House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

November 5th, 1998 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Homelessness has reached crisis proportions across Canada. In response, apparently a cabinet committee will study the issue. I will save it the time.

Two hundred thousand Canadians are homeless. The lucky ones find temporary beds in shelters. Thousands of others sleep on park benches and huddle in doorways for warmth. We know what keeps them there. No federal funding and no support for social housing.

Will the Prime Minister scrap the hypocritical doublespeak and commit real dollars to the homelessness emergency in Canada?

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask the hon. member to withdraw the word hypocritical, please.

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Yes, I will.

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government is concerned with the problems of poverty in this country, including homelessness. Federal ministers are looking at the matter. They are working on it with provincial counterparts. The important thing is to recognize what we have already begun doing through the child tax benefit, for example. That is producing now and in future years an additional one and a half billion dollars to help poor families and children. That shows our concern, that shows our commitment.

It goes beyond the words of the hon. member. I cannot say they are hypocritical because the Speaker—

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. minister to withdraw the word hypocritical.

The Homeless
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Windsor West, ON

I certainly do, Mr. Speaker.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

This has been a rather good week for us in parliament in the sense of the visitors we have welcomed.

I draw to the attention of the House the presence in the gallery of a group of Canadian performing artists of extraordinary talent and accomplishment. They have devoted their lives to enriching our cultural lives in Canada.

They received the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards for 1998, the highest tribute Canada can pay to performers.

I will call out your names, my dear recipients, and I would like you to stand and be recognized by the House: Paul Buissonneau, Bruce Cockburn, Rock Demers, Arnold Spohr, Jon Vickers, Joseph Shoctor, and a group we will all recognize, the cast of the Royal Canadian Air Farce with Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson, Luba Goy and John Morgan.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

There will be a reception for this group in Room 216. I invite all of you to meet the recipients.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, as deputy opposition House leader I rise on behalf of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to ask the government House leader the agenda for the next sitting week and the remainder of this week.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is no doubt the best question asked today. Today we will continue with the second reading of Bill C-49, the first nation lands bill. In the event that this is completed we will then resume Bill C-48, the marine parks bill.

Friday we will take up the Senate amendments to Bill C-37, the Judges Act. If any time is left we will then return to measures on which debate has begun today but has not yet been completed, including Bill C-49, should that not be completed, Bill C-48 and Bill C-56, the Manitoba claims bill.

Next week is a recess week for Remembrance Day. On Monday after the recess we will continue with Bill C-37, should that debate not have been completed. We will then consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-53, the small business bill if this available, in other words if it has returned from parliamentary committee on time. Otherwise, we will take up the report stage and third reading of Bill C-42, the Tobacco Act amendments.

On Tuesday we will consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-53 if this has not already been completed. With any time left we will continue with measures on which the debate has begun but not yet completed in the following order of priority: Bill C-42 and then Bill C-48, Bill C-49 and Bill C-56. On Wednesday we would continue with whatever is left of the agenda I have just described.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding a motion that was passed yesterday evening. The motion adopted the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The report had all-party agreement at the committee level and yesterday was adopted unanimously in the House. The report recommended standing order changes regarding Private Members' Business.

Mr. Speaker plays a very important role in this matter. You are the protector of the private member and the keeper of our rules.

In my point of order I will argue that some of the recommendations in the report could clearly be implemented now and some may require the assistance of your clerks to draft standing order changes.

I argue that recommendations Nos. 3, 5, 7 and 8 should be implemented immediately. These changes are very briefly as follows.

When a division is taken on a private member's item, the calling of the vote will begin with the sponsor and will then proceed beginning with the back row on the sponsor side of the House and then the back row on the other side of the House. This recommendation is intended to protect private members from being intimidated by the front benches.

There is now a process in place whereby a law clerk and a parliamentary counsel of the House of Commons will be appointed to be responsible for the provision of legislative drafting services for members. That person or persons will be provided with sufficient staff.

Priority will now be given to the drafting of private members' bills and motions for members who have not previously had a bill drafted during that session of parliament.

Recommendations Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 would require standing order changes. I will comment briefly on these changes.

An item outside the order of precedence that has been jointly seconded by 100 members will be placed at the bottom of the order of precedence. If a bill or motion has merit, it will now move forward instead of being subjected to the lottery draw which is often frustrating and humiliating for the sponsor.

There is protection from the threat of prorogation. A private member can now reintroduce a bill at this stage.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

We are sort of getting into the debate and the explanation. I would hope the hon. member would stay focused on the point we are discussing now rather than getting into the merits or whatever it is. If the hon. member wants to point out something to the Chair I am more than willing to listen, but his point should be quite succinct. I would ask him to direct himself to that and maybe take another minute to wrap up.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. Since the one I described is not a government initiative but a report drafted and adopted independently by members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and subsequently adopted independently by the House, the onus to implement these rules changes is on Mr. Speaker.

Last June the House asked the Clerk to draft new rules regarding changes to the supply process. When the House returned in September these rules were in place. There was no need for a second step since the request was clear and the House order was in place.

The circumstances today are identical. We are coming up to a break week. I would like to know if the rules recommended in the 13th report that require standing order drafting could be in place by the time the House resumes on November 16.

I would also like Mr. Speaker to confirm my observations as to which rules are now in place and do not need a standing order change.

I suggest that when these rules are drafted, you solicit the support from private members and avoid the usual solicitation from the party leadership, particularly the cabinet. The cabinet has absolutely no say in this matter of Private Members' Business.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief and address the point. If I understood correctly, what the hon. member is trying to get at is that he has now recognized that the passage by rather surreptitious means yesterday afternoon of a report does not change the standing orders the way he initially thought it did and now he is asking the Speaker to change them unilaterally. That is what I understand his point to be.

I read the eight clauses of the committee and my reading tells me that six of them require an actual drafting of rule changes. The drafting presumably would have to be approved by the House afterwards because draft rule changes are not in six of the eight items that refer to particular changes. The other ones I recognize are matters which are under the purview of the Speaker or the administration of the House, but six of them have particularly to do with the rule changes.

If the hon. member across sees fit to raise this issue with the Speaker, it is because he has recognized that this artificial way of getting this motion through yesterday did not change the rules the way he initially thought it did, otherwise he would not have to bring it up right now. Now he has asked if the Speaker or others will arrange to have actual words put in place in time for the House to come back.

Mr. Speaker, if Your Honour, the clerk or anyone else around here wants to prepare draft rule changes, that is certainly their prerogative. My submission to the Chair respectfully is that once those draft rule changes have been prepared by the Chair, assuming that the Chair would be so inclined, it would be up to the House to decide whether or not it likes those draft rule changes. If it does, subsequently it would adopt those draft rule changes if and when it sees fit to do so.

The mere fact that the member has raised this today in the House does not change the rules of the House. Heaven forbid if we ever get into a situation where one member of the Reform Party decides himself to change the rules for the rest of us around here, democracy would take a beating that day.