Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am rather disturbed that the government has moved that we proceed to orders of the day. I was hoping I would not have to discuss this point of order but I will.
My point of order concerns the attempt by the government to bypass the business that is before us at this time. There was a ruling on this very matter in 1987 and it is outlined on page 369 of Marleau and Montpetit. It states:
On April 13, 1987, the government attempted to skip over certain rubrics under Routine Proceedings when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister moved that the House proceed from “Tabling of Documents” to “Motions” which, if carried, would have had the effect of superseding all intervening rubrics. The Speaker had ruled out of order a similar motion only a few months earlier.
In his ruling, Speaker Fraser expressed concern and in the end he ruled that the motion could stand, but stand for one time only. He said at page 370 of Marleau and Montpetit:
...the House would be served best if the government were allowed to proceed, in this instance only,...
He elaborated further:
...that the decision was circumscribed by events for which the rules of procedure offered no solution and was not to be regarded as a precedent.
That particular issue arose because the government's agenda and the agenda of the House were being seized by various motions and issues that disrupted the proceedings of the House and the House could not do its business.
That cannot be said of what we are debating today. We are debating a report that was tabled by myself in the House last week. It is a serious report on the issue of governance of crown corporations.
The government's agenda is not at risk here. In fact, it could be argued that it does not have an agenda. There are just a few bills on the order paper and a whole year ahead of us. How can a motion regarding the Public Accounts of Canada be considered a disruption as defined by Speaker Fraser in 1987?
I would argue that any other business that attempted to displace the motion of concurrence that is before us would be a disruption. I question the government's use of the motion to go to orders of the day.
It concerns me greatly that parliament's rights would be thwarted by the government. There is an ancient rule in parliament that says before parliament listens to the government, the government will listen to parliament. That rule was instituted about 400 or 500 years ago when the King, the monarch of the day, would go to parliament seeking authority to raise taxes. When he got that he would then dissolve parliament and send the members home. They would ask about the business they wanted to transact. The rule and fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy was instituted that says before parliament listens to the government, the government will listen to parliament.
That has evolved to routine proceedings today and every day. It is important that we deal with all the items of routine proceedings, right from tabling of documents through to questions on the order paper, before we go to government orders.
This is an important point of order that is fundamental to the administration of this place. Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the reason you have the title of Speaker is because you speak for this House and therefore it is important that the Speaker stand up for the rights of this House. No one else has that authority but you and the person in your chair.
This is a serious point of order. Parliament has to be heard by the government before parliament listens to the government. That is a fundamental practice. If this House loses that we have nothing left. We are only an instrument of the government.
At page 366 Marleau and Montpetit says:
As the Speaker calls each rubric in Routine Proceedings, Members who wish to bring forward matters rise in their place and are recognized. Usually they will have previously indicated to the Chair or the Table their wish to raise an item. The amount of time required to complete Routine Proceedings varies from day to day depending on the number of items dealt with under each rubric.
All rubrics up to and including “Introduction of Government Bills” must be called each sitting day.
I believe the Speaker did call for petitions before he realized that the member was standing under motions but we did not deal with petitions. Therefore we did not complete the routine proceedings of the day even though the Speaker had called petitions.
It is important, according to Marleau and Montpetit, that each item be called every day. It goes on to say:
Thus, at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, “Statements by Members” interrupts Routine Proceedings if the rubric “Introduction of Government Bills” has not yet been completed. The ordinary daily routine of business then continues at 3:00 p.m., immediately after Question Period, until all items under “Introduction of Government Bills” are completed, suspending as much of the hour set aside for Private Members' Business as necessary.
It continues on and I do want to read this into the record because it is important.
Obviously, this does not apply on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, since on those days “Statements by Members” and Question Period take place before Routine Proceedings. If the proceedings are not completed by the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on any sitting day, the House continues to sit until such time as all rubrics under Routine Proceedings up to and including “Introduction of Government Bills” have been called and completed.
Continuing on page 369 of Marleau and Montpetit and this is dealing with Speaker Fraser:
In his ruling, Speaker Fraser expressed concern about the disruption which these procedural tactics--
It is talking about at that particular time the House was in a little bit of an uproar.
--had on Routine Proceedings and the inappropriate use of the rules of procedure as a substitute for debate: “It is a practice which can supersede the presentation of petitions, delay indefinitely the introduction of Bills--those of Private Members as well as those of the Government--and completely block debate on motions for concurrence in committee reports as well as on allocation of time motions.”
As the House will see Speaker Fraser said, because of the circumstances of the time, for that time and that time only he would allow the motion to move beyond orders of the day.
However there is no disruption of the House today. The agenda of the government has been continuing. The debate on the concurrence of an important report is not a disruption of the business of the House. If the House wants to talk about the concurrence of a report of its own committee, surely the House has that right. To deny otherwise would be to say this whole place is an absolute farce and a talking shop that means nothing.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that you take this issue seriously and recognize the fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy that has been thwarted by the motion from the government side who want to shut down parliament to talk about its business. It does not want to listen to parliament at all. Therefore the motion must be ruled out of order.