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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was salaries.

Topics

Question No. 23Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. member for Delta—Richmond East was inquiring about some questions he had on the order paper a couple of days ago. I am sure he will be very pleased to see these returns tabled today.

Question No. 23Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted. As you well know, I am sure it was your intervention and the good work of my friend across the way that got those two questions answered.

I have as well Question No. 14, which was asked way back on October 12, and is now past due. When could we expect to see that one answered? It has to do with the purchase of the used hovercraft for the Coast Guard on the west coast. We would like the answer on that one as well.

Question No. 23Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, there is an old adage that if you give an inch, they want a mile. I was very happy to answer the questions that the hon. member for Delta—Richmond East put today. I know his questions are always germane and are on important issues of public policy. He should have every faith that it will be answered entirely within the prescribed time.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 23Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 23Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. member

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved that Bill C-30, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-30, the parliamentarians' compensation bill.

The bill is the result of a commitment made by the Prime Minister to the Canadian people. On September 30 the Prime Minister said that the government would delink, or break the link, between the salaries of MPs and those of judges. He also said that the increase in salaries and the increase in MPs salaries would reflect essentially the increases negotiated by Canadians.

What we are doing today, in debating this and having introduced this bill into the House, is taking action on that commitment.

The bill is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated and follows the legislative process in the House of Commons. It is my hope that the legislation will go to committee for review and that it will come back to Parliament for a vote in the new year.

I think all MPs will want to deal with this question in the same straightforward manner. I know that at times issues like this are difficult issues to be debated on the floor of the House, but the government made a commitment to treat the compensation of parliamentarians separately and apart from that of judges. Therefore it is logical that we would take this step and present a bill independent of the Judges Act, which deals only with the compensation increases of parliamentarians, and deal with the question of compensation increases for judges in a subsequent bill.

In determining the compensation increases for parliamentarians, the bill itself describes a measure that tracks private sector wage increases as the benchmark that we would follow. The HRSD, or Human Resources and Skills Development, annual average wage settlement index tracks the wage settlements of the Canadian private sector, and so linking parliamentary compensation increases to this index will mean that parliamentarians will fare neither better nor worse than the people whom parliamentarians represent.

I would like to illustrate for a moment how straightforward and uncomplicated the bill is. The index used to measure the wage change is published every February. It documents the wage changes of the previous calendar year. Under Bill C-30, parliamentarians' compensation would receive the Human Resources and Skills Development index effective April 1, 2004.

There is support for making this move that the government is undertaking. I just want to flag a couple of editorials that reflected this. The following was stated in the Regina Leader-Post back in September:

MPs and cabinet ministers...work long, unsocial hours. However, workers in many other sectors can make the same argument, yet an average pay increase of 2.5 to 3.1 per cent is what most Canadians can expect to receive this year, according to government and private forecasters.

The National Post on October 2 also praised the decision by the Prime Minister to delink compensation increases for judges and MPs by stating:

The Prime Minister has also correctly recognized that there should be no correlation between remuneration for judges and politicians and is acting to correct the policy that arbitrarily weds the two to a single pay scale.

How did we end up with this particular index? We looked at number of indices before settling on the HRSD one. It had a number of advantages. For one, it is the only major index of private sector wage settlements that is widely available and easily accessible. When we look at the index itself and how it is made up, it is readily understood by everyone, and I believe, as I am sure many others will if they have the opportunity to look at this index, that it will be a fair and representative indicator of the general wage settlement trends in the economy.

It is also very important, and this again is an advantage of using this particular index, that we use an index that does not include wage increases negotiated by public servants because Parliament, from time to time, may need to legislate on public service compensation. Thus, using an index with a public sector component could in fact be perceived by some as putting Parliament in a conflict of interest.

