Mr. Speaker, I know they like to come and talk but not bother to vote. At least they could let other people talk sometimes. I will make the best effort to continue, notwithstanding the interruptions.
In terms of the question, the Minister of Finance has been clear that that intention reflected in the ways and means motion will also be carried forward in the budget implementation bill. The ways and means motion corresponds exactly to what will be in the budget implementation bill. It is not a question of dealing with the statutory measure through the ways and means motion. It is a question of dealing with it through the budget implementation bill and creating, through the ways and means motion, the authority to do that and proceed with that.
On the other questions that were raised yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you heard submissions from the member for Pickering—Scarborough East in which he argued that the government's ways and means motion tabled yesterday was out of order based on the rule of anticipation. He argued that the previous consideration of Bill C-253 made it impossible to now consider the ways and means motion.
Marleau and Montpetit observes at page 476:
The moving of a motion was formerly subject to the ancient “rule of anticipation” which is no longer strictly observed.
In fact, if we read on, they go on to observe that it is even stronger than that. The rule of anticipation is not just “no longer strictly observed” in the Canadian Parliament, it never really was. Also at page 476, they write:
While the rule of anticipation is part of the Standing Orders in the British House of Commons, it has never been so in the Canadian House of Commons.
I would repeat and underline, “it has never been so in the Canadian House of Commons”.
They go on to conclude:
Furthermore, references to attempts made to apply this British rule to Canadian practice are not very conclusive.
Simply put, the argument posed by the member for Pickering—Scarborough East might succeed were he in the British House of Commons but it cannot succeed under Canadian parliamentary practice. There is no barrier to considering a different item touching the same subject matter, and most certainly the budget bill and this Bill C-253 cannot be considered to be two bills similar in substance.
Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada clearly sorts out the Canadian rule at paragraph 655, found on page 198. It states as follows:
A bill is in order when substantially different from another bill on the same matter previously disposed of during the session.
That rule applies clearly to the situation at hand. The budget implementation bill is substantially different from another bill previously disposed of during the session, that being Bill C-253. In fact, the difference is so great that the government opposed Bill C-253. It is introducing and obviously supports the budget implementation bill.
Clearly, it is substantially different, not just in its breadth of subject matter but also in the substance of its effect.
The ways and means motion and budget bill are significantly broader than Bill C-253, applying to a wide range of taxation and fiscal measures. They are also substantially different in the impact they will have on the finances of the public treasury and the effect they will have on the narrow question of how RESPs operate.
In addition, and putting it another way, the ways and means motion in part is reversing a decision the House made with respect to Bill C-253. The precedence for proceeding this way is as follows. At page 496 of Marleau and Montpetit, it states:
The House may reopen discussion on an earlier decision...only if the intention is to revoke it;
Standing Order 18 basically says the same thing.
Beauchesne's Citation 592(1) states:
A resolution may be rescinded and an order of the House discharged, notwithstanding the rule that a question, being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, cannot be questioned again....
Technically indeed, the rescinding of a vote is the matter of a new question; the form being to read the resolution of the House and to move that it be rescinded; and thus the same question which had been resolved in the affirmative is not again offered, although its effect is annulled.
There have been examples of orders being rescinded, revoked and discharged that could be found in Journals of May 7, 1898, page 269; August 1, 1942, page 708; November 22, 1944, page 923; November 24, 1944, page 927; and December 23, 1988, the House adopted an order revoking an order with respect to the sittings of the House which can be found at page 80 of the Journals of that day.
Therefore, repealing, rescinding and revoking a previous decision of the House is considered a different question.
Rule 655 of Beauchesne's can be seen to be definitive in determining that a ways and means motion and a budget bill based upon it are properly in order before the House. The roots of the rule in Beauchesne's, let us call it the Canadian rule, go back to just after Confederation.
A ruling of the Speaker on June 4, 1872, is exactly on point. The question the House was considering was an effort to legislate that one could not sit both in the House of Commons and in a provincial legislature at the same time, but two different efforts to do the same thing in a slightly different way were allowed to be considered in the same Parliament. This was found acceptable by the Speaker, who overruled an objection raised by the MP for Bothwell, who had argued, “that the principle involved in the bill is precisely the same one as the one voted on before”. More particular, he argued, “it proposes to deal with the same subject, and disqualify as candidates for election to the House of Commons the same class of persons”.
The Speaker found that was a “technical argument and that substantially the questions were different”.
