House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his lecture this morning on aspects of constitutionality in respect to Canada and Parliament.

By way of background, I had occasion to get some literature out in play for my constituents on the question of reasonable term limits. I was aghast to learn that 98% of constituents in my riding prefer this kind of reform.

The member across went on ad nauseam about the need for constitutional amendments, provincial rights and so on. I note there is nothing in the legislation that would change the allocation of seats in the Senate.

He continued on a fairly lengthy debate on what sort of protocols would come to play about constitutional change. He must not have been listening to the government House leader when he indicated in his opening remarks on this bill that leading constitutional scholars have indicated the bill is completely constitutional and does not need an amendment.

What are the real reasons the member continues to block, delay and find excuses that have no rationale? Why does he put those issues in front of us as a way of blocking this kind of legislation that Canadians want and are looking forward to seeing in Canada's Parliament?

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the hon. member on the comment about ad nauseam. I will try to get right to the point and make it very clear for him.

It is not clear that the bill is constitutional. Because the Minister for Democratic Reform says that this specific bill has been vetted by constitutional scholars, and he mentioned Dean Monahan and Peter Hogg, would suggest to me that the bill has already been put through a process through the Department of Justice, which certainly no parliamentarian here is aware of, if that is what my colleague said.

If I listened to him carefully and have it right, and subject to correction, he said that those scholars have given testimony before committee hearings on issues of Senate reform and have found this aspect constitutional. The proof is in the pudding. We will take this to committee and we will hear that evidence.

This bill has not been before committee, so those opinions will be forthcoming. We will decide whether a constitutional amendment is required. I am sorry to go on ad nauseam, but something is either constitutional or it is not.

The only way to find that out is to have nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously say that this is constitutional, the Parliament of Canada is within its rights to ignore provincial concerns with respect to anything to do with the Senate. I would suggest that those justices, even if by obiter dictum, would suggest that a change to the Senate, which is provincial rights over a coordinated body, without any consultation from the stakeholders would not be appropriate. I am willing to bet my Confederation Debates book to the hon. member that would be the case.

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much regret the tone of debate as it began with the words of the government House leader. In laying the basis for the proposed reform, he found it necessary to slag members of the other place, suggesting that they were hacks, that they did not work for their money and that they were inept. If there is a need for reform, let us deal with it straight up without slagging the other House and without shooting the messenger.

I am one of those who believes there is a need for reform, so the objective of the bill might be laudable. The question is how we are going about it.

I want to put a question to the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, who just spoke so well.

The government House leader said that the legal basis of their purported claim to change the constitution without using the amending formula was that a change happened in Senate terms some 30 or 40 years ago. Is it not a fact that when that change happened, there was no amending formula, the Senate itself partnered in the change and there were no objections from the provinces? That context does not exist now, as I understand it, and the government is moving headlong into this. I think it is just charging toward a brick wall. The government must know it. I regret it if it does not. Therefore, I regard the bill as just posturing.

Could the member respond to my suggestion?

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. It happened in 1965, when the Pearson government introduced an amendment to section 29 of the Constitution Act to create mandatory retirement age at 75 years. It was done, and the language is quite clear, unilaterally, without objection. It does not, as I said, make it constitutional because there was no challenge. It exists, and it was not challenged. That book of history was closed as of the date when we had a constitutional amendment formula passed in our country in 1982.

We are in a different playing field. If the Minister for Democratic Reform is suggesting, and the hon. member is correct, that the basis upon which the legality rests is that it was done before an amendment formula was in place, that is a bit shallow, specious and not thorough.

That is the way all legislation comes from the government. It is knee-jerk, it is without consultation and it is to get the biggest and best headline that it can get to garner its 32%. Again, 32% or 33% is what the Conservatives think all of Canada is. That is good enough for them and their math.

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech of the hon. member across the way. I listened to him once again, as the Liberal Party of Canada is so fond of doing, wrap himself up in constitutional talk and rambling.

I would like to give the member a chance to not speak ad nauseam on this and to be quite clear and simple. His leader has been quite clear that he is in favour of term limits for senators. Is the member in favour of term limits for senators, yes or no?

