This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #166 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was scotia.

Topics

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government created a backlog when it changed the levels at which Human Resources and Skills Development Canada contracts for job creation programs need to be signed by the minister.

Projects that have a short turnaround for approval, such as the completion of the North Coast Trail in my riding, have been waiting for weeks instead of days. This project should be up and running now.

When will the minister clean up his desk and sign a JCP so we can complete the North Coast Trail?

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate her concern with respect to these important projects. I can assure the member that my department is working very hard to ensure that all of these very worthy groups and the causes they represent get their funding and get it very quickly.

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, why did the minister not take into consideration the backlog when he made his signing authority changes? This is becoming just like the summer jobs program debacle and the passport fiasco, and there is more.

Now the minister has instituted a five day waiting period from the time he approves job funding to when the project gets notified. Why? So he can put forward a press release.

Why is the minister more interested in media creation than job creation? Why does he make us wait?

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member mentions job creation. I point to the fact that we have the lowest unemployment in our country in 33 years, thanks to the leadership of the Minister of Finance. I am very proud of that record.

I also point out that it is important to do these things correctly. We do not want to rush money out the door without proper accountability. That is the old Liberal way. We saw it in the sponsorship scandal. We do not want to go there.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. James W.L. Kinobe, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, for the Republic of Uganda.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Thursday, I believe the hon. member for Wascana has a question. The hon. member for Wascana.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader would inform us of what would be on his agenda for government business through to the end of next week. I wonder if he could also in his answer indicate what he considers to be the government's major priorities to be completed before the normal summer recess on June 22. Finally, l wonder if the minister could indicate the government's intention to act or not under Standing Order 27(1) next week.

Business of the HouseOral 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, today we will be continuing with the business of supply.

Tomorrow we hope to conclude third reading of Bill C-52. In answer to the question on priorities, I would point out that Bill C-52, the budget implement bill, is the number one priority of this government. We can talk about other priorities after we see an indication that it will be heading for royal assent. If we do not have it, it will result in the loss of $4.3 billion in 2006-07 year end measures which include: $1.5 billion for the Canada ecotrust for the provinces; $600 million for patient wait times guarantees; $400 million for Canada Health Infoway; $200 million for protection of endangered species; $30 million for the Great Bear rain forest; $600 million for labour market agreements for the provinces; $30 million for the Rick Hansen Foundation; $100 million in aid for Afghanistan; $100 million to Genome Canada; and so on. It is a long list of important priorities financing that will be lost if the bill is not passed by the end of this session in June. That is obviously our number one priority.

Next week will be getting things done for all of us week when we consider a number of bills that are in their final stages of the legislative process.

The following bills will be placed under Government Orders for debate: Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which the Senate reported with amendments and which is now back before the House to receive the approval of the members, and Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments).

We are awaiting the Senate's report with amendments on Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act.

Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act, Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Quarantine Act and Bill C-47, An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act, will probably be passed by the House at third reading.

Discussions have taken place with the opposition parties, and there may be consent to fast-track some or all of the following bills: Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie), Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act and Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

There is also a possibility of quick passage of a new bill entitled “An act to amend the Geneva Conventions Act, an act to incorporate the Canadian Red Cross Society and the Trademarks Act”, which appears on today's notice paper.

There are a number of other bills I am still hoping we could get included in getting things done for all of us week, provided that they get reported back from committee, in particular, Bill C-6 aeronautics; Bill C-27 dangerous offenders; Bill C-32 impaired driving; and Bill C-44, the bill to grant first nations people the human rights that every other Canadian enjoys. First nations people expect the House to get things done for them as well, so I urge the aboriginal affairs committee to stop delaying Bill C-44 and report it back to the House early next week. It is a priority for this government.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In a question from the member for Bourassa during question period, in response I referenced a report being received from Afghanistan that would be tabled. I meant to say it would be received by the Canadian government.

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, if I had the unanimous consent of the House, I could table the report on employment equity this very afternoon. It is the 2006 annual report.

