House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vice-chair.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, my constituents are outraged at the fluctuation of gasoline prices moving up and down like a yo-yo on a regular basis. My constituents are calling on the government for action.

Today they have given me a petition to table on their behalf calling on the government not introduce any federal taxes on gasoline.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on taking the chair. All of us from New Brunswick are very proud of you as you fulfil your new responsibilities.

I am pleased to present on behalf of motorists in and around the Windsor, Ontario area the enclosed petition with 37 names from Windsor, Amherstburg, Kingsville, Essex county, La Salle and Tecumseh, Ontario. They request that Parliament not increase the excise tax on gasoline.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present today a petition signed by hundreds of people from my riding of Prince George-Peace River. They are completely opposed to further tax increases in the upcoming budget and specifically request that Parliament not again increase the federal excise tax on gasoline as the government did last year.

Taxes on gasoline are not luxury taxes and additional increases unfairly discriminate against northerners.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to table a petition from people who do not want the upcoming budget to increase taxes on gasoline. There are 25 of them, and I know more are getting ready. So I table this petition before you.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

March 4th, 1996 / 6:10 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Motion No. 1.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to address government Motion No. 1.

As we are well aware, Motion No. 1 would reinstate bills which died on the Order Paper at the exact same stage they were at prior to prorogation. According to Précis of Procedure, 4th edition, prorogation means that the pending legislation would be abolished. The government seeks to overturn that practice through motion 1.

Motion No. 1 would see bills resurrected as though prorogation had never really occurred. Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 235 states:

In recent years it has become common, by consent, to reinstate certain bills on the Order Paper of a new session at the same stage that they had reached before prorogation.

This practice was started by the previous Tory government. As we have noticed over this 35th Parliament, there does not seem to be much difference between the policies of the old Tory government, which Canadians came to hate so much and which the Liberals when in opposition railed so much against, and the practices of the Liberals now that they are in government.

Coming back to citation 235, we should pay particular attention to the phrase "by consent". As members know, particularly members of the Liberal Party, many of whom have been here for quite some time, unfortunately, anything is possible in the House by the means of unanimous consent. However, did the Liberals seek any consent from Reformers with respect to the resurrection of the bills for the second session? The answer to that is they did not. We discovered the Liberals' true intentions in an article in the Hill Times one day. In the article the government House leader discussed the possibility of introducing such a motion. At no time did the government contact the other parties in the House to discuss the possible reinstatement of the bills.

Some of the things I am going to say have been said before by some of my colleagues in this debate but they were so profound I think they bear repeating. The Liberals gave a tough time to the Tory government over this same thing in the last Parliament. When the Tories bowed to these tactics in 1991 there were howls of outrage from the Liberals when they sat in opposition. They complained of anti-democratic measures and the destruction of parliamentary traditions. Perhaps it would do them some good tonight to reflect on some of their own protestations and arguments against the use of these tactics.

I am happy to see that the member for Kingston and the Islands is present tonight. He played a huge part in this. He always gets a real charge out of hearing his words reflected once again in Parliament. We will attempt to do that again tonight.

The member for Kingston and the Islands has been known for his bombastic outrage and outpourings and his pious reflections. In May 1991 he said to the Tories: "It is still morally wicked of the government to proceed with this motion and particularly when it applies closure to the motion".

As a Reformer, I agree with that 100 per cent. I am happy that in 1991 the member for Kingston and the Islands had the integrity and the fortitude to stand up and demand that democracy be done, to talk about how morally wicked and wrong it was. I congratulate the member for saying that. He went on to say: "I suggest it is perhaps one of the worst outrages that has been perpetuated in this House in many years". Again, I congratulate him for those profound utterances.

The member for Kingston and the Islands did not stop there. He went on and it got even better. The lamentations of the member for Kingston and the Islands climbed to even higher levels. He said that the Tory motion represented a national disgrace and that the Canadian Parliament would become the laughing stock around the world because of the outrageous conduct of the government in introducing the motion. That was a wonderful oratory he gave in 1991. I am so impressed.

