House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

April 1st, 2004 / 1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to make a few remarks at the opening of my speech, if you would indulge me, in light of the impending election. I will not be seeking re-election, and I want to thank some special people who have been very helpful and encouraging to me during these past several years.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my family: my wife Wendy and my four children, Jordana, Reanna, Kaelin and Graedon. As my colleagues know, our families sacrifice a great deal in order for us to be here in the House of Commons. Our families know the stress and demands this job puts on our personal lives, and I want to thank my family for enduring my frequent absences during these past seven years.

I want to thank the constituents of Dewdney--Alouette living in the communities of Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs for bestowing upon me the great honour as serving as their member of Parliament. It has been a privilege and a great opportunity to bring their issues and concerns to the House of Commons. I will remain forever grateful for the time I have spent here on their behalf and for all the special people that I have met as a result of doing this job.

I want to thank my friends and supporters for their help and encouragement throughout the years as well. I would never have been here without their help, especially my good friend Mark Bogdanovich for his help over the years, and all those who served on the Reform Party board, the Canadian Alliance board, and the new Conservative Party board for their help through both good and bad times.

To those who have worked with me over the years, all my staff, Tara Bingham and Mark Strahl, they are more than employees. They are loyal and hard-working and they have helped me in so many ways. They have become my confidants and my good friends, and I thank them.

I am happy to predict that the man who has been with me from day one, the man who has run my constituency office for seven years and who knows the issues and concerns of Dewdney--Alouette will soon come here to carry the torch on behalf of the new Conservative Party of Canada. My executive assistant Randy Kamp has won the nomination and is ready to go. I thank Randy for all his help, his advice and his friendship. I am quite confident that the people of Dewdney--Alouette will choose him as their next MP and I know he will do an excellent job on their behalf.

To my colleagues in the House of Commons, to Mr. Speaker, and to all my friends, it has been a pleasure and an honour to work with them and to get to know them. I share one regret with my former colleague, Preston Manning, in that I did not get to know more of them better. I often tell people that we have more in common with each other, regardless of our party affiliation, than anyone else in the country. Regardless of which party we belong to, we are all here to do what we believe is in the best interests of our country and our constituents. I have made some special friendships which I am sure will endure long after we have all left this place.

On a personal note, which is usually a note we do not share in this place, I want to thank my colleagues, family, friends and constituents for their words of encouragement and prayers during the past four years as our son has battled cancer. They have been kind and thoughtful, and we really appreciate the support they have offered to us in so many ways. I am afraid my allergies are flaring up a bit, but I am sure I will fight through it. I do want to tell the House that Graedon is now seven, doing really well in remission, and I thank everyone again for all their help.

In regard to the budget--

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I always hesitate to interrupt members, but the member for Dewdney--Alouette has given me an opportunity to just interrupt briefly so that the Speaker might bring a ruling to the House that I know is of significance to members here. We then we will get right back to the matter before the House.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Dewdney--Alouette for allowing me to interrupt his very moving remarks.

I am now prepared to rule on a point of order raised by the hon. opposition House leader earlier today concerning proceedings in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

I would like to thank the hon. opposition House leader for presenting this issue to the House, as well as the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for his comments.

The opposition House leader stated that the public accounts committee had before it a motion concerning the making public of in camera testimony delivered before the public accounts committee in the first session of this Parliament. He pointed out that the past practice with respect to in camera testimony indicated that it had only been made public by order of the House, and he relied on a precedent I believe cited to him concerning the year 1978, as I recall. He argued that the proper course for the committee would be to seek such an order and that, in acting on its own initiative in this matter, the committee would be exceeding the power delegated to it by the House. In support of his position, the opposition House leader cited a letter from the Clerk of the House to the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, in which the Clerk indicated that it would be prudent for the committee to seek such a House order.

The opposition House leader also stressed that, if no preventative action were to be taken to prevent the committee from making the in camera testimony public, the harm done would be irreversible and that it was therefore necessary for the Speaker to rule as soon as possible in order to forestall that eventuality.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader in his intervention, stated that it was contrary to our practice to intervene while a matter was before a committee. He indicated that the proper course procedurally would be to wait until the committee reports to the House. At that time, any potential procedural irregularities that had occurred could be raised and the Speaker could deliver an appropriate ruling.

