House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, with regard to government order, government business Nos. 2A and 2B, I move:

That debate be not further adjourned.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, now there will be a 30-minute question period.

I would ask my colleagues, given there are only 30 minutes, to limit questions or comments to approximately one minute in order to accommodate anyone who would like to ask the minister a question.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address this motion today.

We have heard a lot of talk from the government side about the need to address the democratic deficit in this place. What we are seeing today I think is just gross hypocrisy. We have a situation where the government is proposing to bring in time allocation, which of course is very, very anti-democratic, on an omnibus bill which is democratically suspect, at a time when the government is also enjoying the fruits of a throne speech and all the wonderful media hype that goes with it but at the same time undermining the tradition which says that the slate is supposed to be wiped clean when a throne speech is brought in. The government is trying to reverse all of that, and that is a democratic safeguard.

The government is doing it in particular on two bills that have enjoyed tremendous scrutiny by the public and which the public is very concerned about: Bills C-5 and C-15B. My question is this: How can the government say it is concerned about democracy when it is employing all these anti-democratic weapons to undermine democracy itself?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are so many things wrong with those allegations one barely knows where to start.

The hon. member says I have moved time allocation. I have not. I have moved closure, as a matter of fact.

He talks about an omnibus bill. There is no omnibus bill before the House at all. This is an enabling motion to permit the government not to create any new bill but to reintroduce that which has already been discussed at the stage completed prior to where we concluded the debate when we adjourned in June, so it is entirely inaccurate to say that.

The other thing is the member let the cat out of the bag in his allegation because he recognized himself that the opposition had moved a phony dilatory motion with the pretext of removing the possibility from the government to reintroduce two very important measures supported by a large number of Canadians, namely Bill C-5, the species at risk bill, which everybody wants us to move ahead with, and it is the same thing with Bill C-15B.

Those arguments are not very genuine.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is really wrong is a minister of the Crown standing up in this place and attacking the opposition for trying to raise the level of democracy in this place after the government itself has been trying to fool the Canadian public about its desire to bring about some much-needed democratic reform to this institution.

I want to ask the minister about the democratic deficit as well, which his future boss, the former finance minister, has belatedly been musing about. The government has invoked closure and time allocation a total of 78 times: 70 time allocation motions and 8 closure motions, including the closure motion today. During the debate on parliamentary reform in 1991, 11 years ago, the former minister of public works, friend of the present minister answering these questions, Mr. Gagliano, an ethical Liberal guru, I would suggest, said in the House:

The government claims that the proposed changes [to the Standing Orders] will make the proceedings more relevant and increase the efficiency of the House. First of all, we must realize that this is being proposed by the very government that applied closure 13 times and time allocation...eight times--

The Liberals were opposed to it when they were in opposition. What has changed?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember well the 1991 changes proposed by the Conservative government to the Standing Orders. The Conservative government in 1991--and, Mr. Speaker, you, being the objective person that you are, will remember how challenged these folks were in that regard--moved to change the Standing Orders and at that time did so even without the consent of the other parties in the House of Commons.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

What are you doing today?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, actually not. The hon. member says we have changed the Standing Orders today. That is nonsense. The last changes made in the Standing Orders were in the modernization committee report at which the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast and a number of others and I participated and unanimously recommended to the House. The House unanimously adopted the changes we proposed. One of these changes was the procedure that exists this morning, whereby when closure or time allocation is required, which it is today, there is a half-hour debate in the House. That is what we are doing.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the government House leader talk about the need to bring back all this legislation. Really, the question that is raised as a result of this is, why did the government prorogue to begin with? If all the same legislation is coming back, what was the reason to prorogue the House?

We know that there are two pieces of legislation that have been of considerable controversy, not just last summer, but for years prior to that. In fact, the Liberals have tried several times to bring forward the endangered species legislation, the species at risk bill, Bill C-15. I know from travelling my constituency all summer that there is still a tremendous amount of debate about this issue. Most of the people I have talked to are very much against it and would like to see this issue debated further in the House before it passes. Why prorogue the House if the government is going to bring back the same kind of legislation?

I would like to ask the House leader of the government if he will at least take Bills C-15B and C-5, the two controversial bills, out of this omnibus legislation he is trying to bring back, separate them and let us move on with the other issues that the government wants to proceed with?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no omnibus legislation. There is nothing before us of that nature. What is before us is an enabling motion that enables the government then to reintroduce the legislation at the conclusion of the step that was previously adopted by the House, not the Senate.

The other question the hon. member asks is, why did we prorogue? Obviously, to have a new session and to have a throne speech wherein we could announce all of the new things that the government intends to do for the betterment of Canadians. For our program for the next 15 to 18 months, just as it was an excellent initiative in the last 15 to 18 months, we want to do the same and even better in the future. The concept of doing things better and to improve the lot of Canadians perhaps will elude the hon. member and his colleagues but it is a worthwhile objective.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the House leader opposite is defeating his own argument. If the government prorogues to bring in a throne speech to give the government new direction but then brings in all the old bills, that is not right. There are two bills in particular we are worried about, Bills C-5 and C-15B. Why will the government not consider pulling these two out of this and dealing with them separately?

The fact is that there was a throne speech, a new direction and all of this for the country, and then here we come with all these old bills and legislation. It does not make sense.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course it makes sense. The opposite would not make sense. What sense would it make to start back on legislation which is three-quarters completed, two-thirds completed, seven-eighths completed, whatever, in the case of every piece of legislation? The only thing that the hon. member wants is to cause delay in those two pieces of legislation because he does not happen to like them. That has nothing to do with the fact that the House has already voted on them.

He is asking us why we have had a throne speech. Let me outline the excellent initiatives our Prime Minister is suggesting to us: health protection; family care; child protection; family law; Kyoto; species at risk, which of course we are going to reintroduce; public service modernization, improving the Lobbyists Registration Act; political financing; ethics counsellor; code of conduct; and first nations governance. These are all excellent initiatives that our Prime Minister is suggesting to the House. We have just voted on the throne speech and, Mr. Speaker, the House democratically voted in favour of the throne speech and we are going to implement it.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the House that the government has had the species at risk bill on its table for nine years. Now all of a sudden it is bringing in closure and ramming this thing through. It is a disgrace. The government has had nine years to deal with this matter. To break parliamentary rules and traditions with closure to deal with this sort of thing is astounding.

I want to raise another question on the cruelty to animals legislation. The House leader says it is popular. It is not popular among farmers. We are introducing American-style tort law into our criminal law. I have visions of the American style of trial lawyers, well financed by animal rights groups, challenging every practice existing in western Canadian farming today. These people cannot afford to deal with this matter. They are fighting for their survival right now. I would ask the House leader to explain what specific protections are in that legislation to protect our farmers from harassment by the American trial-lawyer style of people.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, that bill is not before us this morning. At the risk of--

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills
Government Orders

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

It's in the motion.