Debates of Oct. 29th, 2009
House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.
- Question Period
- Government Response to Petitions
- Committees of the House
- Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights
- Telecommunications Transparency and Fairness Act
- Income Tax Act
- Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
- Strengthening Canada's Corrections System Act
- Genetic Discrimination
- Florence Lachapelle
- Veterans Affairs
- Honouring Veterans
- St. Fidelis Golden Age Club
- House of Commons Security Services
- Salut, Bonjour! Television Show
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Freedom of the Press
- Rosemary Thompson
- Auto Theft
- Quebec Bridge
- British Columbia Resource Sectors
- Government Advertising
- The Environment
- Tax Harmonization
- Government Spending
- Federal Bridge Corporation
- Post-Secondary Education
- Government Contracts
- Crown Corporations
- Canada Pension Plan
- Supply Management
- Economic Development
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Status of Women
- Agriculture and Agri-Food
- Business of the House
- Points of Order
- Strengthening Canada’s Corrections System Act
- Employment Insurance Act
Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON
Mr. Speaker, the human rights situation in Iran has worsened over the past year, particularly following the violent crackdowns against innocent citizens to stifle dissent following the farcical presidential election in Iran in the summer.
Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs inform the House of the actions the government has taken to address the Iranian threat and its persistent violation of human rights?
Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Speaker, today, at the United Nations General Assembly, Canada will table the toughest resolution on the human rights situation in Iran. This year we are calling on the investigators to focus on Iran's appalling human rights record.
Through our leadership on the world stage, the government is addressing the egregious and systematic violations of human rights the Iranian regime carries out against its own citizens. We take this responsibility very seriously at this time and—
The Speaker Peter Milliken
The hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's.
October 29th, 2009 / 2:55 p.m.
Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
For months the committee has been asking the government for the exact amount of dollars spent on infrastructure. The Parliamentary Budget Officer was not able to provide the committee with specific dollars because the government had not given him the information. Now we understand the government is muzzling public servants.
I ask the committee chair, will today's agenda finally allow us to get this information or will the government stonewall and continue to obstruct the committee from doing its work on behalf of Canadians?
Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON
Mr. Speaker, the committee agenda is focused on the impact of infrastructure spending on the economy.
Numerous witnesses have stated that the minister is not providing concrete information. It is very hard for the committee to do its work. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has also been denied the information he needs to do his job.
On the agenda today in committee, we will be hearing from the minister responsible and we trust the minister will provide the exact and complete amount of dollars that have flowed to projects so that the committee can conclude its study.
Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC
Mr. Speaker, Quebec has a high-tech industrial policy that covers the innovative pharmaceutical industry. The Prime Minister has met with investors. During those meetings, he was informed that innovative pharmaceutical companies in Canada do not have the right to appeal to protect their patents, as companies in Europe and the United States do. This situation affects a number of companies in Quebec and Ontario.
When will Canada create a right to appeal, allowing innovative companies to stand up to their competition and make the most of their assets, so that they can continue to invest in research and development and preserve these high-tech jobs?
Tony Clement Minister of Industry
Mr. Speaker, I can say to the House that there was a meeting in May with representatives from that sector. We have an action plan to improve this situation. There is a lot of cooperation with this sector right now to address this and other issues.
We support this sector. It is a very important sector for Canada. Thanks to this government and to the policies of the Department of Finance and the Prime Minister, things are going well in this sector and other industrial sectors in Canada.
Agriculture and Agri-Food
Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC
Mr. Speaker, 15,000 Canadian flax farmers are facing a crisis of potentially staggering proportions.
The entire European market has been closed to their crop because it had been widely contaminated by genetically modified flax that has been illegal to sell as seed in Canada.
We need a full investigation into this disaster. The source of this contamination must be found. Before approving field testing and environmental release of new GM crops, such as alfalfa and wheat, we need regulations that consider their economic impact.
Will the minister commit to supporting our farmers and protecting our food?
