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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's coastal communities are harshly affected by the crisis in the shrimp industry. Fishers are left to fend for themselves without any assistance or concrete solution from the government, and as a form of protest, they have kept their ships docked. The Bloc Québécois has proposed solutions, namely to reduce fishing fees, stop increasing the global quota and start providing financial assistance for the cost of fuel.

With these options, what is the minister waiting for to take action?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, a couple of days ago I responded to a similar question from the member and I mentioned at the time that we recognized that shrimpers in areas like New Brunswick and Quebec had problems. The New Brunswick fishers are back on the water as are many of them in Quebec.

Newfoundland plans to offer in excess of 50¢ a pound. I understand that it is less than 40¢ in Quebec. Some of the Quebec fishers have now gone to Newfoundland to sell and I understand the processors in Quebec are offering the better price. That is what it is all about.

Freshwater Fish Marketing CorporationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, in November, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced in Gimli, Manitoba that his government would not be introducing dual marketing to the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. He said, “We need to market ourselves collectively”.

However, on Tuesday we learned that the President of the Treasury Board has commissioned a study specifically asking for an assessment of a dual marketing system at the FFMC.

Would the Treasury Board President confirm that this deceitful study has in fact been commissioned despite the minister's promise and whether or not supply management is next on this neo-Conservative government's hit list?

Freshwater Fish Marketing CorporationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, some time ago I visited Manitoba and met with the people on the board of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation who are doing a tremendous job. We have no intention of fooling around with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.

What we are doing is ensuring that it has knowledge about every possibility to do better for the people it represents. This is being done in conjunction with it and in no way are we trying to interfere in how it does its business.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this morning, the Minister of the Environment tabled a report with the Senate which said that if the Liberals rammed through their disastrous Bill C-288 environmental plan, the economic impact on Canadian families and businesses, including those in my home riding of Peterborough, would be devastating. I think the Leader of the Opposition should know that families in my riding consider that unfair.

Could the Minister of the Environment tell the House just how the ill-conceived Liberal environmental plan will hurt Canadian families and businesses from coast to coast?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the legislation is a band-aid approach to make up for lost time years later. That is highly unfortunate. Oh, wait a minute, those are not my comments. Those are the comments of the member for Kings—Hants.

The Liberals' plan would cost more than 275,000 jobs in this country. Those are 275,000 people who would not be able to provide for themselves and their families. The cost of filling up a car would jump by 60% and the cost of heating a home by natural gas would almost double. This would be economic disaster for the Canadian economy. We on this side of the House are going to fight for jobs.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Liberal ministers concocted the secret softwood sellout that the Conservative Minister of International Trade took with him when he crossed the floor. Liberal and Conservative members worked hand in hand at the trade committee to force the softwood sellout through and Liberal senators, without any scrutiny whatsoever, adopted the softwood sellout so they could go home for Christmas.

Now the Bush administration is demanding more concessions despite getting over $1 billion from Canadians.

Will the Prime Minister now admit that it was a bad decision to take on a bad Liberal minister and a bad Liberal deal?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, it was despite that hon. member that we actually managed to get a softwood agreement in this House that provided jobs and security for the softwood lumber industry. Let us not forget that British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were all in agreement, as were the majority of the softwood industries impacted.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec could have no new forestry programs because of the softwood sellout. Five thousand Canadians have lost their jobs since the softwood sellout was put into place. Softwood mill, after softwood mill closes and former chief negotiators from both sides are saying that the deal is a failure and will not last.

