House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was charter.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I also would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is, as usual, addressed to the government House leader or, in his absence, the deputy leader.

I would like to ask the government what the remaining business of the week is for today and tomorrow, and, going into next week, Monday through Friday, how the government anticipates its legislative agenda moving forward.

It would be very important as well for the government take a moment to address some of the remarks made by two ministers yesterday dispatched to talk about the legislative process. We are not engaged in legislative process-making. Could the government help us and Canadians understand what the schedule is with respect to some of the justice bills on which concerns were raised yesterday? We would like to hear about those concerns, what bills specifically and how it intends to get them through the House from now until Friday.

Could he also take a moment to address whether the government will stop filibustering, in two or three standing committees, important bills that this entire House wants to see move forward?

Finally, could the deputy leader of the House address his remarks yesterday about an order paper question that consumed over 45 minutes of this House's time, instead of dealing with important legislative matters?

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.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 will start with the hon. member's last question first.

The member is right, that was an extremely long question. I pointed out to this place that the Liberals were making it a common practice of writing questions that should be divided into several questions rather than just one. The question that I read into the record of this House took over 15 minutes to read. It is an attempt by the Liberal Party, continuous attempts by the Liberals, to obfuscate, to delay the proceedings of this House and to, quite frankly, impede the ability of government departments to get on with important government legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that you, in your wisdom, will rule on that very important point of order as quickly as possible.

With respect to the business today, we will continue with the Liberal opposition motion and business of supply. Tomorrow we will hopefully complete the final stage of C-30, Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Shoker Act. Following Bill C-30, we will call, at report stage, Bill S-6, Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act.

On Monday, we will continue with any business not concluded this week, with the addition of Bill C-43, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act, and Bill C-12, Democratic Representation Act.

On Tuesday, we would like to complete the third reading stage of Bill C-21, Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act.

Next week, we will also give consideration to any bills that are reported back from committee. Further, if time permits, we would also debate next week Bill C-38, Ensuring the Effective Review of RCMP Civilian Complaints Act; Bill C-50; Bill C-51, Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act; Bill C-53, Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act; and Bill C-19, Political Loans Accountability Act.

Finally, on Tuesday evening, we will have a take-note debate on the trade agreement with the European Union, and on that subject, I would ask my colleague, the chief government whip, to move the appropriate motion.

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, further to the comments of the deputy House leader, consultations have taken place among all parties and I am please to move:

That a take-note debate on the subject of the current negotiations to conclude a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union by the end of 2011 take place pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, on Tuesday, December 14, 2010.

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier is rising on a point of order.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

December 9th, 2010 / 3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in response to the point of order raised yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning my order paper question about the copyright bill, Question 614.

Clearly, the parliamentary secretary made comments that are a bit difficult to understand, are of a more partisan nature and have little to do with the rules. He said that we ask long questions to cause delays and slow down the process. In fact, quite the opposite is true. What I really want is to get answers from the government.

This is what I wish for. I need answers.

And so I am asking for answers in this regard. A desire to delay the process was the furthest thing from our minds. On the contrary, it is very important to seek out answers and that is why we are asking a question.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that my question was not concise enough. I would like to know what is concise and what is not. The length of the question is directly proportional to the length and complexity of the bill. I hope that some of the members have read Bill C-32, which is 65 pages long. It is extremely long and complex. We need clarification in this regard.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry told us that the bill was based on consultations held across Canada. I went across Canada. I met with people in all 10 provinces during round tables on copyright. I hope that I can do so in the territories as well. What I heard was not at all like what the government heard. It was completely different. The government is telling us that the bill is based on consultations. What I am saying is that I consulted people and I got very different information. Something is not right, and that is why I put questions on the order paper, questions that are extremely important. For example, I want to know who they consulted. What was the process? What was the outcome of that process? We are not getting those answers in the House or in committee. Once again, what we heard is very different from what they heard.

