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House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebeckers.

Topics

Points Of Order

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I am now ready to render a ruling on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford on February 2, 1998 concerning Bill S-3, an act to amend the Pension Benefit Standards Act, 1985 and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act.

First of all, I would like to thank the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona, the whip of the official opposition, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House as well as the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni for their helpful contributions in this matter.

In his presentation, the opposition House leader expressed concern about the introduction of public bills in the Senate. He went on to state that Bill S-3, which had been introduced and passed in the Senate and was now on the order paper of the House, should be considered a money bill and that, as such, it should have originated in the House of Commons.

Before proceeding further I would like to make two points of clarification. With regard to the introduction of bills in the Senate, may I respectfully remind members of a ruling I delivered on October 9, 1997, following the question of privilege raised by the same honourable member on this very subject. At that time I indicated that according to our practice, bills may originate in the Senate or in the House.

Second, allow me to make a very small correction to a remark made by the hon. House leader of the official opposition. He reminded the House that Bill S-3 had been originally introduced as Bill C-45 in the previous Parliament. In fact the similar bill from the previous Parliament was Bill C-85 and not Bill C-45.

I will now deal with the substantive procedural issue before the Chair. The hon. member alleged that both bills were essentially the same. Thus, he argued, since a royal recommendation had been attached to Bill C-85, one should also be attached to Bill S-3.

In reply to this argument, the government House leader stated that Bill S-3 does not—and should not—contain a royal recommendation since it is not a money bill.

So-called money bills refer to those bills which raise taxes or bills which appropriate money, whether based on annual supply votes or on bills which authorize statutory expenditures. Bills appropriating public funds must be accompanied by a royal recommendation which establishes “the objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications” as explained in citation 596, page 183 of Beauchesne's sixth edition.

I have carefully examined Bill S-3 and find that there are four components to this legislation, none of which in my opinion either imposes a tax or appropriates money for any purpose.

In the 1987 legislation creating the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions, responsibility for supervising federally regulated private sector pension plans was provided for. It seems fairly evident that the powers of the superintendent would be extended by Bill S-3. It may well be that additional expenditures would be incurred because of those enhanced powers of the superintendent.

Should an increase in resources be necessary as a result of these new powers, the necessary allocation of money would have to be sought by means of an appropriation bill because I was unable to find any provision for money in Bill S-3.

For these reasons I have determined that Bill S-3 does not require a royal recommendation and does not contravene the provisions of Standing Order 80(1). I rule therefore that Bill S-3 is properly before the House.

In making this or any other ruling, the Chair examines the arguments raised in light of the standing orders of the House and our precedents and practice developed over time. Although I may not always come to the same conclusion as a member raising a point of order, I share with all of you the common objective of having deliberations in this House unfold in a fair and orderly fashion according to our rules and practice.

I do not rule for or against a member or a party. The Chair rules to uphold the standing orders and the practice of this House. In this task I continue to depend on the vigilance and assistance of all hon. members and I wish to thank the hon. opposition House leader for raising this particular matter in defence of the privileges of the House.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

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

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

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-312, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (percentage of gifts that may be deducted from tax).

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to introduce a bill entitled an act to amend the Income Tax Act, percentage of gifts that may be deducted from tax. This bill will put charitable donations on the same tax footing as political donations for the first $1,150. Thereafter any tax credits for charitable donations would remain the same.

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

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians, including Canadians from my riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk in the discharge of their duties on a daily basis and that the employment benefits of police officers and firefighters are often insufficient to compensate families for those police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

They also point out that the public mourns the loss of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. They wish to support in a tangible way the surviving members of their families in their time of need. The petitioners therefore ask Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to provide benefits to families of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce several petitions today.

The first petition is signed by 124 Canadians from British Columbia. The petitioners are concerned about the government's handling of herbal remedies. They feel that these remedies have been dealt with in a heavy handed manner.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the age of consent. I would like to present this petition on behalf of my former colleague, the former member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who was a key player in initiating the move to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.

The petitioners request that Parliament affirm the duty of parents to responsibly raise their children according to their own conscience and beliefs and to retain section 43 of Canada's Criminal Code.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the final petition which I wish to present, the petitioners request Parliament to amend the Criminal Code to increase the minimum and maximum penalties for the offence of joy riding and to impose financial responsibility on the offenders and/or their parents or guardians whose negligence contributed to the commission of the offence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present two petitions to the House this morning.

The first petition has to do with the multilateral agreement on investment. The petitioners state that the MAI is fundamentally flawed in so far as it seeks to protect the rights of investors without seeking similar protection for workers through binding core labour standards and that the MAI is anti-democratic in so far as it would be binding for 20 years, thus tying the hands of several Parliaments and future governments.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to reject the current framework of MAI negotiations and instruct the government to seek an entirely different agreement by which the world might achieve a rules based global trading regime which protects workers, the environment and the ability of governments to act in the public interest.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this petition concerns a ruling by the international court of justice on July 8, 1996 wherein the court stated unanimously that in accordance with article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Therefore the petitioners pray and request that Parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.

