Who knows? I know it is Friday. I can get away with a lot on Friday.
I will pass on the comments being made by my good friends on the other side because it may lead me into something that I would have to explain later.
When we reached prorogation in 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986, the House adopted amendments to the Standing Orders to carry over legislation to the next session in 1977 and 1982. The House adopted reinstatement motions on division in 1991, 1996 and 1999. The 1996 motion included provision to reinstate private members' bills. I am concerned that private members' bills are being pushed off to the side when sometimes it is the only way private members on either side of the House can actually send a message to the government as to what concerns them and the people of their riding.
In 1997 a private member's bill was reinstated after dissolution. Standing Order 86.1 allows private members' bills to be reinstated. That order was adopted in 1999.
If we look at previous legislation in 1996 and 2000, Bill C-5 was introduced on February 2, 2001. At second reading, it had six hours of debate over five days then it was referred to the committee. Are we to bring that back and start all over again?
As much as I think closure should not be necessary, in this particular case I agree with it because I want these bills brought back.
I want all the work that has been done by committees, by members of the House, and the people that have come in as witnesses to be worthwhile. Are we to waste all their time and start all over again?
We have to consider that the environment committee held 42 meetings on Bill C-5, totalling over 90 hours. The committee heard from over 100 witnesses. Are we going to throw that out? Is that fair to over 100 witnesses? That is we are bringing it back.
Why would we spend 12 days of debate at report stage and third reading, and 50 hours of debate? Why would we throw that away as members of Parliament? What would be the advantage of taking all that valuable work done by members, committees, and all those witnesses brought in at great expense, and not bringing the bill back? Most of the witnesses were very sincere and wanted to have their evidence as part of the legislation that would be passed by the House.
The total time that was spent on Bill C-5 was 17 days of debate, 42 committee meetings, and 146 hours of debate in committee and the House. That amount of time cannot be thrown away.
I have great respect for the traditions of the House. I have worked as hard as anyone with my colleagues to improve the general pay scales, the insurance policies and all the things that affect members of Parliament. I have been fairly successful doing that and I feel good about it. I never made the headlines doing it which is even better. Every member of Parliament is benefiting from that hard work.
Members try to modernize Parliament and the way we act as members of Parliament. I accept that there are some things that I will never be able to change. I accept the fact that there are certain things that are out of my league or my prerogative. I recognize that. I have had a lot of help from opposition members. I have met with almost all opposition members one on one to ask them what improvements could be made to the House and the way we are treated as members of Parliament.
Most opposition members think the only way change can be made is if they become the government. That is never going to happen. We must deal with the people that are the government and try to make improvements. Forcing the government to introduce closure is not the way to go.
We should be meeting. Why has not one member of the opposition been brought forward as a committee member? There is no list from the opposition. It does not want the committees to meet. Why is that? Is there a reason why the opposition does not want committees to meet? I find this very difficult.
We are ready to begin. Our committee members are all in place. We would like to begin and then the opposition says no, it wants a secret ballot or something. How undemocratic that is for other members. The opposition wants to control the government, but it is not the government.
How do we best operate for the people of Canada? How do we give the people of Canada the best economy for their money? It is done by passing the legislation that the government was elected to pass.
I look at the traditions of the House and they should be followed. The traditions should be discussed and we should reaffirm our own personal respect for honoured traditions. Those traditions are shared by the government and the party with which I am a privileged member.
Respect for Parliament and its traditions has been demonstrated again and again over the last couple of years as the government has spearheaded a number of changes to the practices of the House in a methodical and carefully thought out manner yet mindful of and respecting past parliamentary privileges and practices.
This being the case, it should come as no surprise that the provisions contained in the motion also reflect and respect the best practices, the past practices and the traditions of the House. To illustrate this, let us look at the motion and how it corresponds to our past practices.
Under the motion, any minister who introduces a bill during the first 30 sitting days of a new session of Parliament in exactly the same form as a bill in the previous session, and which has been at least referred to a committee, would be able to request that the new bill be reinstated at the stage to which it had progressed at the time of prorogation. Does that not make perfect sense?
Should the Speaker be satisfied that the bill is in fact the same as the previous one, he or she could then order it reinstated at that stage. As members will no doubt recognize, this indeed is in accordance with the past practice of the House. All we are doing is carrying on the tried and true traditions of the House as has been carried out since Confederation.
In October 1999, when the second session of the 36th Parliament began, the House adopted a similar motion as the one before us today. In March 1996, when the second session of the 35th Parliament began, the House also adopted a similar motion. Previous Parliaments have adopted similar motions including one that passed under a previous government in 1991. Members all know who that was.
A number of other precedents exist for this motion as well. For example, page 330 of Marleau and Montpetit cites a number of precedents for the reinstatement of bills following a prorogation. In 1970, 1972, 1974, and 1986 the House gave unanimous consent to motions to reinstate bills. In 1977 and 1982 the House adopted amendments to the Standing Orders to carry over legislation to the next session.
Such a long string of precedents testifies to the long-standing practice in the House of allowing the reinstatement of bills at the same stage as the motion proposes. The procedure contained in the motion is almost identical to the Standing Orders for private members' bills. It leads us to the conclusion to reinstate private members' bills at the same stage. It must also be reasonable to follow the same procedure in the case of government bills.
Members should take note that the UK Parliament, from which our own parliamentary traditions flow, is considering amending its rules to allow government bills to carry-over from one session to the next.
What we are suggesting in the motion is not some piece of wild-eyed radicalism. It does not represent a revolutionary break with the past. Rather it is very much within our own parliamentary tradition and that of the mother of parliaments in the UK.
The motion is not just a good idea because it is based upon precedents, rather it represents a proposal which is logical and can stand on its own merits. It is clear that many of the bills which would be reinstated following passage of the motion are worthy of our most serious attention and worthy of being passed into law.
The passage of bills takes time. As a parliamentarian, one of the things that probably bothers me the most is the amount of time it takes to pass something. I know we must give it a lot of consideration and that we have to work on it very hard, but the government presents many bills during a session of Parliament and not all of these are tabled early in the session. Bills take a long time, a lot of thought, a lot of consultation, and a lot of development. Some are tabled very late and leave us with a rush at the end. We should not allow bills to die because of the timing of when they are introduced. We should look at what makes sense as parliamentarians.
Closure is being brought in so that the motion can be dealt with, so that we can allow many important bills and committee work to continue at the same stage of consideration at prorogation.
I spoke earlier of the hours and hours that committees put in. We all sit on committees and we all spend a lot of valuable time. I do not want my time to be wasted. I have spent a lot of time on committees and I have listened to a lot of witnesses. I would like to carry on with any legislation that is before that committee at the stage it was at just before prorogation.
For this reason, and many more I will be supporting the motion and I will be supporting the closure motion. I feel that it is our parliamentary duty to not waste a lot of time and money, and to get on with the business of the House, not talking about adjournment but talking about the business that we must do here.