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House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting Supplementary Estimates (A) of the sums required for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2003, was presented by the Hon. President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker of the House.

Supplementary Estimates (A) 2002-2003Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

I would like to ask whether the message from the Governor General which was just read is in proper order.

Supplementary Estimates (A) 2002-2003Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

As far as the Speaker can tell, it is.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

Public Safety Act, 2002Routine Proceedings

October 31st, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-18, An Act respecting Canadian citizenship.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 48th CPA conference which was held from September 6 to 14, 2002, in Windhoek, Namibia.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the 9th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on the Environment and Development held in Seoul, Korea, in July 2002.

I also have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the 23rd General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization, IPO, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in September 2002.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, on behalf of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis who could not be here at the moment, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly's 11th annual session in Berlin, Germany, from July 6 to 10, 2002.

Young Offenders ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-281, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am reintroducing this bill that would amend the Young Offenders Act to make an offence set out in section 7.2 as a hybrid offence. It deals with parental accountability with respect to signed undertakings to supervise court imposed conditions for interim release.

The bill was originally introduced in the 36th Parliament as Bill C-260 and as C-235 in the previous session of this Parliament. The Minister of Justice has recognized the value of this legislation as it has been incorporated verbatim in the new youth criminal justice act slated to take effect on April 1, 2003.

While some may say it is therefore redundant, it is my intention to keep this proposed amendment on the order paper as long as the Young Offenders Act remains the law of the land.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-282, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am reintroducing legislation to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It was Bill C-434 in the previous session.

This amendment would permit an immigration officer to require a foreign national applying for a visitor's visa to provide security as a condition of the issuance of that visa. It would also provide for immediate removal from Canada if the visa conditions or requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act were not complied with.

This bill is a direct result of working with my constituents whose family members living abroad have repeatedly been denied visitor visas for a variety of reasons. While my bill would not eliminate the possibility of visitors remaining in Canada beyond the approved period, it would provide the statutory means for their swift removal. My bill would give many Canadians the opportunity to enjoy family occasions together with loved ones from overseas. I look forward to debating this bill further in the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2002Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

moved that Bill S-2, An Act to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Kuwait, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, Moldova, Norway, Belgium and Italy for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion and to amend the enacted text of three tax treaties, be read the first time.

(Motion agreed to, and bill read the first time)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, as per the notice we served 48 hours ago, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on Tuesday, October 29, be concurred in. The report deals with the election of chairs of committees.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brossard—La Prairie.

As the House knows, this is the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This is an unusual committee. As members realize, but members of the public may not, it is a committee which is very central to the operation of the House. Its name is procedure and House affairs and obviously it is greatly seized with the procedures of the House on a day to day basis but, in particular, the procedures of the House as they are enunciated in the standing orders.

As the House affairs side of the title suggests, it is very much seized with the effectiveness of the House of Commons and greatly seized with the effectiveness of individual members of Parliament.

A great deal of the work of members of Parliament is their work in committee, and members take great pride in that. Many of them at the moment deeply regret the fact that the vast majority of the committees are not functioning yet, believe it or not, after so many weeks. It is my hope, as chair of the committee, and the hope of other members, that the committees operate as quickly as possible and as soon as possible.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs deals with the operations of the House of Commons. In the last year or so I have to say that members on both sides of the House on that committee have been very involved with the question of modernizing and reforming the House of Commons in various ways.

For example, it was this committee that made it possible for every sitting of every committee of the House to be televised. This was not the case before. As the House knows, we have always had committees that could be televised and we have rooms for special televised hearings but now, as a result of the work of this committee, it is possible to televise any committee meeting. We think that is a step forward. It has been a very progressive group.

Also in the last House the committee tabled a report, which it has retabled, on the reform of private members' business. Again, this is something which has to do with the very grassroots operation of this place and with the way individual members function. I think that report on private members' business is a considerable step forward. It is my hope, now that it has been reintroduced, that we will move forward on many if not all of the reforms suggested in that report.

