Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to the motion dealing with private members' business. I would also like to indicate that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Provencher.
It was quite interesting to listen to my friend on the other side speaking about partisan politics and saying that they do not talk partisan politics. The problem is that when he starts on the rhetoric it is necessary for us to set the record straight.
Talking about setting the record straight, I would like to say that the motion we are debating was introduced and brought in by my hon. colleague sitting next to me. I commend him for doing so. I know he was on the committee and was extremely frustrated with the way things were going so he introduced this motion.
Despite what my friend on the other side said about all the problems or little turbulences my party is going through, I would like to tell Canadians that we have been elected to represent them in parliament and to hold the government accountable and that is exactly what we are doing.
The introduction of the motion dealing with private members' business is to ensure that members of parliament from all parties have the right to stand in parliament to speak on behalf of their constituents.
When my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona asked the member a question about how many times he had voted independently, he gave us a great analogy of playing on a hockey team. As Canadians have said time after time, and if he goes back to his riding and polls his constituents perhaps they will tell him, they want him to speak on their behalf. That is what he has been sent here for, not this team business. There are no goals to be scored here. We have to stand up and represent our ridings, and that is what my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona was asking of my friend on the other side.
I return to the issue of private members' business. This is my second term in the House. I am very grateful to my constituents of Calgary East that sent me here to debate issues they feel are important. Based on that we try very hard to introduce private members' bills. It is one of our vehicles as members of parliament who are not in government or who are not ministers to bring the concerns of Canadians to the floor of the House. It was brought in over the years so that members of parliament could democratically represent their ridings.
During my first term as a rookie MP I submitted a lot of private members' bills. Lo and behold not one was chosen. For four years I have stood on this side of the House and I could not address those issues. When I was returned to the 37th parliament I reintroduced the same bills and two of my private members' bills were selected in the lottery system. I thank God for having my bills selected because it is only through His hand that these bills were selected.
When I was preparing my private member's bill I consulted Canadians across the country and received their input. Those Canadians who felt these were important issues got excited. One of my bills dealt with emancipation day to recognize Canada's contribution to the abolition of slavery. Members of the black community were extremely excited and happy. They gave me full support. They even came here from Toronto to recognize this important day.
I also had a private member's bill dealing with a minimum sentence of two years for repeat break and enter offenders. Over the last parliament I went across Canada. I spoke on radio talk shows. I received the support of Canadians, including the chiefs of police of Toronto, Saskatoon and Calgary, the police association of Calgary and the Canadian Police Association. There was a huge amount of support from all those groups. When I brought my bill forward I thought it would be a non-partisan event and that it would be debated in the House of Commons so that Canadians would know on which side of the issue the government would be.
The subcommittee that was set up to select private members' bills said that my bill would not be votable. Suddenly all the hard work and excitement and all the associations that provided support meant nothing. With it saying no, all I could do was stand in the House to speak to the bill for 10 minutes. I spoke for 10 minutes on the bill. I might as well have gone home and spoken in front of a mirror because there was nothing I could do about it. I was angry. I spoke, sat down and said goodbye to all the effort that was put into the bill.
I reintroduced that bill in the House today. Unless we change the system the same thing will happen. All the groups that work hard to bring issues to parliament will not have their voices heard because the government has a different agenda. The government's agenda is not to represent every Canadian. It is running the country and it has a different agenda, but as members of parliament we can bring issues forward through private members' bills. We spend a lot of time getting support. Then we come to the House, and why is it that three or four people decide whether or not a bill will be votable?
My friend on that committee felt frustration arising out of it and brought forward the motion we are debating today. I was very pleased, in one degree, when I listened to the government House leader say he will support the bill. All the other parties have said they will support the bill, so let me say that I am literally looking forward to returning to parliament in September when private members' bills are votable.
Now I can go out there and work hard as I can to bring a bill here and I can tell Canadians, yes, it will be brought to the House, it will be put to a vote and we will vote on it. If the members over there on the government side and other members feel this is an important bill and vote for it without following party lines and not playing at teamwork, this will become a House that will gain the respect of Canadians.