Quarantine Act

An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

Sponsor

Pierre Pettigrew  Liberal

Status

Not active, as of May 12, 2004
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Quarantine ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak in the House, even in the dying minutes of the 37th Parliament of Canada in all probability.

I am pleased to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus to put a few things on the record with regard to an act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.

I note that the purpose of Bill C-36 is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases while ensuring respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Canadian Bill of Rights.

To that end, the bill aims to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable disease in Canada. It is said to apply to everyone as well as conveyances, travelling both out of Canada as well as entering the country.

The legislation that is introduced here today is described as an update of the Quarantine Act to address new issues as a result of the spread of new communicable diseases that have come to public light in recent years.

I am thinking of course of SARS which had such an impact a year ago in Canada; West Nile virus, which seems to affect Saskatchewan more than any other provinces in Canada or at least it did last year; and indeed, the avian influenza that is ravaging the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

This bill is also being described as the first step in a series of legislative initiatives to establish a framework for public health including the creation of a public health agency for Canada.

I suggest that this is certainly long overdue legislation. We note that the Quarantine Act dates back to 1872, a very long time ago, upwards of 160 years. Certainly, it needs to be updated in view of these new diseases that have been identified in recent years and undoubtedly are the forerunner to more and new interesting things that will impact on us in the coming years.

Under the proposed legislation the minister will gain the power to appoint screen officers, quarantine officers and environmental assessment officers; establish quarantine facilities at locations in Canada; take temporary possession of premises to use as a detention facility when required and necessary; and divert conveyances, airlines, cargo ships, et cetera, to alternate landing sites.

The stakeholders in all of this include of course the provincial and territorial governments, as the member from the Bloc Quebecois noted in his remarks a few moments ago. It also includes health professionals, industry advocacy groups and members of the Canadian public. We are told they have been consulted on the proposed legislation during the health protection legislation consultations held last year and earlier this year.

However, it is important to stress that provincial and territorial public health officials have a significant role to play. They, along with other stakeholders, will continue and need to continue to participate in the consultations that will follow on Bill C-36.

The updated Quarantine Act will add an additional layer of protection by providing strong, flexible and up to date legislative tools that will allow us to respond quickly to prevent the export of communicable diseases. It is also more focused on airline travel rather than marine travel, so we are told.

Just as an aside, I believe that it was the government of Mike Harris in the Province of Ontario that, a few years ago, eliminated most of the public health officers in that province and said that they were not required any more; that we did not need public health officers in this modern new day and age. We found out, to our chagrin and regret, that it is not the case as a result of pandemics like SARS and West Nile virus.

I do not mean to pick on the former government because generally, I think there has been a diminution on public health over recent years across the country. We have come to realize that we should not have let our guard down, so to speak, in this important area.

Provincial and territorial governments are now seeing the mistakes that have resulted because of that and are ramping up support and finances to ensure that we have a strong public health sector in this country.

I am optimistic that working together with the provinces and territories we can rebuild public health and take it back to where it once was, but also modernize it so we are up to speed to deal effectively with these potential outbreaks when they come along.

Some measures, such as those contained in the bill, are obviously needed. Considering the act has not been changed since the late 1800s, some updating is required to reflect the global characteristics of travel that we are coming to see. I am sure the world will continue to become a smaller place in the years to come.

Another positive point in the proposed legislation is that it recognizes the threat to public health and proposes a way in which to prevent the spread of a communicable disease in Canada as a result of international travel.

There are also a couple of negatives in the bill that need to be identified. Although the legislation seems to be sound in principle, it does have the potential of leading to abuse of power by officials. We have some concern with regard to the level of authority the bill would appear to give to quarantine officers and screening officers. For example, people suspected of having an illness could be held for an indeterminate period of time. It is not clear from the legislation what kind of compensation would be available for people thus affected.

There are also gaps in the proposed legislation around the authority to act by the screening and quarantine officers and that needs to be reviewed closely. That includes the right to place travellers in isolation for an indeterminate amount of time.

Provided that these safeguards are put in place and adequate clarification is provided, we in the NDP consider it reasonable to support the bill. It is long overdue. We do note, as the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservative Party have also indicated, that it is the 11th hour of this 37th Parliament. One cannot help but wonder about the depth of commitment from the government opposite in bringing forward this legislation at such a late date.

The New Democratic Party caucus supports the principle of the bill. We would favour referring it to the health committee for further study and clarification.

Quarantine ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 1:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, on what appears to be the last day of the session in the House of Commons, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-36, to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.

Mr. Speaker, for your benefit and that of Quebeckers and Canadians, I would simply point out how cynical it is to be debating this bill on our last day in the House. When they read in the title of the bill “to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases”, people will conclude it is very important, and I agree that it is very important to make regulations to prevent the spread of contagious and communicable diseases such as SARS and the West Nile virus.

But was there any urgency to introduce this bill? Not likely, for the simple reason that the SARS crisis in Canada is more than a year old, and the same it true of the West Nile virus. So, there was no urgency. If there had been, the bill would have been introduced much sooner.

There was no urgency because, in Canada, the protection of public health is a provincial responsibility. It is as simple as that. Can we blame the provinces for reacting poorly to the SARS crisis or the West Nile virus? No we cannot. I think the provinces had what they needed to cope with such situations. Things like this happen and we have to react. We are glad we got through them, but there is still the threat of a recurrence.

Why does the federal government want to debate this bill today, the last day? This bill repeals and replaces the Quarantine Act. Its purpose is to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases in Canada. It is applicable to persons and conveyances, such as planes or boats, arriving in Canada. That is why it was called the Quarantine Act. That was the federal government's only responsibility.

Why change the title of the act? Is it for good press, to look good, to say that they have legislation to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases? Public health safety is a provincial responsibility. What the government is doing today—before calling an election in a few days—is trying to look good and get good press in case something terrible such as another SARS crisis happens during the campaign, in which case it will be able to say that it did something.

The only thing the federal government has done since SARS and the West Nile virus is to support the provinces, which is its responsibility. It did what it had to do. The problem is that when it wants to discuss these matters on the international stage with other countries, it is not Canada that is responsible for public health, but the provinces. Such is the harsh reality.

This is why we are debating in the House today, at the last minute, a bill that tries to tell those who read it that it aims at preventing the introduction and the spread of communicable diseases and that the responsibility for doing so will rest with the federal government, when all of this is completely false. In reality, public health is a matter of provincial responsibility. This is how things work in the Canadian federation.

I have no problem talking about it. The problem is that we want to skip all the steps in the discussion of this bill. However, to look good and to get good press, we still need a consistent text. The government has given itself new powers in these areas, and this is precisely what concerns us, the very fact that it is doing so.

