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House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vote.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be able to enter into this important debate. I was curiously interested in the comments of other members who thought that we as official opposition would have used this occasion, the last supply day motion before summertime when we go to work in our ridings, for a substantial debate on some big issue.

One of the issues listed was the splitting of Bill C-15 into its component parts so that we could deal with problems important to Canadians and to parliamentarians in a reasonable manner. Those problems could be solved instead of playing political games with them as the Minister of Justice is prone to do. Other issues were mentioned as well.

I have a reasonable response to that charge. With the passage of this bill I hope it will do something very important for parliament so that the work of members will be enhanced and all those problems will have another avenue in which they can be addressed through private members' business.

The way private members' business is run right now is disgraceful. We spend many days in the House. Today is the 77th sitting day of the House since the election. During that time we have spent most of the time debating government bills but some time on supply day motions and some time on private members' business.

As a member who spends a lot of time in the House paying attention to what goes on here, I have observed that probably the best ideas and the ones that are most relevant to ordinary citizens come from private members' business.

Many times the government brings forward legislation which obviously is designed simply to facilitate the work of government bureaucrats. Ideas bubble up through the departments to the minister. The minister says to go ahead and draft a bill to be presented in the House. With the government having a majority, we go through the motions of debating it but it is automatically passed. Many of those things are administrative in nature.

Then there are others where frankly the government totally misses the boat on the aspirations of ordinary Canadians with respect to everything from taxes to the justice system, to the way parliament works.

The debate we have brought forward today will further the work of parliament. Hopefully it will enable us as parliamentarians to do a much better job than we have been able to do because of the restrictions placed upon us.

Members of the public who may be watching television today should know that private members' business is not a very high priority of the government. As a matter of fact, the present standing orders relegate private members' business to the least desirable hours of the day.

On Monday it is the first item, the assumption being that it is difficult for members to get back here after having been in their ridings on the weekend. Thus private members' business is considered while there is nobody here. I resent that because it is very important. Members should be here to hear the arguments and the debates.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday private members' business is taken up in the very last hour of the day when members are off to receptions and other meetings. They are tired and finished for the day, so there is not a very great number of members who pay attention to private members' business on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday it takes place again in the very last hour of sitting. That is the day when anyone who happens to be left in Ottawa, not having gone home on Thursday, might be here for a debate. In any case members are eager to go and most of them are totally unaware of private members' business.

I have made it a point to pay attention every day to the goings on in the House, including private members' business. As I have said, my observation is that the best ideas, the most relevant to Canadians, are brought forward by ordinary members who go to their ridings on the weekends. During the weeks when we are able to meet with our constituents we get ideas and bring them back as private members' business.

I have an issue which I have not yet formulated a private member's bill on. I do not know whether there is any point. Not long ago a person said that he had to quit his job to look after his ailing wife. If it were his handicapped child he would get a tax credit, but because he is doing it for his wife there is no tax credit. Would that not be a perfect private member's bill? We could include a recognition that some people have to do this for members of their family who are ill.

I did a little mathematics, as I am prone to do. I looked at the total number of bills and motions introduced during the time I have been in parliament. I was first elected in the fall of 1993. Since then, according to the numbers I was given, there have been 4,136 private members' bills and motions introduced. Some of them were repeats. Many bills and motions are prepared which are never selected in the random draw, so members reintroduce them after prorogation of the House or after an election. Of those 4,136 private members' bills, only 11.8% were selected in the random draw.

I would like to say something about the random draw. When I was a kid at camp many years ago we had a rule. When we went for meals no one was allowed seconds until everyone had a first. I think we should use that principle here.

I have been here since 1993. I have had private members' bills in the hopper. My name has been there but I was not one of the lucky ones to have my name drawn. Therefore I have not been able to put forward a private member's bill.

I propose that the system should be changed. At some point in time all currently elected members of parliament should be put on a random order list. I would be willing to provide the computerized process to do that, if necessary. Everyone would be on the list and no one would get back on it until he or she gets to the bottom. It would go sequentially.

If we are interrupted by an election or there are members that resign for some other reason, their names would be taken off the list and be replaced by other members' names being added to the bottom of the list as they are elected. I would like very much to support that notion.

I also believe that every bill should be votable. I do not have the fear of some that the House of Commons will become irrelevant or that members will waste their time. If we had a rule that each member could only have one bill or motion before all other members have had one, we could be assured that no member would waste that opportunity. They would put up their very best bill, their very best motion, to have it debated and voted upon. If it is a dumb motion or dumb bill the House would rule on it and it would be defeated, provided that we have a free vote on such things.

