House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canada depends on international trade. We are a trading nation. Canadians share the same values in terms of wanting to do what they can to fight for issues such as human rights and basic labour standards. We do not like child labour. We want to ensure that environmental concerns are being addressed. The whole concept between sustainable development and so forth.

These are issues that are very important to us, but also we see the value in terms of international trade. There are trading countries in the world that we have concerns with today. I could cite China and many others that were very dependent on those trade links. Now we have a free trade agreement that we are supportive of in principle. We still believe we could have done more with our neighbours to the south and other nations like Korea and so forth, but we do believe in value for free trade agreements.

The NDP, to the best of my knowledge, has never voted in favour of any free trade agreement. Members are trying to make Panama look like an ugly nation when there are many positive things in Panama. Has the NDP ever voted for a free trade agreement, whether it is Panama or any other agreement that has come before the House of Commons?

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that we are a trading nation. One of the difficulties with the current position on trade is that we do not all live in Alberta. Therefore, we cannot all benefit by the jobs created in Alberta because we do not all live there. As the jobs disappear from Ontario, 400,000 good manufacturing jobs that disappeared since the government took office, those people are unemployed and that is a problem.

The NDP believes in trade. We know that trade is a good thing, but there have to be protections in the agreements that we sign with trading partners before we will agree, and there are none in this agreement.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

March 2nd, 2012 / 1:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege. I will be brief because not all the facts are in, but given the rules regarding a question of privilege, I understand it is my obligation to make you aware of circumstances at the earliest opportunity. If you wish, I will make an effort to gather the rest of the information and submit those details at the earliest possible opportunity next week.

Some of my colleagues have been experiencing various levels of obstruction from fulfilling their duties today by virtue of the extraordinary security measures on Parliament Hill. I understand the need for more security when a head of state is here, but I believe that the balance is out of whack in this case. In one case, a 15-year veteran member of Parliament who was known by a security officer was sent back to his office to get proper identification.

I raise this question in the context of the larger issue that I have tried to raise in the House of Commons before, in that it is a disadvantage to members of Parliament and I believe it can even be a matter of violating our collective privilege in that we are not masters of our own chamber but only tenants in the House of Commons. I refer to the fact that although the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate are in fact masters of the parliamentary precinct, they have delegated the authority for all the operations, maintenance and security to the Department of Public Works and Government Services and other agencies and we are not, in fact, in control of our own chamber. This, I believe, contradicts the 2000 edition of Marleau and Montpetit, page 275, chapter 7, which states:

One of the fundamental privileges of the House is to regulate its own internal affairs, holding exclusive jurisdiction over its premises and the people within.

Notwithstanding the fact that certain government departments have a role in the upkeep, such as the Department of Public Works and Government Services and Heritage Canada, it is our collective privilege to control the House and the surrounding precinct. If in fact we are only tenants in our own House of Commons, the disadvantage that members of Parliament and the NDP experienced today would suggest it is time for a tenants revolt in the House of Commons.

I refer the House to page 170 of Parliamentary Privilege in Canada by Joseph Maingot, where it is stated:

--the House of Commons is not a department of the government of Canada, but exists as a constituent element of Parliament.

It is further stated on page 170:

Each House of Parliament is entitled to the administration of affairs within its own precincts free from interference.... Control of the accommodation and services within the Parliament Buildings is therefore vested in the Speakers...on behalf of their respective Houses. Thus Public Works and Government Services and other government departments act only on the advice of officials of each House.

This came up when I tried to have the Canadian flag lowered to half-mast whenever a Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan. It was ruled that simple act of respect was beyond the purview of either chamber in Parliament and it was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works and Government Services to decide how and when to raise and lower the flag atop the Peace Tower in the Parliament of Canada. That struck me as absurd. Are we not masters of our own domain? Why do we have to ask a department under the direction of the government for an expression of our Canadian Parliament? We have to put significant distance between Parliament and the ruling party, between Parliament and any government department under the direction and control of the ruling party.

It is stated on page 230 of Maingot's second edition:

Members are entitled to go about their parliamentary business undisturbed.

In House of Commons Procedure and Practice, chapter 3 on privileges and immunities, at page 85 on the topic of obstruction, authors Marleau and Montpetit state the following:

In circumstances where Members claim to be directly obstructed, impeded, interfered with or intimidated in the performance of their parliamentary duties, the Speaker is apt to find that a prima facie breach of privilege has occurred. This may be physical obstruction, assault or molestation.

My colleague was not molested to the best of my knowledge, although he may want to share with us if he was. However, members were interfered with to an extent that I do not believe is justified. It was like a fortress today around Parliament Hill. I approached the double fence and asked the RCMP officer if I could pass through. He asked me if I was a member. I said, yes, that my office was in Centre Block, and he allowed me through. However, three or four other members, and even my colleague here, were denied access and were sent back to their offices to get further identification.

Mr. Speaker, I think you would be the first to agree that all members of Parliament are equal in their privileges in this House of Commons and no one should have been interfered with or disadvantaged in any way in accessing their office to conduct their duties as a member of Parliament.

That is the extent of my intervention. I raise it without any criticism of the officers in question. I have every respect for the work that they were doing in following out their orders to make Parliament a secure place and to welcome our guest, the head of state of Israel who was here today.

