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House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vice-chair.

Topics

The Middle EastRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

[Editor's Note: The House stood in silence.]

The Middle EastRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, in consideration of these very important matters, as I indicated in my statement, I would like to move a motion with the unanimous consent of the House which would express the point of view of this House concerning the events in Israel. We have not reached motions yet but considering the timing I would ask for consent to do that.

The Middle EastRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The minister is quite correct, we have not reached motions yet. Is there unanimous consent to proceed with the matter?

The Middle EastRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The Middle EastRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the members of the House for their courtesy and response. I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion to be moved and adopted without debate:

That Canada strongly condemns repeated acts of terrorism against the people of Israel, and that the Government of Canada and the people of Canada make every effort to ensure that the enemies of the peace process will not prevail.

(Motion agreed to.)

Standards Council Of Canada ActRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-4, an act to amend the Standards Council of Canada Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Bankruptcy And Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

March 4th, 1996 / 3:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

moved for leave to introduce the bill entitled: "An act to amend the

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Income Tax Act".

(Motion deemed agreed to, bill read the first time and ordered to be printed.)

Yukon Quartz Mining ActRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-6, an act to amend the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Constitution Act, 1996Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-213, an act entitled the Constitution Act, 1996 (balanced budget and spending limit).

Mr. Speaker, the Parliament of Canada is limited in its freedom to pass legislation by the charter of rights and freedoms.

The private member bill I am introducing today is designed to limit parliamentarians in their ability to run budget deficits, which in effect provide benefits for voters today at the expense of unborn generations who have no vote and representation in today's Parliament.

The record shows that Parliament has been totally irresponsible in its disregard of the interests of future generations. My bill will make it responsible by prohibiting deficits, limiting the growth of spending and imposing fines on MPs who vote for deficit budgets and excessive spending growth.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Program Cost Declaration ActRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-214, an act to provide for improved information on the cost of proposed government programs.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to reintroduce my bill dealing with government financing.

Members of the House are often required to vote on various pieces of legislation. It occurs to me that quite often members of Parliament and the general public have no idea of exactly what the cost will be or its future impact on taxpayers.

The bill would require that prior to all legislation being voted on that it be properly costed and the costing be attested to by the Governor General. I believe if we had had this type of legislation in the past we would not have the debt and deficit problems which now exist.

I am pleased to introduce the bill which will provide an awareness and a better focus among parliamentarians on some of the debt and deficit problems we have.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Taxpayers Bill Of RightsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-215, an act to appoint a taxation ombudsman and to amend the Income Tax Act to establish certain rights of taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, it pleases me once again to reintroduce my private members' bill which I have entitled a taxpayers bill of rights. Basically the bill would provide for an ombudsman who would act as an adjudicator between taxpayers and the government.

Revenue Canada has become more and more desirous of increased revenues from taxpayers. It has used some of its authoritative mechanisms to, I believe, infringe on the civil liberties of Canadians to the extent of unnecessary seizures and other onerous acts.

This bill will protect widowers and widows from having to sell their properties in restitution of back taxes or taxpayers from having to relinquish their homes. It also provides a window of opportunity for restitution and compensation for wrongful acts by Revenue Canada. It provides for $50,000 compensation for wrongful acts by Revenue Canada on the taxpayers of Canada.

The United States and the United Kingdom have similar acts. It is long overdue here in Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Broadcasting ActRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-216, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act (broadcasting policy).

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill to amend the Broadcasting Act. As more players enter the marketplace to provide television programming services to Canadians, it is necessary that the CRTC understand that the consumer's interest is paramount.

To this end I am introducing this bill which will amend the broadcast policy section of the Broadcasting Act to direct the CRTC never again to permit negative option billing or other such practices.

Clearly the potential for this still exists, but in the interests of Canadian consumers the bill will level the playing field between supplier and consumer of services, something over which Canadians expressed strong opinions last year during the consumer revolt against cable companies.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-217, entitled: "An act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of witnesses)".

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling today this bill to amend the Criminal Code so that every person who testifies in proceedings relating to a sexual offence or assault, or in which the offender allegedly used, attempted to use or threatened to use violence, is afforded the same protection as witnesses under 14 years of age are currently afforded under the Criminal Code.

