House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was standing.

Topics

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, as you know, I take all questions of privilege very seriously in this House.

I address myself specifically to the member for Fraser Valley. Did I understand the hon. member to say that this particular matter was to have gone through the JIC, the Joint Interparliamentary Council, and then it was to go to the Board of Internal Economy? Did I understand the hon. member to say that? Could he address himself just to those two questions I have.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the document that I have, which is the appendix from the Board of Internal Economy about how we establish these associations if we decide to establish a new one, is quite explicit. It does not include the cabinet in any way.

There are two things I would like to underline here, that after a probation period of at least two years an ad hoc parliamentary exchange group which has already been established be given the opportunity to become a friendship group, and after a further probationary period this friendship group be allowed to apply to the advisory council, which has now been updated to the Joint Interparliamentary Council, to become a parliamentary association, and that the proposal for the funding for that be submitted to the Board of Internal Economy. In other words, it has to go through that process, I believe. None of that has happened to date.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for that specific information.

He also said that he has in his possession a copy of the announcement itself. I would like him to table that today. I want to take this matter under advisement and I will get back to the House.

I do note that four members of the Board of Internal Economy have addressed this particular matter today. I do note that the Board of Internal Economy is going to be meeting next Tuesday, unless my information is wrong. I want to put that on the record because that to me has a bearing on what I am going to be doing.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, in regard to that, you should also know that the issue will also be brought before the Joint Interparliamentary Council. It is on the agenda for the Joint Interparliamentary Council to address at its next meeting. The problem again is that it has not been addressed. I am not sure what the council may or may not do. My point of privilege is that that has been presupposed by the minister's announcement.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join the whip of the official opposition in saying how important it is for members of the Board of Internal Economy to express their views on this issue. I would like to briefly express, if I may, the views of my party.

The problem facing us at this time is a very complex one in that, theoretically, we should have a system in which, as Montesquieu would put it, the legislative, executive and judiciary powers must be separate.

This distribution of powers under the British parliamentary system exists only in theory, however, since what we have in fact is the legislative power, with the House of Commons and Senate that make up parliament, and the executive power, with cabinet, the government and its employees.

Furthermore, we well know that the executive power rests with the majority party in parliament, which makes this distinction rather moot, as I just said. The problem facing us, and the whip of the official opposition referred to it earlier, is the fact that, for the fourth or perhaps even the fifth time in this Parliament or the previous one, the government jumped the gun in announcing measures that had not yet been considered, let alone approved, by this parliament.

In this respect, I would just like to add my voice to that of the whip of the official opposition in expressing concern about this government's tendency to take parliamentarians and their support for granted.

In my humble opinion, the privilege of this House has indeed been breached, given that, in theory at least, this House can freely decide, and members of cabinet must not presuppose what this parliament's decision will be.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank you, my colleagues, for your interventions. I reiterate that I want to take this under advisement.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

April 21st, 1998 / 3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, before question period I was discussing a recommendation that there ought to be questions and comments during debate in private members' business.

We just came through question period. The galleries were filled. People were watching the proceedings in the House. We covered at least 20 different areas of discussion on a sharp basis, with interesting insights on behalf of not only the questioners but the responders.

At committees we see the same thing. The interventions of the witnesses in committee are always interesting. There is no question in my mind or any members mind that the dialogue between the members of the committee and the witnesses is by far the most illuminating part of committee meetings. That is where we find out the strengths of arguments. That is where we find out the weaknesses. That is where we find out the raison d'être, for making decisions on interesting parts of bills, motions and other affairs that come before committees.

When we consider what happens when we debate government bills, during the 20 minute speeches with 10 minute comment, there is a lot of vibrancy in the House. There is a lot of interaction. There is a lot of information. When we get down to those 10 minute speeches with no questions and comments, the energy in this place goes away. Quite frankly it goes away because members can no longer participate. I suggest that the quality of speeches also deteriorates because there are no questions to be asked of that member. When someone says things which are very good, I want a chance to say they are very good and ask for elaboration. If they say things that are obviously off base or misinformed, I also want an opportunity to point this out so that is not going to be misinformation in the House.

