House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.


Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is in regard to the motion on the Order Paper calling for the ratification of the Kyoto protocol by this House.

I submit that the motion is out of order and cannot be received by the Chair.

On October 29 of this year, the House adopted a motion sponsored by me, as Leader of the Opposition, on October 24. It read:

That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.

I am aware that motions calling on the government to act or not act are not binding on the government. However, the motion adopted on October 29 was not such a motion. It was an order of the House applying restrictions on itself in regard to a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

The motion begins with “That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House”. It does not say “Before the government ratifies the Kyoto protocol”. It states before “the House” ratifies the Kyoto protocol, and the only way for the House to ratify the Kyoto protocol is through a motion.

This is not uncommon. In the last Parliament a motion was moved restricting the use of time allocation and closure. It stated that for the remainder of the session the Chair could not receive such motions.

Perhaps you will remember that one, Mr. Speaker. I think you were in the Chair when the motion was moved and adopted. You are also aware that the government was anxious to rescind the motion, but since it did not have the use of closure it was in a bit of a pickle. In a pickle or not, the House order was in play and the government could not move time allocation or closure until the motion was rescinded.

Let us consider another example. The House frequently adopts what has become known as the autopilot motion. With autopilot motions we have a situation whereby the House puts restrictions on the moving of dilatory motions and unanimous consent motions. These autopilot motions actually go so far as to restrict themselves from complying with a constitutional requirement regarding quorum.

The quorum in this House is a requirement of the Constitution Act, section 48. While I recognize that the quorum necessity of 20 is not altered directly, the inability to bring to the attention of the Chair the lack of quorum in the House indirectly waives the constitutional procedural requirement of quorum. Since a quorum call is the only means by which quorum is enforced during a sitting, the inability call quorum is in essence the same as waiving the quorum requirement.

Our motion of October 24 does not even come close to the restrictions placed upon the House by the autopilot motions.

At the beginning of this Parliament, the government House leader introduced a particularly nasty motion that placed unreasonable restrictions on members' ability to introduce report stage amendments.

The motion read:

For greater clarity, the Speaker will not select for debate a motion or series of motions of a repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage and, in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

The member for Elk Island moved an amendment that read:

That the motion be amended by adding:

and for even greater clarity, the Speaker may select for debate all motions, regardless of their nature, if in his or her opinion the rights of the minority have been infringed upon in any way.

Unfortunately the amendment was defeated and the main motion passed. As a result, the opposition's ability to delay legislation was impeded. The government's motion placed certain conditions on members' ability to introduce report stage motions. My point is that the House can place restrictions upon itself and, in the case of the motion adopted on October 29, those restrictions are clear.

Even if a motion is adopted that only calls on the government to take some sort of action, there is an expectation and obligation on the part of the government to comply. If the government fails to comply, I think our reaction to its inaction depends on the circumstances. If the government discovers after examination that it is unable to comply because of budgetary restraints, for example, then that may be legitimate and may explain why a government is not bound to a motion. On the other hand, a government that knowingly votes for a motion with the full knowledge that it has no inclination to give effect to the motion is clearly in contempt of the House, and I think the House should take action.

The Deputy Prime Minister was musing that Canada may not have to comply with the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, so Canadians should not worry about Canada signing on. With that statement, a case could be made that the government voted for the Alliance motion thinking that it did not have to comply either. This constitutes, in my opinion, an insult to the House and demeans members and the role they play.

Do members recall when the Liberals were in opposition and the government was advertising the GST as if it were law before the legislation was passed? It raised this in the House and the Speaker ruled on it on October 10, 1989. The Speaker quoted the former member for Windsor West, Herb Gray, who said:

When this advertisement--says in effect there will be a new tax on January 1, 1991,--the advertisement is intended to convey the idea that Parliament has acted on it because that is, I am sure, the ordinary understanding of Canadians about how a tax like this is finally adopted and comes into effect. That being the case, it is clearly a contempt of Parliament because it amounts to a misrepresentation of the role of this House.