As the Prime Minister preens for his image consultant, softwood communities are being destroyed. How many capitulations, concessions and giveaways is he prepared to make to the Bush administration to make this bad deal stay in place?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, maybe I should remind the hon. member that $5 billion came back to the industries that were hurt so badly by this litigation. If we had not put in place the softwood lumber agreement, we would be back in litigation again. That does not include prevailing jobs for people in the softwood lumber industry. It hurts the communities involved and it hurts the industries themselves.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

April 19th, 2007 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, on April 12, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that he would move forward on the conversion of temporary inshore shrimp permits to regular licences in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Considering that Prince Edward Island has a 1,500 metric tonne temporary permit granted in 2000 in area 3-L, will the minister now treat the Island fishing industry the same as his home province and make the temporary permits a permanent allocation? It is a serious issue.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, there is a slight difference in the comparison that the hon. member makes. First, what we did is made temporary licences to full-time core fishermen permanent. What he is talking about is making permanent the deal that the Liberals did to ensure he kept his seat.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, responding to Mario Dumont last week, the leader of the Liberal Party said that there was no need for new constitutional negotiations. Yesterday, however, he flip-flopped saying that we need full scale constitutional change to reform the Senate.

While the rapid reversal of position is astounding, it is not new. He cannot hold a position on anything for more than a few days. I suspect his real motive is that he wants to block any Senate modernization.

Would the Minister for Democratic Reform tell the House what can be done without a constitutional amendment to strengthen our democracy?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister showed that it is possible to listen to Canadians on who they want to represent them in the Senate. Tomorrow, we will begin debate on a new law to make that part of Canadian democracy.

Conservative governments gave the right to vote to women and to our first nations people, and now, in this the charter week, we will debate giving the right to all Canadians on who they want representing them in the Senate.

The Liberal leader says that constitutional amendments cannot be done and yet he wants constitutional amendments on the Senate. It is not surprising because he seems to like things that he just cannot get done.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. David Hawker, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Australia.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader would describe for us his plan for the business of the House for the balance of this week and to the end of next week. Specifically, during that timeframe, could he indicate the fate of Bill C-16, dealing with fixed election dates? Will the minister confirm that he has no intention of recalling Bill C-16 for further action in the House during the life of this Parliament.

With respect to Bill C-30, the clean air act, when will that legislation come back to the House of Commons for further consideration? When the Prime Minister announces his new plan with respect to emission targets, will the Prime Minister be acting under the auspices of Bill C-30 or under the existing Canadian Environmental Protection Act?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, today we will continue with the debate on the opposition motion.

Tomorrow we will begin debate, as I said earlier, on one of the government's bills to modernize the Senate of Canada, Bill C-43. This is an act to provide for consultations with the electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate.

In fact, yesterday the Prime Minister announced that Bert Brown would finally take his seat in the Senate after being elected twice by the people of Alberta. For those who say it cannot be done, we are getting it done. We will continue to get the job done for the other provinces, with the bill, so they too can elect senators. The Senate elections bill, along with the bill to limit terms of senators to eight years will achieve meaningful Senate reform. Meanwhile, we have talked about constitutional reform. We do not think it is necessary. It can be done without it.

However, in response to the other question raised by the opposition House leader on Bill C-16, we will be bringing it forward. We have indicated that we will bring forward a motion to ask that the amendments by the Senate be removed and to communicate that to the Senate. We will bring that motion forward on Monday. We believe we have the support in the House to have that secured so we can have fixed date elections that cannot be tampered with. That will be on the agenda for Monday, followed by Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill. BillC-43 will be the backup bill on that day. That is the Senate consultations.

Tuesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 26 shall be allotted days.

On Wednesday, we will resume debate on BillC-52, the budget implementation bill, if it has not been completed Monday. It will be followed by Bill C-40 on sales tax and Bill C-33 on income tax.

Friday, April 27, we will continue with those same finance bills.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place among all parties with respect to Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), first introduced during the 38th Parliament and reintroduced on May 24, 2006. This bill at long last includes the legal word for “gender” in the definition of what constitutes a hate crime.

I hope to find consent for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), be deemed read a second time, referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Bill C-52—Budget Implementation Act, 2007Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond today to the point of order that was raised by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River concerning Bill C-52, the budget implementation act.

