House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was leader.

Topics

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

The hon. government House leader on a point of order.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a commitment I made to House leaders and others in the House, I believe that you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That Bill C-53, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts, be deemed to be amended in clause 23 by deleting the word “Woodwich” and substituting therefor the word “Woolwich” and that the bill be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee, reported from committee and concurred in at report stage without amendment, and read a third time and passed.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read a second time, referred to committee, reported without amendment, concurred in, read a third time and passed)

Points of Order
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2003 / 10:35 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention a serious matter that arose yesterday in the Standing Committee on Finance during the testimony of the Governor of the Bank of Canada.

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that during this meeting the actions of the chairperson, supported by the government majority on the committee, denied me and other members of the committee our right to question the witness as is allowed by the rules of Parliament. As such my freedom of speech, which is a fundamental right to every MP in this place, was denied.

The facts are fairly simple. The meeting was held to examine the Bank of Canada's monetary policy. The witnesses were the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the senior deputy governor.

During the meeting, when recognized by the Chair in my proper order and within the time allowed to me, I attempted to question the credibility of the witness, given the past record of the Governor of the Bank of Canada as a manager of a scandal at the Department of Health. All attempts to question the credibility of the witness were ruled out of order by the chair.

I fail to see the point in having free speech in the House if it is arbitrarily denied to me in committee. It is my job as an MP and as my party's finance critic to explore the governor's ability to run our monetary policy and that question involves his credibility. We cannot study a policy without looking at the bank's chief manager's ability to implement the policy effectively.

I know that my immediate remedy for this problem was to raise the matter with the committee, and that I did. My only option was to challenge the chair, and that I did. The committee split along party lines and the chair's ruling was upheld.

I know that we have partisan debate in this place and that in committee there are votes along party lines. That is common and I understand that this is normal; however, the House and its committees are more than a partisan battleground.

We are an institution where a variety of ideas are expressed and where the facets of public policy are explored to improve the lives of those who send us here as representatives. The expression of those ideas is the right of all members within the confines of the rules. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of MPs in this place.

We do not allow the majority to gag the minority, but that is what happened yesterday. When the tyranny of the majority runs down our rights as members, then our only remedy is to ask for your wisdom on this matter. I have listened to your rulings in the past on the independence of committees and I have taken them to heart.

Mr. Speaker, you have recognized that committees are their own masters on matters of procedure, but my point of order is not procedural. It is a question of my rights being denied.

Mr. Speaker, you are my only viable protector against a gag order from the majority of this place. I am only trying to do my job within the rules. I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to review the transcript in question and overrule the chair of the finance committee on this matter.

Points of Order
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is bordering on the ridiculous. Yesterday the Standing Committee on Finance considered, as it was said, the Bank of Canada's monetary policy report and, of course, it had as a witness the Governor of the Bank of Canada.

I understand that the member for Medicine Hat, and perhaps others, asked about the situation of the governor when he was working in a previous position at the Department of Health at the time of the so-called Virginia Fontaine incident. As the record will show, the governor said that, as every member will appreciate, the issue was before the courts and that he would not want to jeopardize it in any way.

Therefore we all know the issue is before the courts. Actually in the House that same rule would apply invoking the sub judice convention.

The chair noted that the committee meeting was to discuss matters relating to monetary policy and ruled that this matter should not be considered at this meeting. The witness properly invoked that this was sub judice and the chair properly said that it was not before the committee anyway. On both sides we had the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, the member for Medicine Hat and others rebuked in a sense.

The chair advised the member for Winnipeg North Centre that she could appeal the ruling if she wanted to. The committee then voted to sustain the ruling of the chair, which a committee is entitled to do.

The member cannot come to the House and say that somehow procedurally something went wrong. She has acknowledged that the procedure was correct.

If the procedure was correct, simply to say that there were more people who disagreed than agreed with her is not grounds for bringing this to the attention of your honour. In my view, this is an inappropriate attempt by the hon. member to interfere, first, in a ruling of the court, and second, to divert the attention of the committee from the consideration of national issues to a partisan point that she was trying to make.

Finally, it is certainly not an issue that is properly before your honour.

Points of Order
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the government House leader has not been properly apprised of the facts as they actually occurred in the committee.

My understanding is that the witness did not invoke the sub judice rule. In fact, the witness appeared as if he were ready to answer the questions because perhaps the witness understood better than the government House leader that the question of confidence, that is to say, the confidence that the people of Canada can have in the Governor of the Bank of Canada, is central to monetary policy and central to the health of our economy.

That is why the questions that the member for Medicine Hat and the member for Winnipeg North Centre wanted to raise were not and should not have been ruled out of order.

How the Governor of the Bank of Canada operated in his previous position, if in fact things have come to the attention of the public and the media, is something that should be the proper realm of questioning for the committee.

I would submit that the government House leader has it wrong because the question of confidence in the Governor of the Bank of Canada is not sub judice. It is a political matter. That is why I raised it in the House yesterday and why the member for Winnipeg North Centre raised it.

It seems to us that what is happening here is that the government does not want the Governor of the Bank of Canada to answer these questions. It is trying to protect the governor. It is trying to keep him from having to answer these questions as to why this kind of misuse of public funds could have happened under his auspices when he was the deputy minister of health.

Points of Order
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sure we can have motives bandied about in the House for all kinds of goings on but it is not the purview of the Chair to involve himself in these matters. We are really dealing here with a point of order raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre concerning proceedings in a committee.

As she herself acknowledged in her point of order, which I admit was very capably argued, and I appreciate all her kind comments about the wonderful authority the Chair supposedly possesses, committees are masters of their own procedure. She obviously knows the rules very well because she did what she could in the committee to appeal to the chair to reconsider the matter. I gather she asked for a vote in the committee on the chair's ruling and so on. The committee made a decision that it would not have questions on the subjects that she was raising in the committee during that proceeding.

For the member to raise the matter here and expect me to overrule a committee chair who made a ruling that was decided in the committee, I think, as she acknowledged in her own argument, is beyond my competence. As greatly as she lauded it and as much as she suggested that I had wonderful powers, I do not believe that it is proper for the Chair of this House to be a sort of court of appeal for committees. I have indicated that in past rulings on this kind of point of order and I am afraid I will have to make that same decision today. I advise her to pursue remedies in other places.

I point out to her that there is more than one committee that might be involved in this matter and that might ask the governor to come and give evidence. She is free to raise the matter in various committees and maybe she will get a different ruling in a different committee. This is one of the great bonanzas of the House of Commons and I know that she will want to take full advantage of that in all her work.

Accordingly, I do not find there is a point of order here.

Points of Order
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, this morning some of our members, and I also understand other members from other parties who are in the Confederation Building or the Justice Building, almost missed the vote because of the circuitous route of the bus. I know this can be addressed in a different forum but it could and can affect members' performance in the House, certainly if they cannot make it for a vote.

I would ask for your consideration, Mr. Speaker, in the right forum, if this is not the proper one, to make sure the buses take a more direct route when we have votes in the House. It appears the bus drivers may not be aware of when there are votes and it could certainly cause major problems in the performance of our duties here in this great institution.

Points of Order
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for raising the matter. I am sure the point he has taken up will be raised in the appropriate forum and resolved to the hon. member's satisfaction. We would not want members delayed on buses. We will certainly do our best to expedite the transport.