Some people have put forward the cost of living index, COLA, which is used by Statistics Canada as a possible measure for linking MP compensation. However, what this particular index does is it tracks the prices as they rise and as they decline of the goods and services in the economy. It does not reflect the changes in wage increases received by Canadians across the country. The prices of commodities can rise and fall dramatically depending on trends in the economy. Therefore we believe that we should base salary changes for MPs on what is happening to Canadians in the economy, not on the supply and demand curves of goods and services.

For those reasons the government has chosen to use the private sector wage settlement index that is published by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development as it is an authoritative index. Both the government and industry use it. It is a data source that many use in analyzing wage settlement trends in our economy. It is published monthly in the Wage Settlements Bulletin and quarterly in the Workplace Gazette.

Therefore there is a lot of accessibility and there is I believe an understanding of what this index actually does and what it means for the economy. It covers a broad economy: primary industries, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, transportation, education and health services, finance and professional services.

The index itself measures the average annual salary increase negotiated by collective bargaining for private sector units with 500 or more people. It is comprised of over 430 collective agreements in the private sector and these agreements apply across private sector units of 500 or more people. It means that the wage settlement data that we expect to use as an index are really reflective of what more than 8,000 people across the country are getting in terms of wage increases. It represents mostly a unionized workforce but it also has a very significant component of non-unionized employees as well, so there is that mix in this index.

For the reasons that I have laid out before the House, we think this index meets the test of linking the increases in compensation for parliamentarians to the increases obtained by Canadians. By aligning future compensation increases with changes in the private sector wage settlements, parliamentarians can be assured and will be assured that their salary increases will be the same as those of other Canadians.

The way it would work is that we would look at the average wage increase for the previous calendar year, which is published in February, and have an assessment We would then have the change reflected in the compensation for members of Parliament.

I would like to provide some background. As members know, parliamentarians received a 1.3% increase on April 1, 2004 based on the industrial aggregate average, which is also an index that is used to calculate annual changes in the compensation for judges. The base salary for MPs in 2003 had been $139,200. With this increase under the industrial aggregate average, it moved up to approximately $141,000, which is an increase of about 1.3% or $1,800.

Under the parliamentarians' compensation bill, Bill C-30, parliamentarians would receive increases in line with the HRSD index for 2003 with an effective date of April 1, 2004. The HRSD index itself for 2003, which was published in February 2004, was 1.5%, not 1.3%. If we were to apply Bill C-30, that would mean an increase of about $2,000 to MPs' salaries, or MPs' compensation, rather than the $1,800. I wanted to make that clear because there has been some confusion on this.

The new index would provide for a slightly higher increase than is provided for under the current legislation but that increase reflects the increases received in the private sector in Canada. In effect, it means that parliamentarians would be getting the same increase as the people who they represent.

As we go forward into the future, the legislation would establish a system for receiving salary increases in what I think will be a very uncomplicated and straightforward manner. This is a commitment the Prime Minister made to Canadians and it is a commitment fulfilled. It is an example of another commitment that we are following through on.

The government has a track record of following through on commitments. We believe that Canadians can benefit from strong communities, a strong economy and from a nation that is a strong player on the international stage.

When we talk about commitments we not only talk about that commitment, but we can also talk in the context of what the government has accomplished and what the government is intending to do. We can look at the health care commitment of $41.3 billion in an agreement with the provinces and territories. It is a deal that will enhance health care for the next decade. It will also provide benchmarks for performance, which is something the Prime Minister talked about and committed to. This will ultimately result in reduced patient wait times for diagnosis and treatment.

Canadians have the commitment with respect to this legislation on parliamentary salaries, the commitment in health care and the commitment, which we are following through on, in the early childhood development and lifelong learning. We are laying the groundwork, which has been laid in conjunction with the provinces and territories. Dialogue is ongoing and ultimately we will end up with a program of early learning and child care.

When we talk about commitments with respect to Bill C-30, commitments in health care, commitments in early learning, in the economy, when we think of the reduction in debt and the $100 billion tax cut, all of these are commitments that we have maintained. What I am suggesting to the House is that the government is committed to fulfilling and seeing this legislation become law.

