Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this much discussed motion again today. The member who introduced the motion said in her motion, first of all, that the government should permit members of the House of Commons to fully represent their constituents' views, and so forth.
The motion assumed that members were not doing that, since its purpose was to permit them to do something that was apparently prohibited before. As was pointed out by the hon. member for the Bloc, nothing could be further from the truth. Parliamentarians are here to represent the interests of their constituents. If they already represent their constituents, they need no permission to do so. However, if we dig a little deeper, we see there is something else in this motion which asks the government to permit members to fully represent their constituents' views. If one asks the government, presumably this means a member on the government side, because after all, the Bloc member opposite seldom asks me, in my capacity of Deputy Government Whip, how to vote. Of course this also applies to the hon. member for Mission-Coquitlam, who seldom asks me how to vote on a bill, and I do not expect her to.
So presumably, the hon. member's request was for government members to be allowed to vote freely. I do not see why she did not mention opposition members. Was this an oversight? A few days ago, there was a vote in this House on a proposal for a high-speed train between Montreal and Toronto, if I remember correctly. The Quebec City-Windsor corridor-of course, the train would not be built simultaneously in the entire corridor. No one was suggesting that. The proposal was for building this high-speed train. We on the government side noticed that members of the Bloc Quebecois all voted the same way, that members of the Reform Party all voted the same way, and that members of the Liberal Party, the government members, were the only members to vote on the basis of a free vote. Some were in favour and others were against. So it is clear the motion should have been amended. Members of the government already had the right to vote freely, and they did so on that day.
There were two options: first, amend the motion to allow opposition members to vote freely. After all, members on the government side were already voting freely. Or the motion would be amended to say that we would continue to permit government members to vote freely since they were already doing so. That is when I moved my amendment that government members be able to continue to vote freely.
However, I am always a little worried about members opposite. I really would like Reform Party members to be able to vote freely as well.
How pleasant it would be if Reform members could vote freely as we do in the Liberal caucus. Mr. Speaker, you will understand my concern in that regard because they have not yet had free votes in the Reform Party. The same applies to the Bloc. I only wish that they could vote as freely as we do on the government side.
In any case the Reform Party now says that the motion should be amended so that it would read that the government should continue to increasingly permit free votes. I am not sure how one does that but I am certainly not against it because government members already have that freedom I previously described.
I was hoping that the member for the Reform Party would amend the motion to finally provide for a means by which opposition members could vote freely. That really would have been innovative. That would have made the Reform Party a truly modern parliamentary institution as is the present government.
I guess we will have to wait for that motion to occur some other time. Perhaps I could put a motion on the Order Paper which would read something like this: ``That this House permits the third party to vote freely as does the government''. That would be a good motion. I think my colleague, the member for St. Boniface, would agree that it would be a very progressive thing to do, to permit opposition members to vote as freely as we do on this side of the House.
I heard the discourses of hon. members from the Reform Party and others. There is a statement or at least an insinuation in there to the effect that the rules right now make it such that everything is a matter of confidence. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have already explained, and I have given evidence, how in private members' hour the government side is the only side that votes freely. The opposition maybe some day will come around to it.
On the issue of supply days, members know very well that the report of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of June 18, 1985 already has made that change to the standing orders. It is on pages 106 and 107 and highly commended to the people across the way. It is excellent bedside reading. Members will know, having read it, that at least as it pertains to supply days and opposition days, they are no longer automatically a matter of confidence. That was passed on June 18, 1985.
I know that the Reform Party is not a progressive bunch but it has been nine years. One would think that after nine years even its members would have been aware of the change. It is three days short of nine years, mind you, because this is June 15, 1994. It was passed on June 18, 1985. Perhaps over the next three days, members will become aware of it.
Finally, members of the Reform Party have a misconception that works something like this. Government MPs are coerced to vote for the government and opposition MPs spontaneously all vote the same way without coercion. Of course that is sheer nonsense. Members of the Liberal Party vote similarly on many issues because fundamentally they believe in the same things. Reform members presumably vote similarly because they believe in the same things.
If members across the way, particularly the member from Calgary who is paying close attention to this and I think is getting ready to take copious notes, do not realize this and if the hon. member thinks that government members are somehow coerced into voting in a similar way then surely the argument has to be extended to say he does it too. After all, I understand he is the deputy leader of his party. Therefore he would probably be in a position to dictate to other members of his party.
Members can see that the arguments presented by the members across just do not work. When they say the government members should be voting more freely, they should put a mirror in front of the first desk in the House and look within to see that in their own party they, least of any political party in the House of Commons, have anything that could even be remotely considered a free vote.
On the other hand, we in our party have proven in the past and the voting record of the House would demonstrate that we have voted freely on the government side. Such has not happened either in the Reform nor in the Bloc Quebecois.
I am not trying to defend the Bloc. That is the last thing I would ever do, as most members know, but at least they do not pretend they are doing otherwise. The member has given an excellent discourse on how he believes the constitutional conventions have worked traditionally and how a party stands as a unit and how it works that way.
Of course I think he took this assumption a little further than it should be taken, but in any event, at least he did not claim to go against the party line. But when I hear the Reform Party, for instance, that wants to set rules for others which the party itself is not prepared to follow, I say: Let us not get carried away!
Hon. members opposite know perfectly well that Liberal members in this House were elected with an excellent prime minister and a red book we are now busy implementing. We intend to offer the people of Canada good government, while exercising the freedom I just described in the last few minutes.
I intend to indicate to this House that as far as I am concerned, I will support the motion on the amendment to the amendment as moved by the hon. member for Mission-Coquitlam.