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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

President Of The Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board has made a grave and troubling admission here today.

He told us, when pressed on the issue, that he was aware of an as yet unexecuted confidential sealed search warrant for his ministerial office.

How did the minister know? Who told him? Was he given the heads up on the executed warrant on Liberal Party headquarters as well?

President Of The Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, they themselves mentioned the existence of that search warrant. How can they, after that, comment on it?

The truth is the Conservative Party has been making all kinds of innuendoes, all kinds of false accusations, God knows for what purposes, but the fact is there is somebody under investigation. We know it is Mr. Pierre Corbeil.

There is an investigation that is taking place. I hope the results will be known very soon. Until we know these results, the opposition should be very careful about whose reputation it attacks.

President Of The Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is at stake here is the integrity of this government and this Parliament.

The President of the Treasury Board has admitted spoke to Jacques Roy this morning. Mr. Roy may have told him that he has been questioned by the RCMP, maybe about the fact that he could be the one who gave Mr. Corbeil, currently under investigation, confidential lists of businesses.

Can the President of the Treasury Board confirm that Mr. Roy told him that?

President Of The Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, this Parliament's integrity depends not only on our party's integrity, but also on the integrity of individual members of this House. The integrity of individual members can be questioned when they make unfounded accusations, when they smear reputations, and when they cast innuendos that can destroy people's reputations.

The right thing to do now is to wait for the investigation to run its course. That is what integrity prescribes.

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade. Every billion dollars in new investment creates 45,000 jobs over five years. How does Canada measure up against our competition in attracting foreign investment?

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me thank the hon. member for his question. Our government today received and released an independent KPMG study that shows that when we compare Canada, the United States and five leading European countries, the best cost of doing business anywhere is in this country.

Firms setting up in North America need not look beyond Canada, and this is good news for Canada, which I know hurts the other side.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, early in the summer an Alberta judge called for a crown investigation into the social and economic conditions of the Stony reserve because of the serious problems in his courtroom. The minister of Indian affairs rejected his request because “it wasn't in the tribe's best interest to air the community's dirty laundry”.

Does the minister still believe there should be no investigation into the reserve because of dirty laundry or is it the dirty laundry of her department that she fears will be aired?

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the issues facing the Stony people are of grave concern to me. That is why since taking office as the minister there are three things I have done.

To deal with the present there is a third party, Coopers & Lybrand, that is managing the day to day operations of the First Nation. To deal with the past, a forensic audit is being completed by KPMG, looking at the band's records and the records of my department to ensure things have been managed appropriately.

To deal with the future I am working with the Minister of Health and the province to make sure the programs available to support the Stony people are managed and developed in appropriate ways.

I would ask the hon. member to—

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

Aboriginal PeoplesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

In his report, the auditor general noted serious flaws in health programs for aboriginals. These flaws cost $1 billion, lead to drug abuse and cause serious addiction problems.

The exploitation of aboriginals by health professionals is a problem that has been known for ten years. How can the minister explain to Canadians that his department has not yet found one single solution to this problem?

Aboriginal PeoplesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have been working with aboriginal communities and with my provincial counterparts. We have been working for the past ten years to meet this challenge.

We will continue doing so. By the end of the year, we will have new technologies in place across Canada to help the authorities find instances of drug abuse.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to draw to members' attention the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Viktor Petrovich Orlov, Minister of Natural Resources of the Federation of Russia.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the House leader the nature of government business for the rest of this week and for the week when we reconvene.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will consider a motion to refer to committee before second reading Bill C-9, the marine legislation. This legislation passed the House in the last Parliament.

We will then rise for the Thanksgiving adjournment. I do not propose any other legislation for tomorrow.

On the day we return, October 20, we will consider the international tax treaty legislation that was introduced this morning. Subject to its availability, our next priority would be the bill to modernize the customs tariff which will be based on the notice of ways and means tabled a few days ago.

If there is time available between the tax treaty bill and the customs tariff bill, after completing the latter we will consider Bill C-5, the co-operatives legislation, second reading of Bill C-8, respecting the Yukon, and second reading of Bill C-6, respecting the Mackenzie valley.

Tuesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 23 shall be allotted days.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

October 9th, 1997 / 3 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in regard to the matter of introducing government public bills in the Senate.

My leader raised the issue with you under the provisions of Standing Order 52. It should be noted that since my leader's application for a special debate, a third bill has appeared on the Senate order paper today.

I bring this to your attention at this time, not as a matter of ministerial responsibility and not as a matter of debate, but as a matter of our procedures and practices which only you, Mr. Speaker, can entertain under the guise of privilege. The situation is unique to this Parliament, so I ask that you be patient and consider my arguments carefully.

This situation is unique because three out of the five recognized parties in the House of Commons do not have representation in the other place. The Prime Minister's use of the Senate as the first house to consider his government's legislation is insulting and offensive to the dignity of this elected House. It is also disrespectful to the new political reality of this House and its members.

Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 28, states “Parliament is a court with respect to its own privileges and dignity and the privileges of its members”.

In Erskine May's 21st edition, at page 115, it states that an offence for contempt “may be treated as contempt even though there is no precedent for the offence”.

This is the first time that the Senate will consider government public bills prior to the House at a time when the party representation in the Senate is so out of sync with the wishes of the electorate. While there is clearly no precedent for this situation, we are not precluded from finding that the action of the Prime Minister is in contempt of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I refer you to Beauchesne's citation 3 which describes some elements of the Constitution Act as follows “If the electorate so wishes, the system presupposes an opposition ready and willing to attack the government in an attempt to have its legislation altered or rejected”.

Our system presupposes that the elected members be the real opposition to government legislation. The electorate has elected its government and its opposition. The role of the Senate is for sober second thought and must not be the front line of opposition to ensure government accountability.

Some might argue that the procedure the Prime Minister is using is in order. What they fail to recognize is the changing circumstances that guide our practices. I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 11, which reads “The House is to adjust the interpretation of its precedents and tradition in the light of changing circumstances”.

In conclusion, we claim the right to consider government public bills first. The Prime Minister's conduct in introducing government legislation in the Senate is offensive to the dignity of this elected House, disrespectful to all of its members and is a contempt of this House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a word in support of the question of privilege before the House and to welcome the Reform Party to the feeling we have been having for years. There has always been something out of sync and out of character in the history of the CCF and the NDP in that we have never had representation in the other place, nor did we want it.

It is even more pronounced now that three parties in the House have no representation in the other place. That is the new fact which makes this a very legitimate question of privilege.

The other point I want to make is that we also have a duty in representing our constituents to offer constructive criticism to government bills. Since three parties do not have a voice in the other place, that is very difficult to do at the important initial stage.

I conclude by saying that there is a history of technical bills being introduced in the other place. I believe that practice will now be expedited by the government. Just because those bills have been introduced in the Senate in the past does not make it right. There has been an evolution of thought in the country over the last number of years and people want more input. They want their elected members of Parliament to play a more meaningful role. In view of that fact, we must have evolution in the practices of the House as well.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the same question of privilege, I think you should give positive consideration to the proposed motion because, in our evolving parliamentary system, it is extremely important to give more authority to the elected and less to those who are backward-looking and who do not reflect today's reality.

I think that elected representatives as a whole and the people of Quebec and Canada want above all for decisions on legislation to be the responsibility of the House of Commons and that this be the only way to proceed.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to add to this point of privilege.

It may be a small thing to some people, but normally in the course of our day's Routine Proceedings, bills are routinely brought before the House of Commons, the elected house in this Parliament, for printing and for examination.

The bills which are introduced in the Senate are not introduced that way to this body. We only see them after the fact, after debate of whatever depth and degree that the other place decides. Only then are they brought to this House for consideration.

The standing orders have gone through an evolution since I have been here. For example, on referral after first reading, we have tried to increase the influence of this place and of ordinary members on legislation in committees and otherwise in an attempt to bring the new political reality we are all talking about to bear on the 1990s and into the next millennium.