I will quote the short preamble to the bill which says in its penultimate paragraph:

It contains provisions for the collection and disclosure of personal information if it is necessary to prevent the spread of a communicable disease or, under certain circumstances, for law enforcement purposes.

We are talking about the collection of personal information. This prompts us to react. We must be sure that the bill does not violate the charter of rights and freedoms. We do not mind personal information being collected, but we have to remember the whole debate on security in air travel that took place in committee and the long list of witnesses we had to hear in order to end up with a respectful piece of legislation. We should not forget either the statements made by the Privacy Commissioner, who expressed a lot of concern. Once again, we are talking about the collection of personal information.

Yet they want to get this bill passed without even any discussion in committee, without any chance to hear the new privacy commissioner comment on whether what the bill calls for meets his expectations in terms of the protection of rights and freedoms.

The last paragraph of the summary reads as follows: “It also provides the Minister of Health with interim order powers in the caseof public health emergencies and enforcement mechanisms to ensurecompliance with the Act.”

Of course, all interim orders have been thoroughly scrutinized by the Bloc Quebecois for the pure and simple reason that they have the same power as a regulation.

This means that there is no need to go before the House of Commons, before the members, for a minister to adopt such a measure. As result, this confers extraordinary powers on a minister, particularly where public health is concerned. These powers include acquiring drugs and vaccines and obliging people to take these drugs and be given these vaccines. We have always been opposed to this aspect.

Do hon. members recall the error made by the former health minister in requisitioning non-patented drugs, supposedly because of the urgency of the situation. There was no measure like this in place at that time. As a result, we were able to bring it to this House and rap the minister across the knuckles for making such a decision without consulting Parliament and complying with the legislation in place, namely the Patent Act of the Parliament of Canada.

With these measures, a Minister of Health could, in an emergency situation, acquire all manner of drugs for purposes deemed worthwhile by himself. He could break all existing laws because these interim orders take precedence over any other legislation in place.

Because of this, measures were added to the airline safety legislation, as well as some relating to emergency security, to ensure that at least some measures would go through Privy Council in order to ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the legislation in place, including the legislation governing orders in council.

You will have understood that the Bloc Quebecois does not agree with the fact that the government is introducing this bill at the last minute, without wanting to send it to committee. However, we agree with the principle of the bill. Nevertheless, it must be sent to committee to ensure that Quebeckers and Canadians do not see their rights and freedoms violated by this bill and to ensure that there will be no involvement of ministers that might compromise the situation that they are in now.

There is still a filter that we must respect. This bill must be introduced and sent to committee to have witnesses heard. As I said, we would like to hear the privacy commissioner, community health groups and provincial representatives. Of course, the government is giving itself new laws.

I have no objection with the fact that the government has called this legislation the Quarantine Act. However, it is replacing the Quarantine Act. This is what this bill is all about. Indeed, the enactment repeals the Quarantine Act and replaces it with another. It was a federal responsibility, but the protection of public health is a provincial responsibility.

We simply want to ensure that we do not find ourselves, yet again, with duplicate jurisdictions and that the government is not going to create another administrative level that will cost money and do what is already being done very efficiently in each of the Canadian provinces.

I want to go back to my initial point: is this legislation important? The answer is yes. Is this act so urgent that we have to pass it without referring it back to a committee? The answer is no. Because ultimately, if this legislation had been so urgent, it would have been passed immediately after the SARS crisis, or after the discovery of the West Nile virus. The government would have said “Are there measures that we cannot take, but that a bill would allow us to take?”. This is not the case with this bill.

Canada reacted as it should. The provinces did their job. They looked after the public's health, as they should under the Canadian Constitution. Everyone did what they had to do.

As regards quarantine, I agree with the government which, is indeed responsible for quarantining people who come to Canada by plane or by ship. There are also other ways to enter the country. Travellers can then be quarantined. I am not opposed to modernizing the Quarantine Act.

However, it must be done in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We must not give to public servants or ministers unwarranted powers.

That is the only issue here. That is why the Bloc Quebecois feels that, when a bill which is important but not extremely urgent is before the House, we should give it proper consideration and send it back to committee to hear witnesses. Some of these witnesses might consider the bill violates our rights and freedoms. As I said earlier, we could hear from the privacy commissioner and other stakeholders and very important witnesses. Community health officials from the various provinces could come and tell us if they see any amendments the federal government could make. That could easily be done.

The problem is that the government has not been governing in the past six months. This bill could have been introduced as soon as the Prime Minister took office. However, all the government has done in the past six months is try to find the right election date. In the meantime, consideration of all the bills was postponed. We should have addressed this bill. We should have been told more about such an important bill even if it is not extremely urgent. It has to go through all the legislative process and be sent to the committee so that we can hear witnesses to ensure that the public is well protected. That was not done.

It is being introduced today on the eve of an election. Once again, we worry that another public health crisis might occur, one for which the government has done anything since the last crisis, that is since SARS.

Quarantine ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.
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St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of State (Public Health)

Mr. Speaker, it was a little over a year ago that Canada was confronted with a mysterious disease that would go on to claim the lives of 44 Canadians, temporarily cripple the economy of Toronto, and take an enormous toll on this country's public health workers and health care providers who worked valiantly to prevent the loss of more lives. What we came to know as SARS provoked a health crisis unlike any other we have seen in recent years. We made every effort to control the spread of the virus to protect the lives and livelihood of Canadians.

One of the first steps we took in the days immediately following the outbreak was to deploy Health Canada employees as quarantine officers to provide health assessments for travellers who appeared to be ill or who may have been exposed to the disease. We instituted health alert notices to advise travellers about its symptoms and the steps to take to protect themselves, as well as health alert notices with questionnaires to passengers on incoming direct flights from Asia where the disease originated. The health alert notices were also later available to rail and bus passengers in Ontario.

As effective as those measures were, we had to face the fact that our current legislation is outdated. The existing Quarantine Act has remained largely unchanged since the adoption of the first Quarantine Act in 1872, a time when automobiles and jetliners were the stuff of science fiction.

Needless to say, times have changed. We live in an age when people move from continent to continent in hours and days rather than weeks or months, often in airplanes and ships whose confined spaces provide a perfect breeding ground for highly communicable diseases to spread.

Infectious diseases move like wildfire across the planet today. Diseases do not respect borders, so we know that we will face repeated threats to public health in the future.

Among the hard lessons learned from the experience of SARS is the need to strengthen our quarantine legislation to help prevent the introduction and spread of both emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases.

We began that process last June. To address the immediate problems we faced, we amended the Quarantine Act to include SARS on the schedule of infectious and contagious diseases and to prescribe an incubation period of 20 days for anyone exposed to the virus.

