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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.

Topics

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe there is an elementary rule in this House that the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the assistant deputy speakers are people who must remain neutral, and I think it is really too bad that the hon. member opposite should question our ability to be logical and consistent as a servant of this House, referring of course to our position on the Constitution.

I find it rather difficult to understand this attitude, and I would like to give the hon. member the assurance that as parliamentarians, members of the official opposition have exercised their duties with a great deal of professionalism, and I am convinced that one of our members will be perfectly able to take on the role of deputy speaker of the House, although this person is as firm a sovereignist as I am.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

3:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, when we listen to the arguments put forward by the Liberal Party in the debate on this motion, we find that the arrogance sometimes comes out which we should not have in the House. I refer to the comments by the member for Fundy-Royal who said that we should not be attacking the process of appointing this particular person. Surely when motions are made in the House we are entitled to debate them. For them to even insinuate that we should not be debating a motion I find rather offensive to the democratic process.

He went on to say that we should not be using up House time. Again, I find it rather offensive that he would be opposed to using House time to debate a motion.

I would like to quote from the annotated Standing Orders of the House of Commons, page 19, regarding precedents for this: "The members appointed to the position of Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Assistant Deputy Chairman have almost always come from the government side of the House. The only exceptions came in the 13th, 29th and 31st Parliaments when in each case an opposition member was appointed as Chairman".

It does not say a member of the official opposition. It just says an opposition member was appointed as chairman. There is real precedence for the point we are trying to make.

I would also like to quote from the Liberal red book that has been waved in our faces so often over the last three years. Let me quote from Reviving Parliamentary Democracy; the Liberal Plan for House of Commons and Electoral Reform.

It states:

Mounting criticism of the House of Commons and its proceedings reflects the frustration of citizens and parliamentarians alike with the continuing failure of Parliament to address effectively the problems that face us.

Canadians, including those who are elected to serve in Parliament, expect the House of Commons not merely to discuss openly the problems of the nation, but also to advance solutions. They expect the Commons to explore Canada's problems rationally and to establish policies for resolving them. These expectations are not being met.

The House of Commons must take immediate steps both to enable itself to do what it is supposed to do and to be seen to be doing it.

For the member for Fundy Royal to say that in three years they have fulfilled 78 per cent so give them two more makes a mockery of the red book where it states that the House must take immediate steps.

Let us again talk about the red book's statement concerning familiarity with Parliament. Let me quote the Liberal red book:

In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an effort to reduce the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is from the government party, two of the junior Chair officers should be from the opposition, so that the four presiding officer positions are shared equally by government and opposition.

I would again like to point out that in that quote there was nothing about official opposition, just opposition. If I may go on to quote again:

One of the most significant results of the McGrath round of procedural reforms was the decision that the Speaker should be elected by secret ballot by all members. This has gone a long way toward assuring members of the independence of the presiding officer.

The three deputy Speakers, however, remain in effect government appointees. As a consequence, when one of the junior officers is in the Chair, his or her independence and authority is less well established. Their authority would be greatly enhanced and the non-partisan nature of the Chair greatly augmented if the British practice of alternating the Chair positions between government and opposition were adopted. Thus, if the Speaker were from the government party, the Deputy Speaker would be from the opposition, the next officer from the government and so forth.

The red book talks about electing the Speaker. You, Mr. Speaker, have done a marvellous job in the independence and integrity that you have upheld so well in this House. We would like to see that your colleagues in the Chair would enjoy the same independence and integrity without being tainted by being appointed by the government shall we say.

It was for that very point the Liberal red book promise was to alternate Speakers by secret ballot, next from the opposition, then back to government and so forth, simple, and it said it should be done immediately. Here we are three years later and the opportunity has presented itself today.

By the looks of it we are going to have division on this appointment which is unfortunate because the process that is being proposed is flawed and the process that is being used flies in direct opposition with what the Liberals proposed at election time. I would suggest to the member for Kingston and the Islands that should the amendment lose and we vote on this particular position that he seriously consider whether he does enjoy the confidence of the House.

