House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kyoto.

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An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

December 6th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham for the Minister of Justice

moved:

That, in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, this House concur with the Senate's division of the bill into two parts, namely, Bill C-10A, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and the Firearms Act, and Bill C-10B, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), but

that the House, while disapproving any infringement of its rights and privileges by the other House, waives its rights and privileges in this case, with the understanding that this waiver cannot be construed as a precedent; and

that a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours therewith.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to address the issue before us. Clearly we have to look at the purpose of the process we are going through and the goals we are trying to achieve.

Bill C-10A contains administrative amendments to the Canadian firearms program. The goal is to streamline the program and reduce the costs while improving client service and continuing to meet our public safety objectives.

This program approaches gun safety in a practical and common sense manner. It already is helping to keep firearms away from people who should not have them. It is encouraging safe and responsible gun use by legitimate owners.

There is no doubt that the Canadian firearms program is an outstanding example of a preventative approach to public safety. Just last week, the Canadian Police Association appeared before the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the other place to reiterate its support for this program. In the Canadian Police Association's view, licensing and registration are important measures to reduce misuse and the illegal trade in firearms.

Over the past decade, poll after poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of Canadians support gun control and support the important public safety framework of the Firearms Act. Thanks to the implementation of a number of initiatives to simplify the administration and make the program more user friendly for firearms owners, Canadians are complying with the law. The licensing phase of the program has achieved over 90% compliance, and over 70% of the firearms owners have registered their firearms.

The program is already achieving higher levels of public safety for all Canadians. Since December 1, 1998, over 7,000 licences have been refused or revoked by the public safety authorities. The number of revocations is over 50 times higher than the total in the last five years under the previous program.

The amendments to the firearms act included in Bill C-10A will help to ensure that key public safety goals of the Firearms Act are met. At the same time, they will ensure that the administration of the program is more efficient, effective and client friendly. These administrative changes will simplify processes and requirements for firearms owners by producing a more streamlined system. For example, they will simplify the firearms licence renewals and registration process. They will also make the border process more efficient by introducing pre-processing for visitors bringing guns into Canada.

Much has been made about the costs of the program, but we have to put things in perspective. This is a sound investment in the long term safety of Canadians. We now have the opportunity to adopt amendments that will go a long way to achieving a more efficient and cost effective program.

One of these measures is the proposal to stagger firearms licence renewals, which is intended to help avoid a surge of applications in five year cycles. Evening out the workload in such a manner would result in more efficient processing and significant cost savings.

Streamlining the transfer process of non-restricted firearms would also allow CFOs to focus their efforts and resources on their many other public safety functions. Moreover, consolidating the administrative authority for all operations under the Canadian firearms commissioner would ensure more direct accountability to the justice minister, who would remain responsible to Parliament for the program. This in turn would enhance financial accountability.

We should keep in mind that this is not the time for delay. It will cost more to operate the system the longer we delay. This bill is needed to move forward with the cost savings measures that will lead to a more efficient program for Canadians.

This is a public safety program that is supported by a vast majority of Canadians and the policing community. It is a program that is already achieving concrete results in terms of public safety.

The bill presents an opportunity to build on the achievements in a way that is even more responsive to the firearms community and will reduce costs.

I urge the House to accept the bill that has been put before us and to go forward with this legislation forthwith.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are here today in regard to the other place splitting the bill dealing with cruelty to animals and with the Firearms Act, which we passed here in the House of Commons.

The question of the operation of this place has already been dealt with by the Chair, so I will not go into that in too great a depth other than to say it seems that the other place is having a greater influence on the House of Commons than it should. Of course the problem with this is that the members of the other place do not have to go back to their constituents in the provinces, have a vote and in fact get a reaffirmation that the positions they are taking are right.

On the issue of this firearms legislation, what needs to be made clear right off the bat is that before Bill C-68 was put forward in 1995, Canada had very good firearms legislation. It had good control over firearms and the people who used firearms. There was good protection for society in general, both in the cities and in the country.