I also have to say that this is not a normal committee. Its members include all five whips of the House. As well, the membership often includes House leaders and parliamentary secretaries on the government side. It is a very unusual committee. When the committee meets the parties are, in a very real sense, talking to each other directly, through their whips and other party officers, about the operations of the House today and for the future. Therefore it does not make decisions lightly. In my experience as chair, the members on all sides work very hard and do their best to maintain the health and quality of what goes on in this place.

In this case, the report that is before us proposes that rather than an open ballot at the first meeting of the year of any standing committee, that there be a secret ballot to elect the chair and the two vice-chairs of the 17, 18 or whatever number of standing committees we have.

The current practice, except in two cases, is that the chair and one vice-chair are from the government side, and one vice-chair is from the opposition side. Normally there is a show of hands and people are elected. I was elected in that way two or three weeks ago.

In my case, as far as I could tell sitting there when the clerk was conducting the election, I was elected unanimously but the members had to indicate by a show of hands who it was they were voting for.

The proposal in the report is for that process to take place in secret through a secret ballot. The report was brought forward by a majority of the committee. I think, as everyone knows, it was a majority which included government members and opposition members.

I want you to know, Madam Speaker, that the report had majority support but there were divisions in the committee and amendments were put during the debate. The amendments included the fact that the distribution of chairs and vice-chairs remain exactly the same as I have just explained: a chair usually from the government, except in special cases; a vice-chair from the government and a vice-chair from the opposition.

One amendment also included the provision for a review at the end of a year so we could see how the new procedure would operate and then there would be a review. At that time the committee and certainly the House would have a chance to re-address the matter.

In my view, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs gave this matter very full and open examination. It engaged in as passionate a debate as I have seen in my time as chair of that committee, which is normally, I have to say, a fairly dispassionate committee. This morning I am moving concurrence in the report which I tabled earlier this week.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

He said that the committee worked hard and gave the matter very full and very open examination. Today, he is recommending that we adopt the motion he has put forward.

Would he agree with me that the matter should be put to us without the government making any amendments? This way, members would have the opportunity to vote immediately on the matter to ensure things get done properly, as the committee has already done its job. I cannot see the committee acting any differently. This is simple, this is the democratic way. The chair will be elected by secret ballot, and the matter will be closed. It would work better than having amendments and having the government meddle with the motion put forward by the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member knows, as soon as the committee had completed its deliberations, as soon as I possibly could, I tabled the report. I think it was the very same day. At exactly that same time I tabled written notice of the motion that I am moving now.

The member asks about amendments to this. It is my hope that now here in the House of Commons there will be as full a debate as we had in our committee. We are the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I think we should abide by the procedures of the House of Commons and the standing orders that exist for debates of this type.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Madam Speaker, the chairman of the procedure and House affairs committee mentioned that the vast number of committees were not sitting. I wonder why they would be sitting when we have a government that has scheduled House business this week alone with two days taken up with take note debates, two opposition days and a Friday, a half a day, for government business.

Next week it is the same thing: two supply days, motions from the last Parliament.

The government must be embarrassed that it had a throne speech, which took two weeks out of Parliament's time, and then recessed. We came back and we still have not seen one piece of new legislation. Everything is from the last Parliament. Even the citizenship bill that was introduced this morning came from the last Parliament.

The government is in chaos and yet we have a committee that is working and functioning properly, which has come to a conclusion by a majority vote, and now the government is using some trickery this morning to send it back to a committee for a couple of weeks. It knows that in the meantime all the committees will be struck, so the intent of that committee will not take place until the next session.

It is a sham. I wonder how the chairman of our committee can accept that type of nonsense from the leadership of his government.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, as you know, both of the people who have spoken so far are members of the committee. One is the party whip of the NDP and the other is the House leader of the Alliance. That gives the House an indication of the nature of the committee that I have tried to describe.

In terms of the work of the House, I do not particularly want to debate that issue, but there are six bills before the House and some of those bills are ready to go to committee.

As the member knows, as chair of the committee I do not very often interfere in the debate and do not often get a chance to debate, but as chair of this committee I take it very personally that I am responsible for the working conditions of members of Parliament. I truly do.

