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House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:10 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 move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.

He said: Mr. Speaker, this is a motion that can be made one day a year, not on Christmas Day or Ground Hog Day, but this day, the 10th sitting day before June 23. It is a motion that can be made to allow the House to sit late into the evening.

I know that many members, when they look at that portion of the calendar and they see possible extension of sitting hours, they think that means we get to leave early for summer vacation, but that is not what it means. What it means is that under the Standing Orders of the House we can potentially sit and work late to get as much of the people's business done as possible because there are very important priorities for Canadians.

I will bear my soul here and say that it was not always my intention to move this motion. It was my hope that it would not be necessary. I was hoping that we would be making good progress.

For example, Bill C-52 in particular, the budget implementation bill was a bill which we believed we had an understanding with the other parties; in fact it had been shaken on by the member for St. Catharines, the member of the Liberal Party for Scarborough and others that it would be over to the Senate by June 6. Somewhere along the way the Liberal Party sought to treat it a little bit differently and as a result we are still debating it here almost a week later than the date we thought it would be over at the Senate. As a result of course we have lost considerable time to deal with other priorities for Canadians.

I want to talk about what those other priorities for Canadians might be, but first I want to focus on that number one priority which is Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill. As we have heard from many people in the House today, if that bill does not pass by the time the House rises for the summer, if that bill has not been dealt with, there are a number of financial priorities on issues that are very important to Canadians that will be lost, because it is a bill that reaches back to the previous fiscal year to spend funds. Those funds have to be allocated. The bill has to be passed and receive royal assent in order for those funds to be available in that fashion. If not, they are lost.

Some of those examples are ones which we have heard about today. The one that is at the top of my personal list is the $620 million in the budget for the patient wait times guarantee trust. This is money that is allocated to assist provinces in addressing what is one of our number one priorities—actually one of our top five priorities; I should put it that way—from the last election. That priority is to achieve a patient wait times guarantee, to help people get the kind of health care they need on a basis that is reasonable, that is practical, that is clinically sound.

For too long we saw patient wait times under the previous government actually double in length. We have this much vaunted Canadian health care system that we all purport to believe in, but if we really believe in it, we have to see that it works. An important part of it working is that Canadians should receive the health care that they need on a timely basis. That is what the $612 million is specifically aimed at.

The provinces are very anxious to receive these funds. It means a great deal for a lot of provinces. In my own province of Ontario that means $200 million plus of real money that Ontario needs for its health care system. The same thing, together with other elements, will mean for the province of Nova Scotia for health care $639 million including the transfer there. There is similar money throughout the country.

We are talking of significant funds. There are other elements in the budget. Much of that transfer will not be lost, as I said, because it is in the main budget funds, but the patient wait times guarantee money, that $612 million, is money that will be lost if we do not deal with that on a timely basis.

Another one that is very important is the $1.5 billion for the clean air and climate change trust. That is to help the provinces implement their plans to reduce greenhouse gases. It is very important.

On January 4 of this year, the Prime Minister addressed Canadians and identified what our priorities would be in government this year. One of those major priorities was to take real action on the environment. We have just seen that at the G-8 summit. In the summit declaration Canada's approach is an approach that is drastically different than it was for 13 years under the previous government when greenhouse gas emissions rose dramatically regardless of the commitments it took on. Now we have a national plan that results in real reductions, an actual plan that does that in both the short and medium term but also very importantly in the long term.

It is that approach by the Canadian government that was hailed as an example not just by world leaders, by other G-8 leaders, but by journalists from around the world, by special interest groups. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, issued a statement heralding Canada's approach as a model. The reason it is held out as a model and an example is it is an approach that can be used regardless of how lousy one's track record may be. This is important for a lot of the major emitters that had not been part of the arrangements up until now or did not have obligations under Kyoto to implement, major emitters like China, India, Brazil and the United States, to get them to the table and realize that if we are going to take on the challenges of addressing greenhouse gas emissions and turning around the risk of climate change and what it can potentially do to our world, we are going to have to take action in the long term. That is the approach of Canada that is being held as a model.

An important critical component of that approach is to engage and involve the provinces and ensure that they have in their hands the resources they need to be able to deliver. A big part of that is that $1.5 billion of ecotrust money, the clean air and climate change trust money. I underline that if we do not get Bill C-52 passed in time, that money will be lost.

This is where the delay and obstruction that the Liberal Party in particular has been conducting has been very harmful to the interests of Canadians who care about the environment, and in fact even those who do not care about the environment, because even if people do not care about it, it does affect them. It is important for all Canadians that they have that healthy environment.

Another example of the money that could be lost if Bill C-52 is not approved, if the Liberal obstruction is successful, is the $400 million for the Canada Health Infoway project. This is state of the art technology so that people can have better health care, taking advantage of technology to improve our health care system. This is something that is very important for the provinces to be able to deliver on the health care for Canadians, for their residents. Again if the Liberals are successful in their delay and obstruction plan this is something that will be lost if the bill is not dealt with and does not receive royal assent in the near future.

There is another one that is of particular of interest to me because it does affect residents in my part of Ontario. In fact the announcement was made in York region where I live and where my constituency is. That is the $225 million to protect endangered spaces, working in conjunction with groups like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to acquire sensitive lands that otherwise might be lost to development, or if not to acquire them, to put in place the kinds of conservation easements to ensure that they will be protected in their natural state for the foreseeable future, for as long as our legal regime remains in place, which is basically for as long as life continues as we know it. That money is very important but that money and the potential to protect those endangered lands will be lost if we cannot get the budget implementation bill passed in the appropriate time.

