Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my views on this motion. I find it surprising that the Bloc would use its allotted day to ask for changes that have already been made in our Standing Orders.
The fundamental question being asked today is how should governments go about appointing the many people who are needed to ensure the proper administration of the country and ensuring that candidates are chosen for their qualifications and not out of whim or patronage? In this kind of debate, I think it is impossible to please everybody.
In the 1980s, I was a journalist. We had a Progressive-Conservative government in Ottawa then, and the debates were the same. Naturally, it is easy for the Bloc to ask for anything and everything, because it will never hold power.
We answered these questions when we amended the Standing Orders, our rules in this House.
Extensive consultations were held to find a mechanism that would allow for a more active participation in the examination of appointments. Several recommendations were made and were included in the Standing Orders of the House. Thus, the ability of members of Parliament to examine many of the appointments mentioned in today's motion was increased.
For example, in accordance with the current Standing Orders:
A Minister of the Crown shall lay upon the Table a certified copy of an Order in Council, stating that a certain individual has been appointed to a... non-judicial post, not later than five sitting days after the Order in Council is published in the Canada Gazette. The same shall be deemed to have been referred to a standing committee specified at the time of tabling, pursuant to Standing Order 32(6), for its consideration during a period not exceeding thirty sitting days.
During this period, the minister may be asked to provide the resume of the appointee, to show his or her ability to carry out the duties.
Committee members may ask that the appointee or the nominee appearsbefore them to answer their questions on the subject.
Where the Government intends to appoint an Officer of Parliament, the Clerk of the House or the Parliamentary Librarian, the name of the proposed appointee shall be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committee... not more than thirty days following the tabling of a document concerning the proposed appointment.
The committee then has thirty days to make a motion to ratify this person's appointment.
The purpose of the Bloc Quebecois motion is, therefore, met by the Standing Orders we already have. The Standing Orders are, in fact, even more complete than the Bloc motion, in that they apply not only to the appointments listed in the motion, but to all order in council appointments.
SInce this government came to power in 1993, it has proposed some 4,300 appointments. I strongly recommend that any members unfamiliar with the procedure take the time to get familiar with House of Commons Procedure and Practice by clerks Marleau and Montpetit.
As I have already pointed out, the wording of the Bloc Quebecois motion is still more limited than the Standing Orders. I would like to stress that point and also to make a detailled comparison.
The motion proposes that the appointments of ambassadors, consuls general and heads of regulatory bodies and Crown corporations should automatically be referred to committees. The Standing Orders provide for this, but as well includes all Deputy Minister appointments, which the Bloc Quebecois motion does not specify. The Standing Orders do.
The motion also refers to administrators of regulatory bodies such as the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency and the National Energy Board.
Some quasi-judiciary appointments are proposed based on House precedent, namely appointments to the Employment Insurance Board of Referees, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. There is no mention of these whatsoever in this motion.
The present Standing Orders are, therefore, in line with the motion presented today. They are, however, more thorough, because they do not apply only to the appointments listed in the motion, but to all appointments by order in council.
Why are we being asked to address this motion today? We also need to ask ourselves whether we want to adopt an American-style system, which will politicize the appointment process and lead us to the media frenzies my colleagues have already mentioned.
The McGrath committee, which proposed changes to the Standing Orders, analyzed this system. They told us it was not desirable in Canada—