House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-48.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 78Routine Proceedings

June 22nd, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

With regard to programs and all other special expenditures for aboriginals in the riding of Delta—Richmond East, what was the total expediture by each federal department, agency or Crown corporation for fiscal years 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 for each band, aboriginal organization, aboriginal society and corporation?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 78Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

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

Question No. 78Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Question No. 78Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-11, in the name of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar is acceptable to the government, subject to the usual reservations concerning confidential information and the documents are tabled immediately.

Motion No. P-11

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all documents, briefs, reports, memorandums and statistics regarding the recording and tracking of inquiries made by the staff of Members of Parliament within the Public Health Agency of Canada since its inception.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Subject to the conditions expressed by the parliamentary secretary, is it the pleasure of the House that Motion No. P-11 be deemed to have been adopted?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

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

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has received an application for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Lethbridge. I will now hear the hon. member for Lethbridge and his submissions on this point.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today under Standing Order 52 to ask for leave to move a motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing the flooding in southern Alberta and across the southern Prairies and the disaster that has resulted, and the threat to human life, to safety and to property posed by continued flooding.

Although the rain has stopped and the flood waters are starting to recede, many across the eastern slopes of the Prairies, out across the foothills, across Alberta, Saskatchewan and even into Manitoba, have experienced flooding of a magnitude that has not been recorded in hundreds of years.

I know we are already sitting until midnight every night, but I think it would bode well if the House could allot a couple of hours within the next few days to allow members of Parliament the opportunity to bring forward the situations that exist in their ridings. It would also be a good opportunity for the government to bring forward some of the programs and opportunities that are available to people who are affected. It would be time very well spent.

Mr. Speaker, I hope, when you deliberate on this, that you do approve the application that I am making right now for an emergency debate on the flooding across southern Alberta and the southern Prairies.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I want to thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for his submissions. I assure the hon. member that I will take the matter under advisement and get back to the House in due course.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as you noted during question period, following a question from the member for Nepean--Carleton, you acknowledged what many on this side of the House felt when you said that you had formally warned the House I believe on two occasions to tread very carefully with respect to this issue while there is an investigation going on in the other place by the appropriate ethics officer.

Mr. Speaker, I hope you will carefully review the blues of this question period. That particular member has, in our view, on a number of occasions ignored your formal warning. We are hoping you will get back to the House as to what course of action would be appropriate once you have had a chance to review the blues. Maybe, for the benefit of that hon. member, you could, for a third time, remind the House of the need to be careful.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I understand that this is a very touchy issue for members of the government, after all the public works minister has admitted on two occasions that his Liberal colleagues actually broke the law.

The point I am making is this and after making this point--

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member is getting himself into more difficulty. I would suggest that we simply leave this matter.

The hon. parliamentary secretary has asked that I review the blues, which is fully my intention. I am waiting for the blues and have asked that they be brought to me. When I get them and have reviewed them I will deal with the issue that has been raised. My intention is to do it but I have not received the blues yet. The hon. member for Nepean--Carleton was just asking me if I have had a chance to review the blues and I have not because they are not here yet.

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, when the House adjourns on June 23, 2005, it shall stand adjourned until June 27, 2005; at any time on or after June 27, 2005, a Minister of the Crown may propose, without notice, a motion that, upon adjournment on the day on which the said motion is proposed, the House shall stand adjourned to a specified date not more than 95 days later; the said motion immediately shall be deemed to have been adopted, provided that, during the adjournment, for the purposes of any Standing Order, the House shall be deemed to stand adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28; commencing June 27, 2005 and concluding on the day on which a motion that the House stand adjourned pursuant to this Order is adopted, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays shall be 12:00 midnight.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Government Business No. 17 respecting the extension of the sitting of the House. Members are aware that the House is scheduled to adjourn on June 23.

Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention to Marleau and Montpetit on page 347, which states:

There are times when the House may wish to temporarily set an adjournment time earlier or later than the time prescribed in the Standing Orders.

The process for a motion to extend the sitting was set out in a June 13, 1988 ruling by the Speaker.

First, the Speaker ruled that it was acceptable for the government to place such a motion under government notices of motions. This is because the Standing Orders themselves do not define what is to be in a motion from the government, nor do they limit the government's ability to place such a motion under government notices of motion.