I also want to talk about the $30 million going to the Rick Hansen Foundation. Rick Hansen is the man in motion, a great Canadian who rolled his wheelchair around the world. He is a very strong personality and a great activist for his cause of spinal cord research. He suffered an injury but he showed that it did not hold him back and he did his around the world tour. I think it was in 1984 when he started his tour, which was an inspiration to all of us. The ongoing work of the foundation from the money he raised then is important. There is $30 million that we would like to see dedicated to that foundation. That $30 million would be lost if the Liberals have their way and they delay and obstruct this bill past the deadline we are dealing with.

For all of those reasons, the budget implementation bill is very important, not just because we want to see it passed, and that is a good reason, but there are actual, real consequences with a ticking clock, because of the fact that a significant amount of the funds are anchored in the previous fiscal year before March 31. That means we have to pass it before the books are closed. Basically we have to get royal assent. We have to get it all the way through before the folks here on Parliament Hill go home to their ridings for the summer. In order to do that, we want to see the potential to deal with this bill for as long as we need to.

I might add that we had hoped to be debating many other bills but the Liberals have chosen to delay this budget implementation bill in every way possible and for as long as they can, as we have seen in the House today and as we saw last Friday and so on. We have tried other measures to speed things along but they have stepped in to block them every time.

The other important bill that we need to deal with is Bill C-23, a Criminal Code amendment. Our justice agenda is very important, and Bill C-23 is a bill to update the Criminal Code provisions. It has come back to the House from committee and it is now at report stage. We would like to deal with that quickly but we will need some time in the House.

Similarly, we are expecting to see Bill C-11 on transport come back from the Senate with amendments. We will need to see whether this House agrees with those amendments or not. Bill C-11 is an important bill that has been around a long time, as members can see by the number, and we have been waiting for about a year to deal with it.

We also have Bill C-31, the election integrity bill. It is in the Senate and the Senate has indicated a desire to make some amendments to the bill. We and, I think, all parties would like to see that bill in this place, or at least three of the parties in the House would. The bill was amended at committee and we, as the government, accepted the amendments proposed by the Liberals and the Bloc.

Unfortunately, the Liberals in the Senate had a very different view of how the bill should work from the Liberals in the House of Commons. The Liberals in the Senate are actually getting rid of the House of Commons Liberal amendment on how to deal with the lists and the disclosure of information to political parties. They actually changed it to a position that was identical to what the Conservatives had originally proposed at committee.

As a result of the Liberals in the Senate deciding that they do not agree with the Liberals in the House of Commons, it means that we as the House of Commons need to deal with that bill one more time once the Senate has dealt with it.

We are waiting for that little ping-pong game between the Liberals in the Senate and the Liberals in the House of Commons to come to an end. When it does end, hopefully we can achieve a resolution on which we can all agree to ensure that future elections will proceed with a greater degree of integrity and probity, something that is very important to all parties and all members of this House.

Another bill that has come back after a long stay at committee is Bill C-42, the Quarantine Act, a very important bill on health matters and something we would like to deal with.

I know of one bill that the opposition House leader, the member for Wascana, has been very generous in showing a willingness to fast track and deal with very quickly and we are hoping to have it at report stage in the House very soon. I think we are in a position where we can do that very soon. I know other parties want some level of scrutiny so the very generous offer of the opposition House leader was one that we took up, but not everybody did. We can seek to get it passed through as many stages as possible in the House as quickly as possible. The bill I am talking about is the one dealing with Olympic symbols. I would like to see it dealt with on the House of Commons side and then go to the Senate.

That is an important bill for the folks who are putting together the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler and Vancouver. It is important because it deals with copyright, trademarks and the like. We all know how challenging it is to put on these kind of games in this day and age and the ability to protect copyrights, to deal with merchandise and to generate that revenue to support the athletes, the games and the legacy venues that will be constructed as a result of that is important to the people who are involved, whether it be the athletes, the organizers or the people in those communities who will benefit from the legacies.

We are also waiting on other bills, such as Bill C-51, the Nunavik Inuit land claims, and Bill C-59 on video piracy. Bill C-59 was just introduced but the newspapers are saying that it is an important bill because it would create some meaningful consequences for people who engage in the illegal video taping of major films with the ultimate objective of putting them on the black market to sell them illegally without the copyright rights to it. That is something that has been hurting the film industry.

In places like Vancouver and Toronto, in fact all across the country, the film industry has become very important, but those places in particular. It is important that Canada maintains its credibility within that industry and that we support our artists and the people who give value to that intellectual property and that we show leadership as a country in protecting it.

In the future, as we move away from manufactured goods and products to the kinds of services that have more to do with intellectual property, we need to be seen as real leaders in that regard. As I said, media reports are suggesting that all parties actually support Bill C-59, which is why we would like to move it quickly.

