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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hours.

Topics

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the second time the member has said that I took money for being the chair of the committee. As we all know, when one is appointed, or in this case handcuffed and made to be chair of a committee, payments start to happen automatically. I immediately refused them and paid them back. I took no money for being chair of that committee because I was shanghaied into the job. That is twice--

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

That is not quite a point of order, but I appreciate the hon. member clearing up that point.

If the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst wants to conclude his remarks on this question, we will take another question.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I will apologize, Mr. Speaker, but when I asked him, he said he was enjoying it. That is why I said it. Instead of saying he was resigning his position as chair, he said that he was adjourning the meeting. He left us out of the loop. We had to request a meeting with four people signing, and then he resigned. In all this time the government has refused to replace the chair. Now the government wants us to sit night after night to discuss bills it did not want to discuss, and the Conservatives say that we are not ready to work. We are ready to work.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the points made by the member and others about committee difficulties are quite valid.

One aspect I have noticed, and I think it is really problematic, is the government's approach to its legislation. It calls bills for debate at second reading. A boilerplate speech is given that gives very little information and then no other government members speak to the bill. It does not give hon. members an opportunity to question members of the government to get details.

Second reading is an important stage of the legislative process. It is a debate during which we decide whether we are going to give approval in principle to legislation. The government totally ignores its own legislation, tells us we can talk all we want, but it wants a vote. The government makes everything a confidence issue if we happen to blink.

The thing that really bothered me was the government House leader saying that members just come here to collect a paycheque and then go on vacation. That is an insult to members of Parliament. The vast majority of members of this place work very hard and when the House is not sitting, members continue to work very hard. I think the member would agree.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree. I did not take this job to sit you know where and not work. I say without question that all members do work.

To say what the governent House leader said shows the lack of respect the Conservatives have for this House and all members of Parliament. How many times when the Prime Minister was in opposition said that the government of the day was not respecting the wishes of the House?

The changes to the immigration act should not be in a money bill. Those changes should not be in Bill C-50, but the government has put those changes in a money bill in order to say it is a vote of confidence, it is the Conservatives' way or the highway. That is what is wrong. The Conservatives do not get it. They are in a minority government situation. The Conservatives should respect that but they do not. They should understand that. The Conservatives should work with the opposition parties.

In many countries in the world there are minority governments and they work better than the minority government under the Conservatives does here.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I thought the speech by the member for Acadie—Bathurst was amusing, but also very real and realistic. I do not think we have ever seen such a controlling government, or a government whose ministers answered so few questions. It is rare to receive a response to a question. There is a lot of amateurism. Yes, with this government, democracy has gone out the window.

The member said that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages did not want to meet with the committee members. The weakness of the minister is clear, and it is evident that she is not familiar with her files. Once again today, she sent a letter to all of our colleagues in the House to say that the founding of Quebec City was the founding of Canada. She does not know her history at all. She does not know Canadian history. She does not know her files. A number of government ministers do not know their files.

I think we need to put an end to this farce. This circus cannot go on. The public has told us that they think this is a circus. We should not extend our debates.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Terrebonne—Blainville for her statement. However, I do not agree with her that my speech was amusing. I do not think this is in any way amusing.

In a democracy, when we sit here in the House and we represent one or more groups of people, things have to be done democratically. Here in the House, we should be able to study bills properly and to do so in good faith.

I believe that the government is not acting in good faith. The Conservatives show up here with a bunch of bills, but they shut down parliamentary committees. I sat down with them to figure out what could be done, but they want things done their way or not at all. We cannot even discuss these things with them.

Today, they are asking us to work late and they are telling us that we do not want to work late. Personally, tonight, I am going to be calling people in my riding because something is rotten in Canada, people are losing their jobs and they want to collect employment insurance. This evening, we will be voting on a bill about the $54 billion stolen from working men and women. Here is what I am going to do this evening. I am going to work for my people. This is not—

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question will be straightforward, since my colleague, as usual, explained things very clearly and very eloquently.

Everyone realizes that the Conservatives are suddenly looking for a consensus. Indeed, they are looking for cooperation, although, from the beginning—even as far back as the previous session—they have been remarkably and unpleasantly arrogant.

In addition to my colleague's remarks concerning committees, I am regularly struck by two other things, that is, this government's refusal of requests for take note debates. The parties, their party as well as the other parties, have had to ask for emergency debates, instead of coming to an agreement. If I am not using the correct term, someone will correct me, but they had to ask to hold debates in the evening to discuss important issues—

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, but there is not enough time for the second question.

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has only 30 seconds to give his response.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 30 seconds I can say that I agree with the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. How many times did we ask to work in the evening to hold take note debates to talk about the farmers who are facing poverty, the fishermen who are facing poverty and the closures of paper mills, causing thousands of jobs to be lost? The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons always refused our requests, with a simple “no” and without any explanation. It was simply “no, no”—

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader has the floor.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is limited so I will try to refrain from going into the hyperbole that we have heard from the hon. member from the NDP. I want to stick to the facts in the limited time that I do have.

