I do want to say that I support the amendment that we should be dealing with this on the basis of members rather than parties, but even if the motion were amended in that fashion, I would still oppose the motion. Among other things, I don't think that five minutes is an adequate period of time, but I'll reserve those comments.
I would like first of all to mention that, as I understand the committee structure, although clearly we try to maintain solidarity with our caucus colleagues, we are here as individuals. Although we might try to work out how we're going to do things, it's extremely problematic to sit down and figure out that person A is going to speak to this point, person B to that point, and person C to this point.
In point of fact, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves, and we all have a valuable contribution to bring, in my opinion. It is, in a way, an infringement upon our rights as members that we should be forced by the motion before us, without the amendment, to be speaking as a bloc. In fact, there are those who would say that we shouldn't even always vote as a bloc. To have to speak as a bloc is nearly impossible.
I also want to say that there is some relevance here to what happened in the House regarding Bill S-216. It may be a good illustration of how sometimes parties and people don't apply themselves consistently.
I recall the closing hour of debate on Bill S-216. Quite frankly, the NDP member spent a great deal of time, instead of speaking about Bill S-216, speaking about Bill C-311, and clearly wasn't even adhering to even the smallest modicum of relevance in that debate, but was simply talking, I suppose, to fill time or maybe to hear her voice. I won't speculate as to her motives, but in any event it was to me quite distressing, as the mover of Bill S-216, to hear time being used on that debate to talk about Bill C-311. Of course, then it was necessary for me to respond to those comments on Bill C-311, and it just derailed the whole debate.
In the interest of maintaining our rights and privileges as individual members, I think we should be dealing with this on a per member basis.
The other thing I'd like to say, Mr. Chair, is that it has occurred to me from time to time that sometimes members--and I won't point the finger at just the opposition--think debate is unnecessary because they come to a table like this with their minds made up. Sometimes I'm as guilty as anyone of coming in with my mind made up.
Even if we have our minds made up, Mr. Chair, I think it still behooves us to stop, listen, let others speak, and hear what they have to say. Who knows? Some minor miracle may occur and we might change our mind along the way. If we come at it from the point of view that our minds are made up, well of course, then, even spending 60 seconds a person to let your opponent speak is too much, because we already know what we're going to do and we might as well move right to it.
In any event, I mentioned that even given the current amendment, I would not be able to support this motion. Quite frankly, I find the motion offensive generally. In an effort to try to improve it a little bit, I would like to propose a subamendment to the existing amendment that is on the floor, and that is to lengthen the time to 10 minutes per person.
May I speak to that amendment, Mr. Chair?