Another bill that we recently introduced would support the Red Cross/Red Crescent in the adoption of a new symbol. We need to do that here in Canada through legislation because of a charter that exists. The bill would create an additional non-denominational symbol, which is the Red Crystal, that can be used through ratification of a treaty. If the Red Crescent symbol or the Red Cross symbol creates some discomfort with the local population, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society would be able to use the Red Crystal symbol as an alternate symbol, which is why as a country we need to recognize and ratify that it would have all the protections under the Geneva convention so that anyone would respect it. However, there would be consequences if people misused the symbol in trying to conduct an offensive military operation. The symbol would need to be used for the purpose intended, which is to protect and save lives in difficult scenes around the world.

All of the bills I have spoken about are on the House calendar. Some are in front of us and we would like to deal with them but others are still at committee.

I did not even speak to the first nations land management, which is a bill that was launched in the Senate.

We would like to see the passage of some bills that are still in committee and which we would like to see back from committee. We thought some would come back a little bit sooner, such as Bill C-6, the amendments to the Aeronautics Act. The committee has been doing clause by clause on Bill C-6 for almost a month now. I am glad to see that the committee is being that attentive but it is a bill that is important and we would like to see it.

The bill that I hope the committee deals with soon is Bill C-32 on impaired driving. I have spoken about the importance of justice and making our streets and communities safer. It was one of the five cornerstone priorities of the Conservatives when we ran in the last election. It was restated on January 4 by the Prime Minister as another priority.

I should acknowledge that we have had some good progress on getting some of those justice bills through the House but it was not easy. Some of them, like Bill C-10 dealing with mandatory penalties for gun crimes, stayed at committee. If one were to listen to politicians speak, one would think there is a consensus on the importance of mandatory penalties for gun crimes. Even the Liberal Party in the last election had that as one of its key elements in its platform.

However, when it came to committee, things were a little bit different. The Liberal Party actually gutted the meaningful parts of the legislation and it held up the legislation at committee for 252 days. Fortunately, that time is past and, thanks to the support of the New Democratic Party, we were able to put some teeth back into that legislation and make it meaningful. The legislation now contains some meaningful mandatory penalties for those gang members and crooks who want to terrorize our communities with guns and commit violent acts. They will face real consequences. When they commit an offence like that they will go to jail. There will be no more “get out of jail free” card and no more house arrest as a solution. They will actually serve real jail time for some of those offences. Where there already were mandatory penalties, they will be tougher and stronger mandatory penalities so that we can take real action.

I know these are important justice issues for Canadians, and that the gun legislation is a part of it, but the other bill that we are waiting for from committee is Bill C-32 on impaired driving. It is very easy to deal with impaired driving on alcohol right now because we have breathalyzers and standards. However, a much more difficult element is driving impaired through the use of other illegal substances, such as controlled or narcotic substances, or, in simple terms, drugs. People who use and abuse drugs and then proceed to drive a vehicle are just as impaired, if not more impaired, as someone who has consumed excessive alcohol. The consequences in terms of the risk to other drivers on the road are just as great. It can change the lives of a family if someone were to die or become injured. The lives of a family could be absolutely shattered when an accident occurs because of that kind of behaviour.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It is with regret that I must interrupt the government House leader but we have questions and comments. The hon. member for Vancouver East has the floor.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government does have the prerogative, on this particular day, to move Standing Order 27(1) for extended hours, but we need to question the government's sincerity and genuineness in what it is doing here today. We just heard a 15 or 20 minutes speech from the government House leader, I think the longest I have heard him give, outlining a whole list of government bills, but when we really look at the legislative agenda here, we see that if there is an urgency, if there is a crisis, it is something that is actually being manufactured by the government in terms of the lack of management of its own agenda. I will certainly go into that when it is my turn to speak.

If the government House leader is truly committed to dealing with all of the business that he has listed, why would he not commit to having the House sit until when the calendar tells us, which is June 22, the regular hours, dealing with business, allowing the committees to function and to have question period? It seems just a tad curious that he is using this Standing Order today allegedly to force through all of this business when the calendar already tells us that we have adequate time to do not only that, but all of the other business that is very legitimate in this place.

Why would the member not make a commitment to not use Standing Order 56(1), which is a procedure whereby he would try to overrule members if the government wanted the House to adjourn early? We have been expecting that too because I think the real game plan here is that the government would actually like to get away from Parliament and away from public scrutiny and, therefore, this becomes a bit of a ruse.

Why will the member not make a commitment to have us sit, do the regular business, all of the business, not just what he chooses to do, rather than what is really a tactic to get out of Ottawa and out of Parliament as quickly as they can?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have absolutely no intention of trying to get out of here early. The hon. member may have misinterpreted part of the wording of the motion. The motion actually says that we would sit every day until 10 p.m. up to June 21, and that hour is a substitute for the regular closing hour. June 22 is to be our last day.

The reason the motion is worded that way is not so that we leave one day early, but rather that we do not have a late sitting on that very last day to 10 p.m. The intention would be that the House would sit, barring any other agreement of the parties, until the normal closing hour on that last day. There is no truth in the member's interpretation.

It is very simple and my record on this is very clear. When we say something it is really easy to tell what we mean: listen to the words that we say. All spring we kept saying that we did not want an election and that we would not call an election. Whether it be the member for Vancouver East, the member for Wascana or others, they were always saying that the Conservatives would pull the plug and have an early election early and that is what they were up to. However, it was really simple. When we said that we did not want to have an election and we wanted to continue to govern because we had a lot of work to do, it is because we wanted to continue to govern and we have a lot of work to do.

