House of Commons Hansard #205 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lead.

Topics

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I conclude from that government item No. 23 on the order paper is therefore withdrawn. Is that agreed?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, today being Thursday it is my duty at this time to ask the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons what business he has for the remainder of today, tomorrow and the following week.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I understand that many members would have suggestions about the government business over the next few days. However, in the absence of hearing all that, I will inform the House of the following.

We will continue this afternoon tomorrow with the following: Bill C-53, the pesticide legislation, to be followed by Bill C-58, the Canada pension plan investment board bill and any time remaining on Bill C-55, the public safety bill.

On Monday we will begin with a motion by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to refer to committee before second reading the bill on first nations governance that he will introducing tomorrow, notice of which is already on the order paper. We would then turn to report stage and third reading of Bill C-54, respecting sports. We would then turn to the specific claims bill introduced earlier today and any business left from this week, that is the bills I named a moment ago.

We would also like to debate report stage and third reading hopefully of Bill C-48, the copyright legislation and, subject to some progress, I would also like to resume consideration at second reading of Bill C-57, the nuclear safety bill.

In addition, it would be the wish of the government to dispose of the motion to establish a special joint committee to review proposals made concerning the code of conduct for parliamentarians.

This is the list of legislation that I would like to see completed over the next several days.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege to charge the Minister of Finance with contempt for his failure to comply with the legislative requirement compelling him to table a report from the chief actuary in compliance with section 115 of the CPP Act.

Subsection 115(2) of the CPP Act says:

--the Chief Actuary shall, whenever any Bill is introduced in or presented to the House of Commons to amend this Act in a manner that would in the opinion of the Chief Actuary materially affect any of the estimates contained in the most recent report under this section made by the Chief Actuary, prepare, using the same actuarial assumptions and basis as were used in that report, a report setting forth the extent to which such Bill would, if enacted by Parliament, materially affect any of the estimates contained in that report.

On June 6 the government introduced Bill C-58, an act to amend the Canada pension plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. The speaking notes given out by the government indicate that this will change the earnings of the fund by $75 billion. This is a material effect on the fund and must be accompanied by a full report of the chief actuary.

Moreover, the report must be laid before the House of Commons by the Minister of Finance forthwith. That is subsection 115(8), which states:

Forthwith on the completion of any report under this section, the Chief Actuary shall transmit the report to the Minister of Finance, who shall cause the report to be laid before the House of Commons forthwith on its receipt if Parliament is then sitting, or if Parliament is not then sitting, on any of the first five days next thereafter that Parliament is sitting, and if at the time any report under this section is received by the Minister of Finance Parliament is then dissolved, the Minister of Finance shall forthwith cause a copy of the report to be published in the Canada Gazette. (Section 115(8).

The chief actuary has completed his report. The speaking notes from the department read:

The transfer is expected to improve the investment performance of the CPP. The Chief Actuary of Canada estimates that the change will increase CPP assets by about $75 billion over 50 years.

The last time a bill was introduced in the House making changes to the CPP Act, the chief actuary had his report prepared one day before the bill was introduced in parliament. Bill C-2 was introduced on September 25, 1997, and I have a copy of a letter sent to the minister from the chief actuary dated September 24, 1997, one day before the bill was tabled indicating that:

In compliance with subsection 115(2) of the Canada Pension Plan Act, which provides that a periodic actuarial report shall be prepared whenever a Bill is introduced in the House of Commons to amend the CPP, I am pleased to transmit the sixteenth actuarial report on the Canada Pension Plan.

I will table both of these documents with you, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly, our chief actuary is on the ball and respects parliament and follows the law. The fault does not lie with the chief actuary but with the Minister of Finance. The report regarding Bill C-58 is obviously finished and should have been tabled.

Members of the House cannot evaluate the impact of these changes properly without a report. For example, an extra $75 billion may allow the 9.9% rate to fall. On the other hand it could be that the CPP would be unsustainable without this act and that this act was assumed in the preparation of the last, that is the 18th, report. Parliamentarians need to know this.

In 1993 the Speaker ruled on a similar question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River. The issue at that time concerned the failure of the Minister of Finance to table an order made under the customs act as it was his statutory duty to do. The member for Scarborough--Rouge River stated that he entertained no doubt that:

...the minister's failure to table a document required to be tabled by this House, whether intentional or accidental, tends to diminish the authority of the House of Commons and is something that might reasonably be held to constitute contempt by this House

Speaker Fraser ruled on April 19, 1993, that a prima facie case of breach of privilege had been made and allowed the member to move a motion referring the matter to the standing committee on House management. In his ruling Speaker Fraser reiterated that:

The requirements contained in our rules and statutory laws have been agreed upon by this House and constitute an agreement which I think all of us realize must be respected. Members cannot function if they do not have access to the material they need for their work and if our rules are being ignored and even statutory instruments are being disregarded.

The Speaker also agreed that disregard of a legislative command, even if unintentional, was an affront to the authority and dignity of parliament as a whole and the House in particular.

