House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi was a member of the Berlin mission and really appreciated the work that was done there. However, with respect to the report, I do not see the problem. Nevertheless, we must not evade the issue. We are not very proud of our Prime Minister's performance at the G-8 with respect to achieving phases I and II of the Kyoto targets.

As such, I think that all of the parties agree that the government should bring Bill C-30 back to the House as soon as possible. This bill was amended by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We have to continue the debate on this issue because the government has no allies in this House when it comes to environmental issues.

If we take a serious look at the proposals made by the Minister of the Environment, by the Prime Minister at the G-8, and by the Minister of Finance in this House, we will find that they do not meet the Kyoto targets. Furthermore, they do not include the territorial approach that would enable Quebec to take into account its efforts in past years in order to meet the Kyoto target of 6% below 1990 levels.

As we all know, the Prime Minister said at the G-8 meeting that he found the European community's territorial, country by country approach to negotiating targets very interesting. Despite the parliamentary secretary's question, I think that this issue must be addressed. The problem is that the government's approach is no good. It has not agreed to a territorial approach; it has no absolute intensity targets; and it is allowing greenhouse gas emissions to rise.

There has also been talk of opening a carbon exchange in Montreal to trade derivatives and take care of this economic and environmental aspect that would help our manufacturing industry. That said, in order to have a carbon exchange, we need absolute targets. The government does not seem to have understood that yet.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, further to the question by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, I want to ask the hon. member the question.

As far as extending sitting hours is concerned, given the choice between discussing the trip to Berlin by the legislative group—which I was a part of with other members—and discussing Bill C-30, which would take an incredible amount of parliamentary work and countless hours of sessions, how would he prioritize these two choices?

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that in this context my speech was clear. I have nothing against adopting a report, but it is clear that in the choice between adopting a report and having a debate on Bill C-30 as amended by committee, that Bill C-30 not only is more important, but it has much more serious consequences for Canadian society, Quebec society and future generations. We must not lose sight of the fact that what we fail to do right now will have a negative impact in the future. We are already starting to feel it.

We must not get to the point of no return where our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to pay the price of our inaction for considerations that are sometimes rather questionable. More and more people truly realize that achieving Kyoto protocol targets and economic development go hand in hand. Not working on achieving the targets for phase I of the Kyoto protocol—and phase II when it is negotiated—will have a very significant economic cost. We see that with global warming and the effects that are already quite noticeable will only get worse over time.

In closing, it is often said that a two degree increase in the planet's temperature is not so serious. What struck me is that during the ice age, the average temperature in Quebec was three to four degrees less than the current average, and it was covered in ice. In other words, with two degrees more, the environmental, economic and especially societal effects will be disastrous for the entire planet.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Joliette's comments about Catherine, who works in the lobby for the Bloc Québécois. I would like to say that she really worked professionally with all the political parties. I would like to wish her good luck.

I have a question for the Bloc Québécois. The House Leader of the Bloc Québécois talked about many important bills. I know that the budget is very important to him since he is voting with the Conservatives on it. This is very important for the Bloc members. But my question is about the other bills, such as Bill C-30.

I know that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie worked very hard on environmental issues. The government could introduce a motion to adjourn the House before June 22. Even though the calendar shows that the House can sit until June 22, it could be done pursuant to Standing Order 56.1. We need to have 25 members here. Since the Bloc Québécois is very disciplined, it will have no problem keeping 25 members in Ottawa. Will the Bloc members work with the other parties to ensure that there will be 25 members in the House of Commons so the Conservatives will not be able to adjourn before June 22?

It is all well and good to extend the number of hours per day, but if we adjourn on Wednesday, it will not do any good. Bill C-30 will be gone, Bill C-59 as well, and Bill C-29 will no longer be there. There is also the bill for workers.

Can we have a guarantee from the Bloc Québécois that they will keep 25 people in the House of Commons to ensure that it will not adjourn?

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to be able to pass a number of bills that we feel are priorities, and Bill C-52 on the budget is definitely a priority for us. The bill to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and to create a workers' wage protection fund in bankruptcy situations is also a priority for us. Those are two of our main priorities.

Other important matters are First Nations land management, the issue regarding the Inuit, and the issue of piracy. If we have time to pass other bills before June 22, we would of course agree to do whatever it takes. Our goal is not to recess as quickly as possible, but to ensure that the bills that we feel are priorities are passed before the summer break.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to extend my best wishes to Catherine and I hope that she has a modest retirement.

