House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was products.

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The House resumed from April 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River has seven minutes left to conclude his remarks.

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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are continuing our consideration of Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill. When I was speaking yesterday, I felt that I had to bring to the attention of the House what, in my view, was almost an extraordinary package of measures contained in Bill C-9. It was the scope of the measures contained in the bill that struck me. It struck me so much that I feel that there is a procedural anomaly extant here, that the bill is too big, too wide, and harms the ability of the House, of members of the House, to deal with its components.

As I mentioned, and maybe other members have done this, it would probably take me five or ten minutes to go through all the components of the bill if I read each statute and just mentioned what the amendment was all about. There are 11 income tax amendments. There are eight GST-HST amendments. There are a couple of Customs and Excise Act amendments. And there are some 20 other statutes amended.

In order to bring in a budget implementation bill, normally there is a ways and means motion that precedes the introduction of the bill. That is normal. That gives the House a heads-up. In fact, the government must have a ways and means motion adopted before such a bill is introduced.

I would not have a problem, and I do not think anybody would have a problem, with a bill that reflected, give or take, what was in the ways and means motion. If the ways and means motion implementing the budget has 10 or 20 separate items and the budget implementation bill that follows deals with those 10 or 20 separate items, I do not think we could argue that the bill does not reflect the ways and means motion and the ways and means motion does not reflect the budget because there is a theme.

However, in this particular case, the bill goes way beyond both the ways and means motion and what I heard in this House in the budget. I think probably all of us were here to listen to the budget speech,. However, there are things in this bill which were not mentioned in the budget speech and there are other things which were not listed, mentioned, or itemized in the ways and means motion.

What this bill comes forward looking like is what we sometimes call an omnibus bill. It is an omnibus bill. At least that is what some would say at first blush. However, I must say that as I look at this bill, it is not even an omnibus bill.

So, what kind of a bill is it? I will try and tell members why it is not an omnibus bill. But what kind of a bill is it? It is not even on the list of types of bills. It contains so many measures it looks like the House may be in the process of accepting a bill which is not an omnibus bill but which has dozens or hundreds of separate statutory amendments because there does not appear to be a limit.

If we can put 30 or 40 statutory amendments in this bill, why could we not put 50 in another one? How about 100?

This is a little bit like the Texas senate. As I understand it, the Texas senate used to meet for about one week per year. What it did was take all of the legislation it had to deal with and put it into one bill. It had one bill that dealt with the dozens of pieces of legislation it wanted to deal with in the legislative body in Texas, U.S.A. It would meet for a week, debate for a week and pass the bill. Its members were out of town, gone, and it was done. That is how easy it is. Maybe we are heading in that direction. I hope we are not and I am still considering just what the procedural implications are, both at this point and later at committee and then report stages.

There is also another procedure the House has adopted over the years. It is not an omnibus bill issue; it is called the miscellaneous statutes amendment procedure. This is a procedure, which the House has accepted and used for many years, where a whole bunch of miscellaneous minor technical amendments to statutes, 10, 20, 30 statutes, are bundled. The Justice Department bundles them up, creates a bill, and the bill is put through the House. It is usually debated very quickly at second reading and then goes to the justice committee.

If at any point along the way there is objection to any one component of the bill, that component is dropped. Otherwise, the bill goes through and these dozens and dozens of miscellaneous technical amendments are made, passed and done. It is really easy. This is not a miscellaneous statutes amendment bill. This is a budget implementation bill. It is too big and wide.

It is so big and wide that in the 10 minutes we each have here to talk about this bill, we will not actually get a chance to address some of these components. This has serious implications for the way we do our business and there may be another opportunity for me to talk about that in the House.

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10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's arguments. An important aspect of this bill specifically affects rural areas. The government is trying to sneak in the privatization of Canada Post, as the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel would say. Losses for Canada Post as a result of this privatization are estimated at about $80 million, and rural areas would suffer the impact.

In my RCM and in other rural RCMs, post offices have been closed down. Canada Post has even limited accessibility and mail delivery in an attempt to further centralize post offices in certain areas. Seniors and people with reduced mobility have a hard time getting their mail.

I have a question for my colleague. Will the Liberals let this bill pass, or will they stand up and tell the Conservatives that they have had enough of privatization and that they want to maintain our post offices?

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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's remarks raise a very important issue. This bill contains financial measures and, like it or not, if the bill fails in the House, we are going to an election forthwith. We will not pass go or collect $200.

I do not know if the member is asking whether or not we are going to have an election now. But he is right, this bill contains measures dealing with changes to Canada Post Corporation. Believe it or not, this bill contains a provision dealing with the complete divestiture of AECL, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

In the past there have been separate bills dealing with the divestiture of Petro-Canada and Air Canada. They were separate bills and we debated a major policy issue, but no, in this bill it is buried. It could not help but be buried. When there are 30 tax and other measures in a bill, everything is buried.

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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is close to being the dean in Parliament. I will have to look at my remuneration package to figure out that $200 remark and will get my assistants to work on it, but I want to ask him a serious question about omnibus bills.

We do not use omnibus bills in Parliament in that name. However, in my short time here, which is about one-sixth of the time of the hon. member, I have seen various measures dealt with in one bill. I assume he is saying it is not against procedure to do same, but he would say that it is sneaky to do same and would not recommend it.

I know he is a learned author in these matters of parliamentary procedure, but is he saying it is sort of legal but semi-moral or is he saying it is all political and we have to sort of, as he would say, not pass go and not collect $200?

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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the $200 reference came from the game of Monopoly. It does not have much to do with what we are doing here today, I do not think.

An omnibus bill has a definition generally accepted by the House. The essential defence of an omnibus bill procedure is that the bill in question, although it may seem to create or amend many disparate statutes, in effect has one basic principle or purpose, which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes.

This bill does not have one principle or thing. It ties together many disparate bills. It is not intelligible or useful for parliamentary purposes. We each get one vote on some 30 different measures, many of which should be stand-alone measures so that we can represent our constituents in dealing with those legislative measures and policy issues. Each of them is arguably quite distinct.

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.