Without questions and comments things can be said in this place which are not very helpful to any of the issues which come here. The situation is even worse when we get down to private members' business. In private members' business if issue is not votable, it is a 15 minute speech and a five minute wrap-up. One member from every other party gets a chance to speak for 10 minutes. Nobody else gets a chance to say anything. It is a tragedy.

The reason it is a tragedy is there are some very good bills which come here. Members should be told on the floor that they have a good bill but there is a problem here and here is what we think they should do. Members should be told they have a bad bill and here are the reasons. We need this interchange and this dialogue. That is when we find out what is good and what is not good. My recommendation to the House is that we do have Q and A during private members' business.

Earlier today I had an opportunity to meet with two constituents of mine, Gillian Barber and Laura Morris of Port Credit secondary school, who are here with the forum on young Canadians. One of the items on their agenda is the role of a member of parliament. I told them that today I was going to stand up in the House and try to do my best to raise some enthusiasm for private members' business. It is an area which I think is losing its impact in this place.

The issues of votability and the lottery are demeaning to members of parliament. I find it insulting that members of parliament, who have worked hard to bring items forward, have to go through some arbitrary chance process to get on the order paper. They then have to go through some other virtually impossible process to become votable so their item has a chance to live. The probabilities of those things happening are so close to zero that there are members in the House who will never get an item on the order paper. This is not right. Now is the time for the House to deal with these things. Now is the time for members to say now is a good time to do something about this. Now is the time to say that private members have a role to play. Not only do we have a role to play, but we have to be seen to be playing a role by our constituents.

I want to come here to talk about the local issues and how federal legislation reflects things that happen at the federal, provincial, regional and local levels. I want to hear what other members have to say about that issue as well. I do not want to think there is a member over there who never had a chance to rise in this place to do the best that he or she can to say here is what I think, judge me on my ideas, judge me on the rational thinking I am putting forward and give me your best shot because I know I have done a good job.

Members of parliament are not afraid to rise in their places to say what they believe on issues of importance to them. We should respect that more and amend the rules of the House so private members' business is not given less time but rather more time. This place does not meet from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. I would be happy to come here to listen to what other members have to say.

I have two final recommendations. When a member puts in a bill for drafting, that bill should be grandfathered so nobody else can submit a similar bill an usurp that spot. Once a member has reserved an issue, that member should have the courtesy of having that issue reserved. I have a recommendation with regard to the carry forward between sessions. When an item has already been picked we should carry forward at the same stage those items that have already passed at second reading. Anybody who is on the order paper who has passed the impossible test of going through the lottery and the votability thing should also be maintained and should also remain on the order paper.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to participate in this debate on the House of Commons standing orders. It is important not only for the members of this House but for the general public as well that we have the tools available to us to be able to act in a democratic fashion in the House of Commons. If it were not for the democratic tools, those rules and the standing orders, we would be at the mercy of a majority government that would impose its will on the people of Canada. That would leave us as members of parliament as nothing more than actors and the House of Commons as a mere stage.

I will devote my time today to a discussion of royal commissions and how they relate to the parliamentary system. Under the current standing orders, royal commissions are not included in the rules of the House. They are separate. We should review that. I hope the standing committee will look at some of the recommendations I bring forward today. In recent history we have witnessed some major commissions that have fallen short of what the public was hoping to see from them.

Commissions should be at arm's length from the government. They may have a fairly immediate impact on legislation that comes before the House. An example would be the Somalia inquiry. Now we have Bill C-25 which is supposed to address the changes in the National Defence Act in relation to the military justice system. However, the Somalia inquiry made it clear to many Canadians that royal commissions do not represent the unbiased and autonomous bodies they were intended to be.

It is with the Somalia commission in mind that I speak in the House today with the intent of establishing a practice where parliament is required to have input into the mandate of royal commissions. It should not just be the executive branch of government, but parliament would participate in the mandates of royal commissions. MPs would be active participants through the committee system in the appointments of the commissioners and they would be active in reviewing the recommendations of royal commissions as well. All such recommendations should be automatically referred to a standing committee. The committee would then be required to consider and report to the House. The House could then consider the report.

