House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise in the House today to speak to the motion by the government House leader about extending the sitting of the House into next week.

I have been listening to the debate since it began yesterday. It strikes me that most Canadians are very used to the idea that when there is a piece of work to be done and it is urgent they are willing to put the time in to do it.

Certainly the issue before us today in terms of the process unfolding is unusual in that this motion clearly says that rather than adjourn the House tonight at midnight we will come back here and do more work. I think we have to examine that as to whether or not this is a legitimate question and whether or not it is a reasonable thing for us to do.

Clearly now we have three parties that are in agreement with this, because the NDP will be supporting this motion, and we have one party that is adamant it will not support coming back here next week to continue working on the two bills that are before us. Yesterday I heard the Conservative House leader talk about ramming it through. I really had to think about that. What does it mean that somehow we are ramming through this legislation?

The fact is that we now have been debating this legislation, both Bill C-48 and Bill C-38, for a period of time. What we are doing here today and what we will do tonight when we vote on this motion is agree that we will continue, in our usual process, to work on these two issues.

What is this question of ramming it through? It seems to me that Canadians understand that we are elected to do a job here and that our primary responsibility is to be in this Parliament, to make it work and to get things done. I think Canadians understand that this is where we should be, in this place.

I also heard the Conservative House leader say there is a misconception that when we leave this place we all go home and go on holiday. He was sort of bemoaning the fact that this is what is being said out there. I would agree with that. I would agree with the comment he made that members of Parliament work very hard in session and when we go back to our ridings we work very hard as well.

The reality is that the Conservative Party members have had a choice. They have had a choice all along. If they are so eager to get back to their ridings, then they have had the choice to deal with this legislation before the ending of the session tonight notwithstanding this motion before us. Clearly that was their choice. They decided not to do that. They decided for their own political agenda to keep dragging this out simply because they are opposed.

I would suggest that the constituents in our local ridings understand why we are here and what we are here to do in terms of passing critical legislation. What they do not understand are the tactics, the manoeuvring and the tactical war games by the Conservative Party members, who are doing anything to stop legislation from going through.

I would agree with others in this place who have said that at some point it becomes an absurd exercise. We know where each party stands on this issue. We know that within a party there are some members who are opposed to same sex marriage, to Bill C-38. We certainly know what the position of the Conservative Party is. The public knows the position of the Conservative Party.

Surely at the end of the day we have a responsibility to be here, to do our work and to make a decision. It is not just about debating something. It is about actually making a decision based on the public interest and based on the feedback we get.

I will respect the decision of Conservative members who want to vote against Bill C-48 and of the same members who want to vote against Bill C-38. I have total respect for the fact that they have a different point of view and they want to vote against those bills. So be it. That of course is their prerogative and it is what they have decided to do. Where I take issue with that fact is that they are apparently wanting to deny the ability of Parliament to keep working to ensure that we can make a decision on these two bills.

What are these two bills about? I believe that both of these bills have to do with the quality of life. I am very proud that we are debating Bill C-48 and that we will have a decision made on Bill C-48, because Bill C-48 produces a more progressive balanced budget. It is a better budget than we saw in the beginning from the Liberal government.

I am very proud of the fact that our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, and members of our caucus are supporting this bill. I am proud that we have an agreement with the Liberals to enhance and strengthen that budget and to deliver concrete things to Canadians that have to do with the quality of life.

What are we talking about? We are talking about the fundamentals of affordable housing. In my riding of Vancouver East, an inner city community, and in many other ridings across this country there are more than 1.7 million households struggling to be in affordable housing. They are struggling to pay the rent. They are struggling against eviction notices. Bill C-48 will actually deliver money into affordable housing so that those units can be built. I cannot think of anything more basic and fundamental than that in terms of the ability of all Canadians to have equality and access to quality of life. It is about affordable housing. I am very proud of the fact that Bill C-48 has that element.

Then we get on to the environment and $900 million. As we have heard many times in this House, every mayor across this country is waiting for funds that will help to deal with the needs of public transit and with other infrastructure needs. This bill will deliver those funds for that priority to municipalities.

