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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have sat here and listened to most of the debate on the motion by the government House leader today. I think there is certainly great unanimity around the notion that we need Bill C-16 and we need it passed. What is lost in all of this is the whole reason we have brought this forward, and that is to get rid of the kind of exploitative situations that governments have taken in the past to monkey around with election dates for the benefit of partisan advantage.

The fact is we have a bill in front of us. It went through the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, through the Senate and through the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Then at the last minute, out of left field, we get this final grasp at a straw to kick into motion one last shred of an ability to get a partisan favour into election dates.

Has the member not thought about looking through the lens of trying to improve this? Why could something that has gone through this kind of scrutiny not just be passed and sent back—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre has one minute to respond.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I fully subscribe to the idea of getting on with it. That is why I am proposing to the government that it forget about the motion and about the ping-pong back and forth. The amendment is not that significant. It would not undermine or change the intent of the bill. It would simply give more guidance to the Chief Electoral Officer.

At the end of the day, Canadians will like the bill. With all due respect to all of us here, they will not look back and ask if people remember the day the Senate sent the bill back to the House with one amendment and then changed it? No. They want to see results. They do not care about our navels, they care about results. This is navel gazing by the government. Let us get on with it, tout de suite, maintenant.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say at the outset that the Bloc Québécois will be supporting Bill C-16 in principle.

Let me start by saying that, in 1998, at the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie's initiative, the Bloc Québécois Bloc launched a number of reflection exercises, including one on citizenship and democracy, in which it was agreed that, in a sovereign Quebec, a fixed election date system would be much more suitable than the British system which is currently in place in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Indeed, holding elections on a fixed date would allow parliamentarians to plan their work better, giving them a better chance to undertake it.

Personally, I remember very well that, under the previous minority government, the international trade subcommittee never got going because we did not know when an election would be called. That caused very serious harm to industry in Canada and Quebec, given a context where Canada is lagging behind terribly in terms of globalization and free trade.

We also feel that it would promote voter turnout. We know that, in the bill, the third Monday of October is the proposed time to hold elections. It was precisely selected because that is a time of year when people are available to take part in electoral process and elections. People are certainly more available then than they were for the June 28, 2004 election, and probably more available than for the last election. As hon. members will recall, that election was called in November, then came the Christmas period and, in January, we went to the polls.

We therefore believe that having to hold elections on a fixed date would not only allow to better plan parliamentary work, but also foster improved voter participation.

We see many advantages and I do not feel I need to drone on about this for too long. It is a matter of fairness between the parties. Indeed, we all know that, at present, the governments in power and the Prime Minister exploit the calendar and the current situation in order to call an election at any time they like. During Mr. Chrétien's era, for example, we rarely saw terms last longer than three and a half years. He would wait for the right time and call an election only when it was in his best interest and that of the Liberal Party. We believe, however, that all Canadians and all the parties should be aware of the exact framework for the rules of the game. Obviously, we would know when the election date would be. As I mentioned, this would foster much more rational governance and, we believe, promote political participation. Certain months are completely inadvisable, if we really want to increase voter turnout. Thus, by knowing the rules of the game, by knowing the date in advance and choosing a date that appears to be at the most convenient time of year for all Canadians and Quebeckers, as is the case in Bill C-16, we will be in a better position to encourage voter participation.

I cannot ignore the fact that knowing when the election will take place could help with the recruitment of some future candidates. I know very well that, in Quebec, some very valuable people have left their jobs believing that an election was imminent. When they had found other jobs they could not leave when Premier Jean Charest called the election. Others were unable to run because they could not leave their professional responsibilities at the drop of a hat, or the roll of the dice.

Therefore, we believe that we would just be reflecting what is happening in today's modern democracies around the world. You may be familiar with the studies published by Henry Milner of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Of the 40 democracies he studied, there are only 12 that do not have fixed election dates.

Naturally, if a minority government were to lose the confidence of the House, the Prime Minister would be able to call on the Governor General to ask that an election be called. However, he could not do it based solely on the fact that the polls were favourable, for example following a given decision. Following a temporary increase in support for the government in power, he could not call on the Governor General and have her dissolve Parliament without valid reasons.

Given the current system, as I mentioned earlier, the Bloc Québécois will support the principle underlying the bill. We think that the new system being proposed is much fairer and more modern. It will support voter participation in the campaign and the election, and it will not challenge the government's responsibilities. That is why we support this bill.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member from the Bloc. I know the Bloc is supporting the amendment put forward by the government to send this bill back to the Senate.

I want to put forward the reasonableness of the argument in terms of dealing with the merit of this Senate amendment. In terms of fixed election dates, it seems to me that taking into account what is happening in a local context, whether it be in Quebec or in any other part of Canada, is reasonable. I am just curious as to why the Bloc would support the government amendment and not support the amendment from the Senate.

I realize there is all kind of other subtext going on with this debate in terms of it being embroiled with the Senate and what it can or cannot do. We in the NDP are looking at this straight on in terms of whether this is a reasonable amendment. This amendment requests the Chief Electoral Officer to take into account what may be happening in local jurisdictions, whether it is a plebiscite or a referendum. This happened recently in Ontario where a fixed election date was moved to accommodate a religious holiday. This is not mandatory. This would give the Chief Electoral Officer the scope to consider that as part of what would be recommended to the government.

In terms of a legislative initiative, it seems to us that the Senate amendment makes sense and the response from the government to send a message back indicating that it does not agree with it does not make sense. I would like to ask the member this. Why would he not agree with the original amendment that has come forward on this bill that would give the Chief Electoral Officer a little more scope to consider what advice he would be offering?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the NDP member's question, I would quote the famous writer who said that perfect is the enemy of good.

