Mr. Chairman, I'm glad you've raised this and have coupled some of these, because as per our last discussion on amendments that had not yet been tabled but had been received by members of the committee, we had some discussion about, first, the appropriateness and, second, the admissibility of each of those items.
It was our position then, and it continues to be our position, that these amendments presented by the government—because we're talking about amendments G-3 and G-4, I can speak specifically to both—are inadmissible, because as you have said, and we applaud you for making this particular decision, they are beyond the scope of the intent of the bill.
Not only that, but it is our view that what these two amendments, along with the other government amendments, do is go to the heart of the bill itself and essentially remove the government from the House of Commons' commitment to the establishment of a Holocaust monument. That was not the intention of the House, and it is not up to this committee to then accept amendments that would free the government from the commitment the House imposed on the Government of Canada by virtue of its motion in second reading.
I'm a little surprised, as we were when we first discussed this, that the government could actually move in this direction. I think the best thing that could happen, in order to respect the will of the House of Commons, is for these amendments, like the others, to be ruled out of order or ruled inadmissible.
If the government had a position that was different from that which their own backbencher presented, they had an opportunity to express it when and before that bill was presented to the House. Clearly, they moved away from something the House wanted, and they're trying to do something that is not consistent with the will of the House, expressed through a vote just a short while ago.
I think it's unfortunate that the government wants to present these amendments today. They could have done it at first reading and have handed the committee this at first reading, and we could have dealt with it then. That was not the position chosen, nor was it the government's position to support their own backbencher on this issue.
You'll recall, Mr. Chair, that I asked Mr. Uppal, the individual who presented this bill, whether he had consulted with the Prime Minister, and he indicated that he had the support of his government on the bill. I was rather surprised, if you have the support of your government on the bill, that the government would present amendments that reflect a change in every single clause of the bill. In effect, what the government is trying to do is to rewrite the bill that it authorized one of its backbenchers to present to the House for its approval.
Mr. Chairman, once the House has given its approval on an issue in an event that touches all Canadians, and I dare say is international in nature—i.e., that the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada agrees that the Holocaust was an event unfortunate and tragic in its occurrence, but with implications that clearly define the value structure of a western democracy like our own—that the government would try to change that event, would try to change the will of the House in establishing a monument that reflects the interests of all Canadians in recalling the evil that people can do to their neighbours, be they local or national or continental...
That was the way that we and the Liberal Party perceived that bill when it was presented in the House, and that's why we voted accordingly or gave our consent accordingly. We felt that this was an issue that transcended communities, that transcended people, that transcended victims of genocide, and that transcended all other governments around the world. It was an expression of the Canadian collective. The Canadian collective said, “Okay, we agree with this member. We agree with all members of Parliament, including the members of the government caucus who sit on this committee, that this bill should be given quick and speedy acceptance in committee. Please deal with it accordingly.”
So we came before the committee, and we were surprised a couple of weeks ago when we found an amendment for each and every clause that we had already unanimously accepted in the House of Commons.
Mr. Chairman, I applaud you--and I hope I'm speaking for my colleagues, at least in the Liberal caucus--for the position you have taken in ruling these amendments inadmissible, because we don't think we should erode the principle of establishing a government-funded... I shouldn't say “government-funded”; it is funded by the people of Canada through the representatives they send to the Parliament of Canada and executed through the Government of Canada.
That collective will of Canadians everywhere should be respected, in this instance for a historic event, as tragic in its dimensions as it was. We cannot take that away from anyone. I think the government would probably be best advised--although I'm not an adviser to them--to withdraw both G-3 and G-4, and indeed all of their other amendments, and go with the decision they previously made when the Prime Minister complimented the mover of this bill and agreed with him that he would whip all of his caucus into supporting this initiative so that it would be a reflection of the Canadian collective, rather than a reflection of any individual community, and we wouldn't poison the atmosphere by segregating that event off to only a special interest that might have a special attachment to it.
That would be wrong, Mr. Chairman. It would be terribly wrong. It would be, in essence, a reflection that we don't think the tragedy is as tragic as it should be and that we as Canadians don't value the lessons that need to be learned from those kinds of world events.
I'm going to tell you that I think our Liberal colleagues see the wisdom of your decision, and I'm hoping that other colleagues on the government side will say, “You're right. These two amendments are ruled inadmissible. Let's get on with the bill.”