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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was self-government.

Topics

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, a request similar to this one was made at the beginning of the session by the member for Sherbrooke, on behalf of himself and his colleague, therefore on behalf of the entire caucus of the former Conservative Party. At the time, the Speaker refused to recognize the Conservative Party.

Therefore, this subject has been debated. At the time, I pointed out that the arguments raised by the Conservatives, and again today by the NDP, were raised three years ago by the Bloc Quebecois. The Speaker of the day had ruled that these arguments were not valid enough to formally recognize the Bloc. We have since come to agree with the Speaker's ruling. I have considered all the arguments put forward by my colleague and I believe that the rule of 12 continues to apply, except under certain circumstances.

Most of these circumstances arise when there is a minority government in the House. Such was the case in 1979, 1963 and 1957 when the parties agreed to recognize a party without 12 members. For reasons that are fairly obvious, the Clark government may have needed the support of the Ralliement créditiste. Moreover, we saw what happened when they later withdrew their support. Therefore, in some specific instances, primarily when there is a minority government, official status will be granted to a party that does not have the required number of sitting members.

It has also been argued that the same rules should not apply to parties who did not field candidates during the election, as was the case with the Bloc at the time. One of the examples given by my colleague was the Ralliement des créditistes, a party formed in 1963. Need members be reminded that this party did not exist at the time of the election? Then, the party was known as the Social Credit Party and it was headed by Mr. Thompson. A split developed within the ranks and Mr. Caouette founded the Ralliement des créditistes, a party which had not formally existed at the time of the election, a situation similar to that of the Bloc. Yet, the government of the day recognized the Ralliement des créditistes precisely because it was a minority government. The situation was quite different when the Bloc came into being. However, the Ralliement was no more a party at the time of the election than the Bloc was.

Therefore, the precedent exists for granting official status to a new party, although it was not considered when the Bloc requested such status. However, with respect to my colleague's question concerning the seating arrangement in the House, I will concede that the Bloc members were allowed to sit next to one another, pursuant to an agreement between all independent members. As I recall, we had reached an agreement with the Reform member and the two independents, Mr. Kindy and Mr. Knowlan. If there is agreement among the independents, I see no reason why the NDP members cannot sit next to each other. Provided, of course, there is agreement.

As regards identification, I think the hon. member is right. The Bloc's name appeared in Hansard and during the televised debates. I do not know if it is the case now for the NDP, but it was for us. I think this could be done for them. We did not get that recognition at the beginning. We raised the issue in various more or less pleasant ways and, it the end, we succeeded in having the name of our party appear on TV and in Hansard . I think we could apply that decision to grant the same privilege, with respect to the number of questions per week.

I am rather surprised to hear that Lucien Bouchard, the leader of the Bloc, was allowed to ask many questions. In fact, the figures show that, on average, he asked one and a half question per week. Whether that question had a major impact is a totally different issue which has nothing to do with the number of questions itself but, rather, with their quality. Again, the figures show that, on average, Mr. Bouchard asked 1.5 question per week, which is about what the NDP is allowed. I might add that those questions are always the last ones of the day, at about two minutes before three o'clock. In this regard, also, there is no change, compared to what the Bloc experienced.

These are the comments I wanted to make to help you make a decision.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be reasonably brief.

I want to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona for giving notice of his point of order. I would like to make a few comments on it, though first of all I would like to quote from Hansard of November 27, 1990, when a similar point of order was being discussed. At that time Ian Waddell, the New Democratic Party member for Port Moody-Coquitlam, argued in the House with regard to the Bloc Quebecois saying:

It is not a party. It does not have 12 people. Those are the rules. They should stop whining. The House has been very liberal to them and I find it shocking when they get up and whine, bitch and complain.

With regard to participation in question period and in members' statements, the House has been very generous with independent members and the Chair has been very generous, considering that very likely the New Democratic caucus has the poorest attendance record in the House.

I would like to get to some of the arguments that the member made with regard to having official party status. In 1974 the Ralliement Créditiste brought 11 members to the House of Commons. Despite their having less than 12 members all privileges which come with party recognition were given to them except for the extra stipend given to the leaders of the parties, other than the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, with at least 12 members.

In October 1979 Prime Minister Clark was in the process of setting up his new government. He put forward the names for composition of the striking committee and moved approval by the House. Initially one issue raised for decision by the House was whether the Ralliement Créditiste with six members should be represented on the striking committee. Mr. Clark moved approval of the committee with no Créditiste. Mr. Roy of the Créditiste put forward an amendment to the motion to include a Créditiste.