When I am in the chair I play the role of the chair to the limit of the possibility. This does not mean, Madam Speaker, if you will excuse the term, that I am sort of a political eunuch, because I do have my own views. Just imagine 18 committees with 16 members each, and my arithmetic may not very good, but that is 200 or 300 members of Parliament who could be working. By the way, either at the time the Chamber is sitting or in the evenings, or in times of breaks, the committees could be operating.

My colleague and I sit very close to each other on the committee. As a member of Parliament and, in particular, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I consider that my first duty is to see to it, as I have done today, to introduce the report, which may well improve the working conditions of those committees, and to keep the committee functioning as well as I can.

My second duty is to ensure that committees do start their work as soon as possible so members can occupy themselves with the topics that interest them most.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to move the following amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and by substituting the following:

“the second report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be referred back to the committee for the purpose of reconsidering its recommendations”.

And that the committee report to the House thereon within fifteen sitting days.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Madam Speaker, it is hard to believe what is going on here. I noticed that some people who were on TV this morning are probably frustrated right now. It is one thing to be in the opposition and be a little frustrated to witness this unbelievable attack on democracy, but I wonder what some of the other folks are feeling.

There was a legitimate vote yesterday in the procedure and House affairs committee. The chairman of that committee just said that the people who have spoken thus far are members of that committee. Well, I am not. I am just observing this from the outside and it is unbelievable that they did not get their way in that committee, shucks, but now they will just throw it over to the big one and they have 15 days just to tromp on people and tell them to behave or else.

Madam Speaker, you are a member of that party, a member of the government. I appreciate that you are trying to be neutral in the Chair, but it seems to me that if people from the outside are looking at what is happening here, their guts should be churning, quite frankly. What will happen is that it will come back to bite them and it probably will not be very long because we are in for a new regime here. We have heard the speeches about the democratic deficit and we have seen the red book but what we are seeing here flies in the face of that kind of nonsense.

Someone who just stood up to speak was given 10 minutes and read some edict from somebody who said that it did not go our way so we will have 15 days to strong arm some of these people.

How, in good conscience, can the member stand up and read an amendment to the motion like that, that they are going to go back and give it another kick at the can? What about inside his caucus when he is facing a possible revolt of two people who misbehaved, in their books, yesterday? I say good on them. What will he say to those people in the next 15 days?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that the member for Edmonton North should be the one talking to me about revolt. How quickly she forgets her history.

What she does not seem to know, or in any case will not indicate, is that in this institution of ours, there is a process whereby decisions made by a committee become recommendations made to the House as a whole. It is up to the House as a whole to decide.

To assume that all of the committee report must automatically be concurred in, as she does, is to deprive the members of the House who are not on the committee the opportunity to express their views on the matter. It is basically taking away their democratic right to speak on such issues. She knows it full well; she is playing petty party politics.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, I have something to say about petty politics. I believe petty politics is what took place this morning in Ottawa, when the Prime Minister called all his members, to call them to order before entering the House of Commons chamber. That is petty politics. That is democracy lost in our country.

It is a shame that the Prime Minister called all his members in before Parliament opened this morning to put the whip to them again, which makes an attack on democracy. Members of Parliament are intelligent enough, and some of the members opposite are intelligent enough, to vote on the side of the opposition because they are sick and tired of the Prime Minister whipping them every time they turn around, when it comes time for democracy.

As far as I am concerned, the hon. member who brought forward this amendment should be ashamed of himself. This is not the democracy for which Canadians are looking. I would like him to answer for this.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, that is interesting. I must not be a member of the team in question, because I did not receive any call from the Prime Minister this morning.

The second thing that is important, and I want to stress this point, is that the NDP member who just spoke said that only the intelligent people voted one way, which means that those who voted the opposite way are not intelligent.

Since when does a democracy disparage the intelligence of those who disagree? Since when does a democracy disparage the wish of member of the House of Commons to—

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I never said that the people on his side of the House were not intelligent. I said that all people in the House were intelligent and they should have the right to vote and not be forced by the Prime Minister.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague opposite has just repeated again that everyone should have the right to vote, and that is precisely what we want; that is precisely what we are doing right now.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.