House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was moved.

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The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-3, an act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

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11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before consideration of report stage of Bill C-3 commences, the Chair wishes to make some comments about the process on this debate.

Just before the deadline for submissions to the notice paper last Friday, hundreds of motions to amend Bill C-3 were tabled with the journals branch. By working all weekend, we were able to produce a supplement to the notice paper containing these motions.

Because the text was first produced on Saturday, the computer has generated September 23 as the date appearing on each motion. Members are asked to ignore this technical anomaly and to rest assured that all motions appearing in the supplement to the notice paper were duly received before the 2 o'clock deadline on September 22.

There are 3,133 motions to amend Bill C-3. Members will understand that considering all these motions will require a great deal of time and care. I am prepared to make a preliminary ruling that debate begin, and you will be informed of my final ruling as soon as possible.

There are, as I indicated, 3,133 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-3. The motions will be grouped for debate as follows.

Group No. 1 will include Motions Nos. 1 to 75, 98, 184 to 186, 192, 257, 264 to 276, 311 to 319, 359 to 361, 629 to 646, 698 to 712, 927 to 936, 1,009 to 1,011, 1,295, 1,424, 1,515 to 1,517, 1,624 to 1,628, 1,647, 1,648, 2,213, 2,214, 2,255 to 2,261, 2,275 to 2,299, 2,305 to 2,322, 2,241, 2,528 to 2,540, 2,551 to 2,553, 2,563 to 2,570, 2,573 to 2,579, 2,584 to 2,594, 2,600 to 2,607, 2,616 to 2,625, 2,628 to 2,636 and 2,642.

Group No. 2 will include Motions Nos. 76 to 97 and 99 to 123.

Group No. 3 will include Motions Nos. 124 to 183, 187 and 188.

Group No. 4 will include Motions Nos. 189 to 191, 193 to 256, 258 to 263, 277 to 310, 320 to 358 and 362 to 380.

Group No. 5 will include Motions Nos. 381 to 628, 647 to 697, 713 to 926 and 937 to 955.

Group No. 6 will include Motions Nos. 956 to 1,008, 1,012 to 1,294, 1,296 to 1,423, 1,425 to 1,514, 1,518 to 1,599.

Group No. 7 will include Motions Nos. 1600 to 1623, 1629 to 1646, 1649 to 2212, 2215 to 2254 and 2262 to 2274.

Group No. 8 will include Motions Nos. 2,300 to 2,304, 2,323 to 2,420, 2,422 to 2,527.

Group No. 9 will include Motions Nos. 2541 to 2550 and Motions Nos. 2554 to 2562.

Group No. 10 will include Motions Nos. 2,571, 2,572, 2,580 to 2,583, 2,595 to 2,599, 2,608 to 2,615, 2,626, 2,627, 2,637 to 2,641, 2,643 to 3,029.

Group No. 11 will include Motions Nos. 3030 to 3133.

I will now submit the motions in Group No. 1 to the House.

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11:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This matter was scheduled to come before the House, I believe, on Wednesday of this week and that was changed late last week.

I was in my riding on Friday and as a result some amendments that I had submitted never saw the light of day at the committee hearing and were submitted by the member for Kamloops. As the justice critic for the party, I am prepared to speak to those amendments today but I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House that my name be substituted for the name of the member from Kamloops as the mover of those amendments.

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11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member's name to be substituted for that of the hon. member for Kamloops on those motions?

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11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, on this point of order, as you have ably outlined, we have heard now that the report stage of Bill C-3 will be before the House. It will be a hotly contested bill. Officials of the House have been inundated with notices of proposed amendments. The government itself has been so inept at the handling of the bill that it also has over 100 amendments to a bill with only 199 clauses.

There are so many proposed amendments by other members that the parliamentary website has not been able to publish these notices with the regular notice paper. As of 8.30 last evening I was unable to find the questions that might be before the House this morning and yet the government expects all members to be here prepared to debate this substantial bill.

Moreover, I am equally concerned that Canadians have not been informed about what the possible amendments to the bill will be. This is a very important bill and arguably the most important bill that we will see before the House in this session.

We are in real danger. We are close to undertaking a secret proceeding around a very public bill. We are in this position for several reasons. We are in this quagmire because of arrogance and incompetence on the part of the government and its inability to have any form of compromise.

It is not the job of the Chair, I would suggest, to in any way make up for or explain the incompetence of the government and yet it is my submission that there is a basic duty on the Speaker to maintain an orderly process in the House. The Chair must do this in an orderly fashion when members are not able to access the basic information on the questions they will be ordered to debate and decide upon. This is not an orderly proceeding. This is a sabotage of parliament.

Standing Order 76.1(5) gives the Speaker an unfettered power to select amendments for the report stage. To date the Chair has been reluctant to use that power.

It is obvious that the House of Commons in this session has started down a path on which none of us should be willing to be accessories.