On access to education, there is $1.5 billion. This is not something that we talk a lot about in this House. We can talk to any student across this country who is struggling under a debt load of $25,000 on average, but sometimes of up to $50,000 or $60,000 in debts and loans. We can talk to any student or to a family trying to support that student and they will say this money is not enough, I will be the first one to say that, but this money is essential to ensuring that we provide accessibility to post-secondary education, that we deliver that money, work with the provinces and make sure it is there to reduce the debt load or reduce tuition for students.

Another element of Bill C-48 is our commitment as a wealthy nation to people who are living in poverty in poor nations. Even though we have poverty in this country and even though we have people who are homeless, overall we are a wealthy nation in the international community. Another element of this bill is to ensure that we deliver on our commitment as a wealthy nation to people who are living in poverty in poor nations.

Getting us closer to that goal of 0.7% for international aid and development is a very important step. We have heard criticism from the likes of Bob Geldof and others of the fact that the government has been dragging its feet on that commitment.

Here is a way to ensure that we move forward and that we actually increase Canada's capacity to provide a commitment to the goal of 0.7%. Those are all fundamental things dealing with the quality of life.

As for Bill C-38, there has been a lot of debate in this House about Bill C-38. Our caucus and I do consider it a matter of urgency, along with Bill C-48, to continue to work on that bill.

The justice committee in 2002 and 2003 held extensive hearings across this country on same sex marriage. We have had a legislative committee here in Parliament studying the bill. I understand that there are concerns about Bill C-38, but I think at a certain point there has to be a recognition and a validation that those concerns have been responded to. Bill C-38 for equal marriage does not in any way impinge upon religious freedom. We have had many characterizations of that, yet nowhere has there been real evidence that this bill will somehow destroy that freedom of expression or religious freedom.

In fact, I think the committee has gone to great lengths to ensure that there is protection for religious freedom. I know that there is an amendment likely to come back at report stage which will ensure that organizations having a charitable tax status will be guaranteed that it will continue and they will not somehow be vulnerable to it being taken away. I think the legislative committee and this House have gone to great lengths to respond to the concerns that have been put forward by the Conservative Party in its opposition to Bill C-38.

But at the end of the day I think we have to recognize that no matter what is said and no matter what is done they are unilaterally opposed to the bill. They are unilaterally opposed to extending equal marriage to gays and lesbians. I find that shameful and a completely contradictory policy or platform to hold, one that is contrary to our charter of rights in this country.

In fact, I would argue that one can be opposed to same sex marriage as an individual member of Parliament and still support the bill, because it is about providing equality. It is about providing people with choices. As I have said before, no one is forcing the leader of the Conservative Party to marry a man if he does not want to. The bill is about choice. It is about a choice that two individuals make, whether it is two men, two women or a man or a woman. If they choose to celebrate their love in a civil marriage, or in a religious marriage if they can find a religious institution to do that, that is their choice.

I do not believe that I have the right as an elected member of Parliament to deny the rights of other Canadians to make that choice. I happen to agree with the bill and with same sex marriage, but even if I did not, whether or not I agree with it personally, I do not believe that I have the right to withhold that choice from two consenting adults who want to celebrate their commitment to each other through a marriage or maybe through common law. Who am I and who is any other member here to make that decision?

I think that when we get to that fundamental premise of the bill, this is where we really part company. I can understand the concerns that have been laid out. I can understand how we have to go through that debate, how we actually have to examine what those concerns are about in terms of religious freedom and how we have to respond to those concerns, and I believe that has been done. We are now ready in this House to move on with that debate, to take it into report stage and hopefully into third reading and finally make a decision.

I find it reprehensible that the Conservative Party, for a very narrow partisan agenda, would do everything it can with all of the procedural manoeuvres and all of the concurrence motions to hold up that bill, because I think we are denying people equality.

Let me say that at the end of the day I was elected, like other members of our caucus and other members of the House, to make some tough decisions. We were elected to make some tough decisions. We were elected to work hard. We get paid well for what we do. I do respect the fact that members of Parliament work hard at what they do, but I think it is incumbent upon us and we have a responsibility to deal with the legislation, to not let it drag on and to recognize that the passage of Bill C-48 as a companion bill to Bill C-43 is a critical component of the budget.

The Conservatives can criticize it all they want. They can say that somehow the bill is on a different footing from other bills and that it talks about how the government “may” spend the money instead of “shall”. We have gone through all of that. If we want to check the record of the finance committee or what the comptroller of Canada has said about the bill, we will see that he is saying that Bill C-48 is put forward on the same basis as any other appropriations bill. It contains the same kind of language. It is basically a permissive piece of legislation that allows the various departments and ministers to go ahead and make those expenditures in the areas that are detailed.

