Before providing my decision on the selection of report stage motions for Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, I would like to address the concerns raised and the supplementary information provided earlier today by the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, concerning report stage Motion No. 3, standing in his name on the notice paper.
I would like to thank the honourable member for having raised this matter.
As mentioned by the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, he also did write to me to urge that I select his report stage motion on the basis of exceptional significance.
I wish to reassure the hon. member that I have carefully reviewed all the relevant contextual and substantive circumstances surrounding the matter. While each case is different, and occasionally there are exceptional circumstances that merit the selection of certain report stage motions, ultimately I must be guided by the procedural practice relating to the selection of report stage motions.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice sets the following general principle with respect to the selection of report stage motions. At page 783 it states:
As a general principle, the Speaker seeks to forestall debate on the floor of the House which is simply a repetition of the debate in committee…the Speaker will normally only select motions in amendment that could not have been presented in committee.
More guidance as to the selection of report stage motions can be found in Standing Orders 76(5) and 76.1(5). The note accompanying those standing orders states, in part:
A motion previously defeated in committee, will only be selected if the Speaker judges it to be of such exceptional significance as to warrant a further consideration at report stage.
As evidenced by his first having written a detailed letter, and now having raised the matter again in the form of a point of order, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca clearly feels that the circumstances surrounding the committee's consideration of his amendment are exceptional, and on that basis, the House as a whole should decide whether Bill C-13 should be amended in the fashion he is proposing. While I understand his argument, I would remind him that the Chair cannot make decisions on selection based on the likely outcome of the vote.
As I stated in the decision on December 12, 2012, page 13224 in the Debates, in relation to a point of order raised by the government House leader:
The Chair is and will continue to be guided by procedural imperatives in all of its decisions, not by somehow substituting the Speaker's prediction of the likely outcome of a vote expressed by the House itself.
His belief that the outcome might be different in the House from what it was in committee, or that a certain foreknowledge exists as to the will of the House on a given question, is not sufficient grounds for the Chair to determine that exceptional circumstances exist that would warrant the selection of this particular amendment.
Furthermore, I would note that Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity) at present stands referred to a Senate committee. The Criminal Code has not yet been amended in the manner that Bill C-279 proposes. Presumably, as both Bill C-279 and Bill C-13 advance through the legislative process, Parliament will, in due course, choose which approach it prefers.
With respect to the existing practice relating to report stage, I would remind members that since 2001, report stage has undergone a significant evolution so as not to repeat debate that already occurred in committee. As such, the Speaker is empowered to decline to put report stage motions that would be tantamount to a repetition of the work that was already done in committee.
Were I to select Motion No. 3 on the basis of the arguments put forward by the member, I fear it could lead exactly to a situation that our report stage practice was designed to avoid, namely a repetition of the debate that occurred in committee on this matter. Therefore, I must inform the member that Motion No. 3 will not be selected for consideration at report stage.
There are nine motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-13.
Motion No. 3, as indicated previously, as well as Motion No. 6 will not be selected as they are identical to amendments defeated in committee.
I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7 to 9 to the House.