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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The hon. Don Boudria

Exactly.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

The government House leader says “exactly”. Since 1982, this board, the Fisheries Prices Support Board, has not been in existence. Now, in 2001, we are discussing and debating a bill that, essentially, changes certain provisions regarding a board that has not been operational for more than 18 years. I also have to point out that the mandate of the Fisheries Prices Support Board was to stabilize prices by providing financial support to buyers.

And finally, the bill substitutes the corporate designation of the Canadian Film Development Corporation to the name that it has been using since 1994, Telefilm Canada.

This is where it becomes evident that the government has nothing to propose to us in terms of a legislative agenda, so it has come up with a bill, Bill C-43, which basically is making adjustments to an office that has not been operational since 1982, and amends a statute which officializes the use of the name Telefilm Canada, which it has been using since 1994. This government is proposing to us nothing but these bills, which are basically nothing more than making cosmetic changes, when what we expect of it is proactive efforts, acting like, and being, a government of which the people of Quebec and of Canada can be proud.

While there are important issues to be dealt with in Canada, fundamental debates that must be carried out, it has come up with a bill that makes some cosmetic changes.

The changes to the National Capital Act offer the Bloc Quebecois the opportunity to remind hon. members that the national capital is not bilingual. The Bloc Quebecois again draws attention to the failure of the federal language policy.

The failure is all the more flagrant because it is played out in the Canadian capital, which should reflect linguistic duality better than anywhere else in Canada. I believe that—

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the member. The member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I think I have been patient so far in listening to the invectives hurled by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and I will now continue with my speech.

It must be said also that the National Capital Commission is not a model of transparency, as evidenced by its in camera proceedings. It has the nasty habit of keeping the public away, even though its decisions have repercussions on more than 1 million people on both sides of the river.

Amendments made to the legislation regarding Telefilm Canada indicate the need to modernize that organization. An expert report tabled in September 2000 proposes stricter controls on the use of funding allocated to the motion picture and television production industry.

I will quote from a report on the management practices of the federal government, where the head of the auditing team at Canadian Heritage said “We will work more closely, share information and increase the number of audits”.

This statement comes from a report on the management practices of the federal government. The government had a golden opportunity to amend this act to meet the expectations of the Auditor General of Canada, Anne Scotton. She was clear, and the quote is rather eloquent in that respect.

Furthermore, as I was saying earlier, the matter involving Cinar speaks eloquently of the need to clean up the grants attribution system, for example, once and for all.

We will recall this matter and the work of my colleague for Verchères--Les-Patriotes in this regard. It was—we must face the facts— a major issue that revealed the way grants were awarded. I think it is more than ever important to restore transparency so that the government may truly reveal everything in granting funds.

We will remember that the Bloc Quebecois revealed at the time that Cinar had used false names to obtain tax credits. Cinar had had access to various tax credit programs of Telefilm Canada and the Canadian television fund, and had also received government funding earmarked for productions by Canadian craftspeople.

I am happy to note the arrival of the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions and I hope he will remain around a long time. We do, despite what is being said today, not only in the papers, but on the hill. I thank him for arriving two minutes before the end of my speech in order to hear my remarks.

I would like him to know that we would have expected from this government major amendments, and not cosmetic ones. We would have expected this government to act in the interests of the people of Quebec and Canada.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I simply want to remind the House that the first three speakers who address a new motion can speak for 40 minutes.

I also remind hon. members that they must not mention the absence or the presence of other members in the House.

The hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I will put on the record that I will limit my time so that my colleagues to the left of me will have more time to speak to the hon. House leader about what their concerns are regarding Bill C-43.

First, I could not help but notice that yesterday we had two hours in the middle of the day with not much to do. In about 20 minutes we are going to be debating a very important bill that would make parliamentarians much more accountable to their constituents. It is called the floor-crossing bill. If a member crossed the floor to another political party, that seat would become vacant. We would then have to go back to the constituents to see if they wish to--

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I know the hon. member is very passionate about his private member's bill but we are not in private members' business. We are on Bill C-43 and I would ask the hon. member to please get on with his speech on Bill C-43.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, it should have been part of Bill C-43 but my point was accountability. That is the whole point of this particular bill.