Members might ask how I can make this statement. They might ask if the gun legislation that came through in 1995 is not the best legislation, probably, and if it did not fill a big vacuum.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, you know me, as you are all-knowing about members of Parliament. I was in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 30 years. I am darn proud of my service there.

I dealt with a lot of the social ills in this country, including abuse and assaults between individual people, some on a social basis in unfortunate family situations and some in a criminal context. Before this billion dollar boondoggle of Bill C-68, how did police manage to handle the use of firearms if crimes were being committed? How did they check out somebody who wanted to have a firearm, or somebody who not only wanted but needed to have a firearm, as in the case of farmers and ranchers in particular, or trappers and people working in the resource industry in remote areas of the country where there are wild animals that actually will attack and kill humans? We did not need the new law. We needed to retain those we had.

Here is what we had before. We had a firearms acquisition certificate. Anybody who wanted to acquire firearms had to have a FAC, as it was called. People got that by going down to the local police station where local officers would do the computer checks through the Canadian Police Information Centre. They would do checks on people's background and character. They would know whether or not people were recorded as having any mental illness and/or criminal record. That was already in place. We did not have registration of every rifle and shotgun, but we did have the registering of handguns. That had been done since the 1930s. There was control of the handguns for the simple reason that handguns are easy to conceal inside a jacket or under a coat. That is legitimate firearms control and that is what we had.

Let us say that a firearm owner had his or her gun stolen. The RCMP would get the firearm owner to give us the serial number of his or her firearm and we would enter that into a computer. If that firearm had ever been used in a crime or if it was recovered, we would be able to immediately find it. However, that did not cost $1 billion. It probably cost a few million dollars to keep that system going. Those FACs are renewed every five years.

What about the situation where someone believes that maybe a person will use a firearm for an unlawful purpose or to hurt himself or herself or someone else? I know from practical experience that police can go to a court of law to obtain an order to seize those firearms and/or to remove the person who might commit the crime against his or her family or whomever.

We had good laws that worked, that were economical and that prevented those crimes which could be prevented. The problem with this legislation is that the Canadian public is given the impression that by registering every rifle and shotgun crime will be cut down. That is not the truth. Criminals cut down rifles and shotguns which make them illegal firearms, according to the Criminal Code. They become concealable weapons with which criminals commit the crimes.

Handguns are already registered. If the registration system is so good and prevents crime, why does the City of Toronto have gangs and criminals shooting each other and innocent bystanders on a regular weekly basis? The registration system cannot and will not prevent criminal activities or criminals from acquiring firearms.

What should we do? Do we take this $1 billion and fight crime or do we take the $1 billion, like the government has, and spend it on a registration system and harass law-abiding citizens? I and the Canadian Alliance say quite clearly that if we had given that $1 billion to the RCMP back in 1995, it would have improved its computers and it would have had an excellent system with regard to handguns. It would have used a lot of that $1 billion to go after real criminals. The money should have gone there.

The report of the Auditor General was recently presented to the House recently. It needs to be stated again in the House that is a scathing report. The Auditor General has used words to the effect that never in the history of Canada has there been such a large cost overrun on a program, a cost overrun that even the Auditor General could not establish from the books.

The Auditor General originally took the position of the government at the time that this would be a $2 million system. As she worked through it, she realized that the cost was around $1 billion and expected that it was likely much higher. However the records of the government were so bad that she could not determine how much money had been wasted on the system. There had been no accountability.

That brings us to the simple conclusion that throwing more money at this will not help. The system is still the way it is. It is still broken. It is still run down. It still cannot be made to work. I think the arguments of the backbench members of the government seem to have finally reached the frontbench and that is, further money should not be spent on the system.

The other day the Minister of Justice asked that $72 million be taken out of the supplementary estimates for the gun registry. The members have not said it, but I think they realize that throwing good money after bad will not do the job.

