House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I urge the hon. member, even when she is reading quotes, to replace last names.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I should have caught it. I apologize.

I will continue:

If nothing else, the [Prime Minister] should tell Ms. Asper privately to continue her efforts because Ottawa will support the project in the future, or he should tell her and the thousands of others who are working for its completion to take their money, their time and their talents somewhere else.

An issue of concern to all Canadians, not just Manitobans, is the plight of aboriginal people in Canada: shameful living conditions; no running water; housing atrocities; schools falling apart, forcing teachers to indeed teach out of their living rooms; and rates of aboriginal children in care that should be shameful to all Canadians, with more children in care than there ever were in the residential schools.

If the government really had wanted to solve some of the problems facing aboriginal Canadians, the opportunity was there. The blueprint, the Kelowna accord, was in its hands. It simply had to honour the committed funding. The money was ready to flow.

We know what the Conservatives did. They cancelled the money, they killed the accord and then they had the audacity to say that it did not exist, which was an insult to the hundreds of people and leaders who spent 18 months working on this accord and who came together to approve it.

To think, they did all this with a minister in charge who once said that “the fight against aboriginal poverty is the most pressing social issue that our country [currently] faces, and as Conservatives, we believe that something has to be done”.

They did do something. They set back relations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians for decades. They created a climate of distrust. They dismantled all of the hard work and relationship building that had gone into the Kelowna accord while at the same time smugly declaring that they would put “wheels on Kelowna”. They have also abandoned the legal obligation of the duty to consult.

Let us look in depth at the budget commitments as they relate to aboriginal Canadians. There is $300 million over two years to encourage private home ownership on reserve. It is a re-announcement of an announcement made during last year's budget. In playing with figures, misrepresenting the realities of spending for aboriginal peoples across the country, legal responsibilities and administrative costs become program dollars.

There is $105 million over five years for job training for aboriginals. It is a start, but what the government is hoping is that we forget it cancelled the labour market partnership agreements in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Had those agreements not been cancelled, they would have done the same thing for more people with a greater investment of funds.

Let me quote what the aboriginal leadership of this country is saying about the government and its treatment of aboriginal peoples from coast to coast to coast. National Chief Phil Fontaine said:

We don't see any reason to believe that the government cares about the shameful conditions of First Nations. We have tried dialogue and tabled a rational plan to address it.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, called the Conservative government's approach to aboriginal issues “racist”.

John Ibbitson, columnist with the Globe and Mail, said:

The Conservatives lack the political courage to confront, head on, the overriding social policy challenge of our time: eliminating aboriginal poverty on and off reserve.

Manitoba MKO Grand Chief Sydney Garrioch said the Prime Minister's budget is widening the economic, educational and social gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

Mary Simon, from ITK, said:

There are no Inuit specific announcements...apart from the announcement of a program for restorative justice for Aboriginal People, the huge social and economic problems facing Inuit and aboriginal populations seem stuck in the too-hard-to-do category [of this government].

Canadians are angry about this treatment of aboriginal Canadians and I say to the Prime Minister, do not underestimate them. They see through smoke and mirrors and they see the truth.

This Conservative government governs for some of the people all of the time, but a government should aspire--and I repeat, aspire--to govern for all of the people all of the time. This government does not have the will to do it. I say to the Prime Minister, do not underestimate Canadians.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to sit here and listen to the Liberals criticize the Conservatives for their own problems, deficiencies and shortcomings.

I do not fully disagree with what the member from Winnipeg said or, for that matter, the member before her, the member from Kitchener, but I will come to that.

In overall terms, what the Liberals are asking for today is what we were pleading with the Liberals to do for a decade. Does the member know how many questions I asked the Liberals in the House about a child care program? Does she know how many times we asked the Liberals not to gut the core funding for women's programs? Does she know how many times we pleaded with them to enact their promise on child care? This was a promise that goes back to the 1993 federal election and was repeated every single election since then.

All the while the previous Liberal government played with smoke and mirrors like no one else I know. The Liberals told us that the surplus dollars could not be spent on child care, aboriginal people, education, housing and the environment.

Every time we asked the Liberals why they took $80 billion above and beyond the money they put against the debt and refused to spend it on programs, they said that they could not because they had to worry about paying down the debt before they fixed our leaky roof. Why--

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am left breathless by the audacity of that member being critical of the previous Liberal government.

