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 fisheries.

Topics

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, there is a quote that I have been looking forward to reading. It is a good answer to the question from the hon. member on why we need to get this done. This is a quote from the Toronto Sun, which states:

As Europe stands poised on the brink of a disastrous economic wildfire that could blacken the world, NDP leader's hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame.... vowing to delay the passing of [economic action plan 2012]...by playing silly--

and I won't use the term

--silly [games] with amendments and procedure.... This is nothing but grandstanding.... This is a budget designed to create jobs and inspire economic growth, and it comes to the House of Commons at a moment that can only be described as the 11th hour of a global economic conflagration.... Right now, there is only one enemy in our fight to protect Canada from the repercussions of Europe's burning. And it's [the NDP leader].... This is inarguable.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I am rising in response to the point of order raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Standing Order 78(3) states that the amount of time allotted to any stage of a bill shall be not less than one sitting day. However, it also does not mean we should not take that particular reference to be interpreted as the length of the sitting day on which the bill is scheduled for debate or when the motion is moved.

Standing Order 78(3) affords the government the option to allot a specific number of “days” or “hours”. Sometimes time allocation motions allot sitting days. When a motion refers to a sitting day, we take the timeframe of a sitting day literally. It does not mean how long the day is or what the circumstances dictating the time available for government orders might be. On other occasions, time allocation motions have allotted hours. The hours allotted in those motions were respected.

Let me give some examples. On November 13, 1975, a motion allotting five further hours for the second reading stage of Bill C-58, which amended the Income Tax Act, was adopted; similar motions were adopted on March 10, 1976, for Bill C-68 amendments to the then Medical Care Act; on March 29, 1977, for Bill C-27, the Employment and Immigration Reorganization Act; and on November 22, 1977, for Bill C-11, another bill to amend the Income Tax Act. In relation to Bill C-18, the National Transportation Act, 1986, a motion allotting four hours for report stage and four hours for third reading was adopted on June 15, 1987.

Most recently, the House adopted two such motions last Thursday, June 7, 2012. One allotted five hours for third reading of Bill C-25, pooled registered pension plans act, and the other allotted seven hours for second reading of Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama free trade bill. Needless to say, both motions were in order last week and each was adopted by the House.

Of interest, regarding the 1987 case, the report and third reading stages happened to be the second order of the day called by the government on each sitting day, and the debates were interrupted by the Speaker after the expiry of the time provided for in the time allocation motion but before the end of government orders. It should be further noted that on both occasions, after Bill C-18 was dealt with, the government called a third order of the day.

Looking at our recent example of Bill C-25, yesterday's order paper said we had 2 hours and 24 minutes of debate remaining on the bill. Had we resumed debate on it at 3:00 p.m., after question period last Thursday, the debate would have ended before the end of government orders at 5:30 p.m. With routine proceedings and the consideration of procedural motions, it is not inconceivable to end up with a situation where only a few minutes are available to debate a bill on a given ordinary sitting day. Those few minutes would satisfy the minimum requirement of Standing Order 78(3) if the motion allotted one sitting day.

Our motion refers to hours. When dealing with hours, it makes more sense to interpret the minimum requirement of one sitting day differently because the number of available hours could vary from day to day.

As members are aware, not every sitting day is the same. Under the usual calendar, five and a half hours are set aside for both routine proceedings and government orders on Mondays; six and a half hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays; two and a half hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. The longer routine proceedings take, the less time there is for government orders. When allotting hours, the reference to one sitting day should be interpreted as a sitting day and not the sitting day on which the bill has been scheduled for debate.

I would argue that when referring to hours in a time allocation motion, the minimum allotment of hours should be consistent with the shortest day available under the current Standing Orders, and that is two and a half hours, and that assumes we breeze through routine proceedings in a heartbeat. Of course, our motion contemplates ten hours of debate for report stage and a further eight hours for third reading, which in both cases is at least three times the two and a half hour figure I just cited.

On three of the five sitting days each week, the time available for government business is routinely no more than five hours. Some may ask what impact there may be, given that we are operating under extended hours. I would say it should not be a relevant consideration. Calling government orders is the prerogative of the government. In other words, any item on the order paper could be called this week or this fall, when we are not in extended sittings. However, should the fact we adopted a motion yesterday under Standing Order 27(1) bear relevance to the chair's consideration, let me advance two further points.

First, Wednesday, tomorrow for example, would have at most eight hours for government orders, and the coming Friday is operating in the usual schedule, with two and a half hours for government business.

The government could, if it so chooses, call Bill C-38 on either of those dates, and yet 10 hours could not be fully used in a single day. In fact, I believe everyone understands that we will be calling Bill C-38, in part, tomorrow.

Second, the 1987 precedent that I cited earlier speaks to our present circumstances. On Friday, June 12, 1987, the House adopted a special order respecting sitting hours, effective the following Tuesday. Now, recall that the time allocation motion was adopted on Monday, June 15. The House, knowing that extended hours were upon it, adopted the time allocation order for four hours for each of two different stages of the bill.