I would like first to indicate the extent to which the Chair views this as a question of the utmost importance. The Standing Orders accord to committees considerable powers in order that they may carry out their work. Committees are also accorded extensive freedom to organize their inquiries as they see fit and to control their own proceedings.

At the same time, they remain creatures of the House. They are bound by the applicable provisions of the Standing Orders and may not exceed the powers they are given or conduct themselves in a manner that is contrary to the practices and traditions of this place.

It is, however, precisely on that basis that, in the first instance, it is the public accounts committee that must take responsibility for its actions. I certainly agree with the opposition House leader that there are important procedural questions at issue here. It is evident, by their seeking advice from the Clerk of the House, that the members of the committee are aware of those issues.

The Speaker is however not empowered to substitute his judgment for that of the committee prior to any decision being taken by it. The members of the committee will, mindful of the rules of the House and the precedents in matters of this sort, decide on what they consider to be the proper course of action. The Speaker has no power to anticipate such a decision, nor to intervene in the internal deliberations of the committee. I have stated that on many occasions.

While I appreciate that the subject matter before the committee is of considerable interest both to members of the House and indeed to all Canadians, that does not change either the Speaker's role or his obligation to refrain from intervening in the committee's business. If members feel that the committee requires some direction in this matter, beyond the advice that has already been provided, they may wish to consider having the House provide an instruction to the committee.

Once again, I would like to thank the hon. opposition House leader for having raised this matter. I am sure that we can rely on his continued vigilance with respect to proceedings in the committee and to any issues raised by its reports to the House. That is my ruling on the matter today.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have full respect for your ruling. I would ask you, based on what the government's parliamentary secretary said, will this committee have to report to the House before this document is released to the public? My great concern is that the committee could do something that is against the rules of the House before we have a chance to rule on it.

Could I get some understanding as to whether it could release a document of this effect, based on the comments made by the Clerk that this would be improper?

Yes, I agree that committees have the power to do what they want to do. However, if the committee is going to do something that will embarrass the House of Commons, what can we do or what assurances can we have that they cannot just go and throw something to the wind and then the rest of us have to take the blame for that?

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast knows that we are unable to cite any rule that prevents committees from making decisions to release this kind of information. That is not in the standing orders. We have had the clerk explain the past practice. The committee is free, as I have indicated, to make its own decision in respect of this matter.

If the House wishes to give directions to the committee, by either changing the rules or by issuing a specific order by way of a motion to the committee, that is fine, but it seems to me that the committee is master of its own proceedings. If, for example, something happens that is clearly wrong in a committee and it takes place there, it is a little late for the House then to take action to stop the action from taking place.

These things are raised in the House from time to time, as hon. members know. Sometimes members have raised complaints about what a committee did and asked the Speaker to fix it. The Speaker, as I have indicated, is not in a position to interfere in the workings of a committee. The committee is master of its own proceedings. The House can issue directions, but if the directions are not followed explicitly, what does the House do, is always an interesting question.

Perhaps it is for that reason that the House does not often issue instructions to committees except for directing them to go and study something, but it does not usually tell them exactly how the study will take place. The committee is master of its own procedures and makes its own decisions in that respect.

I think if the hon. member reviews the words of my ruling he will see that is exactly what I said in the ruling I gave, perhaps not in exactly the same language, but very close.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will close by perhaps mentioning the budget in one small regard. On behalf of those of us who will be leaving the House, I would ask those who remain and those who will soon come to this place that they manage the funds wisely. They are not government funds. They are hard earned dollars and Canadians will be trusting them. I ask everyone to be wise, to be prudent and to provide peace, order and good governance because Canada is counting on them.

In conclusion, and I have waited a while to say this, I am coming home.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons and Parliament as a whole has been a better place because of the member for Dewdney—Alouette. He has many friends in this place. I know he is a member who has taken his work responsibly and I know that he has earned a great deal of respect. I know the member also is aware that we all share his burden with his family and pray for the best outcome possible for his son.

