Mr. Speaker, when raising the point of order just a few minutes ago, I said that I am in favour of the passage of the bill. I am making that recommendation to the members of my party.
The bill is something that is necessary. Certainly in taking a look at Canada's heritage structures, excellent work has been done by many museums with respect to the structures. One example is the great Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook. The amount of volunteer work that has occurred there has been exemplary. We have to be very conscious in Canada of ensuring that we maintain our heritage and structures so that we can go back and physically touch them and certainly see them.
My concern is not about the bill itself. I have had an opportunity to review the clauses in the bill. I am certainly not a legislative expert but it seems to me it would not require a tremendous amount of amendment in order for it to be a very good bill. The issue of people being able to consult, get information back and have input is a very transparent process, and one which the public at large could buy into.
My concern is on two levels with respect to the fact that the bill has come to us from the Senate. The first one which I have just explained is that this is a Senate bill and one which in my judgment, and I will leave it to your wisdom to decide, Mr. Speaker, will require the expenditure of public funds. Therefore, it is very likely outside the ability of the Senate to propose, particularly as a private member's bill. And this is a private member's bill.
This is very important. It is not just a whole bunch of detail. It is not arcane. It is not unnecessary. It is indeed vital that we make sure that we maintain the relationship between this House and the other place. This House has the legitimacy that all its members were elected in a free and democratic vote. It is our responsibility as members of the House to come here and to represent our constituents and to make good legislation in the best interests of Canadians.
If we do not make legislation in the best interests of Canadians, then we deserve to be defeated. If we do not speak up for our constituents or watch what the government is doing with respect to its expenditures, again the people of Canada have the ability to hold us accountable. That is the essence of democracy and I am very pleased to be part of that democratic process. Therefore, the House of Commons must remain supreme in the process, which leads me to the second point.
The difficulty that we have is over a number of years, and particularly most recently as we have been going through a process of trying to update the ability, to advance the ability, to refine the ability of private members to bring matters before the House for the consideration of the whole House, we have been going through in some ways has been very much a learning process.
Bill C-250 is a classic example of an item that was brought forward by the member for Burnaby—Douglas and which the House became gripped with. It was an issue of a tremendous amount of interest to people in Canada. It was an item on which we as members of Parliament were, and should have been, held accountable for our position because it made some very substantial changes. Interestingly it was not a bill that was in the cross hairs or in the focus of the government, in spite of the fact that at the end of the day the government ended up voting in favour of the bill. All members ended up voting in favour of the bill.
The ability of a member of this duly elected, representative place to bring forward a bill or motion is a very vital part of how we function as a democracy in Canada.
Therefore, with respect to Bill S-7, the other place has a different way for senators to bring forward private members' bills. As I understand it, from advice that I have received from the Table of this House, once the bill has gone through the Senate process, it basically has the ability to then advance that bill to this place. It then goes into the same order of bills as ours do, as private members' bills. It goes to the bottom of the order of precedence and works it way up through the order of precedence.
In a way, somebody might choose to argue, that means it is treated in exactly the same way, but the fact is that it starts in the other place and goes through a totally different process and, in fact, because of the practices of the other place, this gives more freedom for those members of the other place to get their bills through, to have them advanced. I submit that it in fact ends up interfering with the ability of the members of this place to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities to their constituents and to the causes about which they are talking.
Therefore, as I said, I stand in favour of the bill. I speak in favour of the bill. I think it essential that we continue to focus more energy on our history. Certainly, as my colleague from the Conservatives said, lighthouses form a part of the story of who we are as Canadians and of what our great nation stands for. Therefore, to have a bill that is a responsible bill, a bill that enables us to protect those properties, is essential.
In summary, the reason why I raise my point of order is this. I want to see that as we take care of those places and as we invariably incur costs on them, they come under the proper scrutiny of the Government of Canada, and that we do not end up in some way getting past the whole concept of getting royal approval for the expenditure of funds, that we do not suddenly find ourselves locked into a box.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to your ruling on this matter and I certainly will continue to encourage my colleagues in my party to vote in favour of the bill.