Through this particular act we have acted on our other commitments, whether it is in health care or on the $100 million investment in the redevelopment of Ford Motor Company in Oakville, or the new deal for cities, we are fulfilling the commitments.

While we talk about our domestic goals and fulfilling those domestic commitments, and this is certainly one of them, it is also fair to say that we also strive as part of our overall objective to strengthen Canada's influence in the world. We have seen a lot of work to that end very recently with the Prime Minister in different parts of the world ensuring that Canada's voice is heard in building and rebuilding fractured states and ensuring that democracy is alive and well, whether it is Ukraine or whether in going to Iraq. We are committed to meeting our goals and objectives.

Bill C-30 is pretty straightforward. There is an index. It will reflect Canadian wage settlements. It will essentially reflect the wage increases that Canadians receive. We represent these Canadians. I believe parliamentarians work very hard and are very dedicated, as are Canadians. They also work very hard and are very dedicated in whatever sector they work.

We have taken the opportunity to bring forward legislation to tie this index to the salaries of members of Parliament. The legislation makes sense. It is clear, straightforward and very transparent.

I do think that we are on the right track on this. That is reflected in a number of editorials. I am hopeful that when others get up to speak on this particular piece of legislation they will look at the legislation for what it is and send it to committee.

This bill will follow the regular process. This is not about bringing a bill into the House just to have it proceed very quickly because it is about MPs' compensation. It is about putting this on the floor of the House to put in place a very transparent and simple, straightforward way of dealing with this issue. I think that in fact this is what Bill C-30 does.

As I have said, this is a commitment that was made by the Prime Minister this September to delink increases in parliamentary salaries from those received by judges. It links them to those received by Canadians in the private sector.

We have moved quickly on that commitment and have introduced this bill, Bill C-30. Members of the House will now have the opportunity to fulfill that commitment made to the Canadian people.

I think I should also be very clear and say that this is up to Parliament. Parliamentarians will decide whether this legislation will proceed. I do believe that once the legislation is reviewed and once we hear from others in the House we will build some support and a consensus that this legislation go through. I believe it is the right thing to do and I certainly hope the members of the House on all sides will come together and help us do just that.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have two motions with respect to committee travel. There have been discussions among all parties. I believe that if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, in relation to its studies on the new citizenship legislation, recognition of foreign credentials and family reunification, seven members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to travel to Quebec and Montreal in February and March, 2005, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, in relation to its studies on the new Citizenship Legislation, Recognition of Foreign Credentials and Family Reunification, seven members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to travel to Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo in February-March 2005, and that the necessary staff do accompany the Committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier I referred to the riding of a certain member during question period. I would like to make a correction in terms of the blues. I referred to the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey, but I meant to refer to the hon. member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam. I apologize to the House.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

December 8th, 2004 / 3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, indeed I listened very carefully to the opening speech on Bill C-30, just made by the House leader for the government, and I have three quick questions I would like to put to him.

The first would be pre-empted by a statement, perhaps, on the fact, if I heard him correctly, that he said the Prime Minister made this commitment to bring forward a bill to delink MPs' compensation, in other words, our salaries, from the judges' compensation. It was his own government in a previous Parliament that had linked the two. Now the government is delinking it. He said the Prime Minister made that commitment in September.

As I recall it, the Prime Minister was under pressure from the Leader of the Opposition, my colleague from Calgary Southwest, who last spring made that commitment to the Canadian people in the lead-up to and during the election campaign.

My leader, the member for Calgary Southwest, stated unequivocally that a Conservative government would not allow a pay package increase to go ahead that would have been 10%, which was what was leaked out of the commission that looks at judges' remuneration. That leaked out last spring. There was quite a debate about it in the media.