That is an example of the pressures and real circumstances that many members of Parliament face during their tenure here. Canadians should know that our best friends in this place have nothing to do with political parties. It has to do with the common bond of association that we have. This member has been a friend to all and has earned our respect and our best wishes in the days to come.

On behalf of all hon. members, I believe, I want to thank him for helping Parliament to be a better place.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I too, on behalf of my party and the many friends that the hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette has, wish him and his family the very best of luck in the future.

I originally came from British Columbia and I know the area he represents very well. I still have friends in the riding and they speak very highly of him.

In a non-partisan way, I know he truly is a very decent, caring human being who has always put his family first and his job second, which is exactly how it should be.

I for one will probably miss him more than anyone else in the House. We have the annual soccer game of members of Parliament versus the pages. He has been to many of those games. What I would like to tell his son and his friends is that he is a terrific team player and a very good soccer player. I am giving him an open invitation. He is an honorary member of our soccer team and any time he wishes to come back he can play against the future pages this House will entertain.

On behalf of my family, I say God bless him.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a couple of minutes to congratulate the member for Dewdney--Alouette for his great career here, as the former leader of the party and house leader in British Columbia, and also as House leader of our party here. He has been a great friend and a great member of our caucus.

We all know he has had some real trying times in the last few years and we appreciated his strength during that period of time. We are happy that he will be going home, but I would not be surprised to see him back here some day. He will go home and spend a bit of time with his family and let them grow up again. Some of us will have to retire sooner or later so we will be needing some good, young guys to come back to this place and fill in for us.

I thank him for the great job that he has done for not only our great province of British Columbia, but for all of Canada. We wish him well in the next few years.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I too want to add my words of best wishes to the hon. member. I know him through the weekly prayer breakfast and the national prayer breakfast. I have appreciated his contributions to both of those entities.

As members know, the work in this place is pretty stressful and, contrary to opinions, largely held by many members of the public, this is not an easy job, and it is a particularly difficult job for those members who come from out west.

I, relatively speaking, have it easy because I come from Toronto, but for members from out west who frequently have to travel on a Sunday afternoon or evening to get here for a Monday morning, it must be very difficult. I can only imagine how the burden of traveling, along with the worry for his child and the regular stress and strain of the job, have been almost overwhelming for him at times. However I think his faith, in some respects, has seen him through.

I wish my colleague all the best and thank him for his contributions over the years.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also would like to take a few moments to pay tribute, personally and on behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, to our colleague, the hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette, who will soon be leaving us.

Obviously, neither you nor I, nor he, knows exactly when the next election will be called. But it could be sooner rather than later. Consequently, thist could be one of the last times we sit together in this House.

I am sad to see him leave, because I had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with my colleague from Dewdney—Alouette when I was the chief whip of my party and he was my counterpart. During that time, I found he was a man of great integrity and great diplomacy, in short, a gentleman.

I salute him warmly and I wish him the best of luck in whatever the future holds. I know that he has made this decision for reasons we all agree are worthwhile. With sadness we see him go, as I said, but I think we understand that, under the circumstances, he has got his priorities straight.

I would like to congratulate him on that and thank him for the inestimable contribution he has made to this House over the years.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too sincerely congratulate the member for Dewdney--Alouette. We go back to when we were elected in 1997. We began our time here in Ottawa as seatmates, sitting very close to where we are right now.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Boomerangs.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Yes, exactly. We are right back where we started. I am pretty happy to have him as a seatmate.

I go back to Preston Manning who said that the most important thing he learned after he left this place was the relationships and friendships that he developed. Many other members have spoken so eloquently. No one could meet a better guy who has worked so hard. No one could possibly imagine the tough times he has gone through with his son Graedon but he has always found the time to speak to us and to take our calls. I do not know if there are words that can express the deep bond and friendship that has developed.

I wish him every bit of success in the future. I know his wife Wendy is looking forward to having him at home with his four beautiful children. We will miss him terribly but we also know that he is going on to bigger and better things. The great part is that I have made a great friend for life.