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House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was excise.

Topics

PrivilegeOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier on March 18, 2002, concerning the selection of votable items by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I thank the hon. member for Ottawa--Vanier for drawing this matter to the attention of the Chair, as well as the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville and the hon. government House leader for their contribution on this question.

The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier in raising the matter argued that the bill he sponsored, Bill C-407, an act to amend the Canada Health Act (linguistic duality), should have been selected as votable since it met all the criteria (approved by the House) in order to be considered eligible for “votable” status.

The member expressed himself very clearly and conveyed a deep sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with the way that private members’ business currently operates, especially with the fact that he was not able to obtain an explanation as to why his bill was not selected as a votable item.

As all hon. members know, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has the mandate to select votable items from the items placed on the order of precedence as the result of a draw. The committee must determine, in accordance with a set of criteria that it has adopted, the selection to be made.

I refer the House to a decision by Mr. Speaker Fraser on December 4, 1986 ( House of Commons Debates , p. 1759) with respect to the responsibility that the House has delegated to the procedure and house affairs committee relating to the selection of votable items.

He said:

—its decision in regard to the selection of items of business which must come to a vote cannot be challenged. When embodied in a report which is presented to the House, that report is deemed adopted by the House. The Committee, therefore, plays a very important role in safeguarding the rights of private members.

—It is not for the Chair to dictate to the Committee how it should take care of its responsibilities.

I want to emphasize that the Chair takes this matter very seriously even though, after careful examination, the case raised by the hon. member cannot be considered a question of privilege. It is a procedural matter which requires a procedural solution.

As hon. members know, several attempts at finding such a solution have been made and continue to be made. To begin with, a number of recommendations were made by members, in particular during the procedure debates in the House on March 21, 2001 and May 1, 2001.

These suggestions were taken into consideration by the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons and there is a reference to the issue in the committee’s report as adopted by the House on October 4, 2001.

While acknowledging the dissatisfaction with private members’ business as it currently operates and recognizing the need for changes, the special committee could not find consensus on the nature of specific reforms.

Following the report of the special committee the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs further considered the question of improving procedures for the consideration of private members' business and concluded in its report presented to the House on December 14, 2001, that:

--changes to the Standing Orders for the consideration of Private Members' Business, including a workable proposal allowing for all items to be votable, cannot be achieved at this time.

This leaves the door open for the committee to consider the matter once again in the future.

The hon. government House leader in his response to the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier reflected the opinion of many members when he said that “this subject matter has expressed itself in frustration on all sides of the House of Commons” and that he thinks “that there is a general desire in the House to find a better way of dealing with these matters”.

I can only urge the hon. government House leader to follow up on his suggestion that an attempt be made to find another way of solving these issues to the satisfaction of all members so that our procedures may be improved in this regard. I am sure that, with the help of interested members, like the member for Ottawa—Vanier, the member for Yorkton—Melville and others, including the nembers of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, a solution will be found.

I thank the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier for having drawn this very important matter to the attention of the House.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

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

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, pursuant to the order of reference from the House of Commons dated February 7, 2002 regarding the accusation made against the Minister of National Defence of having misled the House.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 35(2) I have the following succinct explanation to make to the minority report filed by the Canadian Alliance to the report just tabled.

We dissented from the majority report for the following reasons. First, the evidence before the committee clearly indicated that the minister was thoroughly briefed on the matter of Canadian troops taking detainees in Afghanistan on January 21. The minister understood the matter and he did not seek further clarification contrary to his own testimony. We concluded from this evidence that the minister knew of the matter on January 21.

Second, it appeared that the minister misled the House. As the majority report will indicate one must examine the context of the relevant events around the minister's conduct in order to establish intent. In this case the context was the serious division within the ranks of the government members and the apparent need for the minister to avoid a confrontation with his own caucus on January 26 and January 27.

We concluded from this that the minister intended to demonstrate that he first knew of the incident on January 25 rather than January--

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member may think this is succinct but the Chair does not agree. There is allowance in the rules for a very succinct explanation. I hope he is about to draw to an immediate conclusion.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your definition of succinct. It is always relative I guess.

For the reasons set out in the report the official opposition must dissent from the majority report of the committee filed in the House today. We believe the minister should have provided a further explanation given the contrary explanation presented by his officials.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to make a brief comment regarding the report tabled by—

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the standing orders only allow one representative from a political party to comment, unless there is unanimous consent from the House, as the member knows.