If the House adopts the motion that sets out conditions before the Kyoto protocol can be ratified and those conditions are not met, then, as Herb Gray argued, the ordinary understanding would be that the Kyoto protocol ought not to be ratified.

We have had numerous other examples that resulted in Speaker's rulings. On November 6, 1997, Speaker Parent said:

Nonetheless, the Chair acknowledges that this is a matter of potential importance since it touches the role of members as legislators, a role which should not be trivialized...This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices.

If the Deputy Prime Minister wants to make a mockery of international treaties, then Canada will pay a price. If he is making a mockery of the role of the House and its members, then he and his government should pay a price.

Even if the motion did call on the government to take action, a good case could be argued that this would allow the House to take action against the government. However, as I said earlier, the motion does not call on the government, but is a motion restricting the House from considering any motion that ratifies the Kyoto protocol before there is an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached, and its costs. Since there is no such plan the motion is out of order or, at a minimum, cannot be moved until the conditions in the motion from October 24 have been complied with.

The House may have noted that in the Order Paper of Wednesday, November 20 a number of questions and motions have been put on notice that address the matter of my point of order.

Question No. 52 reads:

As part of the Implementation plan for the Kyoto Protocol as called for in the motion adopted by the House on October 24, 2002, is the government guaranteeing that energy taxes will not be increased in a bid to reach its Kyoto targets?

Question No. 53 reads:

As part of the implementation plan for the Kyoto Protocol as called for in the motion adopted by the House on October 24, 2002, is the government warranting its price increase projection and is it planning on covering anything over and above those projections?

The preambles to Questions Nos. 55, 56 and 57 are identical, but they ask different questions regarding provincial jurisdiction, and grants and contributions to pro-Kyoto groups.

You will also note, Mr. Speaker, the appearance of a number of motions for the production of papers on Wednesday, November 20. The theme of these motions is the same as the questions I just referred to: Motion No. P-18 inquires into documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the benefits, targets and costs of Kyoto; P-19 is concerned with the Department of Industry; P-20 is concerned with the Department of Transport; P-21 is concerned with the Department of the Environment; P-22 targets documents in the Department of Agriculture; P-23, Department of Natural Resources; P-24, the National Energy Board; and P-25 seeks documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

On Thursday, November 21 another motion for the production of papers appeared on notice, and it too seeks documents relating to the plan and the conditions set out in the motion adopted by the House on October 29.

All these questions and motions are desperately seeking any evidence that the government has complied with the motion passed on October 29. To date not a shred of evidence has come forward from the government through these legitimate tools of inquiry that are available to members of Parliament. Therefore, it is conclusive that the conditions contained in the motion passed on October 29 have not been met and therefore the motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol cannot be moved in the House.

If we look at what is available publicly to members there is no evidence at this moment that the conditions have been met either. On November 21 the government released its latest Kyoto implementation thoughts or ideas.

There was little new in that document. The government admitted again that it had no idea how much its made in Japan deal would cost. The entire document contained only a single dollar figure, the $1.6 billion we have already spent before even getting off the starting block.

The government admitted that it had no idea how the accord would be implemented, that no legislation had been prepared and the government had no idea which level of government would have to pass legislation. The new paper still does not contain enough ideas to meet the government's 240 megatonne made in Japan commitment. Canada would still be between 30 megatonnes and 60 megatonnes short and that is under some very optimistic thinking.

The proposed new partnership fund lays the groundwork for a massive invasion of provincial jurisdiction and a massive new bureaucracy and spending. At a minimum the costs of the plan should include the costs to the government to administer the plan. Those costs cannot be known until the next budget is presented. The vote on the ratification of Kyoto must at least wait until presentation of the budget.

Referring back to the motion introduced by the government House leader regarding report stage amendments, the Speaker decides if conditions to place report stage amendments before the House are met.