I would like to summarize the arguments put forward by the member for Kingston and the Islands. Motions of this nature are atrocious, unethical and unparliamentary. They make the Canadian government look disgraceful both here and at home. I wish I could claim originality to those words but unfortunately I cannot. I borrowed them from the member for Kingston and the Islands. He spoke them so eloquently here in 1991 as he railed against the outrageous, the morally wicked and the morally wrong practices of the Tory government. I could not agree with him more. I can think of no better.

Let us bring it to the present using that member's very own words when he sat in opposition to the despicable Tories who had control of the country back then. I can think of no better words to use to describe the government and its behaviour over the course of the entire 34th Parliament. But he was not alone in his criticism of the former government's actions. He had a lot of help from other Liberals when they sat here. The member for Halifax stated that the Tory government should "hang its head in shame for daring to introduce such a motion". I love that one.

I am sure some of the great defenders of democracy who have left this earth and gone on to the great Parliament in the sky are hanging their heads in shame right now, particularly if they happened to be Liberals when they were in this place. They must be hanging their heads in shame when they see the undemocratic policies of the government.

I am getting to the best part. I have to quote the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell who is my very favourite Liberal. In 1991 when he talked about the Tory motion, he wondered out loud: "If this precedent is allowed to proceed, then what on earth is next?" What could follow? Mr. Speaker, let me tell the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell exactly what is next. Next is the Liberal government saying and doing exactly what it denounced five years ago. This is déjà vu all over again.

Considering the comments from the member for Kingston and the Islands, the member for Halifax and the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, I have reason to believe, and it has been confirmed, that fried crow was served for lunch in the government lobby today. Considering the behaviour of the government, one truly must believe that the Liberals are getting accustomed to eating crow.

It is funny how when sitting on this side of the House the Liberals had a monopoly on political morality. They had a monopoly on democracy. They had a monopoly on talking about integrity, honesty and doing things right. It was so easy to talk about it when they sat over here. Once transferred to the other side of the House however their democracy became bankrupt, their integrity became bankrupt and as a government they have become morally bankrupt.

Turning back to the issue of Motion No. 1, the government will argue that it is necessary to save time since all these previous bills will not have to be reintroduced again. However the government has done nothing but waste time during its entire term in this Parliament.

Proroguing the House removed the entire month of February when we could have been dealing with government business. The fall 1995 session was filled with take note debates and inconsequential bills. In fact, the government has done nothing of any value since becoming the government. We have done nothing but house cleaning since the government took office. Canadians want more than that. Important issues have been left on the back burner and Canadians have been left with no sense of direction from the government.

I assume that prorogation provided the government with an opportunity to deliver another throne speech in order to provide some sense of direction, but Canadians will take little comfort from the contents of the throne speech we heard the other day. The government had a lot of time to prepare for this but the throne speech only differed slightly from the one delivered on January 8, 1994. The Liberals' record on delivering on the promises made in the first throne speech quite frankly does not inspire much confidence in their ability to deliver on the promises made in the second throne speech.

The first throne speech stated that the highest priority was job creation and economic growth. We found out in the second throne speech how the Liberals really felt about that. We found out what they intend to do. They intend to take their failed job creation program and pass it on to the backs of the private sector. That is typical for a tax and spend government. If the government cannot deliver through its own ingenuity, creativity and programs, then pass it on to those it can wrest a buck from.

Since the Liberals took office the Canadian debtload has increased about $70 billion. During the campaign I told the electors of Prince George-Bulkley Valley that in the term of office of the Liberal government, according to the Liberals' red book and using their very own figures, the national debt would increase by $100 billion and the interest payment on that debt would increase by $10 billion. Many people said it could not be true because the Liberals

said they were going to get the economy in shape. I told them to get a calculator and do a little figuring.

This government has made what I say come true in spades. I can go back to the people in my riding and tell them that we are only a little under three years into this Parliament and already we are up to $70 billion.