I will look at the Somalia inquiry which was established in March 1995. This government established the Somalia inquiry with pressure from opposition parties in the House of Commons. The commission's final report was cut short by the government.

As I mentioned, commissions of inquiry are to be at arm's length from the executive branch but in this particular instance the Government of Canada interfered with the commission and did not allow it to complete its report. That is interference. When a process where there is judicial independence is wanted, like a commission of inquiry, there must be that independence.

The incomplete report presented was comprised of five volumes and had 160 recommendations. The Prime Minister put the cost of the Somalia inquiry at some $30 million which in reality was closer to $13.8 million. I will get to that discrepancy a little later.

The minister of national defence stated that the government had created a commission with the most wide sweeping powers possible in Canadian history. That is a direct quote from the then minister of national defence.

The Somalia commission had the mandate to inquire into and report on the chain of command, leadership, discipline, operations, actions and decisions of the Canadian Armed Forces. It was to look at the predeployment of troops. It was to look at the deployment of troops and it was to look at the post-deployment of troops but it was not able to do that because again we had interference by the executive branch of government.

In other words, what I am saying is that because of the process, because of the interference problem with royal commissions, we have a system where the executive branch can ask commissioners to look at this much information in this much time and with this much money to do it.

The system is set up now by design, by the government, to fail. I think there should be a process where parliamentarians have the ability to look into those problems.

From the beginning, the commission of inquiry into Somalia became a battle between the commissioners and the Department of National Defence over documentation, altered documents, government interference on the inquiry's work, the decision to halt the inquiry before the work was completed and the final recommendations that followed.

This government cut the documents short but yet it took almost a year for the commission of inquiry which did not even have anything to start with, not even a paper clip. It could not get the information required from the Department of National Defence. And then when that issue was raised all of a sudden the material flooded in. Some 600,000 pages were delivered to the commissioners.

I have a quote from one of the commissioners: “These documents arrived in disarray, often without an explanation of their significance or context”. Questions arose about inconsistencies in the documentation. Logs were missing or they included entries that had no information in them. Entries were missing. They had duplicate serial numbers.

Commissioner Desbarats stated: “Because attempts were made to destroy some documents within national defence headquarters we are now embroiled in a detailed inquiry into the whole question of cover-up”.

We never got to the question of cover-up. The commissioners at the start of the inquiry said there was a possibility of a cover-up but by the end of the inquiry, in the middle of their investigation, they said there were no allegations anymore. It was the issue of cover-up. There was a cover-up and this commission was not allowed to continue.

Parliament should have been able to intervene and give the direction and find out from departmental officials what was going on. But at the time I stood in this House as defence critic for the third party in the House of Commons and each and every day the minister of national defence would respond to my questions on Somalia by saying let the commission do its work.

The government would not even let the commission do its work. That is inexcusable and that is why there must be some controls, rules and regulations in place for this House of Commons when it comes to commissions of inquiry.

I would like to touch on costs. I did mention earlier that the Prime Minister put the cost of the Somalia inquiry at some $30 million when explaining why the government wanted the commission to finish its work. This is when it was wrapping it all up, when the commission had not even progressed half way through the mandate.

That $30 million figure was inflated. It was absolutely inflated. We know that. The day that figure came out, the day the Prime Minister made that comment, I contacted by phone the Somalia commissioners who told me the accurate figure was $13.8 million.

It was a PR campaign by this government to tell the Canadian public we have got to stop, we spent too much money. It was a PR tactic. Unfortunately it worked. It should not have happened and it is wrong.

Finally, the minister of national defence acknowledged that 132 of the 160 recommendations of the commission were supported while others were simply put on the shelf because they did not fit into the plans of the department.

