House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was evidence.

Topics

Business of the House

10:05 a.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. There have been discussions among the parties, and the other parties are aware that I am seeking unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practices of the House, a bill entitled “An Act respecting payments to a trust established to provide provinces and territories with funding for community development” be permitted to be introduced and read a first time today; when “An Act respecting payments to a trust established to provide provinces and territories with funding for community development” is read a first time, it shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

The opposition House leader is rising on a point of order.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, we do not intend to delay this matter, but I wonder if the government House leader, or perhaps the Minister of Finance, could inform the House whether the trust that he has referred to in the title of this legislation has in fact been established.

Is the indenture document available? Can that document be tabled in the House at the same time as the legislation? Can the minister give us his assurance that the distribution formula for the funding among provinces and territories will be fair to all of the provinces and territories suffering the economic difficulty to which the bill refers and that the money available will be distributed in a fashion relative to the needs in the different regions across the country?

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, for some time the other parties have been seeking for this to be accelerated.

Obviously the distribution will be fair.

Obviously the trust has not been established, as we are seeking parliamentary authority to do exactly that, and this will not be able to happen until that has been done.

Of course we will want to have the agreements in place with the provinces, but the distribution arrangement will be fair, and I assume that all understand and appreciate that.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on the same point of order. I, too, certainly do not want to delay the proceedings, but I think there are some basic questions that need to be answered by the government.

We are prepared to give quick passage to this, but frankly, it is the responsibility of the government to be very clear about what the terms of reference are for this trust. We need to see that information. Also, we would like to know what the length of term is for this $1 billion fund.

Certainly in the House the NDP has put pressure on the government for this and we are glad the government has now acknowledged that the money needs to be delivered, but for heaven's sake, how about giving some very basic information so that we know exactly what the terms of this motion are rather than legislation that we have not even seen yet?

I would ask the government House leader to give some basic information to all members today before we vote.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, the other parties have received copies of the draft legislation in advance to facilitate these discussions, so to suggest that they have not is simply not the case.

The trust must be established by March 31 of this year, before the end of the fiscal year, in order that those funds are available to flow, and those funds will be available to be dispensed in the time that follows on the basis that the provincial agreements establish.

I do not think there is a lot in question. This has been a matter of debate for some time. The questions we have been asked consistently are about whether will we move to accelerate this quickly. We have moved to fast track it in response to those questions.

The question is very simple. Do the parties, the members of the House, wish to support the establishment of this trust at all stages now?

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, obviously we wish to facilitate the establishment of this measure. We do not think it is adequate, but at least it is something.

I would ask the government House leader, or perhaps the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities or the Minister of Finance, this question: are the discussions with all of the provinces and territories complete and are all of the premiers in agreement with the distribution formula?

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure that these are points of order relating to the procedural question that is before the House. We seem to be straying from it.

Might I suggest that the members might want to have some discussions about these things elsewhere at the moment and then come back with this motion a little later this day if that is the case? I do not know that this is an appropriate way to deal with the procedural question which is now before the House.

The government House leader is rising to answer on this.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with you that we are facing a series of dilatory questions to which the members making them know full well the answers.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

They know full well that all provinces have not yet entered into agreements. They, particularly the opposition House leader as a former minister of finance, will also appreciate that if those agreements are not entered into by March 31, if the trust is not established by then, the moneys will not be available to flow to those provinces, so that is a matter of those provinces determining it themselves.

It is a very simple question. We have sought the unanimous consent of the House. It is now incumbent upon the House to determine whether or not it wishes to support this.

Business of the House

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. With respect to the same issue, last week in this House, in response to a question I asked, one of my colleagues, the member for Pontiac, said the following:

—there is a process to follow for appropriating new amounts of money. This process is called a “budget”.

That was his response, and there is a principle of parliamentary law that says we must take members at their word.

Last week, the member for Pontiac, who is a government minister, said that it was not possible to pay out the billion dollars now, which is exactly what we, the opposition, were asking him to do.

Now, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is telling us the same thing: trust him, even if he will not give us any details. I am sorry, but the opposition members are not the ones contradicting themselves. We have been very clear about what we want for months now. The problem is with the government. They are the ones who have to provide explanations.

I invite our colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, to take the Speaker's suggestion to meet with us, and to at least have the intellectual honesty to admit that there is a blatant contradiction, and to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak about this important bill.

Business of the House

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's intention on this matter was announced some time ago. There have been repeated questions in this House, not about the details of the proposal, but rather about whether it could be fast-tracked. Those were the repeated questions. We have moved in response to that. The same requests have been coming from across the country from premiers, from provinces and from others, from the communities affected.

We have put the question to the House. I have put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you should ask the House its views. Otherwise, we see that there is a transparent effort simply to obstruct it.

Business of the House

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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