Is there unanimous consent of the House to allow the member to comment?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to use the occasion of a point of order to indicate that the other opposition parties in the House are in agreement with the position of the official opposition on this issue.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I think we are having too many phony points of order here. We had better move on.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make the point that the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party does not speak for the Canadian Alliance.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Speaker

These are not really points of order. I know we all appreciate the co-operation and everything, but perhaps we will move on.

Canadian Wheat Board ActRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-438, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the Access to Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, I bring this private member's bill forward because the situation in western Canada and the designated regions under the Canadian Wheat Board forces farmers into monopoly marketing of their wheat and barley.

If the bill were passed all directors would be elected and producers would have the option of whether they wanted to market through the wheat board or not. The auditor general would have the authority to audit the wheat board to see if it met its prime objective which would now be to secure the best possible financial return for farmers that want to be part of the Canadian Wheat Board.

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

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition containing close to 14,000 signatures. The petition opposes the creation of a golf course in Leamy Lake Park in the riding of Hull--Aylmer.

The petitioners believe that creating this type of golf course would have irreparable consequences on the wildlife and vegetation of the area and would privatize a major part of the park for the use of a minority. They are demanding that a review committee be struck by federal authorities.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from the residents of Pointe-Claire, Hudson, Dorval and Beaconsfield.

The petitioners point out that Canada is indivisible and that the boundaries of Canada, its provinces, territories and territorial waters may only be modified by ( a ) a free vote of all Canadian citizens as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or ( b ) through the amending formula stipulated in the Canadian Constitution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present pursuant to Standing Order 36 a very substantial petition signed by thousands of first nations citizens in the province of Manitoba. These signatories reject the first nations' governance initiative as proposed by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development because they maintain that it is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to diminish or even extinguish their treaty rights.

The petitioners point out further that the minister's so-called consultation process has been a sham. They urge all members of parliament to scrap the first nations' governance initiative and replace it with a mutually acceptable piece of legislation that actually addresses the many pressing and urgent issues that they outline in their petition.

Finally, these citizens serve notice that this is the first of many such petitions that will in fact outnumber against the first nations' governance initiative any who have indicated support for the initiative.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and duty to rise in the House today to table a petition from concerned citizens of Canada. The petitioners are concerned about the recently released report from CIHR surrounding stem cell research. They are concerned particularly about the graduated approach determining human value and life. In this petition they are calling upon the House to give human life the love, respect and dignity that it deserves at all stages of its existence.

It is an honour for me to be able to table this petition with the signatures of 180 of the fine constituents of Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by the residents of my riding of Niagara Centre as well as other areas in Ontario asking that the criminal code be amended to ensure that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety so that needless work related deaths, illnesses and injuries are prevented.

The petitioners also point out that a number of workplace deaths and work related permanent disabilities among Canadian youth is alarmingly high and unacceptable.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

March 22nd, 2002 / 12:20 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying before question period and statements, the New Democratic Party is not opposed to international trade. We strongly support fair trade.

If I may digress for a moment, this week the agriculture committee had the opportunity to be in eastern Canada, in the maritime provinces, to hear from farmers. One farmer had a very good definition of the free trade agreement that Canada has with the United States. This gentleman said that under the free trade agreement, the U.S. had rights and Canada had obligations. I think that is a very significant statement and one that deserves to be underlined.

We support fair trade, but if Canada imports Chinese products, and we are talking about Bill C-50 today, that are manufactured by workers receiving paltry wages, subjected to unsafe working conditions and denied the right to organize to bargain collectively, then such trade cannot be considered fair. Trade which results in the perpetuation or augmentation of global inequality is not fair trade.

We are living in a time of unprecedented international trade and yet the differences in income among citizens of the world has never been more stark. A report in the latest edition of the Economic Journal says that the richest 1% of people around the world receive as much as the bottom 57% of citizens. It goes on to say that if poverty is defined as the average income level at which citizens of western Europe and North America are eligible for social assistance, then a full 78% of the global population should be considered to be impoverished.

International trade has been heralded for too long as the solution to global poverty and underdevelopment. The truth is that when trade is conducted under the auspices of fundamentally undemocratic organizations controlled by the corporations that they are designed to serve, trade will only serve to perpetuate global inequality and poverty.

I will say simply that this party is opposed to Bill C-50.