With respect to the conditions to allow a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol, the decision also rests with the Speaker to determine if the conditions of the motion adopted on October 29 have been met. I have made a strong argument that those conditions have not been met.

Therefore, the government motion dealing with the ratification of the Kyoto protocol cannot be received by the Chair. The House order adopted on October 29, 2002, clearly restricts any such motion from being considered.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia


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

Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier in relation to the Progressive Conservative Party seeming to have the Kyoto avoidance syndrome. I do not know if it is a virus or a bacteria, but it seems to be spreading.

This is a novel argument because what the leader of the Alliance is arguing is that an error regarding the Constitution, that he has made, should override the Constitution and should bind the House in some way. Clearly it does not change the Constitution. The Constitution provides that the executive, not Parliament, shall ratify international treaties.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

The cabinet voted for it.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.


Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

He is saying we voted for it. Is he suggesting that the House can change the Constitution by itself? I do not believe for one second that he is suggesting that, on a motion without legislation even, the House can change the Constitution.

Moreover, the examples to which he referred all had legislation attached to them. This does not. It is an advisory motion as I mentioned earlier because it is the executive that ratifies the treaty under our Constitution.

A plan, given to meeting the requirements of Kyoto, has been tabled in the House. The member suggests there is no plan or he is not happy with the plan. How can he know whether he would be happy with the plan or not when he has not heard the debate on the matter. Why is it that these opposition parties refuse to have the debate? Why are they so reluctant to get to the heart of the matter that is of so great concern to Canadians who vastly support this initiative? Why not get on with this and stop the shenanigans?

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to contribute to the debate. Perhaps I can best do so by answering the question of the parliamentary secretary. We have before the House a motion. It reads:

That this House call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

A short while ago this motion was dealt with and finalized in the House. I stress these words because of what Erskine May states, that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House, which is what the government motion today asks us to do, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits how the targets are to be reached and with what costs.

The motion is clear and succinct, and was passed by this very House. The motion was dealt with. Here we have part of the same motion, regardless of whether Parliament has to deal with Kyoto or not, that does not make any difference. What makes the difference is there is a resolution on the floor that is similar to one that has already been dealt with by the House.

The Speaker recently argued that the motion that was put forth by the Alliance was in order because a similar one put forth by the government had not been dealt with by the House. Time ran out before the vote.

Erskine May states that a motion or an amendment may not be brought forward which is the same in substance as a question which has been decided in the affirmative or negative during the current session. We have dealt with a motion that is similar in substance. Consequently, the motion cannot be brought forward today.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Once again the hon. Leader of the Opposition has raised an interesting point concerning the supply motion adopted on October 29 earlier this year. The motion has been quoted by both hon. members of the opposition who have spoken on this matter and I thank them for their submissions.

However I point out that the motion reads that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House there should be an implementation plan. It does not say there shall be, or there must be, or there has to be. This motion is permissive. It suggests that there ought to be, that somehow we should have this. That is the first point that must be made to the House.

The second point is that we do have an implementation plan that was tabled last Thursday in the House by the minister. I know there are disagreements about whether it is good or sufficient in accordance with the terms of the motion that was adopted on October 29, but it is hardly for the Speaker to express a view on the quality of the material that the minister submitted to the House. However something was indeed submitted.

If the Speaker is wrong in his interpretation of the use of the word should in the motion, there is still the argument, in my view a valid one, that some kind of document, being an implementation plan of some sort, has been tabled in the House. Whether it is going to be good enough for everybody is of course a matter of considerable argument, I have no doubt, and one that no doubt we are going to hear about during the course of the argument on the motion that is coming before the House, which has been put to the House today by the Minister of the Environment.

In the circumstances, I do not think it is for the Chair to rule that the government cannot proceed because of an alleged violation of this motion adopted on October 29, which in my view expresses an ought. Even if I am wrong that interpretation has been complied with in my view by the tabling that was made by the minister last Thursday. Accordingly, I do not find the point of order well raised and I intend to proceed to put the motion to the House.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I accept your ruling, although I note your lack of confidence in the substance of this so-called implementation plan put forward by the government.