In this case, the Senate may have tried to do too good a job, and messed up as a result. According to subsection 56.2, if the fixed date, the third Monday in October, coincides with a provincial or municipal election, the Chief Electoral Officer may choose to hold the election another day.

However, according to the Senate's amendment, that list should include federal and provincial referendums—which makes sense to us—but also municipal referendums—which we consider excessive. The election could be delayed if a mayor decides to hold a referendum. In Quebec, a lot of referendums are held concerning issues under municipal jurisdiction. They can be about anything, so this would be going too far in our view.

We should send this back to the Senate so it can get rid of this amendment and keep it down to federal and provincial referendums. We do not think it makes sense to give a mayor the opportunity to delay a national election.

Provincial and municipal elections—in Quebec, at any rate—are always held on the same date, which is known well in advance and which makes for far fewer problems. Furthermore, municipal elections in Quebec are usually held in November. That is why we support the government motion.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, for the life of me I cannot understand why the opposition parties wants to take this piece of legislation and move it backward instead of forward.

Hon. members are all pretending to support the legislation, but they want to amend it to give the government even more tools to put off having an election every four years. That is the reality of it. If we were to have four year terms, the municipalities, the provinces and we hope the federal government would not bring in a referendum or cause an election to occur.

The hon. member is giving government more opportunity to not follow the four year rule but to have its friends in a municipality or in a province or perhaps the government itself do something that would cause an election not to be held. Why would the hon. member want to amend the bill to actually defeat the purpose of the bill?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I do not understand why my colleague opposite is so enthusiastic and aggressive, since we support what the government wants. If he wore his headphones, perhaps he would truly understand what the Bloc Québécois thinks.

We agree with them, not because they are nice—my colleague has just made that clear—but because the amendment made by the Senate is excessive and, in our opinion, makes no sense. He should remember that.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Jay Hill

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote on the motion be deferred.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

So indeed. Pursuant to the request of the chief government whip the recorded division stands deferred to Tuesday, April 24.

The House resumed from April 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

When we last considered this bill, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood still had three minutes left.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Bill C-52 which is the budget implementation bill. Contained therein is a provision with respect to interest deductibility. Interest deductibility is probably a bit of an arcane issue for most Canadians. It allows Canadian companies to deduct interest when they in fact are competing to acquire a business abroad.

These Canadian businesses of course are competing worldwide. They compete with Japanese companies. They compete with American companies. They compete with European companies and yet this provision now would effectively handicap the ability of a Canadian company to acquire companies elsewhere. This is a very significant issue.

It is a significant issue in many ways, but let me bring it down to how it is significant for those of us who are concerned about economic issues and those of us who are concerned with the prosperity of Canada.

When a Canadian business acquires a foreign based business, it generally does so with the advice of lawyers, accountants and financial services people, et cetera. All of those people get jobs by virtue of these acquisitions.

In addition, once the acquisition is completed, then all of those collateral services are then engaged to complete the acquisition, along with a whole array of technical people to make sure that the integration of the companies proceeds smoothly.

Let me give a personal example of that. My son works for a large Canadian bank and his job is to make sure that the computer services of that bank are integrated with the acquired banks or financial services companies that that bank acquires. For instance, if it acquires a bank in nation X, then it is my son's job to go down, along with an array of others, to facilitate that integration.

A consequence of that is that this is a Canadian job. It is a very good Canadian job and he is multiplied dozens and hundreds and thousands of times over. Those are the kinds of very jobs that we in Canada want to secure. We want to acquire those kinds of technology jobs which will be the way of the future.

Yet, this budget provision does exactly the opposite. That, along with the income trust decision, we could not imagine two more wrong-headed decisions.

I see that my time it up. It is quite regrettable because these are wrong for Canada and that is why this party will be voting against the budget.

Nutritional MedicineStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to draw the attention of the House to one of Canada's most noteworthy medical pioneers. Recently Dr. Abram Hoffer was recognized by his peers at the 36th annual conference on Nutritional Medicine Today, held in Toronto. Tributes also were received from the Prime Minister and the Governor General of Canada.

There are few physicians in the world today who deserve more credit for establishing the clinical value of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

In 1950 Dr. Hoffer was appointed head of psychiatric research for the province of Saskatchewan by the then premier, Tommy Douglas.

He has published more than 500 articles and books and was instrumental in founding the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation and, with his close friend Dr. Linus Pauling, the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine.

Dr. Hoffer's promising work has restored lives and hope to thousands of patients suffering from schizophrenia and related mental disorders. He has inspired a new generation of orthomolecular scientists to re-examine the role of vitamins and minerals in correcting biochemical deficiencies in disease states.

Dr. Hoffer is now 90 years old. It is his hope that effective use of low cost non-patentable nutrients will find its rightful place as a front line approach in restoring health to the suffering.

Nutritional MedicineStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Charlottetown.

Earth DayStatements By Members

April 23rd, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to wish you and all members a happy belated Earth Day. Each year, millions of people observe Earth Day to celebrate the gift of life and to remember our responsibility to live sustainably and with respect for all living things.

On Sunday we in Prince Edward Island were honoured to share our Earth Day with the hon. Leader of the Opposition, who was on hand to witness the cleanup activities of our riverbeds and streams and to talk to concerned citizens all across the province. Wherever he went he was met by huge crowds who supported his message for a greener Canada.

The Leader of the Opposition's trip underscored the importance of environmental protection and sustainable development in sensitive ecosystems like that of our province.

I want to publicly thank the leader for his visit. His message was appreciated by all Islanders.

As another Earth Day passes, let all of us in this House remember our responsibilities to future generations.