During this kind of proceedings, the accused will not be able to question the victim. In such cases, the judge will appoint counsel to conduct the cross-examination.

(Motion deemed agreed to, bill read the first time and ordered to be printed.)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-218, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Young Offenders Act (capital punishment).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to impose the death penalty on adults convicted of first degree murder. Canadians are demanding fundamental changes to our criminal justice system, and almost 70 per cent have called for the reinstatement of capital punishment.

The bill provides additional safeguards against miscarriages of justice by allowing questions of both fact and law to be considered throughout the appeals process. Evidence for whether capital punishment is a deterrent for other murderers is not conclusive, but at least criminals guilty of premeditated first degree murder will not be back on the streets to kill again.

Too many Canadians have died at the hands of violent criminals who show no remorse for the victims of their crimes. These people will never be rehabilitated, no matter how long they stay in prison.

The bill also addresses the growing public concern over light sentences for violent young offenders. It calls for a range of stiffer minimum penalties for youth convicted of first degree murder.

I recommend that the government allow a free vote on the bill and encourage all members to seek actively the views of their constituents on this important issue.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Canada Labour CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Reform

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-219, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (severance pay).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to remove from the Canada Labour Code the provision that denies severance pay to employees who at the time they are terminated from employment are entitled to a pension under certain plans or legislation.

Currently, no matter how inadequate a pension may be, it deprives an employee of the right to severance pay. Passage of the bill would end an injustice and would end the enshrinement of age discrimination in the Canada Labour Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Energy Price CommissionRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-220, an act respecting the Energy Price Commission.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to introduce the bill respecting the energy price commission. The bill responds to the concerns and complaints of millions of Canadians about unfair gas pricing, unjustifiable price increases for gasoline and government tax hikes on gasoline.

The bill establishes an energy price commission to regulate wholesale and retail prices of gasoline. The purpose of price regulation is to avoid unreasonable increases that affect the cost of living, agricultural production costs and depressed business activity.

The bill will facilitate reasonable consistency in prices from province to province, allowing for production and distribution costs. The regulation further minimizes the risk of collusion in pricing and prevents dominant suppliers from setting unreasonable prices.

The bill also links the issue of price control to competition. Any investigation of an alleged offence under the Competition Act that is related to gasoline pricing is remitted by the Competition Tribunal to the commission for investigation and a report to the tribunal before it makes a determination or order on the matter.

Every one penny increase in gasoline takes about $375 million out of the economy. This commission will make sure the money is either justified or not.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Competition ActRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Middlesex, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-221, an act to amend the Competition Act (illegal trade practices).

Mr. Speaker, the bill would amend the Competition Act by creating an offence for manufacturers and distributors of motor vehicles and farm equipment to engage in certain marketing practices with their dealers. In most cases franchise agreements provide that a dealer shall not carry any other line or "dual" without the written permission of the manufacturer. In practice that permission is rarely forthcoming.

The consequences of this restrictive arrangement are that the dealer's investment in one line of motor vehicles or farm equipment may substantially exceed the investment actually required to efficiently supply the sales and servicing demands faced by a particular dealer in his or her market.

By allowing the dealer to offer one or more new lines of new motor vehicles or farm equipment I believe the bill would produce two positive results. First, the investment of the dealer would be utilized more efficiently and effectively and, second, the public in the dealer's market would be better served.

I urge all members to support the bill for the benefit of Canada's business community.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on Friday, March 1, be concurred in.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the motion before us is a debatable motion and therefore I would like to offer the following in debate.

If adopted by the House, the motion would establish the membership of the standing joint committee of the House. The Reform Party does not oppose the membership of any of the committees, but we do oppose the way the committees have been run over the first session of the 35th Parliament.

We have every reason to believe that there is nothing likely to change in this regard during the second session. The main question we are asking here is why this love-in between the Liberal benches and the Bloc Quebecois. We cannot answer that question. That is why we have taken the route to have a debate on the matter to expose some of the problems we see.

