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House of Commons Hansard #173 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mace.

Topics

TradeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalSecretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East)

Mr. Speaker, having just returned from the region, I learned that while the Israel-Palestine conflict is a major preoccupation throughout the Arab world, countries on the Arabian peninsula are determined to expand trade and commercial links with Canada.

More specifically, my visit highlighted opportunities for Canada in health care, tourism, housing and education which can augment major investments made to date in the oil and gas sectors.

I applaud my colleague for his personal efforts to exploit these opportunities on behalf of his riding.

Airport SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are being charged $24 supposedly for air security but many airports in British Columbia are charging an extra $5 for air security, which makes it a $29 charge for air security. The airports say that it is because the government does not give them a dime for air security. The government collects the $24 tax and it goes into general revenue.

Local airports are not getting the money and have to finance air security on their own with a $5 charge. Smithers Airport charges $5 for air security on top of the $24. Why is this happening?

Airport SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that 100% of the revenue that is received for air security is going back into air security. It will be invested in air security at our airports across the country.

Airport SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the local airport authorities tell us a different story. It may be a different view for the finance minister in an air conditioned building in Ottawa but on the ground at Smithers Airport an extra $5 is being charged for security because the government is not giving Smithers the money that it is taking in for security.

Now that the government has implemented this new tax and is not giving it back, what will it do with the $24 revenue? Will it finance more leadership campaigns or will it finally give it to air security? Which will it be?

Airport SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. The Minister of Transport and I have both said that 100% of the money being raised for air security will be invested in air security, the bulk of it in airports across the country. If in fact it has not been received, speaking on my behalf and on behalf of the Minister of Transport, I am sure we will look into the matter. One hundred per cent of the money for air security goes to air security.

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada's way of doing things with regional air transport is becoming increasingly obvious. When there is successful competition, Air Canada kills it. After creating Jazz and Tango, Air Canada is now launching Zip to compete directly with WestJet, a regional company from western Canada.

Does the Minister of Transport realize that, using competition as an excuse, Air Canada is killing that competition and that by letting this situation drag on, he is already accepting the fact that the regions will be at the mercy of a single airline carrier?

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is justifiably concerned. This is why we have proposed amendments to the Competition Act. There are currently 23 such amendments being reviewed by the Senate.

I hope that this legislation will create a context that will promote air transport by various airlines, particularly in the regions.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, as has been pointed out earlier, while the government is engaged in public consultations on a new agricultural policy, there are growing signs that greenhouse gases from farming affect our environment and increase the rate of climate change.

Would the Minister of the Environment please tell the House what the government is doing to help farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the involvement of the agricultural and forestry sectors in the so-called carbon sinks has been a very important part of Canadian policy. We were successful in negotiating this at the international level and we have it now firmly embedded in the Kyoto agreement.

We are now working with the agricultural organizations as well as with the provinces and others to make sure that full advantage is taken of this so that Canadian farmers can find what we trust will be another income stream related to their good farming practices which allow them to reduce greenhouse gases.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, lead tainted raisins raised eyebrows at Health Canada but, while the U.S. banned it and Great Britain put out a public alert, Health Canada was silent. Tainted raisins remained on the market. The public did not know and children's health was put at risk.

Lead exposure is linked to impairments in IQ, attention, memory and social behaviour. Why did Health Canada not warn Canadians about the danger when other countries did?

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, let me be absolutely clear that when it is determined that there is an unacceptable risk, action is taken. In this particular situation, a risk assessment was undertaken and it was determined that there was no immediate health risk.

Let me reassure the House that in 1995 risk levels were established and since that time no raisins have entered this country that do not meet those standards.

FisheriesOral Question Period

April 22nd, 2002 / 2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council wrote in its recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, “Predation by seals is now the dominant source of exploitation on groundfish in the Gulf”.

Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tell us why he is hesitating to bow to the inevitable and announce an increase in the seal quota?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council and the panel on seal management for the serious work they have done and the recommendations they have made. Both have advised me that the growing seal population could present problems.

I have asked officials in my department to do a study of the seal population and to talk with the provinces and industry to determine just how much quotas could be increased in the long term in order to satisfy all these requirements.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, Arthur Andersen Inc. has been fired by Ford Motor Company, FedEx and the U.S. government but incredibly it is still good enough for the Bank of Canada. In fact it has been appointed by the federal cabinet on a recommendation by the finance minister until the year 2005.

In light of what we now know about Andersen and its involvement in the Enron scandal, will the government follow suit with dozens of other corporate and government clients and dismiss Arthur Andersen Inc. from any Government of Canada contracts?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between officials of the Department of Finance and the Bank of Canada on this matter. There is no intention to change auditors at this time.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency recently issued a request for a proposal for the procurement of office supplies for all of its locations across the country. In short, CCRA is seeking to establish a procurement agreement with a single supplier. This practically eliminates small, local businesses in local communities around the country and guarantees business to those with U.S. parent companies.

