House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judges.

Topics

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could comment in terms of legislation expected to be introduced but not passed by the summer break. Can he tell us whether he expects that the House will have an opportunity to see the post-TAGS legislation and whether or not the government intends to bring forward legislation having to do with the implementation of the seniors benefit? Certainly a lot of people would like to know whether or not the government intends to proceed with this. They hope that it does not, but they would like to know what the government's plans are in this respect. Perhaps the government House leader could enlighten us on these two issues.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously it would be inappropriate for me to comment on legislation which has not yet been introduced.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee; and of Motion No. 2.

Judges Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 1998 / 3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the House broke for question period the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River had the floor. There were remaining to him five minutes in his allotted time.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as always it is a pleasure to rise to speak. It strikes me as somewhat unfortunate, as it seems that the four or five times I have spoken this spring my presentations have been interrupted by that one hour question period. Today continues what has been set as a tradition for my presentations.

I remark at the outset in reply to the government House leader who just spoke about legislation we have to deal with and he hoped we would not have to have evening sittings. I think that is certainly the hope of everyone.

The reality is, if the option is that the opposition just cease being opposition and we rubber stamp everything that the government has brought forward in order that we can get all this legislation, this heavy load as he called it, through, that is not going to happen. If it requires that we sit well into the evening over the next couple of weeks, then that is what we will be doing in order to represent the concerns of Canadians who live and work out in the real world. They have some very deep concerns with the legislation the government wants to ram through the House of Commons.

When we adjourned the debate just prior to question period I was in the midst of talking about Bill C-37, specifically about Motion No. 2. We are at report stage of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Judges Act. Motion No. 2, which was brought forward by my colleague from Crowfoot, deals with accountability and having the reports of future recommendations by the commission that will be set up under Bill C-37 to consider judges' compensation, wages and benefits packages brought before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

What I was getting at is that this is really an issue of accountability, of bringing an element of public scrutiny to these reports. In this way the general public can have some input through their opposition members of parliament at the standing committee as to what they feel is fair compensation for our nation's judges.

What bothers Canadians most about the issue of an 8.3% increase in salary for judges? I suspect that probably what bothers them most is some of the rulings that they see from some of the judges. I want to be very clear in saying that it is some of the judges, not all of them. A lot of them are making judgments and rulings that are defensible to the general public. Certainly increasingly it seems that there is one underlying theme running through a lot of the judgments that come down from our courts.

Earlier in talking to report stage Motion No. 1 of Bill C-37 I referred to three specific cases that are fairly well known in my riding of Prince George—Peace River, the Feeney, Solomon and Baldwin cases and ultimately the judgments that were rendered with those cases. My concern is I do not feel that in a lot of the cases where the judges are actually legislating or making law rather than fairly interpreting the law that their decisions are supported by the general public.

I hear this increasingly from my constituents and I think the Feeney case is a classic example. It does not seem to matter any longer whether an accused is innocent or guilty. What seems to matter is whether it is legal or illegal. The courts seem to be more concerned about technicalities rather than guilt or innocence. There is something sadly lacking in our legal system which is masquerading as a justice system today.

We will not be supporting this bill. We do not feel that the Canadian public at this time will defend an 8.3% increase in judges' salaries when they cannot understand or support a lot of the decisions that these same judges are making.

Points Of Order
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It has come to my attention and I think to the attention of other House leaders and members of parliament that tomorrow there is a press conference scheduled in Room 130-S by Mr. Ernst Zundel.

It is a matter of great concern to all members of parliament that the premises here should be used for this purpose. I would like to register my concern and I am sure others may want to rise on the same point of order.

Points Of Order
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue a little further than my colleague, the House leader for the New Democratic Party.

The conference to take place Friday, June 5 at 10.30 a.m. in the Charles Lynch press conference room, Room 130-S Centre Block, I think flies in the face of what Canadian people truly believe. This fellow is a well-known Holocaust denial spokesperson. I cannot believe that the people responsible for the Charles Lynch conference room would allow such a thing to happen.

I would like the government House leader to give this House the confidence that not only will this not occur but that it will not occur again as far as the booking of that facility for such an individual is concerned.

Points Of Order
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the comments made by my colleagues. I think this entire parliament and the House itself borders on being brought into disrepute by having a press conference hosted by this individual, given his statements and his well-known position, as was mentioned, on the issue of the Holocaust.

It really borders on lunacy that this would be permitted to take place in this building which is supposed to be the bastion of tolerance and moderate thinking. That this would take place on Parliament Hill really challenges the bounds of credulity when one considers that this is going to happen tomorrow.

I am hoping there is some way that the government can remedy this. I am anxious to hear the response from the government House leader.

Points Of Order
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I became acquainted with this condition around 1.45 p.m. this afternoon.

Upon being notified, I immediately contacted the officials of the Press Gallery on Parliament Hill who I understand have the responsibility for these premises.

I expressed to them my dissatisfaction with the fact that this building, the house of democracy in our country, was going to be utilized in any way, shape or form for the benefit of one Ernst Zundel. The people informed me that, in fact, the room was accessible to this person, but that they were going to look at it further, and I really hope they do.

I indicated that although I had not spoken to the other members of the Board of Internal Economy I was confident that I was speaking on their behalf when I expressed my displeasure at the fact that Mr. Ernst Zundel would be using part of the parliamentary precincts to host this press conference.

Members will know, of course, that the government itself does not administer any part of the building, much less that room. However, having heard the comments from other House leaders and being reinforced by their support, which I believe I am by the statements I have just heard, it is certainly my hope that those who are in charge of reserving this facility will change their minds forthwith and ensure that this press conference, if it is held at all, is held elsewhere and not in this building.

Points Of Order
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the representations made by the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona, the House leader of the official opposition, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and the government House leader will be drawn to the attention of those who are responsible for the administration of this room.

I stress, as the government House leader has pointed out, that it is not a matter which is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Speaker directly or of the Board of Internal Economy directly, but that it is under the administration of the parliamentary press gallery, as I understand it.

I am sure these remarks will be drawn to their attention forthwith and we will await developments. I do not see any point in continuing a discussion on this point at this time.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee; and of Motion No. 2.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 2. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed