House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

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

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 11:40 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-17, an act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the allotted day of the third reading consideration of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of the order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the third reading stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1) there will now be a 30 minute question period.

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is one of those occasions where we need to address both the issue, Bill C-17, but also the issue of the democratic deficit.

It is interesting that the parallel universe the former finance minister is operating in is holding a special caucus meeting over on that side tonight to try to determine what we can do to make this place more democratic. Invoking time allocation and closure is hardly the way to increase democracy. For the record, this is the 83rd time the government has moved to stop debate in this place.

The former finance minister repeatedly says that we have to do something to change the way we address issues in the House of Commons, that we have to be more democratic and that the government should not bring down the hammer of closure whenever it wants to. The government has used it 83 times. Not once did the member for LaSalle—Émard ever vote against a single one of those motions. He has used the hammer that the government has as a majority to shut down the rights of the minority time and again.

We support Bill C-17 itself. We are not putting up more speakers. We are willing to go ahead with it. We think it should go ahead and we should move on with it. However, we cannot support the way the government tries to get its way. It seems to have one way, “It's my way or the highway”. We either agree or the government uses the hammer.

This is the 83rd time it has brought in time allocation or closure and it has been supported ably by the member for LaSalle—Émard every single time that it comes up for a vote. He is now going to supposedly address the democratic deficit in his own parallel universe tonight at the caucus meeting.

Would the minister agree that addressing the democratic deficit is not enhanced by a record setting pace of shutting down debate in the House of Commons on legitimate, controversial issues like the bill before us today?

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

My colleague from the Alliance Party seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he said that his party is for Bill C-17 and “we should move on with it” and then he said that this motion, a legitimate motion in the standing orders, should not be used.

There is a time for decision in all parliamentary debate. We believe that the decision is now. In fact he seems to agree with that because we should move on with it.

Let me remind the House that this was a bill that came here originally as Bill C-42. Then Bill C-44 was hived off and then it became Bill C-55 and then Bill C-17. The bill has been before the House for a year in one form or another. It has been debated at second reading nine hours and 35 minutes, three hours and 15 minutes at report stage, three hours and 25 minutes at third reading. All told, there have been 38 hours and 15 minutes of debate. Also the committee studied it from November last year until May 2003.

It seems to me that we have had a lot of debate. I say to my friends in the Alliance that this is not a matter for procedural argument. We are dealing here with a crucial piece of legislation that flowed from the terrible attacks on September 11, 2001. We had Bill C-36 and then we had the bills which I just referred to, ultimately becoming Bill C-17.

It is absolutely crucial in the interest of national security and in dealing with the North American security environment, that this bill be passed. That is why the government House leader correctly in my view has brought forward the motion today.

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that the bill before us is a consequence of September 11. We know that a number of changes and adjustments have been made to Canadian security laws.

I remember the first days after the World Trade Center attacks. There seemed to be consensus in this House that we did not want terrorists to succeed in restricting our rights and freedoms, when all was said and done.

The position of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill C-17 has always been based on the fact that it was necessary to preserve the freedoms of Quebeckers and Canadians. A number of provisions in this bill worried us, in particular the military security zones, and it does appear that the government has decided to listen to us on that point. In any case, that does not appear in the bill.

However, for the items called “interim orders” and “cooperative sharing”, we have pointed out that the government has paid no attention to the witnesses that appeared before the legislative committee, which you presided over. Moreover, we think that the government is going against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For these reasons, it would have been wise to spend more time on what the witnesses and the members of Parliament have had to say. That is why we object to this sort of gag order.

As we said before, this is the 83rd gag order. Not only does the government not listen to the witnesses, do only what it pleases and follow the wishes of the Prime Minister, but in addition, it attacks parliamentary democracy by limiting debate and telling us, “You have just so many hours left and then it is over”.

You can understand that for us this is very hard to accept. I ask the minister if he thinks this is the proper way to act?

I think that there has to be the right balance of security, privacy and democracy. I think the minister leans much too far toward security, by imposing a gag order and ignoring the witnesses. This bill deserves further discussion.

Is the minister not putting too much emphasis on security rather than on democracy and the freedom of expression of the members of the House of Commons?

Public Safety Act 2002
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Don Valley East, ON

Not at all, Mr. Speaker. In response to questions by the Canadian Alliance, I already explained that the Standing Orders allow debate to be ended once all the arguments have been heard.

I am extremely pleased to agree with the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois on the need to strike a balance between respecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians and ensuring security. I think that, after all our debates both in committee and the House, we have struck this balance.

As the hon. member stated, we accept the position of the Bloc and those of members on this side of the House regarding the military exclusion zones, and we made changes by withdrawing the clause on these zones. So we have responded to members' arguments.

With regard to the other issues, the government's position is that once all the arguments have been heard, it is time to make a decision. That is what we are going to do today. The majority of members in the House of Commons want a debate followed by a decision.

As I already stated, there have been almost 40 hours of debate in the House; the committee debated this issue for almost one year. In my opinion, this demonstrates our willingness to listen to the opposition's arguments, as well as those of our Liberal colleagues. Once all the debates are over, the House must decide; that is why the government House leader introduced this motion.