How can the minister justify this in light of the fact that the department decentralized in the first place to assist the local economy?

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the issue the member raises. The CCRA is exploring options to ensure that purchasing is done in the most cost effective way, which will be of assistance to not only our offices but also to taxpayers.

This issue is under review because we want to ensure that the bidding is fair and that everyone has an opportunity to supply the agency.

Research and DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issues facing government are becoming increasingly more complex. They often impact greatly on our society and economy. The public relies on government to use science and technology to ensure the health, safety and well-being of Canadians.

Could the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development advise what the government is doing to ensure that Canada is able to keep pace with the rapid rate of technological change and the advancement of science and technology?

Research and DevelopmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Vaughan—King—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalSecretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, science and technology advice plays a key role in the government decision making process. As a matter of fact Canada is one of only two countries in the world that has a government wide policy on science and technology advice.

The framework builds on the work done by the Council of Science and Technology advisers and is currently being implemented across the federal government. In adopting this framework, our country continues to capitalize on the great opportunities generated by advances in science and technology.

Research and DevelopmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I have a question of privilege by the hon. the government House leader.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that on Wednesday of last week there was a deeply troubling incident in the House which involved the unparliamentary misuse of the mace.

I signaled at that time my intention to pursue this serious and premeditated affront to the order and decorum of the House. We as members I believe cannot simply ignore it. We cannot pretend it did not happen. We have a duty to respond. Indeed, many members of parliament on all sides of the House have made this point to me over the past few days. If we at every turn do not defend the dignity of parliament, we embark upon a very slippery slope. Accordingly, nothing could justify the unparliamentary behaviour of last Wednesday.

Mr. Speaker, if you find that there is in fact here a prima facie case of privilege, I would be prepared to move an appropriate motion.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on page 122 of Marleau and Montpetit it states:

A complaint on a matter of privilege must satisfy two conditions before it can be accorded precedence over the Orders of the Day. First, the Speaker must be convinced that a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been made and, second, the matter must be raised at the earliest opportunity.

I would argue that it fails on both counts. The mace is the symbol of the House's authority. The member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca hoisted it above his head in a moment of anger and frustration. What the member did was clearly wrong but he apologized immediately to the House and I and others accepted his apology.

I am not indifferent to what other members on that side have done. The Minister of Health when she was minister of justice was taken before the privileges committee and found guilty of contempt of the House. She apologized and we all accepted it. I could talk about a number of other issues just like that.

The 21st edition of Erskine May states on page 140:

Where the Member accused has made a proper apology for his offence the incriminating motion has usually been withdrawn....

On the issue of timing, this incident took place last Wednesday. There were plenty of opportunities for the government House leader to raise this and he did not.

Since the member apologized, I do not believe that we should be wasting the time of the House focusing on the incident itself. However it does give us the opportunity to discuss the reasons that may have led to the member acting in the way he did. Those of us who know the member will agree, and I know most members on that side would agree, that hoisting the mace above the head was certainly out of character for the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.The frustration with how this institute operates is increasing day to day. If anything, the minister's motion may give some of us the opportunity to blow off a little steam. It may be a long steam.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am reluctant to get into a lengthy argument in this case at this time anyway.

In my opinion, what took place in the House was contrary to the standing orders.

In my opinion it is a situation where I believe the minister should be allowed to put his motion. I believe there has been a prima facie breach of the privileges of the House. The minister sought to raise the matter on Thursday morning and got my approval to delay it because of the events that had transpired on Wednesday night, so it was not raised at the earliest opportunity, but I indicated there would be no prejudice in respect of time because of the delay on Thursday morning.

Accordingly, in my view the motion is one that could now be brought before the House and I invite the minister to move his motion.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca be suspended from the service of the House until such time as he appears at the bar of the House to apologize, in a manner found to be satisfactory by the Speaker, for his actions in disregard of the authority of the Chair and in contempt of the House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, procedural authorities contend that the Mace itself enjoys absolutely no procedural significance whatsoever. It is not required for the House to sit, and our rights and privileges do not depend upon it. The Mace is a symbol of the House's authority.

What we do depend on, in a concrete way, is a fair Speaker to interpret the rules of procedure and to protect the rights of members.

You, Mr. Speaker, have done an excellent job since your election and I am certain that when the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca waived the Mace in front of your chair his anger and frustration were not directed at you personally or at the authority of your office. I am certain that the member has the utmost respect for the office you hold and for you personally. Your job is a difficult one. We need to support our Speaker if this place is to function at all.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the first Speaker for which we have a record was Simon de Montfort, who apparently presided over the so-called mad parliament that met at Oxford on June 11, 1258. The mad parliament was not a popular assembly. Simon de Montfort's famous parliament of 1265 introduced the principle of popular representation for the first time and set itself against the tyranny of the court. It owes its derogatory title to those whose abuses it sought to check.