I have another concern. If every bill is votable I fear the government will start interfering and will start pushing party discipline on the outcome of the votes on private members' business. Some private members' bills could serve to be a slight embarrassment to the government.

I have used up my speaking time, but I look forward to questions and comments which I am sure will come after question period today.

Abdul GillStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, perseverance and dedication to one's job pays off for those who pursue their quest. Forty-two year old Abdul Gill of Halifax just recently became one of the Canadian air force's newest and oldest recruits, and certainly a very talented one.

Originally from Pakistan, Mr. Gill has experienced flying MiGs and Mirage fighter jets both as a pilot and as an instructor. Now he wants to sit in the cockpit of one of the Canadian F-18s.

Mr. Gill moved to Canada nine years ago and ran a corner store and gas station. He recently finished officer boot camp. While he knows he could be posted anywhere in the Canadian armed forces, flying remains his job of choice. Mr. Gill is an example to all of us who have a goal and a drive to succeed.

I congratulate Mr. Gill on successfully completing his officer training and wish him every success in becoming one of Canada's proud fighter pilots.

TaxationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the price of gas goes up the government's gas tax revenues go up as well because of the 7% GST that is on top of the cost of gas and the other excise taxes.

We are going into a long, hot summer of rising gasoline prices. The federal government does not need the co-operation of the provinces to eliminate the GST on gas. The government can help reduce gas prices but it has not.

In fact an analysis has shown that if it were not for gas taxes Canada would have cheaper gas than the United States, but this federal government refuses to act. I call upon the Minister of Finance to make a difference in gas prices by removing its GST component.

Gary NortonStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the wonderful volunteer efforts of Mr. Gary Norton of Burlington.

Mr. Norton went on two CESO assignments with the Central Reserve Bank of Peru. During his first visit, he assisted in the creation of a new statistics system and recommended that the bank install a project manager to oversee its successful implementation. Using his expertise of payment systems from Canada and Peru, Mr. Norton authored a report that will allow the existing Peruvian system to improve and evolve to meet Peru's statistical needs into the future.

In this International Year of the Volunteer, volunteers like Gary Norton are positive role models in communities around the world. Mr. Norton's contribution to the Central Reserve Bank of Peru demonstrates the best of Canadian values. His wealth of experience and generous spirit make him an exemplary grassroots ambassador.

I ask all my colleagues to please join the friends and family of Gary Norton in commending him on his impressive accomplishments in Peru.

TransportationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the smog summit in Toronto, the Minister of Transport announced a commuter rail strategy to help increase services in the areas of Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

I am both excited and delighted in terms of what this announcement means for my riding in Nepean—Carleton. Starting the Ottawa-Montreal service from south Nepean or Barrhaven means that both commuters and travellers to Montreal will enjoy a new service and new facilities. It is expected that a new station, estimated to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, could be completed sometime next year. This station will also be a significant convenience for travellers to Toronto.

This particular project is a great example of the federal and municipal levels of government working together on a project that people of my area want and need.

In this regard, I would like to thank both the Minister of Transport and Mayor Bob Chiarelli in the city of Ottawa.

Seniors MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleagues and all Canadians that in most provinces June is Seniors Month.

It is a time to celebrate the contribution that seniors bring to our communities and to reflect on the impact that Canada's aging population will have on our society.

Seniors play an irreplaceable role in our lives. They provide caregiving and support. They act as advisers. They offer a sense of continuity and transmit knowledge and values between generations.

During this International Year of the Volunteer, we have one more opportunity to salute our seniors. Large numbers of them give of their time and energies to benefit their communities. In fact, this is the age group that gives the most volunteer hours.

For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage you and our colleagues to take part in the celebrations of this special year and of Seniors Month in particular.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, nine illegal immigrants were landed by boat on the B.C. coast. In 1999, 600 illegal immigrants landed on B.C.'s shores.

The Liberal government then promised action regarding sovereignty for our coast line, but actions speak louder than words. Aurora surveillance aircraft from Comox has had its flying hours reduced from 12,000 hours to 8,000 hours. Pilot and crew training requirements are the same but other client services, especially coastal surveillance, have been reduced significantly.

This is not an illegal immigrant issue, this is a sovereignty issue.