The Liberals have raised taxes. Here is a government that agreed with Canadians before the election that taxes were too high. They listened to Canadians. They heard the cries of the Canadian middle class worker who is paying most of the bills in this country. They heard the cries about the high taxes and they said they were going to do something about it. They did. Since the government has taken office, it has raised taxes by $11.4 billion and unemployment hovers around 10 per cent.

The Tories brought in the much hated GST. Go back in Hansard and there are volumes of what the Liberals said about the GST. Many members in this House spoke most eloquently about this disgusting extra tax that the Tories were bringing in.

During the pre-election campaign the Liberals were saying: "We are going to abolish the GST. We are going to scrap it. We are going to do away with it. We are going to send it to that happy hunting tax heaven in the sky". However, when the Liberals got to writing that down, when they got to having to put it down on paper and in a red book, all of a sudden the words abolish, scrap, do away with, end, cease, desist got magically replaced by the word replaced. They were going to replace it. They used the word harmonize. They used words that meant something totally different from scrap, abolish.

The Deputy Prime Minister said in her election promises that if the government did not get rid of the GST in the first year of its term in office, she was going to resign. Reformers and many Canadians are still waiting and she is still very much here in the human form. We wonder if they do not understand the words, abolish, scrap and do away with. Obviously they cannot understand the word resign.

The best the Liberals have come up with is the word harmonization. They are going to take that tax and put into some other tax. But a tax is a tax is a tax. It does not matter what it is called or where it is put. As long as the Canadian people still have to pay it, it is still a tax. Replacing it or harmonizing it or changing the name really does not accomplish anything. It certainly does not give any credibility to the words the Liberals spoke: abolish, do away with or scrap.

The first throne speech also talked about the need to bring down interprovincial trade barriers, something Reformers have been talking about for years. Interprovincial trade barriers cost Canadians about $5 billion within our country.

The 1982 Constitution mentions having a process to do away with interprovincial trade barriers. That is 14 years ago. The Liberals wrote the Constitution and they have spent some time in government since they wrote it.

We have a party here that says one thing and does another. It is a typical Liberal government that sits on the fence and is afraid to make any firm commitments that can be counted on by Canadians.

Again I remind the House of the words of the member for Kingston and the Islands in 1991 when he said: "It is still morally wicked of the government to proceed with this motion and then to apply closure to the motion and thereby curtail debate on it". Profound words then. But this is now. When the Liberals resort to these kinds of tactics somehow it is no longer morally wicked.

In conclusion, I believe that Canadians are getting tired of this hypocrisy. They want a government that not only promises to govern with integrity but does govern with integrity. They want a government that not only makes promises but keeps them. They want a government that not only talks about democracy but also practices it.

The member for Kingston and the Islands said in 1991 of the Tory government: "I must say that I am getting rather tired of having to deal with closure and its effects and the way that this government mistreats the precedents and the practices of this House". With the government's behaviour would anyone expect Reformers to say anything less?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Madam Speaker, it is interesting when you come to this Chamber that there are many references one can make for speech content. Probably one of the most profound orators, certainly he waxed eloquent as Captain Canada, was none other than the the Hon. Brian Tobin in this Chamber on May 29, 1991. The only thing I am changing here is the reference to the Conservative Party because Liberal-Tory, same old story. I am just going to be putting in the words Liberal Party instead of Conservative Party.

Here goes the speech. And what does this government do? Does it attempt to lay bare before the people of Canada its agenda? Does it attempt to persuade the people of Canada and the elected representatives of the people of Canada of the value of its agenda? Does it say that it has a vision for Canada such as a profound belief in our vision for Canada that we are prepared to debate it and defend it? No. It uses the tyranny of the majority. It uses the temporary trust given to this party as a consequence of an election two and a half years ago to bulldoze its legislative measures through the Parliament of Canada, to deny the people of Canada a chance to be heard, to deny the elected representatives of the people of Canada not an opportunity to speak, but their obligation to speak, their responsibility to be heard in the proper examination of bills.