I could not help but notice that the term ACOA is in the bill. We have been asking that ACOA, which is very important in my region of Atlantic Canada, become more transparent and more accountable to the taxpayers of Atlantic Canada to ensure that the funding dollars are definitely meant for job enhancement and infrastructure enhancement.

We also noticed that the National Capital Commission is in the bill. We are asking the government House leader to ensure for example that the cities of Ottawa and Hull will have more consultation and more openness and transparency in what happens at the National Capital Commission. That is all we are asking.

With respect to the National Film Act, the National Film Board is a great institution in Canada. Anything that diminishes this in any way, shape or form would not be a good thing for Canada.

Lastly, regarding nuclear safety and speaking strictly for myself, the greatest way we can protect Canadians from concerns about nuclear power plants is eventually to start dismantling the power plants across the country and start bringing in alternate forms of energy for Canada.

We still have not decided what to do with nuclear waste. When we hear that there could be missiles surrounding Point Lepreau in New Brunswick to protect it, that accelerates the danger and anxiety for all Canadians. What the government should be doing, what we all should be doing, is looking at alternate forms of renewable energy so we can enhance our power capabilities and reduce the risk to all Canadians.

Basically what we are asking for is full, open transparency on all the acts in the bill. If the government does that, we will look forward to supporting the bill as it is. We look forward to the bill going to committee if at all possible for further discussion where my other colleagues in the party will have an opportunity to elaborate on it further.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to rise on a Friday afternoon to direct some comments on such an important and momentous bill as Bill C-43. To the hon. NDP member who just spoke, I would like to say at the outset that I do believe there is nobody further to the left of him other than perhaps the heritage minister. I would like to clear that up right at the beginning of my remarks. Although we are physically located to the left of him, we certainly do not believe on the political spectrum that we are.

This is quite an issue that has seized the House this afternoon. As has already been noted, Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act, is an omnibus bill, perhaps a bit like so many others in the sense that it addresses many different issues all in one bill. As has been noted by the hon. government House leader and the House leader for the official opposition and other members before me, primarily it brings about technical amendments to a number of acts. The list is quite long.

The bill affects the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, the Energy Monitoring Act, the National Energy Board Act, and on and on it goes. Bill C-43 is quite comprehensive and makes what has been referred to as minor housekeeping amendments.

The issue I want to address in my remarks on Bill C-43 stems from how we got to this point with this piece of legislation being brought forward by the government. It might interest members and the viewing public to know that amendments similar to these were contained in a previous bill, Bill C-40, which passed through the House. However, because quite a number of concerns were raised by opposition members at the justice committee, these particular amendments were dropped out of Bill C-40. That bill then progressed through the House and went on to the Senate. To my knowledge, Bill C-40 is still currently before the other place.

One of the things that is of interest, and I just say one, is that both the House and the Senate committees raised concerns, not specifically to the amendments themselves in some cases, but to the lack of background information being provided for the rationale for the amendments themselves. During his brief remarks the hon. government House leader referred to that. He duly noted that this time around when Bill C-43 was brought forward, additional information and material was provided to parliamentarians to support the necessity for some of these amendments.

The one amendment I wish to pick up on in the bill deals with clauses 17 and 18. Clause 17 is an amendment to the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act which is just one of the myriad of acts Bill C-43 addresses. Clause 17 states:

The definition “deferred pension” in section 2 of the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act is replaced by the following:

“deferred pension” means a pension that becomes payable to a person at the time he or she reaches sixty years of age.

What is interesting to note in this regard is that the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs in its report on Bill C-40, the forerunner to Bill C-43, raised a concern. It asked why in clauses 17 and 18 the government decided to lower the age from 65 to 60 for a deferred pension for lieutenant governors.

It believed it might be a minor change, but it behooves all of us to understand the rationale behind that. Is it to bring it into line with other pensions and if so, did there at least appear to be a reluctance on the part of the government to provide that rationale? Would it not have been appropriate to have that brought forward at that time?

I picked that one example because clearly what the committees in both houses have targeted in this type of legislation is that to do a proper job of overseeing these types of amendments, they clearly want to understand exactly the rationale and perhaps from time to time have an expert witness come before the committee to provide testimony. For example, when a particular clause is being dropped from an act, they want to make sure that is an appropriate thing to do.

