House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The next question is on the motion. The hon. Chief Government Whip is rising.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you will find agreement to apply the result of the previous vote to the current vote, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, we agree to apply the vote. The NDP will be voting against the motion. I would like to add the name of the hon. member for Victoria, who has arrived.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Liberal Party will be voting in favour of the motion.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of the motion.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Thunder Bay—Superior North will be voting no.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

The Green Party votes no.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #282

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Bill C-38
Privilege
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, arising from a question of privilege that we raised just recently, it is incumbent upon us to respond to the government's intervention on this point.

As you will remember, Mr. Speaker, the question of privilege had directly to do with the access to information that all members of Parliament require for the vote that is coming quite shortly with respect to Bill C-38.

The question of privilege that was raised is a significant one because it talks about the central role of members of Parliament from all sides and, in particular, the role of the opposition to hold the government to account. We listened very carefully to the House leader's response from the government, and perhaps he was ill-prepared or ill-informed, but his points beared no merit to the case that we presented. We wanted to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that you understood the case as put forward by Canada's official opposition. In particular, the government House leader raised the issue of timing.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, questions of privilege must be raised at the earliest possible moment. The fact is that since the budget was introduced, we have sought, through every available means that we have at our disposal, such as questions on the order paper, during question period, at committee and through the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to find out what the implications are of this particular piece of legislation, in particular, the cuts to services and the cuts to employment that Canadians will be facing.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, from our deposition of yesterday, that information exists. The government has refused to offer that information for what we believe borders on bogus terms that came from the Privy Council Office directly, which works, obviously, hand-in-hand with the Prime Minister.

It is unlawful for the Privy Council Office to keep this information from parliamentarians and from the Parliamentary Budget Office. The timeliness of this was required as we waited for the government to provide the information that it was legally obligated to do. It was only after its final refusal in letters dated April 12 and then confirmed on May 9 that we knew that we had a question of privilege in front of us.

We have demanded and continue to demand that the government release this information so that we do not have members of Parliament voting blind on a piece of legislation. Again, it is incumbent upon all members of Parliament to be informed before they vote. The fact that the Conservatives seem to have no problem voting blind is a concern to me but not our problem. Our concern in the opposition is that we have everything available to us before we vote.

The third point, which is an important one, is that, in the intervention from the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister's chief bureaucrat, it is illegal to break section 79.3(1) of the Parliament Canada Act, which is to hold known information from parliamentarians,in this case, holding it directly from members of Parliament and also through an officer of Parliament in the Parliamentary Budget Officer. We have been demanding this information for quite some time.

The last point is that the government house leader made some response that we needed to cite any particular section or provision of the bill but he knows better than this. As we know, a question of privilege is the intervention on the rights of all members of Parliament to perform our duties. The particular example here with Bill C-38, the Trojan Horse bill, is one more example that privilege applies in the individual or the collective when members of Parliament are unable to perform our functions on behalf of Canadians while the government knowingly withholds information that is pertinent to the vote that we are about to take.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, and as Speaker Milliken knew in one of his last rulings before leaving this place, this is significant. In the case of Speaker Milliken's ruling, it had to do with the Afghan detainees. In this case, it has to do with the budget. However, the consistency of withholding information is the same. This is problematic, not just for the government in place now but for the function of Parliament and for the sanctimony with which we hold this place.

In order to do our jobs for those we represent every day, we must have the information that exists. The information exists and it has existed for some weeks. The government has refused, at all stages and at every opportunity we have given it, to respond in an honest and forthright way.

The second act the Conservatives moved once in government was the accountability act. This breaks their own act but, more important, it breaks the right and respect that we have for this place and the privilege that members of Parliament have to seek the truth and to understand the information available to us so we can vote with a clear conscience. That is a principle of Parliament and one that we will consistently hold.

Mr. Speaker, as you will make your ruling in some hours to come, I ask that you find this to be a breach of privilege in the individual and the collective case.

Bill C-38
Privilege
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for his further contributions on this point.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Bill C-38
Privilege
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to belabour the point but I do support the question of privilege just made by the hon. House leader of the official opposition.

I think we should all be quite shocked, as I was, that our Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose job it is to advise parliamentarians so we can do our work reviewing how the public purse is being dispensed and the impacts of the decisions we make in this place on the full functioning of the apparatus and the architecture of our government, has been unable to obtain information that should be readily available to his office, as it should be to all of us, represents a breach of privilege and, indeed, a further contempt.