The same is the case with our motion today. We have a lot of work to do, and unfortunately more work than we would have liked, because of the approaches of some of the other parties at committee and in the House in recent days, but that is what we want to do. We want to stay here and get our work done.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question will be on consultation, but I have comments to make first.

I am glad the House leader outlined a number of things that would be lost. It is because of Conservative mismanagement of the budget process that has put us in this position. Why did the Conservatives bring forward the budget so late in the year? If they might lose all these important things, why, from April 23 to May 14, did they not call the budget forward? Why did they bring it back so slowly at each reading? Why did they try their silly manoeuvre on Friday to end the debate, which failed? A number of people wanted to speak to the budget and they made important points today.

Canadians are happy that we are still debating the budget because it is falling apart at the seams. Taxing income trusts took a lot of money from seniors, and the government promised it would never tax them. This cost Canadian seniors billions of dollars. The government broke its promise on icebreakers. Its only promise to the north has suddenly vanished. There will be no icebreakers and no northern ports.

Then there is the income tax increase, heaven forbid. The Conservative government raised the income tax rate from 15% to 15.5%, and has not done anything about it in this budget.

Museums are in an uproar today. Do members think they are not happy we are still debating the budget? They want their say. They do not want the budget to go through with all of these problems in it.

What about interest deductibility on foreign investments? Canadians are happy we pushed on this issue and had the decision reversed.

People in Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan are in an uproar over the Atlantic accord. They are happy that we are still debating this.

The other reason the Conservatives have called for this is because of the poor legislation that has come forward and caused so much debate. The House leader himself talked about one bill that was so bad it took 252 days.

A few days ago the Minister of Indian Affairs said that another bill was bad. There are only nine operative words in the bill and it has taken 20 days.

A lot of people have complained because of the bad legislation and there has been no consultation. Many groups across Canada have said that the government's bills are bad. They were never consulted. That is why the process has taken a long time. That is why everything has been held up in committee.

Why does the member not change the government's way of operating committees and start consulting so bills come to Parliament having been better prepared?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, our way of operating is very simple. We are trying to deliver results for Canadians on the things we committed to do in the last election. Unfortunately, some other parties are more interested in political gamesmanship, or advantage, or delay or obstruction.

The hon. member for Yukon referenced Bill C-44, which has an operative clause of nine words. The bill's real effect is to give human rights to our first nations people, human rights they have been denied under the Canadian Human Rights Act. We are ready to proceed with that, we want to proceed with it and we would love to proceed with it. Opposition parties are intent on delaying the bill at committee. They would rather go on a summer vacation than give first nations human rights, and that is a shocking thing to me.

I cannot share the member's sentiment at all. We are determined. We are trying to get things done. We made commitments to Canadians in the last election, and now we are delivering on those commitments. The budget implementation bill is an important part of that.

The overall budget does great things for Canadians. In two budgets, in two years, we are paying down $13 billion and $9 billion on the debt, $22 billion paid down on the debt. That is a real benefit for every Canadian.

Canadians elected us to do these things. They elected us to keep spending under control, to help families make ends meet on the things—

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will not play politics. I will quickly ask my question.

I am very surprised to hear the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons talk to me about Bill C-44 when he is not familiar with the file. In fact, he is talking about Bill C-34 instead of Bill C-44. He should come to committee to see the work we are doing.

I have a very specific question. We have an all-party agreement on Bill C-51 on lands in the far north claimed by the Inuit, who have been waiting for 10 years. There is also an agreement on Bill S-6. We have an agreement among all parties, including the government party.

Why not put these two bills to a vote tomorrow? It would be done and resolved. There is no need for a study, especially since everyone agrees on fast-tracking these two bills.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had looked in the notice paper, he could have found last week's responses. That is exactly what we intend to do, but first Bill C-52, Budget Implementation Act, 2007, needs to be passed. That is the priority. Then I truly hope for the passage of Bill C-51.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the government, in proposing this motion today, has chosen once again to maintain its habitual lack of consultation and reluctance to attempt a collaborative approach to organizing the business of the House.

On more than one occasion, as I think the Chair will remember, I asked directly whether the government intended to make use of Standing Order 27. As other House leaders can confirm, the reply was, “probably not”. I do not think we would be off base in the opposition in expecting that if that were no longer the case, if the government had in fact changed its mind, that it would have decently given us a heads-up that it was going to propose this motion today, at least given us that notice some time earlier than around one o'clock this afternoon.

Frankly, as we saw the government House leader making his travels across the floor of the House, I will not say where he went, the heckling and yelling as he departed the chamber obviously indicates the kind of demeanour of which we have to deal.

I do not see what there is on the order paper at present that this motion will get through the House any more quickly than would have otherwise been the case. I presume, judging by the government House leader's remarks, that the government is principally concerned with Bill C-52, the budget bill.

It has represented to the House and to the public that the government is now extremely concerned the bill will not receive royal assent in time for certain expenditures to be booked in the appropriate fiscal year. Let us be clear. The fiscal year the Conservatives are talking about is 2006-07, and that is the point.

The issue is retroactive fiscal bookings for the last fiscal year, not the future fiscal year, as members would have gathered from the remarks of the government House leader. If there is concern about the lateness of the date, the government really has only itself to blame.

Usually federal budgets are delivered in or about the third week of February, which then permits the introduction of a budget implementation bill by the end of that month. If things are properly managed, this would permit the bill to be in committee before the end of March and to be passed at all stages by the end of May or, at the very latest, the beginning of June.