I do have a second point of order. It is also in regard to the motion on the Order Paper in which the House has been asked to call upon by the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol. I would submit that this motion is also out of order and cannot be received by the Chair for quite separate reasons than those I submitted in my first point of order.

We need to start with the basics. The first stage of treaty making is signature. In the case of the Kyoto protocol that occurred on April 29, 1998. However mere signature does not bind a state to the terms of a treaty until the second stage, which is ratification. However the Vienna convention on the law of treaties 1969 specifically provides in articles 2(1) , 14(1) and 16 that, “The institution of ratification grants states the necessary timeframe to seek the required approval for the treaty on the domestic level and to enact the necessary legislation to give domestic effect to that treaty”. The clear implication here is that all necessary legislation to implement the terms of a treaty should be in place prior to ratification.

In Canada there has developed a very firm practice in regard to the necessary steps that must be taken before ratification can occur. Maurice Copithorne, who is one of the leading treaty experts in Canada, has stated that all legislation must be in place prior to ratification. In an article published in 1996, in volume 54 of The Advocate , a journal for lawyers in British Columbia, he categorically states, at page 37 that:

A treaty that is deemed to create obligations upon Canada that can be implemented only by a change in the laws requires legislative action. Normally the Canadian government withholds ratification of such a treaty until such legislation is passed.

This has been reinforced in his most recent but as yet unpublished material on the subject entitled, “National Treaty Law and Practice: Canada”, a copy of which we will provide to the Chair. He states at page 6 that:

--governments have come to take the position that they will normally only ratify a treaty after a necessary and enabling legislation has been passed.

What gives his opinion even more authority is that it has been applied in cases coming before the courts. In 1999 the Hon. Justice Owen-Flood of the British Columbia Supreme Court in the case of Re Stuckey, cited as BCSC BL0078, gave full legal sanction to this opinion.

On page 7 of his reasons for judgment, his lordship relied on the statement by Mr. Copithorne in the published article to which I referred. He quoted that statement directly and stated that it was “the best statement of the law and practice for the purpose of the case at bar”.

As a further authority, I cite Mr. Daniel Dupras of the law and government division of our own parliamentary library in a publication entitled, “International Treaties: Canadian Practice” dated April 3, 2000. On page 7 he states that for a treaty to be ratified is in the form of a

--document establishing that the formalities for the coming into force and implementation of the treaty have been completed.

Mr. Dupras goes on to say, and quite definitively, at page 6 that:

In cases requiring amendments to Canadian legislation, the treaty is not ratified until such amendments or new legislation have been passed.

The ultimate statement for our purposes is at page 8 where our parliamentary librarian states:

Where a bill must be passed in order to implement a treaty is not passed, Canada cannot ratify the treaty.

Therefore it is both a requirement of international law and established practice which has been applied in our courts of law for the government not to ratify a treaty that requires legislation for its implementation until the legislation itself has been passed by this House.

It is conceded by everyone, including the government, that for the Kyoto protocol to be implemented, it will require the passage of legislation by this House. The leader of the government in the Senate has announced publicly that there will be such necessary legislation tabled in this House but that the government cannot do so until some time next spring. Yet the Prime Minister in the House has stated that the government intends to ratify Kyoto before the end of this year.

It goes without saying that it will be impossible for the government to prepare, table and pass such enabling legislation before the deadline for ratification that the Prime Minister has announced.

These announcements by the government, coupled with the tabling of this motion by the government in the House and asking the House to pass such a resolution, constitutes a complete breach of all these established and recognized practices and rules for ratification of treaties in Canada, I would emphasize practices and rules which have been applied by our courts of law. In the absence of necessary legislation to implement the terms of the treaty not as yet passed by the House, the motion asks the House to approve the government's breach of the rules.