All of that bluster, argumentation and propaganda about how the bill somehow does not mean anything, or how it is not real, is completely hollow. These are completely politicized arguments to give people the illusion that somehow this is not real. It is real. The bill exists. It is based on a financial basis within the budget bill. It is based on a balanced budget.

I am very confident that the bill will pass and that those expenditures will be made by the various departments. Thank goodness that more Canadians will be better off and have an improved quality of life because they will have better access to education and better access to affordable housing units, and we will have a sense that we are meeting our obligations in the international community.

I have no qualms whatsoever, nor does anyone in the NDP, about voting for this motion tonight for us to be here next week. Yes, I would like to go home. I have a lot of work piled up in my riding, as does, I am sure, everyone else, but our party has a commitment to Bill C-48. We have a commitment for equality for Canadians to see passage of the bill. We are prepared to be here and to work. I also think a majority of the members of the House are willing to do that, even though we know the Bloc Québécois oppose Bill C-48.

We will be supporting the motion and we will be here next week. We will do our work. I hope it does not take too long but we are prepared to be here to do that work and to move forward on both of those bills.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's comments. I have not mentioned the bills that are before us right now, particularly Bill C-38. It might be interesting to address some of the misinformation that is out there.

I spoke the other day with a couple of individuals who are strong opponents of Bill C-38. I asked them a simple question. I asked them what would happen the day after if everyone in the House of Commons were to vote against Bill C-38. They said that same sex marriage would then be illegal in Canada. I told them that same sex marriage would be legal in seven provinces and one territory.

The point is that the bill would not change the country. The bill would merely bring into line the small part of the country that has not adopted what has become the status quo in most of Canada geographically. Some people may like it and some people may not, but for those who oppose the bill, the only rational debate, quite frankly, would be whether or not to use the notwithstanding clause. If those who oppose same sex marriage want to do something about it they would need to consider invoking the notwithstanding clause to override the courts.

The reality is that not a single party in the House has offered that solution. What that means is that a lot of what is going on now in the House is political posturing.

I think it is time for the people who oppose same sex marriage to acknowledge that Canadian society has moved on. The reality is that the horse left the barn a long time ago. Unless those who oppose it are willing to invoke the notwithstanding clause, I would submit that they should simply pass Bill C-38.

My question to the member is actually on international aid. Her party is a strong opponent of point seven. Canada puts a lot more money into aid that is not considered, including humanitarian and peacekeeping operations through our military, which amounted to $950 million last year alone.

Would the member not agree that the military's humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, on which Canada spends money, should be considered as part of our official development assistance?

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on the member's first point I would just say that there is no going back. Same sex couples are getting married every day. This is about passing legislation that would make it absolutely clear that same sex marriage is legal and it can be done right across the country. We have had eight court decisions in provinces and territories, as well as the Supreme Court ruling. This is about people's equality and saying to people that we understand the importance of this and we understand that legislation needs to brought forward to ensure that same sex couples have the same rights to civil marriage as any other couple. It is that straightforward and that simple.

In terms of the member's other question, he should ask his colleagues and the ministers in his government that question. My understanding has been that the money that is spent in a peacekeeping capacity is not considered part of point seven. We are talking about international aid and assistance. It is a well known fact that Canada has been criticized in the international community.

Bob Geldof has told the Prime Minister not to bother showing up in Toronto at the Live 8 concert because Canada is dragging its feet on its commitment. I believe that should be taken very seriously because Canada is very vulnerable and is at risk in terms of its credibility on this issue. Surely we should be leading the way.

I was very proud that our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, insisted that $500 million for international assistance and aid be included as part of the agreement for Bill C-48, because it means we are moving forward on that file.

The hon. member should go talk to his own ministers, but the Canadian government has not met that commitment. The $500 million will at least get us part of the way.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is certainly no shortage of posturing on these issues and, as the member said, it is on their side in abundance.

The member says that Bill C-48 is important legislation. I call it the cobbled together NDP sell out bill as it came on board to prop up Liberal corruption. When the public had an opportunity to hold the Liberals to account, the NDP decided it had an opportunity to advance some of its political ideology that would give it a chance to survive but it basically made the NDP members accomplices.

