The problem is it is going to probably take two years because we have to wait for the renovation. It is not as simple as taking a clock off the wall, but at least it is progress.
One of the things soon learned when becoming a parliamentarian at any level is that you have to be prepared to accept your achievements in small doses. I was pleased in my last session in the Ontario legislature to sponsor a private member's bill that would prohibit young people under the age of 18 from buying lottery tickets. At first blush this was questioned as can they do that now. People were stunned. I remember the premier of the day, Premier Rae, being astounded to find out that there were kids lined up in the corner store playing Pro Line sports. They were actually betting their lunch money on Monday night football or on the outcome of the NHL hockey game. Everyone was astounded to find out it was happening.
The subsequent investigation and publicity took it right across Canada and everyone said the kids should not be able to do that. I think our society really feels that we should not have kids gambling on pro sports in corner stores. That is certainly not the vision of the kind of Canada that I or members in this place would like to see.
That private member's bill was subsequently supported unanimously in the parliament of Ontario and it went through first, second, third reading and royal assent in 16 sessional days. This was a record in the province of Ontario and unheard of in Canada for any private member's bill to receive that kind of attention and success.
I recall as I walked out of the chamber everyone slapping me on the back and congratulating me and my colleagues. My comment to one of them was thank you, but the problem is this appears to be as good as it gets. I really think that is the issue. We come here in numbers of 301 with views, aspirations, goals, visions and with information from our ridings. Perhaps we have different political perspectives on issues of concern to our community but we come here looking for ways to make these issues reality. The system is such that in my respectful submission my experience here is that one can accomplish more through the caucus system than one can through the official system of committees and parliament. I think that is wrong.
The reality is that in the experience of the caucus that I am a part of the government listens to the people in the backbench who are bringing messages and information from their ridings. I have seen numerous examples where policy of this government has been changed by intervention from members in the House of Commons who sit on the backbenches. This is a very positive thing, something we can be proud of and something our constituents should know, but it should go beyond that. There should be an opportunity that goes beyond hoping your name gets pulled out of a drum to introduce private members' bills. If eliminating the motions which my colleague suggested earlier would provide more time for private members' bills then I think that is a very constructive suggestion.
I want to talk about some of the comments I have heard and that are heard from time to time about members suggesting we need to have more concern about member privileges. The word privileges tends to dominate the landscape here in Ottawa. Members are always concerned about their privileges. We had a huge debate because one of the members made disparaging remarks at the Olympics about our flag. We had a huge debate over whether her privileges had been violated. We have other members who stand up from time to time about comments made outside this place, concerned about their privileges.
There is another word that I do not hear enough members in this place talking about and that in my view the standing orders do not address. That word is responsibilities. Along with privileges come responsibilities. When we think of what is going on in Ireland, when we think of war torn countries where their solution is murder and mayhem to political differences, when we realize that the difference between the Prime Minister's desk and the Leader of the Opposition's desk is the distance of two people holding out extended swords and the tips simply touching, when we realize that our weapons are our minds and our ammunition is our words and that in this great country we simply use this institution to put forth those viewpoints, we realize what a cherished responsibility we all have.
I was very disappointed in light of that issue of being responsible to the House of Commons and responsible to the people of Canada because I believe those two issues are intertwined; we cannot show disrespect in this place without showing disrespect for all Canadians.
The member for Beauharnois—Salaberry has made comments that were quoted when he was a parliamentary mission to justify his reasoning for the separation of the province of Quebec, saying that Quebec would be more democratic and more respectful of minority rights than under the Canadian federal system if it separated. That is contempt for this place. That is contempt for this country. It has no place in this chamber or in this great nation.
I think it is unfortunate that in this House our standing rules do not have a mechanism to call that member forward to stand up and be accountable for the remarks he made while on taxpayer expense travelling under the privilege of being a member of this House and denigrating this country and this House and everything we stand for.
Finally, the nonsense I saw yesterday of a 24 year old member of the Bloc standing up and taking his chair out of this place in some kind of a demonstration is just the silliest thing I have ever seen in my days of watching this place. I have a 27 year old who left home recently. He moved out on his own and he had the good sense not to steal the furniture. I would suggest that the member opposite was just grandstanding to try to make a point of some kind. He should realize that maybe in his case we should charge him with theft of chair and maybe we should change the locks. Once a young man leaves home it seems to me that young man should try to find it on his own.
I would hope that we could look at a way to put in place rules in the standing orders to hold all members of this House accountable for their actions, to make them respectful of this place both in the House of Commons and outside when they are on official duties. I would like to see that kind of amendment take place that would bring true dignity and responsibility to Canada's House of Commons.