The member argued that clause 13(1) of the bill respecting the application of the definition of “SIFT trust”, which is a specified investment flow-through trust, is not in keeping with the practices and customs of this House. In his view, the provision represents an inappropriate delegation of subordinate law and the member has asked that the Speaker rule that the clause be struck from the bill and the bill ordered reprinted.

As the Speaker has noted, this is a complex issue.

I appreciate the expertise of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River on matters of subordinate law. However, I submit that this is not a valid point of order, as there are no procedural authorities that preclude the House from legislating in this manner. In short, this is a matter for debate, which would be better dealt with by members in the House and at committee, rather than a procedural question for the Speaker to resolve.

Let me first briefly provide some background to this issue in order to assist the Chair.

The provision in question provides a rule for the application of the definition of “SIFT trust”. In particular, the provision sets out when a trust will be subject to the new rules pertaining to the taxation of income trusts.

Under the bill, a new trust will become a SIFT trust and therefore subject to the new rules for the taxation year in which it first meets the definition. However, for an existing trust, the SIFT trust definition will not apply, and therefore the new rules will not apply until the earlier of the 2011 taxation year, and the taxation year in which the trust exceeds the normal growth guidelines issues by the Department of Finance on December 15, 2006, unless that excess arose as a result of a prescribed transaction. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, this is quite technical.

To achieve this, the provision in question contains an incorporation by reference of the normal growth guidelines issued by the Department of Finance, to which I just referred. Incorporation by reference is a proper and legal approach to enacting legislation. It is neither rare nor unusual in legislation. An examination of Canadian statutory law would reveal many instances where incorporation by reference has been used in just this fashion.

For example, sections 181.3 and 190.13 of the Income Tax Act refer to the use of risk-weighting guidelines issued by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in order to determine the amount of capital of an authorized foreign bank. These guidelines are defined in section 248 of the Income Tax Act and are issued pursuant to section 600 of the Bank Act. I could go on with other examples, but I am sure the Speaker would find that a tad tedious.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for legislation to allow documents incorporated by reference in legislation to be changed from time to time. For example, section 11 of the Customs Tariff incorporate by reference the Compendium of Classification Opinions to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System published by the Customs Co-Operation Council, as amended from time to time.

Therefore, it is not just in the Income Tax Act, but in other legislation as well that we see this same approach. As I said, we could go on at length, but I shall save us and save the House that lengthy example. I think the Speaker has ample precedent there.

In terms of procedural arguments, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River essentially made three points. He has argued: first, that the provision is not in keeping with the practices and customs of this House; second, that the clause attempts to exempt itself from rules regarding parliamentary scrutiny of subordinate law; and third, that the clause does not comply with the government's own internal rules on legislative drafting.

Let me address each point in turn.

On the first point, the practices and customs of the House, the essence of the member's argument appears to be that the clause does not conform to the rules of the House. The government submits that Bill C-52 and all of its provisions are properly before the House. The provision in question was included in a detailed notice of ways and means motion tabled on March 27, which was adopted by the House on March 28.

The ways and means motion adopted by the House on March 28 included the identical provision that the member for Scarborough—Rouge River questioned. Therefore, the provision in question is consistent with the rules governing financial procedures.

I submit there are no procedural grounds for the clause to be ruled out of order. Rather, this is an issue that would be more appropriately considered by the Standing Committee on Finance in its review of the bill. Should the member wish to improve the text of the bill, he and his colleagues are free to propose amendments to the bill in committee.

Citation 322 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's states that:

When a bill is under consideration, points of order should not be raised on matters which could be disposed of by moving amendments.

This clearly falls into that category.

With the exception of very limited circumstances, it is clear that only the House itself can decide to alter the content of bills

The 22nd edition of Erskine May states, at pages 544 and 545, the following:

Throughout all these stages and proceedings the bill itself continues in the custody of the Public Bill Office, and, with the exceptions mentioned below, no alteration whatever is permitted to be made in it, without the express authority of the House or a committee, in the form of an amendment regularly put from the Chair, and recorded by the Clerks at the Table or by the clerks from the Public Bill Office in standing committee.