What would be wrong with not passing the motion and not sending it back to the other place? Let us keep this firearm legislation here. Let us make legislation that is effective in controlling crime, that makes wise use of resources and that is based on common sense and not some phoney Liberal value. That is what we need.

I have described the sensible legislation which the Canadian Alliance would put in place. We would still make fully automatic firearms prohibited. People would not be allowed to carry around handguns willy-nilly. However people could take their handguns to the local shooting range. If people did not want to use them at the shooting range for a whole year, for instance, that would be fine. They are their personal property.

However, with this legislation, the government is saying to people that if they have not used their firearms for year, because they have not signed in and out of the shooting club, then they no longer need them and they will be taken away. That is explicitly what it is saying it will do.

That is what is wrong with this legislation. It is a deception that the government and the Department of Justice have used right from the start to achieve its real goal, which cannot be crime prevention because obviously it does not prevent crime. Its real goal is to harass Canadians who have firearms either because they need them or for plain recreational purposes. The government wants to remove as many firearms as is possible.

The ideal goal as put forward by the lobby group, which is a very small number of people who want the federal government to put this legislation in, is that no Canadians have a firearms. The government understands that free society is not made up that way. A free society is made up of honest, decent citizens making a better country. Just because people own guns does not mean that they are not decent, normal citizen.

The government planned that the registry system would protect Canadians. Who is paying for that? The gun owners. Every blasted penny is being paid by people who own firearms. That further goes to show that the goal of the system is to harass gun owners and take away their firearms through the use of onerous laws made up of a whole bunch of little rules. The costs for that are borne by firearm owners.

The governments plan went a little bit awry when it tried to unload the costs onto the provinces. At that time the provinces said that the system would not work. They said that it was the most foolish plan they had ever seen and that would not participate or help the federal government.

Then we saw the initial court cases in Edmonton, Alberta. I recall very clearly the statistics the Department of Justice used. Because it did not have a good argument as to why the gun registry would help fight crime, it misstated and misused the figures, supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in court. Subsequently, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said publicly that the statistics were not correct and that they had been misrepresented in court. As a result, that deception continued.

Then the Auditor General found another deception. The Parliament of Canada was not being properly informed of the costs of the registry. That is highly suspect. The ministers are even saying to this day things that I think are questionable. That is the best way that I can put it.

The Minister of Justice said that the province of Ontario, at the time Premier Harris, and the province of Alberta, Premier Klein, were against effective gun control. I hate to quote from newspapers but that is what the minister said. That is patently untrue. It is as untrue as the statistics in the court case. The premiers of the provinces want effective gun control and wise use of resources, as I described at the start of my speech. I laid out how effective the system was before Bill C-68 and that is the system that I still purport we should use today.

That is why I would vote against the motion to send the bill back to the Senate for approval. The creation of a bureaucracy with a new commissioner of firearms reporting to the Minister of Justice instead of the RCMP will be a mammoth cost also and it will do absolutely nothing other than to drive the costs up. The minister will not answer our questions as to how much it will cost to finish registering of firearms and how much the system will cost every year thereafter.

I know that Canadians, both gun owners and non-gun owners, have not given up the battle to have this legislation repealed.

The former justice minister who brought this legislation forward quite clearly stated that the war had been lost by the Canadian Alliance in 1995 and as result it should be ended. The Canadian Alliance is not the only one fighting this. All provinces, firearm owners and people who are angry about the waste of their tax dollars are fighting it. This battle is not over by a long shot; it will continue.

I have a motion that I wish to put before the House, but before I do that I wish to speak to the other part of the motion which concerns the cruelty to animals legislation.

With regard to the cruelty to animals legislation, I only hope that, if the government sends it back to the Senate, that the Senate will retain the harsh penalties for cruelty to animals. I and my party are in favour that anybody who is cruel to animals should be hit with hard penalties. Animals are relatively defenceless when they are dealing with humans and as a result need that protection.

The stated goal here again is different than what the animal rights movement really wants. It does not want animals to be used either for food consumption or in any way other than their natural environment. I guess it would not even let us ride horses if it had its way because that is not totally natural to the animal.

