House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kyoto.

Topics

10 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has received notice of a question of privilege from the Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

The Leader of the Opposition is rising on a question of privilege.

Privilege

October 24th, 2002 / 10 a.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, allow me to rise on a related matter, on a couple of things.

First, yesterday during debate the Chair will recall that the member for Burnaby--Douglas rose on a point of order and I replied to him on his point of order. He made it clear that he took my response to him as a personal insult and, in particular, as a comment about his sexual orientation. I just want to say that I intended no such insult and intended no such interpretation. I will also add that when the hon. member for Calgary Centre rose shortly after to ask me to clarify my remarks, at that point, quite frankly, that particular interpretation had not occurred to me.

I have talked to the hon. member and indicated to him that I am sorry that he took that meaning. I did not intend it, but I am sorry he took it that way. I would just say to the hon. member that I have known him for a long time and we have a lot to disagree on; I do not know if there are any two members in the House who probably disagree on more items. It is very possible for he and I to have a debate on issues of substance. There would be absolutely no need on my part to engage in the type of personal insult that he has alleged, nor if I were to do that would there be any justification in doing so. That said, I intended no insult and am very happy to withdraw my remark that he took that way.

I also am aware that one minister of the crown and some former ministers of the crown took exception to comments I made. I think I made it clear yesterday that I was not making an allegation that any member of the House of Commons was a criminal. I was simply making reference to the fact that a number of members have been forced to resign under a cloud. These situations vary from fairly clear breaches of ethics to much more serious instances where there are in fact investigations by authorities, and in some cases they involve, indirectly, investigations by the RCMP.

But as I say, I just want to make it clear that no member should take the implication that I was making a specific allegation of criminal wrongdoing. If that is the implication any individual member took, I withdraw that.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared of course to accept the apology of the hon. Leader of the Opposition at least with regard to myself, having reviewed what the criteria would have been in order to have someone's name posted in a police station and recognizing that we are talking about suspected mass murderers, convicted child molesters and terrorists.

I cannot say, though, after having reviewed Hansard this morning, that the other three members of Parliament, namely the member for Fredericton, the member for Cardigan and of course the member for York Centre, are prepared to accept that. That would be for them to say.

I am prepared to withdraw the question of privilege that I raised this morning, on the strength of the apology of the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had given notice yesterday of a point of order with respect to the comments made by the hon. leader of the official opposition. I believe I heard an apology this morning from him, and on the basis of that apology I will not be pursuing my point of order.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too accept the apology given by the Leader of the Opposition, and I hope we can get on with the business at hand.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank all hon. members for their assistance.

Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I would now like to deal with the point of order raised on October 22, 2002, by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast relating to the use of the provisions of Standing Order 56.1. The hon. member argued that an abuse of process had occurred when, earlier that day, the government used Standing Order 56.1 to move a motion to which unanimous consent had been previously denied. The motion in question concerned the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs establishing the committee membership lists for this session.

I would like to thank the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast for raising this question and of course the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his contribution on the matter.

The hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast raised three objections in this case: namely, first, that the motion pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 was moved under the rubric “Tabling of Documents” of the daily routine of business and not under the category of “Motions”; second, that the government moved this motion on a day different from the day on which unanimous consent had been denied; and finally, third, that the motion to concur in the striking committee report was substantive, not routine, and therefore ought not to be subject to the provisions of Standing Order 56.1. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 571, describes Standing Order 56. 1 as follows:

If, at any time during a sitting of the House, unanimous consent is denied for the presentation of a “routine motion”, a Minister may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker put the motion. For that purpose, a “routine motion” refers to motions which may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishment of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment. The motion, which is neither debatable nor amendable, is immediately put to the House by the Speaker. If 25 Members or more oppose the motion, it is deemed withdrawn; otherwise, it is adopted.

The points raised by the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast are germane to any understanding of Standing Order 56.1, whose invocation has sometimes raised concerns.

Proceedings in this House are governed by written rules, chiefly the Standing Orders, and also by the unwritten practices which hon. members have seen fit to follow over the years. It is clear that, in setting down an explicit rule, the House may adopt new procedures. However, where the House has not made such a deliberate choice, our usual practice is to continue using the way of proceeding that has so far met the needs of the House. When our practice offers no guidance in a particular case, members may raise points of order to seek guidance from the Chair. It then falls to the Speaker to arbitrate between honest differences of interpretation that arise from time to time. I believe that such is the case before us today. Let us therefore consider in turn each of the elements of the objection raised.

The hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast contended that the proper place to move a motion during routine proceedings is under the rubric “Motions”. It is true, as the government House leader pointed out, that the text of Standing Order 56.1 requires only that the motion be proposed during routine proceedings. However, our practice has always been that during routine proceedings motions, or “routine motions” to cite the actual text of the standing order, be moved under the heading reserved for them. An examination of previous uses of Standing Order 56.1 does not reveal any case where we proceeded differently.

The day before yesterday, the House, and I dare say the Chair, may have been taken somewhat by surprise when such a motion was moved at the beginning of routine proceedings under the heading “Tabling of Documents”. Since the motion was ultimately deemed withdrawn, I believe that this occurrence might be seen as an exception that will not recur. Our practice is clear. Motions pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 should be moved under the rubric “Motions”, unless there is unanimous consent to do otherwise.

The second point raised by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast concerned the appropriateness of using Standing Order 56.1 on a day different from the day on which unanimous consent had been requested and refused.

An examination of the records of the House will show that this is an acceptable way of proceeding.