This is unfortunate because he does have the qualifications and as an individual member of this House he enjoys an excellent reputation. However, if there is division in putting him in the Chair, then we have concerns about the perception of integrity, impartiality and independence if this is forced upon us. The perception is important if we are to ensure the integrity of this House. That is why I would think that the member for Kingston and the Islands would seriously consider whether he does enjoy the confidence of the House in the chair's position if he were voted in.

That is why the Liberal government should acknowledge the policy it wanted to introduce immediately and should support a nominee from this side of the House, which is the motion before us right now. It would ensure that its promise is upheld.

The person we have nominated, the hon. member for Mission-Coquitlam, has integrity, has a long experience of public service, perhaps not all of it in this House. She is a person of competence. While she may not have had years of experience here, I am quite sure there have been others who have had the privilege of sitting in the Chair as having been appointed to that position who have not had years of experience in this House and they have performed quite adequately. Therefore I have no fear whatsoever in saying that the member for Mission-Coquitlam would perform admirably in the Chair as well.

I suggest that the government seriously consider now that there is opposition to its nominee, that its proposal which was supposed to be implemented immediately can be implemented now. I am quite sure there would be no problems with the appointment of the hon. member for Mission-Coquitlam.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's intervention and he certainly put his points across in a very clear manner. My comments deal with some comments that were made during this debate.

Earlier the hon. member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore was heckling our hon. whip when he was trying to speak. She was asking which page of the red book we were referring to. Obviously for someone who ran on that red book and the promises contained therein, I would have expected that she would have known that we were actually referring to an appendix to the red book, a report that was appended to the red book.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

You always have to find someone to attack.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

My hon. colleague referred to the actual committee report.

The hon. member is insistent on heckling still. We are going to try to figure out at some point if she actually does know what is contained in the red book which she ran on but perhaps that will have to be on another day.

At this point it is very clear from the intervention made by my hon. colleague what we were referring to. It actually is a promise, much to the consternation of Liberal members, another broken promise.

I also refer to a comment made by the hon. member for Mississauga South. The only defence he could come up with for this appointment was that somehow the Liberal members who put forward the report that suggested the two deputy speaker positions should be from the opposition, that somehow that was done before the election. There were such astounding results in the election with the election of Bloc Quebecois members as well as Reform Party of Canada members that somehow it negates the commitment made in the red book to have the two deputy speaker positions actually filled from the opposition. He was looking for some little avenue that he could use to get out of the commitment made in the red book.

I wonder if my hon. colleague would like to comment on that. The only excuse the government can use is so pathetically weak: that we simply cannot allow a separatist member to be a deputy speaker. It is pretty pathetic to have to use that as an excuse for breaking a promise.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the comment by my hon. colleague.

The Liberal government in the red book did not give any qualification regarding their point number 10, the independence of the Chair. There was no qualification in the fact that it said: "The House of Commons must take immediate steps both to enable itself to do what it is supposed to do and to be seen to be doing it".

That was before the election. That was the policy that those people ran on. The Canadian people elected them on this and their other policy of jobs, jobs, jobs which was trashed along the way as well.

Regardless of the fact that we ended up with an official opposition who are separatists and of course we felt there was no way that the separatists should have been the official opposition. Again, this government had the right to choose after the election. It could quite easily have chosen a party that was represented in five provinces, that had 2.5 million votes and ran candidates in practically every province in the country versus a provincial party that only was represented in one province and that wants to break up this country. However, the government appointed that party as the official opposition.

That aside, there was no qualification. There was nothing said in the election that the government would break a promise under certain conditions. The government was quite emphatic that this red book is the plan. This past weekend the Prime Minister was waving the results of the plan and talking of 78 per cent accomplishment.

