House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was products.

Topics

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no consent. The hon. chief government whip.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will try once again. There have been consultations among all the parties and I think you may find unanimous consent for the following three travel motions: “That 12 members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs be authorized to travel to the national military cemetery of the Canadian Forces in Ottawa, Ontario in June 2008 and that the necessary staff do accompany that committee”; “That, in relation to its study on the seal harvest, seven members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to travel to Brussels, Belgium in September-October 2008 and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee”; and “That, for the remainder of this session during its consideration of matters pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), the Standing Committee on Finance be authorized to adjourn from place to place within Canada and to permit the broadcasting of its proceedings thereon, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee”.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose these three motions?

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no consent. The hon. government House leader.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 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 would like at this time to move the standard motion that can be made only today. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Monday, June 9, 2008, and concluding on Thursday, June 19, 2008, the House shall continue to sit until 11:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week in answer to the Thursday statement, this is we have work to do week. To kick off the week, we are introducing the customary motion to extend the daily sitting hours of the House for the final two weeks of the spring session. This is a motion which is so significant there is actually a specific Standing Order contemplating it, because it is the normal practice of this House, come this point in the parliamentary cycle, that we work additional hours and sit late to conduct business.

In fact, since 1982, when the House adopted a fixed calendar, such a motion has never been defeated. I underline that since a fixed calendar was adopted, such a motion has never been defeated. As a consequence, we know that today when we deal with this motion, we will discover whether the opposition parties are interested in doing the work that they have been sent here to do, or whether they are simply here to collect paycheques, take it easy and head off on a three month vacation.

On 11 of those occasions, sitting hours were extended using this motion. On six other occasions, the House used a different motion to extend the sitting hours in June. This includes the last three years of minority government.

This is not surprising. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard to advance their priorities. They would not look kindly on any party that was too lazy to work a few extra hours to get as much done as possible before the three month summer break. There is a lot to get done.

In the October 2007 Speech from the Throne, we laid out our legislative agenda. It set out an agenda of clear goals focusing on five priorities to: rigorously defend Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthen the federation and modernize our democratic institutions; provide effective, competitive economic leadership to maintain a competitive economy; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians; and improve the environment and the health of Canadians. In the subsequent months, we made substantial progress on these priorities.

We passed the Speech from the Throne which laid out our legislative agenda including our environmental policy. Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, to make our streets and communities safer by tackling violent crime. Parliament passed Bill C-28, which implemented the 2007 economic statement. That bill reduced taxes for all Canadians, including reductions in personal income and business taxes, and the reduction of the GST to 5%.

I would like to point out that since coming into office, this government has reduced the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by about $190 billion, bringing taxes to their lowest level in 50 years.

We have moved forward on our food and consumer safety action plan by introducing a new Canada consumer product safety act and amendments to the Food and Drugs Act.

We have taken important steps to improve the living conditions of first nations. For example, first nations will hopefully soon have long overdue protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Bill C-30 has been passed by the House to accelerate the resolution of specific land claims.

Parliament also passed the 2008 budget. This was a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada amid global economic uncertainty. Budget 2008 continues to reduce debt, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

As well, the House adopted a motion to endorse the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with a renewed focus on reconstruction and development to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

These are significant achievements and they illustrate a record of real results. All parliamentarians should be proud of the work we have accomplished so far in this session. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

As I have stated in previous weekly statements, our top priority is to secure passage of Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much-needed changes to the immigration system.

These measures will help keep our economy competitive.

Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians.

These priorities include: $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $100 million for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

These investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass before the summer. That is why I am hopeful that the bill will be passed by the House later today.

The budget bill is not our only priority. Today the House completed debate at report stage on Bill C-29, which would create a modern, transparent, accountable process for the reporting of political loans. We will vote on this bill tomorrow and debate at third reading will begin shortly thereafter.

We also wish to pass Bill C-55, which implements our free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

Given that the international trade committee endorsed the agreement earlier this year, I am optimistic that the House will be able to pass this bill before we adjourn.

