House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organized.

Topics

The House resumed from March 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-250, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Canada Elections Act (confidence votes), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

April 21st, 1997 / 11 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this important private member's initiative. I congratulate the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster for bringing this bill forward. It is something the Reform Party has had as policy from its inception. We think it would lend more credibility to the electoral process. It is something Canadians would appreciate.

Recent public opinion polls indicate that although it is very likely we are going to head into a federal election within a week or so, two-thirds of Canadians believe there is no need for the government to call an election. The government is not cooking the books, it is cooking the agenda to get the most favourable conditions for which to call an election.

There is nothing unusual about that. Governments have been doing that for years. However, two-thirds of Canadians say it is unfortunate in a democracy such as ours for the government to wait until it feels it has enough things on the agenda to suddenly spring an election. We are all supposed to salute the flag, whether it is three years into the mandate or five. It gives the government a tremendous trump card going into an election.

The agenda which was given to the media today indicates the following: Mr. Bouchard to meet with the Prime Minister to sign an agreement, photo op to follow; the Minister of Natural Resources to sign a research project, photo op to follow; an agreement will be signed with provincial fisheries officials in British Columbia, photo op to follow. The whole agenda for this week is a photo op.

The government is able to control the agenda not only for photo ops but for the electoral agenda. It is no longer a case of whether we need an election, whether it is timely or whether there is an issue on the front burner of the nation, it is whatever the government thinks it can do to better its re-election chances and that is when it will call an election.

There is something wrong with that. People have to ask themselves what is going on in the country when the government can trigger a national election based on its needs. Would it not be better to level the playing field for all parties? Would it not be better to have the government go to the people during the fall of the fourth year of its mandate? Everyone would work off the same sheet. We would all sing the same chorus. We would not wait for a crisis to happen in a province or for the signing of an agreement to go to the people. The election would be called at a certain time. They could count on it. They could plan for it. That would be fair for everyone.

When we were considering this bill in committee I raised two things which the government has done to give itself an advantage. One it already has, the ability to call the election. The other is to shorten the election period itself. We are now down to a 36 day electoral period. We will likely be heading into it next week.

The government, by knowing when it will call an election, has all the advantages. It knows exactly when it will call the election and therefore it knows when to have its advertising geared up. It can have its media buys prearranged. Its members can have their offices open. They can have literature ordered. They can know it all.

The back room boys over there have it all figured out. The rest of us just hope that we know what is going on. We think it will be next week. But money is spent, there is organization and all Canadians are wondering whether it will happen. That is too bad.

It should be on a four year rotation. The member for Kindersley-Lloydminster has detailed how that could be done, how it would be fair to all parties. This does not give an advantage to one side or the other. It is fair to the Canadian people. They do not have to wonder whether they will be put through this process. It is fair all around.

That being said, this bill will not pass. I am sorry to break that news to the member for Kindersley-Lloydminister. This bill does not have a snowball's chance. It takes power out of the frontbench.

Every time there is a chance of any of the power being removed from that frontbench, every time there is a chance for free votes, every time-

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

An hon. member

Word comes down from the top.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

That is right. Word comes down from the top that this bill must not pass. Every time there is a free vote, every time there is power given to committee, every time there is any chance that we can take a little power out of that little group of people sitting in the Langevin Building, it is nuked. There is not a chance that this bill will pass. I am sorry to break this to the member for Kindersley-Lloydminister.

That being said, it is likely we will head into an election next week. Will this be an election issue? Will this be something that gets carried on the stump, as we talk about the issues facing the Canadian electorate?

This will not be the burning issue. However, this is symptomatic of two different visions of Canada when it comes to the role of Parliament and the role of members of Parliament representing their constituency.

It will be a vision carried by the Liberal Party which is that the Liberal Party knows best. Not only does it not have to listen to the Canadian people, it does not even have to listen to its own members.

The Liberal Party does not have to listen to people through referendums and free votes and representative democracy. What its members will tell Canadians is "don't worry, be happy, we know best; the rest of you are cannon fodder in the great democratic process". That will be an issue.

When we get on the stump and when we get talking about electoral and parliamentary reform, when we talk about the need to change things in this institution to give power to members of Parliament to truly represent the people who sent them here, that will be an issue.