This year the government chose, for its own partisan reasons, to delay the budget until the third week of March. We did not even see it until then. Then it unilaterally interrupted the budget debate. Then having finished that, belatedly, it interrupted, again, the second reading debate on the budget implementation Bill C-52. That interruption lasted for three full weeks, getting the bill to committee only in the middle of May.

As a consequence, the government then bulldozed the bill through the committee, breaking procedural agreements, denying many interested and informed citizens and groups the right to testify on the bill. Let it be clearly understood that any procedural issue on Bill C-52 is a direct result of government breaking the agreement on the process, which had been fully settled by members of the committee.

Nevertheless, the bill is now only in its third day of debate at third reading and there is every indication that the third reading and final stage would come to an end in debate in the House by the end of business tomorrow at the latest.

It is important to underscore what these dates are with respect to the budget. Remember that the House resumed in the final week of January. The budget was not presented to the House until March 19, fully eight weeks into the parliamentary sitting. That was followed by a ways and means motion and the introduction of the budget bill, but that was delayed because the government interrupted its own budget debate on the financial principles of the government.

Its budget was late, the budget debate was unilaterally delayed by itself and then it finally got around to introducing the budget bill on March 29, which was debated at second reading for the first time on March 30. It was then debated in a haphazard, sporadic fashion, brought forward to the floor by the government, until April 23, and then it was hoisted altogether. The House did not see it again until May 14, full three weeks later.

Finally, it went to the committee, not as a result of any filibuster by the opposition or any party in the opposition. The delay was entirely the procedural mismanagement of the government. It was there for less than two weeks and one of those weeks was a break week when Parliament was not even sitting.

It finally passed through the committee, rather expeditiously, thanks to the cooperation of the opposition, and it was brought back to be debated at report stage on June 4. For how long? One day, that is all the report stage took. Now it is at third reading where there have been three days of debate, and probably a conclusion could have been arrived at very easily by the end of the day tomorrow.

This is why I made the point at the beginning of my remarks that there really is nothing on this order paper that could not be dealt with in the ordinary course of business without the measure the government House leader has introduced. Obviously it is a tactic to blame the opposition for the delays that lie entirely within the control of the government.

What is it then? If it is not Bill C-52, what is it that causes the government to move the motion today? Despite frequent requests for the government to outline its realistic legislative priorities before the summer, all we have heard repeatedly from the government House leader and from others on the government's side is a flow of partisan rhetoric. Legislation has in fact been moving along through the House and through committees, despite the government's erratic management of its agenda.

In fact, the most controversial bill on the order paper, and this is what gives me perhaps a little hope here, is probably Bill C-30, the clean air act, as it has been revised by members of Parliament. Significantly, only the government has been stalling it up to now. However, now we will have some extra time, some extra hours of sitting every day beginning on Wednesday.

Can we then conclude that the extra time the government is seeking is to facilitate the work of the House in consideration of Bill C-30? I certainly hope so. It is in this fervent hope that I indicate to the House that my party, the official Liberal opposition, will support the minister's motion for the extension of hours.

In the time available, in addition to Bill C-52, which will probably be done tomorrow, and in addition to Bill C-30, which I hope the government has the courage to recall and put before the House once again, the official opposition also looks forward to making progress on Bill C-11, lowering freight rates for farmers, on Bill C-14, dealing with foreign adoptions, on Bill C-23, dealing with criminal procedure, on Bill C-29, dealing with Air Canada and the use of official languages, on Bill C-35, dealing with bail reform, on Bill C-47, dealing with the Olympic, on Bill S-6 and Bill C-51, dealing with land claims and on Bill C-40, the private member's legislation that would provide free postage for mail from Canada to our troops in Afghanistan.

Then there is an item that was referred to in question period today. This is the bill we are anxiously awaiting to see, the one dealing with wage earner protection. I hope the government will follow through on the commitment given in question period, that it will table the bill in amended form so it can be passed at all stages and brought into law before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess.

Let me mention one other matter, which is outstanding and which should be dealt with by the House, or at least dealt with by the government when the House is sitting. This is the examination undertaken a few weeks ago by Mr. Brown in connection with the matters that have been of great concern to Canadians in respect of the RCMP pension fund.

As we understand it, there is a report due from Mr. Brown on June 15. That was the original undertaking given by the Minister of Public Safety. It would be very important for us to know that the examination is on time, that we will hear from Mr. Brown on time, and that the Minister of Public Safety will take the step that he promised to take and make that report public immediately.

Perhaps the government might also consider, in whatever time that remains before the summer recess, reforming its approach to the mood in the House. The mood could be improved if the government would refrain from certain of its more hostile practices. For example: no more gratuitous attack ads, no more broken agreements on how witnesses will be heard, no more manuals about dirty tricks for disrupting parliamentary business, and no more devious games to misuse Standing Orders of the House. A little good old fashioned good faith could change the mood for the better.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, you were in the Chair on Friday when the Conservatives tried to bully us around and wanted to pass a motion. In fact, it was the first time that you had to handle such an issue and you did a good job on that day by not letting them bully the House and extend the debate that day.