This is not even the true picture of exactly what happened because, as I explained, the commissioners of inquiry only had the ability to look at the predeployment phase and a portion of the post-deployment phase, never got to the completion of the deployment phase or the post-deployment phase which would have looked at the issue of cover-up.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Members get only one opportunity for a full debate on the standing orders. There has been great interest in changes to the standing orders.

I have been listening very carefully to the hon. member and I understand I think at least one point that he has made with respect to the standing orders. But I feel that most of the member's remarks do not relate to this debate which is required in the standing orders on how this House functions.

I would be grateful if the member would keep to the topic.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I remind the hon. member that he should keep to the debate as closely as possible. He has only 31 seconds left.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Madam Speaker, I know how difficult it is to hear about how royal commissions relate to this parliament, but this is very much in the context of how royal commissions should relate.

In conclusion, I submit that the following be included in the standing orders of the House of Commons. One, that parliament is required to have input into the mandate, appointment of commissioners and recommendations of royal commissions.

Two, all recommendations should be referred to a standing committee. Three, the standing committee will then consider the recommendations and report to the House. Four, the House will then consider the report.

It is our responsibility to ensure—

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I must interrupt the hon. member at this point. His time has expired.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to take part in the debate under Standing Order 51.

As a new member of Parliament, I will not delve into the history of parliamentary procedure. Instead I will provide insight into the practices that have proved their value to date in the 36th parliament and those which may require adjustments to further improve the operation and productivity of this House.

The structures which have been developed and put in place throughout the evolution of parliament serve as road signs for those of us within this House to do the business of parliament. They allow for an orderly progress of the business of the House.

One of the challenges facing parliament immediately following the last election was ensuring the equal opportunity of all parties represented in this House. Political commentators called it a pizza parliament and suggested it would have great difficulty in reaching a five party agreement as to party representation and participation in question period and on committees.

I would be remiss to portray this as an easy process. In reality, the whips and House leaders of all parties represented in parliament deserve recognition for endless meetings held prior to the commencement of the 36th parliament.

However, consensus was reached, basing representation on party proportionality, as explained by my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell earlier today. This consensus among all other tenants of parliamentary procedures and rules has laid a foundation for fairness. A demonstration of this fairness is evidenced by the election of the Speaker of this House, which included members of all political stripes, including an independent representative.

Party whips are key to the evaluation of fairness in negotiating all party agreement. A team is an apt analogy for the business of this House. A team relies on the input of all members in order to play the game. This House requires the work and participation of every member in it to carry out its daily business.

Yesterday, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean made a statement of sorts by walking out of the House of Commons with his seat.

Yesterday's event was an example of a member of this House dissatisfied with his ability to represent his constituents in order to feel he makes a difference. While it is unfortunate that personal frustration occurs, there are avenues where members can express their views. They can offer to enlighten their colleagues in this House. They can bring the concerns of their constituents forward to this legislative body and they can institute change.

There is always room for improvement through the use of standing committees, question period, members' statements, votes and private members' business as well as House debates. There are many routes with which members of parliament of any political view can move their envelopes forward.

Our current voting structure balances the philosophical overarching decisions with political reality. Regardless of the ongoing debate of our system that voting is archaic and that we should move to an electronic method, discarding our treasured tradition of rising at our seat, the act of voting will continue to be a blending of constituent concerns, party values as well as personal points of view.

The current committee structure is key to all party consideration and examination of a multitude of facets of any given issue or any piece of legislation. This forum is used for reviewing, discussing and amending legislation. In my estimation it is an incredibly valuable process. The procedure and subsequent ability of committees to hold public consultations across the country serves to provide Parliament with a regionally specific concerns on many key issues.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Finance I saw the importance of this consultation firsthand during last fall's prebudget hearings. It is a huge task to consider and incorporate the competing needs of Canadians in submitting budget recommendations. There is a great variance whether it is rural and urban needs, regional differences, the social demand for reinvestment as well as the realization of fiscal responsibility, the overall need for budgetary accountability.