As the authorities I have referred to clearly show, governments do not proceed to ratification until the necessary enabling legislation is first passed by the House. It is important that we follow the customary procedures and past practice of the House in this regard.

As an example, the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified by this government in 1994, but only after the passage by the House of the necessary legislation, namely the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in 1993.

I could cite other examples such as the World Trade Organization agreement and the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, both of which were ratified by the current government after following the correct practice and having any necessary implementing legislation introduced, debated and passed by the House before ratification.

The other important precedent is of course the process followed for the ratification of the original free trade agreement. As we all know, this very important treaty was not ratified until the House and this Parliament passed the necessary implementing legislation and it took a fresh general election to make that happen.

Therefore, the House is being asked by this motion to condone and place its seal of approval on the ratification of a treaty by the government at a time when the government has not taken the necessary steps as required by international law and authoritative practice. This is a clear breach of the customary practices of the House in which the House would never be asked to give its approval to ratification of a treaty to occur virtually immediately thereafter at a time when the necessary implementing legislation has not already been passed by the House. This is the case of the government getting the proverbial procedural horse before the cart.

However, in addition to constituting a breach of the customary procedures of the House, this attempt by the government to obtain such approval for ratification from the House at this time is also both contemptuous of the House and a breach of our privileges. Therefore, the action of the government in placing a motion on the Order Paper and moving it forward for debate is fundamentally repugnant to decided international law, Canadian law and practice and the customary practices of the House.

In conclusion I would submit that the government's motion that the House at this time call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol, as it appears on the Order Paper, cannot be received by the Chair and should be struck from the Order Paper. It is simply contrary to the customary practices of the House and is out of order.

I am going to submit for your review, Mr. Speaker, a number of documents that I have referred to in raising this point of order, and they also contain documents related to another matter which I may wish to raise.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Mississauga South


Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we have had a number of points of order. This point of order is substantively on the same matter.

It is clear that the subject matter, being the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, is an important matter to this place. That opposition members have raised substantive argument for the Chair to consider is evidence of that fact.

We have been advised on many occasions that delay and disruption of this place is a legitimate part of the democratic process and we will respect the points of view of members and certainly respect the position of the Chair.

The motion says that the House call upon Parliament to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change. It is an interesting motion by its very simplicity considering the significant importance and complexity of the matter at hand.

The hon. leader of the official opposition has suggested that the motion is out of order. It would be my argument that when a motion comes before this place and calls upon Parliament to advise the government or to do something, on a prima facie basis that is not binding. That is a very significant point in this matter. Should Parliament call upon government to do anything, that on the face of that motion it is not binding on the government and therefore the motion now before the House is of the same nature as a take note debate.

It is probably one of the most significant decisions to be made with regard to climate change issues and to the health of Canadians that Parliament will ever take. It is a very important issue and it is important to members on all sides throughout this place. It is important because we have a range of concerns and issues that Canadians have expressed. Parliamentarians have expressed concerns on behalf of their constituents. They have been asked to come forward to share with the rest of their colleagues in Parliament, those concerns, issues and their relative importance. There is no simple solution to this, but the important thing is that this is not a binding resolution of Parliament.

Second, in all the resolutions we have had so far, the examples used clearly have had to do with legislation. This does not have to do with legislation. This is an executive decision. It may subsequently require legislation in terms of implementing principles. That may be possible. We do not know at this point. However I know that the Prime Minister of Canada announced to Canadians several months ago that the Government of Canada would ratify the Kyoto protocol before the end of the year.

That is a very definitive statement and that is a reflection of the executive decision power of the Government of Canada. That is not a motion for consideration by Parliament. It is a not a bill or any kind of qualified statement. It is an assertion and a commitment of the Government of Canada to ratify the Kyoto protocol. The fact that the Prime Minister was prepared to announce that intention of the Government of Canada is prima facie evidence that this is an executive decision. We have to ask why did the opposition members not raise these points of order back then when the House resumed after our summer break.

