House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Senate
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped to ask a follow up question to the Prime Minister about the Senate, but perhaps the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs could answer why the federal government is not prepared to set the ball rolling with respect to the abolition of the Senate.

We understand that the House of Commons cannot do this on its own. However, we do have an amending process. We could begin with a resolution in this House to abolish the existing undemocratic Senate and put the provinces and other parties on the spot as to where they stand on the issue of abolishing the Senate. We can always recreate it in a democratic forum if we want to.

The Senate
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

The Senate
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to draw the hon. member's representation to the attention of the Prime Minister.

The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question, once again, is for the minister of fisheries.

I have to say that recommendation No. 2, as was stated by one of my colleagues, would cease giving permission to Canadian companies to hire foreign vessels and foreign crews to catch fish in Canadian waters.

The reply from the parliamentary secretary was: Does the PC Party want to put people out of work in Nova Scotia? What we want to do is put people to work in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and across the whole of Canada.

Considering the thousands of Atlantic Canadians who are unemployed, will the minister inform this House and Atlantic Canadians that he too agrees with recommendation No. 2?

The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as I clearly said earlier, the minister will respond to the specifics of the recommendations in this report at a later date.

Again I have to spell out to the member that there are certain international obligations. If we kick out the foreign fleets we will lose the leverage to influence the decision to protect world fish stocks in a sustainable fashion. There are, in fact, thousands of workers who depend on the fish that are caught by those foreign fleets for processing jobs in Canada. We do not want to destroy those jobs.

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister has refused to inform this House when she will bring in amendments to the Young Offenders Act. I ask her again. When will she put public safety first and bring in amendments to the Young Offenders Act? When will she do this?

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have always indicated in this House that we are a government that is not going to take a simplistic approach to young offenders. Protection of society is a key value, but obviously so are prevention of crime and rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders.

The hon. member can rest assured that the response will be tabled in this House in a timely fashion.

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, that would bring to a close our question period for today.

I am going to deal first with a question of privilege. The hon. member for Scarborough Centre.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my privilege arises from question period when the member for Winnipeg Centre asked a question and he was left alone. But in a response from the minister of labour on pay equity I commented and so did my colleagues around me. He expressed himself with language that is uncalled for in this House, unnecessary, vulgar and—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I would hope that if such a thing occurred, I of course did not hear it, but I would hope that hon. members would always speak to each other with great respect in this House.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

March 24th, 1998 / 3 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to a matter that occurred in the justice committee. It is a matter that only this House can address and is a matter of interest to all members of this House.

While I recognize that committees are masters of their own proceedings, the justice committee has gone beyond its authority by ignoring an order of this House.

On March 10, 1998 at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights the chair ruled that a motion passed by this House on October 30, 1997 did not bind the committee. This is confirmed in the letter sent from the chair of the justice committee to the sponsor of the motion, the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. In the letter the chair states:

Enclosed you will find a copy of the order of reference on impaired driving dated October 30, 1997. As you can see, no time line was imposed on the justice committee. This project has been considered by both our steering committee and the full committee in planning our future business—we will not reach this project before June.

The order of reference given the committee was contained in two motions. The first motion which carried unanimously read as follows:

That this House call on the government to bring forward a motion pursuant to Standing Order 68(4)(a), to instruct the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to prepare and bring in a bill to amend those sections of the Criminal Code which deal with impaired driving in order to (a) enhance deterrence; and (b) ensure that the penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and that the said committee, when so instructed, submit its report to the House no later than May 15, 1998.

Subsequent to the adoption of the supply motion, the committee was so instructed by a motion moved by the Minister of Human Resources Development. I was involved in the negotiations of that instruction, so I do know for a fact from where we come on this particular point of order.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, a motion cannot direct or order the government to take action. That is why the supply motion called upon the government to act. The second part of the motion read “and that the said committee, when so instructed, submit its report to the House no later than May 15, 1998”.

The second part of the motion dealt with the committee. The motion directed the committee and as you know, Mr. Speaker, that is perfectly in order for any motion of this House whether it be a supply motion, a private member's motion, or a government motion.

In Beauchesne's sixth edition citation 760(2), it states that “committees receive their authority from the House itself and the authority of the House overrides that of any committee”. Citation 831(2) points out that “a committee is bound by, and is not at liberty to depart from the order of reference” from the House.

In the last Parliament, the 35th Parliament, the Special Committee on Code of Conduct was given a reporting date by the House. The committee could not and did not decide on its own when to report to the House. When the committee found itself crunched for time it had to come back to the House and seek authority to extend its reporting date.