However, I do remind the House that as members of Parliament we should be in control of our own parliamentary precinct. This work should not be contracted out to Public Works and Government Services Canada or anybody else. It should be the Speaker of the respective houses who control the operations, maintenance and conduct of every aspect of Parliament. We are not just tenants here. As it was put very capably, we are a constituent element of Parliament.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the House that this morning when I approached the Hill I too had my vehicle stopped. The trunk was searched. I did not mind at all because we have a well-respected international leader visiting our House today.

I know the NDP like thuggery tactics and would like to see all this security taken away and I do know that the member opposite loves the sound of his own voice. However, I am here to say that I do not mind that minor inconvenience to protect another human being who is visiting our House.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I would report on an incident that happened last fall when there were protesters on the Hill against the Keystone pipeline.

The Hill was double-fenced and the stairs were closed off. I approached the RCMP officers who were doing due diligence there and asked if I could stand on the stairs. The RCMP told me I was not allowed to do that. A discussion incurred. An RCMP officer went away and came back with a book on procedure. After reading the procedure with me, he granted me access to that space. Quite clearly, no parliamentarian can be denied access to the Hill for any particular reason.

I would say that an issue that is brewing is the unrelenting increase in security which is hampering our privilege on the Hill. I would like to see the Speaker deal with this question of privilege in good fashion and come back to us with a report on the nature of security vis-à-vis the privilege of parliamentarians.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, reasonable people have to find a balance between security and access. I acknowledge that members of Parliament have the right to operate within the precinct with free will as long as they are not impeding anybody else. However, when there are visitors here, and we have had many honoured visitors, the security has to go up. When the Prime Minister is around, the security goes up. We have to balance security and access.

This is not the 1800s any more. There is a lot of communication and we have many threats of terrorism from all over the place. We have to make sure that a tragedy does not occur here and that someone does not get injured or killed because security was lax. There will always be difficulty in finding a balance between security and access.

I am sure the Speaker will take this up and investigate it. However, I cannot believe that there was any bad intention to try to impede MPs. I recommend that the Speaker look at this and make sure that there is a balance between security and access.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, in terms of access to the Hill, it is incredibly important that members of Parliament feel confident in their ability to access this chamber, especially when the House is sitting. A very obvious statement that needs to be reinforced is it is critically important that members of Parliament representing Canadians have the ability to be in here when the House is actually sitting.

There are arguments to extend it beyond that, but I do not want it to be a reflection on the people in security. My understanding is that they do have pictures of all members of Parliament. Identification is provided to us. We have a special pin. It is not unrealistic for us to expect that we might have to produce identification at some point. The other day I was walking to the chamber with some of my Manitoba colleagues who have been around a bit longer than I have. I was asked to produce some identification. There is always a changeover of staff and some staff members may not know the faces of all 308 MPs.

Having said that, there needs to be something in place that provides comfort to all members of Parliament that they will have the necessary and warranted access to Parliament Hill. The point on access is very critical for us.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct
Privilege
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The Chair thanks all members who have made contributions relating to this question of privilege. What I can share with all hon. members is that earlier today the House did request a report be brought forward in terms of what did happen this morning. One of the hon. members asked that a broader report also be tabled. I will leave that for the Speaker to determine. He will come back to the House in good time with a response to this question of privilege.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of the NDP being against free trade. What we have always asked for is that trade be fair, and that labour and environmental standards be enshrined in trade agreements. That is a tenet of a social democrat. It is no good that the workers in this country benefit, if workers in the country that we are trading with do not benefit as well.

Let us look at Mexican workers. We were told during the free trade deals with Mexico that their living standards would rise and rise, and so would ours. Well, 400,000 people lost their jobs in Ontario, no rising there. I have been to Mexico a fair number of times, and I have seen some whose standard has not changed too much.

In trading with Panama, the reality is this is a country that is inadvertently a tax haven for nefarious organizations, such as the drug cartel. One would think that if Canada wanted to trade with Panama that it would be paramount that we get Panama to agree to stop being a tax haven for that type of activity. That should have been number one.

Number two, where are the labour and environmental agreements enshrined in this agreement? They are not there.

Number three, the fact is our colleague, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster said very clearly that with the 11 amendments that would have strengthened the agreement, it would have gotten New Democratic support. However, every single one of the amendments was ignored.

I remember a Conservative committee that denied every amendment from a gentleman from Mount Royal on Bill C-10. Every single one of those amendments was defeated at committee. Yet, when it came back to the House for third reading, the government wanted to institute those amendments, but it could not do it. The government took it to the Senate, where the amendments that the gentleman from the Liberal Party proposed were then put in.

Why did the government do that? Just because it has a majority does not mean it has all the good ideas. Our colleague had some very sound and basic ideas to improve and strengthen the trade deal with Panama. They were rejected outright. It was not because the members of the committee understood what he was saying, it was because they were told to reject them. It is as simple as that.

If the government brings us back an agreement that includes labour and environmental standards, and ends the tax haven for drug dealers, maybe the NDP will support this initiative. Until that happens, the government should send it back. The reality is that on every single trade deal that has been out there, the NDP has been front and centre. We have been very clear that there is no deal unless labour and environmental standards are enshrined in the deal. There can be no side agreement, no bargain back here. They should be enshrined in the context of the deal.

That way, labour unions in Panama could collectively bargain with their employers and with their government to have the same rights that our trade unions have here in Canada in their collective agreements. That is the commonality we look for. We also want environmental standards to increase in both countries in order to improve the natural environment of both countries.

If the government does that, we should be able to enter into trade deals in order to assist businesses and workers. Unless that happens, there is really no deal on this side.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper. The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore will have six minutes remaining when the House returns to this matter.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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