If the Liberal government does not change its ways, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid you may end up presiding over the maddest parliament ever.

In the introduction of Jeffrey Simpson's book, The Friendly Dictatorship , he points out that:

Canadian parliamentary democracy, as it has evolved, places more power in the hands of the prime minister than does any other democracy, far more than the U.S. president wields, but more, too, than what political leaders exercise in other parliamentary regimes.

Those seeking a check or balance against this most unbridled Prime Minister are just frustrated by the actions of the government and the Prime Minister.

Last Wednesday may serve as a wake up call. We must get serious about reforming this institution and we can start by eliminating the only obstacle that stands in our way, this Liberal government. The anger displayed by the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca was directed at the government and the tactics it used against freedom and democracy and, in this case, the interference with private members' business.

To put this in context, I have a few facts on private members' business. Two hundred and thirty-five bills have been introduced by MPs from all political parties. None have made it past third reading. Only two House private members' bills have made it to a vote at second reading, less than 1%. The two bills that did make it into committee stage in the 36th parliament were killed in committee by the Liberal majority on those committees. Liberals can avoid voting on controversial issues by not deeming them votable, and when they do, they move motions to withdraw them or kill them at committee.

With respect to Senate private members' bills, the government has demonstrated that it has more respect for the unelected Senate. The only three bills that have received royal assent have come from the Senate. They are: Bill S-10, parliamentary poet laureate, Bill S-14, Sir John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier Day, and Bill S-22, the national horse of Canada. There were 481 motions introduced and only 5 have been adopted, just over 1%. We have had over 150 hours of debate in the House during this parliament for consideration of private members' business, $45 million worth of House time used to no avail.

The procedure and House affairs committee had until April 2, 2002, to come to some sort of arrangement to make all items votable. It decided in December 2001 that it could not do anything about it. The committee motion that ended the study and quashed the hopes of the backbench was moved by the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary.

Let me remind the House that private members' business is about members of the House being able to vote both their personal and their constituents' wishes. As my colleague from Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca said “The Prime Minister's Office violated the greatest right we have. It took away our right to vote”.

I would be interested in hearing what the Liberal member for Mississauga East might have to say on this topic. In the last parliament, her bill regarding consecutive sentencing was attacked viciously by her own colleagues. They moved a motion similar to the one moved against the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca, but thanks to free votes, the amendment was defeated. I will talk more about free votes in a moment, but first I will finish this story.

The bill sponsored by the member for Mississauga East survived the first attack and was sent to committee. At committee her colleagues deleted every single clause in the bill and reported back a blank piece of paper to the House. Once again, thanks to free votes and the efforts of the opposition, the clauses were restored. The bill was attacked repeatedly again, but finally made it to the Senate. The Liberals in the Senate were more successful than those in this House and the bill was unfortunately killed.

That is what is causing great frustration in the House, not only on this side but also on the Liberal side. That is why members of all parties have come to my colleague and said that what he did was wrong, and we all agree with that, but his frustration is understood by members from all sides of the House.

The Liberal motion waged against the bill sponsored by the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca was successful because it was a whipped vote. Traditionally, private members' votes are free votes. The tradition of the Mace is important, but is not the tradition of free votes just as important? There is a Biblical comparison to this type of behaviour and it is found in Luke 11:39:42:

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but instead you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs but you neglect...You should have practised the latter without leaving the former undone”.

In that context, I am puzzled today to see the government so focused on this issue. Normally it does not give a damn about defending the rights and traditions of this institution. Its disrespect for parliament, its members and the people who elected us is well documented.

I will return to the issue of free votes. If the vote on the motion to derail the member's bill were actually a free vote then we in the opposition would have fewer reasons to be upset. Allowing members to vote more freely would reduce some of the frustration and anxiety in this Chamber.

Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, that when my party put forward a supply motion that would have required the government to compensate hepatitis C victims the Prime Minister ordered a whipped vote and some Liberal members were actually crying when forced to vote down the motion?

Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, how embarrassed Liberal members were, and in particular the Minister of Finance who was instrumental in penning the first red book, when Liberal members had to vote against a supply motion to implement a Liberal red book promise? The promise to appoint an independent ethics counsellor who reports directly to parliament was a good idea, but the Prime Minister ordered his members to vote it down because he was never serious about that promise.

Here is another example. My party put forth a motion in the 36th parliament to “axe, scrap, abolish” the GST. The axe, scrap and abolish part of the motion was in quotations because those words were uttered by the Prime Minister and other members of the Liberal caucus during the election. Once again, Liberals had to vote down their own words.