On Friday we introduced Bill C-60, which responds to recent decisions relating to courts martial. That is an important bill that must be passed on a time line. Quick passage is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our military justice system.

Last week the aboriginal affairs committee reported Bill C-34, which implements the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. This bill has all-party support in the House. Passage of the bill this week would complement our other achievements for first nations, including the apology on Wednesday to the survivors of residential schools.

These are important bills that we think should be given an opportunity to pass. That is why we need to continue to work hard, as our rules contemplate.

The government would also like to take advantage of extended hours to advance important crime and security measures. Important justice measures are still before the House, such as: Bill S-3, the anti-terrorism act; Bill C-53, the auto theft bill; Bill C-45 to modernize the military justice system; and Bill C-60, which responds to recent court martial decisions.

There are a number of other bills that we would like to see advanced in order to improve the management of the economy. There are other economic bills we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability, Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39, to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-57, to modernize the election process for the Canadian Wheat Board, Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector.

If time permits, there are numerous other bills that we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers, Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins, Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods, Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to 8 years from a current maximum of 45, and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

It is clear a lot of work remains before the House. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been delayed by the opposition through hoist amendments. Given these delays, it is only fair that the House extend its sitting hours to complete the bills on the order paper. As I have indicated, we still have to deal with a lot of bills.

We have seen a pattern in this Parliament where the opposition parties have decided to tie up committees to prevent the work of the people being done. They have done delay and obstruction as they did most dramatically on our crime agenda. They do not bother to come and vote one-third of time in the House of Commons. Their voting records has shown that. All of this is part of a pattern of people who are reluctant to work hard.

The government is prepared to work hard and the rules contemplate that it work hard. In fact, on every occasion, when permission has been sought at this point in the parliamentary calendar to sit extended hours, the House has granted permission, including in minority Parliaments.

If that does not happen, it will be clear to Canadians that the opposition parties do not want to work hard and are not interested in debating the important policy issues facing our country. Is it any wonder that we have had a question period dominated not by public policy questions, but dominated entirely by trivia and issues that do not matter to ordinary Canadians.

The government has been working hard to advance its agenda, to advance the agenda that we talked about with Canadians in the last election, to work on the priorities that matter to ordinary Canadians, and we are seeking the consent of the House to do this.

Before concluding, I point out, once again, that extending the daily sitting hours for the last two weeks of June is a common practice. Marleau and Montpetit, at page 346, state this is:

—a long-standing practice whereby, prior to the prorogation of the Parliament or the start of the summer recess, the House would arrange for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance its business.

As I stated earlier, it was first formalized in the Standing Orders in 1982 when the House adopted a fixed calendar. Before then, the House often met on the weekend or continued its sittings into July to complete its work. Since 1982, the House has agreed on 11 occasions to extend the hours of sitting in the last two weeks of June.

Therefore, the motion is a routine motion designed to facilitate the business of the House and I expect it will be supported by all members. We are sent here to engage in very important business for the people of Canada. Frankly, the members in the House are paid very generously to do that work. Canadians expect them to do that work and expect them to put in the time that the rules contemplate.

All member of the House, if they seek that privilege from Canadian voters, should be prepared to do the work the rules contemplate. They should be prepared to come here to vote, to come here to debate the issues, to come here for the hours that the rules contemplate. If they are not prepared to do that work, they should step aside and turnover their obligations to people who are willing to do that work.

There is important work to be done on the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours, so we can complete work on our priorities before we adjourn for the summer. This will allow members to demonstrate results to Canadians when we return to our constituencies in two weeks.

