Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to some of the issues raised by my friends.
First, the opposition leader referenced Marleau and Montpetit and in particular the Marleau and Montpetit suggestion that on an opposition day any matter can be proposed for debate, not to legislate, but to debate. That is the meaning of that section.
What we are facing with this motion is something very different. It is an effort to legislate through an opposition day motion, and that simply is not appropriate. That is not what is contemplated by saying that any matter within the jurisdiction of Parliament can be debated. Effectively, if this is permitted, there will be an amendment to the Standing Orders implicitly by ruling this in order that will allow an abbreviation of our legislative process and all the protections that it creates.
When I do go through those motions later, I believe you will find, Mr. Speaker, that there will not be unanimous consent for all of them. You will find unanimous consent for one of the four items of legislation, but not for the other three. The reason there will not be unanimous consent is that there is at least one party in each case that wishes to see the matter dealt with through the parliamentary process that is established in the Standing Orders.
Much as we would like that to move quickly, much as we would like to see those bills pass quickly, the fact remains the Standing Orders exist as their protection, that this Parliament will work in the fashion that it does. To allow it to move faster than that in the traditions of this Parliament has always required unanimous consent. That is the process by which we have worked.
Should this device be opened up, there would be a new process that has never before existed for eliminating and effectively treading over those rights of the minority parties in the House. That is something which the Speaker has to think about very carefully before making a ruling that represents such a precedent.
The House leader for the Bloc suggested there have been precedents in the sense of opposition motions having dealt with amendments to our Standing Orders. That is a very different matter. Our Standing Orders are adopted by a vote of the House only. Standing Orders do not go through three different readings in the House. They do not go through reference to a committee necessarily and report stage. That is not a requirement for Standing Orders. Absolutely, the committee on procedure and House affairs can study it if it wishes, but the process is not one of a statute. It is one of the rules of procedure in the House. They are Standing Orders. That is entirely different than legislation. I think that one can easily distinguish that precedent. That is something that is very different.
There is one precedent, however, I would refer to and that is a decision of Speaker Jerome on November 14, 1975. Again, this was in a time when motions were confidence motions, but there is a phrase here that I think is very important:
I feel it only fair to indicate that the closeness and similarity of the subject matter of this motion--
--this was an opposition motion--
--and the bill require a caveat from the Chair that under no circumstances could the consideration of this motion or the vote upon this motion...be taken in any way to prejudice the progress of Bill C-73.
There was a clear recognition there of a different world. Even if we are going to debate an opposition motion the subject matter that might be in a bill, it is different than the bill. We cannot legislate through an opposition motion. The Speaker made clear the sense that that is a very different matter.
We have differently set out our rules of procedure in our Standing Orders. We have government orders. That is the legislation the government brings forward. That is the tradition of responsible government. We have private members' bills. That is the opportunity available to other members, including opposition members, to legislate. Then we have supply day opposition motions. They are motions. They are not opportunities to legislate. I think that has always been very clear.
Should this motion be ruled in order in its present form, I believe, Mr. Speaker, you will have effectively amended the rules of order of the House, the Standing Orders; you will have effectively amended our practice and traditions; you will have amended the Constitution of this country. Mr. Speaker, you will have changed from an approach to responsible government that has served us well for many years to one that is dramatically different from that.