As Marleau and Montpetit note, at page 620:

The Chair has clearly ruled in the past that when a bill is in possession of the House, it becomes its property, and cannot be materially altered, except by the House itself. Only “mere clerical alterations” are allowed. By issuing a corrigendum to the bill, the Speaker may correct any obvious printing or clerical error, at any stage of the bill. On the other hand, no substantive change may be made to the manner in which a bill was worded when it was introduced, or when a committee reported on it, otherwise than by an amendment passed by the House.

There would appear, Mr. Speaker, to be only two circumstances where the Speaker can make alterations to a bill: first, where the Chair has ruled that amendments adopted by a committee are beyond the scope of the bill, as you had recently ruled with respect to committee amendments to Bill C-257, the replacement workers bill; or second, when there is a clear printing error. As you noted in a ruling on February 23, 2004, this is only done in rare cases where there is a manifest error in the printing of the bill.

Apart from these limited instances, I submit that it is up to the House to decide whether or not to adopt a bill with our without amendment.

Even if you were, Mr. Speaker, to conclude that the provision of the bill as currently drafted is unacceptable, I would submit that the House and the committee should, first, have an opportunity to review the matter and consider possible amendments to improve the text of the bill.

In the event the provision in question remains in the bill at third reading, I submit that it is at that point when the Speaker should intervene on this matter in the unlikely case you think it is necessary.

It is analogous to the procedure that we use with private members' bills when we have those flaws. Committee exists and represents an opportunity for the flaws to be cured. If this is a flaw, indeed, that would be the place at which it could happen. The Speaker, if faced by a change that is unacceptable, does not need to put the question on that clause at third reading.

On the question of the review of statutory instruments, the hon. member has also suggested that the provision of the bill exempts itself from the rules of the House regarding parliamentary scrutiny of delegated legislation. It is not uncommon for bills to establish forms of delegated legislation that are not subject to the Statutory Instruments Act. It is perfectly within the prerogatives of the House to pass legislation to that effect. As I have indicated earlier, it is not the role of the Speaker to decide whether such legislation is appropriation.

The third point is the government guide for drafting.

The hon. member also suggested that the provision in question is not consistent with the government's “Guide to Making Federal Acts and Regulations”.

The guide sets out principles for making legislation and regulations, as well as government processes for ensuring that statutory and legislative changes are made in an effective way.

Apart from the fact that this guide is by no means a procedural authority, I would also point out that the guide does not prevent the government from introducing legislation such as the provision in question, provided that the cabinet has authorized such legislation.

In conclusion, I would submit that clause 13(1) of Bill C-52 is properly before the House. This is a matter for debate. The issue is properly in the hands of the House and the finance committee will be better placed to examine whether this section of the bill is appropriate or whether it can be improved.

As always, I understand that the Minister of Finance is prepared to discuss this matter, and all matters related to the bill, further in committee. Indeed, if there is any flaw, committee can certainly be curative in so doing.

Bill C-52—Budget Implementation Act, 2007Points of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. government House leader for his submissions on this important point. As he said, it was a tad technical, and I agree with him. However, I will review all these technical arguments and come back to the House with a ruling in due course on this matter.

Pursuant to section 28(9) of the Conflict of Interest Code, the hon. member for Calgary East, who is the subject of the report of the Ethics Commissioner previously tabled in the House, has the right to make a statement. The member shall not speak for more than 20 minutes and there will be no period of questions or comments.

The hon. member for Calgary East.

Ethics CommissionerOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make a statement about the Ethics Commissioner's report tabled on March 30.

The Ethics Commissioner has concluded that I did not contravene the conflict of interest code for members of the House of Commons. I do not dispute this conclusion.

