House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, given the noble purpose for which the government House leader offered his motion just now, which I think is intended to facilitate members of the House who wish to attend the funeral of a former hon. member, which will be taking place tomorrow about noon, I wonder if the House could reconsider the request you just made to give unanimous consent to the government leader to make his proposition.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will ask again. Is there unanimous consent for the government House leader to put the motion to the House at this time?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Comments by Member for Don Valley East
Points of Order
Oral Questions

May 8th, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the member for Don Valley East made a hurtful, discriminatory and unparliamentary remark. The member's remarks maliciously stereotyped young people. Allow me to quote Hansard, in which it says, “He is young so he will do what is asked of him without too much questioning”.

If a member made the same remark about other people or replaced the word “young” with “aboriginal, female or disabled”, we would rightly have been furious and demanded that member's resignation. It is not different when one targets the age of a member.

The member then used the term “junior” to describe Canada's youngest parliamentarian. If a similar disparaging remark had been made about a senior, we would have equally have been appalled.

The Canadian charter forbids discrimination on the basis on age. We say to our young people that they can risk their lives defending our democracy abroad and then the member suggests that they should not be allowed to participate here at home.

How can we encourage young Canadians to get involved in the democratic process when certain members insult them for doing so? As a young Canadian, my parliamentary privilege has been affronted.

I ask the member for Don Valley East to do the honourable thing and apologize to young Canadians for her hurtful remarks and withdraw her comments.

Comments by Member for Don Valley East
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not in a position to respond at this moment. I am sure she will take the opportunity to do so as soon as she is able.

However, simply for the information of the parliamentary secretary who raised the point, I believe the remarks, or at least a significant portion of them to which he referred, were in fact quoted from the Hill Times of this past week, wherein the Hill Times attributed those remarks not to a Liberal, but to a senior Conservative.

Bill C-377—Climate Change Accountability Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point of order today relates to Bill C-377, which is on the notice paper and which was reported back to the House within the last week, I believe on April 29. It will come forward on Monday for your rulings in selecting what amendments would be in order.

The provision for making that determination is in accordance with the Standing Orders, and specifically with Standing Order 76.1(5). I will only read the first sentence because the rest of it is not particularly germane. It states:

The Speaker shall have power to select or combine amendments or clauses to be proposed at the report stage and may, if he or she thinks fit, call upon any Member who has given notice of an amendment to give such explanation of the subject of the amendment as may enable the Speaker to form a judgment upon it.

Flowing out of that particular Standing Order, the procedure and House affairs committee some period back made a proposal to be brought forward in the form of a resolution. There was a note attached to that, Mr. Speaker, which you made some reference. However, the note, and I will quote the initial sentence of it, which is by way of explanation of how Standing Order 76.1(5) is to be interpreted, states:

The Speaker will not normally select for consideration by the House any motion previously ruled out of order in committee and will normally only select motions which were which were not or could not be presented in committee.

You made further rulings with regard to that, Mr. Speaker, in a ruling that affected, first, myself and then the member for Mississauga South. In response to the report from procedure and House affairs, you made these notes. I want to quote in terms of setting the criteria. First, in terms of what the considerations would be, you said, “past selection practices not affected by this latest directive will continue to apply”. We have a history of how we deal with amendments at report stage. You went on to say:

For example, motions and amendments that were presented in committee will not be selected, nor will motions ruled out of order in committee. Motions defeated in committee will only be selected if the Speaker judges them to be of exceptional significance.

Then you went on and referred members to pages of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

You further went on, Mr. Speaker, and said:

Second, regarding the new guidelines, I will apply the tests of repetition, frivolity, vexatiousness and unnecessary prolongation of report stage proceedings insofar as it is possible to do so in the particular circumstances...

I want to quickly add that the amendments being proposed by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley are not frivolous or vexatious and do not meet that test whatsoever.

In the two decisions you have rendered in this regard, Mr. Speaker, one, as I pointed out, affected myself when I was first here back in November 2001. It was a situation where I was unable, because of conflicts of being at two committees at the same time, to get my amendments put forward. You ruled at that time, acknowledging the difficulty on my part, that I did have difficulty in moving these amendments and the Chair, in those circumstances, would give me the benefit of the doubt and allow the amendments to move forward, and they in fact did.

Then there was a second ruling by yourself, Mr. Speaker, in January 2003, involving a request from the member for Mississauga South for amendments to be selected by you. At that time, you made two points, the second of which I think is more relevant to the circumstances we have today. The first one recognized that our parliamentary system was party driven and that the positions of parties were brought forward to committees through its officially designated member. The Chair also recognized that some members may want to act on their own. You then went on to say, Mr. Speaker:

Consequently, the Chair is of the opinion that certain motions by the hon. member for Mississauga could not be presented during the clause by clause study in committee and should therefore be studied at the report stage.

In combination, those two rationales, Mr. Speaker, were to the point that if motions could not have been presented at the time when we normally would in committee, then you would normally allow them to be selected at report stage.

