Mr. Speaker, my point of order is in regard to the rule of anticipation with respect to the government motion on the ratification of the Kyoto protocol.
I would like to make the point of an argument made by the government House leader three weeks ago regarding a supply day motion dealing with secret ballot elections of a committee. He was arguing the rule of anticipation. It is an argument that I believe applies to the government motion asking the House to ratify Kyoto. The difference is that my points relate to the rule of anticipation and the government House leader's point dealing with the supply motion on secret ballot election at committees did not.
The government leader argued that the secret ballot motion could not be considered by the House because of the rule of anticipation. In that case we were faced with two motions dealing with secret ballot elections. In that case none of the motions had been decided yet by the House.
In the case I present to today we have a clear decision from October 24, 2002.
The government House leader quoted Marleau and Montpetit from page 476 dealing with the rule of anticipation and he said, “a motion could not anticipate a matter which was standing on the Order Paper for further discussion”. He failed to mention that at the top of page 476 it states that the rule of anticipation is no longer strictly observed with respect to two motions sitting on the order paper.
However the last paragraph on page 476 of Marleau and Montpetit states:
The rule of anticipation becomes operative only when one of two similar motions on the Order Paper is actually proceeded with. For example, two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of.
That is the difference between the government House leader's flawed argument of October 31 when he tried to derail a Canadian Alliance supply motion and the two motions dealing with Kyoto. I am referring to the supply motion from October 24 and the government motion currently on the order paper today.
The supply motion from October 24 dealing with Kyoto was moved and disposed of. The House decided that it would not ratify the Kyoto protocol until there was a plan Canadians understood and that set out the costs and the benefits. The House cannot be seized with a second motion until those two conditions have been met.
The government House leader presented a Speaker's ruling on October 31 by Speaker James Jerome from November 14, 1975. I thank him for that ruling because it substantiates the point of my argument today.
The ruling involved an opposition day motion that was similar in subject matter, only the subject matter not the same text, to a bill that had received second reading and had been referred to a committee.
As I said, the government House leader has helped demonstrate the difference between the circumstances of October 31 and today. On October 31 no decision was taken. Today's circumstances are in line with the ruling he cited from November 14, 1975. The Speaker ruled that since a bill had received second reading the supply motion was out of order.
Here we have an identical scenario but in reverse. Since the opposition motion dealing with Kyoto from October 24 was adopted, the government motion dealing with Kyoto cannot be moved. I would like to add that the motion adopted on October 24 was adopted unanimously.
The question of confidence is not an issue. The government's motion however has been designated a motion of confidence by the Prime Minister. This poses a problem for the House because the October 24 resolution reflects the true will of the House.
Members freely determined that until certain conditions were met the House would not ratify the Kyoto protocol. Notwithstanding the fact that the conditions from the October 24 resolution were not met, the government has given notice of a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol and the Prime Minister has declared the motion a motion of confidence.
As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Speaker, the McGrath committee of 1985 studied the confidence convention and it was concluded that only explicit motions of confidence, or matters central to the government's platform, should be treated as confidence. All references to confidence were expunged from the standing orders to regulate the functioning of Parliament.
The government motion calling for the ratification of the Kyoto protocol is not worded as a motion of confidence. It is only considered confidence because of the designation the Prime Minister gave it. This designation is an admission by the Prime Minister that the conditions contained in the resolution of October 24 have not been met. If they were, he would let the House determine on its own whether the conditions have been met. The Prime Minister is using coercive tactics to try to usurp a previous decision of the House, a decision that was brought about freely.
He is threatening the Liberal Party with political suicide if he does not get his way. Going into an election under his leadership and the Kyoto protocol as an election issue would reduce the Liberal Party to a rump in the House of Commons. I am having a hard time deciding whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.
The government motion deals with the Kyoto protocol. Dealing with that protocol is out of order.
With respect to the point of order of the Leader of the Opposition and the word, “should”, the Oxford Dictionary , ninth edition, defines the word as, “to express a duty”. In other words, an obligation.
Mr. Speaker, I refer you to page 63 of the 22nd edition of Erskine May. It talks about the principles that govern the conduct of ministers of the crown in relationship to Parliament. It states, “ministers have a duty to Parliament”.
I think it is very clear that the government has a duty to Parliament. The motion of October 24 provided a duty and it failed to comply by introducing a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol before there was a plan that Canadians understood. I do not think one Canadian in a thousand understands the Kyoto protocol. It also has not set targets, benefits and costs.
The other consideration is the fact that the motion is concerned with the House and not the government. I would think that the House would have more respect for itself than the government would care to have. The enforcer of the rights of the House is the Speaker, therefore the Speaker will have to decide if he has a duty or obligation not to allow the motion to ratify the Kyoto agreement to be put to the House.
We are talking about a resolution adopted by the House, not a shady deal written on a napkin. Mr. Speaker, I leave it with you.