Report stage was called on Tuesday, June 16, as the second order of the day, and after all of the recorded votes at report stage there were still a couple of hours left in the day for a third item of government business. Third reading followed the next day, when again there was more than ample time in the day to accommodate that debate.

Looking at the cases I cited earlier, but in both the case of Bill C-18 in 1987 and Bill C-25 on Thursday last week, the minimum requirement of one sitting day was not interpreted by the Speaker as the length of the days on which either bill was scheduled.

Although no ruling was then given in 1987, I would submit that Mr. Speaker Fraser likely interpreted the length of the shortest available day to be the minimum time required by the Standing Orders, and as far as I can surmise, it would also have been the view of the Speaker last week.

Accordingly, I believe our motion should be allowed to stand for the same reason that it allots a greater number of hours than the shortest day on which it could be scheduled. Indeed, it will be a longer number of hours than in the normal circumstance would be provided any day at any other time of the year that we would be debating it in the House.

I believe the precedents are amply demonstrative that the motion you have before you, Madam Speaker, is in order.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, the government House leader makes some interesting points.

He talks about the usual circumstances but, if members will remember, just yesterday in the Speaker's ruling on trying to allocate the number of votes and amendments to Bill C-38, the omnibus Trojan Horse budget bill we are talking about, the Speaker himself a number of times referred to these as extraordinary circumstances. Part of the reason for that is that this is an extraordinarily bad bill, massive in its implications and broad-sweeping.

To suggest that the government, and I want to get this right, in my friend's motion, seeks to have a distinction between “a” sitting day and not “the” sitting day is a debate that may be lost in its minutiae on Canadians, yet is important in its implications of what the government is doing.

We are in the midst of debating another closure motion from the government, another motion to shut down debate. It is the 26th time the government has moved time allocation and closure in this House. Twenty-six times is a lot for any government, in fact a record that the government seems proud to be breaking and setting anew for Canadian democracy.

The question and the challenge we have with this motion is that in redefining what “a day” is, the government is essentially trying to further speed its agenda through the House of Commons, to further shut down the amount of time MPs have to understand the implications of more than 420 pages of a budget implementation bill, and to further suggest to Canadians that the House of Commons and the members of Parliament do not have the responsibility to hold government to account.

We in the NDP take this job extremely seriously. I lament the fact that my friends across the way do not share that responsibility and feel that shutting down debate, invoking closures and time allocations, should be de rigueur for the government, and I lament that we are now into a debate about defining what the difference is between “a” sitting day and “the” sitting day and trying to pretend that this is somehow a normal circumstance.

There is nothing normal about the circumstance at all. It is extraordinary, as the Speaker of the House said just yesterday. If the Speaker wants to rule that we are going to change the definition of a day, and the government seems so encouraged to change the definition of what debate and democracy may mean, the government has a certain ease with which it is removing principles it used to hold, principles that it actually said at one point—

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Do you want the votes today or tomorrow?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

With all the interruptions from the government House leader, I will continue.

If the government wants to say that the principles it used to hold while in opposition are no longer principles it holds so dear, that is fine. That is for it to work out with the people it seeks to represent.

For us, a principle is a principle. The fact is that this is a Parliament, based within the very name itself, a place where we discuss the matters of the nation not cram through omnibus Trojan Horse bills and start to redefine what a day actually is. I think most Canadians would find this entire discussion not just obtuse but obscene.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, given that it was I, representing the Liberal Party, who raised the issue in terms of the government appearing not to be following the Standing Orders, it is important that I respond to what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has now put on the record.

I admit I am not a lawyer, but I have a fairly good understanding of House procedures and what a day is and is not. I can read the Standing Orders just as well as I suspect many others inside the House of Commons can. I believe that the Standing Orders are fairly clear and that is why, earlier, I raised the point of order on behalf of the Liberal Party that the government would appear to be breaking the Standing Orders. It is an important rule that needs to be respected, so by raising it in that fashion, I was hopeful that the government members would respond by recognizing that they had made a mistake and that the mistake can be easily fixed by allotting a few extra hours to debate this very important bill.

In his response, the government House leader tried to confuse the matter. He said that there is this situation here or this situation there, giving the impression that it has happened before. Well, it has not happened before where it has been brought to the Speaker's attention that a rule has been violated.

It is much like if someone stands up and says something that might be determined as being unparliamentary but no one brings it to the attention of the Speaker, so the Speaker does not make a ruling on it. However, if someone stands up and points out that someone said something that is unparliamentary, there is an obligation on the Speaker to enforce the rule. I believe that the Standing Order is fairly clear on this point. There is nothing wrong in admitting he made a mistake, and the government House leader should just acknowledge that they made a mistake, that they did not read or interpret the rule properly and that they are going to have to extend the amount of debate on the bill in order to comply with the Standing Order.

I suggest the government House leader may take some time. Maybe we could recess for a few minutes so the government House leader can get his motion in proper order, so we can have a continuation of the half-hour question and answer on the time allocation. The government House leader would recognize that Canadians as a whole would love to see the government follow the rules and procedures of the House of Commons and that it is not appropriate for the government House leader and the Conservative Party to be abusing this rule.

