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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was burma.

Topics

125th Anniversary of HansardOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Previous to question period today, during the period devoted to members' statements, my colleague from Fleetwood—Port Kells was on her feet giving a member's statement. It was clearly heard by many on our side that the Minister of State for Families and Caregivers was heckling her during her statement and, most specifically, he was heard to say, “Cash for visas. Visas for sale. Did you cash the cheques yet?”

Mr. Speaker, this is dealing with an issue that you have already ruled on concerning slurs by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration against my colleagues and my party.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that the member for Trinity—Spadina be asked to unequivocally retract those statements and apologize to the member for Fleetwood—Port Kells and to the House.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Trinity—Spadina Ontario

Liberal

Tony Ianno LiberalMinister of State (Families and Caregivers)

Mr. Speaker, as the member was speaking regarding the racism that was taking place, I did ask if the cheques were being cashed. I said that I did not believe that the cheques were being cashed.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I would urge hon. members to be very judicious in their use of language. Yesterday, in the course of the ruling I gave, I pointed out that our Standing Orders specifically suggest that members refrain from commenting on matters being considered by the Ethics Commissioner

While there is no reason to believe automatically that the comment was directed this way, the suggestion is very clear. I would suggest to hon. members that we refrain from making comments of this kind. Frankly, the amount of noise during question period today was substantial. I know hon. members would want to cooperate with the Chair in trying to maintain greater order in the chamber.

The minister has indicated that he did not suggest cheques had been cashed. I will leave the matter at that for now.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Wednesday, April 13, 2005 by the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park concerning the tabling of a document during question period by the hon. Minister of the Environment.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park for bringing this matter to the attention of the House, as well as the hon. Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his intervention.

In raising this matter, the hon. member expressed concern that time in question period had been taken up with the tabling of a document and that the document should have been tabled during routine proceedings because it was not one that was required to be tabled. The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House responded that there had been no objections to the tabling at the time and since it had been received by a Table officer, it had been properly tabled.

I wish first to reassure the hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park that the Chair very carefully monitors the use of time during question period. I can assure the House that this ongoing vigilance is very effective in protecting the time available to members of all parties and that is despite the excessive noise that sometimes occurs in the chamber.

As for the timing of the tabling of documents, my initial reaction to the point of order was that our practices permit a minister to table a document at anytime during a sitting, including during question period, without the consent of the House. I undertook, however, to look into the matter and get back to the House.

In considering this matter, I reviewed the Standing Orders pertaining to the tabling of documents. First, Standing Order 30(3) sets down the time for and the items to be considered during routine proceedings, including tabling of documents. Second, Standing Order 32(1) provides for returns, reports and other papers required by statute, resolution or Standing Order to be deposited with the clerk of the House. This is known as “back door” tabling. Third, Standing Order 32(2) states:

A Minister of the Crown, or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on behalf of a Minister, may, in his or her place in the House, state that he or she proposes to lay upon the Table of the House, any report or other paper dealing with a matter coming within the administrative responsibilities of the government, and, thereupon, the same shall be deemed for all purposes to have been laid before the House.

This Standing Order requires that these documents not be tabled back door but in the House. This normally takes place during routine proceedings, under tabling of documents. In addition, our practices provide that if a minister quotes from a document in debate, the document must be tabled forthwith if so requested. If a minister cites a document in response to a question during oral questions, the tabling normally occurs immediately following question period.

At this point, it may be useful to members if I were to summarize the evolution of the rubric “tabling of documents” and the practice for tabling documents. From Confederation up to the 1950s, no documents could be presented to the House unless sent down by message from the Governor General, or in answer to an order or address of the House, or pursuant to statute. So long as the paper to be tabled fell into one of these categories, a minister had only to rise, usually during routine proceedings, and formally present the document to the House. If the government wished to table papers that had not been ordered, a motion had to be adopted allowing their presentation.