The practice that is obviously taking place now, which is to short circuit the normal, the average, the common way of introducing bills by sending them off to the Senate to be talked over and agreed to in the old boys club and then brought here only after it is a done deal is an affront to Parliament. I think it is affecting our privileges as the elected body in this Parliament.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if this was not so silly it would be—

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Hon. members across the way have, in fact, tried two methods, each one as unsuccessful as the previous. Today there was a call for an alleged emergency debate on the same issue and now an alleged question of privilege.

There is nothing before the House today on which a question of privilege can be raised. Hon. members will know that any proceeding in the other place is totally out of bounds in terms of raising it in this House. We all know that is the case.

It may well happen some time in the future that the House will receive a message from the other place informing us that it has passed a bill, or a number of bills for that matter, and inviting us to consider those measures. Some of those measures will be sponsored by ministers and set down for consideration under Government Orders.

The standing orders of the House explicitly provide for the introduction of Senate public bills and the subsequent consideration thereof. As a matter of fact, I will read the Projected Order of Business for today. Members I am sure will be familiar with the document. It is not something that happened at some point in our history. It states the following: Tabling of Documents, Statements by Ministers and so on. Just before Motions is First Reading of Senate Public Bills. This is today's Order Paper for the House of Commons. Therefore, under today's standing orders this applies.

All measures will be considered by this House in the same manner, whether they are initiated here and debated in the other place subsequently, or initiated in the other place and debated here subsequently. The alleged argument made by members is that somehow this sequence constitutes a question of privilege.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

What are you afraid of? The fix is in.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, we just heard a remark from someone who I think had better brush up on the rules. Whether a bill is introduced in one House or the other, they are of course debated in both Houses.

It is also a reversal of policy for the Reform Party. I invite hon. members, especially him, to pay attention because in the last parliament and in all parliaments we have had Senate public bills debated in the House.

In the last parliament government Bill S-2 respecting a tax convention, which was very similar to one of the bills presently before the Senate, was passed without any recorded division. In other words members of the Reform Party voted for it.

Today they issued a press release saying that introducing bills is undemocratic, yet they have voted for what they considered to be undemocratic bills.

Government Bill S-9 respecting a tax treaty with the United States was also introduced. There were two divisions on that bill. There were two division bells.

One was on an amendment proposed by a member on this side of the House. It is recorded at page 2020 of the Journals of October 17, 1995 that Reformers thought so highly of the Senate's legislative work they voted against the proposed amendment.

More important, this is against an amendment proposed by a member of the House and in favour of the version proposed by the other place.

As well, on page 2021 of the Journals for that day we see on the motion to concur in the Senate government bill that the Reform Party voted in favour of the bill, once again telling us that the procedure is quite correct.

In the last parliament Reformers were so comfortable with government bills being introduced in the Senate that they specifically voted on them when division bells were rung.

I draw the attention of the Speaker to the October 17, 1995 Journals at page 2022. In that division a number of Reform members voted for the bill: the hon. member for St. Albert, the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill, the hon. member for Macleod, the hon. member for Cariboo—Chilcotin and a number of others.

All these members and a number of others from the Reform Party voted in favour of a division supporting a Senate bill and against an amendment made by a member of the House. They cannot today claim that the Senate procedure is illegitimate when they fought so valiantly in favour of it.

This is not a question of privilege. This is a concocted argument by the Reform Party in a desperate attempt to find some way of getting pubic attention.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have several points that will constitute new information to assist you in making your decision.

The House leader's defence of this practice just given rested on two points. The first one, and he quoted a number of references to support it, is that what happens in the Senate is out of bounds in the House. That notion is completely out of sync with the reality in the country.

What if our constituents want us to make what goes on in the Senate the business of the House? Are we not under an obligation as members to bring that to the House, including the relationship between the House and the Senate? Surely the will of our constituents takes precedence over these earlier precendents he quoted.

The second point is that he made reference to the last parliament and instances in which members of the current opposition received and supported bills that had originated in the Senate. We simply reply to that by saying that was then and this is now. The composition of the House is moving further and further away from the composition of the Senate.

At the last election the composition of the House passed the point where three of the parties, including the official opposition in the House, are not represented at all in that other chamber.

Both of the arguments raised by the House leader are extremely weak. We are simply standing before you, Mr. Speaker, to claim the right to consider government public bills first in this place.