Second, the Speaker then ruled that the government could initiate a motion to suspend the sitting provisions of the Standing Orders, and the Speaker noted that precedents and procedural authorities enabled the government to put forward a motion to suspend the sitting provisions rules.

Third, the Speaker ruled that such a motion can be adopted by a majority decision of the House. The Speaker stated that “there is no doubt that the House can amend or suspend its rules by unanimous consent and the House can also do so by a simple majority decision”.

Fourth, the Speaker then reminded the House that parliamentary reforms had not changed the practice of the House and had not rendered prior precedents inapplicable.

Therefore I would submit that the motion in Government Business No. 17 is consistent with the Speaker's June 13, 1988 ruling. It is also consistent with a motion to extend the sitting of the House which was adopted following the Speaker's ruling.

The purpose of the motion that is before us is quite simple. Urgent legislation that is before the House is being obstructed. I point to Bill C-48, the budget companion bill, that would provide for $4.5 billion in urgent funding for the environment, including public transit and an energy retrofit program for low income housing, training and post-secondary education to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians. Also in that bill are moneys for affordable housing, including housing for aboriginal Canadians, and foreign aid.

Yesterday the premier of Quebec asked the Bloc to support the legislation which would give more than $1 billion to Quebec. The government agrees with Premier Charest that the bill is clearly in the interests of Quebecers and, indeed, in the interests of all Canadians, and needs to be passed. I would urge the Bloc members to support the interests of Quebec and to respect the request of the premier of Quebec and support the passage of Bill C-48.

In order to ensure that we have an opportunity to pass Bill C-48, we also need to consider what the official opposition is now doing. The leader of the official opposition is blocking passage of legislation that would benefit Canadian workers, students, the environment and foreign aid. Bill C-48 maintains the principles of the government's budgetary policy. It includes balanced budgets and expenditures in priority areas, and yet we have the example of the official opposition moving concurrence motions or other dilatory tactics for the simple purpose of looking to run out the clock until the scheduled adjournment of the House on June 23.

The opposition is also preventing the House from dealing with Bill C-38. The government is prepared to support an amendment to the bill at report stage that would provide greater certainty for religious institutions under the Income Tax Act. The amendment itself would be beyond the scope of the bill and it would require unanimous consent of the House. However I would hope that members across the way would give the House the opportunity to hear that amendment and that all members would wish to support such an initiative.

The government recognizes that the purpose of debate in the House is to help people make up their minds on issues. All members have clearly made up their minds on Bill C-38 so debate itself should not be used to delay Parliament from deciding.

If we were to look back to the work done by the justice committee, although I know hon. members across the way and others would disagree, but the justice committee had detailed cross country hearings on civil marriage in 2002 and 2003. We have had extensive debate in the House on Bill C-38 at second reading. I indicated to my hon. colleague, the opposition House leader and other House leaders, that every member who wanted to speak to Bill C-38 should be allowed and will be given the opportunity to speak at second reading. I think that has happened. In committee we have heard from all sides on the bill.

I want to draw to the attention of members that an editorial in today's Globe and Mail stated:

There is nothing materially useful to add. It's time for Parliament to vote on the bill, and for all parties to let the Commons have its say.

The government agrees with that and I think it is important that parliamentarians deal with this issue. Canadians elected members to the House to work in the interest of Canadians. It is not time to adjourn. It is time to look at how we can better serve the interests of Canadians. We should continue to sit until we pass Bill C-48 and work toward passing Bill C-38, which is why the government put forward the motion to extend the sitting.

I have indicated publicly that I am giving the opposition the opportunity to show that Parliament can work. If the members obstruct the motion, I certainly think that closure is always a possibility, as provided under the Standing Orders, but I certainly hope that will not be necessary and that all members would take the opportunity to support the motion so that we can continue the work in the House and continue to serve the interests of Canadians.

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions for the House leader. He indicated to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is a matter of great national interest and great urgency.

The fact of the matter is that Bill C-48 and the provisions thereof contain, to my knowledge, nothing that will be done within the next year. All of these expenditures are subject to there being a surplus of at least $2 billion at the end of the fiscal year 2006. The urgency of this is just simply not there.

How can the House leader claim this urgency when clearly we will have more than enough time in the continuation of Parliament in the fall to debate this, to vote on it and hopefully to hear from more Canadians who are very interested in ensuring that the economy of the country stays strong and that the democratic process in this country is preserved, namely that budget speeches are not changed on the fly after they are made, destroying a long time tradition in the House?