The first petition deals with amendments to the Criminal Code and requests that the age of consent for sexual activity be raised from 14 years to 18 years of age. This petition is signed by 231 individuals from my riding and indeed from across Canada, Ontario westward.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by 115 people who are calling for amendments to be made to the Food and Drugs Act dealing with herbal remedies and other nutritional supplements. The petitioners call for increased personal freedom without government interference to use herbal remedies and supplements.

The petition is signed by citizens from the area of 100 Mile House and Lac La Hache.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present three petitions to the House today.

The first one concerns the abolition of nuclear weapons. It is signed by citizens who are calling on Parliament to support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by citizens who are calling upon Parliament to rescind Bill C-2 which imposes massive CPP premium hikes while reducing benefits and changes the CPP financial arrangements to provide a payout to the Bay Street brokers and bankers.

The petition also further calls on the House to institute a national review for a retirement income system in Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

The third petition, Mr. Speaker, concerns the multilateral agreement on investment. It calls on Parliament to reject the current framework of MAI negotiations and instructs the government to seek an entirely different agreement by which the world might achieve a rules based global trading regime that protects workers, the environment and the ability of governments to act in the public interest.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in which citizens of Canada draw the attention of the House to a fundamental flaw in the MAI in so far as it seeks to protect the right of investors without seeking similar protection for workers through binding core labour standards. They also point out that the MAI is anti-democratic in so far as it will be binding for 20 years and ties the hands of several Parliaments and future governments.

The petitioners call on Parliament to reject the current framework of MAI negotiations and instruct the government to seek an entirely different agreement by which the world might achieve a rules based global trading regime that protects workers, the environment and the ability of government to act in the public interest.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, question No. 54 will be answered today. .[Text]

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Since inception of the GST ans with respect to outstanding GST accounts as at the end of the last recorded fiscal year, what has the government determined to be: ( a ) the total number of outstanding accounts; ( b ) the total amount assessed to these accounts; ( c ) the total number of litigation's against these accounts including those in process now; ( d ) the court costs and collection costs associated with these accounts; and ( e ) the total number of seizures excercised by Revenue Canada in collecting amounts owed on these accounts?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Since inception of the GST, and with respect to outstanding GST accounts as at March 31, 1997, end of last fiscal year: (a) the total number of outstanding accounts—approximately 718,000; (b) the total amount assessed to these accounts—$2,288,658,000.

Since the inception of GST, all numbers are estimates based on manual input from field offices: (c) number of litigations against accounts—3,879, this figure includes the number of legal actions taken, including those still outstanding; (d) court costs—$499,224, collection costs—unavailable. Court costs include the cost for legal agents and any other related outlays, such as registration fees for writs.

With the passage of Bill C-2, Department of National Revenue Act, royal assent May 12, 1994, the departments of taxation and of customs and excise were consolidated, and GST operations have been merged with those of other product lines. Accordingly, the costs of collecting specifically GST as of 1995/96 are no longer available on the same basis as in the past. The Department of Justice also provides support to Revenue Canada. However, the costs associated specifically with collection activites are not tracked.

e) Number of seizures exercised—1,081.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved:

That this House recognize the consensus in Quebec that it is for Quebeckers to decide their own future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Let me read the motion back to you. It reads as follows: “That this House recognize the consensus in Quebec that it is for Quebeckers to decide their own future”.

Mr. Duceppe seconded by Mrs. Debien moves:

That this House recognize the consensus in Quebec that it is for Quebeckers to decide freely their own future.

Colleagues, I am reading it in both languages because there is a word missing in the English version of the motion that will be corrected on the order paper.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Berthier—Montcalm.

Today we are debating an issue of the utmost importance for people in Quebec and Canada: that the House of Commons recognize the right of the Quebec people to decide their own future.

Last week, Quebec society reached a consensus, denouncing the reference to the Supreme Court as an attempt by the federal government to subjugate the democratic will of the people of Quebec to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Quebeckers from every political stripe, both federalists and sovereignists, agree with this. As early as last December, the Pro-Démocratie group sent out a call to mobilize against this direct attack aimed at Quebec's democratic institutions.

This group is made up of influential people such as Jean-Claude Rivest, a Conservative senator, André Tremblay, a former constitutional adviser to Robert Bourassa, Pierre Paquette, the CSN general secretary, Claude Corbo, a former rector of the University of Quebec, the author Marco Miccone, and Monique Vézina, chair of the Mouvement national des Québécoises et des Québécois and former federal minister.

This is a historical consensus. I choose the word “historical” because, for more than 30 years, regardless of the political debate, there has always been a broad consensus on this crucial question within our society, a consensus that dates back to the very birth of Canada, based on the concept of two founding peoples.

