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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

TradeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, we presently have about $1.3 billion in two-way trade with Colombia, but that can increase with a free trade agreement. That would mean more production in Canada and more investment. The bottom line is more jobs.

Colombia has made significant strides ahead in human rights. Our agreement binds it to the International Labour Organization and all those standards, unlike other agreements it has signed with other countries. If we do not get that agreement, other countries that have signed agreements with Colombia will have a competitive edge in their products.

The foreign minister from Colombia will be here this week. I invite members opposite to engage with him on those issues. We have a great opportunity here to see progress for Colombia and for Canada with this free trade agreement.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order pursuant to Standing Order 10 of the House of Commons, which states at the beginning: “The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of order.”

We must consider the fact that time is immutable and that the Standing Orders set out that question period takes place from Monday to Thursday between 2:15 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The quota of questions from each party is determined by the results of the last general election and reflects the representation of each party here in the House of Commons.

The members of this House, as well as those listening in the gallery and watching question period on television, all witnessed the standing ovations specifically from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. I am weighing my words and I can confirm this. We counted the number of standing ovations by these two parties that we saw today. Given the number of these ovations and the fact that time is immutable, as I stated earlier, this has deprived the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, yesterday and today, of the opportunity to put a question that had been negotiated on the basis of the quotas established according to the results of the last election.

As proof, I will tell you how many standing ovations have taken place today. There have been six standing ovations by the Conservative Party. There have been four by the Liberal Party. There have been none by the Bloc Québécois or the NDP.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

The Liberals and Conservatives can go ahead and make fun of what I am saying, but I want to warn you right now, Mr. Speaker, that if you, as the person responsible for maintaining decorum, do not rule immediately on these standing ovations that are depriving us of our democratic right, there will be standing ovations by the Bloc Québécois and the NDP during upcoming question periods.

This situation has been raised repeatedly at the weekly meetings of the House leaders and whips and in informal discussions among the whips, but to no avail. If the Liberals and Conservatives think that this adds lustre to the work of Parliament and MPs, they are sadly mistaken. They should ask their constituents whether they agree with this sort of behaviour, which is more what one would expect from braggarts. That is what they look like, a bunch of braggarts.

Consequently, Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest a way of dealing with this situation.

If a party abuses standing ovations, under the discretionary authority you have by virtue of the Standing Orders, you should cut some of the Conservatives' planted questions or eliminate some of the Liberals' allotted questions so that we can have our quota of questions.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on the same point of order.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to use up too much time of the House, but all of a sudden it is such a big concern to my colleague across the way. I merely want to point out that you have a very difficult job, and all of us recognize that, in trying to maintain decorum, especially on Wednesdays and especially during question period.

I would point out for my colleague across the way that other things happen in question period that delay it and that delay the natural unfolding of the questions and the answers by the government, in addition to standing ovations, which he seems to be so incensed about. I hope his heart is all right today because he certainly was very worked up. I would hate to see anything bad happen.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, in your decision that the clock had run out, we noticed that all four political parties were impacted equally by that, that each of us had one question with no supplementary left in the agreed-upon lineup. The fact is everyone was impacted that way.

I point out for my hon. colleague from the Bloc Québécois that when there is a lot of hollering and heckling, when individuals resort to unparliamentary language, which creates a huge furor in the chamber, it makes it extremely difficult for you, Mr. Speaker, to manage question period and it always results in delays, similar with standing ovations.

I merely point out there are other reasons that make it difficult for you, Mr. Speaker, to maintain control than standing ovations. I would hope that from time to time members would want to show support for their leader and for others in their caucus.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to support my Bloc Québécois colleague. The time allotted for question period is very limited. We have 45 minutes to ask questions. We have 35 seconds to ask a question and 35 seconds to respond to a question. If the government and the official opposition enjoy supporting their leaders by giving standing ovations, this wastes time. We are the ones who lose out on our democratic right to ask questions here in the House. We lost the opportunity to ask questions yesterday and again today.