So those commitments, I believe, were made quite some time ago, not just in September. At any rate, we are here to debate Bill C-30. The first question I would put to the House leader deals with the actual increase. Certainly I think it makes eminent sense to attach our compensation to some form of cost of living index that other Canadians are faced with, at least when they begin to negotiate their salaries and any increase in their salaries.

But what is the actual increase that we will be getting? Is it half a per cent for this year or is it one and a half per cent? What is it? I ask so that people watching the program at home today will clearly understand what it is that we are talking about.

The second deals with the linkage to the judges. It was this government, as I already have said, that indeed initially linked it to judges' remuneration, so I would simply put this question: why is it that they are not bringing forward the judges' package at the same time instead of waiting until next spring to deal with it? I understand that is about 11% over four years, a substantial increase, and over and above their cost of living increase, I might add.

The third question is again for clarification. It is my understanding that once Bill C-30 passes and MPs' salaries are linked to the cost of living index there will not be a requirement in the future for the members of the House of Commons to debate and vote on our own remuneration.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I counted right there were four questions, but I will try to deal with them as quickly and as directly as possible.

On the first question with respect to the commitment or the comments made by the hon. member's leader, I guess I can take from that, and judging by the comments made, that the leader of the official opposition would be very attracted to this type of legislation and probably would in fact support it, judging from the comments.

The purpose of introducing this legislation is in fact to delink, as I have said. Under the present arrangement there has been a 1.3% increase as a result of an index in the Judges Act, so members of Parliament have received a 1.3% increase, which takes us from about $139,000 to about $141,000.

With Bill C-30, in fact, the difference would be about $200. There would be a $200 difference, and the actual index averaged 1.5% for the previous year, which is published in February, and that would be the number for the year 2004.

With respect to the Judges Act itself, I think it is very clear that the intent here is to delink and that by doing so we have in fact brought forward an independent piece of legislation for the House to deal with specifically on members' salaries.

I might also remind the member that for the judges' salaries it is a bit more than 11%; actually about 16% over four years. This piece of legislation would obviously serve to delink members' salaries from that particular proposal. I think it better reflects, frankly, what Canadians are looking for in MPs' salaries and certainly I think it better reflects the will of Canadians.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know the following from the government House leader.

When his government introduced here in the House of Commons the last bill linking the remuneration of judges and members of Parliament, one of the basic principles at issue at the time was that the salary of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada should never exceed that of the Prime Minister. Everyone watching us knows that this is a basic, well established principle. The Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are paid, for all practical purposes, the same salary.

How can the government House leader justify the fact that, suddenly, through a legislative provision like the one he has today, the salary of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will be $26,000 a year higher than the salary of the Prime Minister, in the first year. That is my first question for the government House leader.

My second question is as follows. If we find ourselves obliged again today to reconsider the remuneration of members of Parliament, is it not because the Prime Minister basically lacked courage when he saw the results of the report? Instead of asking the committee to do its work again, the Prime Minister decided first to say that he would not take his salary increase. Everyone burst out laughing. It is well known that he is a millionaire several times over and does not need this salary. After that, he managed to say: “It is far too much for Canadians.”

So this is my question. If the Prime Minister is honest and sincere when he says that an 11% pay increase for members of Parliament is far too much for Canadians—and I am one of them—how is it this same government thinks, in deciding to introduce a bill like this one reducing the pay increase of members of Parliament to more normal levels, that 10.8% or 11% for judges is not too much? It is too much for Canadians who are paying the salary of members of Parliament, but it is not too much for Canadians who are paying the salary of judges.

I would like to understand where this is fair. I would like to understand the government's logic, if this is not in fact just a bill based on cowardice.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the member's first question and the salary the Chief Justice would receive with respect to parliamentarians, what we all have to understand about this, and I think Canadians do understand, is that ultimately Parliament will decide. If in fact my hon. colleague believes that the Prime Minister can and should receive the same salary as the Chief Justice in this particular circumstance, with this Parliament being a minority Parliament then that could happen.