However, I do take issue with the inquiry process and the content of the report.

I urge hon. members of the House to not concur in the report. Instead, I would urge the House to refer the entire matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for a full and thorough investigation, with recommendations.

The inquiry process and the report violated the principles of procedural fairness.

The Ethics Commissioner did not inform me that an inquiry had been resumed. This deprived me of my right to make representations at all appropriate stages throughout the process. The code provides that procedural right. In fact, I only learned of the existence of the report one hour prior to it being tabled, but two months after the report says the inquiry had resumed.

The report includes many personal details about my extended family that the Ethics Commissioner learned during the investigation.

Personal information about the unhappy circumstances of my sister-in-law's marriage surely was not required to support the conclusions. Nor was there any need to write about stupid and unfounded allegations against my family that had nothing to do with this inquiry.

Surely the Ethics Commissioner is meant to exercise tact and discretion, like when he provides the report for public office holders. Surely he should limit his reports to such details as are necessary to support the conclusion, and no more. The code requires the Ethics Commissioner to conduct the inquiry in private and to provide relevant reasons for this conclusion. Why should all details from the private investigation be disclosed?

I will be asking the committee that personal details from the report that are not necessary to support the conclusion be removed from the report and from the Commissioner's website. The integrity of the code is at issue. All members of Parliament are at risk of such disclosures if the report stands as a precedent.

The procedure and House affairs committee will have to consider whether the way the Ethics Commissioner handled this report constitutes a further prima facie contempt of the House of Commons.

In October 2005, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs directed the Ethics Commissioner to suspend the inquiry. He did suspend it, but refused to do so because the committee asked him to. Instead, he suspended it because he had learned of an RCMP investigation into the matter, which went on to clear me of all allegations. In November 2005, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs found the Ethics Commissioner in contempt of the House of Commons since he did not comply with the provisions of the code.

The Ethics Commissioner had full knowledge of the direction of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to suspend the inquiry, although he refused to accept this direction at that time. The Ethics Commissioner resumed the inquiry but did not advise me. He did not advise the House of Commons. He did not seek guidance from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which had directed him to suspend the inquiry.

Now the report has been tabled without seeking the direction of the committee. The inquiry process and the report still suffer from the same kinds of problems that had concerned the committee when he was found in contempt. Once again, the Ethics Commissioner has shown no regard for procedural fairness and no regard for my family's privacy.

By resuming the inquiry without informing me and by tabling the report, the Ethics Commissioner has defied the will of the committee. Therefore, his conduct, in my opinion, constitutes a further contempt.

If the Ethics Commissioner has chosen to ignore what the members of the House have said about the subject matter of this inquiry, about the need to respect the personal privacy of my family, and the principles of procedural fairness, then how can we accept the report?

Let me quote what the committee said about its concerns: “The risks to Members, and the very integrity of the Code, demand nothing less”.

Therefore, I will ask the House to refuse to concur in this report if a motion is brought before the House. I will take the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for a thorough investigation and a review of the provisions of the code to ensure its integrity. This will help ensure that in the future hon. members will have the benefit of procedural fairness from the conflict of interest inquiry process.

I have no objection if a new report is tabled after due regard to the concerns I have raised and the findings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in the 51st report, adopted on November 17 and tabled on November 18, 2005.

I want to say one more thing. Despite my repeated requests not to get involved in a family dispute, this request was ignored. A life was lost through suicide. The privacy of my sister-in-law and her two sons has been violated through no fault of their own. They have no recourse. When this was pointed out to the Ethics Commissioner by my sister-in-law during Mr. Shapiro's visit to Calgary, he chose to ignore it.

Because of this attitude, today the private details of my sister-in-law's life are published in the report tabled. Ethnic newspapers are now running articles on her life and the lives of her two sons. Is this fair? Also, I will ask women's rights groups this question: are they going to defend this woman's rights?