That member and her colleagues played a critical role in bringing down the previous Liberal government, which cost us Kelowna, child care, Kyoto and pay equity. Had we had the additional four months, those programs and those initiatives would have taken root and aboriginal Canadians would be far better off today. Children in Manitoba and across Canada and their parents would have much better options for child care and for looking after their children.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to my colleague with regard to not just what was not in the budget, but the expectation that was set in the previous election prior to the budget. The government has had two swings at it now with two budgets to deliver on some of its campaign promises.

Certainly the people in Atlantic Canada are hearing loud and clear the shortcomings from this past budget for example.

I guess the question would be better addressed to one of the Atlantic ministers but apparently the Minister of Justice has enrolled them in the witness protection program and we cannot find them to get answers from them. We know in Atlantic Canada how we on the east coast have been short-sheeted by this budget.

What about the people in Manitoba, some of the expectations that have been set and how this budget has fallen far short?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the citizens of Manitoba have been shortchanged. We did not hear one peep out of the government as it relates to Manitoba until the last month when there was a sudden flurry of spending and the government has suddenly discovered that the people of Manitoba have needs and hopes.

The initiatives that the government is taking in Manitoba are what we read in a national newspaper the other day. It is using dollar bills as pamphlets to buy the votes in Manitoba but I do not believe Manitobans will be taken in by it.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Aboriginal Affairs.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

March 21st, 2007 / 4:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to question the supply motion that is on notice in the name of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

I want to advise the House that the government agrees with the intention, that is the substance in terms of supporting justice bills that are before the House, but disagrees with the proposal being presented to the House in the manner and the form using the procedure that is being utilized.

Normally, when one seeks to have a motion for consent to have a bill approved outside of the normal process, that is, a government order, it is done by unanimous consent of the House. This is the only way in which that is done.

The core principle is very simple and it can be found in Standing Order 40(2), the rules by which we follow, under the heading “Process of Debate”. It states quite clearly:

Government Orders shall be called and considered in such sequence as the government determines.

The intention of this supply motion from the Liberals is to take control of the government's agenda, take control of those bills and call them in a fashion and in a process that they are utilizing and that is not open to them. The Liberals are seeking to do so through the mechanism of an opposition motion on a supply day to which I would draw attention to Standing Order 81(2) which states quite clearly, and I will read the reference note on the side:

Business of Supply takes precedence over government business.

The Standing Order reads:

On any day or days appointed for the consideration of any business under the provisions of this Standing Order, that order of business shall have precedence over all other government business in such sitting or sittings.

That, of course, being supply and the opposition motion. However, it is quite clear and implicit that the regular government orders of the day are a different matter. They are a different beast and I will speak a few times to the notion of fish and fowl being different and we cannot cross them over.

What would happen if this motion were allowed to stand in its current form and the House were prepared to considered it, is in effect a constitutional amendment to this country, to our parliamentary traditions, to the way in which we operate. It would be a move away from our traditions of responsible government to one of congressionalism whereby any member of the House at any time on an opposition day could take control of the government's agenda and effectively legislate in a fashion that is not contemplated.

We have Standing Orders that provide ways in which that can happen through private member's bills, through the government orders, but to do so through an opposition supply day to effectively convert what is an intended motion into effective legislation is a major modification, a change in our process.

I want to return to the question of unanimous consent. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, such motions have been moved frequently by unanimous consent. That is entirely appropriate. It is the only way in which such motions could be moved.

On page 502 of Marleau and Montpetit and citation 19 of Beauchesne's, the case is made that nothing done by unanimous consent constitutes a precedent. I would also reference a Speaker's ruling from Journals May 3, 1977 at page 1030.

That said, the attempt to move several government bills through several stages with an opposition motion on an allotted day is unprecedented. It has not been done. It has not been done before because it is not an acceptable process. It is not in accordance with the rules of this place. It is not in accordance with the practices and traditions of this House.

Before we go down that road and establish this very dramatic precedent, I would like the Speaker to consider a few points.

The motion, as I said, treads on the prerogative of the government to move government business. These bills contained in the member's motion are not in the name of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, but are in the name of the Minister of Justice. We have a distinct process and rubric for business that can be moved by private members and business that can be moved by ministers of the Crown. They are different. The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is attempting to indirectly move the minister's and the government's legislation. As you have said many times, Mr. Speaker, you cannot do something indirectly that you are not permitted to do directly.

My second point is that the motion is attempting to circumvent the legislative process in an unprecedented way. Again, I am not referring to unanimous consent motions but rather to this.