This is one promise that the Liberals said they were going to implement right away after the election. They had an opportunity to implement it right away after the election when the Speaker and the deputies were initially appointed. If I may be so bold, the government had an opportunity to fulfil their election promise when you, Madam Speaker, received the appointment to the Chair.

Now we have the same debate once again and once again the government is going to break the promise that it said it would introduce immediately. That is why my colleague is upset. That is why the people in this House are upset. That is why unfortunately we have got partisanship on this motion. It is quite unfortunate.

The independence of the Chair is fundamental to the governance of this House. That is why, if the subamendment is defeated and the member for Mission-Coquitlam does not take the position and the main motion is then debated and voted upon, I would hope that the member for Kingston and the Islands would withdraw his nomination.

We do want to ensure the integrity of the Chair, which you occupy, Madam Speaker. To quote from pages 18 and 19 of the Annotated Standing Orders:

The names put forward have met with opposition only on rare occasions. In 1911, the choice of Mr. Blondin, a Quebec nationalist, as chairman, was hotly debated-

It was suggested again today that a member from the Bloc would be hotly debated too. It goes on further:

-while in 1918, one member objected to the appointment of Mr. Boivin, a Quebec member who had opposed conscription. On only one occasion however, in 1962, was a motion to appoint a chairman ever brought to a recorded vote. In fact, in most cases the appointment passed with only a few laudatory comments about the nominee's special capacities for the post.

We have had laudatory comments about the member for Kingston and the Islands which I would support as well.

The point is partisanship, because the government has abused the process which has entered into the debate. The principle has not been upheld. Democracy has not been upheld. The policies on which they were elected have not been upheld. That is why we should have new nominees or we should elect the member for Mission-Coquitlam.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Madam Speaker, would the hon. member for St. Albert comment on a comment made by the hon. member for Fundy-Royal who said we are wasting the time of the House by debating this very clear matter of principle.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, the point is this House debates democracy. We are here to uphold democracy, to talk about principle and to challenge the government's point of view. For the member to stand up and say we are wasting the House's time

talking about something this important is an affront to everyone who sits in this House.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. After consultation with the representatives of the other parties in this House, I have the unanimous consent of the House for the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans to table the official report by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Do we have unanimous consent?

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The HouseOral Question Period

October 28th, 1996 / 4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank members of the House for their unanimous consent.

As chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I have the honour to present the third report of this committee.

This report deals with the famous question of what was called family trusts, in which the committee examined Chapter I of the auditor general's report of May 1996. This report reflects the opinion of the Liberal majority within the committee, and includes dissenting opinions by the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party, as well as a supplementary opinion by the Liberal member for Brome-Missisquoi.

In closing, I would like to say that, in my capacity as a member of the Bloc Quebecois, I subscribe to the dissident minority report by the members of the Bloc Quebecois, particularly the following recommendation: that a special commission of inquiry independent of the government be struck, with the mandate of fully investigating all of the events surrounding the decision of December 23, 1991, and the subsequent use of this tax loophole by other rich Canadian families.

In closing, pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee is asking the government to table a comprehensive response to the report.

Committees Of The HouseOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, if the House gives its consent I move that the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be modified as follows: Bob Kilger for Don Boudria.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, I see the humour in this situation in listening to members of the third party, listening to hot air coming once again into this Chamber.

We are talking about promises and I recall the leader of the third party rising in this House and calling this Parliament one without precedent. He called the make-up of this Parliament one without precedent. They told us they were going to do things differently. Canadians and members of this House know that they broke that pledge. It is reflected in the opinions of Canadians when they are asked what they think of members of the third party.

If there were intellectual honesty in the motion proposed by members of the third party they would support a member of the official opposition's filling the position. That is not what they proposed. They proposed that one of their members should fill the position of deputy chair.