Agriculture and Agri-Food
Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to say that Canada does not produce GM flax.
The Liberals took a walk on the wild side a number of years ago but that was deregistered almost immediately.
Canadian flax is safe and a healthy product. We are having some scientific discussions with the European Union at this point, but I can assure the member opposite that the Canadian Grain Commission and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have those discussions well in hand. We are getting to the bottom of this scientifically and we will continue that work.
What farmers really want to know is what that member and his rural NDP caucus will do about the gun registry. Will they be supporting that private member's bill or not?
Dona Cadman Surrey North, BC
Mr. Speaker, this government has made victims of crime a priority and we have committed to making our streets and communities safer.
For Surrey North, this is great news, as our streets have been plagued with crime and violence for many years. During the reign of the previous Liberal government, it sat back and watched organized crime prosper while it did nothing to protect Canadians.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice update the House on what the government is doing for victims of crime and law-abiding citizens?
Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Surrey North for her tireless work on behalf of victims of crime.
After 13 years of Liberal inaction, Canadians have a government that is standing up for victims and law-abiding Canadians. We are tackling organized crime, cracking down on identity theft, auto theft and white collar crime. We are ending house arrest for serious crimes. We are ending sentencing discounts for multiple murderers.
When it comes to standing up for the rights of victims and law-abiding citizens, Canadians can count on this government.
Business of the House
Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK
Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could inform the House of his work program for the balance of this week and next, until the House adjournment for veterans' week.
Could he also indicate to the House when he would expect the House to acknowledge the importance of veterans' week, on which day or which occasion that will happen prior to veterans' week itself.
There also will need to be the designation of one more opposition day before veteran's week, and I wonder if the minister could do that today as well.
As well, I am sure he would want to confirm that, with respect to Bill C-26, which was referred to during the course of question period, having to do with auto theft, that the bill sat on the order paper of the Senate since the June 22. It was called once, was given second reading and is now in committee in the Senate.
Business of the House
Prince George—Peace River
Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, in relation to what day the House will be doing its annual tributes to the sacrifices of our veterans and those in the Canadian Forces currently serving, that will be under negotiation. I suspect that is something that will be discussed among all House leaders in the days ahead. We will decide, obviously, collectively and co-operatively on the appropriate time to make that important tribute.
In regard to our ongoing justice program, obviously we are going to continue along, as we have last week and this week, for the remainder of the week with our justice legislation. I would note that since my last statement, we introduced Bill C-53, Protecting Canadians by Ending Early Release for Criminals Act, and Bill C-54, Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act. Both of those additional bills are a key part of our ongoing efforts to reform the justice system in our country.
We sent to committee this week Bill C-42, Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and other Serious Crimes Act; Bill C-52, Retribution on Behalf of Victims of White Collar Crime Act; Bill C-46, Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act; and Bill C-47, Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act.
By the day's end, we hope to conclude debate on Bill C-43, Strengthening Canada's Corrections System Act. If we do that, I intend to call Bill C-31, the modernizing criminal procedure bill, and Bill C-19, the anti-terrorism bill.
Tomorrow we will continue with yet another justice bill, Bill C-35, Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, followed by the remainder of the justice bills that I noted if they have not been completed.
Next week I intend to call Bill C-50, the employment insurance for long tenured workers' bill, which is at report stage, having had it returned from committee.
Following Bill C-50, we will call for debate the report and third reading stage of Bill C-27, Electronic Commerce Protection Act, and second reading of Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act,
Finally, Wednesday, November 4, will be an allotted day.
Official Report--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
The Speaker Peter Milliken
Yesterday, the hon. member for Mount Royal called the attention of the House to what he considered to be inaccuracies in the Debates of Tuesday, October 27.
As all members know, the Debates are not a verbatim ad literatum transcription of what is said in this House. When producing the Debates, House of Commons editors routinely edit interventions for clarity and clean up our grammatical and syntactical lapses. They also of course consider corrections and minor alterations to the blues submitted by the member to which words are attributed.
