of francophones outside Quebec have access to education in French, when there are only 50 per cent. This is a shameless falsehood on the part of the minister who is supposed to be responsible for this sector.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, I suggest it would be more appropriate to refrain from using words like "falsely" or "falsehood". I would ask you to be very careful about your choice of words.

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

NCC leases provide that tenants who are businesses or government agencies must advertise and provide services in both official languages. According to Mr. Beaudry, they cannot act on these clauses because they have never been enforced.

Are we to conclude that the Official Languages Act is no longer valid because it has never been properly enforced in Canada, outside Quebec?

Francophones Outside Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, you will understand my pleasant astonishment at the spectacle of the Bloc Quebecois' supporting the use of bilingual signs across the country. We think that is an important step forward.

If the member for Quebec Est is honest in the comment that he made the other night to the committee that he supports bilingualism across the country, in every part of the country, including the province of Quebec, I would encourage him to intervene with the minister of education in Quebec who has introduced a two tier system of tuition which discriminates against francophones outside Quebec.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it looks like the finance minister's harmonization road show hit a pot hole last week, then the wheels fell off, then it rolled over and then it exploded in the ditch.

First, Greenberg stores announced they are closing 5 stores in New Brunswick and a possible 19 others in Nova Scotia and they have placed the blame squarely on the harmonized GST.

Then we hear about the 16,000 New Brunswickers who have signed a petition to dump the tax and then a report comes out showing how rents in Nova Scotia will go up, hurting the old, the young and the poor, those least able to absorb a tax hike.

Finally, at the end of the week Ontario's finance minister put a torch to any possibility of Canada's largest province hitching a ride on this Hindenburg.

Why will the finance minister not finally admit that his hope for a nationwide harmonization deal is dead? Will he kill it now in Atlantic Canada before it kills any more jobs?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the Greenberg stores, the fact of the matter is the stores, indeed all retailers in Atlantic Canada, will gain as much if not more as a result of the introduction of input tax credits than any other cost.

At the same time, the minister of finance in New Brunswick stated very clearly that he is prepared to sit down with any of the retailers in New Brunswick, as indeed are the other ministers of finance, to make sure tax inclusive pricing is introduced in a way that will not cause hardship but that will in fact give consumers what they want.

The issue nonetheless that remains in this House is why the Reform Party has supported in House of Commons committee and in fact in its own official program, all 18 versions of its own official program, tax harmonization. Why is it prepared to support it in principle but when Atlantic Canada wants to do it in order to

make its small and medium size business more competitive, to give it an opportunity to get a leg up, the Reform Party in an act of blind attack against Atlantic Canada refuses to accept that very good measure?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, Reformers are standing up for Atlantic Canada. My question is why do we have all these Atlantic Canadian MPs sitting over here using up perfectly good oxygen but not standing up for their constituents.

Despite a billion dollars in hush money the facts of this political deal have started leaking out. Everything is going up in price: new houses, rents, heating fuel, children's clothing, gasoline. Nova Scotia's opposition leader says this deal will mean $53 million in new gas taxes in Nova Scotia. Even Nova Scotia's finance minister admits that municipal property taxes are going to have to rise because of this deal.

Why is the finance minister allowing this tax attack on the hard pressed people of Atlantic Canada when it is clear that it will hurt the poor and it will kill jobs?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hidden agenda of the Reform Party is very clear. It comes out in its body language, it comes out in the words it uses.

The hon. member uses the words hush money. Any time money is transferred to Atlantic Canada it is hush money. It was not hush money when Ontario received stabilization payments from the federal government. It was not hush money when western Canadian grain farmers were given the support for agricultural payments. It was not hush money for the Reform Party when the Alberta tar sands were given a very important deal that would create jobs there.

But transfer a penny to Atlantic Canada and it is hush money and the reason is the Reform Party refuses to take a pan-Canadian view of this country. The Reform Party refuses to understand that the regions of this country support one another.

The problem that exists here is that the Reform Party simply has given up on Atlantic Canada while the Liberal Party has not. We believe in Atlantic Canada.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the Liberal Party has made a career of creating divisions in this country, which is why it is not willing to come up with $3 billion for Ontario and the other provinces.

The devil is in the details. A copy of this deal says a cut in the provincial portion of this tax requires the unanimous consent of all provinces involved.

When was the last time we had unanimity on anything in this country? But a rate increase only needs a simple majority. That is one of the reasons the finance minister himself opposed harmonization back when he ran for the Liberal leadership. This deal entrenches higher taxes forever.

Why has the finance minister compromised his own belief that harmonization guarantees higher taxes forever and, in doing so, why did he sell out the people of Atlantic Canada?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would simply ask the hon. member to go back to the byelection which took place in Labrador when the Reform Party was prepared to stand up and speak for Atlantic Canada. Now all of a sudden, having lost that byelection as well as every other election in Atlantic Canada, Reform members are taking out their vengeance on Atlantic Canadians, saying "we will not allow you to have a lower tax rate, we will not allow you to have lower consumer costs, we will not allow you to break away from a cycle of dependence, toward independence".

The hon. member asks when was the last time we had unanimity in this country. I will tell him. It was when Canadians from coast to coast to coast said "the Reform Party has had it; it is going down the drain". They do not want to have anything more to do with those vicious policies it stands for.

Sponsorship By Tobacco Companies
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Last Friday, the Toronto Star reported that the Minister of Canadian Heritage was against sponsorship by tobacco companies, even at the cost of killing cultural and sporting events like the Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival in Toronto, the International Film Festival in Vancouver, the Formula One Grand Prix and all summer festivals in Montreal and elsewhere.

How can the minister say such things when her mandate is to promote the cultural interests of Canada and Quebec?

Sponsorship By Tobacco Companies
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I said the same thing as the hon. member who spoke on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois two weeks ago.

Sponsorship By Tobacco Companies
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health announces he will be making a statement, but then nothing happens; the Minister of Canadian Heritage has it all wrong. We in the official opposition, in the Bloc, are the ones saying: "The priority is health. That is clear". But at the same time, the question I am putting to the minister is as follows. There are cultural and sporting events at stake. She has a duty to look into finding a solution. What solution, if any, can she offer this House?

If she has one, let us hear it right now. Otherwise, let the people be the judge.

Sponsorship By Tobacco Companies
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I was following what the hon. member representing the Bloc Quebecois in this issue was saying. I was actually following her advice.

Canada Pension Plan
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada pension plan is in trouble because it is not backed by investment but only by taxes on future generations. Today's young face a very bleak prospect. When they have families of their own, three of them will have to pay the taxes to take care of one pensioner, half of the six doing so now. Only the full private investment of CPP premiums can prevent such an unfair burden.

When will the Minister of Finance do the right thing, stop the unfair burden on future generations and make the CPP a fully funded system?

Canada Pension Plan
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, when the finance ministers met there was, by and large, a consensus for the necessity of having a fuller funded plan and that, in fact, the moneys should be invested at arm's length from governments by an independent investment group.

To the extent that deals with the member's question, I believe there is consensus across the country on that particular issue. Hopefully we will be able to move to consensus right across the board because I believe that all members of the House would agree that the Canada pension plan is indeed an essential pillar of the Canadian retirement system. I would suggest that all provincial governments, as well as the federal government, deal with this as quickly as possible.

Canada Pension Plan
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, higher job killing premiums are the cornerstone of the Liberal reform of the Canada pension plan. Lower job creating premiums for employment insurance are overdue and demanded by nearly everyone except the Minister of Finance.

Will the minister do the right thing for future generations and today's workers and commit himself to a package of simultaneously higher CPP and lower EI premiums, a package which does not increase job destroying payroll taxes?

Canada Pension Plan
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member knows that the employment insurance plan and the Canada pension plan are quite separate. They are not linked, as indeed are health levies, education levies and workmen's compensation, which are all payroll plans in the provinces. For that reason the Canada pension plan must be dealt with on its own.

I have a little difficulty with the member's question, how it reconciles with the Taxpayers' Budget brought forward by the Reform Party which states: "To ensure that savings from reform of UI translate into deficit elimination, the Reform Party recommends the establishment of a permanent reserve fund for the UI. Until the budget was balanced, funds from this reserve would be applied against the deficit".

Has the Reform Party changed its mind or does it still hold to this statement?

Krever Commission
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

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

This morning, a coalition of organizations, including the Canadian Hemophilia Society, renewed its request for access to the documents the Krever commission wishes to examine. These documents, including draft regulations on blood products, go back to 1984, when the Liberal Party was in power and the current Prime Minister was Deputy Prime Minister. According to testimony given by certain senior health officials, the draft regulations were blocked at the highest level.

How can the minister explain his stubborn refusal not to table these documents, unless it is because their publication could be embarrassing to the present government?

Krever Commission
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is not a stubborn refusal, it is a legal requirement.

Krever Commission
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Evidence Act gives the minister the required authority. Under the terms of that statute, the minister may ask the President of the Privy Council to intervene in order to overturn a decision by the Clerk of the Privy Council to refuse to make these documents public, and to have them finally turned over to Judge Krever so that he may get to the bottom of this tragedy.

Krever Commission
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, section 39 of the Canada Evidence Act stipulates that cabinet confidences may not be disclosed for 20 years, meaning that it is unfortunately impossible for us under the law to meet this demand.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, last Friday in this House the minister of Indian affairs said that he could not send treaty entitlements directly to grassroots Indian people who live on reserves. He said that is not the way his government deals with other levels of government.

Ottawa routinely sends individual entitlements and benefits directly to other Canadians, including GST rebate cheques, child benefit cheques, pension cheques and so on.

Why is the minister afraid to give treaty Indians a choice about how they want to receive their treaty entitlements, either directly from the government or from the chief in council? Why is he denying Indians the same rights as every other Canadian?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, let me explain this to the hon. member. First, treaty land entitlement is direct to the individuals through a process.

But under treaty we have not yet scoped out the meaning of health, the meaning of education, the meaning of economic development. There are four processes going on in this country that I hope would have something.

What the hon. member wants me to do-I explained it to her colleague last week-is pay the money directly to 300,000 or 400,000 aboriginal people. We do not deal that way. We deal government to government. We do not do that with provinces. Provinces do not do that with municipalities. They elect people. They decide on the priorities, whether hospitals, schools or roads. This is the way they do it.

Certainly the hon. member is not suggesting that the Minister of Finance take the money he collects and send a cheque to each Canadian so they can decide what to do with the money. The people elect us to come to the House of Commons to make decisions. Aboriginal people elect chiefs in council to make decisions. It is quite simple.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have an example. The First Nations accountability coalition is comprised mainly of treaty Indians who receive old age pension cheques. They are now able to speak out because they are not totally beholden to the chief and council for their survival. Their pension cheques have given them a real voice and real power for the first time in their lives. These people are demanding financial accountability of their own leaders. I am not asking this, they are asking.

Some of them have been threatened and beaten; some have had their houses shot at. When they complained, the minister's own

officials in Saskatchewan told the coalition: "Do not take it personally; it is happening all over". This is not good enough.

When will the minister finally give authority to the auditor general to look into these complaints of financial mismanagement? When will he make sure that aboriginals are treated fairly and equally in this country?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is probably the last person to be asking that question. These are the same types of questions which are asked of the Minister of Justice. Reformers take one isolated case and say because this happened, people cannot handle their own responsibilities and that we should look at what is happening.

Reformers refuse to look across the country at the 80 per cent of First Nations that do a good job of managing. They refused to look at the B.C. treaty process which was a success and which Reformers opposed. They refused to look at the Manitoba dismantling which they opposed and which is a success. They refused to look at treaty scoping out and they even refused to support legislation in the Yukon. Yet they come here and ask when there is going to be fairness for the aboriginal people. They are the wrong people to be asking that question.

Zaire
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

There is seemingly endless pussyfooting around the urgent action awaited in eastern Zaire and the international community's hesitation casts some shameful doubts on its willingness to act. After three days of meetings, the governments represented in Stuttgart must now assess the options that have been defined.

In the context of an estimated 250,000 refugees still stuck in eastern Zaire and another 300,000 having gone west, could the minister give us an update and tell us which option he favours to resolve the current deadlock?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, following weekend talks, we received the recommendations made by the military groups. As we speak, the Minister of National Defence is in Washington. I myself am consulting with several European and African ministers to determine the best way to implement the recommendations developed by the military groups in Stuttgart.

Zaire
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, with Kigali still opposed to any intervention by a multinational force on its territory, could the minister tell us how many more meetings

will be needed and how much longer refugees will have to wait before the international community takes action?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hope is that an agreement among the various coalition partners can be arrived at within a matter of a day or so.

The meetings which were held last week were very important in terms of determining the needs. Last week there was a high level of confusion about how many refugees were left, what their condition was and where they were located.

That decision was consolidated during the meeting at Stuttgart. The Minister for International Cooperation held a very good meeting in Geneva which helped to co-ordinate the assistance plans for Rwanda. We are presently talking with a number of the coalition partners to determine exactly what the most appropriate response would be based on the information arrived at this weekend.

I share the hon. member's degree of frustration. It is important that we move as quickly as possible to help, but we cannot move by ourselves. We must move in partnership with the other coalition members. That is what we are working on at the present time.

African Great Lakes Region
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Bonin Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, the Minister for International Cooperation chaired a meeting held in Geneva to discuss the situation of refugees in Africa's great lakes region. Canadians would like to know about the outcome of this meeting and the measures to be taken regarding this issue.

African Great Lakes Region
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, over 135 officials from 20 countries met in Geneva, in addition to organizations representing 15 multilateral groups, to discuss the humanitarian assistance effort in Rwanda and in eastern Zaire. Several proposals were put forward.

A follow-up meeting will take place in Kigali, in a few days. I hope to be able to make an announcement to this effect, perhaps in the next 24 or 48 hours. Meanwhile, the following measures were approved: increasing support to professional monitoring of human rights protection.

African Great Lakes Region
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Excluded.

African Great Lakes Region
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

No, Mr. Speaker, hundreds of thousands of people do not want this to be excluded.

The list goes on: increasing legal assistance to victims and, third, providing help to promote peace and reconciliation in Rwanda.

Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the employees of Canadian Airlines have been very loyal to their company. They have made sacrifices in the past and are being called upon to make yet another. That decision is up to them.

I believe that the Minister of Transport's suggestion that he might remove the domestic fuel tax if they accept the restructuring plan is offensive. These employees should be able to see the value of their sacrifice in advance and know that the overall restructuring plan will work. That means the fuel tax should be removed before they make their decision.

Will the minister do the honourable thing and remove the aviation fuel tax in the manner promised with the introduction of the GST before Canadian's employees have to make their final decision?

Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton West
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon. member that this government is taking the same position that it has taken now for almost a month. The Minister of Transport did not go to British Columbia to try to broker a deal between Canadian Airlines and its union. He went there to listen. The Minister of Transport did not go to British Columbia to write a cheque. The minister is there to listen.

To quote the Minister of Transport, there is no role for government until such time as the company is made essentially profitable. Government involvement now with money or anything else will not solve the chronic restructuring problem.

Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the government is listening now; it never listened before. Reform has been calling for the removal of the federal fuel tax on aviation gas but the federal tax is only part of the problem. An international treaty on air transport, agreed to by 184 countries including Canada, prohibits taxation of fuel used for international air transportation. The federal government has complied but a number of provincial governments have not.