Not very many Canadians have the privilege of the time that we have at home in our ridings, away from our work. People do not begrudge us those privileges. They think it is important for us to connect with them. However, what they expect in return is for us to work hard. They expect us to put in the hours. They expect us to carry on business in a professional fashion. The motion is all about that. It is about doing what the rules have contemplated, what has always been authorized by the House any time it has been asked, since the rule was instituted in 1982. That is why I would ask the House to support the motion to extend the hours.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on a specific matter of House business that will be dealt with in the next two weeks, specifically on Wednesday, June 11, Canada's aboriginal leaders and selected residential school survivors will be invited to join us here on the floor of the House to receive the apology, and that obviously is very good news. However, apparently those aboriginal representatives will be expected simply to sit through perhaps the most important and emotional moment of their lives, and that is the official apology, without saying anything in response to it.

Again, it is very good that aboriginal representatives will be on the floor. That idea was proposed in the House, first, by the official opposition and others. The government has agreed to it, and that is a very good thing. However, surely, on this very important occasion on Wednesday, those aboriginal representatives should not be voiceless. The aboriginal people, who will be here, will be hearing from four politicians in the House. Surely, the House owes them the courtesy of hearing from them in return, right here, so it can be on the official record.

As the government House leader contemplates the business of the House over the next two weeks, and specifically on Wednesday, while there is still time to do so, could we not come to some common understanding that the aboriginal peoples who will be on the floor will not only be asked to sit and listen, but in fact have the chance to respond?

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the aboriginal leaders who are here will have an opportunity to respond. As we have indicated, the events of the day include not just the solemn and official apology, which will take place in this chamber, but they will continue through the day with the appropriate ceremonies, the smudging ceremony that is contemplated and other very important aboriginal ceremonies that are important to give the day the solemnity that it represents.

The survivors of the residential schools have been waiting all too long for the opportunity to hear this apology. It is important that the day be done in a respectful and proper fashion. It is very important that the apology in the House be a solemn official apology of the House of Commons, done in the normal fashion that the House of Commons does its business. That is the approach the government is adopting. We believe this will give it its greatest meaning and demonstrate the deepest sincerity of the gesture, which is long overdue.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find the government House leader's sense of irony a bit strange and perverse in his request for an extension of sittings.

I went through the pain and suffering of six weeks of his government filibustering the environment committee, six weeks of talking out the clock day in and day out. The Conservatives lack of planning and integrity create a crisis for the rest of Parliament. In mistaking the idea that we come here to work for some sort of political gamesmanship day in and day out at justice, procedure and House affairs and the environment committee, they spent six weeks filibustering, delaying, holding the bill hostage on one clause. Ironically, it was a clause on transparency and accountability.

It seems odd now that the government would come back to the Parliament and say that the clock is running out on the spring session, that it needs more time to debate these important issues. When the Conservatives had the time to move legislation forward, they chose not to. They previously prorogued Parliament and killed their legislation that was in mid-process, some of which had already passed out of the House, on justice and matters of affairs, which the so-called House leader has described as important to Canadians. By doing that, they denied their bills to come to the full force of law. They then sat in committee week after week for political games playing. They delayed the work of the environment committee and the democratic right of this place to vote on a bill. Now they suggest, within days of that happening, that this crisis has been created by others, not their own doing, and they need extra time to get through their legislative calendar.

Did he make any of those considerations previously when the government instructed its committee chairs to take hostage and hijack the democratic process, which is this Parliament.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, hearing denunciations from the NDP of filibuster, as in full debate, is somewhat having the teacher speak to the student.

The NDP has for many years been the masters of exploiting the processes of the House. A number of bills are before the House right now, which we still have not passed because of exactly the fact that the NDP has utilized every possible device to delay the government doing its business, whether it is putting every member of its caucus to speak to a bill, introducing concurrence motions to eat up House time to prevent that from happening, voting several times as it has to keep the House from returning to business, from returning to government orders in order to allow those delay obstruction tactics to continue.

Frankly, when it comes to tying up the House and delaying the doing of our business, the NDP is certainly the master of that. We do not regret that it does it. We regret it does that and that bills do not pass, but it is certainly its right.

What we are dealing with is a very different question. We are dealing with not with whether we should debate matters fully. We are dealing with whether we should even utilize the time that we are expected to sit.