As a result of the regulatory changes, quarantine officers were able to exercise the necessary control over people entering into or departing from Canada and suspected of having SARS but who were not taking the required precautionary measures. It was necessary to take these measures in several cases to protect the health of the public.

We knew, however, that much more had to be done to ensure we would be able to react quickly to other emerging, and often unprecedented, threats to public health. That is why we thoroughly examined the Quarantine Act. The quarantine provisions were included in a health protection legislative review, as part of a legislative renewal Health Canada had undertaken to achieve and maintain the highest standards of health protection for the benefit of Canadians, today and in the future.

We undertook extensive consultations this past winter with provincial and territorial government representatives, health professionals, industry, advocacy groups and members of the public, seeking their insights and advice.

We heard repeatedly that while the current health protection system has served Canadians well, the time has come to update and integrate our existing laws into a stronger, comprehensive and flexible public health system. That is precisely what Dr. David Naylor as well as the Senate committee which studied SARS recommended we do.

As a response to concerns about the spread of communicable diseases, we decided to move forward immediately with new quarantine legislation, while the remainder of the health protection legislation renewal continues as planned.

The legislation before the House today delivers on our pledge to court many of the problems brought to our attention by recent events such as SARS, which underscored how fast and how hard disease can hit our health care system. With Bill C-36 we will replace the outdated quarantine legislation with an improved and modern Quarantine Act so we can better protect Canadians from the importation of dangerous communicable diseases and ensure Canada can meet its international obligations to help prevent the spread of these diseases beyond our borders.

Where there are incidents of risk to public health, the act continues to allow for public health measures at Canadian points of entry such as: screening travellers entering and leaving Canada, whether by customs officials or detection devices; referring travellers to a quarantine officer who may conduct a health assessment, order a medical examination, vaccination or other measures, order the traveller to report to a public health authority, or detain anyone refusing to comply with measures to prevent the spread of the disease; requiring owners of public transport conveyances, such as jets or ships, to report an illness or death of a passenger before arrival in or departure from Canada; detaining either passengers or conveyances until there is no longer a risk to public health; and inspecting such conveyances and ordering their decontamination or destruction, if required.

As well, the modernized act we propose would provide the Minister of Health with additional powers. For example he could appoint screening officers, environmental health officers and analysts as well as quarantine officers; establish quarantine facilities at any location in Canada; take temporary possession of premises to use as a detention facility if necessary; and divert airplanes and ships to alternate landing sites. While these powers would only be used in rare instances where circumstances warrant, these changes are essential if we are to keep pace with emerging infectious diseases and protect the health of Canadians.

I want to assure parliamentarians that even though the legislation will allow for the collection of information for public health purposes, Canadians' privacy rights are guaranteed. While the updated act authorizes the sharing of personal health information, the authorization to do so is limited to what is required to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

This is what citizens clearly want. They want the assurance that we are taking every possible precaution to prevent the spread of communicable diseases that could put their personal health and the welfare of their communities at risk.

The updated Quarantine Act will give us an additional layer of protection by providing strong, flexible up to date regulations that will allow us to respond more effectively to ongoing and future health risks while ensuring adequate protection for human rights.

My colleague, the Minister of Health, and I are extremely proud of the legislation, a critically important first step forward in a series of improvements the Government of Canada is making to strengthen our public health system.

As hon. members know, in addition to the new health protection legislation, we are moving on multiple fronts, including the creation of a new public health agency for Canada, the appointment of the first ever chief public health officer, and the development of a pan-Canadian public health network founded in five regional centres of collaboration across the country.

These innovations ensure better communication and collaboration among partners and will build on the expertise and strengths we already have in many areas of public health and communicable disease control to ensure Canadians are safeguarded by a seamless public health system throughout the country. Taken together, they will help ensure that Canadians are fully protected from outbreaks of emerging diseases such as SARS and whatever else awaits us in the future.

Given that we cannot predict what the next infection will be or when it may surface, we need to be ready, so we need this improved legislation now. By introducing a new and modern Quarantine Act, Canada will be better positioned to respond to any and all potential threats to the health and well-being of our citizens.

It is clear that the health and safety of Canadians is a priority of the government. Canadians expect no less. With the passage of the progressive legislation we are debating today as part of the larger public health strategy, I am confident we will not let them down.

With the passage of the progressive legislation we are debating today as part of the larger public health strategy, I am confident we will not let them down. Thank you for your attention.

Quarantine ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.
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Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberalfor the Minister of Health

moved:

That Bill C-36, An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Health.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 12:45 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried on division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Bill C-36. On the Order: Government Orders

May 12, 2004--The Minister of Health--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Health of Bill C-36, An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

May 13th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
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Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the true miracle is the number of bills we have been able to pass, notwithstanding their opposition to them.

This afternoon, the House will continue with the opposition day motion. Tomorrow, we will return to Bill C-34, the migratory birds legislation. This will be followed by a motion to refer to committee before second reading Bill C-36, respecting communicable diseases. We will then return to Bill C-33, the Fisheries Act amendments, Bill C-10, respecting marijuana, and Bill C-23, respecting the first nations.

When the House returns on May 25, it will resume this list and take up bills that are introduced or reported from committee in the interim.

Thursday, May 27, shall be an allotted day, something that may not interest them.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2004 / 4:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is now known that the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the principle of this bill. We obviously recognize that any provision in the Criminal Code that facilitates the administration of justice is a positive thing.

This bill will contribute to the administration of justice, because it will provide additional guarantees with respect to sentencing.

Mr. Speaker, I believe you were a member of this House a few years ago when a heinous crime was committed against a young girl named Manning. There were a few difficulties at the trial because the way in which the bodily substances had been collected for establishing guilt was called into question.

If memory serves me correctly, we passed at first, second and third readings, in 48 hours, a bill on the creation of a national DNA databank and the administration of evidence in the case of DNA samples. It was done quite quickly. Public indignation was extremely high. At around the same time, in 1995, 1996, or 1997, we discovered with horror the influential power of organized crime.

I will turn 42 tomorrow. Imagine that. I must stop saying I am 41, with a birthday coming tomorrow.

I did not grow up hearing as much about organized crime as the member for Mercier, who has clearer memories than I of the commission of inquiry into organized crime. People came to know more about it, or at least people a little older than me, because of the CIOC. Things calmed down for a while, and then by the mid-90s our communities began to realize how much power organized crime again had.

We know that three conditions are required for organized crime to flourish: a relatively rich society, a society with well-developed means of communication, and a society where there are guarantees of rights. As far as communications are concerned, we know that ports, highways, and airports are unfortunately often the focus of those engaged in smuggling.