We will be talking about recall. We will be talking about the right to referendums and citizens initiatives. We will be talking about free votes in the House of Commons, not just on private members bills but on bills in general.

We will be talking about committee power and the way committees are manhandled right now by the ministers to do their bidding instead of truly giving an opportunity for members of Parliament to initiate legislation and to bring citizens concerns to the table.

All those will be issues during the upcoming federal election. A fixed election date is part of Reform Party policy. Recent polling results say that people like that idea. They do not like what the Liberals are doing here, which is that they call it when they darn well feel like it, the Canadian people can put up with it and pay for it and that is just the way it has to be.

Although there is supposed to be a free vote, no doubt those members have been told on the Liberal side to vote against it. It is probably not going to pass, and that is too bad.

All that being said, the Liberals should know that if they have the guts to call this election on Sunday, as we think, then let us have at her. This is a good enough issue to mix in with the others. We will see what the Canadian people really think about a government that lords it over the people instead of listening to them.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, the intent of the bill we are debating at this time is to propose holding a general election every four years on a set date.

A number of parliamentarians may be in agreement with this principle of setting a date on which there will be an election every four years. This has a lot of advantages, one of which is that all of the organizations can get their acts together, to be ready when an election is called.

Since the Prime Minister is the one who holds the power to decide when an election will be held, this gives his party a considerable advantage over the other parties, as far as the organizational aspect is concerned: fundraising, candidate selection, and how the business of Parliament will be conducted.

If, for example, it were known that the election would be on a set date, the government could set itself a four-year program. The first year, it would pass such and such a portion of its electoral program, the second year another portion, and so on for the third and fourth years, and everyone would know we were headed for an election on a set date.

We were elected in October 1993. Last year, around the same time, there was all sorts of speculation about an early election. Some people were even willing to bet that there would be an election last fall, so the organizations got themselves in gear and there were nominations left, right and centre. There we were, not even three years away from the last election, and already talking about an early election.

To a certain extent, Parliament has been paralyzed for the past year, waiting for the day the Prime Minister calls an election. Once again, everything points to his making the announcement this Sunday, which means we will be going into an election nearly a year and half before the end of the mandate given to us by the people.

What happens in such cases is that the government governs by survey. The government orders the polls, the polling firms conduct them, they conclude that the party is popular or not so popular, the public is losing interest, one of the ministers is low in the polls in his own riding, the Prime Minister is, the Conservative Party is going up, the Reform Party is going down, and they are so busy

playing with all these cards that in the final instance they do not care about the public interest, only about the interests of the party in power.

The government can use the polls to set a date when it is likely to be reelected, or in certain other cases, as we saw with the Conservative Party in its last term, it can delay calling an election until the very end, in this case because it knew its popularity was dropping considerably and it were obviously headed for a defeat.

A fixed election date would help make public debates more transparent, more honest, better organized and at least we would know where we are going. It would be more democratic. The public would no longer have to cope with not knowing when the election would take place and it would not be in the position we are in now, when the government is accusing Mr. Bouchard of sending his request for a constitutional amendment at the last minute, although the government still has a year and a half to go.

Calling this a last minute request is rather exaggerated. IfMr. Bouchard had known when the election would be called, he would not have bothered to send a request at this stage. He probably would have waited until after the election or he would have set his agenda with the election date in mind. Organizing the democratic system in Canada in this way would be better for all the provinces, as a matter of fact.

One aspect is somewhat disturbing. We hear the Reform Party talking about referendums here and referendums there, about free votes and constituents voting by telephone or fax. This is a parliamentary system, a democratic system by delegation. We ask the public to elect us to represent them. Unless we change the very principle of the parliamentary system in Canada, we cannot accept all these fantastic proposals by the Reform Party, which wants to play poker by its own rules and not by the rules that suit everybody else.

If a party is elected with a very clear promise that it will do something, the individual elected under the party banner necessarily endorses the party's objectives. So there is no reason for a decision in the House to be taken on the basis of faxes or phone calls received. It is taken along party lines.

