House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the Minister of Health gave a response in this House indicating that steps have already been taken to improve the method of reporting adverse drug reactions and particularly to ensure that more would be done than just reporting them. Health workers need to have access to information in order to apply that information to their clinical practice, and this will really respond to the needs raised by the hon. member across the way.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of 12 boys and girls, the Children's Miracle Network 2002 Champions from across the country.

These youngsters have overcome life threatening illnesses or injuries and have been chosen to represent the two million children who are treated annually by the Children's Miracle Network hospitals and foundations across Canada.

These remarkable young people are true champions who have overcome major obstacles to be with us today.

I would invite everyone to join them at the reception that will follow in Room 216-N.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I also draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the hon. Steve Ashton, Minister of Highways and Government Services for the province of Manitoba.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

March 22nd, 2002 / 12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier on March 18, 2002, concerning the selection of votable items by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I thank the hon. member for Ottawa--Vanier for drawing this matter to the attention of the Chair, as well as the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville and the hon. government House leader for their contribution on this question.

The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier in raising the matter argued that the bill he sponsored, Bill C-407, an act to amend the Canada Health Act (linguistic duality), should have been selected as votable since it met all the criteria (approved by the House) in order to be considered eligible for “votable” status.

The member expressed himself very clearly and conveyed a deep sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with the way that private members’ business currently operates, especially with the fact that he was not able to obtain an explanation as to why his bill was not selected as a votable item.

As all hon. members know, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has the mandate to select votable items from the items placed on the order of precedence as the result of a draw. The committee must determine, in accordance with a set of criteria that it has adopted, the selection to be made.

I refer the House to a decision by Mr. Speaker Fraser on December 4, 1986 ( House of Commons Debates , p. 1759) with respect to the responsibility that the House has delegated to the procedure and house affairs committee relating to the selection of votable items.

He said:

—its decision in regard to the selection of items of business which must come to a vote cannot be challenged. When embodied in a report which is presented to the House, that report is deemed adopted by the House. The Committee, therefore, plays a very important role in safeguarding the rights of private members.

—It is not for the Chair to dictate to the Committee how it should take care of its responsibilities.

I want to emphasize that the Chair takes this matter very seriously even though, after careful examination, the case raised by the hon. member cannot be considered a question of privilege. It is a procedural matter which requires a procedural solution.

As hon. members know, several attempts at finding such a solution have been made and continue to be made. To begin with, a number of recommendations were made by members, in particular during the procedure debates in the House on March 21, 2001 and May 1, 2001.

These suggestions were taken into consideration by the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons and there is a reference to the issue in the committee’s report as adopted by the House on October 4, 2001.

While acknowledging the dissatisfaction with private members’ business as it currently operates and recognizing the need for changes, the special committee could not find consensus on the nature of specific reforms.

Following the report of the special committee the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs further considered the question of improving procedures for the consideration of private members' business and concluded in its report presented to the House on December 14, 2001, that:

--changes to the Standing Orders for the consideration of Private Members' Business, including a workable proposal allowing for all items to be votable, cannot be achieved at this time.

This leaves the door open for the committee to consider the matter once again in the future.

The hon. government House leader in his response to the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier reflected the opinion of many members when he said that “this subject matter has expressed itself in frustration on all sides of the House of Commons” and that he thinks “that there is a general desire in the House to find a better way of dealing with these matters”.

I can only urge the hon. government House leader to follow up on his suggestion that an attempt be made to find another way of solving these issues to the satisfaction of all members so that our procedures may be improved in this regard. I am sure that, with the help of interested members, like the member for Ottawa—Vanier, the member for Yorkton—Melville and others, including the nembers of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, a solution will be found.

I thank the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier for having drawn this very important matter to the attention of the House.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine
Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

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

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, pursuant to the order of reference from the House of Commons dated February 7, 2002 regarding the accusation made against the Minister of National Defence of having misled the House.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 35(2) I have the following succinct explanation to make to the minority report filed by the Canadian Alliance to the report just tabled.

We dissented from the majority report for the following reasons. First, the evidence before the committee clearly indicated that the minister was thoroughly briefed on the matter of Canadian troops taking detainees in Afghanistan on January 21. The minister understood the matter and he did not seek further clarification contrary to his own testimony. We concluded from this evidence that the minister knew of the matter on January 21.

Second, it appeared that the minister misled the House. As the majority report will indicate one must examine the context of the relevant events around the minister's conduct in order to establish intent. In this case the context was the serious division within the ranks of the government members and the apparent need for the minister to avoid a confrontation with his own caucus on January 26 and January 27.

We concluded from this that the minister intended to demonstrate that he first knew of the incident on January 25 rather than January--

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member may think this is succinct but the Chair does not agree. There is allowance in the rules for a very succinct explanation. I hope he is about to draw to an immediate conclusion.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your definition of succinct. It is always relative I guess.

For the reasons set out in the report the official opposition must dissent from the majority report of the committee filed in the House today. We believe the minister should have provided a further explanation given the contrary explanation presented by his officials.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to make a brief comment regarding the report tabled by—

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the standing orders only allow one representative from a political party to comment, unless there is unanimous consent from the House, as the member knows.

Is there unanimous consent of the House to allow the member to comment?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.