House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pose a supplementary question with regard to the Thursday question.

Having looked over the House calendar very carefully, the first thing that is obvious is that there is a real dearth of new legislation, which leads one to the conclusion that the government certainly seems to have run out of steam and ideas. There is really nothing there. In fact, some pieces of legislation that the government did introduce are actually provisions that were previously approved but did not get through, so they are just a reintroduction.

I would like to ask about two bills that have gone through the House but have yet to come back. Bill C-21, deals with human rights for aboriginal people. From the first session of this Parliament, there is Bill C-30, the climate change bill. Both of these bills have been through committee. We are waiting for both of them to come back into the House. I think the government should give us an explanation as to why these bills are not coming back to the House.

I also wonder if the government House leader would illuminate us as to whether or not there are other opposition days. We know that there will be one when we get back, but I wonder if he would tell us if he is allotting the other oppositions days and what days they will be.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize if I do not answer all the questions. There were a lot.

In terms of bills that we wish to bring forward, I have a card here the two sides of which are full of legislation.

We introduced a new bill this week on auto theft, which we hope to be debating this week. We introduced the bills on food product and drug safety that I just spoke about. We will be continuing to introduce bills.

We already have an enormous amount of legislation that is either held up at committee or being debated. It is often the NDP that likes to debate these bills at greatest length here in the House. I am very anxious to have the support of the NDP to help facilitate the passage of bills, and the more we do that, the more we will be able to bring them forward here.

In terms of opposition days, between the Easter break past and the end of our sitting toward the end of June, we have to have eight opposition days. Four of those have already been allocated, so that means between now and the end of June, we shall have four more.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on that last point, just to be clear, is it the government's intention to designate opposition days in the first week that we are back after the April break?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will designate opposition days at a point when we are prepared to do that. There will be four between the time when we return and the end of June.

Statements Regarding Voting Record of Member
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. In the April 13 edition of the Sing Tao newspaper in Vancouver, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity said, “The member for Richmond, when interviewed by the Chinese media, claimed that the Immigration Act amendment is a terrible matter, but voted yes in Parliament”. He went on further to say, “This is a serious credibility problem”.

The secretary of state's claim is completely baseless and false. I voted against Bill C-50 at second reading, a fact that is on the public record. This is clearly recorded in Hansard and in the House of Commons Journals of April 10.

It is unbelievable that the secretary of state thinks that such a blatant misrepresentation and perversion of the facts would be accepted. It is being outright dishonest, and such spiteful and deceitful behaviour is unbecoming to the House.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your ruling that the secretary of state is in contempt of the House by misrepresenting House proceedings, and demand for him to take the honourable step of immediately issuing a public apology and retraction of his comments.

Statements Regarding Voting Record of Member
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to review the voting records.

I do know that the party of that member voted to allow the adoption of the bill, unamended. I will review his specific voting record on all of the individual matters.

Quite frankly, I find his submission somewhat disingenuous, given that it is clear that it would not have passed without the support of his party.

I think this is a matter of debate and not a prima facie question of privilege.

Statements Regarding Voting Record of Member
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The difficulty the Chair faces is that questions of privilege must relate to proceedings in the House. If the member for Richmond is alleging that the secretary of state committed an act that is contemptuous in some way of the House, it seems to me that the act has to have been committed in the House. It is the general principle on which Speakers operate in dealing with questions of privilege.

In this case, while I am sure it will be helpful to have the secretary of state review the facts on which he made the statement, and we now have a copy of the newspaper article in question, I note that this is a newspaper article and not a statement made in the House, so I am reluctant to get into a dispute. In my view, it is not in the Speaker's jurisdiction what may arise between members for things that happen outside the House and do not concern the House itself.

I am aware that the suggestion that a member voted one way or the other can be a matter of some contention, or what a vote is to be interpreted as meaning, even if it is a yes or no on an issue, it may be interpreted in different ways by different people, but it is not for the Speaker to make rulings in regard to those matters.

Accordingly, I do not feel there is a question of privilege here, but perhaps the hon. members can look at the facts and then if some kind of statement or whatever is necessary, it could be done either inside or outside the House, but I do not think it needs to come back here.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

April 17th, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.

Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry
Ontario

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

During question period, the member for Hochelaga asked the Minister of Justice a question. He said:

Mr. Speaker, what would people say about a Minister of Justice who tells lie after lie, misleads the House, distorts the facts and falsifies the truth?

I think the member should withdraw these remarks and apologize.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the member is referring to, since the member for Hochelaga did not ask a question today.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize, it was obviously not today, but he asked the Minister of Justice a question, and the quote is correct. I think the member should apologize or withdraw his remarks.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Obviously it is difficult to establish the facts, since the hon. member is not here. Furthermore, the hon. member indicated that it was not a question asked in this House.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was not a question. I apologize for my mistake. It was said during members' statements.