So where is the link between that and Bill C-35? It used to be possible for a judge to issue a warrant for collecting bodily substances from an inmate or accused. This would provide DNA profiles to be kept in a national data bank under RCMP responsibility.

The way DNA profiles were assessed, and the way they were taken, was governed by the category of offence. There were two categories of offence. The first was primary designated offences, where it was virtually automatic for a judge to order a DNA profile. This category of offence includes generally extremely serious offences under criminal law.

Now section 487.04 of the Criminal Code lists the offences, including those for which a DNA profile may be ordered.

The new bill adds to these sexual exploitation of person with disability, and causing bodilyharm with intent—air gun or pistol.

Also added are: administeringnoxious thing with intention to endangerlife or cause bodily harm; overcoming resistanceto commission of offence; robbery; extortion; breakingand entering a dwelling-house; and finally, intimidation of ajustice system participant or journalist.

Hon. members might recall that we had three bills to fight against organized crime. Bill C-95 was very important. I was the first member of Parliament to introduce an anti-gang bill. On August 9, 1995, in my riding of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a car bomb went off on Adam Street, right across from the Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus church. A young man, Daniel Desrochers, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was killed. That is why we started looking for the best means to dismantle organized crime.

The first piece of legislation we had against organized crime offences was Bill C-95, which was introduced by the then justice minister, Allan Rock. I think I am allowed to name him, since he is no longer a member of Parliament. The main offence that was mentioned in Bill C-95 was the criminal organization offence. If five or more persons were part of a group, or if these five persons had committed five indictable offences in the last five years for which the maximum punishment was imprisonment for five years or more—the three fives rule—we had a criminal organization offence.

Do you know what happened? Major gangs such as the Hells Angels, the Bandidos and the Rock Machines started spinning off satellite criminal groups. They recruited people who did not have a criminal record but who joined gangs in order to get their badge. It became extremely difficult for the Crown to lay charges under Bill C-95.

Bill C-95 was all the more difficult to administer because, a few years previously, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling, the Stinchcombe decision. This extremely important criminal law ruling imposes obligations on the Crown.

As we know, criminal investigations may last three, four, up to seven years. The process is an extremely long one. Under the Stinchcombe ruling, the Crown must disclose all of the evidence it has against the accused. That meant that a police officer involved in shadowing during an investigation, in a bar for example, had to table the notes that allowed the investigation to progress.

The Stinchcombe ruling was extremely controversial. Of course, coming from the Supreme Court, it created new law. The attorney general could not appeal the ruling. It made it very difficult to bring investigations to an end, and it thus became necessary to further refine the administration of evidence and hence the gathering of DNA samples.

So, we got Bill C-95. Then came Bill C-24 and Bill C-36. There was a lot of legislative activity in criminal law. Today the three fives rule has been simplified. An organized crime activity is described as three persons engaged in certain offences.

The new bill refers to journalism. Quebeckers or even people in the gallery might remember the attack on the journalist Michel Auger in the parking lot of the Journal de Montréal .

Mr. Michel Auger, a crime reporter, was victim not only of intimidation but of an attack on his life. As a matter of fact, it is the former member for Berthier—Montcalm, Mr. Michel Bellehumeur, now a Quebec court judge, who had suggested that bill include a reference to the intimidation of not only members of Parliament, police officers, judges and commissioners, but also journalists.

We want to see Bill C-35 go to committee as soon as possible.

Quarantine ActRoutine Proceedings

May 12th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberalfor the Minister of Health

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-36, an act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Resumption Of Debate On Address In ReplySpeech From The Throne

February 12th, 2004 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, we need to balance the question of security in a modern age with individuals who are concerned, as the hon. member and all of us in the House of Commons are concerned, about civil rights.

The legislation under which Ms. O'Neil's belongings and other things were intruded upon not only deals Bill C-36 but previous legislation as well. We need to look at the legislation because it is clearly inconsistent with Canadian values. I want to look at it. I believe the House of Commons will do just that.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In ReplySpeech From The Throne

February 12th, 2004 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my friend on his appointment. I know he has spoken out on a number of occasions about human rights, particularly about the human rights of Canadians overseas.

I want to ask him a very specific and brief question about a shocking episode that happened here in Canada: the search by a large number of RCMP officers of the home of journalist Juliet O'Neil. I think many Canadians were appalled at what happened in those circumstances. That flowed directly from Bill C-36, the government's so-called anti-terrorism legislation that was passed in the weeks after September 11. That member voted for that legislation.

Does he not recognize that the potential for very grave abuses of human rights, which we as New Democrats identified at that time by voting against the bill, has become a reality? Would he not agree that we should go back to the drawing board, scrap that legislation and come up with legislation that more carefully reflects the respect for human rights--

Library and Archives of Canada ActRoutine Proceedings

February 11th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
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The Speaker

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-36 was at the time of prorogation of the 2nd session, 37th Parliament.

Accordingly, pursuant to order made Tuesday, February 10, 2004, the bill is deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House.

(Bill read the second time, considered in committee, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Library and Archives of Canada ActRoutine Proceedings

February 11th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
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Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved to introduce Bill C-8, an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain acts in consequence.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the special order made earlier, I would like to inform you that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-36 was at the time of prorogation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the motion seeks to reinstate bills that died on the Order Paper when the previous session of Parliament ended.

As all of us know, the goal of the motion is a simple one: to spare members the burden of having to repeat work on bills that got as far as the committee stage in the last session.

This is especially commendable given the numerous pressures MPs are under and the limited resources available to us.

What features are contained in the motion? Simply put, under the motion a minister would be able to request during 30 sitting days after the motion's adoption the reinstatement of a bill that had reached at least the committee stage when the last session ended. Should the Speaker be satisfied that the bill is the same as in the previous session, the bill would be reinstated at the same stage as before.

Thus during this session we can skip all the stages of debate that have been completed so far. The work of the committees that are considering the bills would consequently be preserved. In short, this is a very appealing option.

Parliament relies heavily upon precedents which means we are constantly looking over our shoulder to ensure new measures are consistent with past practices. Is this motion in keeping with the longstanding practices of the House? It is in fact a practice we have had for over three decades.

On a number of occasions reinstatement motions have been adopted by consent and without debate. It is clear that today's motion is well within the bounds of accepted parliamentary practice. This is supported by Marleau and Montpetit's authoritative guide to parliamentary procedure which discusses this issue in some detail. While they recognize that as a general principle prorogation of a session means that all bills that have not yet received royal assent die on the Order Paper and must be reintroduced in the new session, they also recognize that “bills have been reinstated by motion at the start of a new session at the same stage they had reached at the end of the previous session; committee work has similarly been revived”.