In the time I have remaining I want to refer to the whole issue of why we are debating this bill today. Yesterday, as the House leader for the Canadian Alliance noted, the House rose with two hours of time remaining for debate. We could have been debating legislation, Bill C-43 which we are debating today or other bills.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Such as Bill C-36.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

My hon. colleague from Manitoba mentions Bill C-36. Of course the whole country if not the whole world is now aware that the government brought forward the dictatorial power it has to enact closure and time allocation and crush any debate.

I pointed out yesterday that the coalition had amendments that did not get one minute of debate on the floor of the Chamber before those amendments were put to a vote. That was at report stage.

Then at third reading of that legislation, both the New Democratic Party and the coalition did not get the opportunity to put up even one speaker before the government shut down debate. It basically eliminated the opportunity for Canadians to have their elected representatives bring forward concerns about the legislation. That is completely unacceptable.

There is more than a touch of irony that today, a couple of days later, we are debating Bill C-43 which makes, as the hon. House leader quite rightly identified, technical or minor amendments to a myriad of other acts.

I was going to end my comments at this point but one of the government members took it upon himself to say that it was so unacceptable that the coalition, or at least the majority of our members, voted for Bill C-36. That bears a bit of explanation and I thank the hon. member for his heckling from across the way to remind me of that.

On controversial issues like that, clearly there are parts of an omnibus bill that we believe are going in the right direction. This is true for so much of the legislation that comes before the House. Then there are other parts that we are vehemently opposed to and have very serious concerns about. Members, and I would suggest not just opposition members but indeed members of the governing party as well, are constantly caught in a quandary of whether to support the legislation as brought forward by the government or whether to vote against it. Oftentimes there is some good and some bad in the same legislation and we have to weigh the pros and cons.

Unfortunately, what inevitably happens, and the same would be true of a bill like the one we are debating today, Bill C-43, is that there may indeed be some good and some bad in a bill like this. It is an omnibus bill. It is making, as I said, a whole range of amendments, termed as minor amendments by the government, to a whole range of laws and statutes. The reality is that often times we are caught where we have to make a judgment call as to whether there is some good, some bad and which way to go on a particular way of legislation.

The only way to get around that is what the government is at least at this point willing to do with Bill C-42, the next omnibus so-called anti-terrorism bill. The government brought it forward. Then, within a day, it was before the opposition party claiming it needed to draw out one or several clauses and get them through the House, such as the clause dealing with airplane manifests and passenger lists, and then just let the remainder of Bill C-42 sit there for the time being and not debate it in the House. Rather it would have the House rising early, as the House leader for the opposition stated. Nine times so far in this fall session the House has adjourned early for lack of legislation put forward by the government.

This is a growing concern, I believe, not just to the opposition but indeed to a number of government backbenchers as well in the sense that the--

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Nonsense. It does not bother me a bit.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

The junior minister of finance says it does not bother him a bit, but I am sure he does not speak for all of his colleagues. It does bother some of them. The way this government is continuing to govern with its dictatorial and arrogant manner I think it is of great concern to a great many Canadians. That is the simple reality of the situation.

When the government perceives the least bit of opposition from Canadians and from the opposition parties to try to improve a piece of legislation, instead of trying to work with those groups and those political parties, it just brings down the heavy hammer and after there has been a couple of hours of debate it rams it through the House of Commons. It does not matter that certain parties did not even get a chance to speak at third reading. It does not matter that some amendments did not even get a minute of debate on the floor of the Chamber. The reality is the government rams it through using closure or time allocation.

These are the same members in many cases, because of their longevity, who ranted and railed against those uses of power by the preceding government. Yet now that they are in power they have used it far more than the government before them.

Why Bill C-43 is before the Chamber today? In some cases there are legitimate errors, or omissions or adaptations that were necessary to this myriad of statutes and laws. However in some cases, as my colleague from the Canadian Alliance already pointed out, it is sloppy work. One of the trademarks of this government, over the eight years that I have been in this Chamber since the fall of 1993, is sloppy work. We hear this from a great many people. Certainly a great many parliamentarians who have a lot more history either in this Chamber or in the other place than I have are remarking that never before in their political history have they seen such sloppy work from a government. It brings forward legislation, amends it before it almost gets to the House, then it changes it.