Also in the last Parliament there were two important rulings regarding committees and orders given committees by the House. On June 20, 1994 and November 7, 1996 the Speaker ruled that “while it is a tradition of this House that committees are masters of their own proceedings, they cannot establish procedures which go beyond the powers conferred upon them by the House”.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to address at this time the fact that there are two motions in play on this issue. If you consider our practices regarding the management of our business, there is often more than one motion dictating the business of the House and its committees. Superseding motions for example are always acceptable motions, such as motions to adjourn debate.

We often pass motions that prescribe the way debate is conducted. The actions in the motions are triggered by events that may happen during debate. For example, during late night debates the words “when the last member rises” often trigger the question being deemed put and the vote deferred to a determined time.

Time allocation motions often address the report and third reading stages of a bill. It presupposes that the report stage will carry and that the third reading debate will proceed and be guided by the time allocation motion. Such an order waits until the business is called even though that business may never be called.

What is disturbing about this issue is that it is the justice committee of this House that is at the centre of controversy once again.

It was the justice committee that refused to report a private member's bill to the House, which triggered a number of questions of privilege and resulted in a Speaker's ruling allowing a new procedure to deal with insubordinate committees.

It was the justice committee that restricted an opposition member's participation contrary to the rules of the House that led to the Speaker's intervention of November 7, 1996.

It was the justice committee that ignored an order of the House in regard to the drafting of a national victims bill of rights that we put forward in this House on April 26, 1996. That has not been dealt with since in the justice committee.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

You should not have walked out.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

I trust I did not hear “I just lied”.

In conclusion, seeking a solution to the problem of drinking and driving is supported by the public and was supported unanimously by this House. Not only did all members speak in support of the motion introduced by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, but all members unanimously supported an amendment moved by a Liberal member, the member for Abitibi, which inserted the reporting date which is the focus of my point of order today.

I would agree with the words of the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who said during his presentation in debate “Members should come together without partisan politics and create new legislation that will contribute to the saving of lives”. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister said “I support the intent and essence of this question. When the protection of human life is involved we have to do everything we can”.

The justice committee should take note of the sentiments expressed during that debate on October 30, 1997 and respect the decision of the majority by reporting to the House as ordered.

Let me sum up. We the members of this House, in this House, all agreed that there would be a bill received in this House no later than May 15. The question is how does this House become and stay relevant if a committee of the House arbitrarily makes a decision without coming back to this House on the very issue that we all supported, all members of this House from all parties?

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are three things that are very important here.

One is that the justice committee, and in particular the chair of the justice committee to whom some of this seems to be addressed in the person of myself, has every intention of following the order of the House that we received in our committee through our clerk.

Number two, we take very seriously the issue of impaired driving in this country. I have confirmed to at least one justice critic in the last 24 hours the significance of that review and the fact that I am looking forward to undertaking it.

Number three, had the Reform House leader referred to the proceedings of the committee in preparing for today, and he may have, I do not know, he would have found that we even talked at some point about how extensive this review would be.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, it is important for you to know that when we received the order of reference from Journals branch the order of reference was not time dated. There was no reference in that order to May 15.

As a result of that, apparently the member who is interested in this motion in the first place wrote to me. We have heard part of the letter. The rest of the letter indicates an undertaking, as I recall from writing the letter which I do not have here, that we would deal with this issue as soon as we possibly could.

It is important however for the House to know that this schedule is not drawn up in a vacuum. This schedule is drawn up after consultation not just with a steering committee but with all members of the committee who represent all parties. I point out that the Reform Party has three members on that committee, none of whom has ever suggested that this is of the highest priority to them.

There is a problem here and that is assuming the order we received from the House was not time dated, and I believe that to be the case, then what do we put aside in order to accommodate the interest of a member of Parliament who is not a member of the committee and who does not attend our committee proceedings? Do we tell victims of crime on whose work we are operating that their work is less important than the work of this member? Do we tell persons with disabilities that we are sorry, we cannot work on the amendments to the human rights code right now because we have to do work that has come to us from outside our committee? Do we tell the victims of crime, the police community and others that we are sorry that we cannot do our work to establish a DNA data bank because one member of the Reform Party has another agenda?

This is a terrible situation in which our committee is put. I see you signalling me, Mr. Speaker, but there is a lot more at operation here than would be suggested.

Let me say this, Sir. We have never sought to defy, directly or indirectly or inadvertently, an order of this House. The order we have does not—

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am trying to give as much latitude as I can but I think we are getting a bit into debate. Before I go to your point of order may I ask the intervener, the opposition House leader, and I am going to have a look at all the papers, but is it your contention that both of these motions passed by the House were time dated? I want to clear that up.