I would like to respond to the hon. member for St. Albert. We had an election for the chair of the public accounts committee. That position has by tradition gone to a member of the official opposition. I recall how vigorously they opposed and filibustered to stop that appointment from taking place. Now they are standing in the House talking about what they would like to be done. They are not dealing with reality.

Let me repeat that if there were intellectual honesty in their position they would be talking about a member of the official opposition's filling the position.

There is no question that the member for Kingston and the Islands is an excellent choice. He will serve the House well. He will serve Canadians well. He will carry out his duties in a very judicial fashion.

Clearly there is no question that if members of the third party had any intellectual honesty they would not have been self-serving and would have suggested that the position be filled by a member of the official opposition.

Canadians know that those members have been lusting after the status of official opposition. They have had opportunities. They have campaigned across the country in byelections. They said to the electorate in different constituencies: "We are the Reform Party. Elect us to Parliament so we can become the official opposition". They have gone to the electorate across the country time and time again. The electorate has said no, and with good reason. It is because of the string of broken promises, promises they did not fulfill when they got to the House of Commons. I am

disappointed, along with many other Canadians, that they have not fulfilled those promises.

I applaud the nomination of the member for Kingston and the Islands. He will serve the House and Canadians well.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, the member very eloquently talked about keeping promises. It is very interesting that when you are in the government you are able to fulfill your promises, if you will.

It would be wonderful if the member would listen to the question, as he is often not even in his seat as the commentary is unfolding. Would the member support the Reform Party motion if we called for a member of the official opposition to occupy the position of deputy chair?

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for agreeing with me about the hypocrisy of their party's position in putting forth one of their own members and then making the kinds of arguments they have.

As I said before, the motion to appoint the member for Kingston and the Island is an excellent motion. I said that he would serve the House and Canadians well.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:25 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I noted that the hon. member for Waterloo declined to answer the question from my colleague from Macleod. He did not make any attempt to actually answer the question, which does not surprise me.

This member referred several times to remarks about intellectual honesty in referring to the Reform Party of Canada. Somehow he feels that because we put forward the name of one of our members to occupy the position it means that we are dishonest and that we should put forward a name of a member from the Bloc Quebecois.

If he had taken the opportunity to actually read the appendix to his own Liberal red book at some time over the last four years, he would have found that this proposal put forward by four members of the Liberal caucus, one of whom is the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, states: "In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an effort to reduce the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is from the government party two of the junior chair officers should be from the opposition so that the four presiding officer positions are shared equally by government and opposition". That is the promise, the recommendation, the proposal.

We note that it does not say official opposition. It says opposition. The last time I checked we remain an opposition party, perhaps for another year. However, at the whim of the Prime Minister we will be the government.

The hon. member also said that he was appalled that the Reform Party said it was going to do things differently when it ran for Parliament. He obviously does not feel that opting out of the MP pension plan is different. I would ask the hon. member for Waterloo if he opted out of the pension plan. That is where he could have shown some leadership to his constituents of Waterloo on an important issue. However, he has declined to do so.

We could go on like this all evening. I would argue quite strongly that we have kept our commitment and we are doing things differently. One thing we are doing differently is standing on principle, which is something unknown to Liberal members of the House.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, there were a number of questions asked. I will respond to four of them.

The member said I did not answer the question. I made an observation on intellectual dishonesty. I said that is what was coming from the Reform Party by way of what it proposes to accomplish. That was an observation and I make that same observation again.

I have already said that I support the nomination of the member for Kingston and the Islands.

Second, he made reference to the appendix of the red book.

Let me commend the hon. member for reading the indexes of the red book. I presume he must have read the main body of the red book also where we talk about not pitting region against region, not pitting Canadians against Canadians. We take a national perspective, recognizing that this country has diversity in its population, diversity in its culture, diversity in its make-up. The member should go back and re-read that part of the red book. Once he finishes that part of it, we will talk about its appendices.