Is that what my hon. Conservative colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, wants? Does he believe in democracy? Does he believe that the opposition has the right to ask the government questions? Or is this a tactic to prevent the opposition parties in the House of Commons from asking the government questions, because it is afraid of having to provide answers to Canadians?

Mr. Speaker, my suggestion to you, since you will have to make the decision, is that you hold a meeting with the four whips of the four political parties to come up with a solution. That is within your mandate. If people are going to play such games here in the House, take control, Mr. Speaker. If you think you do not have control, we know you have it. So cut off the question and move on to the next political party, who otherwise might miss the opportunity to ask their question.

If they want to stand up during their allotted time, let them do so and they can have their fun. We, however, have questions to ask the government and we have the right to ask them. We have the right to get some answers and we do not want those answers stolen from us by anyone.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will make a quick comment on the same point of order. The Conservative member who has just spoken is trying to mislead you, because in fact what the Bloc Québécois whip has said is correct: the Bloc and the NDP are the ones who have been deprived of their time.

You do indeed have a difficult task. You are asked to apply the rules we have set for ourselves. But those rules are a reflection of our democracy and of the latest election results. Because of the systematic misconduct of the Liberals and Conservatives, who are acting like endlessly clapping circus seals, we are being deprived of our democratic rights. We are therefore asking you to intervene.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, ridicule never killed anyone. I would encourage the hon. member for Outremont and his cheerleaders to compete in the 2009 Parliamentary talent show. This year, we will have a Just for Laughs festival in Ottawa. We are entitled to ask questions. If people's reaction is enthusiastic, they should stop seeing that as some sort of plot. If these members are not able to get to their feet because they are not asking the right questions, that is their problem, but I do not need anyone defining democracy for me.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair has heard enough. I must point out that there is virtually nothing in the rules about the content of question period. For example, there is nothing requiring each question and each answer to take only 35 seconds. It merely states that 45 minutes are allocated for the entire question period, nothing more.

The order of questions is not set out in the rules. That is something that is worked out by the House leaders. The list is submitted to the Chair after an agreement among the parties in this House.

The order of this list was changed at the beginning of this Parliament to reflect the makeup of the House, the size of the parties in the House and so on. I was not party to those discussions. Those were settled by the parties themselves. It has been that way since before I was elected Speaker for the first time, in 2001.

This is not a new procedure as far as I am concerned. When I was a student there was no order prescribed. The Speaker chose who got to ask the questions from whichever party and he enforced whatever time limit he felt was reasonable. That was taken away by agreement among the parties in the House. It was not by changes in the rules, but by agreement. We have that agreement today.

If the hon. Bloc Québécois whip does not like the order that has been agreed to, he needs to negotiate it with his colleagues. It is not up to me to set the order.

The rules have been set by the House leaders themselves. They agreed on this list, and I am only following the list that is there. I agree that if time gets taken up we can lose questions at the end, but sometimes we get extra and I am not told to cut it off when we get to a certain point. I am told to continue until the 45 minutes are gone.

Yesterday, we lost four questions on what I would call the normal list. Today, we lost four questions on what I would call the normal list. There was one from each of the four parties in those four questions.

I am not here to decide who has lost questions and who has not. I have the list here before me. I followed the list given to me by the parties in the House. It is not my choice. I did not decide who would ask questions and who would not.

I know that time gets wasted with applause. I would be all in favour of eliminating applause, whether it is standing or not. However, it is not my choice. Members do it, unfortunately. I usually use the time to announce the name of the next person who is going to speak, but sometimes it takes longer than that.

I encourage hon. members to maintain order in the House during question period. We would get through more questions, if that is what members want. We would get through more questions if the questions were shorter and the answers were shorter. However, it seems that most members prefer to use most of the 35 seconds that are allotted for the purpose.

I am not being critical of this. I am simply stating what I think is obvious. I would suggest that if hon. members feel that some change is needed in this list, they have a chat at the House leaders' or whips' meeting, which I am sure will happen again next Tuesday. If they make a change to the list, as your humble servant I will of course follow the changes dictated to me by the House leaders in that respect.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I hope you are not happy with the behaviour of the members in the House of Commons today.