In 1955, the Standing Orders were amended to allow those documents required to be tabled by statute or by order to be deposited privately with the Clerk on any sitting day.

A few years later, in 1968, in response to an increased number of reports and papers being tabled by leave rather than by statutory requirements, orders or addresses, the Standing Orders were amended to remove the requirement that leave be obtained before the documents in question could be laid before the House. This new Standing Order provided for formal tabling as long as the documents in question came under the administrative responsibilities of the government, a very broad category of documents. They were normally tabled at the beginning of routine proceedings. In 1975, the heading “Tabling of Documents” was added to routine proceedings to codify the practice being followed.

I have examined our practices for tabling of documents since the inclusion of this rubric under routine proceedings to determine if the Standing Orders have been strictly followed. While these types of documents are normally tabled during routine proceedings, immediately following question period if cited in a response, or immediately if cited in debate, I have discovered that, although rare, there have been occasions when a minister has tabled a document during question period. I refer members to examples found in the Debates of March 8, 1976, at page 11574; September 15, 1992, at page 13143; February 14, 1997, at page 8135; March 26, 2001, at page 2226; and February 23, 2005, at page 3873. More recently, on April 22, the Deputy Speaker stated that a minister may table a document at any time. I refer hon. members to the Debates at page 5465.

Accordingly, I must conclude that our practices have evolved to a point where there is no requirement that ministers must table these types of documents only during routine proceedings. Perhaps this may be because the House feels that the tabling of documents is meant to facilitate the work of the House and that of its members. It may well be, based on the examples referred to earlier, that the tabling of documents in this manner has achieved this result.

That being said, most of the examples are relatively recent and certainly point to a new trend. The hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park may therefore wish to seek to convince the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to review and clarify the rules governing the tabling of these kinds of documents. Certainly that would be the kind of matter that falls within the committee's mandate.

In the meantime, in view of the precedents just described, the Chair will continue to accept that documents may be tabled by ministers of the crown during question period or indeed at any time.

I thank the hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park for having brought this matter to the attention of the Chair.

I have notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Calgary Centre.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary South Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege resulting from remarks made by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Yesterday, in the foyer of the House of Commons the minister said, referring to me and a fellow member of Parliament, “Am I calling these guys racists? They are recognizable, notwithstanding that they don't have their cowl and their cape, the Klan looks like it's very much alive”.

On March 22, 1983 on page 24027 of Hansard the Speaker ruled:

A reflection upon the reputation of an Hon. Member is a matter of great concern to all Members of the House. It places the entire institution under a cloud, as it suggests that among the Members of the House there are some who are unworthy to sit here.

I take pride in credibly representing the people of Calgary Centre in this House of Commons and I will not leave this slanderous comment against me unchallenged and unresolved.

On March 16, 1983 Mr. Mackasey raised a question of privilege in order to denounce accusations made in a series of articles appearing in the Montreal Gazette to the effect that he was a paid lobbyist. On March 22, 1983 again on page 24027 of Hansard, the Speaker ruled that he had a prima facie question of privilege. The reasons given by the Speaker are on page 29 of Selected Decisions of Speaker Jeanne Sauvé :

Not only do defamatory allegations about Members place the entire institution of Parliament under a cloud, they also prevent Members from performing their duties as long as the matter remains unresolved, since, as one authority states, such allegations bring Members into “hatred, contempt or ridicule”. Moreover, authorities and precedents agree that even though a Member can “seek a remedy in the courts, he cannot function effectively as a Member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the Member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

On page 214 of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, there is a reference to reflections on members. It says:

The House of Commons is prepared to find contempt in respect of utterances within the category of libel and slander and also in respect of utterances which do not meet that standard. As put by Bourinot, “any scandalous and libellous reflection on the proceedings of the House is a breach of the privileges of Parliament...” and “libels upon members individually”--

I would also refer you, Mr. Speaker, to a Speaker's ruling from October 29, 1980 at page 4213 of Hansard. The Speaker said:

--in the context of contempt, it seems to me that to amount to contempt, representations or statements about our proceedings of the participation of members should not only be erroneous or incorrect, but rather, should be purposely untrue and improper and import a ring of deceit.