Why was there not a challenge? If the decision of the Chair ratifies the fact that this is an executive decision and not a matter for parliament to decide, not a decision where Parliament in fact would be overriding the Constitution of Canada and would also reaffirm that this motion in fact is not binding on the Government of Canada, on that basis alone I understand fully that the opposition members would like to obstruct and delay the discussion of Kyoto. I respect their right to do that, but I want them also to know that there are others in this place that want to talk about the Kyoto protocol.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I must say that this is the most bizarre argument I have ever heard on any issue. The parliamentary secretary is saying that we should not worry about the rules that apply to this debate because the debate does not matter anyway, that no one is going to pay any attention to it, so do not worry about the rules. We on this side of the House believe that the views and the debates in the House of Commons matter. It is a question of absolute contempt for the parliamentary secretary to have said what he has just said.

To come to the point that was raised by the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, either this motion means something or it does not. The parliamentary secretary says it does not, which means it is an affront to the House to bring it here. However if it means something, then surely the government is bound to follow the practice that has been established for years, the practice that has been outlined by the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and deal with implementation before it deals with ratification.

The government cannot have it both ways. It cannot ignore history as it is trying to do and it cannot say that this matter is terribly important but it does not matter at all. That is an affront to common sense.

I want to come to common sense for just a moment. The Leader of the Opposition very ably has raised the practices that have been followed here with respect to votes on ratification, many of which I have some familiarity with. I had the privilege of introducing some of the measures that led to those international treaties. He very correctly and irrefutably set forth the law and the practice. Had his argument been refutable, the parliamentary secretary would have refuted it, but he did not do that. He simply said that the debate does not matter so do not talk about rules. The precedent is very clear.

Let us speak for a moment about common sense because precedent and practice is based upon common sense. How can we ratify something when we do not know what it is? It is precisely that question, precisely compelling logic that a Parliament must know what it is voting on before it votes that has created the precedent cited earlier by the Leader of the Opposition. That is why we have implementation before we have ratification. That is why the government comes forth with what it is that it proposes to do before it asks us to approve that kind of action.

It is not as though the government has not had time to spell out what it is asking Parliament to do. It has had more than five years. It was in November 1997, five years ago now, that there first was a meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial governments to try to deal with this issue. It is another question that the government, in all its arrogance, walked away from the agreement that was reached in that federal-provincial conference and said it did not need the provinces. In effect, it is saying the same thing now, that it does not need Parliament because the votes that Parliament casts on issues of this kind do not matter.

It is not as though it has not had time. It has had plenty of time. It has been five full years, five wasted years and we still do not know and it still does not know what it is it is asking the House of Commons to vote upon in the motion that it has brought forward today. There is no certainty. The government has this the wrong way around. It is asking us to vote for something when it itself does not know what it is asking to have approved. That is an affront to the House.

More to the point, the very reasoned argument brought forward by the leader of Her Majesty's opposition is clear. The precedents are clear. This practice breaks those precedents. That breach of precedent means that the motion being presented here today should not be allowed to come before the House.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.



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

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that at some point the Chair will feel that it has heard a sufficient amount of contributions in this matter so mine will be very brief.

I read very attentively the motion that was adopted by the House some weeks ago. It says that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House there should be an implementation plan. This is not a House order and everyone knows that. That is my first point.

My second point is that this debate is consultative with the House. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services was very eloquent in expressing that this is a consultative debate. It is hard for anyone to construct a scenario by which a consultative debate would be out of order. The government has put the motion on the Order Paper. It has offered to consult Parliament prior to the ratification of the accord which will take place before the end of the year.

Earlier today the opposition moved closure on the debate even before it started. It moved to shut it down before it started. Being the person that I am, I am very much against the use of these coercive devices except when I absolutely have to. Pursuant to objections from across the way, Mr. Speaker will understand that I do not want to indulge in that part very long.