I was talking about opposition to legislation. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association, every farmer lobby group association and the university medical research people are against the legislation. Millions of Canadians are against the legislation because parts of the bill do not protect farmers in the legitimate use of animals.

Once again, why would we not keep the bill in the House and fix it here, rather than send it back to the other place? I guess that is to be dealt with by the House as a whole and I suspect it will go back. Hopefully the Senate will do what we did not have the backbone to do in the House and that is make the cruelty to animal the best possible legislation. I wish the other place well in that regard.

I have made my points that both legislations are drastically flawed and that the opportunity to do the right thing in the House is available to us once again.

If the government sends bills back to the other place to be dealt with, it is abdicating its responsibility to do what is in the interest of all Canadians by the government and that is a sorry state of affairs. I wish to make an amendment in regard to this motion. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, this House does not concur with the Senate's division of the Bill into two parts, namely, Bill C-10A, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and the Firearms Act, and Bill C-10B, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), since it is the view of this House that such alteration to Bill C-10 by the Senate is an infringement of the rights and privileges of the House of Commons;” and

That this House asks the Senate to consider C-10 in an undivided form; and

That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours therewith.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is satisfied that the amendment is in order. The debate is on the amendment.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, good morning. We are in favour of the amendment. I have been sitting in this House for nine years, since 1993. I always thought that a distinction should be made between the work done here in the House of Commons and the work done in the other House.

I would have never thought that the government, particularly the government House leader, would be so—I must say the word, hoping that it is parliamentary language--spineless as to ask us to collectively forgo our privileges as members of the House of Commons. What is happening here is quite significant.

I hope that people in the gallery understand that we, as the elected representatives of the people, the 301 members of the House of Commons, are legislators. We have been elected here to represent the people. We are the ones with democratic legitimacy. We know our constitutional history.

The Senate, and I will have the opportunity to come back to this, is not there to defy this House. The Senate is there to review the bills that are proposed to it by the House of Commons, but the House of Commons is the real decision-making centre in our democracy.

We had already chosen to divide the bill earlier. We went through the whole legislative process we had to go through and we were at third reading stage. It may be useful to remind those who are listening to us what this legislative work is.

A bill is introduced, which is the first reading, and everyone knows that this is something automatic; there is no debate at this stage. Then, there is second reading, where the principles of the bill are debated. At the end of the second reading stage, the bill is referred to a committee, one of the House's several standing committees of the House. Finally, there is the third reading stage, where we comment on the principles, once the bill has gone through clause by clause consideration in committee.

The bill we are asked us to split, to divide into two bills, had gone through most of the legislative process. It was at third reading stage.

What right does the Senate—which is made up of people who are not elected but appointed, as we know, through a partisan system, therefore people who for all intents and purposes do what the Prime Minister tells them to, because they do not represent anyone—have to do this? The Senate is not there to defy the House. The Senate could not bring the government down. The other place cannot hold a vote of non-confidence. Not only are senators not elected, but they cannot pass bills that would lead to increased government expenditures. And now, they want us to suspend the democratic will of members of the House of Commons. This is unacceptable. We shall never accept this kind of process.

What is worse, the government is demonstrating complacency beyond what we thought possible. We have seen that this government is servile. We have seen that this government is complacent. Nor is this the first time that the government is being spineless. We have seen how the government is unable to hold its own when important issues are raised. However, for the government to ask us to forgo our privileges by asking us to agree that this not be a precedent, that is beyond comprehension.

How can the government be so servile? How can the government cave in so shamelessly when it comes to our work at legislators? We know that we are not dealing with a courageous government. We are not dealing with a very active government. We are having problems getting legislation to look at.

Not only is the government not active, not interventionist, but when the time comes for us to do our job, it is prepared to abdicate the privileges we have in this House. This is unacceptable.