Upon verification, I want to first indicate to the House that in the situation before me all editorial changes were initiated solely by the editors. I should add that both the question of the member for Mount Royal and the answer of the Minister of Foreign Affairs were edited in this case.
For greater certainty, I have also reviewed the audio of the proceedings in question and I agree with the member for Mount Royal that the omission of the word “finally” from the edited version of the answer of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is significant. Accordingly, I have instructed our editorial staff to restore that word to the final transcript so that it may be a more faithful rendering of what was said last Tuesday.
I thank the hon. member for Mount Royal for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.
Climate Change Accountability Act--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader on October 8, 2009, regarding the admissibility of the motion of instruction moved on the same day by the hon. member for Vancouver East.
The parliamentary secretary argued that the motion of instruction listed on the order paper as Government Business No. 6 is out of order because, in his view, it attempts to time allocate a bill and, as such, is no longer permissive.
He added that the inclusion of a deadline in the motion of instruction had the effect of overriding existing reporting requirements for private members' bills already contained in the Standing Orders.
He also asserted that the motion contains two separate proposals and should, therefore, require two separate motions.
In speaking to the parliamentary secretary's point of order, the hon. member for Vancouver East pointed out that the committee may decide whether or not to exercise the powers given to it by the House, thus, rendering the motion permissive.
For his part, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley pointed out that there was a precedent for such a motion of instruction, referring to a motion that was debated on May 30, 2005.
As stated on page 641 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, and I quote:
Motions of instruction respecting bills are permissive rather than mandatory. It is left to the committee to decide whether or not to exercise the powers given to it by the House...
Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may give the committee an instruction by way of a motion which authorizes it to do what it otherwise could not do, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into one bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill.
In the matter raised by the parliamentary secretary, the Chair must determine whether the wording of the motion of instruction is permissive or mandatory.
The first and main part of the motion is to give the committee the power to divide the bill. This is recognized as permissive by past practice and procedural authorities. I can see nothing in the motion of instruction that orders the committee to do anything specific with Bill C-311. The deadline and other procedural actions contained in the motion apply only if the committee takes the step to create Bill C-311A, in the full knowledge of the consequences that would ensue.
As I read the motion, the committee can still choose to report Bill C-311 in the same way as it would any other private member's bill.
Members are aware that the Standing Orders stipulate that a private member’s bill must be reported back to the House before the end of 60 sitting days, or, with the approval of the House, following an extension of 30 sitting days. Otherwise, the bill is deemed reported back without amendment.
It has been argued, in this case, that the inclusion of a deadline in the motion of instruction comes into conflict with the provisions of Standing Order 97.1(1), thus rendering the motion out of order.
However, in the view of the Chair, it is not unreasonable to envisage a scenario where the House, for whatever reason, would want a committee to report a bill back prior to the reporting deadline set out in Standing Order 97.1(1).
So, there is nothing, in my understanding of that Standing Order, or in the procedural authorities, that would preclude the House from adopting a motion of instruction that included a reporting deadline.
The example referred to by the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is particularly instructive on this point. That motion of instruction, debated in the House on May 30, 2005 (Journals, p. 800) stated in part: “that Bill C-43A be reported back to the House no later than two sitting days after the adoption of this motion”. It provided a deadline remarkably similar to that contained in the motion of instruction moved by the member for Vancouver East.
In the view of the Chair, just as in the 2005 example, the inclusion of a deadline in the motion of instruction for Bill C-311 does not infringe on the committee's discretion to exercise the power to divide the bill, nor with its discretion to amend the bill.
Finally, the Chair is not persuaded by the parliamentary secretary's argument that the motion contains more than one proposal and that it should be divided into two separate motions. A close reading of the motion shows that the portion regarding the reporting deadline is contingent on the main proposition; namely, the permissive instruction to divide the bill.
Accordingly, for all the reasons outlined, the Chair must conclude that the motion is in order.
I thank hon. members for their interventions on this matter.