The members of the NDP keep saying that the money in Bill C-48 will flow, as soon as it passes, to students, to the environment and to other areas of concern, but they seem to forget that the money is contingent on a surplus of some $2 billion. What confidence do the NDP members have that the Liberals will deliver any of that money considering that they are holding up the main budget bill, Bill C-43, in an agreement to pass the main budget? Again, it is political posturing.

The second question comes from the member saying that we have had a lot of debate on Bill C-38. She talked about the justice committee and about the consultations it had with Canadians. Where is the report from that justice committee? The member knows that the committee was shut down before a report on what it had actually heard from Canadians could be tabled in this House.

The members opposite know that Canadians are not in agreement with the change in the definition of traditional marriage. By and large, a majority of Canadians support the traditional definition of marriage, with other accommodations for same sex couples, whether we call it a civil union or some other arrangement that is recognized.

She says that there is no evidence of a religious infringement. She says that it is not just about celebrating a marriage. I want to challenge the member. She is from British Columbia. Surely she has heard of the case of Chris Kempling, a school counsellor in Quesnel, B.C., who was suspended from his job without pay simply because he wrote a letter to the editor expressing his view based on a Christian world view. What about his section 2 charter rights of freedom of conscience and religion?

If members opposite want to wrap themselves in the charter and defend the charter then maybe they should be defending the rights of people like Chris Kempling to express their views on this issue. If they did that maybe we could have some confidence in expanding and understanding the charter. However when they do not respect clearly written charter rights, how can Canadians have confidence that this agenda will stop with this motion?

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, since when did affordable housing and access to post-secondary education and help for students become a suspect political ideology? We are talking about very basic issues here.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

An hon. member

It will be 18 months before you deliver a penny of that.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

I am just picking up on what the member said. He said that it was political ideology.

If we strip that away, what are we talking about? We are talking about housing. We are talking about education. We are talking about foreign aid. We are talking about public transit. All of a sudden those things are suspect?

I would say that the member has to answer to his own local community as to why he would be opposed to additional funds going into those elements that people are really crying out for.

We should never mind the political ideology. What we are doing in this little corner is being very pragmatic. We want to make sure some things are accomplished in this minority Parliament. It is not about propping anybody up. It is not about condoning corruption. On the contrary, it is about getting something concrete done.

With regard to the gentleman in British Columbia, I totally support his right to freedom of expression and religious expression. How could one do otherwise? If that becomes the subject of some sort of challenge, that is what happens in a democratic society. When things get challenged they go through the courts, which is why we have the charter.

This is not about saying that one right is more important than another right but I think the hon. member is going down that road. We are saying that equality is a fundamental right for gays and lesbians and that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and they are not mutually exclusive. I think it is a shame that the debate is so often presented in that way by the Conservative members.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 17 under government business.

What we seem to be losing in all of this is that if this motion is passed it will suspend Standing Order 28(2) which lays out the parliamentary calendar. We have to remember that this was a process adopted in 1982 to give adequate time to allow for Commons business and to balance it off with members' ability to structure their constituency time and their personal lives. This Standing Order provides for certainty in the parliamentary calendar and was adopted by the House after two committees studied it and recommended such a rule.

Members will know that Standing Orders can be changed or suspended by a simple majority vote but before doing so we should ensure that the change is not imposed in a capricious or arbitrary fashion.

This proposed change to the Standing Orders, as put forward in this government motion, was last undertaken on June 13, 1988. At that time the then president of the Treasury Board, speaking for the then Conservative government, stated, at page 16379 of the House of Commons Debates dated June 13, 1988:

I think it fair to say that we especially appreciate that in following this course of action the Government must pay heed to the parliamentary calendar and not change same without having a very reasoned argument for doing so.

That was said in the course of the free trade debate and legislation in 1988 and it was very time sensitive that the House deal with it.

In this motion the government House leader recognizes that the motion before us is in no way a routine or simple motion. In fact, the first line of the motion itself states, “That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice...”. This is clear evidence that this is not some limited, ordinary or trivial procedural device. This motion calls into question the general principles of the transaction of public business in an orderly and controlled fashion.