The system of consultations worked and it worked well. The budget introduced by the Minister of Finance earlier this year reflected the needs of Canadians, the concerns of committee members, the input of cabinet and the calculated fiscal accounting of the Department of Finance. Members who feel they have no avenue for change need only to review the minutes of the finance committee's prebudget hearings and compare them with the budget documents to see the correlation that exists.

As for improvements to the operation and work done by standing committees there is room for more exploratory work, aiming at the proactive development of legislation rather than the reactive review of legislation once it has been introduced.

The nature of debate in Parliament is to bring together diverse views, both political and ideological, and find consensus or majority of opinion. The process is necessary in the evolution of legislation. Although government bills dominate the legislative landscape private members' bills allow individuals to lift personal causes or local ideas to a national stage in order to receive debate. Not all private members' bills become votable. In reality during the entire 35th parliament out of 408 private members' bills introduced in this House 119 were debated, 47 were deemed votable, while a total of 9 passed.

While on the surface this ratio may seem less than impressive, and I am not about to say that it does not need improvement because I believe it does, private members' bills bring issues to the attention of all members of this House, including the government. In some cases over time the issues percolate into government policy and although it may not be under the exact terms of the private member's bill the issue does get addressed.

Earlier in this debate the Reform whip suggested that the justice committee failed to report during the 35th parliament on an issue of the rights of victims of crime. This issue originated as a private member's bill. In fact, this is untrue. The justice committee tabled a report in the House last April. That report is available to all members of the House. The real truth is that Reform members present walked out of the committee just as the motion to approve the report was being brought forward.

A new committee has undertaken a national consultative process on victims rights. It will be held in June of this year and a further report will be tabled in September 1998. I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

As my colleague from Mississauga Centre pointed out, change is needed in moving private members' issues forward. I listened with interest to her recommendation and also urge the committee to carefully consider an alternate means of dealing with private members' bills.

Of particular interest is the bringing forward of bills based on signatures of support versus the current lottery system. Through collecting support of at least 10 members of each party for a total of 100 members, private members' bills would have the opportunity to be debated based on their perceived importance to parliament and Canadians rather than merely left to the luck of the draw.

The structured and strict running of question period has allowed more effective use of the allotted time. Throughout the week it allows questions of importance to be raised with the appropriate minister.

A recommendation which has been made in the past and which I support is weekly in-depth question and answer periods involving a designated minister. I suggest that Friday question periods be scheduled with regional ministers on a rotating basis, allowing greater debate on issues affecting each region or, in a related vein, that each Friday an assigned minister would be available for in-depth debate on specific issues relating to their portfolios.

This would provide both members of parliament and their constituents the opportunity to have local concerns raised in a focused forum where the minister will, based on the region or portfolio chosen, provide regionally specific responses to the questions posed.

While much more can be done to improve the accountability and the procedure of parliament, I feel it is necessary that we continue to adapt parliament to the changing environment. We must safeguard democracy and preserve the valuable traditions of this institution.

Standing Orders And Procedure
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure this afternoon to talk about the standing orders and procedures of the House and its committees.

I have been a member of parliament now for 10 years coming up in November. Having come here in 1988 as a member of the opposition and now a member of the government, that should give me some insight at this point from an individual's perspective as to whether the House of Commons as I know it does work.

There are a couple of concerns that I have as an individual member I want to bring forward this afternoon. Before I do I want to talk about the obvious function of parliament itself. Parliament has two major functions. One is legislative and the other is accountability.

We should always keep in mind when we are having discussions in this place whether those two functions are being adhered to closely so that no matter what the government decides to do, the legislative agenda of the party in power is brought forward. That is obviously the wish of the people, having voted for that party to be their government for a period of time. I think it is also very important that there is an accountability process built into that program.

In the last 10 years one of the things that has interested me most about parliament is the issue of accountability. If there is anything that irks the people back home in Kenora—Rainy River, it is the fact that they always want to feel that members of parliament are being accountable to them the taxpayers. This brings me to the first issue which is very obvious to all of us in this place.

The standing rules and procedures of this House in the last number of years have changed dramatically. When I first came to this place a member could speak for 20 minutes as a backbencher. We could speak freely for 20 minutes on any particular topic. The lead speaker could speak for a very long time if he or she wished. Now under the procedures they have made it 10 minutes.

