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House of Commons Hansard #112 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.

Topics

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Fontana Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on settlement and integration programs entitled “Settlement and Integration: A Sense of Belonging 'Feeling at Home'”.

I want to thank the members of the committee for this unanimous report, with an asterisk beside “landing fees” for my friend over there in the NDP. I also want to thank the hundreds of people who made presentations, as well as the frontline workers who help our immigrants who come to this country and who are so valuable to this country. We need to help them integrate into our society. It is good for them and it is good for this country.

We would hope that the minister would, without question, adopt this report, which is far-reaching, creative, innovative and will move this country further and further to better immigration policies.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Sustainable Development and Environmental Assessment: Beyond Bill C-9”.

It might be worthwhile to note that this report is for Parliamentarians, policy-makers, policy advisers and anyone interested in environmental assessment. Its aim is to give a clear sense of direction for environmental assessment through its recommendations.

The report was made possible by the valuable testimony of witnesses on Bill C-9 before the committee, consultations with knowledgeable people in the field of environmental assessment and, in particular, by Stephen Hazell. The technical and practical experience provided by him and numerous witnesses was considerable and provided the substance of the recommendations contained in this document.

This report is triggered by Bill C-9, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Within the rules of procedure, it was possible to make some 76 amendments to Bill C-9 at the committee stage.

In conclusion, something was needed for the next review of the act scheduled to take place around the year 2010. It is our hope that officials in the Privy Council Office, Environment Canada, the Canadian Environmental Agency and interested parliamentarians will examine this report and its recommendations before drafting the next bill.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 33rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta. This report and related evidence will be forwarded to the commission for its consideration.

I would like to thank the subcommittee of procedure and House affairs for its work on this matter. I would like to thank all members who made contributions to these hearings.

I also have the honour to present the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership and associate membership of committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 34th report later this day. I would explain to colleagues that when I seek concurrence we are dealing with the committee assignments of our new colleague from Perth—Middlesex.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am told that the report from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is not quite ready yet and will take a few minutes more to be tabled. I have consulted House leaders of all political parties in the House and they have given me the consent for the following motion. I move:

That the chair or another member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be permitted to present a report from the said committee at any time during the present sittings.

In other words, later this day.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

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

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

I would again explain that we are dealing with the committee assignments of our newly elected colleague.

(Motion agreed to)

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

moved:

That this House respectfully disagree with the ruling of the Deputy Speaker disallowing amendments at report stage of Bill C-7 on the basis that the proposed amendments could have been moved in the standing committee since the standing committee was conducted as a disorderly proceeding.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr.Speaker, I have some difficulty in understanding what is going on here. I read the motion on the Order Paper. I guess it was yesterday that it came to my attention. My interpretation is that it would in fact constitute an appeal of the Speaker's ruling and my reading of--

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Just use closure, Don.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Well, the Speaker can rule, but my reading of Standing Order 10 would not permit that kind of appeal to take place. I invite Mr. Speaker to look at it. If this kind of thing is permitted I would say that it is rather precedent setting that we can put these motions to appeal Speaker's rulings when we abolished appeals to Speaker's rulings long before I became a member, and that is a very long time ago.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know that there is a point of order to pursue. You have ruled. You have called the motion.

I am prepared to debate it. It is clearly our right. I admit that it is a rare procedure and I will allude to that in my remarks. It is a rare procedure because the events leading to it were quite extraordinary.

However, Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, and speaking as someone who has been in the House longer than the House leader, I believe this is entirely in order and I note that you have called the motion and I am prepared to proceed.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair does have considerable reservation about the motion. I called the motion because the hon. member indicated he wanted it called.

The government House leader has pointed out what I think is a certain problem with the motion. The only reason I did not rule it out immediately, and before I even called it, was because of the wording of the motion, which is ambiguous.

However I note that Standing Order 10 of the House of Commons provides:

The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of order. In deciding a point of order or practice, the Speaker shall state the Standing Order or other authority applicable to the case. No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House.