He suggested in his second question that the Prime Minister brought this forward for some reason. In fact, the reason the Prime Minister brought this forward is that he believes in and is proposing a salary increase that reflects what the average Canadian receives. The average Canadian will look at this and say it makes sense. Why should MPs not receive what average Canadians receive in terms of salary?

If members have difficulty with this, they can certainly argue that this is not what we should be doing in the House. They can stand in their places and argue that members of Parliament should receive a salary increase that is somewhat different. I am prepared to listen to those arguments and I know that my hon. colleagues are prepared to listen to my arguments.

With respect to judges, the Judges Act will come to the House. Parliament will deal with this piece of legislation like any other piece of legislation, and in a minority Parliament, if in fact changes are made, I am sure that parliamentarians on all sides of the floor will take responsibility for those changes.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. House leader has some curious responses to some curious questions from the Bloc in defending the Prime Minister's salary. This is a new day in the House of Commons.

I was initially filled with some amount of confidence in the House leader's description of this as a simple and very transparent piece of legislation until he made reference to the government's great track record on following through on its commitments. Thoughts of the GST, reviewing NAFTA, the actual implementation of Kyoto and reducing student debt loads came to mind and I started to worry about this commitment. For some strange reason, the House leader then strayed to Iraq and mentioned the idea of going to Iraq. I am not sure why he referenced that with respect to this piece of legislation. I wonder if he could clarify that.

There was an initial decision to tie our salaries to those of judges. The Prime Minister stepped away from that for some reason. I wonder if he could clarify the reason the Prime Minister stepped away from what I assume was a very clear and logical position.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my answer was clear. The Prime Minister has proposed this piece of legislation because he believes that the salaries and compensation that MPs receive should reflect what the average Canadian receives. My hon. colleague from the NDP has a problem with that. He has a problem in fact that MPs' salary increases should not reflect what the average Canadian receives. He thinks that this index is the wrong index. As a matter of fact it is an index that reflects collective bargaining and that is made up of both union and non-union sectors and represents the broad economy. It is a curious position for my hon. colleague from the NDP.

In any event, the legislation is before the House and I certainly look forward to the positions that the other parties have on it. I look forward to engaging in the debate and I welcome it.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in the House today to listen to my colleague across the floor and also my friend in the Bloc. I think all three of us were here when the House debated not too many years ago the great solution we had to this problem of MPs' salaries. That great solution was that we were going to tie the prime minister's salary to the chief justice's, and everybody thought that was pretty fair. We would live with the independence of the Supreme Court justices and what they were going to get in their salaries. Meanwhile we would all get nice cost of living increases every year, which has brought our salaries up a few thousand dollars a year since that time. Everything was running along pretty well until a report came out.

It is interesting that the government House leader will talk about editorials, saying they all support it and this is a good idea. Yes, I think the average Canadian would think it is a good idea to have our salaries tied into a cost of living that comes from an index of wage settlements of Canadians. It always sounds like a good idea, but it is interesting. I read editorials when we did this last time and all the editorials said that it was very good that parliamentarians were tying their salaries to the judges' and they would no longer decide themselves what the increases would be.

We really have to wonder about some of these editorialists who thought it was a great idea until a 10% figure came along and then we were all terrible and we should knock it back to something different. Nevertheless the government has brought in this bill and my party is going to support this legislation.

The government House leader should know also that when they bring the judges' bill before the House, we are still going to live by the same ideals that we had before. The judges are going to live with the same incomes that we have as members of Parliament. They are going to be put on an index just like we are. If it was a fair thought a few years ago that our salaries should be tied to judges' salaries, then it is a fair thought now and that should never change. I am happy that members on the Liberal side are applauding that.

I would expect that whatever the government puts in the legislation for judges, it better expect it to be amended so it will read exactly the same as for everybody in the House, from the prime minister to members of Parliament. I hate to tell them that at Christmastime in case they have gone out and spent the money already, but 16% would not be accepted by Canadians at any level right now, and they should look at that.