When we discuss bills that are not in our programs, we will obviously consult our constituents. We will, however, always be the ones who have to decide, since we are not obliged morally or otherwise to vote in agreement with the 40 or 50 members of our party we consulted or the 50 electors, who are not members of the party but were invited to a public meeting, or according to the three faxes we received. We represent all electors once we are elected and we must use our wisdom and conscience as best we can and act in the best interest of the people in making a decision, because we were elected to represent them.

There are, of course, a lot of details in the bill before us. It would be worthwhile to have a committee consider it, because it could look at some of the problems in greater detail.

Personally, I find it difficult to agree with choosing the third Monday in October as a fixed election date, because winter comes early to many places, and the third Monday of October is surely a bad time for elections, particularly in Quebec where it would interfere with the campaign leading to the municipal elections, which are held on the first Sunday in November. Should the fixed date for federal elections be set in October, we would be in a difficult spot because we would be in a conflict of interest.

The committee would have to take the time to look at what happens in each province, in order to come up with a suitable date. The idea of an election when the days get longer and warmer, around the time of the summer equinox, holds much greater interest. It is much easier to go from door to door when the weather is good than pick a date like October when the days are getting shorter, it is rainy, and there are maybe even snowstorms that would perhaps make things difficult.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Unless we are not here any more.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

If the Bloc is no longer here, then Canada can obviously do what it wants about its election dates. They can opt for the third Monday of October and that will not conflict with our municipal elections.

Even if we are in favour of the bill in principle, there is another aspect that I definitely think should be looked at in committee and that is the problem of the ensuing byelections. Dates are also given for byelections.

What would happen if there were a minority government and a government could not be formed? Giving authority to the governor general does not appeal to me at all. This is a position the Bloc Quebecois would prefer to see abolished, not one to which it wishes to give greater authority. There would certainly be many points to examine in this bill, although the principle is interesting for most of the population.

Ultimately, in a democracy, it is much clearer if people know exactly what to expect, especially since this will now be much easier. We will have a permanent voters list. If there were a fixed date for elections, democracy would take on much greater meaning and would be better respected.

It would also prevent abuses and irregularities, questionable practices or allegations of such practices, which have sometimes been made against people who were abusing their authority.

This did not happen just under the Conservatives; it also happened under the Liberals. It is interesting to note that the public is not fooled by these governments that hang on to power because, generally speaking, governments that have remained in office almost five years have usually been defeated in the following election.

Another possible problem with a fixed date is what would happen if there were a non-confidence vote.

Mr. Speaker, you have signalled to me that I must soon wrap up so, as I was saying, we are in agreement in principle, but the bill is worth considering seriously in committee.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support Bill C-250 put forward by my colleague from Kindersley-Lloydminster. The bill proposes to have fixed election dates. For instance, this year the election date would be October 20 and elections thereafter would be held every four years on the third Monday of October.

In his opening remarks the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster said: "Along with the Reform Party's other proposals for democratic reform such as recall, referendums and citizens initiatives, we intend to show how Canada's political system can be made more accountable, representative and fair". Those are three points in favour of fixed election dates: accountability, better representation and fairness.

First, I will consider better representation. I very much believe in this bill. It is part of the Reform platform. When I campaigned in 1993 I felt there was something wrong with our political system because at any given time, on the spur of the moment, behind closed doors the Prime Minister and a few of his selected strategists could secretly determine when an election would be held. That is a great disservice to the Canadian public. It denies the opportunity for a lot of potential candidates who would be willing to run, who would otherwise be willing to seek nomination and become involved in the political process.

Some excuses used for not running are: inappropriate timing; an insufficient amount of time to prepare for entry into public life; insufficient time to raise money; insufficient time to become known in the community. These excuses would be eliminated with a fixed election date. This would affect the number of people who would consider running for election, including women. There is a big cry that there are not enough women in politics, that the ratio is not 50:50, that there is a lack of balance between male and female representatives.

This is the case because they cannot plan. If women knew there would be an election every four years on the third Monday of October, family planning could be a lot easier. Men and women could decide after an election that next time one of them would run. The quality and number of candidates who would step forward would greatly increase. There would be more respect for politicians.