Mr. Speaker knows there is absolutely no reason why this motion would be considered anything else but fully in order because of its consultative nature. The Prime Minister wants to consult Parliament prior to ratification. The House should congratulate itself for the initiative that the right hon. Prime Minister has seen fit to put before the House.

Members have asked questions on this accord and now the Prime Minister is consulting them. Maybe they do not want to be consulted. Maybe they want to go home early for Christmas. Maybe they want to adjourn Parliament, but the Prime Minister wants to consult Parliament and it is fully in order for us to consult Parliament and through it, Canadians.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I ask you please to consider the words of the parliamentary secretary. He said that if we pass the motion that may be before the House today calling upon the government to act, which is what the motion says, it does not bind the government to anything, that it is just a take note debate.

Consider what that means to the average parliamentarian. We are not in cabinet and we are not sure what cabinet is going to do, but when we call upon the government to act, damn it, we expect it to act. When we do not have that assurance, then how can we possibly vote on this? It is out of order.

Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is prepared to rule insofar as the following. The Leader of the Opposition has raised a very serious matter. Obviously a great deal of time and effort has gone into preparing the arguments that he has presented to the House.

I would submit to the House that the Chair would also want to have the benefit of some time for reflection and deliberation to arrive at and to deliver its final ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I also want to thank the other members who intervened, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and the hon. member for Fraser Valley.

Procedurally as regards the debate going ahead on government business No. 9, I have not heard anything at this point that would lead me to not allow that debate to go on. The Chair obviously gives its undertaking to come back to the House as soon as possible, certainly well before this debate ends, as to the ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition.

At this time, it being 2 p.m., we will proceed to statements by members.

Prince Alexandre de Merode
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise today to note the passing of a great world leader in the fight against doping in sport. I am referring to the late Prince Alexandre de Merode of Belgium who passed away on November 19.

Prince Alexandre had been an International Olympic Committee member since 1964. In 1967 he created the IOC's medical commission, a panel on which he served as chairman since its creation.

Prince Alexandre was the world's leading advocate in the fight against doping in sport. Alexandre de Merode was a prominent international figure in promoting the Olympic values of integrity, fair play and drug-free sport. His passing is a loss to the world of sport and to the Olympic movement.

The Grey Cup
Statements by Members

November 25th, 2002 / 2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Congratulations, Montreal.

Mr. Speaker, the Montreal Alouettes were winners of the Grey Cup game played yesterday in Edmonton.

Both teams showed the kind of drive, determination and spontaneous action that is required to play our wonderful, unique Canadian Football League rules. The field of frozen grass had the traction of a skating rink and all players had to react to the true north Canadian challenge. Shania Twain's halftime appearance was in keeping with Edmonton in November, complete with parkas and gloves for the band.

The Canadian Football League is to be commended for a showcase this Grey Cup and the job it has done in filling seats and having people view the game on television this year. The CFL showed yesterday what a fine professional organization it is. The game yesterday was a complete sellout and a rousing celebration of our game and the culture that surrounds it, despite the sponsorship dollars that were shovelled in by the Liberals.

Our most profound congratulations go out to the Montreal Alouettes, the Edmonton Eskimos, and the people of Edmonton who once again showed through their hospitality and goodwill that Edmonton truly is the city of champions.

Saint Mary's Huskies
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to this year's Vanier Cup champions, the Saint Mary's Huskies from Halifax, Nova Scotia. To make the victory even sweeter, this is the Huskies' second Vanier Cup in a row, a feat managed only three times in Canadian history and not once in the past 25 years. The players, the coaches and the Saint Mary's community all deserve our thanks and congratulations.

I do have to confess, however, that the team's road to victory was bittersweet for me. It finished with playoff victories over McMaster in the Churchill Bowl, and I am said to say, my alma mater of Saint FX in the AUFC title.

Once again, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating the two time Vanier Cup victors, the Saint Mary's Huskies.