Mr. MacEachen, House leader for the Liberals, raised the following additional issues for consideration: first, whether the group would enjoy the status, particularly the leader of that group, equivalent in standing to that of the Leader of the Opposition, who was Mr. Trudeau, and the leader of the New Democratic Party; second, whether they would have full status of other parties in respect of the question period; and, third, whether they would have full status of other parties in respect of statements on motions in response to ministerial statements.

Additionally, Mr. Knowles, the House leader for the New Democratic Party, who is now a member at the table, reiterated some of the above arguments and added a fourth issue for consideration. He stated:

While it has come to be thought that 12 members were required for party status, we overstepped it when the party had only 11 members last time.

He was referring to 1974. He further stated:

Can a party that has used a name in election come here and claim all of the advantages that go with party status regardless of how small it is?

That is from Debates , October 9, 1979, page 13.

Mr. Knowles, Mr. MacEachen and others argued to the Speaker against party status for a party with less than 12 members in the House. The outcome of this deliberation and the decision of the House rendered by recorded division was nay. The Speaker twice refused to overturn the decision of the House on appeal from the Creditiste even when attention was called to the popular vote which the Ralliement Créditiste received. That is in House of Commons Debates, October 10, 1979.

Other issues are that the stipend which is given to leaders of parties with at least 12 members, excluding the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, is covered by the Parliament of Canada Act which states:

-to each member of the House of Commons, other than the Prime Minister or the member occupying the position of Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, who is a leader of a party that has a recognized membership of 12 or more persons in the House-

This can only be changed by a legislative amendment, not by a ruling of the Speaker.

A final issue connected with recognition of parties in the House has to do with research funding. The requirement that parties must have at least 12 members can be waived by the Board of Internal Economy which includes three opposition members.

My conclusion is that if the House were to grant recognition of the New Democrats or the Progressive Conservatives as parties in the House they should first address the precedents against recognizing parties with fewer than 12 members, including the 1979 precedent.

It should be noted that in addition to Messrs. Clark, MacEachen and Knowles, that Messrs. Chrétien, Axworthy, Gray, Kilgour, MacLaren, Masse and others voted nay to the amendment. Further, it should be noted that the Speaker at that time refused to overturn the decision on appeal since the House had raised these issues and put them to a vote.

Therefore a decision of any of the issues given should be given careful consideration by the Speaker of the 35th Parliament. The independent members in the House should not be given recognition beyond what should be accorded by any individual member unless the House agrees to give such recognition.

In brief summation, the recourse of the members of the New Democratic Party is to appeal to the House for changes in the legislation whereby they would be recognized. We believe it should not be an appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, to make a ruling on this issue.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The case has been well put today and well documented. The Chair thanks all hon. members who have taken the time to advise the Chair. I have heard from all parties in the House, including interventions made by the independents.

I will undertake to review the entire transcript of today, look at all of the precedents mentioned and come back to the House with some recommendations on the matter.

The Chair feels this is not a new issue to Parliament. I feel that the arguments have been very well made. I believe that I have received enough information at this point on which to at least base the beginnings of my own studies to come back to this House with a decision.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, this point of order addresses another matter entirely.

Citation 317 of Beauchesne's sixth edition states:

(1) Points of order are questions raised with the view of calling attention to any departure from the Standing Orders or the customary modes of proceeding in debate or in the conduct of legislative business-

I would like to address my comments to the conduct of legislative business.

In a statement last Thursday, the government House leader indicated that the business for today would be Bill C-18, the Electoral Boundaries Redistribution Act. Instead we were advised at the House leader's meeting yesterday that we would be debating Bill C-34, an act respect Yukon self-government.

Although Bill C-34 was put on notice on May 25, it was not introduced until yesterday.

There is a concern here. How can the government expect the House to properly conduct legislative business when it does not even give members 24 hours to review the legislation before it is debated in the House?

Every Canadian will recognize that aboriginal self-government is an important national issue and deserves proper attention. The Reform Party has shown a willingness to co-operate with the government. We would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to use all powers and influence at your disposal to move the government toward conduct of legislated business that permits the members of the House to effectively fulfil their mandate as elected representatives.