The other issue that he talked about is opting out of MPs' pensions. A promise was made in the red book. That promise was we would set an age limit before members of Parliament could collect a pension. We went beyond that and lowered the payouts in the pension plan. We went beyond what we said in the red book. Those members from the third party should be applauding the government because we did what we said we would do. As a matter of fact we went beyond it.

Let me also say that, in terms of fourth issue he raised, the matter of principle, on this side of the House we do not need lessons in principle from members of the third party. They would pit regions against regions, Canadians against Canadians. They would do anything to become the official opposition. They stood in the House, aiding and abetting the Bloc during the referendum when, on this side of the House, we were trying to keep this country

together. We do not need lessons from members of the third party on the issue of principle.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:30 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, for the hon. member to suggest that the Reform Party is aiding and abetting the separatists in the House is absolutely ridiculous.

Surely to goodness after three years Canadians understand which party it is in this place that is assisting the separatists, the Bloc Quebecois, to break up the country. It is certainly not the Reform Party of Canada. It is the Liberal Party of Canada.

Every time we turn around in the House, it is supporting the motions of the Bloc. It allows the Bloc to be not only the official opposition-it supports its cause that way-but on every single standing committee in this place, including the standing committee on national defence of Canada.

The Liberals support the separatists to be the alternate chair positions on committees. It is absolutely astounding that the member for Waterloo would stand up and accuse us of aiding and abetting the separatists. It is his party that continues to do this on an ongoing basis day after day.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, I never cease to be amazed by the interpretations of the members of the Reform Party and also how twisted their arguments become. A minute ago, they asked me if I would support a member of the Bloc for the position of deputy speaker. I said in my statement that I support the member for Kingston and the Islands.

I told them that if they were intellectually honest and consistent in their position, they would have nominated a member of the official opposition. Then they ask me if they nominated a member of the official opposition, whether I would support it. I said: "No, I am consistent, I support the member for Kingston and the Islands". The opposition members then turn around and accuse me of supporting positions in committees that tradition dictates they hold.

It is not good enough for members of the third party to be lusting for power and lusting to be the official opposition. There is a way to do that. They had the opportunity during the byelections. They have to win those byelections. They have to do that the old fashioned way, by earning it.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, before I begin my comments on this issue, which I think the members on the government side are slowly starting to forget, the member for Waterloo talked about intellectual honesty. If he wanted to be intellectually honest he would have answered the question of my colleague from Macleod when he asked whether the member for Waterloo would or would not support a member from the Bloc Quebecois as a deputy chair. He refused to answer and squirmed around it.

When someone talks about intellectual honesty and expects it, why would that person not simply answer a question yes or no? That was not a question that required a five minute conversation off topic.

The essence of this motion moved by the House leader of the government is the independence of the Chair. The person whose name has been put forward is also a person who has impeccable qualifications, is extremely qualified to sit in the position of a chair and who has worked for years in understanding the standing orders which are the rules of this House that speakers in the chair must apply when rendering decisions.

A lot of times, because of a lot of issues and the partisan nature of politics in this country, there are divisive issues and ideas and people need to have rules. The standing orders are there for us to follow. When we step out of line the Chair must rule.

This individual is the member for Kingston and the Islands. It is his name that was put forward by the House leader of the government. However, the issue is linking the two, the individual himself and the independence of the Chair.

The member for Kingston and the Islands has said that he believes in secret ballots for the election of Speakers because in that way all the members of the House can then enhance the respect and any of the rulings by the Speaker of the House.

Furthermore, the member for Kingston and the Islands was on a committee when in opposition which wrote the Liberal plan for the House of Commons and electoral reform that was titled "Reviving Parliamentary Democracy". The opposition members of that committee were the current Minister of Health, the Minister of Labour, the member for Kingston and the Islands whose name has been put forward to be the deputy chair, and the former party whip, the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell who is now also a cabinet minister of francophonie and intergovernmental affairs. These people have worked hard to earn their positions. They had ideas in opposition and even though politics is part of that sometimes we can find agreement.

