Mr. Speaker, I regret to interrupt the debate, but I rise on a point of order with respect to the amendment.
I rise on a point of order. In my opinion, the amendment put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre to Motion M-153 is out of order.
I have a lot of respect for the work of firefighters and for the sacrifices that their families must make. It is important that my colleagues and Canadians understand that my point of order deals strictly with a procedural matter.
I believe that the part of the amendment calling for the payment of a benefit is out of order.
First, it is clearly not acceptable for an amendment to a substantive motion--such as motions presented by private members--to expand the scope of the motion to deal with a new question or proposition.
Erskine May states at page 343 in the 22nd edition that:
The effect of moving an amendment is to restrict the field of debate which would otherwise be open on a question.
Marleau and Montpetit states at page 453 that:
An amendment is out of order procedurally if:
it is not relevant to the main motion (i.e. it deals with a matter foreign to the main motion or exceeds the scope of the motion, or introduces a new proposition which should properly be the subject of a substantive motion with notice).
Beauchesne's at paragraph 579 further clarifies:
(1) An amendment setting forth a proposition dealing with a matter which is foreign to the proposition involved in the main motion is not relevant and cannot be moved.
(2) An amendment may not raise a new question which can only be considered as a distinct motion after proper notice.
Private members' motions are substantive motions and the precedents on substantive motions are clear. Speaker Fraser ruled on December 17, 1987 that an amendment to an opposition day motion, which put a new proposition to the House, should have been put forward as an independent motion on notice.
Similarly, on March 26, 1992, the Speaker ruled out of order an amendment to another opposition day motion on health care since the intention of the amendment was clearly to expand the scope of the debate. Mr. Speaker, you ruled that an amendment which introduces a new proposition could not be in order.
There is nothing in the original motion before the House regarding compensation. It deals solely with the issues of appropriately recognizing and providing a memorial for firefighters. What is proposed here is to add a new clause to the motion to the effect that the government should establish a national public safety officer compensation benefit. This is clearly a new proposition and a new question. As such, I believe it is out of order.
The other reason why this proposition should be found to be out of order is that it violates one of the basic principles of financial procedure. Marleau and Montpetit at page 709 states:
Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may only authorize spending which has been recommended by the Governor General. This prerogative, referred to as the “financial initiative of the Crown”, is the basis essential to the system of responsible government...
I acknowledge that while motions are not the same as legislation, Marleau and Montpetit are equally clear about how to handle private members' motions with financial considerations and they do so at pages 900 and 901. It states:
No motion sponsored by a Member who is not a Minister can contain provisions for either raising revenue or spending funds, unless it is worded in terms which only suggest that course of action to the government. As an alternative to a bill which might require a royal recommendation obtained only by a Minister, a private Member may choose to move a motion proposing the expenditure of public funds, provided that the terms of the motion only suggest this course of action to the government without ordering or requiring it to do so. Such a motion is normally phrased so as to ask the government to “consider the advisability of...”.
Beauchesne's provides further clarity at page 186 on the subject of such motions which should be “abstract motions”. Citation 616 states:
Motions purporting to give the Government a direct order to do a thing which requires the expenditure of money are out of order.
Citation 617 states:
(1) Abstract motions should use the words, “that the Government consider the advisability of...”
The wording of this amendment, if it were adopted by the House, would result in a motion that does not follow these rules, but which would purport to give the government an order requiring the expenditure of public money. The motion would then require the government to establish a national public safety officer compensation benefit which would compensate the families of fallen or permanently disabled firefighters.
The authorities on this matter are clear and unfortunately it is not permissible in procedural terms. Since the proposal is for compensation and the amendment expands the scope of the motion and does not follow the rules of financial procedure, I believe it should be found to be out of order.
Let me clarify that the government has no objection whatsoever to amending the motion with respect to the location of the monument being in a prominent position in the National Capital and such an amendment would clearly be supported.
To conclude, I think it is important because this is a very difficult issue and in terms of substance I have an enormous amount of sympathy personally for what the member for Ottawa Centre is doing, what the mover of the motion is seeking to do, and what other members have addressed in their comments.
My comments are strictly with respect to the procedure, not the substance of the matter, and I hope that all understand the importance of respecting certain procedures. If at a later time a new motion could be brought forward to cover some of the issues raised in the amendment, we would see that as a positive development.