If I understand the Bloc position, it is that as long as Quebec is getting its money, the Bloc is going to support the government. It is a bit of a deal with the devil and I wonder if the hon. member has thought carefully about the other victims of the budget. Has he thought about the victims of the income trust fiasco, which has literally thousands if not tens of thousands of victims?

I know that the Bloc Québécois supported the Liberal Party on the report by the finance committee. Has the member thought about the thousands of students--

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Joliette has the floor for his response.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel very comfortable answering this question. Of course I do not think the battle surrounding income trusts is not over. Four years of transition are stipulated in the legislation. We do not think this is enough. During the next pre-budget consultations, we will make sure that our finance critic places the matter on the orders of the day—and I am sure the Liberal finance critic will do the same—in order to find a solution—

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles, Canadian Heritage; the hon. member for Windsor West, the Oil and Gas Sector.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to allow the House leader for the Bloc to go ahead of me in the usual order.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

I want to spend a few minutes laying out what is going on here.

First, we are all aware, as members of the House, that we receive a calendar every year. The calendar is very clear in that the House is intended to sit until June 22. We all agreed to this, all parties, through the whips. It is something with which we are all familiar.

We also are aware that on this day the government can, as it has done, move a motion for the extension of hours. We are debating a motion now as to whether the hours should be extended from June 13 to June 21 to 10 p.m. every night. The question that is really before us is this. Is this a warranted measure? After hearing the government House leader, this is a crisis that the government has manufactured.

Let us be very clear about what has taken place. This is happening because of the incompetence of the government in the management of its legislative agenda, its lack of consultation with opposition parties and its lack of calling its own bills. For example, we heard the government House leader talk about the budget bill, Bill C-52. He has said that he wants to get it through. There were 11 days when the Conservatives could have called the bill for second reading and they failed to do so. Instead they brought in all kinds of other bills that were quite inconsequential. If the budget were so important, they had ample opportunity to bring the bill forward for second reading.

I point out on the record that once it went through second reading, when the Conservatives finally brought it forward into the House and it went to the finance committee, the finance committee met for four sessions only to hear witnesses. It in effect fast-tracked that bill. It heard witnesses very quickly on a budget bill, which is core to our whole reason for being here. Then it was brought back to the House. We had one day of debate on the report stage. Now we are now debating third reading.

When we look at what has happened, it is clearly a manipulation by the government itself on its own agenda. I think what is happening is the Conservatives have brought forward this motion today for extension, even though they are saying the extended hours would go to June 21, so they can cut a deal to get out of here early. If we get out of here early and they get their budget bill, which we know they want, there will be no committees, no question period and no debate on other bills. That clearly needs to be put on the record.

In terms of management of other business, we have heard the government House leader say today that all these justice bills have to come forward. If we look at the agenda of the justice committee, the government made it a priority to deal with private members' business. It has taken up the valuable time of the committee to deal with private members' bills. Now we are being told it has all these other bills that it wants to get through. It really does not cut it. It does not make sense.

I really appreciate the position you took on Friday, Mr. Speaker. At the very last moment on Friday, the government tried to bring in a very rare Standing Order, used for emergency debates, to deal with Bill C-52 and extend the hours to rush the bill through. To your credit, you listened to what members in the House had to say and you made the correct decision in the end. I want to thank you for that. These things are really important. We have to play in a way that is open and transparent, and I do not believe the government is doing that at this point. Therefore, we are very suspicious and skeptical about the agenda.

Again, another irony is the Conservatives are saying that they want to extend the hours of debate. Yet we have never seen the light of day for Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change bill that came out of committee. The bill was amended by the opposition. It is a bill that would work, and it has the support of the majority of members in the House. However, the government itself is refusing to call it forward. We will stay here for as long as it takes to debate that bill. We consider it is an urgent matter that Canadians want us to address.

We will stay here for as long as it takes to debate that bill. We consider it is an urgent matter, which Canadians want us to address. It is a priority that goes beyond all partisanship, but I did not hear the government House leader mention that bill.

The Conservatives would rather get out of here, not having to bear the public scrutiny in question period and committees and not debate all the other bills. They just want to get the budget through. I fear they have made a deal with the official opposition. I do not know that, but I can almost guarantee, even though these extended hours will be approved, in a couple of days, maybe Wednesday, they will find a way to adjourn the House. That is really their agenda.

As the Bloc House leader has mentioned, one bill that we believe must be brought forward is the ways and means motion. It used to be called Bill C-55, which was the wage earner protection bill protecting workers from bankruptcy. This has been an outstanding matter.