Standing Order 1 states:

In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by other Order of the House, procedural questions shall be decided by the Speaker or Chairman, whose decisions shall be based on the usage, forms, customs and precedents of the House of Commons of Canada and on parliamentary tradition in Canada and other jurisdictions-

We would ask that you consider this standing order when making your ruling.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster has raised a point which I submit is not a point of order.

The government is entitled to call whatever business it wishes on any given day with or without notice other than notice that has to be given at six o'clock to prepare the documents. It can be changed at the last minute, right up until the time it is called. That has been the invariable practice in this House.

I recognize that the hon. member is new to this place. Had he been in the last House, he would know that it was quite common for the government to call business without proper notice, with very limited notice and frequently to change the business overnight, having announced one day what it would be to change it for the next day. We were in a constant state of flux trying to know what kind of business we conducted.

The problem is that the hon. member and the members of the opposition have been spoiled in this House because the government has been so careful in giving extensive notice in almost every case of the business it is calling.

Unfortunately today the government was not in a position to proceed with Bill C-18. It is proceeding instead with Bill C-34. I admit that it was only introduced yesterday, but it is not a complex matter. It is thick but it is not complex. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will soon give a speech that will elucidate every nook and cranny of the bill, and I invite the hon. member to remain for that speech.

There is no point of order here.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask all hon. members to refer to Chapter VI of the standing orders at page 23:

40.(1) All items standing on the Orders of the Day, except Government Orders, shall be taken up according to the precedence assigned to each on the Order Paper.

Then it says:

(2) Government Orders shall be called and considered in such sequence as the government determines.

Therefore I would rule that there is no point of order in this case.

I would like to make a ruling.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

During Private Members' Business on Wednesday, May 11, 1994, the hon. member for Restigouche-Chaleur raised a point of order concerning Standing Order 73 and Bill C-216, standing under his name on the Order Paper. At that time I stated that the terms of the standing order are unambiguous. It reads in part:

Immediately after the reading of the Order of the Day for the second reading of any public bill, a Minister of the Crown may propose a motion that the said bill be forthwith referred to a standing, special or legislative committee.

Clearly, the prerogatives of Standing Order 73 are for ministers of the Crown. For this reason, backbenchers cannot exercise them. Therefore the Chair cannot accept the hon. member's argument.

The hon. member raised a very interesting point by drawing a parallel between Standing Orders 68 and 73, definitely suggesting that an amendment to Standing Order 73 could give backbenchers the same prerogatives as the minister.

The Chair has taken this matter under advisement and is now ready to make a ruling.

Let me say at the outset that having looked at the text of Standing Order 73 and examined its context, the Chair has no doubt that the ministerial prerogative it grants applies only to government public bills. While I must concede that the phrase "any public bill" might lead to ambiguity, the Chair could not accept as appropriate the application of Standing Order 73 by a minister with reference to a private members' bill. In my view such an approach would have the practical effect of transforming a private members' initiative into an item of government business and so violate the spirit that underlies our standing orders and our practice, namely, the absolute separation of government business and private members' business.

However the suggestion of redrafting Standing Order 73 to grant to the sponsor of a private member's bill the same prerogatives with regard to that bill that a minister of the crown enjoys with regard to a government bill seems to merit further consideration. It would, as I see it, offer a means for making an item votable that would create an alternative to the existing procedure, an alternative which many members might welcome. I would therefore suggest with respect that, under the terms of this ongoing mandate to study House operations and procedure and notably, its existing responsibilities vis-à-vis Private Members' Business, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs take this matter under consideration.

I wish to thank the hon. member for Restigouche-Chaleur for raising the subject and thus reminding the House of the obligation which all members have to ensure that their rights are maintained, while taking an innovative attitude to the evolution of these rights.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:50 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am not certain whether this is a point of order or not but I stand as a duly elected member of the House of Commons to ask for your guidance with respect to the previous point of order on which I had wished to speak.

I understand you ruled that there would be no more speakers on it. However it is my sense, being a duly elected member of the House of Commons from the constituency of Regina-Lumsden, on a matter of a point of order that is important to my constituents and to me and to others in Canada, that I should be allowed to express the insights I have on the issue.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. Is the hon. member referring to the point of order presented by the member for Winnipeg Transcona?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:50 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Yes.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

That being the case, the Chair had heard very lengthy arguments about that particular point of order. The Chair made the ruling on the basis that the Chair felt it had heard enough argument to base at least an indication that the Chair would look into this matter further.