The rules contemplate that on this day, and it is only one day a year, the government House leader can rise and make the motion for extended hours. It is so common that the calendar, which is printed up for the House of Commons, and anyone can go and look on the website, identifies these two weeks as possible extended sitting hours pursuant to that Standing Order 27(1). We are expected to do that. Since 1982, it has happened every time it has been sought. It is called working. It is called showing up for work.

That is what the government is prepared to do and that is what we are calling on the other parties to do as well. The people of Canada expect their members of Parliament to show up in the House at the hours we are supposed to show up, to have the debates we are supposed to have and to conduct the business they want us to conduct on their behalf. That is what we are asking to happen here.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the House leader cannot get out of his embarrassment that easy. It has just been explained how time and time again, week after week, the government stonewalled committees. It delayed the process. For weeks and weeks and months of wasted time, it wants to add two weeks of a few hours extra.

In the justice committee, meeting after meeting, even when there were witnesses waiting and when the committee legally wanted to have a couple of extra meetings and not delay time, the Conservatives instructed their committee chair to walk out of the meeting and delay the whole process. A number of the bills on this list would have been passed now if it had not been for the Conservatives walking out of meetings.

What is most embarrassing is the House leader just said to a member of the House that it was stalling when a party had every member of its caucus speak to a bill. Is that democratic? He is saying that members cannot speak to a bill, or even speak once on it? That is an embarrassment and a confrontation to democracy to tell members they cannot speak to a bill, which the government House leader just said was a stalling tactic. It is an embarrassment that he would say a member, who is elected by his or her constituents, cannot speak to a bill.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member raised the question about the justice committee. At the justice committee, the meetings have not been adjourned by the Conservative chair. It is the Liberal vice-chair who has refused to call votes and who has adjourned the meetings. It is not the Conservative chair, so the fault lies there.

The Liberals do not want to conduct the business there either. The only motion they are willing to consider is one that has nothing to do with legislation whatsoever. They wish to have another one of their side show legislative committee inquiry Star Chambers.

However, in the process what bills do those members not want to deal with? What bills are they obstructing? They obstructing Bill C-25, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which is long overdue, something which Canadians want to have dealt with, something that was referred to the committee. They want to study something else instead. There is Bill C-26, drug penalties, which has been there for some time and something with which Canadians want dealt. They would rather study something else instead of that. There is Bill C-27, identity theft, again is other legislation. Three items of legislation are before that committee. We would like to see them out of that committee and into the House so we can pass sit.

Guess what? The opposition parties, in their ongoing campaign to delay and obstruct our justice agenda, our getting tough on crime agenda, continue to find excuses to delay that, including having their Liberal vice-chair adjourn every meeting and not allow it to proceed on to the important business of that legislation. That is the problem. It is that kind of delay and obstruction that resulted in over 1,400 total delays to our justice bills in the first session of Parliament.

It is those kinds of delay and obstruction tactics that make it necessary for us to seek the kind of permission, which the rules contemplate, for additional hours because we have a tremendous amount of work to do, a very full legislative agenda. It just seems that some do not want to show up to do that work.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in this debate on the government's request to extend the sitting hours in the House of Commons for the last 10 sitting days before the summer adjournment.

The government is exercising an option that exists under the Standing Orders, particularly Standing Order 27, and it is, in effect, asking the House to sit every sitting day until 11 p.m. from now until June 19. That is the substance of the motion.

What the government House leader has tried to do in the last few minutes is to offer some justification for those extended hours. The government says, in effect, that it is necessary to have these additional hours for the next two weeks to somehow speed up its legislation, that list that is found on the order paper, but I suggest that the real reason and the main goal for this motion, on the part of the government, is to hide its own patent mismanagement of the House calendar over the last many months.