Given that this provincial aviation fuel tax on international flights contravenes the treaty signed by Canada and compounds the competitive problems for Canadian air carriers, what action if any has the minister taken to have this provincial tax removed? If he is

finally talking to them about that, why did he wait until Canadian was in such deep financial trouble?

Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton West
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to help the hon. member out. He is a hardworking member of the transport committee.

Maybe he has not met with his leader for a while but his leader spoke on CBU AM radio in Vancouver and said: "In keeping with our philosophy that government should stay out of the marketplace and stay out of business, if Canadian is to survive, it will survive because it is successful in implementing a business plan to make it profitable".

In any of the speeches that have been made by his party or by the government there has been no mention about foreign investment and nothing about eliminating taxes. It is there in Reform's 1995 blue book: "Eliminate regional development as a goal of transportation policy". There is no mention by the leader of the third party on tax cuts on fuel. None of that. Where is the member coming from? Let Canadian do the job of restructuring itself, then we will listen to the proposals.

Criminal Code
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

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

For close to seven years now, a number of stakeholders from the Quebec City region have been asking the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow cruising ships on the St. Lawrence River to operate a casino and to be allowed to call at ports, including the port of Quebec.

How can the minister justify his government's slowness to introduce the required amendments to the Criminal Code, given that it would result in major economic spinoffs for the whole Quebec City region?

Criminal Code
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this idea comes up from time to time. There are advantages. There are also policy considerations.

If the Government of Quebec has a formal request to make of us to amend the Criminal Code in this regard, I would hope it would be forthcoming. So far to my knowledge no such formal request has been made. If it has a request to make, we will be happy to consider it and discuss it with the other provincial governments and other parties that are affected.

Criminal Code
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the minister would support a private member's bill to be tabled to this effect by the Bloc Quebecois.

Given that a number of jobs would be created, we wonder why the minister cannot allow cruising ships to close their casino just one hour before they arrive at the port of Quebec. It is not that complicated.

Criminal Code
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this issue comes under provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, if the Government of Quebec has adopted a position regarding it, I would be pleased to be apprised of it.

If I receive a formal request from the Government of Quebec, I will be pleased to give it proper consideration.

Tobacco
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

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

We are not sure why the minister has not tabled his anti-smoking legislation. Is it because the minister has no clout at the cabinet table? Is it because he is fighting with other ministers in the cabinet? Is it that there are too many high level Liberal lobbyists? We cannot be sure, but the truth is the legislation is not here. Maybe the minister has adopted roll your own targets like the finance minister.

Canadians do not want any more ifs, ands or buts. When will we see this legislation tabled in the House of Commons?

Tobacco
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, soon.

Tobacco
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend according to Statistics Canada figures, 657 more young people started smoking and another 219 people died from smoking related illnesses. We are not talking about soon or some cute little response here. We are talking about human lives.

Will the minister give us a date as to when we can expect this legislation? Do not give us this nonsense about crossing your i 's and dotting your t 's, or is it crossing your t 's and dotting your i 's.

Tobacco
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Yes, Mr. Speaker, some people do have their i 's crossed.

I want to tell the hon. member that what is shameful on the floor of the House of Commons is the hypocrisy of the Reform Party when its own critic has said clearly that the resolution of this problem is not with legislation but with education. Now we have the hon. member standing in this place wanting to have legislation.

I say to the hon. member that we will have our legislation package ready to go very soon.

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

For several months now, we have been hearing that the federal government was going to get more directly involved in promoting job creation.

Could the Minister of Human Resources Development tell us what steps he has taken, in co-operation with the government of my province, the Province of Quebec, in order to stimulate job creation?

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, naturally the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec both wish to help as many unemployed people as possible re-enter the job market. One way in which our governments want to help Quebecers find work is to facilitate the exchange of information between employers and workers, by working closely with partners in the private sector.

I would like to give one example of how the governments of Canada and of Quebec have worked together, in an activity sponsored by Défi Emploi in the region of Témiscouata. In this region, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec have worked with local dailies, which have agreed to advertise jobs free of charge.

You will be pleased to learn that this Défi Emploi project in Témiscouata has been a success. Of the 557 jobs advertised, approximately 469 have been filled, a success rate of 84 per cent. This means that 469 men and women have thus found jobs when our governments work together.

Access To Information
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

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

The information commissioner, John Grace, recently declared that a number of government ministers were urging their officials to break the law on purpose by refusing to make public within 30 days replies to requests for access to information.

What action does the minister intend to take to ensure that his foot dragging colleagues get serious and observe the provisions of the Access to Information Act?

Access To Information
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I know that all of my colleagues make their best efforts in good faith to comply with their obligations under the law. Sometimes the complexity of a request or the difficulty in amassing the necessary information is such that the time limit is not fully respected. However, the record of this government is clear. We take these responsibilities very seriously and we make our best efforts to provide whatever information is required as soon as practical.

Access To Information
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the commissioner was not just making idle comments. There must be a problem.

When will the justice minister propose amendments to the Access to Information Act for the purpose of strengthening the coercive authority held by the information commissioner over officials, political staff or ministers who deliberately take their time making documents to which we are entitled to have access under the act public?

Access To Information
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, these matters are always under review. We are happy to discuss with interested parties ways in which the law can be improved. However, we are satisfied that for the most part the statute works well now. As I say, we make every effort in good faith to comply with its spirit, its intent, as well as its letter.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the rule of law means that everyone in our society, including ministers of government, premiers, the rich and powerful and ordinary citizens alike are governed by the same law of the land. Those words were spoken in the House by the Minister of Justice last September. Yet last Friday the same minister asked me to overlook niggling legalisms such as orders in council to permit Madam Justice Louise Arbour to accept another position, despite the fact that the Judges Act specifically prohibits judges from accepting other appointments.

Is the minister now saying that the rule of law does not apply to this minister when he grants orders in council to powerful people?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, nothing has happened since Friday last to add any legitimacy to the position expressed by the hon. member. He was wrong then and he is wrong now.

The order in council that was made granted a leave of absence to Madam Justice Arbour. That is entirely permitted by the Judges Act. The fact that Madam Justice Arbour is pursuing other duties is also permitted under the Judges Act.

What is prohibited by the Judges Act is that Madam Justice Arbour would accept money from sources other than the federal government. That she has not done and she will not do so until Bill C-42 becomes law. That legislation is intended to amend the Judges Act so that Madam Justice Arbour can take up the duties, with pay from the United Nations, for which she was appointed.

I might say that she was appointed by the United Nations Security Council in a unanimous vote. This country was honoured that a judge of the court of appeal for Ontario was appointed to this position, a position of world leadership in terms of morality: chief prosecutor of the war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the end does not justify the means. Regardless of what the minister is saying today, he did say before the Senate that he had absolutely no power to grant this order in council as the law currently stands and he is in violation of section 55 of the Judges Act which prohibits other employment. It has nothing to do with salary.

Since the minister has granted a special dispensation to Madam Justice Louise Arbour, will he acknowledge that the appearance of impartiality by Madam Justice Arbour will be seriously compromised when she returns to the bench if she is judging cases that involve the Government of Canada?

Justice
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this concern makes no more sense when it emanates from the hon. member than it did from some of those in the Senate who expressed it also. I do not understand it frankly. I simply do not understand it. It does not make sense.

The United Nations wanted a judge from this country for the role because with judges it has impartiality. It wanted a Canadian judge because of our reputation in the world order. It wanted this judge because of her integrity and her reputation for fairness and competence. By unanimous vote of the security council it chose her for this role.

We found that although she is permitted a leave of absence to take up the duties she cannot be paid by the UN without a change in the statute. The UN does not want us to pay her because it fears that will undermine her independence in the World Court. We propose a change to the statute and all we hear from this member is a bizarre and, in my view, incorrect interpretation of the statute which might cause difficulties in having this woman do an important service for humanity.

Will the hon. member and his party stand down so that we can get this job done for the world?

Banks
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

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

The banks will be announcing another $6 billion profit, a record. We hear members of the Liberal caucus making progressive noises in the finance committee about the banks' service charges and interest rates charged on Visa cards. But the real question is: What is the government going to do?

Will the Minister of Finance commit his government to putting a ceiling on interest charges on Visa, Mastercard and the other credit card companies? Will he act?

Banks
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to know the NDP has an inside track on bank profits because none of the banks has announced their profits yet this year.

The government is committed to ensuring that the banks do their fair share to support the economy. By that I mean paying their fair share of taxes. These are the highest taxed corporations in the country. Indeed they pay large corporate taxes. They pay a special capital tax for large institutions besides their corporate taxes. They paid a billion dollars in taxes in 1991 and 1993 and more this year.

That is one of the ways we have made sure that the banks play out their role in the community.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the worst abuser of the unemployment insurance fund in Canada, the Minister of Finance.

After three years of Liberal government, Canada is experiencing the longest period of high unemployment we have known since the thirties. Nevertheless, the Liberal government continues to put a surtax on employees through the unemployment insurance fund.

I simply want to ask the Minister of Finance whether he thinks it is legitimate for the government to use the unemployment insurance fund to reduce its deficit?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that takes the cake. When the Conservative government came to power in 1984, unemployment insurance premiums were $2.30, and when we came to power in 1993, they were about to reach

$3.30. We have reduced them annually, but the Conservatives increased them every year they were in power.

It is beyond belief. It must be very difficult to be the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and have to swallow oneself whole every time he stands up and denies the record of his government in office. Every single year it was in office unemployment insurance premiums went up. Every year that we have been in office unemployment premiums have gone down.

He represents a government that was prepared to impose on the Canadian people the highest level of taxation that they have ever had. Yet they also gave them the highest deficit. At least the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party should have the courage of the Reform Party and outline from where his tax cuts will come. Let him admit that he will cut health care-

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw to members' attention the presence in the gallery of a parliamentary delegation of the Parliament of Bangladesh led by Mr. Suranjit Sen Gupta, member of Parliament and adviser to the Prime Minister on parliamentary affairs.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I would also like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a delegation of chairmen of regional assemblies from the North West Region of Russia led by Mr. Vladimir A. Torlopov.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to six petitions.

Order In Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments which were made by the government.

Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 110(1), these are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees, a list of which is attached.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Broadview—Greenwood, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-353, an act to amend the Criminal Code (Internet lotteries).

Mr. Speaker, this bill to amend the Criminal Code will allow the Government of Canada to take advantage of the online gaming industry which is emerging as a very exciting form of entertainment around the world. It will provide an opportunity through proper regulation for Canada to take advantage of the opportunity to raise billions of dollars that would otherwise not come into the coffers of Canada.

It will create employment. With all of the new technologies in terms of security and privacy issues, we will have an Internet capability which will allow Canada to lead the world. I hope in the not too distant future we can have this bill before the House.

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

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition signed by many constituents throughout the national capital region calling on the government to remove the 7 per cent GST on books. I understand the government has taken action in this area, but the people who signed the petition want it to go further.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I too have a petition to present concerning the removal of the GST from reading materials.

I would like to mention to the hon. member as I table my petition that the government, in fact, has not eliminated the 7 per cent sales tax from reading materials but has done so for a few special people.

The petitioners call for the complete elimination of the GST on reading material.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to present a petition signed by several people in Alberta stating that the undersigned residents of Canada draw to the attention of the House that there be stricter

penalties for young offenders who commit crimes causing bodily harm or death.

The petition further states that these individuals should be held in custody pending their court hearing and that young offenders age 16 and older who take the law into their own hands and cause death should be charged and treated as adults and tried in adult court without the consent of judges.

That adds more fully and completely to the small changes that were made in Bill C-37. Of course, it is not the case that 16 and 17 year olds automatically are tried in adult court, as the petition suggests.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is signed by 26 of my constituents.

They call on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make a national highway system upgrading possible.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by 49 of my constituents.

They request the House of Commons enact legislation or amend existing legislation to define marriage as the voluntary union for life of one woman and one man to each other to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Georgette Sheridan Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present a petition signed by several hundred people in my constituency.

It urges the government to do what it has done in the recent announcement of the minister of public works to restrict the delivery of junk mail to their homes.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is with regard to the removal of the GST.

The petitioners ask the Prime Minister to carry out his party's repeated and unequivocal promise to remove the federal sales tax from books, magazines and newspapers.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is with respect to our national highways.

The petitioners call on Parliament to urge the federal government join with provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

George Proud Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition duly certified on behalf of my constituents of the riding of Hillsborough.

The petitioners ask that the Prime Minister declare that Canada is indivisible and that the boundaries of Canada, its provinces, territories and territorial waters may be modified only by: (a) a free vote of all Canadian citizens and; (b) through the amending formula stipulated in our Constitution.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from quite a number of people who are concerned about the 7 per cent GST on reading materials.

The petitioners urge all levels of government to demonstrate their support of education and end literacy by eliminating the sales tax on reading materials. They ask Parliament to zero rate the GST on books, magazines and newspapers and that the provinces and Ottawa should consider harmonizing their sales tax regarding materials which must be zero rated under the provincial sales tax as well as the GST.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first comes from Kelowna, B.C. The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that our police and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians. They also state that in many cases families are left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Miller Lake, Ontario.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families who choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my duty to present a petition signed by 100 residents of the city of Calgary. These petitioners believe that the 7 per cent GST on reading material is unfair and wrong.

They ask Parliament to zero rate books, magazines and newspapers under the GST and the proposed harmonized sales tax. They ask the Prime Minister to carry out his party's repeated and unequivocal promise to remove federal sales tax from books, magazines and newspapers.

[Translation]

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise you that two months ago, on September 27 to be more specific, I put on the Order Paper three questions about family trusts. I have yet to receive a reply, although the 45-day period provided under the Standing Orders has expired.

This is a matter of considerable interest and concern to both Quebecers and Canadians. I just got back from a series of prebudgetary consultations with the finance committee, and many witnesses raised the issue of family trusts before the committee. This is a matter of considerable public interest.

I am counting on you, Mr. Speaker, and on the Parliamentary Secretary to shed some light on a situation that has been with us since 1972.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention. I believe you are referring to Questions Nos. 87, 88 and 89. I have taken a note of your representation today. I can only tell you that those matters are being reviewed at the moment and we hope they will be before the House soon.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to please put all his comments through the Chair rather than directly across the floor. His colleague, the chief whip, will tell him how hard that is on the morale of the Speaker.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee; and Motion No. 6.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Kootenay East who has four minutes remaining in his intervention.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the concluding portion of my remarks I was referring to the fact that what we are trying to do here is create an improved bill respecting elections in Canada and the fact that I believe we have good will in this House and are attempting to do it in such a way that it be non-partisan.

However, politics being the partisan effort that it is, I would draw to the attention of the Liberals the fact that during the last Parliament it was they who were carrying on in quite a manner about the fact that the Conservatives would bring in closure. It was the Liberals who put in their red book appendix an article about people who would ascend to the position of deputy chair of this chamber.

In other words, whether we like it or not, the reality is it seems when people move from this side of the House to the other side of the House, certainly historically between the Liberals and the Conservatives, they generally carry on the position of the people on the government side of the House.

I therefore draw that to their attention because it is important to realize that when we are trying to craft something here we are trying to craft a set of rules that we can play a game with; not play a game in the sense of frivolous but indeed compete in.