This situation is particular galling when it comes to the public accounts committee of the House which can be chaired and is chaired by a member of the opposition. In spite of our efforts we have found that the Liberal benches have deliberately contrived to have that chair taken by the Bloc Quebecois.

We have nothing against the individual members of the Bloc Quebecois. They are competent, professional people. What we have against it is that they are separatists. They want to divorce Quebec from Canada and we as federalists say this is wrong. It is wrong for the government benches to be saying yes, let they have all the vice-chairs, particularly the chair of the public accounts committee.

This is being done, led by the chief government whip, in spite of some of the quotes from the Prime Minister. In January 1994 he said: "I know very well that if members of the official opposition keep talking about separation and constitutional problems they are not living up to why they are here".

More recently he also said: "My blood is boiling when I see those separatists in front of me because I fought them all my life". The Globe and Mail quotes the Prime Minister as admitting that he would rather have the Reform Party leader as his official opponent. It was one of the few times that the Prime Minister has been so publicly clear about his displeasure over the powerful separatist role in Parliament. The words of the Prime Minister obviously do not square with the actions of his party, led by the chief government whip.

During the first session we attempted to bring these concerns to the attention of the House through various points of order. Each time our concerns fell on deaf ears. The Speaker's refusal to entertain our points of order has left us in a catch 22.

When we raised questions about the election of committee chairs and vice-chairs at the committee, we were told the Liberals were simply backing the Bloc because it was tradition. We have then been summarily dismissed by the Liberal majority. This leaves us with no choice but to take the issue up as points of order in the House. Having done that, they have all been summarily dismissed to date. We have been on this merry-go-round for two years and our members are frustrated. One can tell by the look on their faces that they have had it.

It is important for me to clarify once again that this frustration is not personal but is professional. Reform members are frustrated not for themselves but for the vast majority of Canadians who support a united country yet cannot have their views adequately represented in the committee hierarchy because of the persistent, unexplainable love-in between the government and the Bloc Quebecois.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member raised an issue which is completely contradictory to the ruling of the Chair with regard to the position of the official opposition. Given the ruling by the Chair as to who constitutes the official opposition, the rules of procedure and the House rules clearly state the provisions with regard to chairs and vice-chairs of committees. The member clearly is arguing a matter which is challenging the ruling of the Chair and contrary to the standing orders.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

With great respect to the member for Mississauga South, I think the matter he is raising is one of debate. However, when the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan uses words like "summarily dismissed" it seems they are a veiled reflection that the Chair did not rule carefully on the matter. I ask him to avoid terms in further remarks that suggest the Chair was not doing its job.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

The summary dismissal I was talking of was on the part of the government benches and not of the Chair. Incidentally it may be clear that I simply do not accept the last argument put forward either.

From day one of the 35th Parliament the Liberals have displayed a total lack of regard for the legitimate election process by blindly backing the Bloc candidates while under the watchful eye of the government whip. In election after election of committees we have seen Liberals dismiss qualified Reform candidates. This trend has continued into the second session.

For example, on February 29th the procedure and House affairs committee held its organizational meeting for the purpose of electing a chair and two vice-chairs. At that meeting my Reform colleagues and I again attempted to secure the opposition vice-chair position. During the election process last week not one Liberal member attempted to determine which candidate was best

qualified for the post. There were no questions about the candidates background or character, only the same tired arguments we have heard for more than two years.

The main argument put forward by the Liberal whip in defence of his unabashed support of separatists over federalists is one of tradition. According to the chief government whip it is parliamentary tradition for the opposition vice-chair to be filled by a member from the official opposition. To hear the government whip argue this point one would think the practice of electing an opposition vice-chair goes back hundreds of years. This is simply not the case.

Standing Order 106(2) governs the election process and in part states:

Each standing or special committee shall elect a Chairman and two Vice-Chairmen, of whom two shall be Members of the government party and the third a Member in opposition to the government.

No reference to official opposition; simply opposition. This standing order came into effect only in May of 1991, not five years ago. Later that month the committees were established and held elections for chairs and vice-chairs. During those elections a member of the NDP, the third party in the House at that time, was elected the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons. A reading from the minutes of that meeting of May 29, 1991 will help illustrate my contention that this position is not reserved for the official opposition. Following the election of Dr. Bruce Halliday to the chair he stated:

I believe the new standing orders call for two Vice-Chairmen, one of whom shall be from an opposition party.