Bill C-36 is a prime example. There were 100 amendments, it was still deeply flawed and the government had to rush it through. It will still be a mess and create problems when it gets to the Senate. The senators will probably amend it and send it back.

The government seems intent upon forcing through legislation, whereas if it just took a bit more time, worked in a more co-operative manner with the opposition parties and seriously considered some of the amendments that are brought forward both at committee and at report stage, we would see a lot better legislation passed through this House. We would see a functioning parliament. We would see a legislature working for the people instead of against the people. That is the reality of the government and a sad legacy for it.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Would the House agree to take the question and send the bill to committee, so it could be done next week?

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on Bill C-43 at second reading. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It being 1.30 p.m. the House will now proceed to consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

moved that Bill C-218, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it has been a long time since I have had an opportunity to formally speak on this bill in the House of Commons, although I have been giving it plugs throughout my three year career.

Bill C-218 would allow the voters and our constituents a little more power over what we do in our lives and would allow a little more democracy in the House of Commons

In essence, if a member of parliament is elected as a member of a recognized party and during the mandate of that parliament decides to cross the floor to another political party, for whatever reason, and his or her seat becomes vacant, a byelection would be called in the constituency. That individual would have to run in the byelection to allow the constituents to decide whether he or she should run under that other political banner.

I have had many consultations with many people in my riding and throughout the country about this and they believe this to be a very fine piece of legislation. The reason why it is so important is that it will make all parliamentarians more accountable to people, people who put their faith in their elected officials to represent their interests in the House of Commons. When people choose to vote for members, they believe they are voting for people who belong to a political party with specific ideology.

I ran for election as a New Democrat. I told the ladies and gentlemen of voting age in my riding that this was who I am and this was what I would do in the House of Commons.

During my term of office, if I decide, for whatever reason, that I can no longer abide by the principles and policies of the party, or have a falling out with my leader or for a variety of other reasons, and feel I would serve the best interests of my constituents by being a member of another party, then I should not make that decision alone. I should go back to the constituents in a byelection and tell them that I am now a Tory, or an Alliance, or a Bloc or a Liberal member and ask them to vote for me on that premise. That is accountability and that is democracy.

Many Canadians have a jaundiced view of members of the House. In the last federal election 40% of eligible voters did not vote. Millions of Canadians have said they do not care who we are, or what we do or what party we belong. They simply have a very jaundiced view. That is unacceptable.

Canadians must be given the right to approve or disapprove of the actions of their member of parliament. That is called democracy.

Some may wonder why I am bringing this bill forward. The fact is the NDP has actually gained members over the years. Since our party's inception, we have lost four members of parliament to other parties, but we have gained nine in the process over time. Since 1867, 137 members have crossed the floor.

I have heard people say outside the Chamber that byelections would cost too much money. In the last parliament one member was given a Senate posting and another one was given an international posting. Both were Liberals. There was no hesitation to call byelections in Quebec for those members seats. There were no worries about the costs at all. In fact, the current heritage minister stepped down a few years back on a point of principle, ran again in a byelection for the same seat and was re-elected at the cost of about half a million dollars.

The government did not seem to be too concerned about the cost of those byelections, so it should not be very concerned about the cost of a byelection when members of parliament decide to do something that their constituents may question.

It is not that difficult to understand. We are elected to represent our constituents. We are held accountable by our constituents.

I have to admit that when I first came here I was extremely naive on this whole issue. When the member for Burin--St. George's was a Conservative, he sat in our fisheries committee and lambasted the Liberals every chance he got.

One day I awoke and there he was at a press conference with the hon. member for Gander--Grand Falls. All of a sudden he was a Liberal, just like that.

That is when I introduced the bill. I asked my House leader how easy it was to do that. He said I could do that within an hour. If members go to another party and it accepts them, bang they are in. Not once do they have to go back to their constituents to ask them. Not once are they held accountable. Only at the next general election down the road is that the case.

That is political opportunism at the worst. We get paid very well for what we do. It is an honour and a privilege to be in the House of Commons. We should never ever abuse the rights and privileges we have from our constituents and never be perceived to be doing that. Perception is extremely important. If we cannot set examples for our constituents there is no other place in the land that it can be done.