Comments by Member for Hochelaga
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will examine the statements when the blues become available. If there is a problem, I will get back to the House.

Bill C-505--Canadian Multiculturalism Act--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on a point of order raised on April 9, 2008 by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River concerning Bill C-505, An Act to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (non-application in Quebec).

I would like to thank the member for Scarborough—Rouge River for having drawn this matter to the attention of the House, as well as the hon. whip of the Bloc Québécois, the hon. House leader of the Bloc Québécois, and the hon. member for Mississauga South for their comments.

The hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River raised two issues in relation to this bill. First, he argued that the bill as formulated is unconstitutional in that clause 2 states, “The Government of Canada’s multiculturalism policy does not apply in Quebec”. This, he believed, was inconsistent with section 27 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Second, he argued that Bill C-505 could be seen as a de facto constitutional amendment. He based this assertion on the claim that the provisions in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act mirror the provisions concerning multiculturalism that are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the proposed measure is indeed an attempt to amend the Constitution, the member argued, as his second point, that it should not be in the form of a bill but, instead, in the form of a resolution. His conclusion is that Bill C-505 is not in the correct form and requested either clause 2 be struck from the bill or that the order for second reading of the bill be discharged and that the bill be struck from the order paper.

In his intervention, the Whip of the Bloc Québécois pointed out that one of the criteria used by the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business in determining the votability of an item is whether or not it appears to be unconstitutional. As the subcommittee did not judge Bill C-505 to be non-votable, the member argued that the matter of constitutionality had been settled.

In his arguments on April 10, the hon. House Leader of the Bloc Québécois argued that the objections raised to the bill were of a legal nature, and not procedural, and reminded the House that the Speaker does not rule on legal matters. He also claimed that the bill seeks to amend an existing law only and has no effect on the Constitution.

The member for Mississauga South stated that the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business, in determining whether or not a bill should be votable, may not be in a position to assess fully its constitutionality. He maintained that the process for dealing with reports of that subcommittee did not afford an opportunity for members to express concerns regarding constitutionality and stated that it was therefore appropriate for the member for Scarborough—Rouge River to seek a ruling from the Speaker.

In light of the issue at hand and the arguments put forth, I would be remiss if I did not refer members to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 542, which states:

Though raised on a point of order, hypothetical queries on procedure cannot be addressed to the Speaker nor may constitutional questions or questions of law.

Mr. Speaker Fraser also succinctly addressed this limited role of the Chair, when he declared in a ruling regarding a similar matter, which can be found in the Debates of September 16, 1991, at page 2179, and I quote:

It may later be for a court to decide that the House has done something that does not have the force and effect of law, but that is a matter for the court and not a matter for the Speaker.

Therefore, mindful of my limited responsibility in this case, I have undertaken to examine the bill only with respect to whether it is in the appropriate form for the purpose that it seeks to achieve.

Let me first address the contention of the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River that amendments to the Constitution must be in the form of a resolution. There is no disputing that the House has in recent years considered several resolutions of the type referred by the hon. member. For example, on November 18 and December 9, 1997, the House adopted resolutions dealing with the school systems in Quebec and Newfoundland respectively; and, on October 30, 2001, the House adopted a resolution changing the name of Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador.

But the House has also seen bills proposing to amend the Constitution. Examples in this Parliament include Private Member’s Bill C-223 An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, standing in the name of the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville; as well as government bills C-22, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation) and C-19, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure), both standing in the name of the hon. Government House Leader.

I offer these examples simply to explain that this bill cannot be considered not in order simply because it is in the form of a bill and not a resolution. That said, let us examine the actual provisions of the disputed bill.

Bill C-505 consists of two clauses, both of which seek to amend provisions of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Clause 1 proposes the addition of a new paragraph to the preamble of the act, concerning the special situation of Quebec and clause 2 adds a subsection to section 3 of the act, exempting the province of Quebec from the government's multiculturalism policy. There is no reference in the bill to any other statute or for that matter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have therefore concluded that, since the purpose of this bill is to restrict the application of an existing statute and since this bill proposes an amendment to the existing statute to achieve that objective, Bill C-505 is in the proper form.

As your Speaker, I have no authority to rule on the constitutionality of Bill C-505. Accordingly, given that Bill C-505 is in the proper form, deliberations on it may continue in accordance with our rules governing the consideration of private members' business.

I thank the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for having raised this matter.

The House resumed from April 16 consideration of the motion.