Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
The bill is very similar in most respects to its predecessor, Bill C-62, which was introduced in the House in September 2005 by the previous Liberal government. Therefore, the bill and its predecessors have been kicking around for approximately three years now. For those who doubt the Conservative government's approach to environmental issues, and that list is growing every day, I would remind them of the government's unusual commitment to recycling, that is to recycle legislation from the previous Liberal government. This is a situation which reminds me of an old saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
Unfortunately, the previous Bill C-62 died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament, without having gone beyond first reading. Bill C-6, which was the predecessor to Bill C-7, was introduced before prorogation by the minister of transport in April 2006 and came up for a vote at second reading. Members of the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party did not vote in favour, yet Bill C-6, which is now Bill C-7, still passed 195 to 71. Then it was sent to the House transport committee for further study and deliberation.
In preparing for these brief remarks, I reviewed certain segments of Hansard. I talked to some members of the transport committee and I was encouraged by the work that the committee did. I was very encouraged by the actions of the Bloc Québécois, which originally voted against the bill. After hearing from many witnesses, that party proposed amendments in committee, which addressed its concerns. When the bill came back to this assembly, the Bloc at that time voted for it. That is the manner in which the House ought to operate and that is the manner in which our committee system ought to function.
Members of the New Democratic Party, on the other hand, were unable to convince committee members of the merit of its concerns or arguments and amendments and it voted against it, instead of respecting the work done at committee. The NDP members moved a hoist amendment. Essentially they have taken their ball and gone home. If they cannot have their own way, no one can. In effect the work done by the parties that represent in excess of 80% of Canadians, as per the results of the last federal election in January 2006, is being stalled by the New Democratic Party.
Marleau and Montpetit teaches us:
The hoist amendment originated in British practice, where it appeared in the eighteenth century. It enabled the House of Commons to postpone the resumption of the consideration of a bill.
An analysis of hoist amendments moved in the House of Commons since Confederation shows that the cases in which this procedure has been used fall into two specific periods. The first was from 1867 to about 1920, and the second from 1920 to the present day.
The first hoist amendment was moved on November 28, 1867. Prior to 1920, it was the government, not the opposition, that used hoist amendments most often. Because the House had only a little time for government business during the short sessions of that era, the government sometimes felt obliged to dispose of a great number of private Members’ bills by using the hoist procedure so that it would have more time to devote to its own legislation.
Since 1920, the period set aside for government business has grown to take up the largest share of the time in the House, and hoist amendments have gradually come to be used almost exclusively by the opposition.
From an examination of the precedents, it is clear that hoist amendments were moved to motions for second and third reading during periods when there was considerable tension between the parties. Those amendments rarely passed: of the scores of cases recorded in the Journals, only four succeeded. In each of those four cases, the hoist amendment was moved by the government with the intent of defeating a private Member’s bill.
As members can see, in order to block the work done by the other parties, and not only the other parties but by Parliament itself, the New Democratic Party had to invoke an obscure parliamentary tactic, which is a rarity in the House and these times.
Again, dealing with the bill itself, it was dealt extensively and at length by the transport committee. I congratulate all members of that committee. The committee did its job. It took the appropriate time to consider, to deliberate on the bill, amendments were moved, debated, some were passed, some were not passed. That is the way the committee system should work.
There is a lot of noise in the House. I can hardly hear myself. Is there anyway you can restore order, Mr. Speaker?