In this case the Reform Party agrees with a lot of the democratic reforms that have been put forward by the Liberal members when they were in opposition. They now have an opportunity to do the things they fought for and believed in so hard in opposition.

While in opposition the Liberals said that this House was dysfunctional. They came forward with 18 recommendations, all the way from committees, taxation, new rules for question period so that it would have some meaning. They suggested things like limiting the questions and the answers, telling the government side to answer questions. The joke around here is that this is not answer

period. It is question period, so they do not answer. There are a lot of good ideas in this document.

Reformers are not bringing this forward to put the member for Kingston and the Islands down. It is brought forward to compliment the member for Kingston and the Islands and to say that his ideas and his suggestions, especially this one, have a lot of merit.

He is pushing for the independence of the Chair. That is important. When the battle is heated we do not want any partiality to be a part of the decision of the Chair. Therefore it is very important. The fact that the McGrath round of procedural reforms decided that the Speaker should be elected by secret ballot has gone a long way toward assuring members of the independence of the presiding officer. Here is the important point. We are talking about deputy chairs.

"The three deputy speakers, however, remain in effect government appointees as a consequence. When one of the junior officers is in the Chair his or her independence and authority is less well established. Their authority would be greatly enhanced and the non-partisan nature of the Chair greatly augmented if the British practice of alternating Chair positions between government and opposition were adopted". It does not say official opposition. It says opposition, as my colleague from Prince George-Peace River mentioned.

Thus if the Speaker were from the government party, the Deputy Speaker would be from the opposition, the next officer from the government and so forth, back and forth like that.

This is the principle we believe in. This is a concept that will further and help guarantee the independence of the Chair. The fact that the person who made this recommendation, who signed this proposal, is now the person being put forward it seems to me that we should have an election for that position. We should put his recommendation into practice. Rather than having the deputy chair we should have one member from an opposition party as deputy chair and not all of them from the government side.

This is the government's last opportunity to implement this recommendation, to keep one of its red book promises so that it becomes part of the glowing statistics about which the Prime Minister has been telling us. Now is the opportunity to do this. It is probably the best thing that a politician can do and accomplish in his or her career in politics. It is to bring about systemic change, to bring about changes in the system rather than just changing the faces.

How can people respect politicians and the functions of this House if nothing really changes but only the faces are changed? Here are the very people who are recommending something that we would support given the opportunity to actually make one of the deputy chairs come from the opposition parties and the government does not do it.

I would like to recommend to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands that he now has the opportunity, as my colleague from St. Albert put forward, to say to his government because he authored this, because he is a man of conviction, because he has integrity, this is an opportunity. I know he would like to be in the Chair. I know he would like to have the experience. I know that it would be a great sacrifice on his part. The suggestion is why does he not withdraw his name. Why does he not give a speech on this issue? He has not spoken yet. Why does he not address this issue and say that he believes in that report. To help the Prime Minister keep one more promise why does he not recommend that a name from the opposition be put forward? That is the way to decide this issue.

That would be a way to help the government keep a promise. It would be a way to help restore integrity and honesty to the system of politics. It would be a way for this member to bow out of a very embarrassing situation.

The excuse from the current deputy House leader is that the government has 24 months left to keep its promises. Does that not fly in the face of credibility when everybody knows that there is going to be an election as early as possible in the spring or by June or as late as October of next year? That is not 24 months.

Talk about intellectual honesty which the member for Waterloo so proudly defends. There are a lot of discredited comments coming from the government side.

This is what is wrong with what is happening here. Once again we are continuing the form of patronage which does not take into consideration commitments and principles that the government believed in when in opposition.

The opportunity to change the system which is before the government is also before this individual. There is nothing worse than to see the government side hide behind excuses, to see the government side flip-flop on issues. The list of broken promises is pathetic on its part but a benefit to us.