As an aside, it is fascinating to read those Journals to see Sir John A. Macdonald's name listed among those voting in the majority at that time on that question in favour of the measure opposed by the Liberals of the day. It is also fascinating to see on the same day the vote on amendments from the Liberals seeking to ban any shareholder in the Canadian Pacific Railway from standing for Parliament, a discriminatory and unfair measure that the House wisely rejected that day.
However, returning to the main point, that ruling in 1872 is the anchor for the Canadian rule, different from the British, that a substantially different bill can deal with the same subject matter previously disposed of during the same session, which is exactly the case here.
The Canadian rule has been reaffirmed in many Speakers' rulings in the years that have followed. On February 24, 1971, Speaker Lamoureux restated the rule quite conclusively. He stated:
There is, therefore, in my view nothing procedurally wrong in having before the House at the same time concurrent or related bills which might be in contradiction with one another either because of the terms of the proposed legislation itself or in relation to the proposed amendments.
Related bills yet in contradiction with one another and, thus, substantially different, therefore, are entirely in order, just as is the case here.
In another decision on June 8, 1988, the Speaker reviewed all the relevant precedents and concluded as follows:
...I must declare that the practice of one bill amending another bill still before the House or not yet given Royal Assent is an acceptable one.
Again, this applies exactly here. Bill C-253 has not yet been given royal assent and the ways and means motion on budget bills seeking to affect it are acceptable under this rule.
The essence of the Canadian rule on those matters can be summarized by saying that the Speaker is never empowered to block such bills through a rule of anticipation. It is a question for the House of Commons to decide.
As Speaker Fraser ruled in 1992:
The Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons has not been given any specific authority over the form or content of omnibus bills.
Mr. Speaker, you are not empowered to do what the member for Pickering—Scarborough East is asking you to do by ruling on the content of the ways and means motion and the budget implementation bill. It is up to this House to pass judgment on the content of the motion and the bill.
I will re-emphasize once again that in a minority Parliament it is fully within the power of those members in opposition to pass that judgment contrary to the will of the government if they see fit to do so. They are seeking not to do so and seeking, instead, Mr. Speaker, to have you do that for them.
For the integrity of the government's fiscal plan, the government believes that if Bill C-253 becomes law, then it must be repealed in order to implement the provisions of the budget. We are talking about $900 million to $2 billion in lost revenues annually for the federal government and $450 million to $1 billion in lost revenues annually for provincial governments.
When the House adopted Bill C-253, it had not yet seen the detailed proposal that is contingent on repealing an earlier proposal. I see nothing procedurally wrong with the proceeding on the matter. One recent example is Bill C-27, the identity theft bill, which includes a coordinating amendment that would effectively replace the provisions of Bill C-299, a private member's bill currently before the Senate on identity theft, with the provisions in Bill C-27.
Ultimately, it is up to the House to decide. Speakers have consistently ruled that they do not have the authority to divide a bill and the question of the contents of a bill is best left as a matter for the House to decide.
Mr. Speaker, the final authority I would draw your attention to is the ruling of Speaker Fraser on November 28, 1991. It concluded, as well, that these issues are matters for the House to decide. The bill in question in 1991 was Bill C-35, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies, archaisms and errors in the Statutes of Canada. It proposed to amend, under certain conditions, a bill that was at second reading, a bill that had just received third reading, two other bills that were at third reading and two bills that were at committee.
The Speaker noted:
The legislative process affords ample opportunity for amending proposed legislation....
Speaker Fraser's observations in 1991 are a worthy guide to your role here, Mr. Speaker.
He concluded that:
It is the duty of this Chair to safeguard the rights of the Members and the House to make fully informed decisions on the matters before it....
The legislative process offers ample opportunity....
Then he goes on to review the options and scenarios, such as amendments, refusal, approval, further study and more, but ultimately he concludes:
All of these avenues offer Members full remedy to this conditional approach to legislating should they object to it. That decision rests with the House.
I repeat that key conclusion: that decision rests with this House.
The authorities are clear. Beauchesne's states the Canadian rule authoritatively:
A bill is in order when substantially different from another bill on the same matter previously disposed of during the same session.
Yes, the ways and means motion and the budget implementation bill do, in small part, touch the same subject matter as Bill C-253, but they are substantially different: different in scope, different in breadth of issues, and different in the substance of what they seek to do on the limited subject matter that they do have in common.
That difference in substance renders the ways and means motion and budget bill in order and properly a question to be decided by this House, not, with the greatest of respect, by you, Mr. Speaker. It may not be the British way, but it is the Canadian way from the time of Sir John A. and the days when he represented the fine constituency of Kingston in this House, which you represent today.