Let us look at the facts. In 2006, out of 365 days, the House sat for only 97 days. That, of course, was the year that was interrupted at the beginning of the year by the election, but in 2006, the House sat for 97 days. In 2007, the House sat for only 74 days before the government prorogued the first session of this Parliament and then instead of coming back promptly, it delayed the beginning of the second session until well into October, October 16, 2007, to be exact.

This conscious delay, this delay by the government, was its prerogative. It exercised it, so it is the Conservatives' responsibility. They effectively eliminated 16 sitting days in last fall's House calendar, not to mention all of the time that was wasted on a vacuous throne speech debate since many of the bills that remain on the order paper today were simply reinstated from the previous session. In other words, prorogation and a Speech from the Throne produced precious little that was actually new. They were just recycling the same drivel from before.

The Conservative minority government is now asking for the cooperation of opposition parties to adopt this motion to extend hours in order to help it advance an agenda that largely consists of old business, despite the fact that the government itself has squandered a great deal of time and goodwill over the course of the last two years.

I would like to take a moment to remind members of this House of the words spoken by the now Prime Minister when he was leader of the opposition on the topic of how to make a minority Parliament work. That is one very important factor to bear in mind in the context of this motion, that we are operating in a minority situation. I am quoting the Prime Minister's own words that are found in Hansard for October 6, 2004:

I believe that even when a government holds a majority it is not relieved of its obligation to consult with the opposition, with the House and with the people on important matters. That obligation is surely even more imperative when a minority government situation exists. It is the government's obligation to craft a working majority to advance its agenda by taking into account the policies and priorities expressed by the three opposition parties in the House.

In other words, a great call for cooperation in the House of Commons. I agree with what the Prime Minister said when he was the leader of the opposition. Unfortunately, the minority government has demonstrated no commitment to those principles that were described by the Prime Minister when he was leader of the opposition. The minority government has no idea what it means to consult the opposition parties, not to mention no idea what it means to take into account their priorities.

The modus operandi of the government is one of bitter partisanship all the time, running roughshod over everything and everybody in its path, no matter what. Let us take a look at its track record.

The Conservative leadership across the way prepared and distributed, just about a year ago now, a 200-page handbook on dirty tricks, instructing its members on how to obstruct the work of Parliament should things not be going happily in its direction.

Several Conservative committee chairs have actually followed that manual on dirty tricks very carefully. One example is the justice committee, which has just been referred to, where the chair repeatedly, just as soon as the meeting gets going, gets an urgent call of nature and rushes from the room. He does this at every single meeting. Is that accidental? No. It is a conspiracy to destroy the effectiveness of that committee.

We can see the same pattern being followed at the procedure and House affairs committee, the operations committee, and the ethics committee. All of this is an effort on the part of Conservative members to hide from the truth about a seemingly never-ending series of Conservative ethical difficulties, and parliamentary committees have been sacrificed to Conservative political expediency.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has refused to appear before standing committees to defend her supplementary estimates. The minister responsible for official languages refuses to appear before the standing committee to defend her government's action, or lack of action, on official languages. It is obvious that in the Conservative government, transparency and accountability are not principles that ministers are prepared to respect.

That creates an atmosphere in the House where it is, indeed, difficult to get the kind of cooperation that the government House leader has asked for today. What is the genesis of that problem? What is the root cause? The government House leader need only look in the mirror.

I will give the House another example. The government agreed to a compromise resolution earlier in this session about Afghanistan, and particularly Canada's role in that very difficult mission. The motion was comprehensive. It involved a good deal of give and take, back and forth, across the floor. But specifically, it included the creation of a special committee to oversee that mission, to provide a greater degree of transparency and accountability back to Canadians.

After the adoption of the resolution, which occurred on March 13 of this year, a full month went by and the government had not bothered to consult with anybody with respect to the creation of that very important special committee. In fact, the Liberal official opposition had to use an opposition day to force a debate that resulted in the motion in the creation of that special committee. The government would not have taken action if the opposition had not moved to force it to do so.