I was listening to the hon. Liberal House leader. I have a question for him. Why would the government not come to the Liberal House leader on Friday to say that it will be bringing this motion forward today? In fact, the government brought it forward at 1 o'clock today. This is exactly what bothers me and this is exactly what bothers the people from Newton—North Delta, and many Canadians. When it comes to the transparency, accountability and credibility of the government, that is where the problem is.

I would like to ask the hon. Liberal House leader to comment because when we wanted to pass the legislation on crime with unanimous support, the government House leader never agreed to pass it. Would the Liberal House leader care to comment on the accountability, transparency and credibility of the government when it tries these bullying tactics in this Parliament?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that I think the events on Friday afternoon were quite unfortunate. I had mentioned in my remarks that it would improve the atmosphere in the House, if we did not have any more recourse by the government to that kind of devious tactic.

Obviously, it put the table and the Chair in a very difficult position, and I would like to join the hon. member in congratulating both the table and the Chair for dealing with that matter in accordance with the rules of the House, which solved a bit of a parliamentary crisis at the time.

On the issue of the justice bills, it is true that there has been an enormous number of one-off justice initiatives brought forward through this Parliament. I think 13 or 14 altogether. They had the potential of causing a backlog in the justice committee.

In light of that, we took the extraordinary step, we thought a very constructive step, last October to say that in order to save time in debate, save time in the justice committee, we were prepared to fast-track a number of those initiatives, to see the debate curtailed or focused, and in some cases passed through the entire parliamentary procedure without further debate.

If that offer from the official opposition had been taken up when it was first made in October last year, fully three-quarters of the government's justice agenda would presently be law in this country. It is just not available to the government to say that somehow the official opposition, at least, has been the cause of any delay with respect to the substance of what the government brought forward in its justice bills.

What we did say was that those bills in themselves were insufficient, that we needed to focus also on crime prevention, that we needed to focus also on more police officers on the street, and that we needed to focus also on more Crown prosecutors so that Crown prosecutions and the caseload could be handled in a timely manner.

We also said that we needed modern investigative techniques, and we had to have better coordination between different governments and different law enforcement agencies. We needed new laws to protect children against Internet luring and seniors against identity theft.

We made a whole variety of constructive suggestions about how to have a comprehensive justice agenda, but part of the proposal was to say that, insofar as the government had brought forward an agenda, we were prepared to fast-track three-quarters of that, and I think that was a constructive response.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, to my colleague from Wascana, I guess I have a similar question in seeking a commitment from the Liberals. We are very concerned that this motion today is simply a smokescreen on the part of the government to force the budget bill through and as soon as it is through and out of this House the government will bring in a motion under Standing Order 56.1 to adjourn this House.

As my colleague knows, probably much better than I, there is a way of stopping that motion, which is that 25 members of this House stand up and signal that they are opposed to that motion.

I am asking him today if he is prepared to commit that the Liberal Party will always have a substantial number of members in this House to oppose the motion if in fact it is brought forward by the government?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on the opposition's part we always try to encourage the best possible attendance in the House. In fact, the government may resort to that tactic. It would certainly not be our intention to support the tactic.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to asking a question of the opposition House leader. He has spoken of some of the games that have been played in this House. I have been quite disappointed with some of the games that Liberal members have been playing. Maybe I could get assurance from him that the Liberals will start working hard at the environment committee.

There have been many that went to the GLOBE International Conference just prior to the G-8 plus 5. There were two Conservative members, two Liberal members, a Bloc member and an NDP member, the six of us that attended. In Berlin we heard good solutions from numerous countries in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

I have repeatedly asked in committee for an opportunity for each of the members in the spirit of accountability to provide a report to the environment committee. Does that member support having a report from all members on what they experienced at that GLOBE Conference?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, obviously, there are few issues of greater import to this House or greater import to Canadians than a successful battle against climate change. In respect of the work of this Parliament and the work of our standing committees, one of the finest bits of work that was done was the rewriting of Bill C-30.

The bill was obviously dead on arrival when it was first presented in this House last fall. Everybody agreed, whether they were in Parliament or in the NGO movement or in the private sector or in provincial governments, that Bill C-30 as originally drafted was an utter disaster.

Now a parliamentary committee has gone to work on Bill C-30 and has actually made it a good piece of work. I am glad to say that it includes the vast majority of what my leader first proposed in terms of the concept of a carbon budget and the other measures to get serious in this country and around the world in the battle against climate change.

I think it would be very useful if the government would now pick up the good work that was done by the parliamentary committee, bring Bill C-30 back to this House, so we can have a real debate on the things that need to be done to actually deal with the climate change issue.

In addition to that, I would also hope that we would have a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member, in his capacity as a former finance minister, if he is aware of any budget in the past 15 years where the debate on the budget has lasted more than 48 hours? Here we are approaching almost three months and still the government delays its own budget.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is a common saying among all finance ministers, whatever political party they may be part of, that if a budget is still a matter of public debate, never mind parliamentary debate but public debate, after about 48 hours, then there is a problem. If it disappears in 48 hours, it is probably a great success.

This one has gone on now for more than two months and that indicates this is a budget that is in fact seriously flawed. A a great many Canadians, including many of the provinces, have a great deal of difficulty with this budget.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have before us a motion which asks, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), that commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on Thursday June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.

The Bloc Québécois will support this motion because we are determined to see Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, passed before we adjourn for the summer. As you know, this bill contains some significant transfers for Quebec. They do not correct the fiscal imbalance, but they will make it possible to relieve the fiscal and financial pressures Quebec is experiencing.

