I can hear members making comments about that. They are objecting to that observation, that the new party opposite has assumed two opposing positions in a very short period of months.
The bill passed this House and was sent to the other place just before prorogation. Bill C-49, as it was then known, passed this place literally unopposed. There was agreement across the House and among parties, but because of certain events outside the House, they are now opposed to something that just a few months ago they were endorsing.
That is an amazing revelation which I think should be brought to light, that an amendment to an amendment is itself a contradiction in terms.
There is an amendment to the main motion of the government that was also tabled by the party opposite. There is the main motion of the government which says to let us get on with the business of the country and let us get the House of Commons back to the affairs of the country.
It may very well be that members opposite would not like some of this legislation and I can understand that. In fact, I have already observed that legislation they did like they no longer like. Therefore, there may be legislation that they do not like today that they will like in the future. I cannot rule out that possibility.
What it all means is very simple, that members of the opposition are not interested in getting on with a real debate about legislation. They want to get into a debate about the procedures of this House.
I have heard members opposite decrying the fact that this reinstatement motion is before us. Let us go back to the standing orders, the rules of the House. Again, I will say that the standing orders were not intended to be a constraint on this place. The standing orders were in fact intended to give some order to this place, to make it efficient, because we want to do business in a good and timely fashion.
The end result is that as of 30 years ago or thereabouts we have our present standing order with respect to reinstatement. Reinstatement is the recognition that after prorogation bills that were before the House can return to the House in the same form and at the same stage as they were at when the prorogation was granted by the Governor General. The reason is that some 30 years ago there was a recognition that government was becoming more complex, that the affairs of the House were becoming more important and that we would not want to lose legislation that had passed second reading and committee stage.
We all know that committees invest a lot of time and a lot of resources in the whole study of a bill and if that is lost, much is lost in terms of progress of legislation and more important, in the agenda of a government or in the agenda of the country. To let that slide away could mean a loss of perhaps years in terms of very essential and important legislation that must be dealt with.
We have heard reference tonight to Bill C-13 which is commonly called the reproductive technologies bill. We are in a situation where if I were to follow the logic and succumb to the subamendment, or the amendment to the government motion, it would be lost. It would be gone. What would happen is that, I would dare say, thousands of hours of members' time, hundreds of hours of committee time and dozens and dozens of hours of House time, would be lost. We would go back to the beginning. It may be that we would have to reinvest all that time again to get back to a point and then beyond to pass that bill. That could be many months, if not a year away.
This would mean that a very quickly evolving area of life sciences, if I could call them that, would be lost. It would all be lost. We would be living in that domain which would be unregulated. Yet we are told by members opposite that they are quite willing to allow this very vital, integral and fundamental part of science, an area of great concern to many Canadians and to scientific research and development in this country, to slip away. They are quite willing to risk living in an environment that is unregulated. They are quite willing to play the game of the subamendment.
I go back to my original premise. Let us remember that the standing orders were created to give order and efficiency to this place, but what we are seeing now is a gamesmanship around this.
Certainly for every rule there is someone out there who is going to find an exception. What we are looking at now is the exception, the exception being that there is a subamendment and an amendment to the main motion. We are not debating one motion. We are debating an endless number of amendments and subamendments.
Clearly there is an unforeseeable number of subamendments which could be brought forward. It means that this is all tied up in process and not in substance. It means that members opposite can in fact shut down the affairs of this place, shut down the affairs of government, shut down the House of Commons simply by using a device, a device that is without meaning in terms of the substance, the substantive words of what they have laid down in the subamendment and in the amendment.
What the opposition is saying is that they do not care, they are not interested and that it is of no concern to them whether the government gets up and operating. They just want to continue to bring forward amendments and subamendments, and there are an infinite and indeterminate number of amendments they could bring forward. It is of no concern to them that we are now descending, if this is allowed to continue, into a form of deadlock. If we continue with this procedural wrangling, the government, which was elected to govern, will have no agenda. We will all become subservient to the agenda of procedural wrangling.
The standing orders are here for a reason. What the opposition members are railing against they had every opportunity to address on a number of occasions in the past. This is a form of posturing by using extraordinary devices, quite legal and quite proper in terms of our understanding of this place, but because they are using that there is also a procedural response available to us on this side, and we are moving on that procedural device simply because it is allowed and because as the government we must continue with the business of this place.
To be opposed to the government doing business is something I am certain anyone in the gallery or anyone watching this on public television would have a great deal of difficulty comprehending. Why would opposition members want to engage in days and days of debate about things that are meaningless, debates that are strictly contrived around procedure and around their view of what is right and proper.
Mr. Speaker, let me say to you, that what is right and proper is already laid down in the standing orders of this place. I know that the member opposite from Saint John would want to know that her predecessor friends, when her government was here from 1984-93, they had the opportunity to deal with that and they did not. We have had all kinds of opportunity but we are unaware that this has ever been raised in the place where it could be dealt with, which would be in a committee of the House that is charged to deal with it.
However, no. They like to suffer. I wish it were in silence but it is not in silence. They wish to suffer on the opposite side. Much cackling is occurring and a lot of monologue is going on over there but in the end it is meaningless. The vote that is about to take place will give to this place the kind of order that I am certain the members opposite want. After all, they belong to the party that espouses a law and order philosophy. We are simply following the law and order of the House of Commons as contained in the standing orders.
The end result is that we will be having a vote this evening which will bring to an end and lay to rest the misery that has been inflicted procedurally on this House by members opposite.