The closest examples, or parallels, of motions that set out expedient measures to dispose of government legislation outside of what the Standing Orders allow are motions dealing with back to work legislation. We had an example in this Parliament. When the motion was challenged by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh on February 23, 2007 on the grounds that the motion was attempting “to do all stages from first reading and printing of the bill to be considered in the same sitting and possibly, unless a minister rises to ask for it, without adjournment”, the Speaker gave a comprehensive ruling reinforcing other examples and allowed the motion to stand.

However, we cannot compare the motion that the Speaker referenced dealing with back to work legislation because that motion provided a procedure that still respected the Standing Orders of this House and that still respected separate debates and votes for each stage of the bill. The Standing Orders of this House were not prejudiced and the ability of the government to maintain the initiative was not prejudiced. That is very different from what we are seeing in the motion from member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine here today. It goes far beyond that.

Mr. Speaker, you may well hear that there was some implication that in the past the Speaker has been reluctant to interfere with any motion from the opposition. That reluctance, however, and those rulings relate to an earlier time when the only opposition motions that one was dealing with were ones that dealt with matters of confidence. Obviously it is a dramatically different issue here rather than one that reinforces the confidence of the House.

For that reason I suggest those do not apply.

I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that to give effect to this motion, to allow it to be in order, would effectively amend the Constitution of our country and the way in which it operates, the way in which this Parliament operates.

It also could potentially have the impact of suppressing the minority in Parliament. We have rules in place that allow certain protections to the minority. When we allow for the rules of the Standing Orders of the House to be overcome, that is by unanimous consent, that is an order to protect the minority. However, should this be allowed as a precedent, there is every possibility that any opposition party could bring a motion together with the government and, through that motion, deny the minority parties or any minority member of the House the opportunity and protections that exist in the Standing Orders for a full debate to proceed, for their ability to address the legislation and for the processes that exist to be respected. In so doing, should this precedent be set, we would be opening the door to future suppression of the minority in the House by any opposition motion.

Being mindful of a House that has had as many as five official parties at one time recognized, this is a very real risk that we have to be cognizant of. Were we only in a two party Parliament, one might think differently, however that risk is a very real risk and the door would be opened if this motion were allowed to stand.

Finally, of course, this would have the effect of amending the Standing Orders through precedent to dramatically change the way things work in a way that contravenes the fundamental principle that government orders shall be called and considered in such sequence as the government determines.

For those reasons, I would ask that the motion by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, which has been set down for tomorrow's consideration during the opposition supply day, be ruled out of order.

However, I would also suggest that we could give effect to the intent of that motion. I should say that the intent of that motion and the various elements of it have been the subject of discussion among the House leaders regarding the potential for unanimous approval of the bills at all stages. Therefore, I propose to move four motions right now seeking unanimous consent.

On the first one I believe, based on the discussions, that you will find unanimous consent. I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification, be deemed to have been amended at report stage, as proposed in the report stage motion in the name of the Minister of Justice on the Notice Paper of Tuesday of March 20, 2007, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed.

We have been advised by other House leaders in earlier discussions that it is appropriate and would receive the support of the House.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was just about to make a suggestion that it might be more useful to understand exactly what the government House leader had in mind, if he could put his complete proposition before the House and then we could consider what he has to say.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Perhaps the government House leader can finish outlining what his proposals are. He mentioned he had four. Perhaps we could deal with each one separately once he has outlined all of them.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe I finished on the point of order and had moved on to the proposition. I believe we had dealt with Bill C-18. The proposal was to go through the four items of legislation that were identified in the motion of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and use the process, which is the accepted practice in the House, and seek unanimous consent for their approval at all stages as appropriate, based on where they are right now.

This is the process that should be followed and I did want to put that to the House at this time.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I believe the House has heard the intent of the government House leader. Perhaps I could ask the government House leader to repeat his request for the first motion and then we will proceed.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to be helpful here for the sake of clarity.

It seems to me that the proposition the government House leader is now making relates to the request of one by one by one for unanimous consent pertains to the four pieces of legislation. It would seem to me that whether this is necessary or not depends upon the Chair's ruling on the government House leader's point of order. He is making the proposition for unanimous consent because he has concerns, as expressed in his point of order, about the validity of the motion that is on the order paper for the opposition day tomorrow.

First, it would be useful for the Chair, either now or after some reasonable time for consultation, to make a ruling on the point of order and then we would have a better idea as to whether the items requiring unanimous consent are in fact necessary.