One point that needs clarification is that this motion allows the government the flexibility to reintroduce certain bills. It does not require the government to reintroduce all bills that were on the Order Paper at a certain stage when Parliament prorogued. Let me give an example of some bills which the government would have the flexibility to reinstate if it so chose.

One is Bill C-7 on the administration and accountability of Indian bands. The new government has indicated it would like to revisit that whole question of governance but nonetheless, this motion would give the government the flexibility to reintroduce that bill should it so choose.

Another one is Bill C-10B on cruelty to animals which has received a lot of attention in my riding. Bill C-13, assisted human reproduction, as an example had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate and a great deal of the work that had been done here in the House of Commons would have to be redone. Bill C-17 on public safety was another bill that had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate.

Bill C-18, an act respecting Canadian citizenship, is another bill that the government if this motion passes will be able to reintroduce if it so chooses. Bill C-19, first nations fiscal management, was at report stage. Bill C-20, protection of children, was at report stage. Bill C-22, the Divorce Act, was in committee. Bill C-23, registration of information relating to sex offenders, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-26, the Railway Safety Act, was in committee. Bill C-27 on airport authorities was at second reading when the House prorogued.

Bill C-32, Criminal Code amendments, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-33, international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences, was at report stage when we prorogued. Bill C-34, ethics, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate where it had been amended.

These are bills that have gone through a lengthy debate and process within the House of Commons and some already within the Senate.

Bill C-35, remuneration of military judges, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-36, Archives of Canada, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. Bill C-38, the marijuana bill, was at report stage and second reading. Bill C-40, Corrections and Conditional Release Act, was at first reading when the House prorogued. Bill C-43, the fisheries act, was at first reading when the House prorogued.

Bill C-46, the capital markets fraud bill, had passed third reading and had been sent to the Senate. This is a bill that will help the government deal with the kind of corporate fraud that we have seen with Enron and many other examples. We want to make sure that our government has the ability to deal with these types of issues so that investors are protected from the fraudulent activities of the management of various companies and their directors.

Bill C-49, the electoral boundaries act had passed third reading and was in the Senate.

Bill C-51, the Canada Elections Act, and Bill C-52, the Radiocommunication Act, were at second reading when the House prorogued. Bill C-53, the riding name changes, had passed third reading and was sent to the Senate. Bill C-54, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act was in committee as was Bill C-56, the Food and Drugs Act, when the House prorogued. Bill C-57, the westbank first nation self-government act was also in committee.

There was a lot of work involved in getting these bills to this stage. The government is not necessarily committing to reintroducing all these bills, but we want the flexibility to reintroduce those bills which we support and not have to reinvent the wheel.

The amendment put forward by the member for Yorkton--Melville indicates that there are a number of bills that, given the government's flexibility, he would not like to have reinstated. That includes Bill C-7, the bill dealing with the administration and accountability of Indian bands. Our government may want to revisit that bill.

The member for Yorkton--Melville has said that Bill C-13, the assisted human reproduction bill, should be left alone as well. He names a number of other bills such as Bill C-19, Bill C-20, Bill C-22, Bill C-26, Bill C-34, Bill C-35, Bill C-36, Bill C-38.

I should point out that a number of these bills, Bill C-13 for example, passed third reading and was in the Senate.The member for Yorkton--Melville wants us to start all over with that bill.

He said that Bill C-34, the ethics legislation, should not be reinstated, yet that bill had passed third reading and was sent to the Senate where it had been amended. We all know about that bill.

He said that we should start all over again with regard to Bill C-35, remuneration for military judges legislation. That bill had passed third reading and was in the Senate,.

I do not know what is so contentious with regard to Bill C-36, the archives of Canada legislation, but the member for Yorkton--Melville wants us to start all over again with that bill. Bill C-38, the marijuana bill, was at report stage.

A lot of work has already been done in this chamber and in the other place on bills that, without the passage of this motion, would have to be started all over again. There is a long list of precedents for reinstating government bills and reviving committee work.

For example, in 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986, the members of this House gave their unanimous consent to a motion to reinstate bills from a previous session.

In 1977 and 1982 members amended the Standing Orders to allow Parliament to carry over legislation to the next session. All of which testifies to the longstanding practice of the House of allowing the reinstatement of bills at the same stage as was the case in the previous session, which is precisely what the motion calls for.

It is interesting to note, and I have some personal interaction with this particular idea, that the procedure proposed in the motion is similar, in fact it is identical, to that which exists in the Standing Orders for private members' bills which the House adopted in 1998.

I have a private member's bill, Bill C-212, an act respecting user fees, that unanimously passed all stages in the House, was in the Senate, had passed first reading in the Senate and had been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. Then we prorogued. Without this particular feature, I would have had to start all over again in the House of Commons after two to three years of work and a bill that had passed unanimously at all stages in the House of Commons.

With this particular Standing Order, the bill is already on the floor of the Senate. We did not have to reinvent the wheel here in the House of Commons. I am hopeful that it will be passed to the Standing Committee on National Finance shortly and then onwards from there.

We say that those rules are good for private member's bills, in fact they have the support of the House because they are now part of the Standing Orders. We say, on the one hand for private members' business, it is all right to reinstate these bills, but for the government's business it is not, this is a whole new thing.

The member opposite said that if we have a new government then why do we not have new ideas. I can assure the member that if he read the throne speech, and if he looked at the new democratic deficit paper, this is just the start. He will see that the government will be operated very differently.

However, having said that, there is no problem in my judgment to reintroduce those bills that make sense. There has been a lot of work done already. With this motion, the government would have the flexibility to deal with these bills that have been passed, where there is consent of the House, and send them to the Senate.

It is interesting to note that in 1977, a private member's bill was reinstated after Parliament was dissolved.

All of which inevitably leads us to the conclusion, as I said earlier, that if it is reasonable to reinstate private members' bills at the same stage, surely we have the common sense in this chamber to say that it is reasonable to follow the same procedure with respect to government bills.

What would be different about government bills? If we have adopted the procedure in the House for private members' business, why would we want different rules for government business, unless we are out to score political points or be partisan in our debate?

I should point out that this practice of reinstating bills is also practised in other mature democracies that have ruled in favour of bringing legislation forward from one session to another.

I think of the parliament in the United Kingdom from which many of our own parliamentary practices originally came. It has reinstatement motions to allow government bills to carry over from one session to the next.

The official opposition has told the media that it would oppose the motion for the sole purpose of delaying bills from the last session. This is patently unfair and contrary to House practices. The attitude shows it has little regard for the work of the House and for Canadian taxpayers. Opposition members will ask members of the House, at great cost to the public treasury, to come back and re-debate bills that have already passed this chamber and are in the Senate in many cases.