What we have here is a motion that says that the House respectfully disagrees with the ruling of the Deputy Speaker. It does not say that it is seeking to overturn it, which is why I did not throw it out immediately. However it does say that it disagrees with the ruling of the Deputy Speaker and gives some reasons for that. In addition, it does then mean that there will be a debate on the ruling of the Deputy Speaker given on Bill C-7.

Accordingly, it strikes me that this is completely contrary to the specific words in Standing Order 10 and therefore, unless the right hon. member for Calgary Centre can convince me that this is not a debate on the decision, I must rule the motion out of order.

I think he has an uphill battle there but I am prepared to hear him further on the point if he thinks he has something that would allow him to argue that this debate is not a debate on the ruling itself, because the words of the motion suggest that it is.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will certainly do my best to rise to that challenge because it is, in effect, a larger challenge. It has to do with the capacity of the House to ensure that the legislation that is passed here reflects the concerns of members of Parliament and deals directly with the issues that come before us.

I am not challenging the ruling of the Speaker. I understand that. I am making a point because frankly we have tried to make this point before in committee and in the House of Commons. There have been rulings of precedent against us on every point. There is a problem that is undeniable to the naked eye and to reasonable person who are looking at these matters regarding the conduct of debate on this particular issue. There is no other opportunity for the House of Commons to raise that concern than to do it here in the context of a motion which does not challenge the Speaker.

You make the point, sir, that the motion is very carefully written to express the disagreement of members on this side of the House and I must add, members from other parties as well. This is a disagreement that has been expressed before, with frustration, and is finding its way to our attention. That indicates a serious problem with proceedings in the House.

A constant challenge of the Speaker is to interpret the rules and the precedents in the context of what is actually happening in the House in the interests of Parliament and the people affected by the legislation. We have had instances of this before and you will know, Mr. Speaker, that with respect to your ruling the other day, in effect, the precedents established before the passage of the Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms mean that the Official Languages Act does not apply to Parliament. You noted that there has been no contrary instruction to that point. I acted immediately to introduce a motion that would allow the House of Commons to decide to make itself subject to the rules that other Canadian institutions are subject to with respect to the Official Languages Act.

In this case, the capacity of members of Parliament to make their case in committee, and now in the House, has been seriously limited. The reason the motion is before the House is because we are appealing to you to ensure that the rights of members of Parliament to make amendments and to carry out our elected responsibilities are respected. It is particularly important with our fiduciary responsibility to aboriginal people.

Mr. Speaker, in your ruling a few days ago, you said:

--if it is impossible to move the amendment in committee it can be moved at the report stage. If the committee by a motion made it impossible for the right hon. member [myself] to move some amendments in the committee, he will want to make that argument on an individual basis with respect to each of his amendments when he presents them at the report stage. He will have a sympathetic ear with the Speaker and with the clerks who advise the Speaker in respect of these matters.

Mr. Speaker, I submitted three amendments on Monday. They were on the Order Paper on Monday. There was no opportunity for me to, in your words, make my arguments on an individual basis with respect to each of my amendments when I presented them at report stage. They were taken off the list without any consultation with me at all. So the express instruction of yourself, Mr. Speaker, that I would have the opportunity to make those arguments on an individual basis was not honoured in the practice.

I am sure that while that was the case with myself, there were other members of the House who had amendments that were also deemed unacceptable by the Chair, who did not have the opportunity to present their amendments themselves.

What makes this even more curious is that among the amendments that were accepted two highly significant changes to the legislation were introduced by the government that would create entirely new agencies that had not been part of the original bill. One with--

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. With great respect, we are getting into debate here far beyond a point of order. I think I have the crux of the right hon. member's point of order. He wants to debate whether or not some other amendments that he had proposed should be included in the ones that are subject to debate at report stage.