Many of us enjoyed watching the Grey Cup yesterday. It was interesting that the field was of equal width at either end. It was interesting was that one set of goal posts was not lower or wider. Both sets of goal posts were exactly the same.

In other words, when we set up the rules of engagement for whatever the competition may be, whether it be a football game or a political contest, the rules be tailored in such a way that they are fair to all participants, that all participants have equal opportunity.

We know as it presently stands the government has the potential of turning around and doing whatever it will with respect to calling an election. It actually becomes something of a joke. I note in the province of Alberta the premier has been saying "soon, soon" much the same way the health minister here keeps on saying "soon, soon" with respect to tobacco taxes. The point is the

government of the day has the power to do what it will do when it wants to do it.

With that in mind, it is all the more important therefore that we make sure that the 36 day campaign be restricted exclusively to a general election. As stated previously, each party must go through a nomination process. This is a process where each party goes out of its way to cast its net as wide as it can to get as highly qualified candidates as it can. Each party must go through a process of fundraising, particularly at the constituency level where byelections are being called. Each party must build a team of people to help the candidate, help the campaign for that candidate to become successful.

As I have stated previously, it is for that reason we must have rules that are fair or as close to fair and equitable as we can so that each candidate and each party is given the opportunity to have as much time as is required to get the job done properly.

I recognize that this is a Reform motion and it has been the history of this government that motions from parties other than the Liberal Party have received very scant attention. However, in this particular case, I think it is really important for future byelections that will be held under this legislation that the members and the government, because it will be leading its members, take a serious look at this and recognize that this is the only way that we can keep the field for the election contest the same and the goal posts at the same height.

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3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have before us an amendment proposed by the Reform Party to maintain a slightly longer period for a byelection than one would for a general election.

I support this type of amendment, and I will explain why. In a general election, the parties knew it was coming, so they have a chance to set up their campaign machine, the people who volunteer their services such as fundraising, an indispensable adjunct to the democratic process which includes exercising the right to vote and the election campaign that precedes voting day. Obviously, in a general election, the parties have had a chance to prepare for the event.

However, with a byelection that comes out of the blue, the parties do not get the same advance notice, except of course the government party which has all the time in the world to decide when. It is clear that the government party would have an unfair competitive edge since it sets the date, which gives it plenty of time to get ready to face the opposition parties in a campaign that will last for a very limited period.

In that kind of situation, the opposition parties would have to recruit volunteers very quickly, which is not easy, and get their grassroots financing. And by the way, those parties that are funded by multinationals get huge cheques. As you can imagine, that kind of fundraising is much easier. The other parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, which raise money from their members and the general public in the form of small contributions, will have to work much harder over a much longer period of time.

It will therefore be understood that this is necessary in byelections so that all parties, the government party and the opposition parties, may act under fair rules and within an extended period of time. The Reform Party motion is well received in this connection.

Let me remind you that the government party has not always acted with-shall I say-all the respect it ought to have shown to the opposition parties. I refer specifically to the byelections held last February in three Quebec ridings.

At that very moment, the Bloc Quebecois was involved in a leadership race. The energies of our activists, our volunteers, were focussed on that, yet we had at the same time to campaign in three separate ridings. This shows that the precautions contained in the Reform motion are not without purpose.

Indeed, the government party, understandably, wants to hold an election at the time that is best for it and, consequently, the worst time for the opposition parties. They cannot be faulted for that. It is to be expected, strategically speaking. Nevertheless, the public interest must take precedent in such cases. The goal must be, not so much to give the opposition parties the opportunity to get organized, but to ensure that the public interest is protected by a democratically held election.

You will agree that, if the opposition parties lack the time to prepare themselves, to get organized, to explain what they have to offer to the population of a riding holding a byelection, the voters in that riding are being totally deprived of the public debate that ensures a healthy democracy. The voters in the riding are deprived of the possibility of making the most informed choice possible.

Because we are in a democracy, we have to respect not only the underlying principles, but the means. I do not doubt that the government party has all the necessary respect for the underlying principles of democracy, but it must also have respect for the means.

Let us face it, a party in power will one day sit on the opposition side. Consequently, what I have to say today in support of the Reform motion is, in reality, also for the benefit of the party in power at the present time.

You will have understood, of course, that by the time this rule applies, the Bloc will likely be elsewhere, its mission accomplished, but on behalf of the democracy which is, and will remain,

in Canada and in Quebec, I believe that the Reform Party motion ought to be well received by this House.

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3:25 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few remarks with respect to the amendment that we proposed to Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act. The amendment relates to byelections and the period of time in which those byelections can take place.

Historically, as all members know, elections campaigns have been carried out over a 47 day period. A sequence of events took place during those 47 days which, generally, was acceptable to Canadians. That 47 day period allowed both government members and opposition members to adjust.

This piece of legislation shortens the time period for a byelection from 47 days down to 36 days. In some cases that may be okay. For example when because of ill health someone passes away a period of time exists afterward and there is a bit of notice not only to the government but also the opposition parties in terms of filling that vacancy. There is some notice.

The major concern is that there are other situations. In this 35th Parliament there have been a number of situations where someone resigned on one day immediately after which the Prime Minister announced the byelection in the respective constituency and all parties were supposed to be ready. In that kind of a situation the government party is at an advantage.

Let us take the resignation of the Deputy Prime Minister. We knew that the Deputy Prime Minister should resign and the opposition, the Reform Party questioned the government day after day, checking on the integrity and the actions of the government. We asked that if the Deputy Prime Minister really said that if the GST was not eliminated, killed, scrapped or done away with, if that did not happen, that she would resign. It took some days to prove it. We had to work on that. Knowing that this government had such a massive majority we were not sure that the Deputy Prime Minister would stick with that statement, show integrity and resign. The day came when all of a sudden the Deputy Prime Minister resigned. It happened. We were not sure when that was going to happen but the government was.

In the backrooms people like Hosek, Goldenberg and all those other backroom strategists who pull the strings of this government and really run the government, who tell the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the House leader and the whip what to do, had a lead time of two or three weeks to plan the events of the byelection. They were able to notify the people in Hamilton that there was going to be a byelection and to get themselves ready, raise their funds, get their campaign people together, that the Deputy Prime Minister was going to make an announcement. Quietly they could do that and I am sure they did.

The plug was pulled. There was a byelection. There were 47 days. We here in the Reform Party scrambled around, got a good candidate in place, raised funds, got our constituency organization working, brought people in from a variety of places to campaign, but we were somewhat at a disadvantage.

The government now wants to say that all of that can be done in 36 days. Who is winning out of that kind of a major amendment in the legislation? It is all to the advantage of the government.

I commented earlier in some of my statements in committee that a 36 day campaign for a regular election is not a bad idea. What is the difference? The difference is that going into a general election, opposition members, whether they are with one of the recognized parties or one of those parties that are disappearing into oblivion like the Progressive Conservative Party, if they have any smarts and are sitting in this House and making some general observations, which can be done even here today, they know that by the spring 1997 there will be a general federal election, or if it is not in the spring it will be in October 1997.

Those are easy observations. Anybody can do that. As political parties, just like the government, we should set some target dates in 1996 or 1997. I would think that all parties should have all or at least 90 per cent of their nominations completed by the end of March 1997 so they are ready. Then the candidates can work, raise funds, get their teams together and be prepared for a general election. There is notification and a 36 day campaign could work under those circumstances.

The better situation would be if there were fixed dates for elections so that every four years we would know exactly when we would vote. That would be a much better situation rather than allowing the government to play politics in the elections.

The case I made relative to the amendment is that we should have a longer notice period. In our amendment we have suggested a 30 day freeze period after a member vacates a seat for a variety of reasons. There are good reasons for that if we look at the examples here in the House.

David Berger was appointed as the ambassador to Israel at a salary range of between $88,000 and $103,000. That opened a seat and subsequently there was a byelection. It could have been called immediately the day he was appointed as the ambassador to Israel.

Jean Robert Gauthier was appointed as a senator. The day he was appointed and resigned his seat, a byelection could have been announced and we would have had only 36 days. That is not

enough time for people to understand what has happened nor for the opposition parties to prepare.

Andre Ouellet was appointed chairman of Canada Post. His salary has nicely increased from what it was in the House of Commons. It is now somewhere between $128,000 and $160,000.

The point I want to make is that the person could have been appointed one day and the byelection could have been announced at that time, with only 36 days rather than 47 days to prepare. Some of the information in terms of salary is relevant in that we can see how there is such a desire for people to leave the salary or the position of member of Parliament or minister to go to other Liberal havens that are created for respective members of Parliament. I am sure that many have their eyes on such plumbs.

There have been other instances where a byelection was created. Roy MacLaren went to the position of high commissioner in the United Kingdom. William Rompkey and Shirley Maheu became senators. In every one of those situations, along with the example I gave earlier with regard to the Deputy Prime Minister, the person could have resigned his or her seat in this assembly and immediately an announcement of a byelection could have been made.

Under the legislation which has been brought before us by the Liberal government, the period of time for a byelection will be 36 days down from 47 days. That could have a major adverse effect on the democratic process in the preparation for the respective byelection. It would be unfair to the people who have to select the next candidate to sit as a member of Parliament.

The government should reconsider its position with regard to no freeze period of 30 days. If we could possibly reach a compromise, going back to the 47 days which is currently in the legislation, that would even be some recognition by the government that the period of time for a byelection must be longer than the minimum 36 day period which exists in the legislation being presented to us at this time.

I hope the government will reconsider its position and look at something different. Thirty-six days is just not fair in terms of good preparation for a byelection. A freeze of 30 days would be best but if we could agree to some kind of compromise at 47 days in an amendment to the legislation, I think it would meet some of the concerns we have on this side of the House.

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3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice to that of the other members of this House in the debate on the amendment proposal by the Reform Party.

The arguments put forward by the member before me are clearly neither very logical, nor plausible nor of much value to democracy in Canada or Quebec.

I am, however, surprised at the amount of time spent in this House-an hour, an hour and one quarter-discussing an amendment that should be unanimously approved and be self-evident. The federal Liberal government should be automatically interested, in my opinion, in such a claim, which would serve well all Canadians, all political parties and, consequently, democracy in Canada.

However, I am not surprised by the arrogance of the Liberals, yet again, in failing to listen to our arguments and to try to find a way through compromise for all members of Parliament to come up with a better electoral act, which would serve all political parties and therefore all Canadians and Quebecers.

I am surprised that they are preparing to reform the electoral act in disregard of principles established in all western democracies for the past 50 years. Is it, for example, common practice for the date of an election to be set at the whim of a Prime Minister? Is that common practice in a democracy? Is there anywhere in the world where this behaviour is permitted?

The first reform proposed by the government ought to have been: "Every four or five years, we will have a vote on the first Monday or first Sunday of November or October". The month does not matter, what counts is a set date for elections. This I think would be the reform Canadians and Quebecers would appreciate the most.

It is also out of the ordinary for the date to be set, when a seat becomes vacant through a member's resignation or death, at the Prime Minister's pleasure and not through a consensus of all parties reached through consultation or, simply, 60 or 90 days after the departure or death of a member.

It seems to me that we should have a date, as they have in most European countries, a predetermined date for the general elections; and a dateline for byelections after the incumbent's departure, instead of the Prime Minister having the inside track through picking and choosing the election date.

As a matter of fact, since the beginning of the century, the Liberal Party has always acted in its own best interests with regard to general elections in Canada. This century, it has been in power for 60 or 70 years out of 90. It has repeatedly refused to pass legislation in keeping with that of major western democracies, preferring to hang on to its archaic privileges and to use them gradually so as to keep the advantage whenever an election is called.

This fat cat party is completely out of touch with Canadian reality; it has no regard for democracy in action at election time. What matters to the Liberal Party is to seize power. What matters is

to stay in power, and anything goes, including handing out plums to party supporters, ministers handing out discretionary contracts to whoever best served not society, not the government or citizens as a whole, but the Liberal Party.

When the former Minister of National Defence hands out a $75,000 discretionary contract for a little survey that was never conducted and never will be, because it was awarded to a party treasurer, you get the picture. And this man was one of the heavy weights on the government's front benches. What did the Prime Minister do? He applauded the handing out of these discretionary contracts to friends of the party.

In the meantime the minister's wife was patronage adviser to the Prime Minister. Imagine the racket this will lead to, to raise funds, collect election funds, organize the next elections, flout democracy. And who cares about setting a date? Whenever the polls are favourable, the government will pick a date and try to rout the opposition. That has been the typical attitude of the Liberal Party since the beginning of the century. If anything, this bill shows that this party intends to maintain democracy in Canada by perpetuating that attitude.

I mentioned the former defense minister, but let us speak about the former heritage minister. One month after the election, she invited 20 persons to a small private cocktail party for $2,000 each, thus collecting $40,000 for the event. In the following months she granted a dozen of these people discretionary research contracts the likes of which we have never seen and will never see again. She used public funds to reward people who contributed financially to her political party and to her own election. This is what the minister did. How did the Prime Minister react? He stood up and applauded. That is the vision of the Liberal Party for you.

A reform like this one should be discussed among Canadians and Quebecers, in both our countries, since it has an impact on the future of democracy in this House, and there should be broader consultations. But what does the government do? It gags us. It uses parliamentary procedures to limit debate so it can rush this bill through and be free to call the next election whenever it pleases.

With a small but important amendment like the one proposed by the Reform Party, which members of the Bloc support, we are saying there is at least one amendment we are submitting to prevent them from repeating what they did in the byelection held six months ago, which everybody criticized.

That byelection led to the squandering of $100,000 for no reason at all except that the member wanted to be reconfirmed; it was just a big show. So, the Deputy Prime Minister used public funds to look good and, to make sure she would be elected, she limited the number of days and quickly announced an election to throw the other political parties off balance.

She should have had a deadline, as proposed by Reform members. But I would go further than what Reform members are proposing. Each time there is a byelection, it should be announced on a fixed date, that is, the day after the resignation. It would always be the same number of days, whether 60 or 90, so that each party knows when to expect an election.

But once again, the Liberal Party prefers to hide. The Liberal Party will try to cheat again. It is used to depend on such schemes for its survival. This is what the Liberal Party is, a party of schemers.

We could also say many other things about that party that talks out of both sides of its mouth. That party says one thing during the election campaign and another when elected. The members of that party do not give a damn about the promises they made about the GST or the Constitution.

I would say the Liberal Party's motto, when campaigning, is: "We are never too poor not to make promises". So the Liberals promise anything and, when in office, they forget their promises, telling themselves that they will certainly fool the people in the last six months by giving out grants, thinking that people will not remember anything.

In a big convention where they will get people together, they will give them free food and drinks, have a big party and get applauded for keeping 87 per cent of their promises. They will dare put on another big media event.

We know quite well that the Liberal Party's main promises have never been kept. The Liberal Party's distinctive feature is indeed to govern with the objective of remaining in office and-as the old people back home would say-to grease its friends' palms. This reform is a very small one. The amendment that is proposed to us could at least limit the damage.

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3:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important for me to get on the record concerning what is happening here today and to talk about some of the very reasoned amendments the Reform Party has put forward. I do not think there is anything here that is out in left or right field. Very serious ideas have been put forward by our party to try to improve this bill.

