House of Commons Hansard #1 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ballot.

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The 39th Parliament having been dissolved by proclamation on Sunday, September 7, 2008, and writs having been issued and returned, a new Parliament was summoned to meet for the dispatch of business on Tuesday, November 18, 2008, and did accordingly meet on that day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2009

This being the day on which Parliament was convoked by proclamation of Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada for the dispatch of business, and the members of the House being assembled:

Audrey O'Brien, Clerk of the House of Commons, read to the House a letter from the Secretary to the Governor General informing her that the Deputy Governor General would proceed to the Senate chamber today at 10 o'clock to open the first session of the 40th Parliament of Canada.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Honourable members of the House of Commons:

It is the desire of the Honourable the Deputy Governor General that this honourable House attend her immediately in the Senate chamber.

Accordingly, the House went up to the Senate chamber, where the Speaker of the Senate said:

Honourable Members of the Senate, Members of the House of Commons,

I have it in command to let you know that Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada does not see fit to declare the causes of her summoning the present Parliament of Canada until a Speaker of the House of Commons shall have been chosen, according to law; but tomorrow, Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 1:30 in the afternoon, Her Excellency will declare the causes of her calling this Parliament

And the House being returned to the Commons chamber:

10:05 a.m.

The Clerk of the House

Pursuant to Standing Order 3, I invite Mr. Louis Plamondon, member for the electoral district of Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, to take the chair as the member presiding.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

The Presiding Officer Louis Plamondon

First of all, I would like to thank you for this token of appreciation. I would also like to congratulate the 308 hon. members who were elected on October 14.

I would also like to take this opportunity to send particular greetings to my constituents in Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour and to express my thanks for the confidence they have shown in me by electing me for an eighth consecutive mandate. I wish them to know what an honour and a privilege it is for me to serve them in this House.

I would also like to greet the delegation from my riding present in the gallery who have honoured me with their presence here today in Ottawa, and to express my thanks from the chair to my life companion and my children for being so understanding of the many hours I have been away from home during my 25 years of political life.

As you have noticed, the bulk of this ceremony will take place in French, for three reasons. The first: it is my mother tongue and very dear to my heart. The second: it will enable many of you to appreciate the impeccable work done by the interpreters in this House. And third: if I attempted to preside over this ceremony in the language of Shakespeare, with my heavy accent, you would still need interpretation.

Order. We shall now proceed. The list of members who have withdrawn or who are ineligible as candidates has been placed on each member's desk and is available at the table.

The list of those members who are eligible as candidates has also been placed on each member's desk and is available at the table.

Before we begin, I want to invite any member whose name is on the list of candidates but who does not want to stand for election to rise and inform the Chair accordingly.

The hon. member for Peterborough.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Despite the overwhelming amount of support and warmth that I am receiving from this part of the House, I wish to withdraw my name.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Although my colleagues would have liked me to be a candidate, I wish to withdraw my name from the list.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I wish to withdraw my name from the eligibility list.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

I wish to withdraw my name from the eligibility list.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

It is an honour to be in the chamber with my esteemed colleagues and an honour to be considered for this position. However, seeing the august list of colleagues who have put their names forward and who have prepared and worked hard for this opportunity and seeing that my letter to the Clerk apparently did not arrive, I wish to withdraw my name.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Although I know it will be a great disappointment to my colleagues, I too will be withdrawing my name.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

I withdraw my name from the list.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Saint John, NB

I too would ask politely that my name be withdrawn from the list.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

The Presiding Officer Louis Plamondon

Following those statements, the list of candidates is revised accordingly.

I ask members for a little more decorum, please.

Pursuant to Standing Order 3.1, the House must proceed to the speeches from each candidate for the office of the Speaker. Notwithstanding any standing order or any usual procedure and practice adopted by this House and to help the newly elected members to identify the candidates for the office of Speaker, I will recognize in alphabetical order each candidate by name and by electoral district.

When the last candidate to address the House completes his speech I will leave the chair for one hour after which members will proceed to the election of the Speaker.

I will indicate to the candidates when they have 30 seconds remaining in their allotted five minutes.

I now call upon the hon. Mauril Bélanger, member for Ottawa—Vanier, to address the House for not more than five minutes.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating all of my colleagues who have been re-elected, but I would especially like to congratulate the new, first-time members who will participate in this House, which is an incredibly important institution in our country. Congratulations, and I wish you well.

Three times now, Canadians have elected a Parliament—including this 40th one—in which no party has a majority. Canadians expect us to learn how to better work together. I dare say that one of the best ways to work together is to improve the decorum, civility and respect for others we must have in this House.