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Unanimous consent is not required; the hon. minister may table it when he wishes. The documents have now been received.

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert also wishes to raise a point of order.

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I saw the Minister of Labour rise to ask for unanimous consent, I had a glimmer of hope that was quickly dashed.

Nevertheless, I rise on a point of order to seek unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion, which is different than that of the other days. It bears on the same subject, but the motion is different.

That the government's notice of ways and means motion No. 13, tabled in the House by the Minister of Labour on December 8, 2006, be deemed adopted and that the House require the Minister of Labour to table immediately in the House, for first reading, the bill listed on the order paper under “Introduction of Government Bills” and entitled “An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act and chapter 47 of the Statutes of Canada, 2005”, in order that this bill can be amended by this House, pursuant to the request of the National Assembly of Quebec, in a motion adopted unanimously this morning.

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There is no unanimous consent.

The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North on a point of order.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

June 7th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, although I open this debate as a point of order, I truly believe that it is a question of members' privileges. I will rise on a point of order with the understanding that you may decide that it is a question that deals with members' privileges.

I refer to a discussion that was held in the House yesterday regarding the motion to concur in the 53rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which did not receive the unanimous consent of the House of Commons. The four independent members of the House did not give their consent.

There was really no problem until this was presented by the whip of the Bloc Québécois. He presented it to the standing committee, not to remedy the orders of the House but in order to silence a former member of that party because the Bloc considered she was getting too many questions in the House. That was the purpose of this amendment.

What surprises me is that all the other parties consented to the motion. Every party consented to the motion and it opened a can of worms.

This is an issue that the standing committee presented that affects the privileges of all independent members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I submit that it is in your exclusive jurisdiction to protect the privileges of every member of the House of Commons. I ask that until this matter is resolved, and since there are only four of us but our party is growing, I am asking for your assurance that this matter will not come before the House for unanimous consent unless some of us are present in order not to give consent and then the matter can be resolved either in committee or through your wise counsel.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure my hon. colleague from Thunder Bay—Superior North, as well as the three other independent members of this House, my. hon. colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, my hon. colleague from Nova Scotia and the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. This morning, at the public meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I tabled an amended version of the 53rd report. I amended that report simply for tabling.

The four independent members will be consulted before the next discussions, which are to be held next Tuesday at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I am certain that we will be able to find a solution.

Nevertheless, I changed my approach somewhat as a result of the comments I received earlier this week.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be useful for you to know that not everybody in every political formation would necessarily support this if unanimous consent were requested. I for one would have tremendous difficulty in restricting the ability of independent members of Parliament to address questions in this House as well.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeSecretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, this issue was raised yesterday and again today. I know that the whips have discussed looking at clearing this up. Perhaps I could explain it to other members because I think there is a lot of concern not only by the independent members but by others about what it is that the whips and the procedure and House affairs committee are concerned about here.

As I understand the issue, it is this: When there are a number of independent members there are obviously a certain number of questions and Standing Order 31 statements by members that could be assigned to those independent members.

We have had cases in the past, and indeed we could have cases in the future, where a party falls below the requisite 12 members. For that purpose there has been a precedent set for Speakers to pool the questions that those independent members would be entitled to so that they could assign their questions to their leader or to some other member of their caucus.

In my political lifetime, members will recall that post-1993, we had that situation with two parties in the House of Commons. While the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party were recognized registered political parties outside of this chamber, they did not have the requisite 12 members to be a recognized party in the chamber at the time. One had two members and the other had nine, as I recall. The Speaker at the time pooled, or bundled, or whatever term one wants to use, the number of questions that they would get during question period and then assigned the questions to them as a group.

I think this is where the problem lies, Mr. Speaker. Let us take into consideration that there are currently four independent members of Parliament. Of the questions that we usually go through in the rotation, the number of questions in a day, if we divide those, excluding the three that the government gets, by the number of opposition members of Parliament, whether they are one of the three recognized parties or the four independent members, we get to a ratio of how often each member would be eligible for a question, all things being equal.