We hope the government is, even at this late hour, considering some of our proposals that we think would make the elections act better. They would also help all Canadians believe, understand and hope that the government is concerned about consensus and

consultation on something as important and non-partisan as the elections act.

I hope the government will consider and listen both here and in committee to the proposals we have brought forward. I think they have a lot of merit to them.

It is disappointing that the government uses time allocation at its first opportunity to push the bill through very quickly. Since it seems to be intent on doing that, it is really unfortunate because this type of legislation should be built on consultation, co-operation and an all-party consensus.

Therefore, first of all I have to voice my displeasure and concern that time allocation is being used again in the House. It is almost like the New York stock market; every day is a new record around here for the number of times the government has used time allocation. It has certainly been used far more than it was used under Mulroney. It is used routinely to put measures through the House when good planning could have obviated the necessity.

Mr. Kingsley, the chief electoral officer, brought forward this report back in March. It has been available to the House for months and months. Instead, it is dealing with the legislation at the 11th hour. It has to be rammed through in two days or else. It has to go to the Senate and be rammed through there and it has to come back.

The government has had this report from Mr. Kingsley for six or eight months. That is just poor House management. I do not know what the deputy House leader has to do with that, but he should take note that it should not be necessary to routinely use time allocation in the House.

Just two weeks ago we debated the speech from the throne because we had nothing else to talk about. Instead of debating issues of the day and having ample time to do it, we reverted back to the speech from the throne. Everybody droned on about something that is eight or ten months old that nobody cared about and there was no issue at hand, instead of debating important legislation. That is poor management and a disrespect to the House and to the work of members of Parliament.

Obviously I cannot restate that again except to say that it is very disappointing and very discouraging to those of us who thought that we would have ample time to debate serious subjects like this.

On the particular motion, there is some good logic why there should be notice given for byelection dates. The hon. member for Lethbridge, a man with as much experience in parliamentary affairs as the Prime Minister and with as many years in public office as anyone in the House, has pointed out the obvious need for fairness toward opposition and government parties alike.

The proposal is that opposition parties should be given notice of any byelection that may be coming up. It should not be dropped out of the blue. The opposition party does not have the inside track that the government has when it decides to choose its byelection dates.

If the number of days in the writ period are to be shortened and if someone resigns on the government side-of course this is well discussed behind the scenes and the government decides on a date-the members on the opposition side do not know it is coming. All of a sudden someone has been promoted to heaven, or the other place, as they like to call it here. They find they have a job for life and all the perks that go with that. I do not agree with that but it is another issue for another day.

It is particularly disturbing if it happens to be in a riding where opposition parties do not see it coming. Suddenly they find themselves scrambling to make up ground with only a 36-day period to do so. For example, a candidate may not have been chosen, or a war chest put together to fight that election. Sometimes a party's constitution requires several days' notice to get things up and running. It is very difficult for an opposition party to mount the campaign it should and which democracy demands. It should be a fair and unbiased election period.

I hope the government will listen to the amendment. Reform has put forward a couple of ideas. First, it should be a minimum 30-day period before the byelection could be held. Obviously that gives everybody the same writ period but at least everybody gets a little bit of notice. It has been Reform's longstanding belief that a byelection should be held a maximum of six months after a seat becomes vacant.

The way it is right the Prime Minister must call a byelection but he does not have to call it for six months. He has a year after that to call it. There could be people without representation in the House of Commons for 18 months. We have seen it happen before where a byelection is put off and put off. That is unfortunate for the democratic process where people are clamouring for a representative who no longer exists to do something for them in Parliament and they do not have that person there for them.

To be fair to the political parties there should be a 30-day waiting period if we are going to have a 36-day writ. A 30-day waiting period is the least we could ask for. I would hope the government would consider a six-month maximum so that people in this country are not without representatives for longer than six months. Surely six months is enough time to organize a byelection. If it can be done in 36 days surely it can be done in six months. Let us not play politics with the people's right to be represented. Let us let them have a seat here in the House and put a six month maximum on it.

There is a realm of reforms that could be considered in the whole elections act. Some are not covered here. Reform of course made quite a play for fixed election dates. The reason for that was so the government does not get the inside track, does not have an advantage that opposition parties do not have available to them. That includes many things, everything from contributions, to tax deductibility of the same and so on. There are many things that could still be and maybe should still be considered by the government in the months ahead.

On this motion I appeal to its sense of fairness. I hope the government has been listening to these debates and will look at what are very cogent arguments. We are trying to be reasonable and fair. From a majority government's point of view it is very important that it is fair because obviously it can ram through anything it wants.

I appeal to the government, its sense of fairness, to come our way on this one. Give us some of what we are asking in a sense of fairness. Perhaps then this time allocation pill which has been a very difficult one to swallow, will be somewhat easier to take if we see the government is serious about consultation, debate and compromise.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we debate today this bill on which, unfortunately, time allocation has been imposed at the final stage.

For our constituents who may be watching or listening in, a time allocation motion is a gag motion used by the government to preclude the opposition and the third party from using the time normally allocated to them in a parliamentary democracy to provide the people of Canada with information about the important issue of election organization, and party financing in particular.

I will address this first group of motions, stressing that, in our opinion, in byelections, the electoral period should remain 47 days. I will get right to the point, which is that we need enough time to raise public funds for byelections. I might add supporting arguments like the fact that some ridings cover very large areas. It is true in Quebec and other provinces. In fact, some ridings will be even larger come January because of the new electoral boundaries coming into effect. And to run a proper campaign worthy of being called democratic, more time is needed, given that the parties' information campaign cannot play the same role in a byelection as in a general election.

Coming back to the first point on my list, public financing, I can tell you that, as a matter of general policy, the federal government, the Liberal government, should have the courage to suggest public funding of political parties to Canadians. This is a proposal the Parti Quebecois and the Quebec premier had the courage to make to Quebecers in 1977-it was in fact the very first act passed by the PQ government-and one they are still congratulating themselves for. I might add that even the Quebec Liberal Party was revitalized by having to go door to door in an effort to raise funds other than large corporate donations, which is the whole point.

What does public financing of political parties mean? It means that political parties must not rely on large corporations for which donations of $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 are no big deal, especially when such donations mean that citizens whose interests run counter to those of these large corporations systematically find themselves at a disadvantage.

Indeed, the fact that the federal Liberal government did not include a clause providing for public funding of political parties flies in the face of the democratic principle "one person, one vote", each vote carrying the same weight in deciding the results of the election and giving all citizens the same influence on their members and their government.

Basically, what the federal government is telling us is that it plans to continue to seek donations from these major sources of capital. It plans to remain under their influence. We will continue to be influenced by these major financial backers.

Of course, businesses have interests and these interests are often jobs. However, their influence is already strong enough without having political parties totally surrender to these groups, whose interests are not those of the general public.

The Liberal Party meant to be liberal, in the broad sense of the term. However, it is rather conservative, if not very conservative, regarding this issue. What it is doing will tarnish and even undermine the real efforts made by candidates and by teams in every riding, when confronted to other teams and candidates who do not reject such funding.

The Bloc Quebecois is very proud of the fact that it got 54 candidates elected in Quebec, including a record number who got a majority of the total number of votes. It just so happens that the Bloc Quebecois unilaterally pledged to fund its campaign based on the Quebec legislation.

I know that, in other provinces, some candidates would really like to get elected with the concrete support of ordinary citizens, of people who contribute $5, $20 or, when they can afford to do so, $100 to exert their democratic influence. Indeed, I have often had discussions with members from the other side who would love to renew the democratic source of their funding. On this issue, no one from the other side can look at us in the eyes and say: "We are not influenced by major financial backers". No one can do that.

To be sure, we could, if we wanted, find government decisions that have been influenced not by citizens who voted according to a democratic process, not by organizations that invested time and effort in the riding, but by financial backers who went over everybody's head, who had easy access to ministers, and who were able to send the necessary signals to make sure their position was the one that prevailed.

You might wonder why we, the Bloc, wish the Canadian federation would improve its democracy. I am asking that question in front of you because the Canadian people deserves to have a system that works according to democratic rules rather than a system that pretends to give everyone a vote but that, actually, creates the conditions to allow a team to get in power and afterwards to act only according to the interests of major players who remain hidden while the electoral process goes on.

It is all the more so in the case of a byelection, when we need time to go about collecting funds. We of the Bloc, in particular, will continue to do this.

We want to have the time to do it. It might be useless for us to hope so, but we continue to hope that the voices will be so loud and so numerous on the government side that the government will end up adopting this practice, which is a minimum in a democracy.

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 6. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour will please say yea.

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4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

moved:

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-63, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 3 with the following:

"she is domiciled and to vote at the"

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4:10 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

moved:

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-63 be amended, in Clause 12, by replacing line 41 on page 4 with the following:

"referred to in subparagraph 71.011(a)(ii) or (iii). The"

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

moved:

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by adding after line 27 on page 10 the following:

"71.011(1) The Chief Electoral Officer shall endeavour to conclude agreements with provinces and territories that maintain permanent lists of electors and the agreements shall provide for the use of such lists by the Chief Electoral Officer.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, where the Chief Electoral Officer has entered into an agreement under subsection (1) for the use of a permanent list of electors, the Chief Electoral Officer shall, for the purposes of holding an election, use any lists obtained under such an agreement."

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4:10 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

moved:

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-63 be amended, in Clause 22 a ) by replacing line 32 on page 10 with the following:

"tion," b ) by replacing line 3 on page 11 with the following:

"Electors, or" c ) by adding after line 3 on page 11 the following:

"(iii) contained in an existing permanent voter's Register created according to provincial legislation and that the Chief Electoral Officer considers adequate for the purposes of section 71.011;"

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by deleting lines 16 to 38 on page 11.

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition has two motions in Group No. 5, the Reform Party has three. Our first motion, Motion No. 7, is to replace in the election legislation the notion of "résidence ordinaire" or "main residence" by that of "domicile".

We are giving the government the opportunity to flesh out the proposition it made following the referendum held on October 30, 1995. The government passed in this House a resolution to recognize in principle the distinctiveness of Quebec with regard to language, culture and civil law.

With the notion of "domicile", we are addressing the third characteristic of the distinct society of Quebec, since this is a civil law notion. In Quebec, we usually define "domicile" as the place where the voters have hearth and home, that is where they ordinarily reside.

However, the elections legislation does not use this civil law notion. It seems to me that we need to be consistent, here. Since the government took upon itself to recognize the distinctiveness of

Quebec right after the referendum, it could show it in some concrete way.

Since property and civil rights are defined in the British North America Act, 1867 as a provincial area of jurisdiction, pursuant to section 92(13), it would only be reasonable, at least where Quebec is concerned, since it availed itself of these provisions to develop its own Civil Code, that the notion of "domicile" be used as an eligibility requirement for voters, along with their age. Otherwise, we end up with nothing but wishful thinking expressed in November 1995 without any repercussions.

When drafting a bill for two nations that vote under a unique set of rules of law with different civil law principles, we must take into account the Canadian duality between Quebec's civil law and the common law of the English provinces, where the concept of main residence is very important.

Why impose concepts of common law to a province, which has had a civil law tradition since Confederation and even before, since Quebec's civil code, must I add, was approved by the Parliament of a united Canada the year before the federation was born in 1867?

Our civil code goes back to 1866. It was amended several times since, especially concerning matrimonial regimes. There were the great reforms of 1930-31 following the Dorion Report; the 1964 reforms concerning the community of property, where the husband, although he is the administrator of the community, had to have the consent of his spouse to continue administering the community, at least in general; and the 1970 reform of the matrimonial regimes provided for in the civil code.

From then on, the partnership of acquests became the legal regime in the civil code for spouses without a marriage contract. There were also, in the early 1980s, Bill 89, which was passed by the National Assembly, and the Loi sur le patrimoine familial , which was passed in the late 1980s. This new civil code maintains of course the general principles of French law which has always applied in Quebec.

So why would the government impose upon us legislation which is foreign to us under section 92(13)? Why would it force us to accept terms which have no basis in our legal system? The Fathers of Confederation recognized, in 1867, that Quebec was really a distinct society with regard to its civil law. That did not happen in October of November 1995. This duality in terms of civil law was recognized in 1867 in the founding legislation. Our electoral law must respect that.

We do not need an electoral law which uses the same words from coast to coast for the whole Dominion. The Dominion, in terms of civil law, is comprised of nine provinces that have a common law system and one province that has a civil law tradition, each system having its own merits, of course. We will not debate this any further. That was the first motion brought forward by the official opposition.

The second motion is Motion No. 11. It is just a little strange that we should have had to propose this amendment. This provision should have been in the bill from the outset. In fact, MotionsNos. 12 and 13 brought forward by the Reform Party, which are in the same group, essentially call for the same thing, namely that the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada be allowed to use provincial lists.

The same taxpayers pay for the lists of electors in the provinces, where the qualifications of electors are exactly the same, where the basic notions to have the right to vote are exactly the same, the notion of universal suffrage being applied everywhere in Canada. Yet, the bill before us today does not allow the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada to use provincial lists if the enumeration was conducted more than 12 months before the date on which such lists would be used.

In other words, in this connection, the bill could have said that Canada's chief electoral officer is not authorized to use Quebec's list, because the census used to create it was held in September 1995. The census used to create it will run out next May 1, at which time the list will be published, and the list will be as good as possible.

It will therefore be more than 12 months. It is already more than 12 months. The federal government will not be able to use this list, put together at a cost of several million dollars, because the legislator does not wish to recognize the quality of the list drawn up by Quebec's director general of elections. The government does not wish to assume its responsibilities with respect to this work and to legislation that is more forward looking than the federal legislation.

They tell us: "We have not checked the validity of the lists drawn up by Quebec. Quebec's lists are prepared for different polling divisions". These are logistical problems, computer problems.

If Quebec is able to use its permanent list for municipal elections in which the polling divisions are completely different, why is it not possible to use Quebec's provincial list for a federal election in which polling divisions are larger?

Let the computer experts work it out, but as a declaration of principle, I think it obvious that, in the interests of harmony, and also of economy, of the public money for which we are all accountable to our constituents, the broadest possible use of provincial lists should be permitted. I am not speaking only of Quebec's list. It could be Alberta's, or Prince Edward Island's, drawn up with the assistance of Elections Canada on top of that. It is rather strange to see electoral lists drawn up by Elections Canada

excluded from use in a federal election under the pretext that more than 12 months may have gone by.

The correction proposed in Bill C-63 at the committee stage is only a partial one, not allowing the use of the Quebec list of electors. In other words, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada will not be able to use the Quebec list of electors for the election of 75 members of this House.

I respectfully submit that the Bloc Quebecois amendment and the Reform Party amendment strongly resemble each other. Ours is more binding on the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, in that it requires him to attempt to conclude an agreement with the Director General of Elections of Quebec, whereas the Reform amendment does not go quite as far, requiring the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada to check that the provincial voter's register is adequate. If it is found to be adequate, he ought then to make use of it.

I sense that the hon. member for Calgary West is dying to explain his amendment. I shall therefore yield the floor to him, with your permission, Mr. Speaker.

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4:20 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak on Group No. 5 of the report stage motions relative to Bill C-63. As the hon. member for Bellechasse has noted, there are five motions in this group, three presented by the Reform Party and two by the Bloc Quebecois. They concern three subject matters, two of which I was going to address quickly but I think I will spend a bit of time on the first one, given some of the remarks by the hon. member for Bellechasse.