The Bloc Québécois set the bar at $3.9 billion in additional transfers to Quebec, the third year, to be satisfied with the budget. As you know, there is $3.3 billion. More remains to be done, especially when it comes to post-secondary education, but we think that with $3.3 billion for Quebec in the third year, an important step has been taken to relieve Quebec's financial pressures.

Once again, this does not correct the fiscal imbalance. A solution to the fiscal imbalance will take negotiations to transfer tax points equivalent to the transfers for post-secondary education and health care to Quebec, to prevent Quebec from being at the mercy of unilateral decisions by the federal government. In the mid-1990s, for example, when the former finance minister and former Prime Minister decided unilaterally to cut transfers to the provinces in order to solve the government's problems, this created problems for the provinces. It is therefore extremely important to us that the budget be adopted before the summer recess.

In addition, I do not completely share the opinion of the House leader of the official opposition that we are referring to 2006-07 when we are talking about closing the books. It is true that when the books are closed in September, they will be the books for 2006-07. But if we have not disposed of the budget surplus, if we have not decided how the surplus is to be used before the books are closed, that money could well be used simply to pay down the debt.

I have an opinion here from the Library of Parliament that supports what I am saying. I would like to read a short excerpt from it:

If the budget were adopted before the end of the fiscal year but the Budget Implementation Act creating the trust [we are talking here about the Canada ecotrust] were adopted later in the 2007-08 fiscal year but before the government's books were closed, for reasons related to the parliamentary calendar, a portion of the 2006-07 surplus could no doubt be deposited in the trust.

It is very clear, then, that if we do not dispose of the budget before the House rises for the summer, that money will no longer be available for the Canada ecotrust, because the books will be closed in mid-September. This is also true of certain amounts for the health trusts.

We cannot take that risk. That said, the Bloc Québécois had another extremely serious concern. When the government talked to us about the possibility of introducing this motion, we indicated that what was important to us was the budget—and we are going to work to get it adopted as soon as possible—but that we also wanted an amendment to the notice of ways and means motion concerning the Bankruptcy Act and protection for workers' salaries when their employer goes bankrupt. We told the government that this was imperative for us.

As I was saying, we will support this request for extended hours. It is a priority not only to ensure that the notice of ways and means is tabled and corrected by taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, but also that the government agrees to fast tracking this bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act so that wage earners are protected—which is what all parties in this House now want—and that the laws of Quebec and the Civil Code of Quebec are respected.

Earlier, in response to a question that the Bloc Québécois asked and that I myself asked the Minister of Labour, we were assured that sometime tomorrow an amended notice of ways and means, taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, would be tabled with a bill. I think we will have the unanimous consent of all the parties in this House. I do not see why the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party would oppose the will expressed so many times by the government and the Bloc Québécois

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, who worked so hard on this and who never stopped hounding the entire Conservative government—especially the Minister of Labour—to achieve today's result. With these two guarantees, we feel comfortable knowing that Bill C-52 will be adopted before the summer break. This will ensure that Quebec receives the transfers it needs even though this bill does not close the debate on the fiscal imbalance. This will also put workers in Canada and Quebec on the list of preferred creditors, thereby giving them new protection when businesses go bankrupt. The creation of a wage protection fund will give them a chance to be compensated should their employers be unable to pay their wages. We think that this is extremely important.

As my colleague mentioned earlier, one of our priorities is Bill C-51, which would cede certain islands that are currently the property of the federal government back to Inuit nations. This is a request that dates back a long time, and it seems that everyone is in agreement. That is also the case for Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act. We think it is very important that this bill be passed to bring justice to the first nations of Quebec. There is also Bill C-59, which would make using digital cameras to make unautorized recordings of movies a new offence under the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, Canada, Quebec and even Montreal have become hotbeds of this kind of piracy, which is a threat to the development of the Montreal region's very prosperous film industry.

This idea has already been raised in committee by the hon. member for Hochelaga. If my memory serves correctly, he also introduced a motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We feel it is important that this bill is passed before we break for the summer, which, incidentally, is not all vacation time. We have many appearances and meetings planned in our ridings. It is, however, a time for festivals, and we have many in the Lanaudière region. I invite all members to come and enjoy them. Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to once again ask the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to unfreeze the money, to ensure that these festivals can continue to provide relevant programming, not only this year, but also for years to come. She does not seem to be conscious of this. If, for financial reasons, one festival or another shows a deficit, that would jeopardize the survival, the development and the future success of that festival or those festivals. In that regard, it is very important that the government unfreeze the money immediately. I also think that common sense dictates that we focus our attention on bills, such as Bill C-47, for instance.

The Olympic Games will be held in my former riding of Vancouver. I think it is important to cover all aspects dealing with the legitimacy of all trademarks surrounding these Olympic Games.

For all these reasons, we support the government motion to extend the sitting hours to 10 p.m., beginning on Wednesday until Thursday, June 21.

I will close on another note, because I have not often had the opportunity to speak in this House, since I became the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois. Indeed, I had more occasions to address this House when I was the Bloc Québécois finance critic.

I would like to thank Catherine Lacroix, who works in the whip's office, here behind the scenes. She will be leaving us a few days from now, after working here with us for many years. All the members of the Bloc Québécois—and I am sure this is also true for many members of all the parties—have appreciated her finesse and her ability to work well under pressure, while always keeping a smile on her face. She plans to travel for a few months, in Europe, particularly.