It is quite clear that our constituents, in fact Canadians around the country, are asking us to be more responsible and to be more accountable. They are asking us to listen to them and bring their concerns to Ottawa. They do not like flippant answers. They do not like members of parliament who take advantage of the situation. They do not like political opportunism and they do not like political cheap shots either. They want the House of Commons to work together for the benefit of all Canadians.

It is simply unacceptable when members of parliament cross the floor to another political party when they ran against that party in the general campaign. If they feel they must do it, they should go back to their constituents, run in a byelection and let them decide if they are good enough to fly under another political banner.

That is responsible democracy and that is what we should be doing in the House of Commons. I could not believe when I brought this issue before my peers on the votable committee that it was not even deemed votable. In fairness to all the other bills and motions that were put forward, not one was deemed votable.

If any bill in the House of Commons should be votable, it is this one. If members of parliament are shy or nervous about talking about their individual responsibilities to their constituents, they really should not be here in the first place.

When I first became a politician I realized, as well as my other 300 colleagues in the House, that everything we say and do can and will be used against us in the court of public opinion. When we do something of this nature like crossing the floor to another political party it is a very serious decision. Some political parties win and some political parties lose, but the ones who really lose are the constituents in the voting public. They are the ones who say there goes another one and ask what else is new.

If we are to encourage the other 40% of Canadians who currently do not vote to come back to the ballot box to vote for their representatives, this piece of legislation would assist in that matter.

There are other questions about if members of parliament have a major falling out with their party whether they can sit as independents. Absolutely. Individual members of parliament, in the event of very moral decisions on issues such as capital punishment, abortion or whatever serious issues arise, may have a very serious or moral reason for not supporting the party position. That may put the individual MP in a bit of jeopardy with other concerns of that party. Then the individual should be able to sit as an independent.

It would also allow the leaders of political parties the opportunity, if a member of parliament all of a sudden decides to become a one person show or a bit of a renegade and very disruptive of their political parties, to force the person to sit as an independent.

The reality is that we ran under a political banner. There are three reasons we are sitting here today, why we were elected. The first is the leader. The second is the party and the other is the individual. We could argue about the percentages that are allotted to each one of those but those are the three reasons we were elected. If members cross the floor they basically tell their constituents that they do not honour two of them. That is simply unacceptable.

I encourage the House and all members of parliament to look inside themselves and go back to their constituents to ask them if they support this type of legislation, because I have and they do. If I go back to my riding and I tell my constituents that I am a New Democrat, a Liberal, a Tory or an Alliance or a Bloc member, would my constituents say that they do not mind? I tell members to ask them. I can save them a lot of time. They can do this by making this bill votable so we can stand in the House to debate the issue.

We could have had two extra hours yesterday to do it but we took a little nap. We had a little siesta here yesterday. We had a wonderful opportunity to debate this very important bill.

It is incredible that the bill is not votable. I will be asking at the end of the hour to make it a votable item. I encourage all members of parliament who will speak to this bill not to think just of themselves. They should think of their constituents, the taxpayers who pay our salaries and benefits for us to be here. Members should think of the constituents whom they represent.

To the nth degree I honestly believe that all members of parliament are here to represent their constituents under a certain political banner. If for whatever reason they cannot fly that political banner, they cannot fly that flag anymore, that is understandable. It happens. However members should have the decency and the honesty to go back to their constituents and ask them if they have the right to do that. The best way to do it is through a byelection.

If members did that, they would know if they were right. They would know that they had the backing and the trust of their constituents. They would know that they are being open, transparent and democratic. The reason we are all here is for democracy. That is why we represent Canadians in a democratic manner.

If a member uses political opportunism, if he or she tries to play with the rules of the game, it simply will not be effective. The member needs to tell his or her constituents “I can no longer abide by the principles of this particular party. I am going to cross the floor, but folks, you are going to have the final say. I am going to run in a byelection, put my name under a new banner and you will decide”, not the member of parliament.

Members are to be held accountable at all times by their constituents. It does not matter whom we are with or where we are from in Canada. The end game is responsibility to our constituents. That is the key to this debate.

I look forward to hearing what my colleagues from various parties have to say about this issue. We can be proven right. We can get more people back to the ballot box. We could be held in a better view by our constituents if we made this bill votable and gave it speedy passage.