This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to government order, government business Nos. 2A and 2B, I move:

That debate be not further adjourned.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, now there will be a 30-minute question period.

I would ask my colleagues, given there are only 30 minutes, to limit questions or comments to approximately one minute in order to accommodate anyone who would like to ask the minister a question.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address this motion today.

We have heard a lot of talk from the government side about the need to address the democratic deficit in this place. What we are seeing today I think is just gross hypocrisy. We have a situation where the government is proposing to bring in time allocation, which of course is very, very anti-democratic, on an omnibus bill which is democratically suspect, at a time when the government is also enjoying the fruits of a throne speech and all the wonderful media hype that goes with it but at the same time undermining the tradition which says that the slate is supposed to be wiped clean when a throne speech is brought in. The government is trying to reverse all of that, and that is a democratic safeguard.

The government is doing it in particular on two bills that have enjoyed tremendous scrutiny by the public and which the public is very concerned about: Bills C-5 and C-15B. My question is this: How can the government say it is concerned about democracy when it is employing all these anti-democratic weapons to undermine democracy itself?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are so many things wrong with those allegations one barely knows where to start.

The hon. member says I have moved time allocation. I have not. I have moved closure, as a matter of fact.

He talks about an omnibus bill. There is no omnibus bill before the House at all. This is an enabling motion to permit the government not to create any new bill but to reintroduce that which has already been discussed at the stage completed prior to where we concluded the debate when we adjourned in June, so it is entirely inaccurate to say that.

The other thing is the member let the cat out of the bag in his allegation because he recognized himself that the opposition had moved a phony dilatory motion with the pretext of removing the possibility from the government to reintroduce two very important measures supported by a large number of Canadians, namely Bill C-5, the species at risk bill, which everybody wants us to move ahead with, and it is the same thing with Bill C-15B.

Those arguments are not very genuine.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is really wrong is a minister of the Crown standing up in this place and attacking the opposition for trying to raise the level of democracy in this place after the government itself has been trying to fool the Canadian public about its desire to bring about some much-needed democratic reform to this institution.

I want to ask the minister about the democratic deficit as well, which his future boss, the former finance minister, has belatedly been musing about. The government has invoked closure and time allocation a total of 78 times: 70 time allocation motions and 8 closure motions, including the closure motion today. During the debate on parliamentary reform in 1991, 11 years ago, the former minister of public works, friend of the present minister answering these questions, Mr. Gagliano, an ethical Liberal guru, I would suggest, said in the House:

The government claims that the proposed changes [to the Standing Orders] will make the proceedings more relevant and increase the efficiency of the House. First of all, we must realize that this is being proposed by the very government that applied closure 13 times and time allocation...eight times--

The Liberals were opposed to it when they were in opposition. What has changed?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember well the 1991 changes proposed by the Conservative government to the Standing Orders. The Conservative government in 1991--and, Mr. Speaker, you, being the objective person that you are, will remember how challenged these folks were in that regard--moved to change the Standing Orders and at that time did so even without the consent of the other parties in the House of Commons.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

What are you doing today?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, actually not. The hon. member says we have changed the Standing Orders today. That is nonsense. The last changes made in the Standing Orders were in the modernization committee report at which the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast and a number of others and I participated and unanimously recommended to the House. The House unanimously adopted the changes we proposed. One of these changes was the procedure that exists this morning, whereby when closure or time allocation is required, which it is today, there is a half-hour debate in the House. That is what we are doing.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the government House leader talk about the need to bring back all this legislation. Really, the question that is raised as a result of this is, why did the government prorogue to begin with? If all the same legislation is coming back, what was the reason to prorogue the House?

We know that there are two pieces of legislation that have been of considerable controversy, not just last summer, but for years prior to that. In fact, the Liberals have tried several times to bring forward the endangered species legislation, the species at risk bill, Bill C-15. I know from travelling my constituency all summer that there is still a tremendous amount of debate about this issue. Most of the people I have talked to are very much against it and would like to see this issue debated further in the House before it passes. Why prorogue the House if the government is going to bring back the same kind of legislation?

I would like to ask the House leader of the government if he will at least take Bills C-15B and C-5, the two controversial bills, out of this omnibus legislation he is trying to bring back, separate them and let us move on with the other issues that the government wants to proceed with?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no omnibus legislation. There is nothing before us of that nature. What is before us is an enabling motion that enables the government then to reintroduce the legislation at the conclusion of the step that was previously adopted by the House, not the Senate.

The other question the hon. member asks is, why did we prorogue? Obviously, to have a new session and to have a throne speech wherein we could announce all of the new things that the government intends to do for the betterment of Canadians. For our program for the next 15 to 18 months, just as it was an excellent initiative in the last 15 to 18 months, we want to do the same and even better in the future. The concept of doing things better and to improve the lot of Canadians perhaps will elude the hon. member and his colleagues but it is a worthwhile objective.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the House leader opposite is defeating his own argument. If the government prorogues to bring in a throne speech to give the government new direction but then brings in all the old bills, that is not right. There are two bills in particular we are worried about, Bills C-5 and C-15B. Why will the government not consider pulling these two out of this and dealing with them separately?

The fact is that there was a throne speech, a new direction and all of this for the country, and then here we come with all these old bills and legislation. It does not make sense.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course it makes sense. The opposite would not make sense. What sense would it make to start back on legislation which is three-quarters completed, two-thirds completed, seven-eighths completed, whatever, in the case of every piece of legislation? The only thing that the hon. member wants is to cause delay in those two pieces of legislation because he does not happen to like them. That has nothing to do with the fact that the House has already voted on them.