The facts are simply these. Since 1982, every single year we have had extended sitting hours at the end of the session before we rise for the summer. I would also point out that in the 26 years since the Standing Orders have been changed to reflect the fact that the government House leader can introduce a motion to extend sitting hours, it has passed. During those 26 years we have had a series of governments, sometimes minority but also a number of majority governments.

The reason that is germane to this conversation, in my estimation, is that in a majority government, that government can basically pass whatever legislation it wants. It has the votes in the House. There is going to be no opportunity for the opposition to really stonewall a bill if the government of the day wants to get it passed. Yet even in a majority situation, during those years of majority governments, the House had extended sitting hours. What does that say? Quite simply it says this. Under no circumstances have I ever seen in the last 26 years any government, whether it be minority or majority, come to the end of the spring session with an opportunity to pass all the legislation that is introduced in that session. That is why we need additional sitting hours.

The opposition is trying to make the case--and let me make it perfectly clear that it is not a reason, it is an excuse--that our government has somehow delayed passage of bills purposely, that we have somehow obfuscated in committees on legislation. That is simply not true. Again, I point out that if a majority government needs extended sitting hours, that means this is something that should be taken seriously. Unfortunately we have a situation here after moving the same motion that has passed for 26 straight years, that every opposition party in this place is now saying, “No, we do not want to sit the additional hours. We do not want to deal with the legislation that is on the government's agenda”.

Why is that? It can only be one of two reasons: one, they want to get out of here early and they do not want to do the work; or two, all they are trying to do is obfuscate and delay with petty politics the government's attempt to bring legislation forward and get it passed in the House. There can be no other reason.

I wish I had more time, but just for a moment, I want to point out a number of inaccuracies that all members of the opposition have brought forward today in this debate in talking about delays in committees. I had been a member of the procedure and House affairs committee. It is true that that committee has not met for a number of months now, but it is simply not true that it was because of delaying tactics by the government. The facts are this. The opposition parties put forward a motion at the procedure and House affairs committee to examine the in and out advertising, what they call, scheme of the Conservative Party in the last election.

Originally the Law Clerk of the House of Commons rendered an opinion and said that the motion is outside the scope and the mandate of the committee, that it should not be presented and should not be received. The chair of the procedure and House affairs committee ruled accordingly. He said, “That motion is out of order”. At that point in time the opposition parties combined to overturn the ruling of the chair.

I would suggest that if the Law Clerk of the House of Commons examines a motion and deems it to be out of order, that ruling should be respected. Our chairperson respected that ruling. He made his ruling according to the opinion of the Law Clerk and yet from there things went straight downhill. The opposition parties disagreed. They overturned the chair's ruling and ultimately kicked the chairperson out of that committee. The only reason was for petty politics.

I have heard a number of times this afternoon the opposition members say that when the Conservative Party was in opposition, it did the same thing with the sponsorship scandal investigation. I beg to differ.

The Auditor General of Canada in her report first identified the problem which ultimately lent itself to the biggest political scandal we have seen in the history of this country. Because the Auditor General, an officer of Parliament, made a report, that gave the public accounts committee the perfect to right to say it wanted to investigate the charges that the Auditor General has levied.

What do we have in this case with procedure and House affairs? There is a dispute between Elections Canada and the Conservative Party. Did the Auditor General reference that? No. Did the Law Clerk say it would be appropriate and in order to investigate that, to discuss that at committee? No. So, we have absolutely apples and oranges here in comparison to what the opposition is trying to say.

An investigation into the sponsorship scandal at the public accounts committee was completely in order. Even the Law Clerk of this House agreed it was because the issue was first raised by the Auditor General in her annual report. The issues that the opposition members are trying to investigate have never been raised in such a fashion. As we all know, the opposition Liberal Party, particularly, has been trying to create scandals where none exist. The only reason the Liberals are trying to delay Parliament's work is because they want to concentrate on imaginary scandals rather than do the nation's business.

I want to say that for the first time in 26 years we have combined opposition parties refusing to sit late to deal with the nation's business. Not only is that disgraceful and unconscionable, eventually the members in opposition will have to answer to the electorate why they do not want to do the work that the nation sent them here to do.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 5:12 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 27(2) it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

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

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

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

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #141

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to yet again present an income trust broken promise petition on behalf of a number of constituents from my riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he recklessly broke that promise when he imposed a 31.5% punitive tax which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard earned savings of over 2 million Canadians, mostly seniors.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the Conservative minority government: first, to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions as shown at the finance committee; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

DarfurPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to enter a petition into the record which states that Canada must act to stop the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Since 2003 over 400,000 people have lost their lives and 2.5 million have been displaced. We have a prosperous country and it is time for us to stand up for these people. The petitioners call upon the government to encourage the international community, in whatever way necessary, to end these atrocities.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that expresses profound concern regarding Bill C-484, the proposed unborn victims of crime act, and states that it conflicts with the Criminal Code because it grants a type of legal personhood to fetuses, which would necessarily compromise women's established rights.

Violence against women is part of a larger societal problem and it is everywhere. Fetal homicide laws elsewhere have done nothing to reduce this violence because they do not address the root causes of inequality that perpetuate the violence against women. The best way to protect fetuses is to provide pregnant women with the support and resources they need for a good pregnancy outcome, including protection from domestic violence. The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada reject Bill C-484.