I know that at such times we can rely on the Chair. The Speaker is the guardian of our freedoms. I do not know if Canadians and Quebeckers are aware of this, but if there were a world conflict and if Parliament were unable to sit, the Speaker would have an important role to play. In an emergency situation, such as an apprehended insurrection or any other calamity that would prevent Parliament from sitting, should we have to contact the British authorities, the only person empowered to do so would be the Speaker.

This is why the Speaker is the guardian of our freedoms. When we see the Speaker and the Sergeant-at-Arms process in front of us with the mace, which is the symbol of our authority, we understand that we are invited to sit, that we are plenipotentiaries who can do what they were elected to do, which is to pass laws.

I will never accept that the other chamber would ask us, at a stage as late as third reading, to start the whole legislative process all over. This shows how anachronistic that institution is. Why, after three mandates, has this government still not deemed it appropriate to examine on the role of senators? Is it acceptable to have people who have no democratic legitimacy making decisions for their peers?

In this House, there is a convention. We accept dissent, we accept diverging views, we accept the fact that we may not all agree on something, but there is a common base, in that all members are elected. All members have received the same democratic stamp of approval. All members who rise in this House do so on behalf of their fellow citizens. But the other place wants to interfere with our authority, with our legitimacy.

I will never, no matter how long I live, forgive the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for the kind complacency, if not servility, that makes him so totally spineless when the time comes to defend our parliamentary privileges. He has the nerve to present this motion, even in its amended form. If there had not been an amendment, the government would have been perfectly willing to allow one of our privileges to be breached.

There is no greater privilege for members of this House than to organize how they operate as they see fit. We agree that the executive, the government, has a role, which is to initiate bills. Once again, however, that is not the issue today.

Today, we are saying that we acknowledge the fact that the other chamber has interfered with how we operate, trampled our authority, shown disdain for the work done by parliamentarians. Yet the government is asking us to say “This time we will accept it, but not as a precedent that will work against us later on”. This is not possible. We will not cooperate in such a ploy.

We do not necessarily have anything against the bill. The firearms issue does, of course, stir up a lot of passions. We are familiar with the debate here, even within our own caucus.

I am a Montreal MP, and of course have not received any representations about the firearms issue. The only animals in my riding are in the Biodome, and they are pretty well contained.

I do, however, readily acknowledge that some members have received many representations, particularly those whose ridings are in isolated regions, such as my friend, the member for Frontenac—Mégantic, where the firearms issue is viewed in different terms than in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, which is close to the inner city.

We agreed that the right to bear arms is not in our constitution. The right our citizens have under the constitution is to live in peace, free of violence and illegal search and seizure. They have the right to be protected from physical violence and to have their physical well-being respected. No one in this House, no constitutional expert, could argue that the right to bear arms is a right under the constitution.

It seemed reasonable to us—

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

An hon. members

Oh, oh.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

—because every person is entitled to eat properly, and every person is entitled to the right to express himself on a full stomach, and I feel that my rights in this regard are being violated at this very moment.

All this to say that gun ownership is not a constitutional right. It seemed reasonable to us to put registration mechanisms in place.

Of course, when it was being debated in the House, many members raised legitimate questions regarding the cost of registration. We were told $15 or $20 million, but it has risen to a billion dollars.

I watched the news carefully and I was extremely pleased to see that government members are exercising their right to dissent, given that one member questioned the current Minister of Industry's competence. This was the sad spectacle of a kind of intellectual sparring match between two members of the Liberal majority.

There are certainly many members of the House who think that there is some truth to what the Liberal member said about the Minister of Industry. However, these are all considerations that can be debated in public.

We agreed to recognize in 1995, 1996 and 1997, that owning a firearm is not a constitutional right, because of the fact that we live in a society sheltered from violence. The debate took place, the parties had their say, and we voted.

As for the bill on cruelty to animals, we also had some reservations. I am sure members will recall, with joy and nostalgia no doubt, the excellent work done by the member for Berthier—Montcalm at the time.