The accountability point was put forward by the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster. Politicians who were elected knowing that the duration of their terms would be four years would be more interested in and intent on carrying out the responsibilities of their portfolios, including representing their constituents. They would do the best jobs they could and would let their records speak for themselves. Then they would not have to rely on the prime minister of the day prior to an election to fast track certain bills in order to improve their visibility or their standing in the polls. They would not have to rely on the prime minister to hand out goodies in weak areas where they wanted to reinforce their strength.

This bill and fixed election dates every four years would provide more stability in the political system. This factor of not knowing when an election will be called ends up causing more doubt and more debate about when is it going to be called. That causes more focus on elections than it does on the issues of the day.

I have been here for close to four years and I have not read too much about the debt that faces this country. I have not read too much about the rising interests costs to service that debt. All I have heard is that the interest rates are the lowest they have ever been and the government has done a wonderful job.

The Canadian economy is not on as strong a footing as the finance minister and the Prime Minister would like us to believe. There is an underlying danger in that the real problem facing this country is not being addressed. I believe if we knew when an election would be called, all politicians would be more intent on identifying and solving the problems of the country instead of talking about those issues that make a party and the member as a representative more popular.

I feel Canada is behind the times. We are one of the few nations that does not have a fixed election date. By having a fixed election date we plan for it. A party or a government can be better judged and evaluated on what its real intent and purpose is.

We had an example this past week where the Liberal government closed more deals and did more in the space of 10 days that it had in the first three years. Even Premier Bouchard says the transfer of manpower training to the province of Quebec is nothing more than a pre-election ploy. He is going to sign the agreement today. He goes on further to say that he has to sign it as a provincial premier

because he has a responsibility to the unemployed of his province and he feels that this responsibility at his level will help more people get work. I agree with him on that.

All provinces should be looking after manpower training, not the federal government. Why has it taken three and a half years to happen? Why has it been signed after no less than five days of political pressure?

Another pre-election ploy is the anti-gang legislation for Quebec. I am not making this up. The Bloc members have pointed it out. The premier of Quebec has pointed it out.

It is making a mockery and a joke out of our political system. The government of the day controls the agenda and gains an unfair advantage on an unsuspecting, trusting general public. If nothing else, Canadians generally trust their government. They expect their government to perform according to the platform that they get elected on.

We were hugely disappointed by the two Tory governments. When these Liberal members were in opposition, when they were trying to seek the confidence of Canadians to govern, the Prime Minister on January 20, 1993 talking about Canadians said: "They have had enough of the abuses of Parliament and the arrogance of government".

I would need another 30 minutes to talk about the abuses that this government, when it was in opposition, talked about. Now it is guilty of them as government. There has been the abuse of parliamentary committees, abuse of free votes, abuse of jobs, jobs, jobs, abuse of Pearson, abuse of Airbus, abuse of Somalia, abuse of Krever, abuse of devolution of powers, abuse of the GST, the broken promise of the GST, as well as broken promises of what it would do when it was elected. In a lot of cases it did exactly the opposite.

I hope the Canadian public has had enough of this. I hope they start to reward honesty rather than misrepresentation. I hope that they give a reward to truth in politics rather than the perception of politics.

This same man said that the Canadian public deserves good government. He talked about the abuses of Parliament, of which his government is even more guilty than the Conservatives, and the arrogance of government. Consider the arrogance of the Prime Minister who said: "If you can't get a job, tough, move". That is pretty arrogant.

We should consider the arrogance of the Prime Minister.

Usually we are here for five years and somewhere in the fourth year the government starts to hand out its goodies for an election. It is only 3.5 years. I wonder what it is hiding. It is hiding something with Somalia. It is hiding something with Krever. It is hiding, hiding and hiding. It is hiding something with Pearson airport. It is hiding in everything it is doing. What is it hiding about the economy? What does it know that we do not know that it has to call an election in 3.5 years?

This is the same Prime Minister who said: "In politics perception is everything". The government is trying to create the perception that everything is wonderful and that the Canadian public, when they go to vote, will stay asleep. Certainly the Reform Party candidates are going to say it. I am going to say it. I hope the Canadian public wakes up, demands more of their politicians, demands some honesty and truth in politics, rewards the people who have been telling the truth, rewards the people who have kept their promises and rewards those who vote in favour of fixed election dates every four years, which we will vote on today.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak for a few minutes on the bill of my colleague from Kindersley-Lloydminster on fixed election dates.