I am not saying that everyone must agree, because this is a partisan house. It is a place where we defend principles and ideals, and there will surely be heated debates and so forth.

However, I think that Canadians are expecting all of us to be better behaved.

I have been here for 13 years now and I have seen a gradual decline in the level of civility, the lack of respect for each other and I believe Canadians expect more. I am not the only one who believes that.

Members may recall, those members who were here when the Hon. Ed Broadbent spoke one of the last times before leaving, what Mr. Broadbent said in 2005. He said:

Those who will remain after the next election...should give some serious thought to the decline in civility in the debate that has occurred in the House of Commons and which occurs daily in question period. If I were a teacher, I would not want to bring high school students into question period any longer.

I think that those of us in the House, as well as Canadians in general, are eager to see an improvement in decorum and in the tone of our debates. Each of us has a part to play to make this happen. However, I believe that the Speaker also plays a role. I want to say that if I should become Speaker, I would ensure that the rules are applied fairly and that the level of debate and mutual respect improve every day, week and month.

There is another way in which this lack of civility, and sometimes animosity, manifests itself outside the House, which needs to be addressed. I know this will not be very popular among members but I am talking about 10 percenters. For people who are listening to us, I will explain what this is. Most Canadians know that members of Parliament have the privilege of sending printed material to every home in their riding four times a year. However, what people may not know is that we are also entitled to send printed material to 10% of the homes in our riding any number of times and this is paid for by the House budget.

What has happened over the last few years is that we have taken to sending these 10 percenters to other members' ridings and they have quite often turned into methods of an attack of sitting MPs, always at public expense. It is not an appropriate use of members' privileges and it is not an appropriate use of taxpayer money. I would try to endeavour to ensure we are limited to sending those out in our own riding as is appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, there is another reason why I have not withdrawn my candidacy today. It has to do with Canada's linguistic duality. I would like to quote another very honourable Canadian, the Right Hon. Joe Clark, who said:

I learned the other official language here, learned it in my fashion. That helped me understand that the distinct society is not a dead phrase in a constitution, but the living reality of most of French-speaking Canada, and a defining feature of our history and our future.

I believe that all members in this House should be able to address their Speaker without the help of an intermediary. We must remember that the Speaker has a protocol role and acts as our representative to Canadians.

I have sat on both sides of the House and had experience both in cabinet and on the Board of Internal Economy. Backed by the Clerk's excellent team, I believe that I can do the work needed and elevate the level of debate in this House to the benefit of us all, to the benefit of all Canadians and to the benefit of our profession.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

The Presiding Officer Louis Plamondon

I now call upon Mr. Joe Comartin, the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh, to address the House for not more than five minutes.

Election of Speaker
First Session--40Th Parliament

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I would like to congratulate all of the returning members of Parliament and a special welcome to the new members of Parliament.

For the new members who do not know me, I was elected to this House in 2000 after practising as a lawyer in the courts of Ontario for 27 years. After I was elected, I spent considerable time serving on the environment, justice and public safety committees, as well as other committees. I was elected deputy leader by my caucus, and I worked a great deal on the rules of this House.

I believe the role of the Speaker is quite clear and quite simple. It is set out in article 10 of our rules of this chamber. It says that the responsibility of the Speaker is to maintain order and decorum in this chamber. Beyond that, it is my belief that the Speaker has the responsibility to protect the rights and privileges of every member in the House.

I have been an advocate for causes and people since I was in elementary school. I propose that I would continue that role in this chamber as Speaker, if elected, and I would insist that those rights and privileges, that we, more than any other Canadian, have a right to, are guaranteed absolutely in this chamber at all times.

There are other roles the Speaker must play and the Speaker has responsibilities. Our security issues as members must be further addressed. Budgetary issues need to be addressed and I pledge to the chamber that I will be reviewing those should I be elected.

I want to go back to the issue of decorum. I do not believe there is anybody who has been in this chamber for any period of time who believes that the decorum, the order in this chamber, has not deteriorated. I ask members to look inside their hearts and minds and say otherwise to me. We all have a responsibility that goes with those rights and privileges to conduct ourselves with decorum in this chamber. We have not done that.

I do not wish to see the Speaker abdicate responsibility but I say to all members in this chamber that they cannot abdicate their individual responsibilities.

In those committees to which I referred I have worked closely with members of all parties and I have done the same in this chamber.

I am absolutely certain that I will continue to work closely with all members. I am absolutely certain that it is possible to change the conduct and decorum in this House.

I have travelled and visited other parliaments, including those in England and Australia. I have seen the reforms they have introduced. We need to do the same thing here, and I am absolutely certain that we can. I invite you to support me and help me make a change. Thank you.