Incidentally, as everyone knows, we will soon have the pleasure, I hope, of welcoming another member for Berthier—Montcalm, who will join the Bloc Quebecois caucus. I am taking this opportunity to invite all our fellow citizens from Berthier—Montcalm to go and vote on Monday. Let us not forget that there is nothing more precious in a democracy than to exercise one's right to vote. I remain fully confident that the voters of Berthier—Montcalm will put their trust in the Bloc Quebecois candidate.

Having said this, let us go back to the essence of the motion before us. As parliamentarians, how could we accept that our rights as legislators not be respected?

Even though our parliament is a bicameral institution, which means that it is made up of two chambers, namely the House of Commons and the other place, we cannot accept that a bill that was introduced in this House, that was debated at second reading, at which time members from all parties had an opportunity to speak, a bill that received serious consideration in committee and that made it to third reading, should be amended.

As parliamentarians, we know that a member of Parliament shows his true worth in committee. Indeed, it is in committee that the real work of parliamentarians is done, because an expertise is developed, the process is less partisan, and we can of course work in the true spirit of cooperation and friendship that all parties should have.

The bill came back for third reading. All the parties represented in the House expressed their opinions. We sent it to the other place. The Senate, with a shocking disregard for our prerogative as members of Parliament, is asking us to review the bill's structure and to split it again. This is unacceptable. This would create a precedent.

This proves to us in the Bloc Quebecois that it is high time we abolished this antiquated, backward, outdated, antidemocratic, obsolete institution, which has absolutely no place in a democratic system. When it comes time to look back on the Liberal Party's record and history, we will see how devoid of moral fibre and courage this party has been in refusing to modernize our political institutions.

The other place should have been abolished long ago. Anyone making decisions for their peers should be democratically and legitimately elected.

That is not what we are being proposed. They are proposing to ride roughshod over our prerogative. The Bloc Quebecois will never permit the other place to come here and tell us to do our work differently, as if the debate had never taken place, as if we were not elected representatives and as if we were not democratically elected. When I rise in this House, I can speak legitimately on behalf of the people of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

Do parliamentarians know who the senators represent? What is the role of the Senate, in terms of democratic legitimacy? In truth, it does not have any.

Of course, historically, people will say that when the founding fathers designed the federal system, they wanted to give the senators, in that other place, a responsibility to protect minorities. You could tell me this, but this responsibility to protect minorities has nothing to do with the democratic legitimacy of the members of this House.

I must say it again, it is almost as if the Senate wanted to hold us hostage, to strangle us with a bear hug and prevent us from breathing democratically. This is out of the question.

A number of institutions, such as the Senate and the position of Governor General, need to be rethought. They are not especially democratic. Granted, there have been some representatives of the Queen whose descendants have graced this House. This is perhaps the most useful thing they ever did for society.

However, let us agree that the Senate, the Governor General and anyone who is not democratically elected, are no longer legitimate in the 21st century. I am thankful that the Canadian Alliance has moved an amendment that invites us to take a firm stand. If by some misfortune this amendment were adopted, I hope that all government members and the hon. members of this House will understand the precedent that would be set. Imagine how vulnerable we would be. What happened once could happen again and again.

If ever the Senate were so ill-advised as to not approve bills referred to it or to refuse again to split a bill, the other place could claim a precedent and could say, “We did it for the bill on cruelty to animals and gun control; we could do it for any other bill”.

I am asking all those who believe in democracy, in our role as parliamentarians and in democratic legitimacy, to stop this trend towards disrespect for parliamentarians and to vote against the motion. I am asking the hon. members to approve the Canadian Alliance's amendment, so that if the Senate ever wants to claim a precedent, we can say no.

We will have been vigilant and have exercised our prerogative as representatives of the people. We are going to send the same message and stand together as one in telling the Senate, “We do not accept the Senate's cavalier attitude toward the House of Commons”. That is what the Canadian Senate is up to.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Bloc for his comments, especially his point that no matter whom people vote for on Monday, it is important for the people of that riding in Quebec to get out in full force and vote for the candidate of their choice.