I did promise a constituent who takes an avid interest in this subject that I would bring up what he sees as a downside of fixed election dates and discuss that for a few moments.

He argues that fixed election dates will cause a slowdown in the economy from six, nine to twelve months ahead of the election date because businesses and people who are making investment decisions will hold off making those decisions until they see the outcome of the election.

He also feels that fixed election dates would not stop governments from playing politics because knowing when the election date would be it would save up its initiatives or its special plans until it was close to the election day so it would still be able to manipulate the agenda to suit its own interests.

There seems to be some credibility to his arguments if you take a look at the New Zealand situation last October. A few years ago New Zealand introduced a law that the government must notify the electorate six months ahead of the election date. In New Zealand it is now known six months prior to an election when that date will be. During the six months leading up to the election the government is required to release the public accounts. Incidentally, standard accounting practice is used for that so someone can actually tell what the state of the economy is instead of the manipulated sort of figures that we tend to get here.

Because of all of that information coming out during that time an element of uncertainly develops. Quite clearly there was a slowdown in the New Zealand economy during that six month period. The number of jobs advertised dropped off, the amount of reinvestment dropped off and the dollar weakened slightly as well.

It did pick up after the election. The economy was rejuvenated and suddenly the job situation picked up dramatically. Last week there were 22.5 pages of jobs advertised in just Auckland city alone in one of the local newspapers. Everything picked up again dramatically right after the election but the point the gentleman brought to my attention seems to have been played out in New Zealand.

What we have to weigh, when looking at the overall situation, is whether the benefits of having a fixed election date outweigh any downside that might come from knowing that date in advance. My personal opinion is that they do because on balance certainty is always better for the economy than uncertainty. The New Zealand example may have been an aberration because the United States has fixed election dates. They know when things are going to happen and it does not seem from the evidence that I have that there is a major impact on the economy in slowdowns or speed-ups based on an fixed election date.

Perhaps the experience that was brought to my attention by my constituent may have been an aberration. As people get used to a new system where they actually know the election date, over a period of time it will not be quite as important. When you look at the balance, the opposite side of actually knowing that date, giving the certainty to business that a decision will be made on a certain date and they can get on with their plans, I think we still have to go for that fixed election date.

It also gives pressure groups and the electorate the opportunity to works toward that date with any projects that have to be completed, any political efforts or persuasions that need to be done.

As promised, I have put my constituent's point of view to the House today. On balance, I would recommend to my colleagues that they vote for this bill because I think the overwhelming evidence in speeches before me has pointed that there would be a tremendous benefit for the people of Canada.

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin with an aside. I want to thank my friend from Calgary Centre who will be leaving the House after this election. I also want to compliment him for bringing forward over the last several years many good ideas and for generally raising the level of debate in this place. I know that he will be extraordinarily successful back in the private sector just like he was before he came here.

I speak in favour of Bill C-250 put forward by my friend from Kindersley-Lloydminster. I know my hon. friend would agree that the essence of this bill is accountability, as he pointed out in his press release. Accountability is so extraordinarily important today.

One of the things I found a little bit alarming is when we saw a recent poll that listed where politicians stood in the eyes of the Canadian public relative to all the other occupations. At the top it had teachers, nurses, doctors and people like that. It then went down the list to business people. The clergy was very high on the list. Then came journalists. Farther down the list there were lawyers. Just above arms dealers were politicians. In a way it is kind of funny but it is very sad as well because politicians are supposed to be the cream of the crop and are supposed to represent the best qualities of the Canadian people. However, for many reasons the public has lost faith in politicians.

I would argue that one of the big reasons for this is because so much power has been usurped into the hands of the government over the last many years. Now the public feels very sceptical when the Prime Minister and the government talk about letting the public have more say in issues.

This bill is a chance for the government to redeem itself. Bill C-250 would allow the public to know exactly when elections are going to be held and it would take power away from the government. That is a very good thing.