The government, again, has not engaged in adequate consultation with the opposition parties, which want to get this bill through. It was passed in a previous Parliament, but was never given royal assent. It is an absolute injustice that today workers still do not have protection from bankruptcy. Millions of dollars have been lost, legitimately earned and deserved wages of workers because they have not had the protection of that bill.

I want to put on the record today that this attempt by the government to bring in extended hours is really about adjourning the House. It wants to get a very bad budget bill through. It looks like the official opposition is now complicit in getting through a budget bill, which, as we have seen, is a disaster in Atlantic Canada in that it has broken the accord. It is a disaster in terms of so many other areas, whether it is housing and homelessness, student summer programs or the environment.

We know the government wants to get the budget passed and that is all it cares about. I am very concerned we are facilitating its agenda under the guise of extending hours when really what it will do is rush to adjourn the House. We know it does not want to be accountable or go through question period.

Let us not forget that the Conservatives were filibustering in the committees. The Conservative members were making the committees dysfunctional. Why? Because they did not want business to go ahead in committees.

We found out about their 200 page playbook, a handbook for all the tactics that its members and chairs could use in the committees. This is further evidence that the Conservatives real game plan is not to deal with all the legislation about which the government House leader spoke. They want to rush through a bad budget bill that has barely been debated.

Nobody is holding up the budget bill, by the way. There are no tactics being employed by the opposition to hold it up. We want to have an adequate debate. We want to ensure that people can say, on the record, what they think about the budget because we have a lot of criticisms about it.

Let us be very clear. The motion today is under the guise that government members are ready to work and extend the hours of the House until 10 p.m. every night. Really it is about getting out of here, for the Conservatives to get beyond public scrutiny, to shut down the House, committees and question period once the budget bill is passed. That is what we will see happen.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member say that from April 23 to May 4 we did not discuss anything of consequence in the House. I guess that includes the four opposition days, which she must consider inconsequential. I guess that includes Bills C-40, C-43, C-48, C-10, C-22, democratic reform bills, finance bills, Criminal Code bills, two justice bills. I guess in the hon. member's opinion none of these are consequential.

All those things are pretty consequential to the constituents in my riding who care about Senate reform, safe streets and finance bills. They are very important. Does the hon. member truly considers those things inconsequential?

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 11 days in which the government could have brought forward Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, does not include the opposition supply days. The fact is the government makes its own choice and its own priorities. I totally agree those bills were debated.

However, today we are now hearing, and we heard it on Friday, that the government wants to take these extraordinary measures to get through its budget bill, but it has left it to the 11th hour. If it were such a priority, why did it not take precedence over other bills? I can think of one bill that dealt with the exotic dancers. Why on earth did that have to be debated?

It is the government's decision in what is or is not called. It clearly made a decision not to call its budget bill, to leave it very late in the day and then come in with this little tactic of it being urgent and that the hours of the House would have to be extended. It is absolute nonsense. Clearly, if it were a priority, it had ample opportunity to manage its agenda.

It is either deliberate or it is incompetence. One can take a pick.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have three quick questions. First, I also add my congratulations to Catherine for her great work.

First, did the member find it astonishing today in question period when the Prime Minister said that no side deals would be allowed and then went on in the next breath to say that discussions had been held between the member for Central Nova and others and the Nova Scotia government?

Second, does the House leader have any comment on the shenanigans on Friday? As the House leader, was she informed of this trick to try to sneak the budget through on the weekend when there were NDP members who were not here, who would have missed an opportunity to speak on the budget had that been successful?

Third, does she not think her own NDP member was a little harsh this morning when he called the Conservatives sheep? I know they come from the history of the Reform Party and the Alliance Party and their philosophy was to speak for their constituents. However, on a budget bill there are certain disciplines. Is this the only time a party has voted in a bloc? Maybe the House leader could comment on that.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that the government and the Prime Minister are entirely contradictory. Out of one side of his mouth he says that there are no side deals. On the other side of his mouth he says that they are entertaining all kinds of other proposals.

The tactic that was used on Friday, using the budget as an emergency, when the Conservatives had ample opportunity to debate it, was quite outrageous. I think the last time a tactic like that was used was in 1977 when troops were sent to Cyprus.

Luckily, the day was saved by the ruling that came from the Acting Speaker, who is now in the chair, and because members were here to prevent it.

As for the Conservative members and the fact that they are sheep, clearly they go along. The members from Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada have not had the guts to stand and call the budget for what it is. One lone member had the courage to do that.

Clearly, other members are just going along with it. That is unfortunate because this is a bad budget bill—

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for all her kind words, but she will not like this one, her time is up.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.