He cites with good justification the ruling I made on May 27 in respect of a matter which I believe he raised, if I am not mistaken, on this issue. He did indeed raise it and has quoted me quite correctly in stating that he would have “a sympathetic ear with the Speaker and with the clerks who advise the Speaker in respect of these matters”.

I am advised that on Monday he submitted a letter including his proposed amendments and made no submissions whatsoever to anyone in respect of those amendments. Many other members made submissions. They approached the clerks and spoke to them. They gave reasons why their amendments ought to be acceptable and some of them had some of their amendments agreed to as the ones that were included in the ruling.

However, the right hon. member made no submissions with respect to any of his amendments. A ruling was made and now we have a motion that says the ruling is something the House disagrees with.

In my view this is a debate on the ruling and therefore, I rule the motion out of order

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was perhaps inarticulate before. Here is our concern. There is serious concern about the legislation that has been brought before this House. Members of Parliament have an obligation to move amendments and to express their concerns. We were not allowed to do that in committee and now, we are not allowed to do that in this House.

You are now telling me, and I must say that it is a surprise to me, that when the Speaker rules that there will be a full opportunity to discuss the merits of an amendment before it is deemed acceptable or unacceptable, he means that the full opportunity will be by whispering in the ear of someone at the Table.

That was not my understanding of a full opportunity. I can say with some confidence it was not the opportunity for the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. It was not the interpretation by other members of the House. We thought that when the Speaker said we would have an opportunity to defend amendments that we were going to bring here, that the Speaker meant that we would stand in our place as members of Parliament and make our case which is what we are sent here to do.

Is there some other kind of procedure that allows people who whisper in the ear of the Chair to have a new ombudsman? A massive new amendment was brought in that had not been seen before that would create a new institute or centre. Yet, we are not allowed to bring forward or propose amendments because we do not have the adequate whisper power at the Table. That is a very alarming situation.

Mr. Speaker, you are the final recourse for members of Parliament when there are procedures that stifle and limit our capacity to do our job as members of the House of Commons of Canada. That is why I am coming to you.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I appreciate the right hon. member's appeal. I am sorry but I do not want to hear a lot more on this. I have made a ruling that, in my view, this motion is out of order and I think we should move on.

I will give an additional reason. The practice in the House at report stage for years has been that members who have amendments they wish to move make submissions on them. Various members have sent letters indicating why in their view their motions should be considered and accepted. They approached the officers of the House and indicated why they should be accepted. I received letters from members that I forwarded to those people who assist in preparing the ruling that is given by the Chair at report stage.

For the right hon. member to suggest that the only way to make submissions is by standing up on the floor of the House and talking about amendments is unrealistic. If we were to deal with those arguments here all day, we would be on points of order with respect to admissibility of amendments constantly. The whole purpose of the procedure we have adopted was to ensure that this was done in an expeditious manner in a way that was fair to hon. members and gave them a chance to make submissions.

Those submissions are drawn to the Speaker's attention when the ruling of the Chair is considered, and I point out that in this case 132 amendments were submitted at report stage on this bill and 104 of them were ruled admissible. They are being allowed for debate in the House.

I do not think it is correct to suggest that members had no opportunity. I invited it to be done in what I considered the normal and practical way in which we dealt with these matters and it was done in this case to the best of my knowledge. There were submissions received.

Is the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar rising on the same point or a different point?

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

It is the same point.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

All right, very briefly.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, very briefly and with the greatest of respect to you.

Regardless of the fact that the member for Calgary Centre may or may not have made submissions, his point is valid. We did of course make submissions from this side. The opposition submitted more amendments than all other parties combined and we had more amendments accepted than all other parties combined. We made submissions regarding many of those, as you well know.

Nonetheless, the point is valid. We did not know which amendments you may or may not have ruled admissible until the precise moment when we had to begin debate. That is a factor to consider in this instance. In addition, the fact that we did not have the opportunity, upon learning of your decision, to make any subsequent appeal or submission is germane to what the member for Calgary Centre is raising in his remarks.

