This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #5 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendments.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Georges Etoka

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair (Ms. Candice Hoeppner (Portage—Lisgar, CPC)) Conservative Candice Bergen

Order. We're going to begin the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities meeting number five.

According to the orders of the day today, pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, March 3, 2010, we have Bill C-304, an act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, clause-by-clause consideration.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of the preamble and clause 1 is postponed, and I will begin with clause 2.

(On clause 2--Definitions)

Madame Folco.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Given that this is an ongoing discussion that started before the prorogation of the House, I wondered whether we might not consider the possibility of deeming accepted by this committee all the amendments that had been accepted before prorogation took place last year. I'm not talking about the ones that were discussed; I'm talking about the ones that were actually accepted by committee. This is what I would like to move forward.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Mr. Komarnicki.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I've had a brief discussion with Mr. Lessard and with Mr. Savage. Mr. Lessard's view was--and I'm amenable to it--that this bill be reported to the House in exactly the form it was in in December when we adjourned, and that the amendments that passed then, but not new and additional amendments, go forward in this report. Of course, there was much argument and debate about whether they should have gone or not with parties voting different ways, but in the end that was the result of the bill. We're prepared to agree to that, but we're not prepared to agree to that plus opening up the bill to a host of new amendments.

Am I understanding Mr. Lessard correctly? I'm assuming I am.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Mr. Savage is next.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Actually, Chair, maybe I'll wait to hear from Mr. Lessard and then the NDP, and then I'll come back at that point.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

All right.

Monsieur Lessard.

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Indeed, we did do a very thorough job in December. I remember the amendments brought forward by every party. They were examined and their true worth assessed, and decisions were made.

I remember very well something that was quite admirable. Mr. Kennedy, among others, had put forward a series of amendments that gave this bill a whole other dimension, enhancing and strengthening it. So we feel that the work is done. If, by chance, we had to accept new amendments, that would open the door to amendments that were already considered and that were not adopted, in other forms.

We feel that we should simply confirm the work that we did in December and recommend the bill as amended on December 8 and 10.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Ms. Leslie.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Thanks, Chair.

I agree with Monsieur Lessard that we have done a lot of work on this bill. The support for this bill grows daily. Looking across the country, looking at all the provinces, looking at the organizations that support this bill, from Amnesty to CERA to FRAPRU, we have a lot of groups that really want this bill to work.

I do believe it's our responsibility to make this bill as good as it can be, which is why we have put a lot of work into a new amendment that would address the concerns about Quebec. That's why we actually have a couple of options in the package for changes to that amendment.

I guess what I want to know explicitly from the parties is whether the new amendment we drafted in order to make sure this bill was the best it could be is something they would support. If that is the case, that would be useful information for me to know to make a decision about this motion.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Mr. Savage, did you want to speak?

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Thank you, Madam Chair.

It's been our view from the beginning that this bill is something we want to support. We feel we've strengthened it considerably. Mr. Kennedy's amendments, following work with a number of groups, have made this bill much stronger. So I was pleased in December when we came to a place where we didn't necessarily all agree, but the committee did its role, and the bill was ready to be reported back to the House.

I think what Ms. Leslie is saying makes some sense to me. If the government is not prepared to consider further amendments but is prepared to bring everything back as it was and no further, then I'm fine with that.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Is there anyone else?

Mr. Komarnicki.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I have a question. Does Madam Folco's motion require unanimous consent?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Yes, it would.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Because I would not give it--or at least from our side--but would be prepared to say that we would go along with what Monsieur Lessard and Mr. Savage were saying, with our objections that were duly noted before. The transcript would still remain, but we would agree that the bill could be reported to the House in that fashion. So we would entertain another motion to that effect. I would be prepared to so move that, so this one's disposed of, but we're not prepared to consent to it in that form.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

So you would not consent to Madam Folco's motion, but you would move your own?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

That's right. Move the motion.... Well, I would leave it to Mr. Savage or Mr. Lessard.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

I mean, it's not a motion.... It's just that we're trying to--

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I guess I could. I could move a motion that the bill be reported to the House in the fashion it was, with each party's objections being duly noted in the transcript of that proceeding.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Monsieur Lessard, were you next?

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Just to reassure Ms. Leslie, I want to point out that a new amendment must be dealt with by consensus. I believe that a single amendment was announced. And we will not agree to it because it already distorts one of our amendments that was adopted by the committee prior to prorogation. We feel that the bill should be recommended to the House as amended prior to Parliament being prorogued, so in its entirety and without any additional amendments.

Madam Chair, if amendments to improve the bill had been proposed, I think we would have had to consider them. But that is not the case. No such amendment was put forward.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Mr. Kennedy, please.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

I hope we can find a way to move this bill forward. If I understand correctly, people's opinions on the intent of the bill are causing a problem. It would have been possible to take advantage of prorogation if, last time, we had been able to see to it that the NDP's proposal directly addressed the concern of the Conservative party. Perhaps it is impossible to specifically address that type of concern, but I find that unfortunate. In committee, in December, the parties were able to discuss a variety of issues. That discussion is really important to a bill of this nature.

I want to ask the NDP whether it is possible to find a way to avoid this kind of problem and whether it thinks these amendments can improve this important bill.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Candice Bergen

Ms. Leslie, please, and then I'd like to say something.