House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has made his point. It may or may not be in writing. The Speaker obviously does not know. I listened to the answer given by the minister. He indicated that it appeared to be an idea that was floating around, that was being circulated. Sometimes the media gets things inaccurately too.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

An hon. member

No kidding.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member thinks I was kidding. No, it does happen occasionally.

I know the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona will want to pursue the matter. I have said that. However I do not think it is a point of order. The minister did not refer to a document so we cannot force him to table it. He has made his point. I am sure that the minister will look at this point of order very carefully and consider what he will say the next time the hon. member, or one of his colleagues, asks him a question on this very subject, which I suspect might happen quite soon.

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a number of Order in Council appointments.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 27 petitions.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, my point of order concerns the failure of the Minister of Finance to rise in the House to deliver a statement on amendments or changes to the budget. I will be brief. I could have risen on a question of privilege and put forward an argument that a contempt had taken place. I believe that it has but I would rather not divide the House.

On February 18 the Minister of Finance delivered a budget to the House. At great expense to the people of Canada, documents were prepared and the media was locked up and briefed. The minister rose in the House and spoke for over an hour. That statement to the House of Commons stands as the budgetary policy of the government. The government, as I know only too well, stands or falls on the budget and it does so by vote in the House of Commons. The budget and its approval are central to the survival of government.

The House is now engaged in four days of debate on the budget. Last evening the House voted on the first of a number of amendments concerning the budgetary policy of government. That debate is a prelude to the important decision that will be taken when the House decides by vote whether it approves of the budgetary policy of government. This decision is vital.

Marleau and Montpetit, on page 753, states that concurrence in any Ways and Means motions “may not be proposed until the Ways and Means proceeding on the Budget itself is completed”. That is another way of saying that the House must vote to approve the budgetary policy of government before the government can ask the House to approve its tax measures. Therefore the decision to accept or reject a budget is one of the core decisions we take.

The problem is that in this House we do not know with any certainty what that policy is. Nor do we know what provisions are in the budget.

The Minister of Finance made his speech in the House of Commons. Then according to media reports last weekend, the Prime Minister contradicted the Minister of Finance concerning Olympic funding and policy. The Prime Minister did so outside the House of Commons. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Finance has seen fit to acquaint the House with any changes to what the Minister of Finance said on February 18.

The House is left in the odious position of having the minister tell the House one thing, having the minister table documents that say one thing, and now we are told in the media that what was said in the House and what was tabled in the House is no longer applicable.

Three hundred and one members of the House of Commons are in the process of debating and voting on the budget that is being altered by the Prime Minister's whim and off the cuff imperious comments to the media.

The government owes it to the House, if it has any sense of accountability to Parliament, any sense of transparency, any sense of respect for the members of the House, particularly those silent souls who say that they support the government, to tell the House, in the House, what changes are being made to the budget. All of us need to know.

Changes have taken place in past budgets. I recall the infamous budget presented by the Hon. Allan J. MacEachen in 1981. Changes were made in that budget and the changes were announced in the House of Commons. Perhaps the government House leader will argue his procedural doctrine is superior to that of Mr. MacEachen but if he does, I think he will be alone in that contention. Mr. MacEachen knew that announcements were to be made in front of one's peers in the House of Commons.

I could also site the budget changes of Walter Gordon, but I need not burden the House.

In conclusion, the people of Canada send all of us here to treat their business seriously. If the government has decided, for whatever reason, to alter the statements of policy and intention as stated in the House on February 18, we need to know the details before we vote on the budget and we need these facts to be stated in the House by a minister rising under statements or in debate. It is simply not acceptable for the Minister of Finance to present a budget and then have the Prime Minister tell the media “Oh, we really didn't mean that”.

I began by stating that I felt this was contempt of the House. I doubt that members opposite would vote to support that premise. However I do invite members opposite to look to themselves and remind themselves that they were elected to the House of Commons by the people of Canada and that they must demand, in the name of accountability and probity of the public business, that the Minister of Finance inform the House just what changes have been made in the budget since it was tabled on February 18.

The House is entitled to know what the policy is before we vote. At the moment the Minister of Finance has said one thing here and the Prime Minister has, apparently, contradicted him outside the House.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 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 would like to correct a few things that the hon. member said here which may assist the Chair.

First, it is not the budget statement that is made in the House, that is the budget itself. It is the instrument that is tabled by the minister prior to him reading the budget statement. Mr. Speaker will no doubt knows this as indeed would most hon. members. The document that was tabled in the House constitutes the budgetary document of the government.

A reference was made by the hon. member who just spoke about the requirement for concurrence in a ways and means motion following which the budget bill will be introduced. I have already indicated to House leaders, and I will be giving more detail on this tomorrow, what date the final budget vote will take place. It is only by our constitutional conventions, following the day of the vote on the main motion of the budget, that a minister of the crown tables and then seeks the House's concurrence in the ways and means motion, and only following that will the budget bill be introduced. Forty-eight hours or more later, the bill will be debated in the House.

What is in fact in those budget bills is not known to the hon. member across nor is it even known to myself at the present point because I do not yet have a copy of the document in question.

For him to somehow infer that the procedures that were used were not the appropriate ones, I do not believe bears any resemblance to what in fact has occurred.

On the other point the hon. member raised, he inferred that somehow all expenditures of the government had to be in, not only the budgetary document but in the statement made by the Minister of Finance in the House. Everyone knows that in the day to day operations of the government that is not quite the way it works. The motion that is produced to the House by the hon. Minister of Finance is that this House concur in general with the expenditure plan or the budget of the government. That is the phrase, I believe, almost word for word, that is placed here, following which an amendment and then a subamendment is placed before the House.

I think the Chair should consider all these things. If the Chair does, I believe the Speaker will conclude that nothing at all has occurred here, at least thus far, which is out of order, and I suspect nothing at all with regard to the budget. Although Mr. Speaker will be able to arrive at the conclusion himself once all these things have been tabled and actually introduced. In the case of the budget bill, this will be in some days from now.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair thanks the hon. member for St. John's West and the government House leader for their interventions on the point. I will take the matter under advisement and get back to the House in due course.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 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 have had consultations with all House leaders earlier this day and I seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the beginning and during the take note debate to take place later this day, the Chair shall not receive any quorum calls or requests for unanimous consent to propose any motion.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 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
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

February 26th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled “Canada's Role in Addressing the Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis”.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, your committee is requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), referred to the committee on October 24, 2002.