On November 21, 2001, the Speaker delivered a ruling in regard to a complaint by the member for Surrey Central who cited 16 examples of where the government failed to comply with the legislative requirements concerning the tabling of certain information in parliament. In all 16 cases raised on November 21 a report deadline was absent from the legislation. As a result the Speaker could not find a prima facie question of privilege. However the Speaker said in his ruling at page 7381 of Hansard :

Were there to be a deadline for tabling included in the legislation, I would not hesitate to find that a prima facie case of contempt does exist and I would invite the hon. member to move the usual motion.

The reporting date in section 115 of the CPP Act is “forthwith”. The term forthwith is used all through our standing orders, Mr. Speaker, and I have watched you comply with such orders. When our standing orders instruct us to put a question to the House forthwith, that is exactly what we do. We do it right away without delay. We do not do it the next day or a week later.

By breaching a statutory requirement to table the chief actuary's report in the House the Minister of Finance is in contempt of the House. I am prepared to move a motion to refer this matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I would also request that Bill C-58 not be allowed to proceed until a report of the chief actuary has been tabled. This is more of a point of order and ask that you rule on that related matter as well.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there has been a reference to a deadline made by the hon. member regarding this issue, which of course is a serious issue and I am not diminishing the importance of it. He says to buttress his argument that there is no deadline in this and it is based on the consideration which he refers to as forthwith.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is there, during the course of his presentation the hon. member might have forgotten one of the original propositions he raised in the House. It stated that it was in the chief actuary's opinion to trigger the mechanism of issuing this letter, or note which was the expression the hon. member used a while ago. I do not know, nor do I suggest the House knows yet whether the chief actuary has given such an opinion at this time.

I have asked officials to verify and to report to me. I will report to the House as early as possible. Hopefully later this day I would be able obtain that information for the benefit not only of the Speaker but of course for the benefit of all hon. members. However I do think that the triggering mechanism, which the hon. member admitted is there, is the chief actuary's opinion.

I would undertake to verify if he has given such an opinion and what the opinion is. If the chief actuary has given an opinion that in fact the triggering mechanism does not apply, the point of course is not valid. If he has not given an opinion at all, it is not valid either because the whole argument is based on the chief actuary providing that opinion, and that is the contention of the hon. member who raised the proposition in the House.

Perhaps I can assist the House and undertake that if, by the time we complete consideration of the bill now before the House, I have not obtained the information to be able to rise and give further explanation to hon. members, I would then call the other bill that is on the order paper instead, namely, Bill C-55, and call Bill C-58 at a later time, perhaps tomorrow. That would satisfy the hon. member because the proposition is not before the House given that the bill has not been called for debate and I could delay perhaps for a little while.

That being said, if anytime between now and the completion of the debate on the other bill, Bill C-53, I could rise on a point of order and give further explanation to the House, I would do so at that time.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not want to reply. The Chair is prepared to take the matter under advisement. The hon. member may get a chance to reply later, if and when the government House leader comes back to the House with additional information as he has undertaken to do. We should wait until we get the additional information and then if the hon. member has additional comments, perhaps the Chair could hear the matter at that time.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to protect human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests, be read the third time and passed.

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Before question period, the hon. member for Jonquière had the floor. She has five minutes left on questions and comments.

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, as you said, before question period, my colleague from Fundy—Royal asked me what I thought about the government not including the precautionary principle in Bill C-53.

It is a serious mistake on the part of the Minister of Health. The precautionary principle is an essential component that should have been included in the bill's preamble. It would have been the basis for all the provisions contained in Bill C-53.

Anyone who reads this bill can see that the minister did not do her homework properly. It is very disappointing to see that, because the bill was supposed to give us indispensable tools to protect our health and our environment.

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on that same point about the precautionary principle, as my colleague said, the government decided not to mention the precautionary principle in the preamble and referred to it only once, in one clause of the bill, and that is not a trivial matter, it is very important.

When the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development came before the environment committee, she told us that in order to meet Canada's international commitments to the environment, all Canadian environmental and health legislation must provide that the precautionary principle is a fundamental principle in Canada.

I would like my colleague to tell us what she thinks of the fact that, internationally, Canada signs agreements like the Kyoto protocol, the convention on biological diversity and other international agreements, but when the time comes to introduce domestic legislation that could be tailored to these international commitments, Canada backs away and refuses to do so.

I would like to know what the member thinks about Canada tabling and passing an act of parliament that is not in line with the commitments Canada makes at the international level.

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2002 / 3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take advantage of my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie's intervention to congratulate him once more for the great work that he has done on Bill C-53. He has done a remarkable job representing my party, the Bloc Quebecois, and I would like to pay tribute to him for that.

As my colleague said, we have to recognize that this government does speak from both sides of it mouth. On the international scene, it is boastful but when the time comes to pass legislation, it backs off. And what are we presented with? Nothing but an incomplete bill, when what we needed was a super bill. What is the government doing? I do not dare repeat the phrase we use in my part of the country because it would be declared unparliamentary.

The government just turned around and said “You know, we can pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians and Quebecers; they will not notice a thing. But on the international scene, we have to look good”.

These are people with an empty shell. This government is nothing but an empty shell. It looks good wrapped in cellophane, but when you unwrap it, you find a lot of incomplete things.