Motion No. 7 presented by the Bloc Quebecois is a very interesting one. It simply changes the wording in a particular section from "is ordinarily resident" to "is domiciled". As the member explained very well, this is a switch from terminology used in common law to terminology used in the Quebec civil code. At the same time I point to the change away from the terminology that is generally used in the Canada Elections Act, not just in this section but in other sections and also in the general communications of Elections Canada, to terminology more specific to the Quebec elections organization. It is a very interesting proposal and one which on the surface seems fairly trivial. We would tend to oppose it because we believe in keeping the terminology the way it is.

My colleague from the Bloc Quebecois made an interesting observation and I hope that Liberal members were listening to his intervention. He said that the change which he is seeking is consistent with the government's notion of the distinct society clause which was passed through the House late last year. It is important because this motion is really the tip of the iceberg. There are other motions, which I am sure we will have a chance to discuss today, in which the Bloc Quebecois is suggesting that large sections of elections law and the referendum act in Quebec would supersede, or give guidance to or even in the case of the one in question, have veto over federal legislation.

This may well be an accurate interpretation of the wording of the distinct society motion that this Parliament passed, to which the Reform Party was very much opposed. It shows the can of worms that the motion is opening.

Frankly, on a point like this, a reasonable accommodation could be made. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that where notions are virtually identical, in the English version of a federal law we could use common law terminology and in the French version we could use the civil code terminology. As long as the notions are more or less the same that would not create a problem.

However the member for Bellechasse, by proposing this motion and by justifying it the way he has, has raised the broader issue that is raised by the distinct society clause, that is, the idea that there would be a comprehensive special status for Quebec and that it would involve, even on something as important as elections law, a completely different relationship between the Government of Quebec and the Quebec elections office and the Government of Canada and the Canada elections office.

That is instructive because the distinct society clause has potential problems. The clause as passed by this House was very broad in application. It was worded very broadly.

The Reform Party-myself and the leader of the Reform Party-proposed an amendment to that motion which would have made it clear that this particular motion did not give additional powers to the Government of Quebec, did not circumscribe charter rights and did not grant any kind of status to Quebec which would allow it to claim sovereignty under international law. We proposed that in an amendment and it was rejected by the government.

Although I oppose this motion, the hon. member for Bellechasse has made a point which is consistent with the policy of the government. That is why the government should be rethinking its policy. I suspect that some day somebody will take these matters to court to suggest that the distinct society resolution has a wider impact on federal law than the government was previously willing to admit.

Those are my comments on Motion No. 7. I will move on to some of the motions which the Reform Party has proposed.

Motion No. 13 would delete from Bill C-63 the provision which would provide the voters list annually to sitting members of Parliament and registered political parties. We do not believe that is in the interests of voters nor is it necessary. We have said all along that in creating a register it should only have information which is either necessary or highly relevant and it should only be used for the explicit purposes for which it was created. In this case that is the holding of a federal general election or alternatively, the holding of other elections in other parts of the country where there

is co-operation with provincial, municipal and school board elections authorities.

This particular provision in the bill goes entirely against that. This provision basically says that the purpose of a register is not just for elections but for the ongoing political use by registered parties and sitting members of Parliament. It seems to me that is not appropriate. Certainly under the act there are uses for which this list is prescribed, but if there is wide circulation of these lists, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that they will be used for all kinds of purposes, both political and non-political.

An additional concern is why should this additional information be provided to incumbents? In several cases when we had discussions in committee-and I will not quote members by name because these were in camera discussions-we repeatedly raised our concerns with several elements of Bill C-63. A number of members repeatedly said that as an incumbent this information was useful to them which seemed to us, in the case of particular MPs and in the case of the government, to be missing the point.

The point is that the purpose of an elections list is not to provide proprietary information or give advantages to incumbents. That is not the purpose. In Reform's view, the provision of a list out of the register to MPs or to registered political parties every year is improper. That is not the purpose of the list.

The permanent register should help to provide lists for the purposes of elections at all levels of government across the country, not to political parties and not to MPs. Sitting MPs and political parties already have some of this data from previous elections and they can get it elsewhere. The purpose of this list is not for their general political marketing activities. It is important to make that point.

As the member for Bellechasse mentioned, both he and I have proposed motions dealing with a very similar subject. Reform Motions No. 8 and No. 12 and Bloc Motion No. 11 would allow the chief electoral officer of Canada to use elections lists from other registers that may exist in the country for the immediate purposes of avoiding a pre-election enumeration across the country which would be very costly.

I could go on at some length on this point. The particular approach in implementing this bill, having a pre-election enumeration before the next election to implement the shortened electoral period, is a quick way to start the register but potentially it is very expensive. The Reform Party has had some concerns about this. We suggested in committee that the government find ways of using recent enumerations or other electoral records as a way of avoiding a coast to coast enumeration.

The government did agree to some amendments in committee which would require the chief electoral officer to use lists where the enumeration has been conducted within the last year. In the case of Alberta and Prince Edward Island we will probably not be having pre-election enumerations in those provinces. There is an enumeration under way in Alberta as we speak. That represents a saving.

However the big provinces that are not captured by that amendment are Quebec and British Columbia. Quebec and British Columbia are developing permanent voters registers. The one in B.C. is in place and the one in Quebec will be in place soon. If they could be used prior to the next election for the purposes of assembling the register, it would obviously save an enormous amount of money. These are the second and third largest provinces. Together we are talking about roughly one-third of all the ridings in the country. It would be a very significant adjustment if this could be made.

All the Reform Party and Bloc amendments would allow would be for the chief electoral officer to have the option of using those lists. That option is not provided in the bill now. It is true, as many on the government side have pointed out, that there are some technical problems with incorporating these lists. It is also true that in the time frame the government has given itself, which is the end of April, it would be impossible to use those lists, certainly in the case of Quebec.

What that tells us is that the government should be rethinking this approach. It should be looking at an approach which at least allows these lists to be used in the first place by the chief electoral officer and then looking at the time line, not bringing this system in until later in the year in a way that would allow the technical obstacles to be overcome. The cost saving would be absolutely enormous.

It would also be far more consistent with the scenarios that were originally laid out before the procedure and House affairs committee when draft legislation on this subject was first reviewed. It is important to point out that when the government originally came to the Reform Party and to the other opposition parties with the proposal for a 36 day campaign, the scenarios it laid out did not foresee the implementation of a 36 day campaign and a permanent register until at least a year after the legislation had been adopted.

The scenario presented to us in this bill came about at the last minute. We only became aware of it after the bill was tabled in the House. The scenario here is very different from the scenario we agreed to.

I understand why the government wants to hurry this process. However, in hurrying this process and with the particular constraints it has provided for itself, the government has created a situation where the implementation will actually be significantly more costly at the outset rather than saving money. We know there are savings in the long run but we can minimize the initial costs by proceeding in a way that captures every province that can be captured. Obviously if we do it in April we will not capture British Columbia or Quebec. If we do it later, we have that option.

In any case, the bill should be amended so that the chief electoral officer at least has the option of considering usage of those lists if circumstances are fortuitous for him.

The Bloc Quebecois amendment differs from our amendment in one respect which I think was already mentioned by the hon. member for Bellechasse. The difference is that the Bloc amendment has a somewhat more constraining tone to it on the chief electoral officer than ours. I believe that to be true.

We understand the constraints of the chief electoral officer. He wants to make sure that we pursue implementation of the register with a minimum of risk to the integrity of the voting process and the integrity of the compilation process. We understand that is the case and we support him in that. Therefore, we want to give him a great deal of latitude on this and the Bloc wants to give a little less. Our position on this is somewhat more moderate and I would say in concluding it is because we are such a moderate party at heart.

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4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, at the report stage and more specifically to Group No. 5 and Motion No. 11 standing in the name of the hon. member for Bellechasse.

I fully support his motion to the effect that there should be an endeavour to conclude agreements between the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and his provincial counterparts, and especially with Quebec's director general of elections, on the use of lists of electors.

I shall, if I may, add some general comments on this bill. This is my first chance to speak in the debate on Bill C-63.

The bill will make it possible to establish a permanent register of electors and would set the minimum duration of a federal election campaign at 36 days. The computerized register of electors will be established from information collected by means of an enumeration held outside of an electoral period, probably in the spring of 1997.

A preliminary list will be distributed within five days of issuing the writ for the next election. The lists will be used in other, subsequent consultations. The election campaign will therefore last a minimum of 36 days instead of 47, which is the case today.

Let us take a brief look at the history of the federal electoral legislation we are about to amend. On October 27, 1964, the federal government appointed an advisory committee headed by Alphonse Barbeau, with a mandate to inquire into the limitation and control of election expenses incurred during federal elections.

In its report, the Barbeau committee recommended as follows: one, political parties should be legally recognized; two, a degree of financial equality should be established among candidates and among political parties; three, an effort should be made to increase public participation in politics through tax concessions to donors; four, costs of election campaigns should be reduced, by shortening the campaign period, by placing limitations on expenditures by candidates and parties, and by prohibiting the payment of poll workers on election day; five, public confidence in political financing should be strengthened, by requiring candidates and parties to disclose their incomes and expenditures; six, a registry should be established to audit and publish the financial reports required, and to enforce the provisions of the proposed "Election and Political Finances Act"; seven, miscellaneous amendments to broadcasting legislation should be enacted to improve the political communications field.

These recommendations were implemented at the time of the reform of the electoral act in 1974, which included the following basic principles: first, a limitation of candidates' expenses; second, the publication of contributions to and the expenses of all political parties; third, the encouragement of individuals' participation through the according of tax credits for political contributions and government funding of political parties. These fundamental principles continue to underlie the federal electoral act and remain in effect.

At the end of the 1980s, the Conservative government set up the Lortie commission to review the Canada Elections Act. In its 1991 report, the commission refused to go along with the real and truly democratic funding of political parties.

Current federal regulations do not cover nomination campaigns, leadership campaigns, candidates' political activities prior to elections, party trust funds, most riding association activities and the activities of interest groups during campaigns.

Big business is the major contributor to the traditional political parties and has the greatest influence on government.

I have here a list of contributions to the Liberal Party of Canada's campaign fund in 1993. The list of contributors includes all the major companies and banks in Canada. The Bank of Montreal, for example, contributed $94,000; the Royal Bank, $88,000; the Toronto Dominion Bank, $80,000; SCN-Lavalin, $73,000; Bombardier, $49,994; Labatt, $62,000; Air Canada, $30,000; Nova Corporation of Alberta, $50,000, and so forth.

This really shows the influence of companies on policies of a government, of a political party. Today, the Liberal Party is funded in large part by big business, by the major banks, in Canada, and cannot therefore act in the interests of ordinary people, being too much influenced already by these political contributions.

Passed in 1977, under Premier René Lévesque, the Quebec Elections Bill provides that only an individual, not a company, can make a contribution. This legislation eliminates the political influence that some vested interest groups could have. Obviously, the objectives of those vested interest groups are more to change the thrust of public policy than to allow a political party whose ideology is close to that of a member of those groups to get into power, to stay in power.

The Quebec Elections Bill limits contributions to $3,000 per year, per elector. It is the director general of elections of Quebec who monitors the election expenses of political parties. Also, the official representative of each party must file a yearly financial report with the director general. This report is in the public domain.

Bill C-63 draws on the report of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, that is the Lortie Commission. This bill also draws on the recommendations of the chief electoral officer of Canada.

The permanent list of electors will abolish the need for the door to door census we previously had to do before each election. Thanks to that list, and the shorter electoral period, the country will save $30 million on each election.

Finally I would like to say I condemn the government for resorting to patronage when dealing with the election of the returning officers. Nearly all the officers have been replaced in Quebec, even though the chief electoral officer had said some of the returning officers should stay.

Once again, I suggest that these returning officers should be appointed by the chief electoral officer, following a competition, just like public servants. For all those reasons, I have some great reservations about Bill C-63 and I think I will vote against it.

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4:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the most interesting things in coming to this House is taking a look at the amount of discussion there is over issues that on the surface would appear to be rather arcane, even bordering on meaningless. Certainly those who may be watching this on TV would ask why members are going on and on about the elections act and all of its details.

In fact this bill is possibly one of the most important bills that the House will consider. After all, we live in a democracy. The democratic process is one in which the people of any country have the opportunity to choose those who are going to be representing them, their views and their wishes, in a Chamber such as this where the laws the land will be enacted and some will be repealed. This place should reflect the values of Canada. That is what this Chamber is all about.

If we do not take great care and if we do not have great precision in the way we construct the way in which members of this Chamber will be elected to represent the people of Canada, then we end up with things out of balance. We then end up with things in our society that simply cannot be changed because there is a higher power than this Chamber. And indeed there should never be.

In parenthesis I think of the situation in Belarus at this moment, where it is my understanding that the president of that country who was elected two years ago, has been requesting, demanding in fact, and is holding a referendum on whether he should be given more and more autocratic power which of course is the exact opposite of what a democracy is all about.

We took time, care and precision on coming to this bill. I have been encouraged by the reports I have received from the member for Calgary North who is very capably representing the point of view of our party in this debate. I have been encouraged by him to understand that there are provisions which we have proposed in goodwill to the government and that the government, as we speak, is giving serious consideration to supporting those amendments that would improve the bill.

In a previous intervention I said that we spend a lot of time in the House and sometimes end up in very aggressive partisan positions. The bill should reflect less partisanship and what we consider to be the best interests of the people of Canada.

Reform Motion No. 13 would delete the part of Bill C-63 that provides for the annual provision of voters' lists to MPs and parties. The Reform Party do not believe this is in the best interests of or for the benefit of the voters.

I draw the attention of the House to this because it seems to me that the purpose of and the use of voters' lists are very restricted. To step outside of those prescribed uses is an illegal act. Unless someone is going to break the law and step outside the prescribed purposes of the list, what would the value of the lists be?

I am not looking at it so much from the point of view of the cost of the preparation and distribution of the lists, which would probably be in the millions of dollars and is an important issue. I am more concerned about the actual value of those lists. If they are going to be provided to MPs and their parties, what is the actual value of the lists if they are not going to be used to the advantage of the incumbents, or at the very least, as a marketing tool for the political parties? I ask what is the relevance of these lists?

I have said that I do not want to be partisan, but again I am going to step away from that for a second. Being the heritage critic I am familiar with what is presently going on in the distribution of the flags under the encouragement of the heritage minister. It has been particularly interesting the number of people who have contacted my office knowing that my party is concerned about the fact that there will be approximately $23 million spent on the distribution of these flags all across Canada. People have recognized that it is a touchy, feel good thing by the heritage minister that will not accomplish anything. However, some things have been happening that have given me cause for concern.

When the heritage minister was trying to authenticate the reasons why the Reforms members who had helped their constituents get flags was doing an awful thing, she would stand in the House and recite on a riding by riding basis how many flags went to a given riding. If the heritage department can prepare lists on a riding by riding basis, surely that list in turn can give the name and address of where a flag was shipped.

If that information can appear in the heritage minister's hands, it could undoubtedly appear on the desk of any member of Parliament. Presumably the people who would be most interested in this initiative would be Liberal MPs. That gives us an idea of how quickly this information could potentially be misused when the government of the day uses the Canadian flag as a tool to get a list of people. The documents going out to those people are signed by members of Parliament. Of course, the individuals who ordered the flags have never or seldom been in contact with those members of Parliament.

