House of Commons Hansard #176 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was auto.

Topics

Human Resources
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports that Canadian owners of small and medium sized businesses are experiencing persistent labour shortages. About 265,000 jobs are vacant in the small business sector and about 185,000 jobs have been unfilled for at least four months.

In a recent survey of its 102,000 members, the federation discovered that 26% reported that they had at least one job that was unfilled because the business was unable to find persons with skills.

What is the government doing to address the situation?

Human Resources
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Whitby--Ajax for her excellent question.

On the one hand, developing skills and education for workers who are needed by employers lies at the core of our innovation and learning strategy. On the other hand, labour shortages are better than the opposite, which is not enough jobs and too much unemployment. Part of the reason for these labour shortages is that Canada has been the most powerful job creating machine of all the G-7 countries.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Dr. Solomon Isaac Passy, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, could the government House Leader tell us what the business will be for the rest of this week and next week?

As he knows, 70% of members of the House want private members' business to be votable. Will the government House leader instruct his members on the committee to go to the meeting next Tuesday, discuss the issue and vote on it immediately so we can solve the problem as quickly as we can?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

April 25th, 2002 / 3 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will continue debate on third reading of Bill C-50, the WTO legislation. When that is concluded we will take up report stage and third reading of Bill C-47 dealing with excise.

On Monday and Tuesday of next week we expect to return to Bill C-5 which deals with species at risk. I would then hope that on Wednesday we could commence debate on the new public safety legislation which I expect to be introduced on Monday.

In response to the Leader of the Opposition on the matter of private members' business, I commend the hon. member for Peterborough who is the chair of the committee on procedure and House affairs. He has taken the initiative to organize under the auspices of the committee a roundtable discussion among members about better alternatives for dealing with private members' business.

As all House leaders know, finding the right way to manage private members' business, particularly the question of votability, is a topic that has bedeviled not just this parliament but previous parliaments. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested everything be votable. That is the rule that applies to government business. If we could come to a consensus about the time that applies to private members' business perhaps we could apply some of the same rules we apply to government business.

As I said during question period, we need creative thinking on the issue. We need a solid co-operative approach. I am perfectly happy to set aside the rhetoric and find ways that will work for all members of parliament.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I could not be in the House this morning for routine proceedings and could not table the ninth, tenth, and eleventh reports of the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages. I request the unanimous consent of the House in order to table these reports now.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to revert to tabling of committee reports?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the ninth, tenth, and eleventh reports of the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages.

The ninth report deals with consideration of vote 35.

In its tenth report, the committee expresses the hope that the budget of the official languages commissioner be increased by $4 million.

In its eleventh report, it expresses the hope that the official languages commissioner will launch a public awareness campaign throughout Canada to help Canadians better understand the Official Languages Act.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Mississauga South.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Mississauga South
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as you know my request relates to two questions of privilege. If I may, I will deal with one at a time.

The first question of privilege relates to a matter of obstructing or impeding a member of parliament from conducting his business. Mr. Speaker, I would refer you to Marleau and Montpetit, chapter 3, Privileges and Immunities, the section on “Freedom from obstruction, interference, intimidation and molestation” on page 83.

The matter relates to an item of which I cannot deal in much specificity because I cannot address the absence of a member in the House. However I believe that dealing with the generic case would provide a remedy to my concern.

As a parliamentary secretary, when called upon, I am obligated to represent the minister in the House of Commons with regard to adjournment proceedings, that is, questions from a previous question period which members would like to deal with in a more fulsome fashion.

It appears that either a member, or the table, or the vacuum of guidelines within the standing orders, has led to a situation not only on the particular occasion in question but on similar occasions where parliamentary secretaries are required to be here in the House to discharge their responsibilities but a member does not show for that proceeding.

It appears to me that the standing orders are silent on the matter of what constitutes due notice in these matters. It also appears to me that the standing orders are silent on what constitutes a valid reason for a cancellation at a very late period of time, what period of notice and what the consequences are if there is no notice or if there is no valid reason for a member not to appear for the adjournment proceedings.