Why is it that foreign boats can cross the Pacific, reach Canadian landfall and be outside the 200 mile limit again before Canadian authorities know anything?

A strong surveillance deterrent for narcotics and other criminal activities is required.

Coastal residents in my riding know our surveillance is lacking and that the national interest is being managed poorly. When will the government get serious about Canadian sovereignty?

The Middle EastStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, recent reports indicate that since last September at least 600 people have died in outbreaks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

For every tragic death in the region, families on both sides suffer from the devastating loss of their loved ones. Yet their grief is quickly lost in the headlines with news of yet more innocent lives sacrificed to a senseless cycle of violence.

I wonder what it would be like if every family were to see and feel the grief and suffering of the mothers and fathers on the other side.

Surely the voices of peace will prevail. I join with my colleagues, and indeed all Canadians, to call on the leaders in the regions to make peace a priority.

Maryse CarmichaelStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in its 30 year history, a woman, Captain Maryse Carmichael, is flying with the Snowbirds aerobatic team.

Her popularity was very much in evidence at the various performances at the Quebec City air show this past weekend, attended by over 100,000 people in all. Many of these came especially to see Number 3 pilot in action.

Captain Carmichael did not disappoint. As inner left wing, she excelled in close formation flying and in low level aerobatics, proving without a doubt that she can hold her own in the elite world of aerobatics.

Despite her celebrity, this native of Beauport has retained a simplicity and wisdom of which her parents, Jean-Yves and Francine, can be proud.

When asked recently about being a role model for girls, she replied that she was one for boys as well, adding “When a person wants to do something that has never been done, that does not mean it can't be done. If you work hard, the results will come. No doubt about it”.

Bravo to Captain Carmichael. We are proud of her.

Health CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased during the last parliament that the Prime Minister persuaded the provinces to make a deal on health care and the children's agenda. This was a major step forward.

However, we must still work at strengthening the federal role in health matters.

In the end, it is only the federal government that can ensure nationwide standards. Only it can make sure that all Canadians, not just some regions, get the health care and early childhood support that they are entitled to.

Our health care system is designed to be universal, portable, comprehensive, publicly funded and publicly administered. Let us keep it so.

GraduationStatements By Members

June 12th, 2001 / 2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we prepare for summer recess tens of thousands of young lives are about to change forever.

It is graduation season in our high schools, colleges and universities. The hours of hard work these young people have taken on is about to be rewarded.

As a former school principal I was never more proud of each graduating class after watching youngsters grow into independent thinkers ready to take on the world. The enthusiasm and energy each graduating class had brings back warm memories each June. These young lives hold the future of Canada in their hands and we should look to them for our inspiration.

I am sure each and every member of this House has fond memories of their own graduations. I would ask members to join with me in the last five seconds of this statement to wish the very best to all the graduating classes all across Canada.

International Union Of Elevator ConstructorsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, founded on July 15, 1901, this year the International Union of Elevator Constructors celebrates its 100th year anniversary.

The IUEC has a total of 10 locals across Canada which represent more than 2,500 mechanics and helpers who build, maintain and service elevators, escalators and moving walkways. IUEC has become the most qualified and trained constructors of elevators in the world. Without their skills and expertise the modern city could not be the reality that it is.

This August, delegates representing locals from across Canada and the United States will gather in Toronto for their IUEC international convention and to celebrate their centenary.

I want to congratulate and extend congratulations to all members of the IUEC on the milestone of their 100th anniversary.

World Refugee DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 20 the world will celebrate the first ever World Refugee Day. The theme this year is respect, respect for the rights of refugees worldwide and for the contributions they make to our societies.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the 1951 refugee convention, born out of the horrors of World War II and the will of the international community never to witness them again. Fifty years later, the convention still remains a necessity today. Millions of people are living in refugee camps under difficult conditions or are trapped within the borders of their home countries unable to escape the horrors of conflict or persecution.

We owe it on this day to ensure our laws enshrine the values of justice and fairness for all refugees and we can start by bringing Bill C-11 in line with our international human rights obligations.

Let us honour the first World Refugee Day by strengthening our commitment to refugee protection and welcoming those who come here in search of the freedom and security we take for granted.

Saint John Army Cadet CorpsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct honour today to rise in support of the 1691 Saint John Army Cadet Corps, affiliated with the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, of which I am the only female honorary gunner in Canada.