That is why I made that ruling. With all respect to the hon. member I am sure that he will recognize that at one point there is enough debate on a particular point of order for the Chair to make that kind of a declaration. I would ask that the hon. member to respect this decision.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 24 petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 1st, 1994 / 3:50 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding changes to the standing orders concerning publications of the Journals Branch of the House of Commons.

At the same time, I have the honour to present the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, concerning the selection of Private Members' Business. Pursuant to Standing Order 92(2) the report is deemed adopted.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Bill C-12, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts with amendments.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), concerning a review of the Citizenship Act, the House authorize the required personnel of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to travel from place to place for the purpose of preparing and holding video-teleconference sittings during the weeks of May 31 and June 6, 1994.

I think You Honour will find unanimous consent for the motion.

(Motion agreed to.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, these petitioners want to draw our attention to chronic fatigue syndrome which is not only a chronic but a disabling illness with no particular effective cure or treatment.

They point out that it is a complex illness particularly debilitating and often prevents employment and normal day activities. They request from the government and the health authorities recognition of its severity, extended public health response, more research, a co-operative approach among the

major players to finding appropriate treatments, more education to increase awareness of the seriousness of this illness, and for each province one CFSME assessment diagnostic study and treatment centre so that this particular illness can be dealt with appropriately.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to present three petitions on behalf of my constituents, the first one asking that the human rights code not be amended to include sexual orientation; the second asking that Parliament ensure the enforcement of the present Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicides; and the third asking Parliament to act to extend protection to the unborn child.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am tabling today a petition which calls upon the government to ban the importation, distribution, manufacture and sale of killer cards in Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions, both from constituents in my riding.

In the first one petitioners are asking the government to maintain the present exemption on the excise portion of ethanol for a decade, 10 years, to allow this industry to establish itself.

We think the ethanol industry certainly in eastern Ontario would make a great contribution to the farm industry.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Madam Speaker, my second petition is from citizens in my riding from places like Brockville, Maitland, Spencerville and Prescott petitioning against the importation and sale of killer cards. They applaud in this petition the action already taken by the Minister of National Revenue in announcing that his officials would seize shipments at the border.

One paragraph describes it quite well. It says: " We abhor crimes of violence against persons and we believe that killer trading cards offer nothing positive for children or adults to admire or emulate but rather contribute to violence".

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents in Calgary Northeast who wish to draw the following to the attention of members in this House.

Whereas the majority of Canadians are law-abiding citizens who respect the law, whereas the majority of Canadians respect the sanctity of human life, and whereas the majority of Canadians believe that physicians in Canada should be working to save lives and not to end them, therefore the petitioners state first, that Parliament ensure that the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously; and, second, that parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding and abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

I strongly support not only the content of the petition but also the efforts of those who hold such significant values and desire to see these values upheld.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, under Standing Order 36 I am asked to table yet another petition along with four or five others that have already been tabled from various individuals throughout the country who enjoy the great facilities that we have in Banff National Park in my riding.

The petition reads that the stop work order at Sunshine Village in order to initiate yet another environmental study is an unnecessary cost to taxpayers. Numerous studies and public forums have already been held and expansion was approved by both Liberal and Conservative governments during the past 16 years. Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to allow the expansion at Sunshine Village as previously agreed to without further cost to taxpayers for repetitive environmental studies.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, it is with great honour that I rise today to present this petition asking the government to reform the Young Offenders Act.

This petition which calls for tougher laws for today's youth who commit violent crimes was started in my riding a couple of months ago by Jennifer Schuller and Tammy Carvalho, two grade 10 students at Mount Boucherie senior secondary school in Kelowna, B.C.

Jennifer and Tammy had become so fed up with the way the justice system dealt with their own age group that they took it upon themselves to start a petition to ask their elected representatives to fix the problem.

As their MP I am more than proud to convey their feelings to this House and to the Minister of Justice. Jennifer and Tammy feel as I do, that by making the Young Offenders Act tougher on youths who commit violent crime it will instil a feeling of greater responsibility for one's own actions in our young people.

Jennifer, Tammy and I believe that reforming the act is only part of the solution. We as communities, we in our homes and in our families and in our schools must work together to create an environment in which our young people do not feel the need to act out in a violent manner. We have the responsibility to teach our young people that they have to be prepared to accept the

consequences of their actions. We cannot expect government to solve this problem alone.

Over 4,600 people from my constituency felt that Tammy and Jennifer-

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

The hon. member for Winnipeg St. James.