With respect to motion No. 13 I ask the question of Liberal members: Although we know that the provisions of the bill purposely restrict the use of the names and the information on the list and although we know that the breaking of those restrictions is an illegal act, would we not be safe in assuming that someone somewhere would end up using that list for purposes that are outside the prescribed uses of the list?

I ask the people of Canada to think about this. If that list is going to be circulated to incumbent members of Parliament and to parties between elections and, supposedly, those people are not supposed to be using the list, then why are we doing it? What is the purpose of doing it in the first place?

Motion No. 12 would permit the use of existing permanent voters' lists in B.C. and Quebec. Again we look at the timeframe issue which the hon. member for Calgary West mentioned.

The government, for reasons best known to itself, has decided to accelerate this process. It allowed only two weeks for this bill to be in committee. The House was not sitting during one of those weeks. That gives us the idea that maybe there is an agenda.

If we permit the use of existing voters' lists in B.C. and Quebec, which would reflect, as my colleague has said, one-third of the electors of the country, even if we could not meet the arbitrary deadline that has been established by the Liberals to rush Bill C-63 through, with the acceptance of motion No. 12 the expanded timeframe would give Elections Canada the opportunity to become involved in saving a tremendous amount of money by merging the two lists. It only makes sense to merge the lists, not only at the federal level but also at the provincial, municipal and regional district levels.

Motion No. 11 was proposed by the Bloc. That motion is very similar to our motion No. 12 which I just described. The difference is that it would call for the mandatory use of these lists. We are proposing that there be more discretion permitted on the part of the federal electoral officer.

I appreciate the opportunity to be able to make these interventions. For the people who are interested in this debate, I hope they realize that as we grind our way through, this is a very important bill which has to do with the very foundation of our democratic process in Canada.

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5 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to congratulate the Bloc Quebecois member, the member for Bellechasse, for his excellent job on the committee that reviewed the bill.

I think the member for Bellechasse did his very best to improve the bill, to bring it up to par with the elections bill we have had in Quebec for several years now, which provides for a fairer and level playing field when election time comes around.

The member for Bellechasse attempted to show that the time had come for the government to modernize this act. The time had come to have a less costly act, an act putting a limit on the political

influence some pressure groups have on the government. The time had come-I would like everyone to listen because this is very important-for the government to put a ceiling on contributions. The time had come to demand more transparency. Unfortunately, we see none of that in the bill.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government opposite made no change whatsoever. As always, it has hung on to its bad old habits. This means that corporations will still be allowed to contribute thousands of dollars. Pressure groups will also be allowed to contribute money. After the elections, they will have their hands tied, as is usually the case in these parts.

There is this old saying the Bloc Quebecois likes to quote: "Tell me who is funding you and I will tell you who you work for". Unfortunately when a company contributes, as mentioned earlier-the member for Bourassa listed the companies that contributed $50,000 and $60,000 to the Liberal government opposite-obviously it expects something in return. This might be why, from time to time, we end up with policies which make no sense whatsoever.

This might be why the government adopts policies benefitting pressure groups, as was clearly the case with the Pearson deal. Regularly, in this place, we ask ourselves the following question: "What does it mean when the government proposes such things?" Perhaps we should check to see if a stockholder or a person who holds some position in the lobby group has given or is still giving large amounts of money to the Liberal government so that it can govern the way that group wishes. This is rather appalling in a democratic system.

The government had an opportunity to bring about some changes in this regard, to put more transparency in this. But no, it failed again. The government had an opportunity to give some meaning to a certain motion on distinct society that was passed in this House, and, in that piece of legislation, to give Quebec some additional powers.

I know that, in the group of motions we are now examining, there is the whole issue of "residence" and "domicile". For the information of the Speaker and our viewers, I will read the motion that was tabled on November 29, 1995 by the Prime Minister himself. We are about to celebrate the first anniversary of that motion. It will not be a celebration for us, Quebecers, but only a date to forget as quickly as possible. I want you to be aware that, since that date, November 29, 1995, nothing has changed. The Liberal government is not even able to draft a piece of legislation that would be quite easy to prepare to give more power to Quebec, in connection with the motion that was passed.

That motion read as follows:

Whereas the People of Quebec have expressed the desire for recognition of Quebec's distinct society;

(1) the House recognize that Quebec is a distinct society within Canada;

(2) the House recognize that Quebec's distinct society includes its French-speaking majority, unique culture and civil law tradition;

This is extremely important for what I will be saying now.

(3) the House undertake to be guided by this reality;

(4) the House encourage all components of the legislative and executive branches of government to take note of this recognition and be guided in their conduct accordingly.

This means that in a piece of legislation similar to the one before us, this motion was worth something. If the government motion tabled on November 29, 1995, meant anything, some of its key elements should be reflected in Bill C-63 we are now debating. Most importantly, if Quebec's distinct status was indeed recognized, it would have been recognized in this bill by providing, among other things, for a minimum 25 per cent representation for Quebec, but there is no such thing in there.

As for the specific group of motions we are considering, its effect on the bill would be to explicitly recognize the fact that, in civil law, the concept of residence has no meaning. The bill would state that, in Quebec, the place of residence would be referred to as suggested by the hon. member for Bellechasse in his proposed amendment. The words "she is ordinarily resident" could be replaced with "she is domiciled and to vote at the" local polling station. I think this would be a minor change, a very small thing really.

If the government stood by its own position and the motion to recognize Quebec as a distinct society meant anything, the official opposition, represented by a Bloc member, would not have had to impress this upon the government. The government would have automatically acted in accordance with civil law, as clearly stated in the motion, which insists that organizations act this way.

But instead, a very important aspect of Quebec's civil law, the concept of domicile or place of residence, is ignored. I hope the government understands. I hope they will have second thoughts about this amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, although this seldom happens in the House, and eventually decide to vote for the amendment so that the word "domicile" can be used, making this the main point to consider in clause 6 of Bill C-63 amending section 53 of the Canada Elections Act.

I could argue on and on about this. I will limit my comments to the group of motions before us, Group No. 5. Another major point is the permanent voters list. To effect savings, why not provide in the bill some mechanism allowing the use of the permanent list

maintained by Quebec and other provinces, as proposed by the hon. member for Bellechasse in Motion No. 11?

Why have federal officials create a whole new list when Quebec already has one. Quebec has paid for this work to be done. I do not accept that it is not up to date. If my information is correct, it will be on May 1. In any case, the federal government will not start work on its own list before April. We could wait for the permanent list from Quebec and other provinces where such a mechanism exists.

Just think of the money we would save. The Minister of Finance is trying to save billions in welfare and unemployment costs. This is an ideal way to save money by capitalizing on work already done, and excellently done as far as Quebec's director general of elections is concerned.

Why not accommodate this request from the official opposition? It is very simple, there are only two minor amendments. If the government wanted to be sincere in its sincere approach, and to give effect to certain things it has already passed, it would give in and approve the amendments moved by my colleague from Bellechasse.

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5:10 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak again on amendments to the Canada Elections Act.

In this group of amendments there are two basic principles that we are talking about; first, the principle of utilizing voters lists at the provincial level and permanent lists which are available to us so that we can better identify the constituents who would be on the federal list. The idea here is certainly the cost savings that would come about because of that.

The second principle we are looking at is the matter of whether we should provide voters lists to constituencies on an annual basis. We ask why we should do that.

The Reform Party has moved an amendment saying that there does not seem to be a good purpose and therefore we should eliminate this provision in the act as suggested by the government for annual distribution of updated voters lists to the registered political parties.

In terms of the B.C. and Quebec voters lists that could be available and may be available so that they can be used as the federal list, we should think first of all of the savings that could occur. If we look at the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Prince Edward Island, just those four lists, some 45 per cent of Canadian voters would be on a voters list if we used the current lists that are available at the provincial level.

The committee that studied this, and this comes as well from the electoral officer, said that if we had a permanent voters list in Canada we would save something like $14 million. So we are looking at the subsequent election, the one after the one in the spring of 1997, to save $14 million.

If we could use the lists from the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and Prince Edward Island, about 45 per cent of the population of Canada, we could save 45 per cent of $14 million in the upcoming election, in the 1997 election.

We have said a number of times in this House that is most likely when the government is going to call the election. It should tell us about that rather than keep hiding it. It should tell us that in the spring of 1997 there will be an election and then we would all be able to prepare accordingly. There could be a saving over $10 million if those four lists were used.

After a presentation by my colleague from Calgary, the government has agreed to use the lists from Alberta and Prince Edward Island. Now we are saying let us add two more, from British Columbia and Quebec, and do everything we can to make sure those are added to the permanent voters list of Canada. Look at the savings. I think that in itself would merit the support of the House of Commons for the amendment as suggested.

I think that is the strongest argument. The information is available. Why not use it accordingly?

If we look at the other amendment before us in terms of the voters list being distributed annually, I in my greatest imagination cannot understand why the government would want to facilitate the distribution of a voters list annually to all the constituencies in Canada and as well to every registered political party across this nation. What good use is there for that list in the years between one election and the next? Its primary purpose is to list people who are eligible to vote in an election.

We all know that during an election period candidates use the list for campaign purposes. That is legitimate. It is used in a variety of creative ways to communicate with voters encouraging them to support one party and not to support the other parties in the race. That is what it is all about.

Candidates have to communicate with the voters in some format. Some candidates have the facility and the time to phone thousands through the voters' lists. During that period the candidate is able to make the calls that are necessary and communicate their attitudes and their ideas. That is for a good and reasonable purpose.

What about in between an election date and the dropping of the subsequent writ? What could happen during that period of time? It is true we could have these election lists available to all political parties. The Reform, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and the Progressive Conservatives, if they have adequate people to do this, could do mail outs from the lists.

What is the purpose and why would this list be provided at thousands and thousands of dollars in cost? I know from practical experience over the years most of the lists would sit on the shelf and never be used at all. Out of the some 301 seats that will exist in Parliament after the next election, I am sure if one constituency out of the 301 uses the lists in between elections in any practical way or any way that is of value to the constituents that would be a miracle in itself. I do not see that at all.

If a constituency could come up with a good reason to use the list between the election date and the dropping of the next writ then I suggest that rather than produce these lists in a mass way that we should look at an option. The option is that a member, having some desire to use the list annually to communicate with his or her constituents, put money up front and pay the basic cost for the production of that list.

If it costs the Elections Canada office $1,000, $2,000, $5,000 or whatever the cost to produce the list, it should be done at cost. Elections Canada should not make a profit. Then that member should send a cheque to Elections Canada and say why and for what purpose that member would like a list of electors. The member could enclose a cheque for $1,000 or $5,000, whatever is established by Elections Canada. Elections Canada could transfer either the list or software to the member of Parliament at that point. I believe that would be adequate and look after some special need that I cannot think of at the present time. That would certainly serve the purpose.

Failing to amend the legislation in that light, if the government just leaves it as it is at the present where it says every year we turn the crank and an updated list is sent to every constituency in Canada, to me that is not good enough. I would have to vote against that kind of provision in the act. We should deal with the issue now. We should amend it so that no lists are provided between the date of the election and the dropping of the next writ, or we should make a provision in the act whereby a constituency, if necessary, can cite a good reason and purchase the list at cost from Elections Canada. That would satisfy the need of those kinds of persons.

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5:20 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I have been listening with great interest to certain aspects of this debate. It might be helpful to put a few of my points of view on the record, particularly to let my colleagues in the opposition know that there is still some interest in some of the issues they have raised.

Things are not cast in stone. They obviously are not black and white. We are trying to develop a consensus. We continue to welcome the interventions of both opposition parties, particularly by the members who participated in the debate at the committee stage.

In principle I have a great deal of sympathy for the point of view expressed by my colleague from Calgary West relating to the byelection campaign period. There may be some way to make some accommodation on that matter as the days progress. I note that byelections are covered by the Parliament of Canada Act, not this act as my hon. colleague knows. That act is not being debated at the moment.

The motion in the name of my colleague from Bellechasse in this group talks about the concept of domicile. As my hon. colleague knows, the concept of domicile is not found in the Canada Elections Act. The entitlement to vote in a federal election is in part based on the fact of being ordinarily resident in a polling division. The term ordinary resident is fully defined in sections 56 to 62 of the Canada Elections Act.

I was pleased to hear several members opposite say that in principle they supported the establishment of a register. All parties have had a consensus that a register makes a lot of sense for a modern Canadian democracy that is evolving. It is a much more efficient way and a cost effective way. I hope over the course of several electoral events that dozens or tens of millions of dollars will be saved by the establishment of a registry.

I listened with great interest to the comments made by the House leader for the Reform Party. It is important for the record to show that the reason the Alberta and Prince Edward Island lists were considered to be more consistent with this legislation was based on the freshness of information that was coming from both of those electoral districts.

It is important to remember that while the British Columbia and Quebec lists may very well work, unfortunately due to the time frame of when this bill would come into force, presuming it receives approval in the other place, the information that would be on the British Columbia and Quebec lists would not be as fresh. The best information when the officials were at the procedure and House affairs committee was that the quality of the information would be less than perfect.

It was for that reason the government felt that the Alberta list and the Prince Edward Island list would be appropriate. It is not inconsistent to establish a federal registry by using provincial lists. I have agreed with that point of view all along. There can be some significant cost savings at the provincial level and even at the municipal level, depending on which region of the country is able to use the federal registry.

We want to build the first federal register with the most current voter information. This is why we will only use provincial lists that have been completed through a door to door enumeration within the last 12 months of the date of the last federal enumeration.

Therefore, while I understand the points of view that have been raised by my hon. colleagues, for the record I wanted to draw that to everyone's attention.

Motion No. 9, moved my hon. colleague from Bellechasse, makes it mandatory for incarcerated electors to provide their names, sex and date of birth. It is important to acknowledge that in Canada we have a system of voluntary registration. Bill C-63 is based on the principle that electors voluntarily would provide that information. Therefore, there is no mandatory obligation to provide that in the bill. I want to offer that comment to the motion of my hon. colleague.

Motion No. 10 is moved by the hon. member for Calgary West. Once again I want to draw the House's attention to the fact that the privacy commissioner and the chief electoral officer have informed the procedure and House affairs committee that gender information is useful as an administrative identifier for electors who have names that are common to both sexes. Obviously in French and English we can all think of names that may be somewhat confusing from a gender point of view.

It is also important to mention that the privacy commissioner did not see the voluntary collection of privacy information as a significant issue as it relates to gender and did not recommend it.

My hon. colleague from Kootenay East has made a very strong case for that. Again, at this point in the day, I want to acknowledge the points of view that he has raised, particularly as it relates to the security and privacy of women. No one would argue with the member for Kootenay East due to his size or his sex, but other people may feel a little intimidated. However, I want to tell my hon. colleague that we have been listening very carefully and if there are ways that we can consider some accommodation we are still open to it at this point.

The maintenance of the federal registry is something that I believe is also contained in Motions Nos. 12 and 13. The use of the federal list is also contained there. I want to once again remind my hon. colleagues that what we are trying to do with this legislation is to ensure that Canadians have the most modern and most current information before them. The best information, as it has been presented by the officials at Elections Canada, is information that is brought forward on a 12-month basis.