He is asking us why we have had a throne speech. Let me outline the excellent initiatives our Prime Minister is suggesting to us: health protection; family care; child protection; family law; Kyoto; species at risk, which of course we are going to reintroduce; public service modernization, improving the Lobbyists Registration Act; political financing; ethics counsellor; code of conduct; and first nations governance. These are all excellent initiatives that our Prime Minister is suggesting to the House. We have just voted on the throne speech and, Mr. Speaker, the House democratically voted in favour of the throne speech and we are going to implement it.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the House that the government has had the species at risk bill on its table for nine years. Now all of a sudden it is bringing in closure and ramming this thing through. It is a disgrace. The government has had nine years to deal with this matter. To break parliamentary rules and traditions with closure to deal with this sort of thing is astounding.

I want to raise another question on the cruelty to animals legislation. The House leader says it is popular. It is not popular among farmers. We are introducing American-style tort law into our criminal law. I have visions of the American style of trial lawyers, well financed by animal rights groups, challenging every practice existing in western Canadian farming today. These people cannot afford to deal with this matter. They are fighting for their survival right now. I would ask the House leader to explain what specific protections are in that legislation to protect our farmers from harassment by the American trial-lawyer style of people.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, that bill is not before us this morning. At the risk of--

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

It's in the motion.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It is not included or excluded in anything.

As I said before, this is an enabling motion to permit the government to bring bills back at the stage that they were. This makes no new law. This particular measure has existed, and let me quote from my own speech on Friday in the unlikely event that the hon. member was not here to listen to it. I said that these kinds of motions to reintroduce bills at the break of a parliamentary session were brought forward in 1970, 1972, 1974, 1986, 1991, 1996 and 1999.

As a matter of fact, so common is this procedure that we even put it in the Standing Orders for the purpose of private members' bills, so that private members' bills, possibly under the hon. member's own name or those of his colleagues, can be reintroduced by the same kind of feature. It is even included in the rules.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the 75th time that closure or time allocation has been applied; whoever is in power, government always acts the same way.

This government reminds me of a student driver. Sometimes, it steps on the wrong pedal; sometimes, it speeds up or brakes for no good reason.

We have to wonder whether the government wanted to continue with the legislation it had introduced. The House was due back on September 16. Again, for no good reason, the opening of Parliament was delayed until September 30, and we had this throne speech, which told us absolutely nothing we did not know already about the government's intentions. And now, having debated for barely one hour, we are already under yet another gag order.

The government has not even shown the need for such a motion, the justification for which we would like to get.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what math school the hon. member has attended but he said “having debated for barely one hour”. The fact is we debated Monday morning, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m, and Tuesday, from noon until 2:30 p.m.; that makes 3.5 hours, as far as I can tell. What is worse, a dilatory motion was introduced, not by his party but by the Canadian Alliance Party, to prevent the motion to reinstate, as is customary, bills from the previous session from being adopted.

On the one hand, the hon. member's math is wrong. And on the other hand, the purpose of the motion is to reinstate bills at the same stage.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are two abuses of Parliament here. One is that the government, for its own partisan reasons, stopped the House from coming back to do its work when it should have come back. That was done because the Liberal Party exploded through the summer. It had no agenda to present to the House of Commons. It is now trying to rush through a motion that will mean that its decision to shut down Parliament has no consequences to it. You cannot break rules without consequences, Mr. Speaker.

The second abuse is that clearly the government has cold feet on some of the measures it was bringing through and that it had introduced. So it will bring forward some. The suspicion is that it will use this device not to bring forward measures that should be brought before the House.

My question for the minister is this. He argues that this is enabling legislation. I assume that it is part of a plan. It is to enable something. Is it to enable the presentation in the House of each bill that was on the Order Paper before the government shut down the House of Commons, or is there going to be cherry picking? Will some of the bills that Canadians had a right to expect would be debated by Parliament before the House of Commons was shut down for partisan reasons in September not see the light of day? Will this enabling legislation therefore be enacted to ensure that every piece of legislation that was on the Order Paper when the government shut down the House will be reintroduced by the relevant minister, every one of them?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, there is no legislation. This is an enabling motion, as the right hon. member will know. Obviously if it is enabling, it enables to do or not to do. Otherwise it would not be enabling. That is the feature of being enabling. That is the definition. I did not invent it, but that is what enabling means.

He spoke of this so-called abuse, at least in his mind that is what it is. This is interesting, because we had the MP from Saint John and his own party telling us we just had to have Her Majesty to read the throne speech. His colleague from Central Nova sent me a letter in which he asked me to promise not to have his majesty read the throne speech. Those are the two messages and those two people are sitting side by side in the House of Commons. There must be all of 18 inches between where those two people sit.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Who is the member from Central Nova and who is his majesty?

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The government House leader, if he wants to respond.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt as to who Her Majesty is. There is no doubt also about the letter that I received from the hon. member from Central Nova. As a matter of fact he made it an open letter. I could always table one because the right hon. member likes to table all kinds of stuff in this House. He asks for it all the time.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the government is probably headed toward establishing a centenary record. The government is at 78 closures and, who knows, it may get the 100. I do not think that is very complimentary to any government. I know when it was in the opposition, it certainly criticized the government in power at the time.

I sat for many hours in the environment committee on Bill C-5. However my concern is that for Bill C-15B a promise was made to the backbench agricultural people in the your own caucus that the Senate would guarantee that all the things for which we were asking would be put in the bill. We learned in December that the Senate said that nobody would tell it anything. Those promises, which were made, will not be kept. Now the bill will come back to the House and we will have no assurance that you will not shut down an entire industry and leave it up to those outside the House to decide what cruelty is. We are in a drastic situation.

I think that bill--

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Please address your comments to the Chair.