With respect to consultations, I should point out that the Conservative government has a great deal of difficulty sharing information with opposition parties, especially when it concerns the proposed calendar of House business. Members will be very familiar with the vacuous speeches that always appear here in the House of Commons on the Thursday of every week in response to questions about the future agenda for the House.

The government, one would think, would take advantage of official and unofficial meetings of House leaders to share plans and priorities about how the business of the House is going to flow. The fact of the matter is that information is rarely forthcoming.

When the Conservatives were the official opposition, they demanded and they received from the government of the day a calendar outlining the government's intentions for House business for three weeks in advance. Today, we are lucky if the government can provide five days of advance notice of proposed House business from time to time.

None of that contributes to the kind of atmosphere where there is a sense of cooperation or where the government can make a convincing argument that there is a sense of urgency that justifies the motion that it has presented.

On other matters, there have been simple requests from opposition parties for things like take note debates, for example, which are no burden on the government whatsoever but they do deal with important topics like Darfur and foreign aid, and other matters of public interest where members strive, for the better part, to set aside the intense partisanship of this place and take note of a matter of important public interest.

On several occasions, House leaders have asked for the government House leader to make an occasion available for various take note debates and the government House leader's response has been simply “no”. We asked why, his answer was “No reason. My answer is just no”. He said, “I can be arbitrary so I am being arbitrary”. That again does not contribute to a good working relationship in the House.

On another item that we have seen very recently, something like advanced notice and consultation for solemn occasions, like the recent visit by the President of Ukraine and the apology on residential schools, somehow the government, rather than treating these with the dignity and the solemnity they deserve, they somehow get twisted into partisan arguments that repel other members of the House from even trying to accede to government requests.

The government has also been quite strange in managing, or mismanaging, what it says are its priorities in the House. On the election campaign, the Conservatives have repeatedly said that their priorities include things like gun control and killing the Canadian Wheat Board, and both of those things have been on the order paper. However, they have only been called for debate in the most symbolic and trivial of ways.

The legislation on firearms, for example, has been on the order paper, in my recollection, since June 2006, and it has been called for debate in the House on one occasion for one hour. Similarly, the bill on the Canadian Wheat Board has been sitting on the order paper since March of this year, and the first time the government even mentioned it was today in response to a question during question period and then on a motion after question period.

If these things were such priorities, the debates would have been called on these items months and months ago, and not just brought up at the last minute and the government saying that now they are a priority.

When we asked the government, as we have done both in the House leaders meetings and on the floor of the House, to specify the priorities it has for things that simply must be passed before the summer adjournment in a couple of weeks, all it did was simply recite in total the entire order paper.

When the government claims that everything is a priority, then clearly nothing is a priority, and the government cannot, on that basis, make a compelling argument for extended hours.

The government has tried its very best to portray the opposition as the villains who are in some way delaying the work of this Parliament as it appears on the order paper, but the fact of the matter is, when we look at the government's own delays in bringing legislation forward, when we look at its disrespect for Parliament and for the committee process, when we look at the ways that it has failed in the mandate expressed in the Prime Minister's own words; that is, to consult and show respect for others in this place, then it is little wonder that when it makes a motion of this kind, the opposition is skeptical.

I would inform you, Mr. Speaker, that the official opposition will oppose this motion.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the member is completely off base on his comments about committees.

Frankly, the committee work is frustrated. The members at committee are simply frustrated by the logical and lawful application of the rules. Following the rules is something members in the opposite party are just not used to doing. They get frustrated, not just because the rules are being applied to them but also because, and I am sure the member has a lot to do with it, of poorly crafted motions.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you can understand because you have to rule out of order sometimes motions that are outside the scope of this great House, but of course, that is something else.

My real question for the member is, what is the reasoning behind not allowing the House to sit further? In my lifetime, except for my wife sometimes, I have never been told I cannot work harder. What is the point to not allowing this House to move and work a little harder for Canadians? What is wrong with that?

In fact, there are a number of members opposite who have not even been here in weeks, so what would it matter when most of the caucus opposite does not even show up, does not vote--