Like Ulysses in Homer's The Odyssey, I hope she gains wisdom and fulfillment from her travels. I have no doubt that she will always be successful in all areas of her life. I would like to thank her and wish her all the best.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I asked the House leader of the Liberal Party if he would support an opportunity for members who went to Berlin to the pre-G8+5 meeting called GLOBE International, where a position paper was established on solutions to cleaning up the environment. The Bloc had a member there, It was very good to be working together in looking at solutions.

My question for the member is about whether he would support and encourage within the House, or actually at the environment committee, a report from all the members who went on that very important trip to look at the solutions in regard to climate change. Would he support directing his representative and those who went, and there are two members from the Bloc on the environment committee, on reporting to the committee how important this is to the environment and about the solutions that were learned about and shared there?

Canada did a great job in Berlin. We were well received, but we need to continue to work here in Parliament on finding solutions to clean up the environmental mess left by the previous government.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi was a member of the Berlin mission and really appreciated the work that was done there. However, with respect to the report, I do not see the problem. Nevertheless, we must not evade the issue. We are not very proud of our Prime Minister's performance at the G-8 with respect to achieving phases I and II of the Kyoto targets.

As such, I think that all of the parties agree that the government should bring Bill C-30 back to the House as soon as possible. This bill was amended by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We have to continue the debate on this issue because the government has no allies in this House when it comes to environmental issues.

If we take a serious look at the proposals made by the Minister of the Environment, by the Prime Minister at the G-8, and by the Minister of Finance in this House, we will find that they do not meet the Kyoto targets. Furthermore, they do not include the territorial approach that would enable Quebec to take into account its efforts in past years in order to meet the Kyoto target of 6% below 1990 levels.

As we all know, the Prime Minister said at the G-8 meeting that he found the European community's territorial, country by country approach to negotiating targets very interesting. Despite the parliamentary secretary's question, I think that this issue must be addressed. The problem is that the government's approach is no good. It has not agreed to a territorial approach; it has no absolute intensity targets; and it is allowing greenhouse gas emissions to rise.

There has also been talk of opening a carbon exchange in Montreal to trade derivatives and take care of this economic and environmental aspect that would help our manufacturing industry. That said, in order to have a carbon exchange, we need absolute targets. The government does not seem to have understood that yet.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, further to the question by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, I want to ask the hon. member the question.

As far as extending sitting hours is concerned, given the choice between discussing the trip to Berlin by the legislative group—which I was a part of with other members—and discussing Bill C-30, which would take an incredible amount of parliamentary work and countless hours of sessions, how would he prioritize these two choices?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that in this context my speech was clear. I have nothing against adopting a report, but it is clear that in the choice between adopting a report and having a debate on Bill C-30 as amended by committee, that Bill C-30 not only is more important, but it has much more serious consequences for Canadian society, Quebec society and future generations. We must not lose sight of the fact that what we fail to do right now will have a negative impact in the future. We are already starting to feel it.

We must not get to the point of no return where our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to pay the price of our inaction for considerations that are sometimes rather questionable. More and more people truly realize that achieving Kyoto protocol targets and economic development go hand in hand. Not working on achieving the targets for phase I of the Kyoto protocol—and phase II when it is negotiated—will have a very significant economic cost. We see that with global warming and the effects that are already quite noticeable will only get worse over time.

In closing, it is often said that a two degree increase in the planet's temperature is not so serious. What struck me is that during the ice age, the average temperature in Quebec was three to four degrees less than the current average, and it was covered in ice. In other words, with two degrees more, the environmental, economic and especially societal effects will be disastrous for the entire planet.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Joliette's comments about Catherine, who works in the lobby for the Bloc Québécois. I would like to say that she really worked professionally with all the political parties. I would like to wish her good luck.

I have a question for the Bloc Québécois. The House Leader of the Bloc Québécois talked about many important bills. I know that the budget is very important to him since he is voting with the Conservatives on it. This is very important for the Bloc members. But my question is about the other bills, such as Bill C-30.

I know that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie worked very hard on environmental issues. The government could introduce a motion to adjourn the House before June 22. Even though the calendar shows that the House can sit until June 22, it could be done pursuant to Standing Order 56.1. We need to have 25 members here. Since the Bloc Québécois is very disciplined, it will have no problem keeping 25 members in Ottawa. Will the Bloc members work with the other parties to ensure that there will be 25 members in the House of Commons so the Conservatives will not be able to adjourn before June 22?

It is all well and good to extend the number of hours per day, but if we adjourn on Wednesday, it will not do any good. Bill C-30 will be gone, Bill C-59 as well, and Bill C-29 will no longer be there. There is also the bill for workers.

Can we have a guarantee from the Bloc Québécois that they will keep 25 people in the House of Commons to ensure that it will not adjourn?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to be able to pass a number of bills that we feel are priorities, and Bill C-52 on the budget is definitely a priority for us. The bill to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and to create a workers' wage protection fund in bankruptcy situations is also a priority for us. Those are two of our main priorities.

Other important matters are First Nations land management, the issue regarding the Inuit, and the issue of piracy. If we have time to pass other bills before June 22, we would of course agree to do whatever it takes. Our goal is not to recess as quickly as possible, but to ensure that the bills that we feel are priorities are passed before the summer break.