A number of examples may be cited. Unanimous consent was sought on September 28, 1994 and again on October 6, 1994 for permission for a subcommittee to travel. Consent being denied, a motion pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 was moved on October 8, 1994, two days after the request for unanimous consent.

I refer the hon. member to the Debates of September 28, 1994, at page 6263 or October 6, at page 6642, and the Journals of October 7, at page 270. A similar travel permission motion was denied unanimous consent on June 7, 1995 and Standing Order 56.1 was used the following day. I refer the hon. member to the Debates for June 7, 1995, at page 13375, and the Journals for June 8, at page 1594. In a third example on April 21, 1997 unanimous consent was refused to a motion arranging the sitting time of the House with respect to a royal assent ceremony. That motion was proposed under Standing Order 56.1 on April 24. See the Debates for April 21, 1997, at page 10012-13, and the Journals for April 24, at page 1524.

It is clear from these cases that Standing Order 56.1 requires only that the motion in question has been previously refused unanimous consent whether that day or on some previous day.

The last point raised by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast concerns whether the use of Standing Order 56.1 to propose adoption of a report of the striking committee is procedurally acceptable.

On this last point he maintained that to allow speedy adoption of this report would interfere with consideration of certain proposals now before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The Chair is not persuaded by this view. The Speaker and the House must of course be guided by any changes that may be brought from time to time in our Standing Orders. However, it would be imprudent if not irresponsible for the Chair to impede the House in its normal transaction of business simply because changes are under consideration by a committee.

The crux of this point of order is, in my view, whether or not a motion for concurrence in a report establishing committee membership at the beginning of a session can be reasonably characterized as “routine” and therefore subject to the terms of Standing Order 56.1.

As I stated on September 18, 2001, in my previous ruling on this standing order, Debates , September 18, 2001, p. 5258:

The standing order [56.1] has never been used as a substitute for decisions which the House ought itself to make on substantive matters.

Responding to concerns raised at the time of the introduction in 1991 of the then new provisions of Standing Order 56.1, Mr. Speaker Fraser said:

—this “over-ride” provision can operate, as the Chair understands it, only with respect to a certain very limited range of motions offered at a specific time in our daily agenda by a minister of the Crown—

Mr. Speaker Fraser then went on to speak of what he called, “the very limited application of the new proposal”. I have found his cautionary words very helpful in reaching this decision.

All members will agree that the House does very often see fit to approve the membership of committees, or changes to that membership, by unanimous consent. Indeed, the Chair must acknowledge that a review of our modern practice reveals no instance where motions for concurrence in the report of the striking committee have been debated or amended. However, as I pointed out in an earlier ruling, again at page 5258 of the Debates , that:

--if the House from time to time should agree on a way of proceeding by unanimous consent...one cannot assume that such agreements would automatically fall into the category of routine matters as defined in Standing Order 56.1.

Our research tells us that motions to concur in the reports of striking committees have not in modern practice been the subject of debate or amendment. To extrapolate from that, that these motions are therefore routine, not substantive, is in the view of the Chair to go too far. Accordingly, I have concluded that Standing Order 56.1 cannot be used as a recourse in the event that unanimous consent to concur in the report striking the committees of the House is sought and denied.

I can appreciate the viewpoint of the Government House Leader who has indicated that the establishing of committee memberships is of some urgency but I must remind him that S.O. 56.1 was not meant as an alternative mechanism for limiting debate.

If the situation requires it, I know that the Government House Leader will find that he has other procedural means at his disposal to expedite matters.

Once again, I would like the thank the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast for raising the matter and for the views put forward by the hon. government House leader.

I trust this decision clarifies the issues with regard to Standing Order 56.1 and that it will prove helpful to the House in the future.

The Environment
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a report of the Government of Canada entitled “Achieving Our Commitments Together: Climate Change Draft Plan Overview”.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have now passed tabling of documents and we do not have anything from the President of the Treasury Board. She has given notice that the Public Accounts of Canada will be available after 3 o'clock this afternoon after question period, where we are going to find out how the $175 billion of taxpayers money has been spent, wisely or otherwise.

Marleau and Montpetit on page 763, note 403, clearly indicates that the Public Accounts of Canada have in the past been tabled by the minister directly in the House. That is in Journals of October 31, 1978, at page 94 and Journals of December 11, 1979, at page 336.

I think it is rather unfortunate that the Government of Canada would slide the information out under the table rather than placing it on the table at routine proceedings.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am looking at the reference which the hon. member has raised and I note that it states as follows:

The Public Accounts of Canada are usually deposited with the Clerk of the House and the tabling is recorded in the Journals.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Respectfully to members on either side of the House, that is not a point of order, it is a matter of debate, and there may be another time and another place for members to have that debate.

Competition Act
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-249, an act to amend the Competition Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reinstate this private member's bill from the last session of parliament. The bill seeks to amend the Competition Act to clarify the competition tribunal's powers to make or not to make an order in the case of a merger when gains in efficiency are expected or when the merger would create or strengthen a dominant market position.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Competition Act
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-248 at the time of prorogation of the first session of the 37th Parliament. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the bill is deemed to have been read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this morning to reintroduce my bill pursuant to Standing Order 86.1 and to point out to the House that the bill is identical to the one that I had introduced during the first session of the 37th Parliament. I ask that it be reinstated at the same point it had reached at prorogation, which was that it had been passed by the House at second reading and referred to the justice committee.

The Criminal Code of Canada currently protects Canadians from those who advocate genocide or spread hatred of others based on their colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. My bill seeks only to extend that same level of protection to those who are targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation.

It is important to note that this bill in no way limits or threatens the freedom of religious expression or religious texts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)