At the instigation of the Reform Party's amendments on the Nisga'a treaty, we now see copycat tactics that the Bloc used during the clarity bill and now C-3. The House is being turned into a disorderly House because the Chair has failed to maintain an orderly process.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 10 demands that the Speaker maintain order. Standing Order 76.1(5) reads as follows:

(5) The Speaker shall have power to select or combine amendments or clauses to be proposed at the report stage—

The Chair is empowered and, I would suggest, impliedly ordered to do so.

These two orders of the House are sufficient to allow the Chair to put a stop to this tactic that is leading the House of Commons into disrepute. A repeat of the voting circuses that we have seen here are unnecessary. It will not lead to an improvement of the bill and it is not an orderly proceeding.

The bill received no clausal examination at committee. Everyone here should be ashamed of what happened at the committee on this bill, particularly the Minister of Justice and the Queen's Attorney General of Canada. This is not the way we should be considering bills in parliament. We are seeing once again that the committee stage is being flouted. This is not the way to pass laws and dumping these amendments now before the House of Commons without any real examination at the committee, none whatsoever, nada, is a complete abuse of parliament.

Under these circumstances all of us must examine our conduct and our consciences if we are to proceed. The Speaker, I would suggest, and I say this with greatest respect, is not a mere decoration in this place. The Speaker has a duty to the entire House and the entire country to make parliament work and to make parliament relevant. The Speaker has the power to put a stop to this sabotage of democracy. It is time for the Speaker to do that job. This place will grind to a smoking, screeching halt if we continue down this road.

First, I suggest the Speaker should vigorously use the power and the office he has to select amendments.

Second, the House and the public should have adequate notice as to what selected questions of debate will be in this place.

Third, the government should get its act together and bring in a clean bill incorporating the changes that it earlier muddied with its own amendments.

Fourth, instead of trying to ram everything through the House of Commons and reacting to dilatory tactics with an iron fist, the government should admit that it made a serious mistake with this bill, change the order of business today and stop treating the House as if it were its own private play toy.

Some in this place will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the House got itself into this mess and that it will get itself out of this mess. I state to you quite seriously that for every hour that the House debates in needless, ritualistic voting as a dilatory tactic, the House diminishes itself in the eyes of Canadians and other democratic nations.

The Speaker has the power to prevent this from happening. It is the Speaker's duty to do so and the House of Commons and Canadians generally expect the Chair to act in a way that will bring the House credit instead of disrepute. By proceeding in this fashion the chair and the Speaker are being rendered to that of a bingo caller. This is not to be permitted. This should not be an attack on parliament, which it is. It is necessary and it is incumbent upon the Chair to act decisively in this fashion.

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11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, in connection with the point of order raised by our hon. colleague, the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, for all intents and purposes, it contains a number of elements, and I am totally in agreement with some of them but not with others.

When the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party says that the Chair did not use his power, his prerogative to select amendments, I believe he is wrong. The total number of amendments tabled with journals branch is far higher than the figure of 2,133 you gave earlier. In other worlds, the Chair did exercise its discretionary power to select certain amendments and reject others.

The House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party took the trouble to point out that the essential reason for our finding ourselves in this situation today, and for a similar situation in the past, is the lack of openness of the government, its stubborness and its partisan manipulation of this parliament.

The government imagines it can use its majority in the House to impose anything it wants on this parliament. This closed-minded rigidity goes so far as to propose to us a bill so badly put together than even the government needs to amend it. It alone has proposed over 150 amendments to a bill than does not even contain 200 clauses.

This is indication that the government ought to have softened its position and agreed to withdraw its bill and to make the necessary changes. Instead of doing so, which would have forced it to admit it had made a mistake, it has decided to go ahead and to force parliament to examine its bill, imperfect as it is.

Here we have before this parliament today a far from perfect bill at report stage, with this government itself having to propose 150 amendments to it. As we have said and often repeated, this bill is not just imperfect in form but in substance as well.

While the reasons the government has decided to examine this bill may be justified in some areas of the country, they are certainly less justified in Quebec, where we have come to terms with juvenile delinquency by means other than those the minister is proposing today.

I respectfully submit to my colleague, the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that, with a bill erring in substance and not simply in form, it was to be expected that we would move amendments to correct not simply the form of the bill, but its substance as well. Not surprisingly we are tabling a great many amendments.

I repeat that it is very disrespectful toward the Chair to claim that it has not made a ruling, that it has not exercised discretion in excluding a number of amendments, because it has.

I would also be concerned that the Chair is being autocratic and discretionary to an extent beyond that permitted under the standing orders of the House and in deciding on the relevance of the amendments, as it has up to now.

If the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is right in saying that a tendency is developing to use report stage as a dilatory tactic in the passage of bills, it is not the opposition parties who are to be blamed. I would respectfully submit to him that he should not criticize the opposition parties for using this tactic but place the essence of the blame if not all of it squarely on the shoulders of the government, which for all intents and purposes compels the opposition parties to use such dilatory tactics because the government is not playing fairly or working constructively in its efforts to use this parliament for partisan purposes.