I argue today that this is exactly what we are confronted with here. In that regard, the history of what has happened, and I will go to the two reports that have been issued from the environment committee, because that is where Bill C-377 was considered, is there was an initial report, the third report about two or three months ago, which indicated that there were significant difficulties in process at that committee, to the extent that it felt compelled to bring the report forward. I would refer you to the report, Mr. Speaker, when you make considerations as to my point of order.

The second report with regard to Bill C-377 and the environment committee was the sixth report from that committee, and there were several points. I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to the third paragraph of the report, indicating that in fact work had been done on Bill C-377 in committee, that certain clauses had been adopted, others were postponed because of, to use the term in the report, “a prolonged debate of over twenty hours on clause 10 which led the Committee to an impasse”. In effect, what was going on, in the terms that we more often use in the House, was a filibuster by the government. Therefore, the report was passed back here from the committee.

I also would refer you, Mr. Speaker, to emphasize the effect of what was going on there and the degree of the impasse, to the fifth paragraph of the report, which states, “Given the impasse, the Committee opted not to consider the remaining clauses and parts of the Bill and adopted the following motion”. Out of consideration of time, I will not read that, but in effect the motion reflected that certain sections were reviewed, some were amended, but there were outstanding amendments that were never considered, and the final paragraph sets out which ones those were.

The motion was adopted by the committee, that the bill be sent back at that stage. Therefore, some have been amended, others have not even been considered, and others had been considered, but with no opportunity for amendments to be made.

The amendments proposed by our member are very clear. They are not frivolous.

I also want to make one final note. There were minority reports to the sixth report, and in that, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley made it very clear to the committee so there was no misunderstanding, and I was there at the committee and also made a similar statement, that we would be moving amendments at the report stage, subject to the determination by the Chair as to whether they should be selected or not. It is not like the committee did not understand that these amendments would come forward and that they would be pursued at report stage.

In summary, I believe it is one of those opportunities. We did not have the ability to move these amendments at committee. It is appropriate that you consider them, Mr. Speaker, and select them at this time.

Bill C-377—Climate Change Accountability Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 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 would like the opportunity to review the points made by my friend. They have been quite lengthy, thorough and detailed, and it was not until halfway through that I was able to familiarize myself with even the bill he was discussing.

However, in terms of an opportunity to make amendments to the bill, I will draw attention to the fact that the committee, in returning the bill, did so well in advance of the deadline established in the Standing Orders; a motion of the House for consideration of that particular private member's bill.

Therefore, while there may have been a decision by the members of the committee, including the New Democratic member, to return it here in haste, they cannot then rely on that as a reason why they did not take the opportunity to make such amendments at committee. However, I would like to have the opportunity to come back and submit on this further.

Bill C-377—Climate Change Accountability Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would urge haste on the minister in those circumstances since the bill is up for debate, I am told, on Monday at 11 a.m. Therefore, he will want to exercise due diligence.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999—Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Friday, May 2, 2008, by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning the admissibility of the amendment to the motion for third reading of Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, moved by the hon. member for Western Arctic.

I would like to thank the government House leader for raising this matter, as well as the hon. member for Vancouver East for her intervention.

The hon. government House leader contended that the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Western Arctic was inadmissible because it sought to provide a mandatory instruction to the committee. He was of the opinion that the use of the words “with a view to making sure that” in the amendment constituted a mandatory instruction on how the committee should dispose of the bill.

The hon. member for Vancouver East, for her part, felt that the proposed amendment was clearly permissive. In her opinion, the words “with a view to”, contained in the amendment, support that argument.

As stated in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice on pages 672 and 673, regarding amendments to the motion for third reading of a bill:

The purpose of such an amendment may be to enable the committee to add a new clause, to reconsider a specific clause of the bill or to reconsider previous amendments. However, an amendment to recommit a bill should not seek to give a mandatory instruction to a committee.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice also mentions further on page 793, with respect to instructions to committees of the whole, which also applies to standing committees:

Instructions to a committee of the whole dealing with legislation are not mandatory but permissive, that is the committee has the discretion to decide if it will exercise the power given to it by the House to do something which it otherwise would have no authority to do.

The issue before us today is to determine if the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Western Arctic meets the requirements as set out in our rules and practices, and more specifically, if it indeed constitutes a mandatory instruction to the committee.

There are many precedents of similar amendments to the motion for third reading that have included the words “with a view to” combined with various action verbs akin to “making sure”. For example, amendments moved in the past have used the verbs “to ensure” on November 8, 2001, “to change” on January 31, 2003, “to eliminate” on March 4, 2004, and “to incorporate” on June 22, 2005, and all were ruled admissible. In fact, with time, this has become an established and accepted form for an amendment at third reading that seeks to recommit all or certain clauses of a bill.

In reviewing the texts of the amendment and of Bill C-33, I find that the amendment does not, in my view, infringe on any of the principles that I mentioned earlier and that form the basis of past practices of the House. The amendment asks the committee to reconsider a clause of the bill, taking into consideration certain issues, but it does not specify that any amendment is required or exactly how the committee should modify the bill to attain that objective. In my opinion, the text of the amendment provides the committee ample discretion in how it wishes to reconsider the particular clause in question.

As such, I declare the amendment in order. I thank the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for bringing this issue to the attention of the House.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.