Last week I was back in Saskatchewan where my friend from Kindersley-Lloydminster is from. He will be running in a new riding called Saskatoon-Rosetown Biggar. I grew up in Rosetown. We were out in that area talking to various people. Whether one goes to Rosetown, Milden, Biggar, Perdue, Fiske, D'Arcy, McGee or wherever it is, the people are out there are extraordinarily concerned that they get good representation and that they have a way to hold the government accountable.

My friend is a man of excellent character. He has tremendous qualities that he brings to this place. Unfortunately, for everybody here to some degree, all the good qualities that many members bring to this place are frustrated because the system simply does not allow for politicians to represent their constituents in each and every case. I will explain exactly what I mean.

When we vote later today, it is supposed to be a free vote. I know many members accept that there are good points in this bill. It makes sense to have fixed election dates every four years for reasons that my friends have pointed out. It just makes common sense. Who wants to see the playing field tilted in favour of the government? That is contrary to most people's sense of fair play.

Canadians and most hon. members know that this bill makes a lot of sense but that will be frustrated later today, I predict, when the government will instruct its members to vote against it. That is sad because the bill makes a tremendous amount of sense.

It is ironic that on a bill that deals with something as important as accountability we will see the government members undoubtedly vote against. That is sad. Bill C-250 was very well thought out. If we look at what my friend from Kindersley-Lloydminster has put into the bill, we come to understand he has dealt with all the possible problems that could arise from having fixed election dates. He has dealt with the problem of minority governments and other concerns members have raised.

It points to the desire to have politicians on all sides of the House more involved in determining what are good pieces of legislation. Private Members' Business should be a more important part of what we do in here. We have a lot of talented people in the House who bring good ideas to the floor. I point out that this concept is part of the Reform Party's policy. It has long believed in fixed election dates.

The whole point of Private Members' Business is to gather the best ideas, no matter where they come from, even if they happen to come from my friend from rural Saskatchewan. I do not think that should stand in the way of bills becoming the law of the land. He brings a lot of good ideas to this place.

It is very frustrating to see good ideas such as this one get to this point after a lot of work, only to be turned down because the government does not want to lose power. As my friend from Fraser Valley East said, that is what this is all about. The government is afraid to give up any bit of power.

Power is a very funny thing. It is a fixed amount. There is only so much power to go around. When the government has a lot of it the rest of us have very little of it. That is precisely what we are trying to remedy to some degree with Bill C-250. It would take some of the power away from the government to set an election date that suits it based on when it thinks it can get re-elected.

My friend from Calgary Centre made a very good point. He said we spend a lot of time studying strategy. There are columns written in the media about how the government will use the election date to help it win the election.

I read a column in the Atlantic Monthly not too long ago by James Fallows who has made a study of how the media focuses on strategy. There are reams and reams of paper devoted to people trying to predict when the government will use its power to call an election to lever itself back into power. That is unfortunate. That strategy should not be the issue.

We should be debating issues such as the debt of over $600 billion. We should be debating the 37 tax increases the government has brought in over the last three and a half years. We should be debating the fact that disposable income for the average family has fallen by over $3,000 since the Liberals came to power. Those are the issues that should be the subject of analysis in the media. I do not think that there should be long columns in the newspaper and or entire programs devoted to the strategy of government having the power to call an election when it chooses.

I wrap up by saying that I support the bill. It puts power back into the hands of the Canadian people, a concept the Reform Party believes in very strongly.

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Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree this is a topic worth discussing. The member opposite who proposed the bill should be congratulated.

I listened to the level of the debate. Some members are railing at a shadow they do not appreciate, known as the House of Commons. They are not looking at its historical perspective in the sense that parliament is an old institution that has evolved with time. Change is necessary and change occurs in parliament, but change does not always happen in the way or at the speed we want. In the thousand years parliament has existed change has in fact occurred.

I do not necessarily disagree with having a fixed date for elections. It is done in the United States-

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Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt my hon. colleague but the time provided for debate has expired.

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Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wondered if I might take a minute before we proceed to government business to thank all members of the House who spoke on the bill. Many of them spoke in favour of it and I appreciate that. I also thank the Canadians who have communicated their support.

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Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Parliament Of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.