The bills that will be reinstated would include the legislation to accelerate the coming into force of the new electoral boundaries which was passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate.

We talk about dealing with western alienation. This particular legislation would allow more seats for British Columbia and Alberta. This is the way to proceed. Why would we want to delay that bill? Why would we want to have the debate all over again on something that is patently obvious.

We take the census and figure it all out, and draw the boundaries. This is not rocket science. This is done by Elections Canada. It redefines the boundaries. It recognizes that Canada is a growing country, that different areas are growing more quickly than others, and it redefines the boundaries.

If we have that bill when the next election is called, Alberta and British Columbia will have a bigger voice. I think Ontario would receive more seats as well. I am sure that there could be an amendment that could be put forward to deal with Nova Scotia perhaps.

There is the legislation to create an independent ethics commissioner and a Senate ethics officer, something that the members opposite have argued for vociferously for months, perhaps years. This bill could be reinstated very simply by agreeing and adopting this motion. We could have an independent ethics commissioner for the House and a Senate ethics officer.

The motion should have the support of the House. It is the practice in most mature democratic countries.

In conclusion, we need to be clear that adoption of the motion does not mean that all the bills that were on the Order Paper when we prorogued would automatically come back. It means that the government would have the flexibility to pick those bills that, in its wisdom and judgment, it sees fit to bring back. That would allow us not to have to reinvent the wheel and re-debate those bills that have the support of the chamber. Many of them also have the support of the Senate, at least at first reading stage.

The motion before us today does not represent a break with our parliamentary traditions. In fact, it is very much a part of our parliamentary traditions and it is entirely consistent with the practice of the House dating back to 1970.

Moreover, the measures described in the motion would greatly contribute to freeing up the members so that they can focus on the important task of developing new initiatives for promoting the well-being of Canadians.

With this in mind, I certainly intend to support this motion. I would urge other members to support it so we can get on with the business of the House, the important business and legislation that can be brought forward and reinstated and not have to be re-debated.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will understand why it is difficult for me to resist the temptation to take part in this afternoon's debate. We have just heard a version of the truth that strikes me as very odd. It does not match at all what I understand to be the question at issue.

First, let us consider whether a precedent is being set today. In my opinion, that would be a good place to start. In fact, believe it or not, Mr. Speaker—you must know this, because you are so objective and non-partisan—the House has been adopting similar motions for 30 years. It has been 30 years; that is a long time. I know, because I have been here a long time as well.

In 1970, 1972 and 1986, not only did we have similar motions but they were unanimously passed by the House of Commons. Unanimously.

I am sure that my hon. colleagues opposite who have spoken against the motion had not considered what I have just said, and that, in the light of these facts, they might want to change their minds and vote in favour of the motion proposed by the hon. government House leader.

Moreover, in 1991, 1996 and 1999, and even as recently as 2002, the House adopted motions absolutely identical to the one proposed today. I know something about those, because in 1996, 1999 and 2002, I was the government House leader, and so I remember it well. We already know it is not without precedent.

I should add, because some hon. members spoke about what they see as a democratic deficit, that in fact the democratic deficit is on the other side of the House, and we see what has happened.

The hon. members opposite wanted a motion that would reinstate private members' bills—not government bills but private members' bills. The House, in its wisdom, passed the motion. That means that now, an hon. member—more often than not someone from the opposition—can rise in the House and revive a private member's bill, at the stage already completed. At the same time, they say, “No, this rule is good for us, but it is not good for you, over on the government side”.

There is a democratic deficit on the other side of the House. I will come back to that later. The hon. government House leader has moved a motion, and we have just established that it is exactly identical to, the same as, those in past sessions, many of which passed unanimously.

Yet, what does the opposition do? The hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, who was an excellent parliamentary secretary and is a known expert on the matter, told us earlier, and rightfully so, that in fact the motion does not reinstate any bill. It simply authorizes the government to bring back a bill from the previous session at the stage already debated and approved by this House. That is all it does.

Then we are left to ask the question, if the House has already voted on a piece of legislation, the hon. member across who has said there is a democratic deficit, why is he against our accepting the fact that the House has already voted on it? Is it not the basic concept of respecting the democratic principles to accept the fact that we have already voted regardless of whether we voted in favour or against?

Surely the House has voted and that should be respected. However, the hon. member said that it does not count. He wants a second kick at the can.

Mr. Speaker, in the unlikely event that I have not convinced you, let me tell you what other scheme the opposition is up to.

The government moved a motion, the one introduced by the hon. leader of the government in the House of Commons. The opposition introduced an amendment. Some would say fair game; any motion can be amended. However the opposition does not want the House to vote on its amendment. Why do I say that? It is simple. I know a few procedural tricks myself.

The opposition introduced a subamendment. For the benefit of all colleagues and perhaps anyone who is listening to this debate, when we are dealing with a motion as opposed to a bill, an amendment can be introduced and then a subamendment can be introduced. When the subamendment is dealt with, a new subamendment can be introduced so that we never get back to the original motion so that the government cannot move the previous question. If the government cannot move the previous question, that means the debate will go on forever and the motion will never be voted on. That is exactly what it means and I challenge any member across the way to tell me it means anything else. It means that the first motion cannot be voted on.

The opposition has created a situation where the only way to resolve the impasse is for the hon. minister to invoke closure. There is no other way, otherwise the democratic principle of voting on the motion can never be achieved. It can only be achieved by putting a motion that the debate end at some time because otherwise it will not end. If the hon. member says that is not true, then let him remove the subamendment and let him remove the amendment and let us debate the main motion.

Obviously the opposition does not intend to do that because it has created the two scenarios to force the government to move closure and then the opposition members stand here and sanctimoniously claim that the government is otherwise undemocratic because it has moved closure. They are the ones who provoked it. Did they not think we would see through that? Did they think that Canadians would not understand what I have just said? It is crystal clear. I am sure all Canadians understand how Parliament works. I am sure they understand that what the opposition is doing here is not democracy but the denial of it. That is what we have before us today.

I look forward to the exchange with the hon. member in questions and comments later when he explains to us how he was pretending with crocodile tears that there was some sort of democratic deficit, as he referred to it, because the hon. minister moved closure.

The hon. minister proposed a motion which we recognize has already been voted on democratically by the House of Commons, a debatable motion, a votable motion. Not only did members across not want to vote to accept that which the House had already voted on, which they should, they did not want to accept the principle that the motion in question be debated because they introduced an amendment and then a subamendment to stop us from getting back to the main motion. That is crystal clear. It would take only a few minutes for anyone who understands anything about how this place works to determine that is the case.

