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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as NDP MP for Elmwood—Transcona (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 50.85% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Points of Order June 5th, 2007

Before going to orders of the day I would like to give the ruling on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Wascana regarding the use of Standing Order 56.1 to timetable the proceedings on a bill in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

On May 31, 2007 during routine proceedings the government House leader sought, but did not obtain, unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, when the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development convenes a meeting, it shall not be adjourned or suspended until it completes the committee stage of Bill C-44 except pursuant to a motion by a parliamentary secretary and, provided the bill is adopted by the committee, agrees to report the bill to the House within two sitting days following the completion of the committee stage.

He then moved the motion again pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 and the motion was adopted when fewer than 25 members rose to object. A short time later, the hon. member for Wascana raised a point of order regarding the use of Standing Order 56.1. He was supported by interventions from the hon. member for Joliette and the hon. member for Hamilton Centre, while the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that the motion adopted earlier had been appropriately presented under Standing Order 56.1.

Given that a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development was imminent, I delivered an immediate ruling promising that the Chair would return to the House later with reasons. I am now prepared to do so.

First, the Chair would like to thank all hon. members who intervened on the point of order for their contributions on this question and is particularly grateful that members have taken note of certain key rulings, specifically those the Speaker delivered on September 18, 2001 and October 3, 2006.

A key element in my ruling today is the fundamental precept that standing committees are masters of their own procedure. Indeed, so entrenched is that precept that only in a select few Standing Orders does the House make provision for intervening directly into the conduct of standing committee affairs. In addition to the power the House has to give instructions to committees by way of a substantive motion that is subject to debate, there are, of course, Standing Orders 57 and 78, which can be used by the House to allocate time or for closure proceedings on a bill in committee. It is toward the use of these very instruments that the Speaker directed the House in his ruling of September 18, 2001, on Debates page 5257, where, as the hon. member for Wascana pointed out, the Speaker stated:

The expanded use of Standing Order 56.1 since 1997 causes the Chair serious concern. The government is provided with a range of options under Standing Orders 57 and 78 for the purpose of limiting debate.

Let us now turn to the Speaker’s ruling of October 3, 2006 allowing the use of Standing Order 56.1 to extend, in an open-ended fashion, the debate on Bill C-24, the Softwood Lumber bill.

It should be noted at the outset that when Standing Order 56.1 was used in reference to Bill C-24, the bill was then before the House at second reading, not before a standing committee. In allowing the use of Standing Order 56.1 in that case the Speaker did so with some concern and on the basis that:

The precedents available to me, including my own previous rulings, are [therefore] insufficient for me to rule the motion out of order on this occasion.

This is part of the Speaker's ruling quoted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. At the time the Speaker had more to say. He also encouraged, as had Mr. Speaker Parent before him, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the appropriate use of this Standing Order, a pretty clear indication of the difficulties with which the House has had to deal when Standing Order 56.1 has been invoked in questionable circumstances.

In the present case, the Chair has looked carefully at the wording of Standing Order 56.1, which states in reference to the House itself that the Standing Order can be used to move motions in relation to “the management of its business” and “ the arrangement of its proceedings”. Interestingly, the only reference to committees in the Standing Order is one allowing motions for “the establishing of the powers of its committees”, suggesting that the rule was meant to be used not to reach into the conduct of standing committee affairs to direct them, but rather in a routine manner, to provide them powers they do not already possess. A review of the previous uses of Standing Order 56.1 appears to support this. The only examples dealing with standing committees or standing committee activity the Chair has been able to find have to do with granting standing committees the power to travel. The power to travel is, as all hon. members know, a power standing committees do not possess and so the use of Standing Order 56.1 in that regard falls squarely within the parameters of the rule.

Accordingly, to repeat the words I used when this matter was first raised, the use of Standing Order 56.1 to direct the business of the committee, of any committee, is a new development in the House and one that I find out of order.

I thank all hon. members who intervened for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean June 4th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to pay tribute to my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. He was leader of the Bloc Québécois, leader of the official opposition, and one of the most effective and persistent House leaders I have ever known. Despite our different political positions, especially with respect to the nature, value and future of Canada, I do not think anyone in this House can deny the fact that the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean loves this Parliament.

As we say in English, he is a House of Commons man, perhaps the highest compliment we can pay another member of Parliament.

He especially loves parliamentary debates and has shown this eloquently over the last 14 years. I had the chance to cross swords with him a number of times. His debating style was characterized by respect and passion. He will be missed in Parliament. But perhaps not as much as all that, since he is going to pull a Jean Lapierre and become a television star.

As some of us only announced that we were not seeking re-election as opposed to resigning, perhaps at some point I will be a guest on the hon. member's television show and we can compare notes on post-parliamentary life.

Following up on a remark by the hon. House leader for the official opposition, with the departure of the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, this leaves the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst as the uncontested hothead, red-faced member of Parliament. I am not sure how the hon. member will translate that style onto television. We look forward to seeing how the cool medium and sometimes the nature of the hon. member's style get together on television.

On behalf of my NDP colleagues, I would like to wish the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean all the best, and a very long career in the media.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2007

I would like to open this committee of the whole session by making a short statement on the evening's proceedings.

Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes under Canadian Heritage. Each member will be allocated 15 minutes. The first round will begin with the official opposition, followed by the government, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation.

As provided in the order adopted earlier this week, parties may use each 15-minute slot for speeches or to question the Minister. The Chair would appreciate it if the first member speaking in each slot would indicate how the time will be used, particularly if it is to be shared by one or more members.

In the case of speeches, members of the party to which the period is allotted may speak one after the other. When time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the party. However, in the interest of a full exchange, I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules.