With respect to Bill C-38, I venture again to say that this is an abuse of democracy and is one in which we ought not to be engaging. We have had literally thousands and I would suggest probably even close to a million names on petitions on this particular issue.

For the government to use an extension of a session to go in violation of what the clear majority of Canadians want in this matter and an issue which, in the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, can be solved without changing the definition of marriage, all of this can be done in a timely and normal fashion when we return in the fall session.

Calling this an emergency to extend the session is just so specious it is almost unbelievable. I would like the House leader to try to justify his move on this particular issue.

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. member's questions, I would only draw his attention to premiers and mayors across the country. They have all indicated the need to ensure that the legislation passes immediately to ensure their planning process is at play and to ensure they are able to plan effectively, knowing full well that the federal legislation has passed the House and they can continue.

I also would draw attention, for instance, to the Premier of Quebec who talked about the more than $1 billion of funding that would go to Quebec and how there is a need to pass the legislation.

While the hon. member might have disagreement with this legislation, he is perfectly able to put forward his argument. In fact, I would argue that the opposition has done that at report stage with numerous speakers. I do not know the actual number, but I think close to 70 or 80 of the members got up and spoke to report stage. I may be incorrect, but there were certainly a lot of members on the opposite side who put forward their positions, offered amendments and we dealt with report stage. Now at third reading, I am sure more speakers will get up.

The point is that the bill itself is in the public interest and that is a consideration we should all have with respect to what other levels of government are doing.

Bill C-48 needs to pass the House. It is one of the reasons for extending this sitting. If the hon. member, on reflection, would look at what is in Bill C-48 and look at the impact it has across the country, he would support the motion to extend the sitting.

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to understand more clearly. In his presentation, the House leader is asking the House, in a motion, to extend the sittings past June 23. In other words, the House will resume on June 27.

When the House leader was reading his motion, I thought I understood that at any time during the extended sittings, on or after June 27, a minister can rise in the House and propose a motion to call an end to this prolongation by proposing adjournment for a maximum of 95 days.

I would like to know whether, on or after June 27, it is possible for a minister to propose a motion to adjourn for up to 95 days?

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the motion is worded in such a way that if the House does sit an extended period of time, there would be an opportunity for the House to start back at a later date to compensate for the fact that we sat during this period of time. It is up to 95 days. It is the way the motion reads. It is quite fair to members of Parliament who might be in this place for an extended period of time during the summer, and that opportunity to do so is in the motion if the House passes it.

The purpose of the motion is to extend the sitting to deal with urgent matters with respect to the legislation before us. Once the House is adjourned, it allows for members of Parliament to go to their ridings to meet with constituents or go to different parts of the country to meet with Canadians.

I would think the opposition members would probably go around the country and talk about the fact that Bill C-48 itself should not have been supported. They are welcome to go to different cities to speak to different mayors and tell them how the money for transit should not go them, or the money for the new deal with respect to the gas tax should not flow to municipalities.

I am trying to provide ample opportunity for members opposite, once the House adjourns, to meet with their constituents and to travel the country so they can convey their message. I am sure they will find that the majority of the people whom they meet will disagree with their message.

Extended Sitting PeriodGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, everyday I see the government stooping to new lows. Today we see threats against members of the House of time allocation and using closure to prevent appropriate debate. It goes on and on and it is getting worse, quite frankly.

The member is talking about Bill C-48, which was so unimportant to the government that none of it was put in the original Liberal budget bill. We are talking about the NDP-Liberal budget bill. Now the Liberals have to ram it through somehow. Besides that, the budget implementation bill for last year was only passed in the House a couple of weeks ago.

As my hon. colleague has already pointed out, none of the spending in the bill would take place immediately. It would be at least a year from now before the Liberals could calculate the level of surplus, overtaxation and increase in tax and spending that the government has gone through in the past few years which makes it difficult for my children and the children of people across the country to make their mortgage payments and pay off their students loans.

The Liberals keep taxing and spending more and more and now they want to spend this extra $4.5 billion that would be added on to their insane increases in spending in Bill C-43. The member should reconsider what he is trying to do. He should in fact back off on this. I am sure that is exactly what the House leader will do.