Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to seek clarification regarding a motion on the Notice Paper seeking to restore $266,201,000 to VIA Rail. As you are aware, we have not had to deal with this type of motion for a long time.
The motion is in response to the recommendations of the transport committee that the estimates of VIA Rail be reduced by $9 million. The motion would give effect to the transport minister's statement of disagreement with the transport committee's recommendation and his intention to restore the funds reduced by the committee.
I raise this matter because of our experience with the supply motions, with which we are more familiar, in particular, opposed items. Take, for example, the motion I have on the Order Paper. It is a notice of opposition to reduce Vote No. 1 under Justice by $100 million. This amount reflects the funds for the gun registry. The motion that we end up voting on is not my motion but a motion from the President of Treasury Board. The minister's motion is not a fair reflection of the funds I have targeted
The motion that the House will be asked to vote on is as follows:
June 5, 2003—The President of the Treasury Board—That Vote 1, in the amount of $433,972,000, under JUSTICE—Department—Operating expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, be concurred in.
Voting against the motion will wipe out half a billion dollars, which is a far cry from the $100 million I am after.
The point of order is not about the flaws of the process for opposed items but about the need to clarify the impact of voting against the motion to restore funds to VIA Rail.
The restoration motion reads as follows:
June 5, 2003—The President of the Treasury Board—That Vote 25, in the amount of $266,201,000, under TRANSPORT—Department—Payments to VIA Rail Inc. in the Main Estimates of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, less the amount voted in Interim Supply, be restored.
It would be interpreted by some members that a vote against this motion would mean that over $266 million would be voted down. This is the experience we would have with a negative vote to an opposed.
It is my understanding that a vote against restoration motions would result only in $9 million being removed from VIA Rail funds and that a vote for the motion would result in the $9 million being restored.
Put another way, and this is important, Mr. Speaker, a vote for the restoration motion is a vote dismissing the recommendation of the transport committee, a recommendation that was arrived at after careful and responsible consideration of the estimates by the committee. A vote against the restoration motion is a vote in support of the good work of the transport committee. Would that be your interpretation, Mr. Speaker?
I raise this because it is important that members are aware of the impact of their vote this Thursday. I would not want the government whip giving the impression to Liberal members that VIA Rail risks losing $266 million. All that is at risk is the $9 million, as recommended by the committee.