I bring to the attention of the House the unfortunate belief that we are going backward by restricting the freedom of speech in the House of Commons. We should be allowed to speak, within reason obviously, for as long as we would like to speak, as long as the government's agenda, the government's program is allowed to go forward by all parties in the House.

We seem to place restrictions on ourselves. The thrust of what we believe and what we hear from our constituents in the ridings is not brought forward in debate in the House of Commons because of the restrictions of time limitations which are put on us. For example, in the short time that I have, 10 minutes, it is very difficult to put a comprehensive argument together about what the House of Commons should and should not be doing. I will leave that for a moment.

The other issue is the one of accountability. I wanted to speak very strongly about accountability because it has two facets. Accountability to my constituents means the ability for me to stand up in the House of Commons as often as I possibly can to defend in this case the program of the government, the party I represent. I explain why we have chosen a particular program, a particular initiative for the good of the people as we see it. If I cannot do that because there are restrictions, because there are agreements between House leaders and between parties which restrict the amount of time we can have on a particular bill, I do not think it does anyone any good. It is one of the problems we need to look at very seriously.

The other is the issue of accountability in the committees. I want to speak specifically about committees. As a member of parliament for the last 10 years I have noticed that in committee even though the opposition likes to promote, as I did in opposition between 1988 and 1993, the importance of committees as it relates to accountability, whenever we decide we want to look at the estimates it is the least important thing to the opposition members. They will not say that publicly but in fact it is true.

It is not something which generates a lot of excitement by members of parliament in committee. They continue, as the opposition is now doing, to say we should look at the whole issue of the estimates for the human resources development department, which is the department I am presently on the committee with. There are huge amounts of dollars involved in human resources development, close to $60 billion. How often do we look at the estimates of human resources development in committee? So far this year, not at all.

There is now a filibuster in the human resources development committee on a piece of labour legislation because members of the opposition would like to delay the bill. They have been sitting on the same clause all morning. That will delay the ability of the committee to look at the estimates.

We need to seriously look at the importance of accountability in committees and give members of parliament the opportunity to reflect on those estimates. As boring as they may seem to people on this side or that side, it is one of the major functions of a member of parliament.

If we can get agreement by members of all parties on all sides of the House that they will allow the program of the government to go forward, we could then open the rules of this place. We could on the one hand speak on behalf of our constituents as a member of parliament and on the other hand make sure that the program we ran on as a party and as a politician is moved forward in the weeks and months we sit in this place.

That brings me to the third and I think the most disturbing issue of this parliament and other parliaments as I have seen it. It is the issue of private members' bills. For the sake of argument there is very little attention or care taken on private members' bills and private members' business. In fact it is non-existent if people in this place wanted to be very blunt and frank about it.

We will never get a good system for private members' business and for the bills that come to this place until there is an acceptance by the Canadian people first and by the members of parliament that private members' business is very separate from the government's business from the parties they work for and the business they believe in.

Even though we continue to stand up row by row, individual by individual, the fact remains that private members' bills are not looked at by the government or by the opposition as private and on which they can vote whichever way they choose. I have seen on numerous occasions in this place since 1988 not only the government but the opposition using private members' bills as an opportunity to send a signal to the Canadian people. Let me give one example.

It is well known to all of us that if we voted for a Reform private members' bill as a private member on the government side, they would take the opportunity to use that private members' bill and the fact that we supported it to try to embarrass the government and the member in the member's constituency. Because of this, there is no ability for members of parliament to feel free to support individual private members' bills.

If in fact we were to open up the process and if the Reform Party were to stop pretending that they do believe in private members' business and that they vote independently, then we could get on with the very important work of putting together a private members' process, one which would allow us to put forward our constituents' points of view. In rural ridings such as mine we do not have the opportunity to debate rural issues as often as we would like to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, the 10 minutes, the short time I had is finished, which does not allow me to elaborate on a number of other points.