Mr. Speaker, I rise with respect to the admissibility of three amendments made in committee to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument. The bill, which was reported back to the House with amendments on June 9, 2010, is scheduled to be debated on October 27, 2010.
Before I speak to my substantive points, I want you to know that I and my party and each member of the House wish to see the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in our nation's capital as soon as humanly possible. In bringing this matter to your attention, I am simply seeking to ensure that proper procedure and practice is followed on this important bill and that there are no errors in legislation and indeed in the process.
I seek your ruling that the committee has exceeded its authority and passed amendments that are beyond the principle and scope of the bill as outlined in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, page 766. To wit:
An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principles of the bill.
As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, the issue of inadmissible amendments being passed in committee and included in the bill as reported has arisen in the House on numerous occasions. In the most recent occurrence, you ruled on May 11, 2010 that the Speaker does not get involved in committee issues except in cases where a committee has exceeded its authority, such as an amendment that is beyond the scope of the bill. In such cases, the Speaker is responsible for ruling on the admissibility of such amendments after the bill has been reported to the House. This is because the motion to refer the bill to committee after second reading establishes the principle and the scope of the bill. As a result, a committee report that is not consistent with that motion must be corrected.
On September 18, 2009, Bill C-442 was introduced by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park and was debated at second reading on December 8, 2009. In presenting his private member's bill, the member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park summarized the scope and principle of the bill when he concluded:
This monument is a statement made by Canadians to the world that honours those who died in the tragedy of the Holocaust and says to future generations of Canadians, never again.
Based on this principle, the House of Commons unanimously, and I might add enthusiastically, adopted Bill C-442 at second reading and referred it to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
On May 13, 2010, the committee began a study of the bill at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities where the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park stated, and I repeat, that the Prime Minister gave his support and approval to the bill as passed in the House.
On May 26, 2010, and again on June 3, 2010, your committee met in public, not in camera, for clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. The government presented a total of nine amendments, one for each clause of the bill.
At the meeting on June 3, 2010, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities moved five amendments. In at least three cases the chair ruled the proposed amendments inadmissible. In each case the chair's ruling was appealed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the chair was overruled. The amendments were then carried on division.
For clarity's sake, I will read out the specific amendments in question.
On Clause 2, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities moved:
That Bill C-442, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 10 on page 2 with the following:
“Minister under section 4 and directed as such by the Minister to form a legal entity in order to properly manage the functions and ensure good governance and accountability of said council.”
The chair ruled this amendment inadmissible because it proposed a substantive amendment to the bill by way of a modification to the interpretation clause, as provided on page 769 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition.
On Clause 7, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities moved:
That Bill C-442, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing lines 12 and 13 on page 3 with the following:
(fund rais)“ing campaign to cover the cost of planning, designing, constructing, installing and maintaining the Monument, and any other costs incurred by the Council.”
The chair ruled this amendment inadmissible because it was beyond the scope of the bill, as provided on page 766 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition.
Further, on clause 8, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities moved:
That Bill C-442, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing lines 14 to 16 on page 3 with the following:
“8. The Minister may delegate to the Council his or her responsibilities under paragraphs 6(a) and (c) and subsection 7(1).”
The chair ruled this amendment inadmissible because it was moved at the wrong place in the bill, as provided on page 768 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, and also because it was beyond the scope of the bill, as provided on page 766 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition.
In committee, I argued that the government, in bringing nine amendments to the bill, one for each clause, was attempting to rewrite the bill, leaving nothing but the title intact.
A national Holocaust monument in our nation's capital is something that the government can accomplish today, without this legislation. However, since it has chosen the legislative route, it is important that the proper procedures and practices be followed so that the House can be assured that the committee did not overstep its authority and produce legislation beyond its mandate to do so.
It is my view that upon examination, Mr. Speaker, you, too, will find that the amendments proposed by the government are inadmissible and that the bill should be restored in its original form and so reported to this House.
I respectfully seek your ruling on the matter and thank you in anticipation of same.