Although members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again, while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers. Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

I would remind hon. members that, according to the special order, during this evening's debate, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be entertained.

As in the House, ministers and members should be referred to by their title or riding name and of course, all remarks should be addressed through the Chair.

I ask for everyone's cooperation in upholding all established standards of decorum, parliamentary language and behaviour.

At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under Canadian Heritage will be deemed reported, and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.

We may now begin tonight's session. The House in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the first appointed day, consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under Canadian Heritage in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

Just to clear up any confusion such as existed on a previous evening, we will start the clock now.

For the first 15 minutes, the hon. member for Churchill.

Interparliamentary Delegations May 9th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34 I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Canada-United Kingdom Interparliamentary Association concerning the bilateral visit to the United Kingdom held in London from January 14 to January 20, 2007.

Railway Continuation Act, 2007 April 17th, 2007

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 3. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 3 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 3 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 4. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 4 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 4 agreed to.)

The committee of the whole will now proceed to the consideration of clause 5.

Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 5 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 5 agreed to)

The committee of the whole will now proceed to the consideration of clause 6. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 6 is deemed carried on division.

Clause 6 agreed to

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 7. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 7 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 7 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 8. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 8 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 8 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 9. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 9 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 9 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 10. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 10 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 10 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 11. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 11 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 11 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 12. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 12 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 12 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 13. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 13 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 13 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 14. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 14 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 14 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 15. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 15 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 15 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 16. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 16 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 16 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 17. Debate

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 17 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 17 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 18. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 18 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 18 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 19. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 19 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 19 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 20. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 20 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 20 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 21. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 21 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 21 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of clause 1. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, clause 1 is deemed carried on division.

(Clause 1 agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of the title. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the title is deemed carried on division.

(Title agreed to)

The committee will now proceed to the consideration of the bill, as amended. Debate.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the bill, as amended, is deemed carried on division.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, I shall now rise and report the bill, as amended.

(Bill reported)

Slave Trade February 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, last night, thanks to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, members of Parliament were given an opportunity to preview the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the story of British MP William Wilberforce's long fight to abolish slavery. This superb movie was produced to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.

At a time when human slavery is making a comeback illicitly, in a way that calls for concerted international action, it is important to remember that before 1807 slavery was a legal and an integral part of the imperial economy. Wilberforce had to contend with arguments that the abolition of slavery would make Britain less competitive, that it would advantage Britain's enemies, that it would eliminate jobs and that government revenues would be affected.

Wilberforce contended not only with the sugar barons and profiteers, but against an embedded economic system that contradicted God's will for human equality. He insisted that the moral thing to do was the best thing to do and that the example would catch on as ultimately it did. Surely we would do well to heed this insight when dealing with the issues of our own time.

Lloyd Francis January 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, as the only current member of the House who was here when the Hon. Lloyd Francis was Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the House, I am pleased to have been asked by my NDP colleagues to speak on their behalf in tribute to my former colleague.

The Hon. Lloyd Francis led a life of distinguished public service stretching from his service in the RCAF during the second world war through a career in the civil service and municipal and federal politics, as an ambassador, and in more recent years as an international election observer.

Speaking of the war, I certainly have fond memories of discussions with him about his time in Manitoba with the Commonwealth air training program. I believe he was stationed at Rivers, Manitoba.

By his own admission in his book Ottawa Boy, it was his time as Deputy Speaker and Speaker that he felt was his greatest opportunity to contribute to his country.

The part he played in reforming the administration of the House of Commons, although very unpopular at the time, and the part he played in defending the Chair and by extension Parliament from an unruly mob during the debate on the patriation of the Constitution were both significant contributions to the evolution and preservation of Parliament. Let his refusal to be intimidated on the night that the Chair was threatened be his parliamentary legacy and a pointer for all of us to the value of a parliamentary culture in which yelling is no substitute for argument or wit or procedural acumen.

To his family we offer our sincere condolences and our gratitude for a life well lived in service to community and country.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 October 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I know it is an occupational hazard of being a little guy and hard to notice, but I was rising with my party to vote for the subamendment and my vote was not recorded. I want to be recorded as having voted in favour of the subamendment.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

The House is now in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 10.

I would like to open this session in committee of the whole by making a short statement on take note debates.

This is probably the first time some members are taking part in this type of debate. I will explain how we will proceed.

Tonight's debate is a general one on the situation in Sudan. As is the case in any proceeding in committee of the whole, members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

Each member will be allocated 10 minutes at a time for debate. These speeches are subject to a 10-minute question and comment period. Furthermore, according to the motion adopted yesterday, any member rising to speak during the debate may indicate to the Chair that he or she will be dividing his or her time with another member.

Although members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers.

During the 10-minute period for questions and comments, there are no set time limits on each intervention, but I will work to allow as many members as possible to participate in this part of the proceedings and ask for the cooperation of all members in keeping their interventions as succinct as possible.

As the Chair, I will follow the rules governing committee of the whole. Nonetheless, in order to allow a good exchange, I will use discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules.

May I also remind members that even in committee of the whole, ministers and members should be referred to by their title or by their riding name, and of course all remarks should be addressed through the Chair.

The first round of speakers will be the usual all party round, namely the government, the official opposition, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party. After that we will follow the usual proportional rotation.

At the end of this evening's debate, the committee of the whole will rise and the House will adjourn until tomorrow.

We can now begin this evening's session.

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Federal Accountability Act June 22nd, 2006

It being 12:24 a.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, June 20, 2006, Bill C-2 is deemed read a third time and passed on division.

(Bill read the third time and passed on division)