In the particular case, I had other business to attend to but my first responsibilities were to be here in the House to respond at the adjournment proceedings. I was impeded and obstructed from doing my other business in the House simply because the member did not appear for some reason, or the table did not inform me, or that the standing orders of the House did not provide the guidelines in this regard.

I raise this, Mr. Speaker, as a question of privilege. Marleau and Montpetit states on page 84:

Over the years, Members have brought to the attention of the House instances which they believed were attempts to obstruct, impede, interfere, intimidate or molest them.... In a technical sense, such actions are considered to be contempts of the House and not breaches of privilege. Since these matters relate so closely to the right of the House to the services of its Members, they are often considered to be breaches of privilege.

Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I have risen today on a question of privilege as is sometimes the custom of this place to seek remedy from the House with regard to circumstances where members do not appear, or where notice or cancellation notice, or reasons are not given. I hope that the standing orders will be clarified and that specific instance which involved me will be looked into and resolved to the satisfaction of the House.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think this question of privilege is very easily dealt with. All hon. members have an obligation to be here for the House when it is sitting, including the hon. member, including the hon. member who apparently did not show up.

The sad thing about the hon. member's question of privilege is that parliamentary secretaries or ministers who choose to be here to respond to questions raised on the late show, as we call it, are here to respond. They cannot say anything unless the person who raised the question is here first.

While I know we try to arrange these things to accommodate all hon. members so that some who may choose to absent themselves from the House, and I know that members hate being away, will be able to in fact slip away and do something else.

In this case there was a breakdown in communication. The member was not here. The hon. member feels he was inconvenienced but I know he was glad to be in the House. In that sense I can only say the burdens of office are heavy upon him. As a parliamentary secretary he has to be here and take a chance. He took a chance and it did not work.

If he has a real grievance, I suggest he raise it with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which may want to look at the rules in this regard to see if they can be changed.

However I am afraid I cannot agree with him that this non-attendance by another hon. member and the cancellation of this proceeding somehow damaged, affected or impeded his ability to carry out his duties because of course his first duty was to be here in the House. The Chair can only go that far.

The hon. member has a second question of privilege and I know he will want to get on with that.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Mississauga South
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, my second question of privilege is a little more serious. The matter of privilege relates to an incident which occurred this morning, in which I believe I was intimidated by another member of parliament with regard to House matters.

If I may give some background, in the debate on Tuesday, April 23 the member for Vancouver Island North sought the unanimous consent of the House to table over 8,000 documents. I was in the House and indicated that I did not give my consent. The next speaker, the member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, identified me for refusing to give unanimous consent and indicated that I was silencing Canadians. That is the background.

This morning I was in the House on other business and had to leave the House to go to committee. I left the House and while I was waiting for the bus outside, a car drove up in front of me. The member for Kelowna got out of the car, approached me, put his finger to my nose and told me that he had a problem with me. He repeated the language the member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke had used, indicating that I had silenced Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find that this is intimidation, that the member's intent was to make sure I would think twice before I would exercise my right not to give unanimous consent. Marleau and Montpetit, page 373 with regard to tabling of documents states:

There has been a long-standing practice in the House that private Members may not table documents, official or otherwise, even with the unanimous consent of the House.

I believe that I have worked hard to earn respectful relationships with all hon. members of the House. If I am accused of silencing Canadians and intimidated because I decided to exercise my right to deny unanimous consent on a matter, which I am aware was not permitted by the House in the normal course unless there were extraordinary circumstances which had the consent of all parties of the House in advance of such a request to table, that member was trying to intimidate and influence me into reconsidering my particular actions in the House on a subsequent occasion.

As I indicated in the first question of privilege, normally such items are considered to be matters of contempt of the House, but the House considers them as questions of privilege. I raise them here today simply because I believe that regarding the issue of requesting unanimous consent to table documents which are not in accordance with the rules of the House except in some rare circumstances, it is not for another member to suggest to me that I should not be making up rules as I go along, it is the Speaker. Those were the allegations of the member, that I was somehow making up rules, but when I get a finger in my face to suggest that he has a problem with me, I take that with the aggression which accompanied those words and that action, that I was being intimidated.

I raise this matter with the hon. Speaker for his consideration.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

We will hear first from the hon. member for Vancouver Island North, as he was making the speech and made the request.