Therefore, it is not to try to prejudice any particular group in the country. I notice that both British Columbia and Quebec would find their lists not as current as Alberta and Prince Edward Island. It was for that reason that the government moved in that direction.

I believe that sums up some of the comments I wish to contribute to the debate. I thank my hon. colleagues and ask for their patience as the days move forward on this important matter, amendments to Bill C-63.

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Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

Madam Speaker, unless I am mistaken, the list in question will not be used for the next election, but for the following one, which is a number of years away, probably seven or so.

The feeling of urgency expressed by the member opposite makes me wonder somewhat. It is as though he wants to justify the fact that election lists made by the provinces, including the state of Quebec, are not being used. The member sounds like he wants to eliminate or avoid the use of these lists when he says that they will not be ready for the next election. However, this is not the issue. This is not the object of the legislation before us. We are talking seven years down the road.

In all fairness, the hon. member opposite should consider using provincial lists to ensure a better use of public moneys. We keep talking about avoiding duplication. Here is an excellent opportunity to do things right, because we have the time to do so. We have several years ahead of us to set up a fair system.

You will agree with me that this is not a list that Quebec will be able to use in the context of a federal election, given that, seven years from now, our province will likely have become a sovereign state. Still, the arguments raised by Reform Party members make sense. Indeed, whether we are talking about the Canada of today or the Canada of tomorrow, it makes sense to make better use of public moneys. Therefore, we should immediately start planning to use provincial lists.

This brings me to make a comment. You will recall that, in Quebec, we experienced certain problems. For example, on a number of occasions, residents from another province voted in Quebec by using their secondary residence, a cottage or what have you, or some other scheme.

If there was only one list and only one source of data within each province, this kind of double residency status that allows a person to vote in two different jurisdictions would no longer exist. I imagine that if these things happen in Quebec with out of the province residents, they must also occur in other provinces.

So, while the issue of a single list is first and foremost a matter of making good use of public moneys, it also ensures having reliable information. With two lists and two sets of data, consistency will be a challenge. But if we have only one list and specified, well identified data sources, a higher level of integrity will be possible, and it will be that much easier to monitor and maintain that integrity in our list.

It is a better solution from all points of view. Not only costs will reduced, but we will also have a better quality list. The process the government party is suggesting has two flaws.

Expenses will be duplicated. Surely, we cannot afford to spend money we do not have, especially if expenses are duplicated. Furthermore we will end up with lists whose integrity will never be assured. In fact we are quite certain their integrity will not be adequate. Comparisons will be made between both lists and inconsistencies will remain.

In this House today, we have an opportunity to implement a smarter process that will save taxpayer dollars. The Canadian list will be made up from provincial lists, and the level of integrity will be extremely high.

I repeat that Quebec will probably never have to use such a list, but I think that, at this time, this is what should be done out of respect for taxpayers who pay for government operations. This is a golden opportunity to use cautiously taxpayer dollars, reduce costs, and in the process, get more for our money. Opposition parties are fully playing their role of looking after the public interest.

I cannot understand why the government party seems to think or rather insists that provincial guarantees are inadequate. It is deliberately ignoring better solutions, and refusing co-operation and a better use of taxpayer dollars.

I cannot understand why. It is really strange. You will pardon my persistence, but I will ask once more the government party to reconsider. This list will be used seven years from now. It seems to me we have all the time we need to do things correctly, and I cannot understand why we should not do it. In conclusion, I hope the wisdom that prevails in opposition parties will also prevail in the government party.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is the House ready for the question?

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Some hon. members

Question.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The question is on Motion No. 7, group 5. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Some hon. members

No.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the proposed motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 8. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

A recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The recorded division will also apply to Motion No. 12.

The next question is on Motion No. 11. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 13. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Some hon. members

No.

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5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

We will now proceed to Group No. 6.

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5:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

moved:

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 23 on page 33 the following new Clause:

"64. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 301:

301.1 Chapter II of Title III of the Quebec Election Act applies to this Act, with such modifications as the circumstances require."

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 27 on page 38 the following new Clause:

"86.1. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 331:

  1. (1) Before an amendment to this Act is passed, the Governor in Council shall table a draft Bill in the House of Commons.

(2) Within sixty days after the draft Bill is tabled, the Governor in Council shall consult the recognized political parties in the House of Commons."

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-63, in Clause 87, be amended by deleting lines 5 and 6 on page 39.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-63, in Clause 88, be amended by replacing lines 5 and 6 on page 40 with the following:

"88. Section 4 of the Referendum Act is replaced by the following:

  1. No proclamation may be issued a ) when the House of Commons stands dissolved; or b ) before, or more than forty-five days after, the text of the referendum question has been approved under section 5 or 5.1.

  2. Sections 8 and 9 of the Act are repealed."

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-63, in Clause 89, be amended by replacing lines 7 and 8 on page 40 with the following:

"89. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 5:

5.1 (1) A referendum question shall be approved by a majority of the provinces that includes a ) Ontario; b ) Quebec; c ) British Columbia; d ) two or more of the Atlantic provinces that have, according to the then latest general census, combined populations of at least fifty per cent of the population of all the Atlantic provinces; and e ) two or more of the Prairie provinces that have, according to the then latest general census, combined populations of at least fifty per cent of the population of all the Prairie provinces.

(2) In this section,

"Atlantic provinces" means the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland;

"Prairie provinces" means the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta."

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 14 on page 40 the following new Clause:

"91. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 16:

16.1(1) Chapter II of Title III of the Quebec Election Act (financing of political parties) applies to this Act, with such modifications as the circumstances require.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a reference to "party" in the Quebec Election Act shall be read as a reference to "referendum committee"."

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-63, in Clause 92, be amended by replacing line 28 on page 40 with the following:

"before it are replaced by the following:

  1. (1) The Government of Canada shall not give effect to a vote on a referendum question or take any action whatsoever with respect to that vote unless a majority of the legislatures of the provinces have first given their consent, and this majority shall include a ) Ontario; b ) Quebec; c ) British Columbia; d ) two or more of the Atlantic provinces that have, according to the then latest general census, combined populations of at least fifty per cent of the population of all the Atlantic provinces; and e ) two or more of the Prairie provinces that have, according to the then latest general census, combined populations of at least fifty per cent of the population of all the Prairie provinces.

(2) In this section,

"Atlantic provinces" means the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland;

"Prairie provinces" means the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta."

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 28 on page 40 the following new Clause:

"93. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 39:

39.1(1) The provisions of an Act of a legislature respecting a referendum or referendums prevail over any inconsistent provisions in this Act.

(2) Where the result of a referendum held under an Act of a legislature respecting a referendum or referendums differs from the result of a referendum held under this Act, the result obtained under the Act of the legislature shall prevail."

Madam Speaker, since there are eight motions in this group, I will call upon the generosity of my colleagues to speak on items that I will certainly overlook. A little earlier, my colleague from Calgary West gave an interesting and intelligent speech on the concept of distinct society.

If there is one thing we can be sure of when the hon. member for Calgary West addresses a problem, it is that he will ask the real question. There were no false pretence or political dodging when he spoke on the concept of distinct society and on what it could represent.

The first intrinsic notion we refer to when we speak of a distinct society is the one outlined in the 1987 Meech Lake agreement. What was this notion of distinct society? It was a clause that would have been entrenched in the Canadian Constitution affirming the distinct nature of Quebec. This clause in the Constitution would have had precedence over the distribution of powers between the federal government and the provinces. Any interpretation of the Constitution would have taken into account the notion that Quebec is a distinct society.

This has nothing to do with the unfortunate motion mentioned earlier by the hon. member for Berthier-Montcalm and passed by a majority in this House on November 29, 1995, as part of an exercise in wishful thinking on the recognition of distinct society. We see today that even the bill now before us does not reflect the civil law concept of domicile. We must take these things into account.

But the concept of distinct society is everywhere in this group of motions. What do we want to do? First, we want the Canada Elections Act to contain provisions similar to those in the Quebec Elections Act on the financing of political parties to be sure that, at the federal level as in Quebec, only eligible voters can fund political parties. We want to ensure that large and small corporations, unions, and lobby groups can no longer legally fund political parties.

The chief electoral officer of Quebec, Pierre F. Côté, when he appeared before the House Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, had given a clear answer to the hon. member for Calgary West. What is important in Quebec's election bill is to define properly what we want. Shall it be one person one vote, or one buck one vote?

In Quebec, in the last 20 years-it will be 20 years next year-all governments have respected a principle now well established in Quebec's political custom, a principle according which no corporation, union or pressure group can provide funding for a political party. Only an eligible voter can do it, to a maximum of $3,000, according to Quebec's laws.

It took some courage for a newly elected government to undertyake such a reform, in 1977, because it is not easy to organize funding by the population, to go and visit your constituents week after week, to ask them how they judge your performance, to ask them also to support you financially.

The recall procedure, for the Bloc Quebecois as well as other Quebec political parties, is a year-long process because you sound out your constituents quite well when you ask them one by one to contribute $20, $50 or $100, and not $60,000, like the hon. member for Bourassa mentioned earlier.

You would need 600 constituents contributing $100 each to equal a big $60,000 cheque donated by a company. It is much easier. But then debts can be called in. It is a lot more difficult for a political party to say no to someone who donated heavily to its campaign fund than to someone who made more modest contributions. This is the purpose of one of our amendments.

We have moved that amendment to avoid the sort of hurried debates we are having today, where the only consultations there were were made at the last minute and where everyone is running about every which way to see if it would not possible to obtain an eleventh hour concession that could make the bill acceptable and save a few clauses with cosmetic changes, when in fact the whole process was flawed from the start and Elections Canada and the government ventured dangerously close to conflict of interest, if they did not actually have one.

If the amendment we are proposing today had been adopted, the House would get advance notice when the government wants to amend the Elections Act. Political parties should be consulted before the introduction of a bill on election legislation. As I will repeat tomorrow at third reading of Bill C-63, neither the official opposition nor the Reform Party were consulted. It is a partisan bill that will lead to a partisan decision.

We will also propose to amend the referendum legislation, Bill C-110, which gives a veto to almost everybody and which at the time I called a big fat chicken with legs for everybody, so that the veto clearly applies to referendums.

This is to say that before calling a federal referendum, the federal government will have to have the approval of the regions and the provinces, including Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, two western provinces representing 50 per cent of the population and two Atlantic provinces representing 50 per cent of the popula-

tion. As for the question to be asked, the approval of the provinces will be required.

Second, there will have to be agreement regarding the results. The federal government will not be able to give effect to a vote on a referendum question if any of the groups I mentioned has objected to the question.

Finally, we propose that, if the result of a referendum held under provincial legislation differs from the result of a referendum held under federal legislation, the one held under provincial legislation will prevail, thus demonstrating that it is the provinces that created the federal government and not the reverse, in case this has been forgotten.

My grandfather would puff on his clay pipe and tell me to remember that confederation was the creation of the provinces, that the federal government was not responsible for our existence. Almost everyone in Canada has heard once in his life that the federal government was a creation of the provinces.

We have created a monster of such proportions that it now thinks it created everything, when the reverse is in fact true. It was the provinces that gave birth not to Canada but to the constitutional government that we know today. Contrary to a certain widely held philosophy, Canada was not created in 1867. It existed before that.

It existed when your Acadian ancestors, Madam Speaker, were there, long before the constitutional order of 1867 existed, long before the Europeans arrived. The First Nations were here when Canada came to be. To think that Canada has been in existence only since 1867 or that it will fall apart because of a constitutional reform is to misjudge tradition, the history that forged the soul of this people. It will withstand another constitutional reform.

My colleagues can add to what I have said. I have tried to deal with the eight motions in Group No. 6, which cover the Bloc Quebecois's major amendments. I would again like to congratulate the member for Calgary West for his solid understanding of the problem I am raising concerning distinct society. He is not in agreement with me, and I am not in agreement with him. But at least he is asking the real questions and giving a genuine response, as he sees it, unlike the people across the way, who pretend not to understand the problems. They sidestep the issue, because they are too afraid of what lies beneath the surface.

It is true that distinct society is a term that gives Quebec greater powers, that makes it possible to interpret the Canadian Constitution so that the division of powers provided in sections 91 and 92 of the present Constitution would be set aside and precedence given to an interpretive clause of this sort. In this regard, the hon. member for Calgary West is right.

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5:50 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak on the Group No. 6 amendments to Bill C-63. All eight of these motions have been proposed by the Bloc Quebecois.

As the hon. member for Bellechasse has indicated, these motions cover a wide range of subject matter and are obviously of major significance. I would share his concerns about the entire process here. It does seem to be unfortunate that in reviewing elections legislation we are essentially restricted to discussing matters of this scope and importance in only a few minutes before we move on to voting on the bill on a timetable imposed by the Liberal government.

I am very concerned about the partisanship in this. It is something we had hoped to address. As I have said repeatedly in this debate, we had hoped to be able to support this legislation but we are still not in a position where we can do that.

Having said that I do have grave reservations about most of these amendments, the one motion which I believe my party can support is Motion No. 29. Motion No. 29 goes to the heart of this concern about partisanship. This particular motion by the Bloc Quebecois would require the government to consult the House and specifically the opposition parties for future amendments to this act. That has been a practice in the past and I think it is a practice we should continue and in a serious way get back to.

I will reiterate what the member for Bellechasse said on Friday. I think it is ridiculous in a mature and democratic country that elections legislation would be imposed at the end of a Parliament. The rules of the game change by only one player, presumably for its own benefit. That is not the way elections law works in an advanced democratic society.

Nevertheless, I do want to take some time to address some of these other motions. These other motions have to do with a range of subjects but generally speaking, what they attempt to do in my opinion is to impose much of Quebec's electoral legislation and Quebec's election practices on the federal government. This is a much more radical view of federalism than either I or my party would subscribe to.

In this House there are three very different views of Confederation which come out over and over again.

One is the view of the Bloc Quebecois which on a certain level has been not just the view of two founding nations, but a view that this is very much a confederal arrangement and everything that goes on federally is really a creature of the provinces. In effect the

federal government really should only communicate with citizens through the provinces. That is one of the extreme positions.

The other extreme position is the historic position of the Liberal Party which is very much a centralist position. I know in Quebec the Liberals refer to themselves as federalists. This often makes the debate confusing because in fact they are not really federalists. The Liberal Party historically has been a centralist party which views the provinces as little more than units of administration, but not as entities that have sovereignty in their own areas of jurisdiction, which in fact we would maintain is the case under the Constitution.

The Reform Party view is of a federal state where both the provinces and the federal government are entities with clear powers in their own jurisdictions. Both have rights to communicate with their citizens directly.

I will deal with these amendments randomly because I want the House to understand how radical some of them are. For example, Motion No. 32 would amend the referendum act so that the regions would have a veto over a referendum question posed by the federal government. The formula laid out here is the five region formula that was in the government's bill on constitutional referendums, Bill C-110, at the end of the last session.

This goes much further than that. Bill C-110 was a formula for the approval of constitutional amendments. This is not a formula for the approval of a referendum question. We all realize the referendum act at the federal level, as in Quebec, is merely a consultative device. This is an approval process for a question to be asked of the people of Canada by the federal government. I do think this is an extreme position by the Bloc Quebecois. My Bill C-341 challenges the belief that the Government of Quebec can ask a binding question that concerns the future not just of Quebec but of all of Canada in Quebec only and on its own terms.