Why is the hon. member across afraid of voting on the motion? Is it, as the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River astutely pointed to earlier today, that the opposition does not know whether it is in favour of the reinstatement motion or against it ? Does the opposition simply want to amend it and subamend it so that it can be debated for eternity and thereby force the government to use closure so that in fact we vote on the closure motion?

In the end this will be quite interesting. I do not know when the closure vote will take place but presumably it will be very soon. After we vote on the subamendment and the amendment, I will be curious to see how the hon. member votes on the main motion. If he votes against the main motion, that means he fails to respect the fact that members have already voted on that issue. If he votes for the main motion, then I am forced to ask the question, why did he bother to put the amendment and the subamendment if he was in favour of the original proposition unamended?

Canadians will have to ask themselves these questions about the behaviour of the hon. member across and all of his colleagues who have proposed the amendment and the subamendment.

I would be very curious to know where the Conservatives opposite get their facts. May I also remind this House, since the member has now declared himself a Conservative—I must say, better him than me, and he can be sure I will never try to take his Conservative title away from him—that the Conservative Party had moved similar motions in 1986 and 1991. Perhaps he could tell us if he is against these reinstatement motions.

Could it be that the Conservatives were wrong when they moved these motions in the past? If he is in favour of reinstatement motions, why did his party put forward an amendment and an amendment to the amendment to prevent us from voting on the main motion?

That is what is before us today. In conclusion, allow me to point out what bills we are talking about.

A number of these pieces of legislation are very important.

Bill C-57, the Westbank First Nation self-government bill is an important bill. Why does the hon. member and his colleagues not want us to pick up where we left off on it? What about the Food and Drugs Act amendments, Bill C-56, of the last session? What about Bill C-54, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to transfer money to the provinces? Why is he against us recognizing the work that Parliament has done on these bills? Why is he against the Radiocommunication Act?

There was also the acceleration of the redistribution, Bill C-51. That is an interesting bill. We now hear that the so-called new Conservative Party, if that is not an oxymoron, is now against Bill C-51. It was the House leader of the then Alliance Party who asked for the bill in the first place in order to accelerate the redistribution. Now that party is against reinstating that bill and has threatened to amend the bill once it comes forward.

With regard to capital market fraud, the so-called Enron bill, why is the opposition against us wanting to increase transparency in the finance sector? What about Bill C-43, the Fisheries Act? What about Bill C-40, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act? It is interesting to note that this bill deals with tightening up security and the safety for Canadians, police work, et cetera. That party always alleges it is in favour of such measures, but it is not showing it.

What about Bill C-36, the Archives of Canada act. I remember a then Alliance member who worked very actively with me to amend that bill to make it go forward. I am looking at him right now, the critic for Canadian heritage of the then Alliance party. Why is he against us moving ahead with that bill when he worked so hard to get it improved and passed in the House? I do not understand.

What about the remuneration of military judges? What about Bill C-34, the ethics bill?

Not every one of these bills will be introduced by the government, but a large number of them will be. This is an enabling motion permitting the government to reintroduce every single one of them. Why is the opposition against that?

Let me go a little further by mentioning the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences, Bill C-33. The opposition again, allegedly on the side of public safety, is against us moving ahead to bring that bill back at the stage it was at.

Criminal Code amendments should strike a chord with the folks across, but no they do not. I think principles have been overtaken on the opposition side. The hon. member across invoked so-called principles, but hon. members across saw an opportunity to, in their view, embarrass the government for moving closure very early when it came back.

As we have already established, once we have the amendment and the subamendment, we create the condition which can only be solved by having closure. One could argue very successfully, if it was looked at totally objectively, that it is the opposition that is forcing this closure upon the House, not the government.

Let me mention some more legislation. We have Bill C-27, the airport authority bill. Bill C-26, the Railway Safety Act, was in committee. Bill C-23, the registration of information relating to sex offenders, was passed at third reading and sent to the Senate. The opposition does not want us to reinstate that bill. It wants us to go back to the beginning presumably. What does the opposition have against us trying to improve the safety of Canadians by proceeding with the legislation in a more expeditious way, recognizing the work already done by hon. members of the House?

There are more bills. There is Bill C-7, the accountability of aboriginal communities bill. Surely hon. members would be in favour of that because they keep invoking it in speeches in the House of Commons. Assisted human reproduction, Bill C-13, was a bill that stayed for years in the House at various stages. There were white papers, preliminary bills, final bills, witnesses all over the place, and finally we received a conclusion to it and it was sent to the other place where it was not quite concluded there.

Why should we have to restart work that has already been done? Why can we not respect the democratic will of members who have seen fit to vote on that issue in the past and send it to the Senate. Surely that is respecting the democratic institutions, not the other way around.

Why does the hon. member not withdraw the subamendment and amendment? Of course we know that will not to happen because the opposition members are up to using procedural tricks to stop the government from proceeding with this. That is what they are doing. They are being excessively partisan again. The way they are behaving now it is a small wonder Canadians do not trust the opposition to form a government.

In conclusion, why do we not just carry the motion right now and reinstate those bills right where they were or allow the ministers in each case to reinstate the bills? It is not to skip steps in bills. It is merely to recognize the work already done by us, members of the House. What could be more democratic than that? That is what should happen right now, and surely that is the correct approach.

The hon. member's party itself gave unanimous consent for that exact motion before. I know because I put the motion to the House at the time. It passed without even debate in the House in the past. The hon. member knows that is correct.

Why does the member not remove the amendment and subamendment and carry the motion right now? Why does the member not stop this unnecessary foolishness of trying to force the government to do this in order to pretend that the government is moving closure whereas it would not have otherwise.

We know the truth. We all know what it is like. We want to recognize the work done by members on all sides of the House on all those pieces of legislation and recognize the value of their work.

I ask the hon. member again to allow this vote to take place right away. Then we can get to business, complete this legislation and proceed with other legislation, all for the betterment of Canadians. That is what we are for on this side of the House. Let us see if the hon. member across is in favour of his partisanship or is in favour of helping Canadians.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by taking one of the points that was just made at the end of House leader's remarks in introducing this.

He said that this motion serves the interests of the House. There are bills that the government is bringing back that serve the interests of only the Liberal Party.

One of the bills he talked about had to do with the amendments to the Canada Elections Act and he said how important it was for Alberta, B.C. and Ontario to get these extra seats. However that bill contains a very undemocratic provision that does not serve the interests of Canadians, nor does it serve the interests of many members in the House of Commons. The provision is to have all the amendments apply on an earlier date. Rather than comply with the law of Canada and have these amendments take place on August 18, they are trying to bring it back and have the amendment apply on April 1. They want to ram this bill through the House and through the Senate in order to call an early election.