We are happy and proud of the fact that the government stole a lot of our ideas which are part of our platform. We are proud and happy with the fact that when in opposition the Liberals were against NAFTA and free trade. We told them, we argued and we even had to vote holding our noses for another Conservative government just to get free trade for Canada because their former leader, John Turner, was against it. Now they sing and praise the virtues of it. The very last vote the government had when in opposition was on NAFTA and all the front benches voted against it. All of them voted against it; not one voted for it and now all they do is praise the virtues of it.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:45 p.m.

An hon. member

Hypocrisy.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

That is hypocrisy.

We know about that infamous promise on the GST. The Deputy Prime Minister even quit saying that she had failed to keep her promise. She ran again and got re-elected. It is an admission that the government failed on that promise. But the Prime Minister will not admit that. The Liberals have not got rid of the GST or scrapped the GST.

I do not want to go on talking about broken promises because I could debate that for another two hours. I will spend a little more time on this motion.

The preface of Beauchesne's sixth edition states:

The election of the Speaker-has given the Members their own Speaker in a process that was designed to take the choice of Speaker away from the Prime Minister and give it to the entire House.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The member for Kingston and the Islands as the gander-to-be would not have a problem with this notion. He is a parliamentarian, as I said earlier, and one of the authors of the Liberal report for reviving parliamentary democracy where they promised to elect two of the chair positions from the opposition benches, two of the junior member positions.

This nomination was moved by a cabinet minister, the deputy House leader. A chair officer is not the puppet of the government but an officer of this House. The person sitting in that chair, regardless of party and regardless of stripe, is not working for the government side. The position is to be neutral. The position involves the application to the best of his or her ability the rules of the House which are found in the standing orders, and they are no longer a Liberal member or a Reform member or a Bloc member.

However, we do not have the opportunity to have a Bloc member or a Reform member in the Chair. It is all from that side, which is what we are trying to debate today. We should endorse the recommendations of the Liberals when they were in opposition.

How does it look to have this nomination coming from the government side, from the Prime Minister's office, just like a patronage appointment to some government board, just like a patronage appointment to the Senate where we have had 18 Liberals appointed?

How obvious is it when the Prime Minister appoints someone to the Senate and says: "I will select and I will appoint a person who defends our party". Is the purpose of the Senate, to defend the Liberal government? He admitted that, he said that. That is a paraphrased quote but it is pretty close to what he said.

We want competent people on all the 3,000 boards and quasi-judicial boards. And yes, a lot of those people will be Liberals. There is no question about it. But do they all have to be Liberals? Are there no former Conservatives or Conservative supporters who could serve on one of those 3,000 boards? Are there no people who voted for Reform who could serve on one of those boards?

I agree with the principle of putting those people into positions on boards who have an identification or who have a rapport or who understand the government's intent. I do not have a problem with that. When the Prime Minister says that a lot of people voted for Liberals, so therefore there should be a lot of people on those boards who are Liberal, I agree.

However, at the very same time when he says that, the logic inherent in that is what about those people who did not vote for Liberals who are also competent and who also have the right to run? Therefore the composition should not be 99.9 per cent Liberal and .1 per cent other parties.

They mentioned names like the current president of the CBC and a former Prime Minister who is living in a $3 million mansion in Beverley Hills protecting Canadians down there. They take two or three appointments to lift it to a level of integrity and to say "see, we do pick members from other parties".

This government and this Prime Minister are guilty of duplicity and hypocrisy. I would hate to have to add the member for Kingston and the Islands to that list because he will have to sit with cabinet ministers and make recommendations for democratic reform.

They are in power. They have the right and the opportunity. There are no ifs, ands or buts. Nobody is going to complain. In fact, they have the encouragement and the endorsement of members to do this. There would be unanimous consent to have an opposition member as one of the junior speakers. That would be supported. Will the government do that? I do not think so. Will it keep that promise? I do not think so.