We may as well be blunt in this Chamber. What do we have? We have in Canada today the worst possible combination of governmental systems. We have a Prime Minister who wants a presidential system, a Prime Minister who wants to rule with absolute power and assumes that the members of the Liberal Party are automatically supporters of every government measure, a Prime Minister who takes for granted that the members of the Liberal Party will support any and every government measure, a Prime Minister who sees not a government with all it entails, but sees purely a majority, a Prime Minister who has hauled off the velvet glove and exposed the brutal fist of a party with a majority in a parliamentary system who wants to behave in a presidential fashion.

How prophetic are those words. Here we are repeating them only five years later. They were spoken by that great orator of this Chamber, the Hon. Brian Tobin, about the then most hated Prime Minister of his day, Brian Mulroney. I ask the members in the House, what is the difference or indeed is there any difference between the actions of the Liberals and this Prime Minister and the actions of the Conservatives and their Prime Minister?

It is absolutely astounding to me that the member for Kingston and the Islands can laugh in the face of the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley saying: "Let us hear those words some more", when he was railing against the government of the day. He is sitting in his chair laughing. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, laughs every time she is reminded that she said that she would resign if the GST was not replaced, not harmonized, but the word she used was abolished. When we bring up the word abolished she sits there and laughs.

I suggest that the government has shown absolute and total contempt for the people of Canada in the way it has conducted the affairs on this, the very first motion of the second session of Parliament. Liberal members have shown absolute contempt. When they were on this side they made speech after speech condemning the former government. Now they turn around and walk away from what they said. Is there any wonder that the people of Canada are so cynical about somebody who would call himself or herself a politician?

What about the person who carries out the will of the Prime Minister in this House? What about the whip of the Liberal Party? His words on May 28, 1991: "Finally, if this precedent is allowed to proceed then what is next? I ask the question rhetorically. If one can resuscitate five bills with this motion or four bills, what stops one from resuscitating all legislation from the past? That is a good question. Why do we not just get everything back together and the things we like we will just resuscitate it".

He raises a very logical point. He says, carrying it to the next level: "What stops us from adopting a motion today deeming that

all bills have reached third reading? What stops us from resuscitating a bill from 1977 saying that a particular bill has now reached third reading and we are going to vote on it right now? As a matter of fact, we could actually pass a motion stating that it has completed third reading and debate.

"What we are in fact doing is amending completely the rules of the House by adopting this motion were we to do so. Or were this motion to be ruled in order, the implications of ruling this motion in order would be such that I fear we would render, if a government wanted to, and I am not saying it does, this House of Commons totally irrelevant and redundant".

What prophetic words. The whip of the Liberals when he stood in this House said that if the Speaker of that Parliament ruled the motion to be in order that it would make the House of Commons totally irrelevant and redundant. How prophetic because he in fact, as a result of the former Speaker making that ruling, has done exactly that.

This government whip has made the House irrelevant and redundant. We would simply deem everything and anything to have been passed, to have been at third reading or to have been at any stage if for any reason the government did not want to proceed with other stages of the bill.

It is very frustrating. It is exceptionally frustrating. It is frustrating not only because of the heavy handed approach of the Liberals, not only because of their gross arrogance. We expect that of them. What is frustrating is for them to have sat on this side of the House and to have said these words and then to move to that side of the House for us to have a stack of things they have been talking about, and what have they done? They have laughed all day long at their words being thrown back at them.

This is a very sad way to start the second session of the 35th Parliament of Canada. We can only hope the people of Canada will not only pay attention but will talk to each other and say it really is Liberal-Tory, same old story. It really is government as usual. It really is politicians taking us for granted. It really is the government running a four-year dictatorship.

When the people of Canada start to realize this is what is happening in the House of Commons, these people will feel even more heat back in their constituencies when they go home.

I guess we will find out what the legislation will be between now and June. They assume all of their trained seals will stand up and bark at the appropriate time, the legislation will go through, and there you go. It is a very sad realization that in Canada this Chamber has stooped to this level.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is the House ready for the question?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The question is on the amendment standing in the name of Mr. Bellehumeur. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.