As far back as 1977, René Lévesque made a clear statement on this right, in response to attacks from Prime Minister Trudeau: “There is no question of the future of the Quebec people being decided by anyone other than Quebeckers themselves”.

That statement was reflected in a National Assembly resolution in response to a framework referendum act tabled by the federal parliament in 1978. That resolution, adopted in May 1978, read as follows: “That the members of this Assembly unequivocally and firmly reiterate that they subscribe to the principle that Quebeckers alone are entitled to decide their own constitutional future, in accordance with the dispositions and rules this Assembly sees fit to enact”.

This historical consensus has been expressed on more than three occasions since that resolution: in 1980, at the time of the first referendum on sovereignty; in 1992, during the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord; and in 1995, during the last referendum. On three occasions, the federal government recognized this Quebec consensus by participating of its own free will in the referendum campaigns and by even accepting Quebec's consultation of its people in keeping with the Quebec referendum legislation at the time of the Charlottetown accord.

But now today we find the federal government, led by its Prime Minister, trying to deny this reality, this consensus shared in by all of the key stakeholders of Quebec society.

That is why Claude Ryan and Daniel Johnson spoke out last week against this historical backtracking. The two former leaders of the no camp in the last two referendums on sovereignty merely reiterated their support and deep attachment to Quebec and Canadian democracy. For them, and for millions of Quebeckers, the debate on the sovereignty of Quebec is not a legal question, but a political one, a question of democracy.

For them, and for millions of Quebeckers, in the debate on Quebec sovereignty the democratically expressed voice of the Quebec people is what counts, not the decision by nine federal government-appointed justices.

For them, as for millions of Quebeckers, the debate on sovereignty goes far beyond a legal issue.

There is a huge distance between the people of Quebec and the federal government, which is trying to subjugate the sovereign will of a people to the will of a court of law, to submit our will to a constitution, which the National Assembly has never approved and which was imposed unilaterally on us by Ottawa.

For democratic Quebeckers, the sovereign will of a people is above a constitution. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is doing his level best to subject the vote of Quebeckers to the Constitution of 1982.

People who believe in democracy know that people decide on constitutions; constitutions do not dominate people. If there were no people, there would be no constitutions. We place the democratic voice of the people of Quebec above the Constitution of Canada, whereas the federal government and its Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs are trying to subject Quebeckers to the Constitution, which never received the approval of the National Assembly of Quebec.

And they chose the supreme court to attack Quebeckers' fundamental right. The supreme court, their supreme court, their rule of law, their outdated colonial pretensions.

As was pointed out by an international law expert, Alain Pellet, the chair of the United Nations International Law Commission, we are dealing with one of the worst attempts by a government at political manipulation. The Prime Minister is trying to use the supreme court as a political and partisan tool.

It is a frontal attack on the institutions of Quebec, on a fundamental right of the people of Quebec and especially on the principles of democracy dear to Canadians and Quebeckers both.

Today's motion will be very revealing. We will finally see whether some members of this House are capable of backing their words with their actions.

In 1991, the New Democratic Party said: “The New Democratic Party recognizes the right of Quebeckers to self-determination. The New Democrats will respect the result of the democratic expression of this right.” If the New Democrats are willing to respect the result of a referendum, it means that what matters to them is the ballot box and not the opinion of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court.

In 1991 also, the annual meeting of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada passed the following resolution: “Be it resolved that the right of Quebeckers to self-determination be confirmed.” Therefore Conservatives also recognized that it is a political question, since they acknowledged that it is the right of Quebeckers to decide their own future, not the right of nine justices appointed by the federal government. New Democrats and Conservatives will therefore have to abide by the democratic will of their own rank-and-file members and support the motion introduced by the Bloc Quebecois.

Finally, if Reform members vote against the motion it will not be the first time that they target Quebec. Yesterday, they were denying Quebeckers the right to be candidates. Today, if they vote against the motion, they will deny Quebeckers the right to freely choose their own future.

Even though the Liberals got involved in the referendum, they never explicitly recognized the right of Quebec to democratically decide its own future, but the Liberal Party of Quebec did so a number of times.

The message sent to the House of Commons through our motion is intended for all parliamentarians, in Quebec and in Canada. It is an unequivocal message that neither judges, the federal government or the rest of Canada will decide the future of a whole nation.

In conclusion, I must recall what my father, Jean Duceppe, said on June 25, 1990, in his last speech. He said, and I quote: “One thing is for certain. The future of Quebec will no longer be decided in Newfoundland, Manitoba or elsewhere. It will be decided in Quebec by the Quebeckers themselves”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the leader of the Bloc a simple question. He mentioned people being beyond the Constitution, the voice of people being above the Constitution. Could he tell the House where the principle of the rule of law enters into his thinking? To make it more clear, will one of the governing principles in the new Quebec that he envisions be adherence to the rule of law?