Now that I see my favourite cabinet minister opposite shaking his head, the new minister of defence, saying "you are right, Jim, we are not going to change", I know it will not happen. This man is a man of his word. He is one person who has kept his promises. He is one person who has done what he said he would do. I know that he can hold his head up high as a cabinet minister. I have so much respect for him that if he ever ran for leader, rather than the current finance minister, I might support him.

There is a solution to this problem. I cannot do it in the form of a motion, an amendment or an amendment to an amendment to a motion. I do not want to waste the time of the House in doing that. However, I would like to recommend for the government's consideration after this subamendment is voted on and defeated, after the amendment is voted on and defeated, and before we vote on the motion, that the member for Kingston and the Islands actually request that the government to do this. This is his moment in history. This is his chance to bring about systemic change on principles which I know the Liberals believe in. I do not understand

why they will not follow through with it. It is not something major. It will not shake the earth. It is a step forward.

The recommendation I have is this. Prior to the vote on the final motion, why not allow the two opposition parties to each put forward a name and have an election? We can have an election on the two names put forward by the two opposition parties, one from the Bloc and one from Reform. The House could vote for the junior deputy chair position. It is, after all, a junior position. It is, after all, following the principles of democracy. We want to retain the independence of the Chair.

If we follow the model we used to elect the current Speaker of the House, we are helping to endorse that independence. We are helping to encourage and foster systemic reform and systemic change which is of benefit to everybody. It is an opportunity for the current Minister of Labour, the current Minister of Health, the current Minister for International Co-operation and the Minister responsible for Francophonie, and the member for Kingston and the Islands to hold their heads up high, to boast, to brag and to tell their constituents that they actually brought about a change in the House of Commons which shows that it is independent, that it is fair, that the form of debate we have is healthy and that the Chair is not prejudiced, even though all the appointments after the election of the Speaker are made by the government side.

It is very important for the government to think about what it is doing. This is an opportunity for it to do something correct. It would restore honesty and integrity. It would allow us to help the government keep a promise and to show that it is not always partisan and that sometimes we can work together to bring about positive and constructive change for the good of everybody.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester-trade.

Committee Of The WholeOral Question Period

4:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I found my hon. colleague's comments very enlightening; suggestions for the Liberal government that make a lot of sense.

The Minister of National Defence is agreeing with me that his comments made a lot of good sense. I am sure he is referring specifically to the comments made about himself. I wonder if he would comment further on the intervention that was made earlier today on this very important subject. The debate we are having, as impromptu as it is, cuts to the very essence of why we are in this place.

If we cannot have an independent Chair in this place it begs the question why are we here. What is the purpose if we cannot assure that it is a fair and honest debate and we have Chairs with integrity? Certainly that has been the case in the past, we expect that in the future and we do not question that with regard to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

The hon. member for Calgary Centre put forward a very strong case that perhaps the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands should review his decision to let his name stand for this position in light of being a co-signer and co-author of this report.

As a citizen of this country I have seen too often in the past MPs of the old traditional parties in this country, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, try as hard as they can to bring about systemic, substantive change to the system of government in Canada. We are all aware of them. What we see time and time again is that at some point when their party becomes government those reforms fall by the wayside. They become mere voices in the wilderness crying out for change. Time and time again substantive change simply does not happen.

Contrary to what the hon. member for Fundy-Royal said earlier when he chastised our whip for wasting the time of the House, for wasting taxpayer money, if the government would have elected to consult with opposition members prior to springing this motion on us we would not be in this debate today. It is the government that decided to foist this on us rather than consulting the opposition members. This runs contrary to red book promises of more consultation between all parties in the House of Commons.

Would the hon. member for Calgary Centre take a moment to give us his opinion on whether this is truly a waste of money to be debating this issue in the House today? I feel so strongly about this as a matter of principle. I do not see that we are wasting time. If we cannot debate this type of issue in this place, then anything else we debate is really pointless.