Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the House adopted Bill C-3, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2016. As is our practice, I rose to place a question to the President of the Treasury Board during the committee of the whole. I asked him if he could confirm if the bill was in its usual form and the President of the Treasury Board replied, “The form of this bill is, in fact, the same as that passed in the previous supply period”.
I checked the Journals Branch this morning and the copy of the bill that was adopted by the House of Commons did not include the schedules that contain the actual amounts in the supplementary estimates. It would appear that we did not actually grant for Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, because the bill was not in fact presented in its complete form, having excluded the schedule which provides for the authorization the House must actually give.
Originating with the Magna Carta, the Crown cannot spend what the people do not approve through their elected representatives in the House of Commons. That is probably the most important foundation in public finance. Therefore, if information about that spending is not properly included in the legislation adopted in the House, then the Government of Canada does not have the authorization to spend the money that it does. That is the first point.
The second point is that the President of the Treasury Board took great lengths to say that he would “surprise” me by actually answering the question. In fact, he did surprise me and he did answer the question, but then he surprised me again today by virtue of the fact that his answer was incorrect. I looked back at the schedule of the previous supply bill that was passed by the House of Commons and the schedule was in fact present, which is contrary to the words the President of the Treasury Board uttered when he said that the form of the bill was the same as that passed in the previous supply period. We now know that this is not accurate and that the President of the Treasury Board has misled the House.
This of course creates a dilemma because the schedule has not been adopted by the House and it is one for which I do not have a solution, but it is one that I am obliged, as a member of the House of Commons, to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, and to the attention of the House.