Notice the chair referred to an opposition party, not the official opposition.

I will quote from the same chair moments later: "We need a second vice-chairman who should be somebody from one of the opposition parties". The minutes of that meeting then indicate the member for Beaches-Woodbine, a representative from the third party, the NDP, was elected opposition vice-chair.

The minutes of this meeting clearly counter Liberal arguments. They demonstrate a precedent and show this practice has been in effect only since May of 1991. Further research shows that since this standing order was adopted in the third and last session of the 34th Parliament there was only one round of elections. That is because the committee chair and vice-chair appointments from the initial election of May 1991 were continued until the dissolution of that Parliament through a motion adopted by the House on September 21, 1992. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines tradition as a custom, opinion or belief handed down to posterity; an established practice or custom. Given the evidence I have just laid out it is clear the Liberal claim of tradition is faulty at best. The only tradition is the one the Liberals are creating and have been creating these last couple of years, and it is a dangerous one.

I also believe it is important for unity minded Canadians to know which Liberals are supporting separatists over federalists. We will continue to keep count. At the meeting of procedure and House affairs last week, which I referred to earlier in my speech, the following government members rejected a federalist in favour of a separatists: the members for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Mississauga West, Kingston and the Islands, Ottawa Centre, Ottawa-Vanier, Ottawa West and Edmonton North. So listen in, Canadian public, to your members who are supporting a separatist vice-chair.

I will have to throw in another little bit to illustrate some of the intrigue that goes on in committees when they are electing chairs. Committees are masters of their own fate. For example, their members can agree to a secret ballot. We have proposed secret ballots in these committees to give the Liberal backbenchers who might be inclined to support a Reform vice-chair a chance to vote without incurring the wrath of their whip or their leader.

On every occasion we have proposed a secret ballot it has been rejected and the whip has put his firm hand on the Liberals saying no secret ballot.

What we are talking about is democracy, our ability as an opposition party to function properly within the committees of the House. We are being frustrated in them and we resent it.

I move:

That the motion before the House proposed by the government be amended by deleting all the words after the words "March 1, 1996" and substituting the following: "be not now concurred in, but that it be recommended to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs".

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion is receivable.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to make a few comments. Let us go back to the beginning of this Parliament, after the election held on October 25, 1993, because some discussions took place between the parties at that time.

I want to tell you about two statements that were made back then. One was to the effect that the Bloc Quebecois was coming to Ottawa to impede the proceedings of Parliament. However, as we have seen for a little over two years now, those who are guilty of filibustering are not Bloc members, but Reformers.

Since the very beginning, we have complied, rather closely I would say, with British parliamentary tradition. To be sure, our views differ from those of the Liberal Party. However, we agree to play by the rules. This is obvious to me, and I should point out that Quebec's National Assembly, which is the oldest parliament in

America, agreed to follow the same rules as the British Parliament as early as 1791.

I also want to say that I participated in the negotiations that took place between the parties to bring some changes in this House. We tried to settle the issues of office allocation, and Heaven knows how long that took, House agenda, speaking order in the House, as well as committee membership. At that time, the Bloc Quebecois showed that it was very open-minded and said: "Yes, we are prepared to give up a number of vice-chair positions". The Reform Party told us: "We want to provide the chairperson for the public accounts committee and the vice-chairpersons for finance, foreign affairs, national defence, agriculture and trade. Period. We will not accept anything else". How about some apple turnover with that?

This proposal made no sense. And with its "we take that or nothing" position, the Reform Party ended up with nothing, because it did not know how to negotiate.

Now, we are told about a love affair between the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. Those who see a love story between the members opposite and the Bloc Quebecois certainly do not follow current politics very closely. Sure, we respect each other, but our views and our goals are certainly different. The only such attempt took place between the hon. member for Sherbrooke and the Reform Party.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Fernand Robichaud Liberal Beauséjour, NB

It was not consummated.