Mr. Speaker, the comments made by the minister are nothing more than a political smear that is unbecoming of a minister of the crown or of any parliamentarian, comparing Conservatives to the Klan. He more than crossed the line. He has not insulted our party; he has insulted all African Canadians and all other minorities who have been targets of that racist and murderous organization.

This statement is not only untrue, it is purposely untrue and improper. I charge the minister with deliberately and maliciously making a statement that was politically motivated and was a deliberate attempt to deceitfully tarnish my reputation and the reputation of my party.

If you find this to be a prima facie question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion. In that motion, I would have the minister suspended until he apologized for his remarks.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

Barrie Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I would just point out to the House, speaking on this matter, that the minister was responding, as he did, to an ethnic slur. He has, in addition to that, which I think should be taken into account, also already apologized to the House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Centre for having raised this matter, but I point out to him an important citation from Marleau and Montpetit at page 522:

Remarks directed specifically at another Member which question that Member's integrity, honesty or character are not in order. A Member will be requested to withdraw offensive remarks, allegations, or accusations of impropriety directed towards another Member.

Hon. members are thoroughly familiar with those statements. The last sentence of the paragraph states:

The Speaker has no authority to rule on statements made outside the House by one Member against another.

I cite in support of that a ruling of my predecessor on page 15792 of Hansard for February 11, 1993 where the Speaker said this in a comment on a question of privilege arising from statements made that suggested a member was racist:

I want to say this to the House. First of all, except under very rare and unusual circumstances I have no authority to rule on statements made outside this House.

He went on to give a ruling. This ruling made in 1993 is one that followed an argument that was presented in the House but related to statements made outside the House. The Speaker put a question to the member who presented the argument asking if in fact the remarks had been made outside the House. That was confirmed. He accordingly made the ruling that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter. I take the same position based on the authorities given here.

I am sorry that these remarks are made in the parliamentary precinct, or anywhere. I am sorry that hon. members have taken offence on both sides in respect of the events that have happened. I would urge hon. members, if they have problems, to sit down and discuss them together and make their proper apologies. I do not believe that it is for the Speaker to make those decisions for them here in the House, given the practice that we have established in this place where these matters are not dealt with by the Speaker in the House for statements made outside. I have enough trouble, frankly, dealing with all the statements that are made in the House, as hon. members know, without having to deal with those made outside.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 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 the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 28 petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the 28th interparliamentary meeting with the European Parliament's delegation responsible for the relations with Canada, held in Brussels, Belgium from March 27 to March 31, 2005, and its participation at the parliamentary mission in the country that will hold the next European Union presidency held in London, United Kingdom from March 31 to April 2, 2005.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34 I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Canada-U.S. Partnership Day and meetings with U.S. legislators in Washington, D.C. on March 1 and March 2, 2005.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the meeting of the steering committee of the Twelve Plus Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Brussels, on March 11, 2005.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I also have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the one day parliamentary meeting on the occasion of the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Beijing +10 at the United Nations in New York on March 3.

There was representation from each political party. The Canadian delegation did a fantastic job at the Beijing +10 meeting in New York. This is an important document. I encourage all members to look at how we can encourage more women to be represented in this House, and maybe question period would be a little more civil.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, the APF, respecting its participation to the meeting of the APF's Commission de la coopération et du développement, held in Lafayette and in Carencro, Louisiana, on March 14 and 15, 2005.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the relationship between Taiwan and the World Health Organization.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Health. Your committee has considered votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 under health in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, minus the amounts granted in the interim supply, and reports the same to the House.

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-371, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (benefit period increase for regional rate of unemployment).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce today four bills relating to the employment insurance program. I am pleased to note the support of my colleague from Halifax.

