Madam Speaker, I would like to commend the member for Regina--Qu'Appelle for two reasons, first for allowing my brief intervention before we go to question period and also for the thought provoking comments he made with respect to democratic reform.
I say that because we as the Progressive Conservative Party have just put out a discussion paper on democratic reform. The member could have helped us write that paper. I will send it to him, because a lot of what he said with respect to parliamentary reform as well as electoral reform is encompassed in the paper.
I agree that there is a need. We see it more every day with the ability of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office to take the government and the country in a direction that the majority of Canadians really do not want, yet there are no checks and balances.
I will take a little exception to the comments of the member for Regina--Qu'Appelle, because there is a need for a backstop. The only backstop we currently have in our system is that of the Senate. It may not be a perfect backstop but certainly it is the only institution we depend on for that sober second thought, because we see across from us right now a majority government that is not prepared to listen to the opposition, not prepared to listen to committees and not prepared to listen to the general public. It simply will push through legislation that is not right. The only backstop we have now is the Senate.
I say that because Bill S-34 was brought forward by the Senate. By the way, it was first brought forward by Senator Lynch-Staunton, who is the opposition leader in the Senate. It was brought forward on numerous occasions, but at that time the Senate decided that because it was a thought coming from some other individual in the institution, it probably did not have any real bearing to it. However he persevered. In fact the legislation that now has come forward looks an awful lot like the legislation that was proposed by Senator Lynch-Staunton. I give him full credit for at least making this small step in trying to adjust the traditions we have in the House.
The second thing I would like to say is that this is probably one of very few pieces of legislation that will have the total support of all parties in the House, which means that all parties have a desire to move forward with this type of reform. This is a small step. It is a very positive step, but small nonetheless.
As was mentioned earlier by a lot of members in the House, the bill has to do with royal assent, a symbolic process we have whereby we walk from this House to the Senate to get royal assent for bills that have been passed. There are a number of reasons why this tradition has outworn itself. We know full well that in the Commonwealth we are the only ones to still have this procedure and formality. There are ways to make the House more efficient and the legislation would in fact do just that. It would make the House more efficient.
We should take this as an example. We should take this as the ability to have all party consent in other areas of making the House more efficient. The member for Regina--Qu'Appelle mentioned that perhaps we should look at committees being much more efficient. Perhaps we should be looking at making voting in the Chamber much more efficient. Perhaps we should look at the possibility of electoral reform in Canada, which certainly would make our system more efficient .
There are four problems, but I know I do not have a lot of time before question period. The problem with this obviously is that the tradition has worn itself out. There is very little support right now for the tradition of royal assent. I am happy to say that there is all party support for this. Certainly our party, because of the ability to develop some efficiencies in the House, will support it.
In closing I once again would like to thank Senator Lynch-Staunton from the other place for putting forward the bill. Perhaps if we do get other bills coming from the Senate that speak to democratic and parliamentary reform, we will look at them in as favourable a light as we look upon this piece of legislation. The Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting this legislation.