Constitution Act, 2007 (Senate tenure)
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer the question yes or no. Again, if the member is going to be ill, I think there are provisions in the lobby to take care of him.

The point is that the Senate itself proposed 15 years when this bill went through the Senate as Bill S-4. Then it was killed by the government when it pulled the plug on Parliament. If we are to go through all this again, there will be recommendations with respect to the number of years.

Obviously, it is a matter of debate as to whether we go to eight, twelve, fifteen, or whether we can go to anything without a constitutional amendment process. That is really the issue.

We should hear from the provinces, see what they want and talk intelligently about debate. However, if there is a gun to our heads, then all of this is for naught. It will never take effect because a constitutional amendment formula has to kick in.

Second, the government's math is always a little crazy. It says that a committee sat for 199 days and avoided a bill, or something. If the 199th day comes up and the committee sides with Conservative Senator Segal and abolishes the Senate, why does the government not just skip to that stage now, because that is what it really wants?

I suggest the Conservatives should be direct with the Canadian people and say that they do not like the Senate because it is Liberal dominated. They would plug the Senate full of Conservative senators if they wanted to pass the ever popular HST of the day, but otherwise, they have no use for it. That is my answer.

Ron Tracey
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, politics will not be same in the Ottawa Valley with the announcement that Ron Tracey, co-owner and publisher of the Eganville Leader, after 51 years is calling it quits.

Ron was joined in the business by his younger brother, Gerald, who will continue the family tradition in the newspaper. The Leader is one of the few remaining family owned, independent weekly newspapers still publishing in Canada.

My supporters in Eganville tell me that this is a great cause for celebration, as Ron is known as a local Grit as opposed to his more sensible younger brother, Gerald, who has been known to uphold the Conservative cause in the Ottawa Valley.

The moving on of Ron in some ways mirrors the change in the Ottawa Valley when, after almost 70 years, I retired the previous member and his party. In Ron's case, his decision is his own.

All kidding aside, on behalf of the people of the Ottawa Valley, we wish Ron and Elaine the best in retirement.

Community Events
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to attend a number of events last week in my riding of Davenport and around the city of Toronto.

I would like to thank the Labourer's International Union of North America, Local 183, and in particular its business manager, Durval Terceira, and international vice-president, Joseph Mancinelli, for their work on the union's annual scholarship dinner which was a great success.

I congratulate the Casa dos Acores of Ontario on the opening of their new cultural centre in my riding and its president, Carlos Botelho, and his team for their excellent service to our community. I would also like to recognize His Excellency Carlos Manuel Martins do Vale César, president of the Autonomous Regional Government of the Acores, who participated in the opening of the centre and for their support of Casa dos Acores.

I also visited organizations like STOP community centre, the Working Women Community Centre and St. Christopher House which provide invaluable service to our community.

Our community is also grateful to Andrea Dawber and Gabriel Langlois of Trees Davenport for their ongoing hard work throughout the community in helping to preserve and plant new trees around the neighbourhood.

These individuals deserve our recognition and I thank them for their dedication.

Quebec International Solidarity Days
Statements By Members

November 16th, 2007 / 11 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, our planet is being exploited from all sides for its resources, without much consideration of impacts on its population and environment.

In that context, we hope to see all governments implement and enforce rules that are respectful of human rights and the environment globally. This is why, from November 8 to 18, the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale and its members are backing the 11th Quebec International Solidarity Days, with the theme of controlling mining and logging.

I therefore encourage all members to enjoy the hundreds of conferences, film presentations, photo exhibitions and performances. On November 12, the screening of the documentary When Silence is Golden brought together more than 100 people in La Pocatière.

My hope is that all Quebeckers will become aware of international and environmental issues so that they can find tangible ways to take action and to put their efforts into building a fairer and more equitable world.

Green Communities
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the community of Old Ottawa East in my riding has declared itself a green community dedicated to sustainability. This community is taking leadership where the government has failed.