This past weekend the young men and women of the 1691 Saint John Army Cadet Corps held their 60th annual inspection parade and were reviewed by the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, Madam Trenholme.

Having witnessed firsthand the commitment of these young Canadian citizens, I must remind the House of the invaluable service provided by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. There is, in my view, no better training for the duties and responsibilities of citizenship than that offered by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.

I must urge the government to renew and restore its financial support for our cadets and to assist in any way possible in the recruitment of new cadets each and every year.

When so many young Canadians are feeling alienated from the institutions of our country, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets gives them a reason to believe in their country of Canada. We thank them for their service as we also thank our Canadian armed forces personnel, for the—

Saint John Army Cadet CorpsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Mount Royal.

The Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I join my words to those of the member for Ottawa Centre. As a tenuous Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire hangs on a thread and threatens to explode into violence, it is more necessary than ever that the parties adhere to the recommendations of the Mitchell commission, including: first, the unequivocal and unconditional cessation of all acts of terrorism and violence; second, the cessation and desisting from all acts of incitement, for it is this teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other, particularly that which is government sanctioned, where it all begins; third, the ending of the culture of impunity and the bringing of the perpetrators of acts of violence and terrorism to justice; fourth, the institutionalization of security co-operation between the parties so as to pre-empt acts of violence and incitement; fifth, the promotion of a culture of prevention through the institutionalization of confidence building measures; and sixth, the recommitment to direct negotiations between the parties as a basis for a just and lasting peace.

Centre De La Nature De LavalStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Centre de la nature de Laval, an immense garden built from scratch in an unused quarry, welcomed one million visitors in 2000, who came for relaxation and for cultural and family activities.

As part of the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois on May 11, the Centre de la nature won the Kéroul award, an annual award that goes to an organization whose facilities are particularly accessible to people with disabilities.

The Comité consultatif conjoint pour l'accessibilité des personnes handicapées and the Centre de la nature overcame all obstacles, as the construction of a play area safe for all children, regardless of their level of development and independence, testifies.

As a recipient of the Kéroul award, the Centre de la nature joins other prestigious recipients, including the Cité de l'énergie, Forillon park and the Musée d'art de Joliette.

I am proud to congratulate and thank, on behalf of the people of Laval, the Centre de la nature and organizations that work to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Hon. members, on your behalf, I would today like to thank our pages, who have worked for us over the year. They worked very hard in two parliaments, and we are very grateful for all they have done.

I also want to join members in giving all the pages our very best wishes for continued success, not just in your next few years of university work but also in your careers thereafter. I must say we all look forward to your returning to this place either as employees of the House or as elected members of parliament.

I wish each of you good luck and thank you very much.

We wish you every success in the future. Thank you for your help this year.

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, a forensic expert has said the bill of sale for the Grand-Mère golf course could have been altered.

Could the government tell us where the original is and will the original be available for independent analysis?

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think this question should be directed to the Prime Minister's Office. It is a matter involving the Prime Minister's private business affairs before he became Prime Minister and does not relate directly to the operations of the government.

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, late yesterday we learned from the ethics counsellor that the original bill of sale exists. The ethics counsellor told us that he saw the bill of sale in the possession of the Prime Minister's personal lawyer, Deborah Weinstein.

We believe the bill of sale could be available for independent analysis without leaving her possession. Will the government allow independent access to that original bill of sale to clear the air of serious doubts?

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the air was cleared by the Prime Minister and the ethics counsellor. It is the hon. member who is trying to cast an unwarranted fog and unwarranted innuendo on the reputation of the Prime Minister.

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Deputy Prime Minister can figure out that the doubts are the reason that we raising this question.

Canadians were allowed access to a copy of the bill of sale. Now the accuracy of that copy has been put into question. Why will the government not commit to allowing access to the original? What could it be that the Prime Minister would be hiding?

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I again point out that we are dealing with something that does not pertain to the activities of the government or the Prime Minister as Prime Minister.

I really think we should refrain from further comment until we have heard the outcome of the Alliance's consultations with their fortune teller, palm reader and psychic hotline.

Grants And ContributionsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked the industry minister whether the RCMP had finished the investigations into the alleged forgery of the loan authorization for the Auberge Grand-Mère.

BDC quickly sent that document to the police when it became apparent that the Prime Minister could be implicated. Did the RCMP finish its investigation into the alleged forgery? If not, could the industry minister tell the House when we can expect an answer?