Naturally this comes from frustration. This is because of the position the government has adopted from the outset regarding this bill. It is advancing it as rapidly as possible and limiting debate.

In respect of the conduct of the chair during committee hearings, and in respect of the rancour and the acrimony that existed there, there is some question--and I believe the member has raised it in his motion--as to how it would be possible for members of the committee to raise amendments in that environment.

The larger question, which the member is alluding to as well, is the difficulty with the rules, which the House leader has recently imposed upon the Speaker, to fully and fairly debate, submit amendments, and have such amendments known to members of the House prior to debating the legislation. If we are limited in our ability to know of amendments or to speak to amendments or to appeal amendments we submit, then clearly our ability to act as members of Parliament is impeded as a consequence of that.

I would like to see the larger issue addressed. I believe the member has alluded to it. The larger issue is the actually restrictive--

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The larger issue can be addressed, but not by a motion like this. The motion questions the authority of the Speaker's decision and under Standing Order 10 such a motion is not debatable.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

It does not do that.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry, I read the motion to the House and I think that, in fairness, it does. It says that the House disagrees with the decision of the Speaker and, therefore, is debating the Speaker's ruling, which is contrary to Standing Order 10. It is as plain as day. Accordingly, this motion is out of order.

Another motion proposing a change in the rules is a debatable motion and could be moved. If the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar has problems with the Standing Orders and disagrees with the way the Speaker's rulings are handed down on report stage amendments and wants some mechanism for appeal of those rulings on certain points, fine. However, it has to be done by amendment to the Standing Order, not by this kind of motion.

He is free to move a motion to amend the Standing Orders. All hon. members are free to do that. In addition, they can approach the procedure and House affairs committee and make submissions to have the committee submit a report changing the Standing Orders. There is nothing preventing hon. members from doing that.

I invite hon. members to take the matter up there or propose a motion that is permissible in the House. The one before us today is not admissible for the reasons I have given and is therefore out of order.

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, who is probably rising on a point of order.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. I have seen the how amendments were dealt with in that committee.

We had less than 48 hours to prepare a series of amendments, so we had to rush to get them through. We had our right to speak in committee taken from us. The atmosphere was aggressive, indeed violent on occasion.

The committee chair acted in a very hurried manner. I would remind hon. members that not only are we at report stage now, but we are doing second reading at the same time. We are being deprived of a stage of debate that is essential for a proper understanding of this bill. As well as being deprived of an essential stage of debate by the government's actions, we are losing 25 motions which, in your opinion, ought to have been presented in committee. This contradicts your position of a few days ago, when you told my right hon. colleague from Calgary Centre that, if he felt wronged by not having been able to move amendments to the bill after April 2, he could do so at this stage.

So he did present them, and you eliminated 25 of them, saying he could have presented them in committee. Either you are open to the fact that he could not present them in committee after April 2, as a result of the totally barbarian approach taken by the committee chair to receiving our amendments, or you are closed to it.

Your decision is a closed one. WIth all due respect, I find there is a certain lack of logic in your decision of a few days ago and your decision to take away 25 amendments as well as the possibility of debating them. Either you are open or you are closed.

There are 25 amendments missing. I would remind you that we are being deprived of a stage of debate, that is to say we are combining report and second reading stages. This is undemocratic.

First Nations Governance ActRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too am a permanent member of the standing committee. Very briefly I want to share with you how frustrating I find it now. If I understood you correctly, Mr. Speaker, you have more or less said that we now need to go back to the standing committee if we are going to challenge the rules by which amendments can be put, and to make those changes a recommendation should come from the standing committee.

The very point the right hon. member for Calgary Centre was making is that we have now heard four opposition members from four different parties say that the process at that standing committee is not satisfactory and it is not possible for us to achieve satisfaction, Nor is it possible for us to come together as a committee with even enough consensus to come forward to the House with--