Obviously there will be discussion and so Tom or anybody on G-1 and Scott on LIB-1 can reference what their preference would be. Here's our preference on NDP-3. It could easily go to NDP-4 and I'll tell you why.
Keep in mind that the structure of the act right now in section 19, and all this is going to apply to section 39 as well, is that if you're expelled or disqualified, you lose your pension, basically. Mr. Williamson came here and said the main mischief that he was concerned about was with people being able to resign to escape the effects of expulsion or disqualification. What this does is actually follow the structure of the act and address the mischief.
It says that “a person who ceases to be a member”, that usually means in this context that they've resigned. The loss of pension also applies if they cease to be a member if “he or she has been convicted of an offence under any Act...” —so not just the Criminal Code but any act, which is what Mr. Williamson's original bill also applied to—“that was prosecuted by indictment...the offence arose out of conduct that...occurred while the person was a member”. That's consistent with Mr. Williamson's whole approach.
And here's the mechanism: the Senate or the House of Commons adopts a motion declaring that in its view the person would have been disqualified from the Senate or expelled from the House, as the case may be, had that person not ceased to be a member. So it's using the exact same mechanism that would be used if a person was still sitting there as a member in front of you.
There's no advance judgement about the basis on which you could be expelled or disqualified. You could be expelled for an offence where you're only getting two months as sentence or for an offence where only one year is the maximum, where five years is the maximum, where it's a tax code offence, a Competition Bureau offence, or a Criminal Code offence. That's already the case with a sitting member. All this is doing is trying to create the exact same parallelism.
It would, for example, cover the current situation that we're faced with in the House—the issue of somebody having been recently convicted for something that was not a Criminal Code offence and that carries a maximum of a one-year sentence. We still don't know what the sentence is going to be. It would be caught by this just as it would be potentially caught, depending on what happens in the House and in this committee on expulsion itself, if that person were to resign.
This is frankly a watertight amendment when it comes to creating a direct parallelism with the current act and ensuring that anybody who is about to be or could be expelled cannot escape the effects by resigning. That's exactly what I think Mr. Williamson was trying to do.
The only thing that I've added, and I'm happy to drop it and just adopt NDP-4, is the portion where I say “the Senate or the House of Commons adopts a motion declaring” what I just read or “that the seat of the person to whom section 750 of the Criminal Code applies is vacant”—that should probably read “would have been treated as vacant.” This is because of all kinds of confusion about the effect of section 750 of the Criminal Code. I'm not so worried. I believe that the ultimate effect of that is that if the House is going to act basically by treating the seat as vacant, it amounts to an expulsion. This is a kind of a backup. It basically says that if the House would have treated that seat as vacant because the person received a two-year sentence or more, it's the same thing as having been expelled. It's kind of hedging our bets on whether that's actually an expulsion or whether it's something different.
That explains what we would like to see. I suppose our colleagues could speak to what their amendments would be because they would fall if we vote for this.