House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was census.

Topics

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-568
Points of Order

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding Bill C-568, An Act to amend the Statistics Act (mandatory long-form census).

Without commenting on the merits of the bill, it is my submission that the bill alters the conditions and qualifications for appropriations for Statistics Canada. The bill therefore requires a royal recommendation under Standing Order 79.

The Statistics Act sets out the duties and functions of Statistics Canada and the Chief Statistician of Canada. While this mandate is broad with respect to statistical matters, much of the activities are discretionary in nature and the act prescribes very few statutory obligations.

In fact, there are only two specific surveys or censuses required by the Statistics Act, a census of population as required by subsection 19(1), and a census of agriculture as required by section 20.

Further, the act provides few requirements for these censuses. The only requirement is set out in subsection 19(2) which requires the census of population to include the population counts for each electoral district.

What is more, all of the activities contemplated by the Statistics Act are under the direction of either the minister or the Governor in Council.

For example, under subsection 21(1), the Governor in Council is authorized to prescribe the questions to be asked in the census of population or agriculture. Section 22 of the act states that the Chief Statistician shall collect and compile statistics under the direction of the minister.

Section 8 of the act states that the minister may, by order, authorize a voluntary survey. Section 7 of the act states that:

The Minister may, by order, prescribe such rules, instructions, schedules and forms as the Minister deems requisite for conducting the work and business of Statistics Canada, the collecting, compiling and publishing of statistics and other information and the taking of any census authorized by this Act.

To sum up, the Statistics Act requires two censuses and says next to nothing about the nature of the questions to be asked in these censuses. The Governor in Council establishes the questions and the minister is responsible for the taking of the census.

I now turn to clause 1 of Bill C-568, which would amend the Statistics Act to provide two new requirements.

First, each population census must include a long form census questionnaire distributed to at least 20% of all households, or to whatever percentage the Chief Statistician has determined to be appropriate.

Second, the long form census questionnaire must conform substantially, in length and substantive scope, to the questions in the 1971 census.

This is a new obligation. While there has always been statutory authority to include a long form census, it has always been discretionary on the part of the Governor in Council. This is therefore a new obligation that alters the conditions and qualifications for the mandate of Statistics Canada.

This new obligation also requires expenditures. For example, Statistics Canada estimates that a long form census in 2011 would cost a minimum of $50 million. Under the current legal framework, the government has the discretion to decide whether or not to spend this $50 million. Under Bill C-568, the government would be obliged to appropriate the necessary funds to carry out its legal duties.

My point is not simply that Bill C-568 would require the expenditure of funds, but also that it does so in a way that alters the conditions and qualifications of Statistics Canada's existing mandate.

On page 834 of the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice states:

A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.

On February 11, 2008, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-474, Federal Sustainable Development Act, that:

...clause 13...would impose additional functions on the commissioner that are substantially different from those foreseen in the current mandate. In the Chair's view, clause 13 thus alters the conditions set out in the original bill to which a royal recommendation was attached.

Other precedents clearly establish that a change in purpose requiring new expenditures must be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

On October 20, 2006, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-286, the witness protection bill, that:

...the bill proposes to carry out an entirely new function. As a new function, such an activity is not covered by the terms of any existing appropriation. As the House knows, funds are approved by Parliament only for purposes covered by the accompanying royal recommendation, as explicitly stated in Standing Order 79(1). New functions or activities must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.

On November 8, 2006, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-279, the DNA identification bill, that:

...clause 2 amends the purpose clause of the DNA Identification Act to include the identifying of missing persons as one of the purposes for maintaining the data bank...the addition of this new purpose to the act would require significant new expenditures by the government.

I recognize that not all changes to an organization's mandate will always require a royal recommendation and that departments have the ability to reallocate funds in order to meet their legislative requirements.

As you recently noted, Mr. Speaker, on October 26, 2010, in your ruling on Bill C-300:

Bill C-300 does require the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to examine bona fide complaints concerning possible contraventions of the guidelines to be established under clause 5, but the bill is silent with respect to the manner in which such examinations are to be conducted. The respective ministers appear to have entire discretion in this regard.

In contrast, Bill C-568 removes all discretion from the minister and Governor in Council in deciding whether to include a long form census questionnaire with each census.

For this reason, Bill C-568 would add a new statutory obligation to the Statistics Act and would alter the mandate of Statistics Canada, thereby changing the conditions and qualifications of the royal recommendation that accompanied that act.

I submit, therefore, Mr. Speaker, that the bill requires a royal recommendation.

The House resumed from November 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to a legislative committee.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

(Motion agreed to)

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

When will the bill be read the third time? By leave now?

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.