The private sector wage settlement process is a very good one. I think Canadians can accept that. I hope we will never see it in the House again where we have to have another debate on jumping up the salaries. Let us just live with this issue, but give us that increase every year so we do not have to debate it.

I was not going to get into these issues in this speech, but I could not help it. I just wanted to talk about the issue but the House leader opposite talked about all the good things the government has done. I will give him credit, the government has done some good things and we voted for some of those good things.

There was a question in the House today that was answered by the minister of immigration about doctors as immigrants to this country. There are literally hundreds of well qualified doctors in this country who cannot practise their profession because the government is dragging its feet. Also provincial associations, whether they be medical, dental or other professionals, are dragging their feet, but all of these associations only operate with either provincial or federal help and they should be told to speed up their act.

I have a situation in my constituency where there is a surgeon who is operating every day and has been told by immigration that he will be given his landed status once he gets his certificate that he can practise medicine. He has been practising with a temporary permit from his association for two years doing surgery in Powell River, yet he has not been finalized yet. Are they telling me that somewhere along the line this association has taken two years and might take another to finally say he is qualified? What if they say he is not? He has been doing surgery every day in Powell River. There are hundreds like him everywhere in this country. There are also hundreds of others who are doing nothing. They are driving taxi cabs, waiting tables in restaurants, or taking other jobs when they could be out practising medicine.

I would ask the government, instead of debating this issue here today, why not solve that problem? Yes, it talked about putting $41 billion back into medicare but we all know it took out $25 billion, and that is what caused the crisis from 1993 to 2003.

There are other issues. We are going to debate one of them tomorrow, the Fraser River fishery problem and fisheries in general, both on the east coast and the west coat. There is a lack of good scientific evidence. The fisheries have been dying off in a country that is famous for fisheries, not only commercial fisheries but sports fisheries. In my province it is costing people a lot of jobs. Why can the government not solve that problem? Why do we have to bring in a motion from the opposition to get it to debate that issue and get a judicial inquiry going that might solve that problem?

How many thousands of students around this country are having serious problems with their debt loads? Why are we not coming up with a program to make sure that every Canadian citizen can get post-secondary education, whether it is to become a plumber, an electrician, a doctor, or a nurse, to make sure they can do it, not just if their parents have enough money? That should be a guarantee for every Canadian citizen, an education. Why are we not seeing a program for that?

Finally, there is the Prime Minister's travelling road show. We know why he is travelling. He does not want to be here in the House of Commons with us. He does not like those serious questions every day about the issues of the nation. As much as we like to see our Prime Minister in certain things he is doing, when the House is sitting, this is where he should be, answering questions every day.

Mr. Speaker, I should have mentioned at the start of my speech and I forgot, but I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Centre-North.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

On that issue, the hon. member is on the first round of speeches and he will have to have the unanimous consent of the House to divide his time.

Is there consent in the House to allow the hon. House leader to divide his time with someone else?

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing. Minority parliaments work so well.

It has worked well. I see all my colleagues and House leaders are here. We can say that the opposition parties, whether it has been on the throne speech debate or on other issues, have worked very hard to make this government do things and make things happen in this Parliament. We can all go home for Christmas knowing that we have done a good job as members of Parliament, in keeping the government doing business in an honest way and in a way that is good for all Canadians.

I would say that we are not happy about how this whole process took place because we thought we had an agreement. However, we will support this legislation.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

David Kilgour Liberal Edmonton—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, what would my colleague think would be reasonable percentages in the circumstances that we are talking about?

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that if we support this bill it has anything to do with reasonable percentages. We are agreeing that the private sector wage settlement process is something that is coming forth from this government. I am saying that in the last Parliament we all agreed that there would be a process. Now we have changed our minds again. We have to finally get to a system that we all agree to so the public understands it. We thought we had one. It did not work this time.