Yet this particular motion tries to put in the elections act and the referendum act a motion which would proscribe the ability of the federal government to ask a question of Canadians without the prior approval of the Quebec government. I cannot think of a motion that someone could put in here that is more unacceptable to Canadians outside of Quebec. In fact it is unacceptable not just in the case of Quebec; to me, the idea that the Government of Ontario or the Government of British Columbia could veto the wording of a referendum question across the country is absolutely outrageous.

The federal government has referred some of the Quebec government's constitutional agenda to the supreme court. There is a need in the opinion of the Reform Party for the federal government to be able to pose direct questions to the people of Quebec on the issue of sovereignty and separation if we are looking at another referendum down the road.

In the past, the Government of Quebec has not only posed questions which we believe have been fundamentally misleading, but also it has posed questions and has an agenda behind those questions which is clearly illegal and unconstitutional under Canadian law. It is more than appropriate, in fact it is essential in our view, that the federal government not only retain but also exercise its right to consult the people of Quebec directly on their real opinions on things like the issue of separation and on notions like a unilateral declaration of independence. I cannot imagine a proposed amendment to this bill that would be more unacceptable than this one.

Motion No. 35 is similar to Motion No. 32. Motion No. 33, like Motion No. 24, is a motion of wide application. It would effectively impose wide sections of Quebec electoral law upon the federal government, specifically those sections dealing with party financing. It would apply the financing provisions of Quebec's electoral law not just to federal elections but to federal referendums as well.

Let me go over some of the provisions. A lot of them concern matters which are already covered in federal elections law such as the role of auditors and party agents in making financial reports.

Some of these rules have broad sweeping content. For example, these are the rules that restrict fundraising to individuals. Corporate bodies, unions and organizations cannot contribute to political parties. It provides for public financing of political parties directly, based on percentage of vote, and deems what kind of non-financial contributions count as political contributions. It restricts the ability of people to contribute to political parties to no more than $3,000 in a single year.

Some of these notions I could support. I have never had a problem with the concept that only voters should contribute to political parties. However, these amendments are of a wide and sweeping nature and we do not have time to debate them. Suffice it to say there would not be anywhere near consensus in the House on some of these restrictions.

The chief electoral officer of Quebec explained to the committee that there is a history behind the development of some of the electoral practices in Quebec. They were designed to clean up the corruption which we saw, particularly prior to the quiet revolution. There have been great advances made in Quebec, but the fact of the matter is that in our view some of these proposals have problems of their own and would be regressive if applied to the rest of the country. We would be very resistant to some of these ideas, certainly if there were not an opportunity for further discussion.

There is a great deal of material here and further Reform speakers will have a chance to address it.

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Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this group of motions to amend Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act. This group of motions deals particularly with political party funding. However, I would like to say a few words on other aspects of the bill before dealing with the ones now before us.

First of all, it is a good thing to shorten the campaign. Means of communications are a lot more advanced than they used to be. This shortening should make it possible for everybody to have a bit of energy left at the end of the campaign and to be ready to get down to work the next day.

That having been said, there are still things that could be improved in this bill. A lot of amendments were brought forward. For example, in Quebec, we have a permanent register of electors. Now the federal government wants its own list when it could have used the existing lists. People have been enumerated on several occasions in recent years, particularly in Quebec. Enumeration has almost become an annual event. On top of that, Statistics Canada conducted its regular census last spring.

A lot of money has been wasted over the last few years. It may have been a lack of vision on our part not to move faster towards the establishment of a permanent computerized list. We are now moving in that direction. However, that has already been done in Quebec. It would simply be a matter of making the necessary adjustments for the list to reflect federal ridings instead of provincial ridings. With today's technology, there is no reason not to proceed with these adjustments, which would save us a lot of money.

There is an amendment that would have been desirable and even important, one that has been moved and discussed on many occasions by the Bloc Quebecois. It is the issue of political party funding. It is a rule that we already comply with.

The law in Quebec limits the financing of political parties by ensuring that only individuals can contribute limited amounts. This is a way to avoid becoming the victims or lapdogs of large corporations which have the means to make financial contributions. Every year a list of financial donations, some of which amount to $100,000 or more, is published, not to mention the donations which do not appear on the list or are divided among different branches, subsidiaries and the like.

So we could have seized this opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the legislation by adding provisions on the financing of political parties. I say we could have done so and there will be opportunities to do so with the amendments proposed, but there does not seem to be much will on the government side to proceed in this way. It is not the first time that Parliament has had an opportunity, since the last general election, to vote on a much more democratic act regarding the financing of political parties.

What is the reason for this? We have to understand the dynamics of this issue and I believe it is worth explaining to the public why it is preferable to have political parties financed solely by individuals.

Generally speaking, people who give money to political parties do so because they believe in the goals they pursue. In the case of the Bloc Quebecois, a goodly number of sovereignists actively support the idea of a party in Ottawa which defends sovereignty and defends the interests of Quebec. There is a reason why they contribute and campaign. They are entitled to be active within the party, to take part in meetings, and so on, while at the same time financing the party. They therefore have a vested interest. They give money, contribute, buy memberships, because of that interest. This allows them to express support of a cause, a commitment to specific policies defended by a political party.

And what about those who contribute $50,000. $75,000 or $80,000 to a political party? Are we to believe it is out of altruism, out of charity, that they give so much? I doubt it. Most people, when they look at that, also wonder just what axe they have to grind. These are often very active people, with their own lobbyists, people that pressure the government, the cabinet, individual ministers. Then they get the changes that they want, ones that bring them results. They practically do a cost-effectiveness study-I contribute $50,000 and then I get a bit more than that back, often a lot more.

Is this how we want political parties to be funded within a democratic system? Absolutely not. As long as they are able to receive these contributions, this is certainly how it will be. The parties will be at the mercy of lobbyists, of organizations that are far better organized financially. One needs only look at the present situation, where for instance there will be a debate next year on the Bank Act, while we are living through a great many economic difficulties around job creation or maintaining a decent social security safety net. Meanwhile, we see some institutions that are in better shape than ever before, making more profits than they ever did.

We saw this during the past few weeks. Anyone who is a bit more familiar with the stock market will know that people are still investing massively in the banking sector because it is very profitable. There may be a problem at some point, but they can afford it. If you look at the contributions to the government party and add up this column of figures, it is also very profitable for the Liberal Party to be on good terms with these people.

Of course it is a lot harder when you have to do your fundraising with donations of $10 and $15, $20 and $5. It takes a long time. To collect $100,000 this way takes time, energy and a good organization. But it does force members to be closer to the grassroots and realize that they have to defend the interests of Mr. and Mrs.

Average, as opposed to a business which makes a lot of money, donates only a very small fraction of its profits to a political party but certainly expects something in return.

The system can never be perfect because these people will always try, in a roundabout way, to exercise pressure and to lobby. We cannot avoid that. However, to legislate against it would put on a lot of pressure. Those who do not comply with the legislation will be liable to severe penalties and have to pay the political price for failing to comply with the legislation governing political parties.

I have no doubt that in the end, adopting such amendments would ensure that political parties, especially the big parties we know such as the Liberal Party, or those we used to know, I should have said, like the Conservative Party and others, have to get closer to the grassroots which does not give as much but would require a better organized and more permanent political organization.

This would prevent situations of the kind that arose at the last convention of the Liberal Party which I had a chance to attend, where people slapped each other on the back and said we are the best and everything is fine, while out in the street, many citizens are experiencing problems and wondering why the federal government refuses to make any commitments and set objectives to improve the economy and the employment situation. And yet they say everything is fine.

Of course, when we get people who are more connected to reality and did not pay $500 to register for this convention, they will tell us something entirely different from what we might want to hear, but that is normal, that is healthy, it stimulates discussion and makes politicians do more and have a greater concern for the redistribution of wealth and for other areas by which people are affected.

The question we might ask, because it seems clear that it is a better system, is how is it that no one in this party-or, in any case as we will see shortly, perhaps a few-why are there not more people, particularly among those in authority, supporting the idea?

Obviously, because it would cut off major sources of revenue for their party, and they know very well how it works. It is easy. It provides a network and it also allows future party candidates to establish a network to eventually reach the position of Prime Minister.

So they look for funding everywhere, and in significant amounts. This is no longer appropriate. We are coming up to the year 2000, and we must modernize our political institutions. One way to do so, clearly, is to ensure political parties are funded democratically.

We limit ourselves to public funding. It is not always easy, as those who work in our political organizations can testify. The funding campaigns we wage year in and year out put us in permanent contact with people who comment on the government's action and on our own, when we come to call.

This is what it means to build a democratic system where people have a little more influence than merely a vote every four or five years. There is ongoing contact between the voter and the political parties and this encourages people to participate in democracy, that is, to follow what is going on, to be aware, and enables us to maintain contact and thus have a broader base. It promotes a healthier democracy.

I urge those whose mind is not already set to draw the necessary conclusions and make a move they can think back on with pride when they have retired from politics. Admittedly, it is often frustrating for government members not to be able to influence the course of things as much as they would like, because the power is concentrated in the hands of the cabinet, of those who cash the cheques and get the money. Today, they can ensure they will be able to say that they helped pass a bill of historic significance, by changing how political parties are financed.

At some future date, they will be able to say: "I was there when this bill was passed", instead of having to say: "I was in hiding" or admitting to voting as they were told so as not to cause embarrassment to their party. I can see there are many members on the other side, including members from Quebec. I am looking forward to seeing how they will vote, because, in Quebec, political parties have to comply.

By members from Quebec, I mean the few Liberal members remaining in Quebec. I am curious to see how they will vote and how they will explain to their voters that they did not want to submit to a democratic financing system, when this is the norm we set for ourselves in Quebec a long time ago.

This issue was settled through legislation passed by the Lévesque government. Of course, here, things move more slowly. We sovereignists would be quite proud to make it our legacy, before leaving this Parliament, to help modernize democracy, through public financing. I am pleased to see some members nodding. Perhaps all it would take is ten or fifteen minutes more to turn a few of them around.

I will conclude by urging those few progressive Liberals opposite to support the amendments moved by the Bloc Quebecois to put in place a democratic public financing system. I think that they would be quite proud of themselves for doing so when they go to bed tonight.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the report stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on Motion No. 24. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred. The recorded division will also apply to Motion No. 33.

The next question is on Motion No. 29. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 30. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 31. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred. The recorded division will also apply to Motion No. 32.

The next vote will be on Motion No. 35. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next vote will be on Motion No. 36. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 37 in Group No. 7.

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6:20 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

moved:

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-63, in Clause 94, be amended by replacing line 4 on page 43 with the following:

"and 52 of this Act come into force on August 1,"

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

A recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred divisions at the report stage of the bill.

Call in the members.

Before the taking of the vote:

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6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The question is on Motion No. 1.

The vote on Motion No. 1 will also apply to Motions Nos. 3, 9, 15 and 18. An affirmative vote on Motion No. 1 obviates the need for a vote on Motions Nos. 2, 4, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 26, 27 and 28.

A negative vote on Motion No. 1 requires a vote on MotionNo. 2. The vote on Motion No. 2 will also apply to Motions Nos. 4, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 26, 27 and 28.

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

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6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 1 lost. Therefore, I also declare Motions Nos. 3, 9, 15 and 18 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 2. The vote on Motion No. 2 will apply to Motions Nos. 4, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 26, 27 and 28.

The question is on Motion No. 2.

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6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

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6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the members of the official opposition will vote against the motion.

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6:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting yes, unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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6:50 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

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6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 2 lost. Consequently, Motions Nos. 4, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 26, 27 and 28 are also lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 5.

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6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, you will find that there is unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members having voted yes.

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6:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the members of the official opposition will vote yes.

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6:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting no, unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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6:50 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 5, which was agreed to on the following division:)

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6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 5 carried.

The next question is on Motion No. 20. If Motion No. 20 carries, it will not be necessary to vote on Motion No. 21. If Motion No. 20 is lost, Motion No. 21 will have to be put to the House.

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6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yes.

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6:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the official opposition will vote against the motion.

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6:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting no, unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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6:50 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 20, which was agreed to on the following division:)

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6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 20 carried.

The next question is on Motion No. 22.

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6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

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6:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the official opposition will vote yes.

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6:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting no, unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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6:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 22, which was negatived on the following division:)

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6:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 22 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 23.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the members of the official opposition will vote no.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting yes unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 23, which was negatived on the following division):

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 23 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 25.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if you asked, I believe you would find that there unanimous consent to apply the result of the previous vote to the motion now before the House.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 25 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 6.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the official opposition will vote yes.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will vote yes unless instructed otherwise by their constituents.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 6, which was negatived on the following division:)

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 6 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 7.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I think you will find that there is unanimous consent to have members who voted on the preceding motion recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, Bloc members will be voting yea.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will vote no, unless instructed otherwise by their constituents.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 7, which was negatived on the following division:)

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 7 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 8. A vote on this motion also applies to Motion No. 12.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, the official opposition will be voting yea.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, the Reform Party members present will vote yes, unless instructed otherwise by their constituents.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote no on this motion.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 8 defeated. I therefore declare Motion No. 12 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 11.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent that the results of the vote on Motion No. 7, which was also moved by the member for Bellechasse, be applied to Motion No. 11 now before the House.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion No. 11, which was negatived on the following division):

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 11 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 13.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I wonder if you would find unanimous consent of the House to apply the results of the vote taken on Motion No. 2, which also stands in the name of the member for Calgary West, to Motion No. 13.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 13 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 24. The vote on this motion will also apply to Motion No. 33.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote on Motion No. 7 to the motion now before the House.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion No. 24, which was negatived on the following division):

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 24 lost. Therefore, I also declare Motion No. 33 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 29.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe there would be unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote on Motion No. 8 to the motion now before the House.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion No. 29, which was negatived on the following division.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 29 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 30.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote yes.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting no unless instructed otherwise by their constituents.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the New Democrats vote no on this motion.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 30 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 31. The vote on this motion will also apply to Motion No. 32.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I wish to seek unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote on the previous motion to Motion No. 31 now before the House, and to Motions Nos. 35 and 36 which also stand in the name of the member for Bellechasse.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion No. 31 which was negatived on the following division:)

(The House divided on Motion No. 35 which was negatived on the following division:)

(The House divided on Motion No. 36 which was negatived on the following division:)

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 31 lost. As a result, I also declare Motions Nos. 32, 35 and 36 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 37.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I wonder if you might seek unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote on Motion No. 6 to the motion presently before the House.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Do we have unanimous consent?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare Motion No. 37 defeated.

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Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, when the votes were announced on Motion No. 8, we had no sound. I would appreciate having the numbers announced, please.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The count on Motion No. 8 was yeas, 55; nays, 112.

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Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano for the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

moved that Bill C-63 be concurred in at the report stage with further amendments and read the second time.

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Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, if the House agrees, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting yea.

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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Members of the official opposition will vote nay, Madam Speaker.

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Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform Party members present will be voting no unless instructed by their constituents to do otherwise.

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NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote yes on this motion.

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

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the second time.)

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It being7.12 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.12 p.m.)