House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was policy.

Topics

Health
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, let me first thank the hon. member for an excellent question. I would say to the House that even in good economic times there are those at risk of being left behind, but Canadians are guided by the values of compassion, kindness and generosity. That is why we created the Mental Health Commission in the first place.

That is why the Minister of Finance, demonstrating those important values himself, announced funding in budget 2008 for the commission to establish five pilot projects across the country to help show the way on how we can help those who are homeless and suffering from mental illness.

Mr. Speaker--

Health
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative agenda is getting us nowhere. According to Louis-Gille Francoeur, of Le Devoir, the government will incur a minimum $35 billion penalty for not respecting the Kyoto protocol. Canada made legal commitments to the planet, and the Conservatives are not following through on them.

Why does the minister not invest now to fight climate change, instead of wasting our money on penalties?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if we receive a bill, I will send it to the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Party.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the Conservative government, Canadian families are getting soaked by big oil in two ways. First, they watch as the government forks over billions in corporate giveaways to the petroleum industry. Second, they get gouged at the pumps because the government leaves gas prices unchecked and uncontrolled.

Working families deserve better. Will the government legislate and fund an independent regulatory agency to monitor the price of oil and gas, so that instead of protecting the interests of big polluters, the government can start protecting the pocketbook of the average Canadian?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands
B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, first of all, one thing we do know for sure is that under the Liberal plan, the price of gasoline would skyrocket.

Market prices are the only thing that is going to work. That has been proven over and over again. Once the government tries to regulate, it is proven that it does not work.

Our government has taken action. Our government has reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We will continue to reduce taxes for all Canadians to ensure that they can have their hard-earned income.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, five years ago today, the Liberal government unveiled its action plan for official languages. This plan ends in three weeks, at the end of March, and the budget did not include any money to renew it, even though the Conservative government had promised to renew it in the last throne speech. When the committee invited the minister to appear, she declined. When the committee invited her emissary, Bernard Lord, he also declined.

Considering the uncertainty her government is creating, why is the minister refusing to appear before the committee and explain her inaction? Why does she prefer to keep communities waiting?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. I did not refuse to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. In fact, I appeared on December 6. I will be pleased to discuss the second phase of the action plan for official languages further as soon as it has been introduced by our government.

Labour
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Labour
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

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 Mr. Goran Lennmarker, President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to certain provisions that have been included in ways and means Motion No. 10, which the Minister of Finance tabled in the House yesterday.

Page 758 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice states:

The House must first adopt a Ways and Means motion before a bill which imposes a tax or other charge on the taxpayer can be introduced. Charges on the people, in this context, refer to new taxes, the continuation of an expiring tax, an increase in the rate of an existing tax, or an extension of a tax to a new class of taxpayers.

The purpose of ways and means Motion No. 10 as indicated by its title is clear. It is:

... to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget.

However, included in this ways and means motion are provisions that would have the effect of cancelling the provision in a private member's bill, Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions), adopted by the House at third reading on March 5, 2008.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of my point of order is to object to those provisions in ways and means Motion No. 10 that relate to Bill C-253 for three reasons.

First, I believe that this creates a dangerous precedent and impedes on the rights of all private members, those who are not part of the executive, to exercise fully their rights as legislators.

Bill C-253 did not need to be preceded by a ways and means motion. House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 898 states:

...private Members' bills which reduce taxes, reduce the incidence of a tax, or impose or increase an exemption from taxation are acceptable.

Ways and means motions are necessary for bills that impose a tax or other charge on the taxpayer. Bill C-253 does not do that.

However, the government is attempting to use the instrument of ways and means to basically kill a private member's bill that did not require a ways and means motion. If this is allowed to proceed, the government could in the future void any private member's initiative that it does not like, even though the bill has respected all the rules and practices of the House.

It is every member's right to bring forward legislation which reduces taxes, reduces the incidence of a tax, or imposes or increases an exemption from taxation. As these initiatives do not require a royal recommendation, they need not be preceded by a ways and means motion. Allowing the government through the process of ways of means to cancel or render totally void a private member's bill would be a severe impediment to the rights of every member of the House.

This brings me to my second point. For the reasons I have already stated, I would argue that ways and means Motion No. 10 goes beyond its purpose, which is to set the terms and conditions of the bill that will implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008. Its purpose is not to amend or cancel a private member's bill.

Finally, this attempt to reverse the decision of the House on Bill C-253 through the back door is offensive to the practices of the House in recent years with regard to the budget implementation bill. It has become the practice to include most of the measures contained in the annual budget presentation in one large omnibus bill. Successive Speakers have always expressed reluctance to expand the use of omnibus bills, but no exception has been taken to budget implementation bills under the strict understanding that these bills will be limited to matters that were put forward in the minister's budget presentation.

The issue of Bill C-253 arose well after the budget presentation and could not have been included in the budget presentation. Therefore, this does not belong in the budget implementation bill and if it is allowed to remain in this package, the door will be flung open to future abuses of this process.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would argue that you find sections 45 through, and including, 48 of Ways and Means Motion No. 10 to be out of order.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

March 12th, 2008 / 3:10 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 have a couple of points. First, I will respond briefly to the new arguments that have been raised by my friend for Markham—Unionville.

We need to be clear. The government is in no way precluded from putting in a ways and means motion for measures that do not require a ways and means motion. In fact, most budget ways and means motions have other measures in them. That is certainly the case.

The arguments that the member made with regard to budget implementation bills being narrowly circumscribed to matters that were only in the budget speech is clearly wrong.

Earlier this year we voted on a budget implementation bill which included all the provisions of the fall fiscal and economic update, a series of measures that were obviously not covered in the budget of 2007 and yet were included and, quite properly, approved by this House and, I might add, with the cooperation of the official opposition in its usual manner of abstaining on the question.

That is the fundamental nub of all these issues. These are matters that are properly decided by Parliament. They are not matters that need to be put to you, Mr. Speaker, to decide. They are properly decided by Parliament, particularly in a minority Parliament like this where we do know that all that party needs to do to have the success it is seeking is to simply vote on the matters before it.

From that perspective, I would simply put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the arguments the member has made to you on that question do not have a basis. It is entirely appropriate and a well-established practice of this House to deal with a range of matters.

On the question of it being dealt with solely in the ways and means motion, the minister has been quite clear. The purpose of the ways and means motion is expressed clearly in its title, which addresses, as an adjunct in addition to the budget itself and implementing it, the question of preserving the fiscal framework, which is reflected in the budget.

The question of the private member's bill, Bill C-253, is that of undermining the fiscal framework, which is the essence of the budget that is created at the same time by potentially putting this country into deficit through funding, through spending or through a loss of revenues that is not contemplated in the budget. The purpose of it is of course--

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!