Madam Speaker, I look to you and suggest we need to have a ruling on this. It is a very simple, straightforward issue. Regarding the examples the government House leader brought forward, there was no extended sitting that was being suggested. The bottom line is that we are sitting until midnight, which far exceeds the number of hours that this time allocation motion is stating, and that puts it in contradiction to the Standing Order. I suggest we have a recess so the government House leader can bring forward a motion that would be in keeping with the Standing Order. I leave it at that and I hope the government will do the right thing on this matter.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I thank all the hon. members for their comments. There were some interesting precedents presented, and there does seem to be some lack of clarity on that specific issue. However, for now I propose to the House that we continue the debate. I stopped the clock. I will come back with a decision in 15 minutes when this debate is over.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to ask the Minister of State for Finance a question with regard to something that is somewhat confusing for me,.

I know that the NDP put forward a number of amendments with regard to the bill. I believe that sometimes these amendments are simply delay tactics, which is unfortunate because delay simply for the sake of delay is, frankly, obstruction. Nevertheless, some of the amendments are confusing.

I would like to ask the minister of state about a particular amendment that would see the RDSP positive changes in the bill eliminated. I am confused because stakeholders, with regard to the registered disability savings plan, have been asking for these changes in order to allow for plan holders to be expanded, et cetera. It would help the most vulnerable. I would like to know why the NDP would want to eliminate these positive changes.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I will have to disappoint my hon. colleague because I actually do not have the answer to that question of why the NDP would vote against that. In fact, it was the opposition finance critic and the opposition deputy finance critic who actually put forward the motion to delete clause 6 which deals with the registered disability savings plan.

We can find quote after quote all across the country about how effective this could be. We are adding these clauses in to make it more effective. We are working with the provinces, which have partial jurisdiction over this, but we have the tax law portion of that. This legislation in some provinces currently bars some people with intellectual disabilities from accessing the plan without compromising their legal status. The provinces want to move forward with this. The groups that are promoting this, in fact the families that are dealing with the issues of, we use the term “legally incompetent” or “disabled Canadians”, were expecting this.

I wonder whether the next speaker who rises from the NDP might give us a quick answer as why the NDP voted against the disabled people in this country.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, if the Minister of State for Finance wants to talk about hypocrisy, we should take a look at the government. During the election, it did not announce the changes in its plans and it moved forward.

I would also like to say that the Canadians I have met are alarmed and worried about the tactics of this government, which is not only silencing this House, but is also silencing Canadians without leaving any room for debate.

I would like to ask the member how much progress he thinks the government can make when it is not listening to the public? How far can we go?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, that is exactly what we have done. I have been consulting with groups, businesses and organizations across the country since early last fall, as has the finance committee. The all party finance committee travelled to different regions of the country and brought in witnesses from different regions across the country. This is a reflection of what we heard from those individuals.

It is very troubling when an hon. member stands in this House to suggest that something that is in the budget implementation act was not actually in the election platform.

I would remind that hon. member that the only party that ran in the last election that actually had an economic plan for this country was the Conservative Party. I do not remember even seeing that referred to in the NDP platform, so I guess the NDP ran on nothing.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just want to make an addition to my colleague's point of order. The amount of time allocated for any stage may not be less than one sitting day.

Also, these proceedings were days when there was no extension.

Also, the Standing Orders have been amended several times since the citings. That is why the member is reaching back to 1970 for examples. The fact is that the Standing Orders have been changed.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I thank the hon. member, and, as I said, I will be coming back to the House in a few minutes with a decision.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, we heard the minister of state talk about what his party ran on in the last election. This is a very good point because the Conservative Party in the last election did not tell Canadians that it would change employment insurance and it did not tell Canadians that it would change OAS.

Like the minister of state, I travelled the country and did 47 town halls across the country and not once did I have anybody ask to have OAS changed.

From the standpoint of the finance committee, and being a member of that committee, we would be sitting there with six or seven people, some were there for fisheries, some for modified seeds and some for the environment, but in the five minutes we had each one of these people had to choose one person to ask a question of.

I am concerned about what is happening to the capacity of MPs to do the due diligence necessary. It does not require a lot of understanding of process to understand that changes to the Employment Insurance Act belong in a different place, or that the Fisheries Act belongs with fisheries, or that human resources development belongs with human resources, to get clear due diligence applied that is necessary but that has not happened.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation Motion
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, we have, indeed, heard from Canadians about employment insurance from all regions of the country for various reasons. One of the resounding complaints we heard was how people who are on employment insurance and want to work find jobs in their own region. It is not the easiest thing to do.

What the minister is attempting to do is to pair up those people who are now on the safety net of employment insurance. It is good to have it there when people have lost their jobs, but they want to be paired up. They would rather be working than be on employment insurance.

It is our role as government to ensure that we can pair those two up. It is that simple and we think it is important that the government play that role.

We have seen an incredible increase in jobs, almost 760,000 net new jobs, but if there is one Canadian still looking for work we should not give up on him or her.