These bills are the outcome of a national consultation tour undertaken in 1998 on the effectiveness of the EI program and follow on three other bills I introduced on March 23.

I hope that hon. members will examine these bills and give them their support. As it stands, the EI program no longer meets the needs of Canadian workers. These bills will rectify the program's shortcomings.

The title of the first bill is an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (benefit period increase for regional rate of unemployment).

This bill provides two weeks for every 1% by which the regional rate of unemployment exceeds 4% but does not exceed 10%; three weeks for every 1% by which the regional rate of unemployments exceeds 10%; and is subject to a maximum period of 52 weeks.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

moved for leave to introduce C-372, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (change of title to Unemployment Insurance Act) and another Act in consequence.

Mr. Speaker, the title of this. second bill is an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (change of title to Unemployment Insurance Act) and another Act in consequence.

Its purpose is to change the title of the Employment Insurance Act back to its original version: the Unemployment Insurance Act and also to change the name of the employment insurance account to the unemployment insurance account.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-373, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to repeat the comments made by the Bloc Québécois, but those bills that were introduced a few weeks ago were mine.

Under the third bill, entitled an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), 350 hours, or 20 weeks at 15 hours a week, of insurable employment are required to qualify for benefits. Moreover, a 15 hour week counts as a week of insurable employment.

This bill entitles a person to receive benefits while on training. It also provides that, when the claimant denies there was just cause in a dismissal, the burden is on the employer to show there was just cause.

The bill provides for a limit on the loss of benefits during a strike. It includes contract work in insurable employment. Finally, it sets new qualifying periods following one or more violations.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-374, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (percentage of insurable earnings payable to claimant).

Mr. Speaker, this fourth bill, entitled an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (percentage of insurable earnings payable to claimant), provides that the rate of weekly benefits payable to a claimant is 66% of their weekly insurable earnings for the 12 weeks in which the claimant received the highest earnings over a 12 month period.

As hon. members know, in Canada, any insurance provides benefits equal to two thirds of the salary. It is therefore necessary to raise the percentage of insurable earnings to where it ought to be. This would ensure the well-being of all workers across Canada, including Quebec.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-375, an act to amend the Bank Act (bank fees).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table this bill entitled an Act to amend the Bank Act (bank fees). This enactment amends the Bank Act by requiring Canadian banks to lay each year before the House of Commons a detailed statement of all the fees that they charge to their clients.

The enactment also prohibits banks from charging fees other or higher than those recommended by the standing committee of the House of Commons that normally considers matters relating to consumers. Any contravention of this provision constitutes an offence punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000.

It is important to recognize that bank fees have become quite significant over the past few years. All other public services, such as electricity, cable or telephone services, are regulated. Accordingly, it is high time we regulated bank fees.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-376, an act to amend the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act (approval of a proposal).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present this bill, which would help make the agreement on internal trade, signed 10 years ago, more effective by changing the implementation formula. We all know about the particular problems that farmers, ranchers and people in the transportation industry have had in operating a business in more than one province. This issue has caused serious problems. This private member's bill would allow the agreement to be amended so that we could reduce these barriers in trade between provinces.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Farm Income Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

May 4th, 2005 / 3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-377, an act to amend the Farm Income Protection Act (crop damage by gophers).

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted on behalf of farmers and ranchers once again to bring forth my bill, which if passed would ensure access for farmers and ranchers to a product which is effective in controlling gophers. Gophers destroy tens of millions of dollars' worth of crops across the prairies, and in some years hundreds of millions of dollars' worth. We have seen the effective product, the 2% solution of strychnine, removed by the government. This private member's bill would restore that product so that farmers and ranchers could effectively control this terrible pest.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Farm Income Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has received two notices of motion. What is the number of the motion by the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île?

Farm Income Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

It is number 14, Mr. Speaker.

Farm Income Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell is moving which motion?