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11:25 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I think the standing orders and the usual practices in the House have all been complied with by the government. The Speaker made a decision and we should proceed with that decision. We should not reflect on the decision of the Speaker.

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11:25 a.m.

Reform

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather amusing to listen to the House Leader of the Conservative Party talk about closure when it was his party that was one of the biggest abusers of this method of governing in Canada.

My party always respects the decisions by the Chair and we will respect the decision you make in this matter today.

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11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak briefly on this point of order. I think it is once more regrettable that the House finds itself in the situation it is in as a result of what transpired in committee and the inability of people to move amendments in committee. We can point fingers as to whether or not it was the government's lack of receptivity to changes in the legislation or a particular opposition party's position with respect to the bill.

The fact remains that we now have before us a very undesirable situation: a committee process in which people were not able to move any amendments. Therefore it is impossible for any of us to claim that the bill received the kind of attention that it should have on a clause by clause basis. Now we are potentially faced with one of these voting marathons again.

Whatever the case may be, I think there is a larger argument to be made. Perhaps now is not the time to make it, in the heat of battle, so to speak, but it is an argument I have made before and I think others have made before. There should be more power given to the Speaker to act in the interests of the whole House and in the interests of the general reputation of parliament when procedural things like this present themselves.

Now whether the Speaker wants to use this context to initiate a new interventionist approach by the Chair is something that the Chair itself will have to deliberate upon, but we do have a cumulative crisis of legitimacy with respect to how we deal with report stage. If there is anything that the Chair could do in this respect, I would urge the Chair to consider it or to consult with the House leaders or others as to how this might be achieved.

In the meantime, we have to proceed with what we have before us and I would urge the House to do that.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order please. The Chair is about to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and the Chair really appreciates the comments of other members on this issue.

The Chair has given a ruling in respect of the admissibility of the amendments. Of the 3,100 or so that were submitted, I am told 156 have been rejected as not in order and will not be proposed to the House in the course of the debate.

It must be remembered that from 1964 to 1968 we adopted a number of rules that have changed the practice in this House concerning amendments at report stage by including a new debate at the report stage of bills, after a standing committee of the House tables its report on a bill.

I know hon. members are aware of the fact that these changes to the rules were made. At that time certain discretion was given to the Chair in the standing orders and there have been amendments to that from time to time in the years since. But I think it is fair for hon. members to know, and I am sure all hon. members do know, that the Chair has exercised its discretion in certain ways throughout the period from 1968 until now, so we have 30 years of practice in this House of dealing with the admissibility of amendments at report stage.

What we have today, which we have had before, and not just on the three bills where we have had a significant number of votes, is a deliberate choice by members of the House to submit amendments that, based on Speaker's rulings in the past, are in order. What has happened on this occasion is that a large number of amendments have been submitted that, based on previous rulings by the Chair, are in order.

It is not for the Chair to adopt the solution proposed by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, that is, to exercise powers that are there in the rules, that have never in fact been exercised before, and that in fact have been exercised but in different ways than what we are faced with today. Members have chosen to draft amendments to get around rulings that Speakers have made as to their discretion under Standing Order 76 and they have done it apparently in compliance with those previous decisions which, in my view, are binding on the Chair today.

The procedure and House affairs committee, after the two other voting marathons we have had, has considered the issue and chose not to come up with any amendments to the standing orders reflecting their consideration and reflecting the difficulties that we encountered. The duty of that committee is to make suggestions for changes.

I do not think that the Chair is required to define a new procedure here today.

If the House wishes to make changes in the rules or wishes the Speaker to exercise his or her discretion in another way, I think that can be done through the procedure and House affairs committee, not on a point of order in the House. Accordingly, I must reject the point of order.

I propose to put the motions in Group No. 1 to the House.

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11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting the title.

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11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec East, QC

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting the preamble.

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11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-3, in the preamble, be amended by deleting lines 1 to 10 on page 1.

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11:35 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved:

Motion No. 4.

That Bill C-3, in the preamble, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 34 on page 1 with the following:

“WHEREAS members of society share a responsibility to address the developmental challenges and the needs of young persons and to guide them into adulthood;

WHEREAS communities, families, parents and others concerned with the development of young persons should, through multi- disciplinary approaches, take reasonable steps to prevent youth crime by addressing its underlying causes, to respond to the needs of young persons, and to provide guidance and support to those at risk of committing crimes;

WHEREAS information about youth justice, youth crime and the effectiveness of measures taken to address youth crime should be publicly available;

WHEREAS Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognizes that young persons have rights and freedoms, including those stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights, and have special guarantees of their rights and freedoms;

AND WHEREAS Canadian society should have a youth criminal justice system that commands respect, takes into account the interests of victims, fosters responsibility and ensures accountability through meaningful consequences and effective rehabilitation and reintegration, and that reserves its most serious intervention for the most serious crimes and reduces the over-reliance on incarceration for non-violent young persons;”