House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Autism
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, last year the House, with the support of all Conservative members, passed a motion calling for the creation of a national autism strategy. The government has totally ignored this motion.

This week, Stephan Marinoiu, a father of an autistic child, walked from Toronto to Ottawa to raise awareness of the government's failure to live up to this commitment. Over the last couple of days, it would have been a tough cold walk.

My question is for the Minister of Health. How many more Canadian families will be left out in the cold by the Conservative government as costs rise for family members dealing with autism?

Autism
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, this is something parents around the country, who have autistic children, deal with on a day to day basis, including members of our caucus.

This is why the government acted. We did something last year that no other federal government has done. We invested $1 million in a brand new chair of autism research. We hosted a national research symposium, working with our provincial and territorial partners to share best practices, improve knowledge and research.

We are doing concrete things in our sphere of jurisdiction to help the lives of autistic children and their parents.

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

February 12th, 2008 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-8 makes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act that will help protect rail shippers from potential abuse of market power by railways. This is great news for rural Canada and for Canadian farmers and manufacturers.

The Grain Growers of Canada and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities both voice their support for the bill and encourage the Senate to pass it in a timely manner.

Could the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities inform the House when he expects the bill to pass the Senate?

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise all members of the House that Bill C-8 is supported by both parties in the Senate. Senators are aware of the fact that the support for the bill was unanimous and that clause by clause on Bill C-8 was completed in a record 15 minutes in committee.

Given that no one in either house opposes Bill C-8 and that there are no unresolved issues remaining, it is my understanding that Bill C-8 should get through this week for our shippers and people needing this.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Kathleen Casey, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island and the Hon. Roger Fitzgerald, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Patrick Rouble, Minister of Education for Yukon.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

The House resumed from February 11 consideration of the motion.

Tackling Violent Crime Legislation
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being 3:06 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Government Business No. 3.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on Motion No. 3, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #40

Tackling Violent Crime Legislation
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 3 carried.

I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, government orders will be extended by nine minutes.

Oral Question regarding Committee Proceedings
Points of Order
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On February 8 during oral questions the member for Beaches—East York asked a question that was the subject of the committee's proceedings, not just its agenda or schedule, as would normally be allowed.

In the question, the member asserted that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and for the Status of Women and Official Languages misled the committee during her appearance. This assertion was the subject of debate within the committee and was not the proper subject of a question to a committee chair.

I reference Marleau and Montpetit, at pages 429 and 430, under the category of questions concerning matters before committees, where it is stated:

Questions seeking information about the schedule and agenda of committees may be directed to chairs of committees. Questions to the Ministry or a committee chair concerning the proceedings or work of a committee may not be raised.

Further, it is stated that questions:

--on a subject matter that is before a committee, when appropriately cast, are normally permitted as long as questioning does not interfere with the committee's work or anticipate its report. When a question has been asked about a committee's proceedings, Speakers have encouraged Members to rephrase their questions.

After the improper question was put, the member for Don Valley East, the chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, responded and continued to assert a position which was in fact a matter of debate and opinion that was not shared by all the committee members.

I cite again from Marleau and Montpetit at page 827:

During the Oral Question Period in the House, a committee Chair may respond to questions, provided they deal with the proceedings or schedule of the committee and not the substance of its work.

I contend and would ask you to consider that this question and the answer from February 8 should be ruled out of order, as both contradict the normal protocols for oral questions in the House.

Oral Question regarding Committee Proceedings
Points of Order
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair certainly appreciates the diligence of the hon. member for Simcoe North in this matter. Having anticipated that this might be his point of order, I have the text of the question before me.

The hon. member for Beaches—East York in her question asked this:

Does the chairperson plan an early meeting of the committee to consider how the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages misled the committee this week during her appearance regarding equality?

In other words, the question did, in my view, deal with the schedule and agenda of the committee, which is a question that is permitted. The question did ask, is there going to be an early meeting of the committee? It did go on to ask about the business of the committee, but the agenda is properly part of the question. The question was, is there going to be an early meeting of the committee to consider this item on the agenda? In my view, that kind of question is in order.

The answer did not have much to do with the question, but Speakers are stuck on answers, as the hon. member knows. I am sure he is very sympathetic to the position of the Chair, because frequently we have questions that are asked and a response is given that does not answer the question and in fact has nothing to do with the question. But it is not for the Speaker to decide whether those answers are in order or not in the circumstances.

The provisions in Marleau and Montpetit deal with questions. The hon. member will notice that they do not tend to deal with answers. Some have suggested that question period in the House is called question period, not answer period, because the response does not necessarily answer the question that is asked.

In this case I agree that the response from the chairperson of the committee was not an answer, using the usual expression of answer, to the question that was asked. It was a response, but it had relatively little to do with the question.

I believe the question met the exigencies of our procedure in that it did deal with the schedule. It asked when the committee might meet and about the agenda for that meeting. In my view, therefore, it was in order. It may have had other undertones in it that Speakers would prefer not to have in there, but the fact is, in my view, that it did deal with those two items and therefore I allowed the question.

I can only sympathize with the hon. member when we deal with answers. As I have said, Speakers have very little to say over what constitutes the response to a question. If the response is not an answer to the question, I cannot rule the response out of order unless unparliamentary language is used in the response, which would of course be out of order and which he has not suggested occurred in this case. I sympathize, but there we will leave that one.

I appreciate the member's diligence in checking this out and raising the matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.