Order and Decorum in the HousePoint of OrderOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It was very loud.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Moldova.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two reports today.

First, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the Visit of the Science and Technology Committee and the Economics and Security Committee Sub-Committee on East-West Economic Co-Operation and Convergence in Lithuania.

Second, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the 70th Rose-Roth Seminar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) respecting its participation at the seminar of the United Nations Development Program and the meeting of the Political Committee of the APF, held in Luang Prabang, Laos, on April 8 and 9, 2009.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three reports.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the Meeting of the Steering Committee of the Twelve Plus Group, Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in London, United Kingdom, March 7, 2008

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the Meeting of the Steering Commmittee of the Twelve Plus Group, Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in United Kingdom, September 15, 2008.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation to the Meeting of the Steering Commmittee of the Twelve Plus Group, Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in London, United Kingdom, March 2, 2009.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: report 11, on Chapter 1, A Study of Federal Transfers to Provinces and Territories of the December 2008 Report of the Auditor General of Canada; and report 12, on Chapter 5, Surveillance of Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada of the May 2008 report of the Auditor General of Canada.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

In accordance with its order of reference of Thursday, February 26, 2009, the committee has considered vote 15, the Chief Electoral Officer under Privy Council in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 and reports the same.

Canada Pension PlanRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-396, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (deductions — disabled child).

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the Canada pension plan has been one of the great pillars of this nation for many decades. This private member's bill attempts to build in a bit of compassion for those who take the time out of the workforce to look after a disabled child. It allows for the calculation of the contributor's average monthly pensionable earnings for the deduction of months in which a contributor remained at home in order to care for that particular disabled child.

It is an honour to present this on behalf of the constituents of Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

May 27th, 2009 / 3:25 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-397, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (persons born abroad).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill, an act to amend the Citizenship Act for persons born abroad, which has been seconded by the member for Vancouver Kingsway.

The purpose of the bill is to restore equality for all Canadians. On April 17, some very young, internationally adopted children suddenly became lesser Canadians. On that same day some children born abroad will be stripped of their right to inherit their Canadian parents' citizenship.

It is not fair to create two levels of citizenship. It is not fair to strip away the right of parents to pass down their Canadian citizenship to their children.

We know that millions of Canadians work abroad. Some work for Canadian corporations, some teach in schools and universities and others work for the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, such as UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.

By enacting this legislation, the government would treat citizenship in a manner that reflects and promotes Canadian economic, social, intellectual and humanitarian engagement with the world.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

World Autism Awareness Day ActRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

moved that Bill S-210, An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to sponsor the private member's bill, an act respecting World Autism Awareness Day, which was introduced in the Senate by the Hon. Senator Jim Munson.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the second day of April in every year as World Autism Awareness Day. With 1 in every 165 Canadian families now being affected by autism spectrum disorder, I believe now it is imperative and timely that the federal government follow the United Nations and declare April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in Canada.

I encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to support this very important bill.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Democratic Republic of CongoPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition on behalf of some 50 constituents of the riding of Mount Royal who seek to bring to the attention of this House the continued gross violations of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has been witness to the world's deadliest conflicts since World War II, where some 5 million people have died in the last 12 years alone in what has been called “Africa's world war”.

The petitioners are rightly alarmed by the war crimes and crimes against humanity targeting the innocent, by the massive acts of rape, sexual violence, pillaging, forced labour and summary executions perpetrated on a daily basis and by the repressive measures inflicted by an increasing dictatorial regime.

Accordingly, the petitioners call upon the government to take a leading diplomatic role in implementing international resolutions to put an end to the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and to respect existing peace accords, to support the creation of an international criminal tribunal to put an end to the culture of impugnity and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, and to organize an international conference in Canada on the situation in the Congo.

We cannot continue to be indifferent bystanders. Silence is not an option. The massive violations of human rights require immediate action on behalf of Canada and on behalf of the international community.