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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

Time.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

There is time. Twenty minutes is allowed for motions to be moved.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

It feels like an hour and a half.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

It seems like an hour.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will continue. The Government of Canada, as instructed by the Parliament of Canada, has created a court challenges program. This Parliament has recognized that it should be providing assistance to its citizens who wish to uphold their rights, despite actions of the government or of Parliament, rights that are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We created the court challenges program to that effect, which has been used time and again to challenge government and parliamentary decisions so they are respectful of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of the country. Unfortunately, as members of Parliament, we are precluded from applying to the court challenges program. Therefore that avenue is closed.

As colleagues know, we cannot use our members' operating budgets to seek legal advise, or legal help or to pay the costs associated with the preparation of legal briefs. We must get it from the House. In this case we are in a bit of a quandary because the Board of Internal Economy holds a different position than I and many members of the House. The committee asked, through the proper channels, that the Board of Internal Economy supply financial assistance so the opposite view could also be defended, as the courts have agreed to hear it. That has been turned down.

We now have a situation where the privilege of members of Parliament, I believe, is being infringed upon, not by any intent but by circumstance. If members of Parliament are restricted from using the court challenges program, if the Board of Internal Economy will not provide any assistance, and if a member's operating budget cannot be accessed for that, how is one supposed to challenge the chair, challenge the Board of Internal Economy, challenge the laws, as it is our duty to do, especially in the matter of official languages where the committee is given a mandate by the Official Languages Act to do so?

It is rather unfortunate that the Board of Internal Economy chose not to consult the committee, a committee struck by the House, with a mandate to look at the Official Languages Act and its application. That is fine. However I believe the committee and myself, representing it in this case and as a member of Parliament, have a right to that.

I thought it was important that these matters be put on the record. What the courts will decide, the courts will decide and we will act accordingly. However I believe it is important that members of Parliament be given the ability, if the courts will recognize their applications to be interveners in a case, to have funding to that effect. It is a principle that is adhered to in Canada. We adhere to that as Canadians.

For Canadians to be unable to listen to the debates in their own language, means we would then have trumped their rights. If we can speak either language in the House and they cannot access those debates in their language, whether it be French or English, then someone's rights are not being respected as per the Constitution of this country and as per the Official Languages Act.

I understand that the members opposite are not fussy about official languages and respect of rights, but I would hope that this message would be conveyed to the Board of Internal Economy in due course.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier a question. There are francophones and anglophones in his riding. Could he briefly explain the effect on his constituents when he rises in the House to ask a minister a question in one language and the answer is not provided in the same language?

For example, in my riding, there are francophone communities and anglophone communities. If I ask the Minister of Human Resources Development a question in French, she answers in English. As a result, not all francophones are able to understand the answer to my question.

Will the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier explain how this problem affects his riding or other ridings he knows, particularly as Chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this creates a huge problem for people who want to follow the debates of the House. It is a technical problem in some cases because the debate is not available in both languages, but it is also an accessibility problem.

I will give an example of the technical aspect. Some television viewers—that is what we are talking about—have a feature called a second audio channel, or SAP, which allows them to switch from English to French. However, there are so many steps to go through that by the time a person accesses the other official language, the comments are finished and often, in the House, we have moved on to something else. This is an unacceptable solution to most people, especially since it is not available to everyone.

The other problem is that, following a CRTC decision, every Canadian with cable will now have to pay a few cents more every month to access the Cable Public Affairs Channel and the debates of the House. This is not right because if we are required to pay for something, we should be able to receive it in the language of our choice.

That is what the Constitution of Canada and the Official Languages Act stipulate and that is what we want. I think the case can be won. We will see what happens in the courts shortly.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, will the debate resume following questions and comments?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The answer is yes.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2003 / 10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That this House pass at all stages my private member's bill, Bill C-411, an act to establish Merchant Navy Veterans Day, by way of unanimous consent.

As members are aware, I brought this forward about four weeks ago and I had the consent of all parties except one. I have had negotiations with the critic for that party and that critic has assured me there is agreement to go forward at this point in time.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee, deemed reported without amendment and concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the House do now proceed to the Orders of the Day.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am seeking clarification. It may never have happened before, and in the six years I have been in this House, I have certainly never seen a vote take a mere two minutes. Usually, the bells ring to call in the members and members are given time to proceed to the chamber to vote.

I will not take up more time with this point of order, but I would appreciate some clarification on that.

Merchant Navy Veterans DayRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I would like to have the attention of the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst. This is not the first time we proceed in this fashion. As the hon. member may recall, on many Wednesdays recorded divisions have taken place immediately after oral question period, without the bells having rung.

Also, you will have noticed that in this particular case, the chief government whip and the opposition whip agreed to proceed immediately with the taking of the vote. There is therefore no precedent. That is what I had to explain to you.