I want to give the member an opportunity to speak a little more on the Bloc's idea of what should take place in Senate reform.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, as you know, there are five ways of amending the Constitution. Sometimes this requires the consent of all provinces, sometimes the 7-50 formula, consent of seven provinces representing 50% of the population. Sometimes it needs the consent of the federal government and the province concerned, as was the case when we changed the language-based school boards. Sometimes it requires not just the consent of the federal government but also that of the province concerned and the adjacent province, when boundaries are being changed.

To abolish the Senate of Canada would of course require a round of constitutional negotiations. The Senate is, in our opinion, an outmoded institution, one that has outlived its usefulness, an anachronism, with no justification for its existence. The Senate should be abolished, and steps taken to ensure that all those who make decisions for their peers, all those who represent the public, are elected representatives.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to compare what I am about to say with bringing many things into one bill. I remember when we had autograph books, one of the little verses was:

Roses are red, Violets are blue, I've got a horse, Can you swim?

It did not mean anything. Would the member not agree that putting things together of a different nature in one bill means the same thing, particularly when it comes from that side of the House?

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms)and Firearms Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, our colleague could not have been more eloquent. I would encourage this House to realize that a romantic poet lurks inside our colleague, which adds greatly to his charm.

Queen's Jubilee Medal
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge 20 deserving citizens of Surrey North who have been selected to receive the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for their outstanding service to the community.

They are: Chuck Bailey, Raghbir Singh Bains, Doreen Biener, Bill Brand, Al Cleaver, Dale Denney, Brenda Dudfield, Elizabeth Gilbert, Carol Girardi, Eileen Gratland, Daniel Igali, Wady Lehmann, Betty McClurg, Gerry Morden, Pritam Muker, Jean Munday, Peter Nichols, Dr. John O'Brien-Bell, Ole Olson and Catherine Schoen.

I would also like to pay tribute to the many others who were nominated. I invite the House to congratulate these individuals who have given so freely of themselves to the benefit of their community.

Halifax Harbour
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, 85 years ago today, just after 9 a.m., the beautiful, bustling harbour front of Halifax was reduced to a pile of smouldering rubble.

The Halifax explosion, at the time the largest man-made explosion ever, killed between 1,600 and 2,500 people and displaced thousands more, leaving them homeless and missing family and friends.

A centre for naval activity and ocean going commerce since its founding in 1949, Halifax is no stranger to nautical disasters. However, the scope of the collision between the Belgian relief ship Imo and French munitions vessel Mont Blanc and the ensuing destruction is beyond the understanding of contemporaries and historians alike.

I ask all members to join with me in remembering this solemn occasion with the respect it deserves.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, 1989, the lives of 14 young women were tragically cut short at L'École Polytechnique in Montreal. They were killed because of their gender.

In 1991 the Parliament of Canada established the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to commemorate the loss of these young women and to reflect on the reality of violence against women in our society. This day has become a day to reflect, not only upon the losses but also to turn a thought to the many Canadian women and girls who live daily with the threat of violence.

It is equally important to remember that December 6 represents a day for communities to find concrete actions each Canadian can act upon in their own lives to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

We must commemorate, reflect and take action in our own personal way. We must help to put an end to the violence against women because it can and does affect all Canadians.

Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay Byelection
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, something interesting is happening in the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay: the Bloc Quebecois's popularity is declining.

Militant separatists, such as Bernard Pilote, admit “People place less trust in our party's candidate than in the other party's candidate”. Jacques Brassard has almost conceded victory in the byelection to the Liberal candidate. He says “They could win”.

The Bloc has accomplished surprisingly little. They have been representing the riding for more than ten years, yet they have nothing to show for it. One chair is all the Bloc brought back to Lac-Saint-Jean from Ottawa. One chair does not create jobs nor ensure regional development.

It is obvious, Liberal candidate Gilbert Tremblay can make a difference in the region. Next Monday, the Bloc will get the message. The riding of Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay will be a winner.