The primary purpose of that bill is to undermine and try to derail any ability to organize properly for a federal election; for our political party to get its policy convention and all of its statements in place. That is why they are trying to do what they are doing today. That is a very undemocratic measure and we in this place should strongly object to what the government is doing.

The Prime Minister claims to have formed a new government, yet with this motion he is claiming the privileges of being the former government of Jean Chrétien. He is bringing in everything that the former prime minister failed to get through here. Procedurally speaking, the Prime Minister wants to be seen, as most Canadians see his government, as the old Chrétien government, and that is exactly what he is doing by his actions today.

While we in opposition would agree with that definition, that they are an old government, we will argue that they should come up with their own legislation and portray themselves as new and show Canadians clearly what they stand for. This will not happen before April 1 because we will be debating old legislation. We will not be debating new ideas that the Prime Minister brings in. That should be abundantly obvious by what is happening here today.

I accept that there is a well-established practice for government to re-introduce a reinstatement motion in a new session, however it has not been established that a so-called new government in a new session can reinstate bills from the previous government. If this government claims to be new, what it is doing would definitely disprove that.

I have examined all the precedents and I could not find one example of a new government reinstating bills from a previous session. From Journals of October 21, 1970, at page 46, it was recorded that the House adopted a reinstatement motion. The prime minister was Pierre Trudeau and the motion reinstated bills of Mr. Trudeau's government from the previous session.

On May 9, 1972, at page 281 of Journals , we have another motion adopted and, once again, Pierre Trudeau being the prime minister in that session and the previous session.

On March 8, 1974, pages 25 and 26, there was a reinstatement motion that was adopted. It was the same circumstances as May 9, 1972.

On October 3, 1986, at pages 47 and 48, Mr. Mulroney's government introduced a reinstatement motion reinstating bills of the Mulroney government from the previous session. However it was the same government.

On March 4, 1996, at pages 34 and 35, and 39 to 41 of the Journals , Jean Chrétien's government reinstated government bills of the Chrétien government from the previous session.

Then we had November 12, 2003 and the government of Jean Chrétien once again successfully reinstating bills from a previous session, although he ran into a bit of a problem with his attempt to reinstate other business resulting in a Speaker's ruling that divided the motion into three parts.

Many arguments have been made against the practice whereby a prime minister reinstates his government bills from a previous session. It goes against the practice, consequences and reasons for a government to prorogue. It contradicts the notion of beginning a session with fresh ideas and a new direction. It contradicts the idea that a new government should have new legislation and bring in new ideas that we can debate.

Does the Prime Minister not do what a new government should do because he does not want Canadians to know what he stands for? Does he want to keep us guessing, making one statement one day and a different statement another day, backtracking on all kinds of things, and not introducing some meaningful legislation for us to debate that would indicate the direction his government is going to go? Is that the reason we do not have new legislation introduced?

What we are talking about here today is far worse than what I have been saying, I would argue procedurally unacceptable. The current Prime Minister is attempting to reinstate bills of another prime minister from a previous session and has the audacity to call this a new government.

When the Prime Minister promised democratic reform and made a commitment to do things differently, we thought he meant to improve how Parliament functions. So far the Prime Minister has behaved less democratically than his predecessors, something most of us thought would be impossible but it is happening before our eyes.

You know very well, Mr. Speaker, that I have been dealing with the Firearms Act for nigh on 10 years. Back in 1994 I began tracking a piece of legislation that I thought would long since be gone. However, now this Prime Minister is using a tactic that the previous prime minister used in keeping that legislation in place. He has stated quite clearly that this is not going to be a free vote in Parliament. He has stated quite clearly that this vote on the gun registry funding will be a vote on confidence in his government.

How can a new Prime Minister, who says that all his legislation and all his programs will pass seven tests before they will be continued, reintroduce a whole bunch of bills? How can he continue with a Firearms Act that breaks all seven of those tests that he has put forward? They are good tests. Do not get me wrong. I agree with him. I believe all legislation should be put that way. However, why bring in the tests if at the first opportunity they have to test them and put something before them, say “except for the Firearms Act”, but it will apply to all other legislation and programs before the House? Obviously democracy is not operating the way we have been given the impression it should operate.

On May 12 and May 16, 2003, a former government House leader raised the issue of parliamentary privilege, exempting members from being called as witnesses in any court. I raised this earlier with you, Mr. Speaker. The issue raised in that case was whether the prime minister could claim parliamentary privilege to provide legal protection, and I went through a whole bunch of arguments. Let me read at this point the ruling from the Canadian Court of Appeal. It stated:

--the parliamentary privilege of a Member of Parliament not to attend as a witness in a civil action applies throughout a session of Parliament, and extends 40 days after the prorogation or dissolution of Parliament and 40 days before the commencement of a new session.

That clearly is just being disregarded in this case.

I would just like to go through some of the bills that we would like to exclude from this reinstatement, for example, Bill C-7, an act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands and to make related amendments to other acts. We would like to see that bill not included.

As well, we would like to see Bill C-19, an act respecting leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands and to make related amendments to other acts, excluded.

We would like to see Bill C-20, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, excluded from this list.

Bill C-22, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcements Act, the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Judges Act and to amend other acts in consequence, we do not want included.

Then we have Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. We would like that excluded.

Bill C-38, an act to amend the contraventions Act and the controlled drugs and substances act, should be excluded.

Then we have in the Senate Bill C-13, the human reproductive technologies act. Canadians have huge concerns with that. That is something that should not be reinstated clearly.

Bill C-34 is an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act. That provides for an ethics commissioner, a Senate ethics officer and other acts in consequence. This Prime Minister has made a lot of to-do about that bill. He talks about the need for an ethics commissioner and then the previous government brings forth legislation that applies to only backbench MPs and does not apply to the cabinet. The problems that we have observed here in Ottawa do not pertain to backbench MPs. They pertain to those who have the responsibility in the cabinet.

We have Bill C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges). It should not be brought back.

Bill C-36 is an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain other acts in consequence. We have huge concerns with all of these.

With regard to these, I would like to propose an amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by adding:

“excluding the following bills:

I have listed them, but I will read them again for the purposes of this amendment:

C-7, An Act respecting the leadership selection, administration and accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other Acts.

I made an error in my first listing and I will correct that now.

C-19, An Act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Financial Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;

C-20, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act;

C-22, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcements Act, the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Judges Act and to amend other Acts in consequence;

C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;

C-38, An Act to amend the contraventions act and the controlled drugs and substances act;

Again for that one, Canadians have a lot of concerns.

C-13, An Act respecting assisted human reproduction;

C-34, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and other Acts in consequence;

C-35, an act to amend the National Defence Act (remuneration of military judges);

C-36, An Act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain Acts in consequence.”