What is being proposed in this motion, in the words of the then member for Windsor West, now the right hon. Herb Gray, is an attempt “to legislate by exhaustion”. Mr. Gray spoke out as a Liberal on June 9, 1988, at great length, in opposition to an identical motion to what we have before us. He noted, quoting again from page 16294 of the House of Commons Debates dated June 9, 1988:

This is certainly the wrong way to have proper debate and consideration in the House and the wrong way to have public input. I think the government hopes its legislation, to use the words of Bourinot, will slip through “on sudden impulse”, and surely that is wrong.

In that same debate on June 9, 1988, the comments of the then member for Winnipeg--Birds Hill, who, ironically, is still in the House as the member for Elmwood—Transcona, were reported on page 16502 of the House of Commons Debates as follows:

I feel obliged to get on my feet on behalf of the members of those two reform committees that I belonged to, on behalf of Members now, and on behalf of future Members of Parliament, to say that if we sacrifice this parliamentary calendar to the Government's political agenda-and that is all it is, it is not as if there is any great emergency....

Two lines later he stated:

--I want to make the larger claim that what is at stake is the health of the parliamentary institution itself.

This is no emergency. There is no compelling reason to override Standing Order 28(2). What is contemplated, if this motion were to pass, using the same logic applied by Mr. Gray in 1988, is a dictatorship by the majority.

Let me quote the member for Winnipeg--Birds Hill, now the member for Elmwood--Transcona, from page 16302 of the Commons Debates of June 9, 1988:

All of us here, and future Parliaments, will come to rue the day we throw out the parliamentary calendar. We had it there with a little window where we had some sanity in this place. Some members are trying to chuck that out of the window and everyone will pay as long as Parliament continues to exist for the fact that the government put its own political agenda before the health of this institution.

The ultimate irony and tragedy of this motion is that it has as one of its objectives to force non-stop, sometimes 14 hours, daily debate on inter alia Bill C-38, a bill which purports to protect and uphold minority rights.

Is it not a tragedy that to protect minority rights, it calls upon the majority of this House to disrespect, to waive, and to do away with the rules which govern the orderly conduct of the business of this House and this country?

That which the government says it deplores, being the alleged suppression of minority rights, by this device, this motion, urges the majority to waive the rules of business and parliamentary law in order that it might likewise suppress what it hopes and trusts will be a minority opposed to its capricious and craven disregard for parliamentary order.

It is the duty of every member of this House to uphold and protect the traditions, the conventions and the rules of this place, as embodied in the Standing Orders. That code has evolved and has been adopted to ensure that the fundamental law of Parliament is upheld.

One can imagine the outcry from the righteous in this chamber if, for example, a majority changed the Standing Orders on quorum to decrease it to three members in the House, or simply change the Standing Orders and do away with question period. All of these things are possible. We could do it by a vote of a majority on a motion in this House, a vote to change the Standing Orders to reflect these types of objectives.

Finally, I want to comment on the wording of the motion itself, which was described to me by a journalist recently as incomprehensible. It contains the word “deemed” twice. It says “--the said motion immediately shall be deemed to have been adopted--”. Later on it says “--the House shall be deemed to stand adjourned--”.

In legislative drafting, the word deemed is to be avoided. Black's Law Dictionary , seventh edition, 1999, defines deem on page 425:

  1. to treat (something) as if (1) it were really something else, or (2) it has qualities that it does not have, “although the document was not in fact signed until April 21, it explicitly states that it must be deemed to have been signed on April 14”. Black's Law Dictionary continues its definition, saying:

“Deem” has been traditionally considered to be a useful word when it is necessary to establish a legal fiction either positively by “deeming” something to be what it is not or negatively by “deeming” something not to be what it is...All other uses of the word should be avoided.

Surely, having regard to the lack of urgency around all of these matters, and having regard to the abundance of legal drafters in this place, members should avoid setting such a dangerous precedent which, I would point out, was opposed and decried by the NDP and the Liberal Party in 1988.

It is a precedent which attacks the foundations of the Standing Orders which were laid out and have evolved to give order to the business of this place and which were founded on the basic premises of the law of Parliament. We are doing all of this under the guise of a legal fiction. This I would submit would be adequate reason to vote against the motion.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's stand on this motion as well as his stand on some of the other issues. Liberal backbenchers do occasionally oppose motions like this. Some of them actually oppose Bill C-38 and we applaud that. However, one of the things that concerns me about them is the fact that it really just amounts to rhetoric. When we really need them to stand up and help us out, they disappear on us.

