House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was standing.

Topics

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP I would like to indicate our support for the bill and for its quick passage today in all stages. This is certainly something I want to commend the government for, but more particularly the Minister of National Defence, because I think this has been a personal priority of his. I have talked to the minister about it at least a few times and I am glad to see that he has been able to move on this particular file.

I want to concur with my Alliance colleague as to some of the concerns he has about the bill and of course what the bill does not address in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder, et cetera, but the fact of the matter is we had a particular issue to deal with in terms of how Canadian Forces members who faced dismemberment on the job are treated. We had a class society within the Canadian armed forces, in which officers were treated differently from the NCOs and the rank and file. That has been corrected, and the minister has also dealt with, as I understand it, the question of retroactivity.

All in all I think it is a pretty good day. I would urge colleagues in the House to proceed with dispatch when it comes to this particular legislation.

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are also very pleased that this bill is being passed here today. When the minister called me last week to say that he wanted cooperation from all the parties to pass this bill quickly, he did not have to explain that he wanted to correct the inequities within the system.

Indeed, there were inequities. It is true that it was Major Henwood who pushed the hardest to have something done about these inequities, which have existed since 1972. For instance, a general who lost a hand or a foot in the performance of his duties received compensation, while those under his command were not entitled to it.

As we know—this was mentioned earlier—generals rarely set foot on the battle field. Their duty is to give orders to attack or not to attack. The person who puts his life on the line is the private. If he lost a limb during combat, he was told he would not be compensated because his rank was not high enough.

In my view, this bill corrects this unfair situation. Those who have been in a theatre of operations understand the significance of this bill. I had the honour of training with the Royal 22e Régiment a few years ago. I was deployed to Bosnia with them. We were told to always stay on the roads because there were mines everywhere in all the adjoining fields. There were operators, people who cleared the mines continuously, almost 24 hours a day. Those are the people who could have been exposed to this type of risk.

To us, the fact that nobody could—or would—recognize them was absurd. I think that the bill before us today has corrected this, and better yet, it is retroactive. I told you about my experience in Bosnia, but there are people who went to Bosnia, who lost limbs and have not been compensated to date. This bill has retroactive measures that I think will cover everyone.

I also had some reservations about the minister's decision. We will, of course, not make a fuss today, when we know this bill has to be passed before we adjourn for the summer. The minister's decision to review is his to make. It might have been worthwhile to have an independent tribunal or an ombudsman—the military ombudsman might have been suitable—assess the appeal.

If the soldier is not satisfied with the ministerial decision, he could go to the ombudsman. But the bill before us has the minister reviewing his own first level decision. Yet in clause 11 we see there is provision for a review to the Federal Court via what I call a writ of evocation. If the minister is felt to have erred, I believe there is provision in the bill to allow application to the Federal Court.

I am therefore very pleased to announce on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois to all soldiers and NCOs who have lost a limb in the performance of their duties that we have today remedied the situation and they will be receiving considerable compensation. Although obviously there can never be full compensation for the loss of a hand or a limb, at least they will know that Parliament has made an effort and has shown its gratitude. We will be supporting this bill with pleasure.

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 12, Bill C-44 is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Bill read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage read a third time and passed)

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been consultation among all House leaders and I am pleased to inform the House about this item. I would seek unanimous consent, pursuant to that agreement, for the following:

That, if at any time that the House stands adjourned during June, July, August and September, 2003, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has ready a report on Bill C-23, when that report is deposited with the Clerk of the House, it shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House.

Again, this is on Bill C-23 only, because there were discussions of another item about which there was not an agreement.

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

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

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Injured Military Members Compensation Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Privilege
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Provencher on Wednesday, June 4, 2003, in respect to a response made by the hon. Solicitor General to a question raised by the hon. member for Crowfoot.

I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this matter as well as the hon. government House leader and the right hon. member for Calgary Centre for their contributions on this question.

The hon. member for Provencher, in raising this question, alleged that in responding to a question raised by the hon. member for Crowfoot regarding the terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182, the hon. Solicitor General specifically made reference to the trial currently underway regarding the incident.

The member raised his concern that the Solicitor General's comments could have an influence on the fair trial of the accused in this case. He made reference to page 534 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice regarding the onus placed on members of the House to respect the sub judice convention in order to protect the accused from suffering any prejudicial effect from public discourse on the issue.

I undertook to review the videotapes and transcripts of the exchange between the hon. Solicitor General and the hon. member for Crowfoot and to come back to the House should I feel it necessary.

In reviewing the Debates and the tapes, following oral question period, I must say that I share some concerns about the response of the hon. Solicitor General in regards to the Air India trial. I would draw the attention of hon. members to page 428 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice where it clearly states that:

It is deemed improper for a member, in posing a question, or a Minister, in responding to a question, to comment on any matter that is sub judice.

The hon. Solicitor General himself stated that it would be inappropriate to initiate a public inquiry while the court case is ongoing and I believe that he might, on reflection, have exercised greater caution in providing his response to the question of the hon. member for Crowfoot.

While the Speaker has the final responsibility to determine whether a subject matter raised during the consideration of oral questions is sub judice, the responsibility to show restraint in commenting on any matter before the courts lies with members of the House.

In this regard I would draw the attention of hon. members to a ruling made by Mr. Speaker Parent on April 6, 1995, on a very similar question of privilege wherein he noted that the approach of most Chair occupants has been to discourage all comments on sub judice matters rather than to allow members to experiment within the limits of the convention and to test the Speaker's discretion. This is especially important, given that it is speculative to determine how a comment might influence a matter before the courts.

Accordingly, while I do not feel that the hon. Solicitor General's response breaches the sub judice convention in such a significant way that it constitutes a breach of the privileges of this place or its members, I would caution all hon. members to exercise greater discretion in debate and during oral questions when they are dealing with matters that are before the courts.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been yet further consultations and I now believe that you would find consent for the following. I move:

That, if at any time that the House stands adjourned during June, July, August and September 2003, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has ready a report on Bill C-23, when that report is deposited with the Clerk of the House, it shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

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

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:50 a.m.

Edmonton Southeast
Alberta

Liberal

David Kilgour for the Minister of National Defence

moved that the bill be concurred in.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

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

National Defence Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.