What is clear to me, and probably to you, Mr. Speaker, is that this question is relevant. It is fair and to the point. Once again, we are not getting answers in the House or in committee. This bill is far too important to just let it go as is. We need answers, so we are using the question on the order paper to get important answers.

I would like to look at this from the perspective of the Standing Orders and read an excerpt from House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states that:

Aside from a 1965 Speaker’s statement indicating that some of these restrictions no longer applied, there is no definitive breakdown of which of these are still valid. Thus [and this is important] a very large measure of responsibility for ensuring the regularity of written questions fell to the Clerk.

I will end with the following:

Acting on the Speaker’s behalf, the Clerk has full authority to ensure that questions placed on the Notice Paper conform to the rules and practices of the House.

Clerks in the service of the Clerk of the House analyzed the question, revised it and allowed it. They did their job. I do not see why anyone would question the work of the clerks. Unlike the parliamentary secretary, I trust them and I believe that you too will reiterate your confidence in our clerks.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, if the member had been listening attentively yesterday, he would have heard me say at the conclusion of my remarks that I do not believe any Canadian, after listening to a question that took close to 20 minutes to enter into the record, would agree that it fits the definition of “concise”. Of course it does not. O'Brien and Bosc is quite clear on the fact that it must be a concise question. Otherwise, the option is to either withdraw the question or break that one question into multiple parts.

I am not sure if my hon. friend is aware of other procedures in the House, but one is that a member can only have four priority questions on the order paper at any one time. What the Liberals appear to be doing is asking a question of such volume and length that they can get four of those types of questions on at one time, when in fact, I would suggest, Question No. 614 should be broken down into at least four or five questions rather than one.

All we are suggesting is that if the hon. member wants to ask questions, he should follow proper procedures and practices, make the questions concise and present them in such a fashion that the government has the ability to answer in 45 days, which is the priority deadline. The member should know that when a question is over 1,500 words in length, it is near impossible for this government or any government to respond by the 45-day deadline. If he truly wants answers to questions, he should do so in a fashion that allows the government to answer accordingly within the 45-day limit, or else make the question a non-priority question.

I would suggest that my hon. colleague read O'Brien and Bosc and get the procedures and practices correct before he raises a question, as he did with Question No. 614.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, very quickly, following the parliamentary secretary's logic, I could take the same question, divide it into four parts and send them at exactly the same time, and the same people would have to answer the same questions, but simply divided into four.

We have never tried to delay the process, on the contrary. I hope he believes me. We want answers as quickly as possible. That is important. Once again, the clerks determined that the question was valid and in order, so I ask him to trust them, as I do.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, maybe I can provide some assistance to the conversation by way of additional background.

It seems that a number of the things the member is asking for were actually offered up on the first day of the special legislative committee on Bill C-32. He talked about consultations, wanted to know who was met with and said that he would like to see some of the information. I told him that there were consultations from one side of this country to the other. In fact, one was held in Peterborough where the media was actually in attendance and records were kept from that meeting. We would be happy to furnish all of that to the member. I offered that to him on the first day the committee met if he was interested in seeing it.

In addition to that, I told him that we had received 8,000 written submissions on Bill C-32 and that they would also be available if he wanted to read them.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure what that has to do with the admissibility of the question but I thank the hon. member.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that governments have an obligation, if it is a priority question, to answer within 45 days if it is within the realm of possibility to do so, if it is the art of the possible. The member should know, if he truly wants an answer, that writing a question consisting of over 1,500 words would not allow the government to answer by the deadline.

Since he says that he wants answers, he should present a question that is procedurally correct and break the question down into smaller parts. The reason the Liberals ask lengthy questions is so they can then have three more questions on the order paper of the same length at the same time. That is the delaying tactic. They are trying to force government departments to spend time and money answering questions, when in fact those departments should be doing more important work, in my view, of bringing forward legislation.

If he wants Parliament to work, let us let it work.

Question No. 614
POINTS OF ORDER
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will review the matter and get back to the House in due course in respect of the question.