The Glebe Community Association has resolved the Glebe to be a pesticide free neighbourhood. Old Ottawa South has committed to renovating the Old Firehall with the highest green standards. Every community association in my riding is fighting for better public transportation, preservation of green space, green development and sustainability.

As the member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, I support our communities' actions on the environment.

This grassroots movement is taking the lead on sustainability, but they cannot do it alone. They need sustained funding and good green policies from government. I call on the federal government to support the leadership shown by these community associations so that we may achieve a green and sustainable Canada.

Federal-Provincial-Municipal Relations
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to our provincial and municipal colleagues. I am lucky to have an excellent working relationship with my Queen's Park counterpart, Laurie Scott. At the municipal level I have the pleasure of working with local officials from Haliburton County, Kawartha Lakes, Brock Township and parts of Peterborough County.

While federal and provincial members spend a lot of time out of the riding in the capital, it is municipal officials who are in the coffee shops and on the main streets of our communities every single day. As such, they have an excellent sense of what is going on and what their communities need and want.

Tonight I will be attending the Haliburton County Warden's Dinner. This is an annual event that recognizes the contribution of our local officials, past and present.

While we may squabble a bit from time to time, I believe that most Canadians are well served by federal, provincial and local officials working together for the good of their communities.

Here is to our provincial and municipal colleagues across Canada. Thanks for all the great work being done.

Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, also known as CARL, is the leadership organization for the Canadian research library community.

The association's members are the 27 major academic research libraries across Canada, plus Library and Archives Canada, the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, known as CISTI, and of course the Library of Parliament. CARL members are the backbone of Canada's intellectual holdings in all disciplines.

I congratulate Ms. Leslie Weir, university librarian at the University of Ottawa, my alma mater, on becoming the new president of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

She is widely admired in her profession as an innovator in providing electronic information to the teaching and research community that the University of Ottawa serves and now her experience will serve other libraries.

Once again, congratulations Ms. Weir and long live the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 26 the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans visited the municipality of Port Hope and announced the divestiture of the Port Hope harbour and 75 hectares of surrounding land. Port Hope will now own the property surrounding its harbour and the citizens will be able to enjoy walks along the waterfront and a planned municipal park and marina.

Mayor Linda Thompson and her colleagues on Port Hope council, as well as municipal staff, are to be commended for their great partnership in this endeavour. This is not the only example of this government's positive influence in my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West.

Many millions of dollars will be spent at CFB Trenton to improve its aging infrastructure, and the economic spinoffs to local businesses will be tremendous.

As well, our government's announcement of a panel to review the Trent-Severn Waterway has been good news to the municipalities that border this wonderful year-round natural attraction.

In short, our government is getting things done for the people of Canada and Northumberland—Quinte West.

International Day of the Imprisoned Writer
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, November 15 was the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer, and I would like to honour the gesture of solidarity made by 10 Quebec writers who have been twinned with writers from around the world who are in prison. Yesterday, during the Montreal book fair, these 10 Quebec writers each read the dedication from one of their books, which will be sent to the prisoners or their families. Those attending the book fair can sign petitions in support of writers.

“Livres comme l'Air” was created to condemn repression and censorship. Now in its eighth consecutive year, the event is organized by the Quebec union of writers, Amnesty International and the Quebec branch of PEN, an international association of writers. Since the project was launched in 2000, 33 writers imprisoned for their beliefs have been set free.

Writers help enrich, refine, and sometimes even transform our vision of the world. Today, we should take a moment to think of those who have been silenced by force.

Diabetes
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week I met with the Styba family from my riding whose 14-year-old daughter has type 1 diabetes. This disease reduces her quality of life and increases her chances of heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputation.

Canada has one of the highest rates of juvenile diabetes and the number of people with type 2 diabetes continues to grow dramatically.

I have seen the effects of diabetes first hand because my brother, Nick, is one of the more than two million Canadians who suffer from this disease.

It is for these Canadians that the Styba family has asked me to present a key to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Finance as a symbol of the need to address this growing problem.

November 14 was the first UN recognized World Diabetes Day. I ask the ministers and this House to consider the personal costs of diabetes. We are coming increasingly closer to finding a cure, but we must act now.