Whenever there has been a confidence vote, those members have supported the government. We have tried to take this issue back to the people because we think that is a good place for it. That would allow those members to say they oppose the legislation, which would help them out at home apparently, but would also allow them to support the government so they do not have to do anything about that.

Is the member not just posturing unless he actually supports us on a confidence motion to bring the government down in order to bring a stop to Bill C-38? When will he step forward and do that, so that he can represent the majority of his constituents who want him to oppose Bill C-38?

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question is interesting, but I would point out to my friend opposite that I have been elected four times.

There seems to be some confusion as to what Bill C-38 actually is. Bill C-38 is not a confidence vote, and that is very clear. In opposing a motion which attacks the fundamentals of the Standing Orders, I fail to draw a line to the fiscal policy of the government. My colleague is putting forward an interesting connect the dots idea, but I am afraid I cannot connect the dots.

Conversely, one could ask him about those in his caucus who support the government on Bill C-38. What is happening within that caucus to do anything about that?

Again, I would point out that Bill C-38 is a contentious matter in the country, of that there can be no doubt. Bill C-38 is a matter on which there is no consensus in the House, of that there can be no doubt. In the end, the question I believe the member has asked is a total non sequitur because what has Bill C-38 got to do with Bill C-43, or indeed Bill C-48?

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I heard the member opposite say that, on the basis of his argument, it would be sufficient grounds for voting against this motion which will come before us tonight. I am curious whether for him it will actually be sufficient grounds to vote against it?

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

June 23rd, 2005 / 1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to what the member said about not being able to connect the dots between Bill C-38, Bill C-43, and Bill C-48. There is a connection. The only way to stop Bill C-38 is to bring down the government.

Why does the member insist on speaking against some of these motions? He may vote against the one before us today. He knows it is going to pass. If he were to vote against Bill C-38, it would help him out at home. He knows, with the way the present situation sits, it is likely going to pass. Yet, when we actually need him to step forward and say it is important to stop the government with respect to Bill C-38 and Bill C-48, he does not appear.

He has that opportunity on Bill C-48. Tonight is not a confidence motion, but we certainly expect to see him. Hopefully, with him and enough of his other colleagues we could defeat that legislation and then we would not be faced with this foolishness that the government is trying to play on Canadians.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, my friend opposite is somehow tying Bill C-38, Bill C-43 and Bill C-48 together. This is a very simplistic view of the way this works. It is a very simplistic way and the notion of representation is more than just a notion, it is a constitutional obligation upon members of the House.

If one were to take the simplistic view of the member opposite that because someone is opposed to one thing, he or she is opposed to everything, I must ask him if that is indeed the case? How does he reconcile that there are a number of people in his caucus who are supporting the government on Bill C-38, but are opposing Bill C-43 and Bill C-48? How does he reconcile what he says is my inconsistency with the inconsistency which already exists in his caucus?

I find this a fascinating concept. He is saying that the position of his party is to oppose Bill C-38 and apparently that is true. But within their very own ranks, there are people who are supporting Bill C-38. Perhaps when the Conservatives resolve that issue within their own caucus, he could bring that question back again.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the Liberal member. He has many times, as he has today, spoken for his constituents and sometimes against the government.

I congratulate him for the great role he played as parliamentary secretary related to the democratic deficit. I refer all members to the first report on the action plan that was tabled yesterday in the House of Commons, and the tremendous progress the Prime Minister and that member and others have made on the democratic deficit.

The member opposite and the Conservatives now have far more democratic deficit problems than the Liberals. Quite often they have voted in a block against bills that would be good for Canadians, the member included.

The member will see in tonight's vote that the Conservatives will probably all vote against it, whereas the Liberals once again, with the new democracy that the Prime Minister has put in, will vote in different ways on the motion tonight.

The member was talking about saving the rights of the minority, which is great, but doing that in the wrong way by changing parliamentary procedures. Does the member not agree that it is totally within the rights and obligations of members of Parliament to set the rules of Parliament? We are continually amending and changing them. There are provisions, as there are for the vote tonight, to have special consideration. There is consideration for the Speaker to extend the hours. These are all rules of Parliament. They are set by Parliament and they are changed by Parliament, so I do not see that as undemocratic and I would like the member to comment.