The problem arises if, for example, there were three independent members, each one of them should get one question per week. That makes sense. To make it equal, whether they were in a recognized party or sitting as an independent, they would have exactly the same rights to ask one question per week.

What has been happening as I understand it, Mr. Speaker, is that if you bundle those questions together and there are three questions for independents in a week and then two of the independents choose not to ask a question and you give the other questions to that other member as though they were a party, then that individual independent member would obviously get more questions than they would be entitled to if they sat in a recognized party.

I think that is the question that we are trying to deal with. Certainly, and I can speak for myself here, I do not want to see any inequity. I want to see the same rights and responsibilities for every member of Parliament, whether the member is an independent or whether the member sits in a recognized party, with no greater or lesser advantage to being in a party or sitting as an independent when it comes to those rights of a Standing Order 31 statement or asking a question in our chamber.

I think the goal is to ensure that if we take that equation, the number of questions asked per day or the number of questions asked per week and divide it by all the opposition members and we get to how many questions that person would get in a week, then it should be the same whether the person is an independent member or in a party.

Obviously when a member is in a party, there is a mechanism in place to assign that question. Let us say for argument's sake, every member would get one question per week, whether the member was an independent or was in the Liberal Party, for example.

Obviously the Liberal Party has a mechanism in place in its caucus to assign those questions to certain members, whether it is the leader, the deputy leader or whoever it is. However, it should not detract from the basic rule that each member is equal in the eyes of this chamber. That is what we are trying to get to, I believe. I would look for others to support that fundamental principle of equality.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

We are on points of order here, not to debate the merits of any proposal that may or may not be before the House. We are not debating a motion for concurrence, and while I am sure the House appreciates the comments from the chief government whip, it sounds like debate.

I see two other members rising on this. We have spent almost 20 minutes on it already. We do not have a motion before the House. In my view, there is no point of order here. I gave a ruling yesterday that this was not a point of order.

The member for Thunder Bay—Superior North has asked me to give an assurance that somebody will not pull a unanimous consent stunt when the members are not here. I can only urge him to stick around. I cannot control what members do in the House. If a member stands up and asks for unanimous consent for something and gets it, I am stuck. I cannot say no.

I can only urge the hon. member to keep a close eye on the House. He has three colleagues. One of them could sit here 24 hours if necessary and the others could do what they have to do if they are concerned about this. However, no one has moved concurrence in this report at this stage.

The hon. member for Mississauga South is rising on a point of order. I hope he will stick to the point of order and not debate the merits of any proposal.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Yes, and I do agree, Mr. Speaker. As I raised the matter yesterday, I believe that privileges will not be affected unless a decision is taken. I doubt there is a matter of privilege here.

The point of order is that within the Standing Orders, there are mechanisms for ordinary members to debate relevant changes to the Standing Orders. There were special legislative committees set up to consider a renewal, improvement or modernization of the rules. We have not had that.

I am simply asking on behalf of all members, which I believe would support the premise, that the majority of members should not establish rules that will affect a minority of members of Parliament. It is an issue. I would only ask that a proposal from procedure and House affairs come forward for the information of members, so that all members can have input before a question is put before this place.

I believe you would then find unanimous consent for that motion.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

No proposal from procedure and House affairs can be adopted by the House without a motion for concurrence in the report. It is simple. There has to be a motion. Motions are debatable if members choose to debate them. It is up to members. It is not up to the Chair. The hon. member must know that.

He must realize that if the motion for concurrence in this report is to be put in this House, it has to be done either with unanimous consent and no debate, because everyone agrees not to debate it and let it go through, or the member moves concurrence. This is basic procedure.

If the motion for concurrence is moved, there is a three hour debate and then the question is put. It is standard on all committee reports, including ones that recommend changes to the Standing Orders of the House.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

There have to be two questions.

53rd Report of Procedure and House Affairs CommitteePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

No, there are not two questions. There is a motion to put to the House and then we vote on it. I will leave it at that.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques on a point of order as well.