That Bill C-28, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 2 with the following:
“is equal to 45.8 per cent of the remuneration”.
Mr. Chairman, it is certainly a rare occasion for me to find myself in agreement with the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt. This day will go down in infamy.
Our party has an amendment which is similar, not numerically similar but in the same ballpark, and it would have the effect of reducing the raise from 20% to 10%. We do this because we feel that this is the kind of raise that could be justified given certain indicators.
We do not understand the rationale for a 20% increase. We think a lot of Canadians feel likewise. We understand the rationale in a technical sense because the government has paid the Prime Minister a certain amount equal to the chief justice, then it has worked its way down in terms of percentages and arrived at a certain number, and that number is a 20% increase over what members are now making. We understand how it got there, but we share the feeling of a lot of Canadians that a 20% raise is incomprehensible to them when they know what kind of percentage increases they are being offered at the bargaining table. It is for this reason we signal our intention that we would be much happier with a 10% raise, and feel much more comfortable with it than a 20% raise.
In doing this we are acting in a way that is somewhat contradictory in a sense, but I think we are acting in that contradictory way because a lot of us have said we need to have this taken out of our hands and have someone else make the recommendation. We have a commission before us and all of us here have moved amendments to change the recommendations that have been made by this independent body, so we are all a bit guilty of this.
The government has not brought in a bill that is identical to what Mr. Lumley and the hon. member for Elk Island recommended. There are Alliance amendments, Conservative amendments and NDP amendments. All of us want to tinker with this independent recommendation, each in our own way. For me it just points out the reason why the part of the bill that takes it out of our hands forever is a good part of the bill, because we are setting up a mechanism now with which we will not be able to tinker in the future.
The fact of the matter is that it does not matter how independent a report it is and how well written it is, when it gets to the floor of the House we will all have our opinions on what should be changed in it. Therefore, it becomes politicized no matter how hard we try not to politicize it.
I say this by way of wanting to put on the record one more time the fact that we support the way in which the bill finally does what the NDP has been asking for for many years, and on the basis of which sometimes in the past we have voted against salary increases because we have said that this does not remove it from us, and it means that we would have to go through this again. Finally, this time we have a process by which we will not have to go through this again.
I would warn members that if the independent commission that settles judges salaries and if judges salaries start to go through the roof, there will be politics again, because we always have the possibility of changing the mechanism. In other words, we never completely evade responsibility for this. However, I think we go some way toward creating a situation in which we will not have to have this kind of tension again. Hopefully we will not have the kind of silliness that the member for Portage—Lisgar refers to. I and my party agree with him and others who have criticized the government for bringing in this opting in clause.
I just wanted to put on the record that all of us are tinkering with the commission report. We are very good at pointing out when the government does it or when somebody else does it. However, the Conservatives have disagreed with the provision to pay chairs and they have brought in amendments on that score. The Alliance has other concerns about the report. We are all guilty of tinkering with the report.
We have the ability to change the report. The government has the ability to change it by virtue of using its majority. We all have the ability to change it by agreeing with each other. I would urge members to consider the wisdom of having a 10% increase as opposed to a 20% increase.