Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the submission made by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence on October 20 and have listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary's argument. In my view, the matter before you now, Mr. Speaker, is very serious and substantive in terms of establishing a precedent which may not be in the best interests of the House.
In my view, by allowing these amendments to stand, the bill as amended and submitted to the House on June 10 for report stage would establish a principle whereby a private member's bill before a committee theoretically could be hijacked and rewritten in a fashion changing the intent of the bill to something totally different. If that was the intent it would have had substantive other changes and support in debate, in committee and in the House, that this was not to be a publicly funded project but rather a project which would be administered by the government but paid for by fundraising in the community at large. Those are two separate concepts.
The concept of public financing through fundraising was never raised at second reading debate. It was never raised in presentations to the committee. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if you would check the timeline, the amendments proposed by the government came at the eleventh hour, late in the evening. They were imposed on the committee and the committee chair was overruled on three of them.
This is fairly serious. This is a matter where the former House leader would give his speech about the tyranny of the minority or the majority, however one wants to look at it.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to review the rules of practice and procedure, because I believe that if the government wanted this to be publicly funded, it could do so very easily. All it would have to do is defeat the private member's bill, table its own bill, and deal with it, rather than trying to somehow take an instrument which was never constructed for the purpose for which the government has made its arguments.
If I may, I would like to give my support to some of the key arguments.
Mr. Speaker, on May 11, 2010, you ruled 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 scope of the bill. As a result, the committee report that is not consistent with that motion must be corrected.
Here we are. The bill has been reported and amendments have been made to it.
Mr. Speaker, you are aware from the presentation by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence that the ruling of the chair of the committee was overruled by the government members.
With regard to the member's argument, he is seeking your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that the committee has exceeded its authority in passing these amendments. O'Brien and Bosc at page 765 with regard to admissibility reads:
Amendments and subamendments that are moved by Members in committee must comply with certain rules of admissibility. It is incumbent upon the Chair to decide upon the admissibility of amendments once they have been moved; the Chair does not rule on hypothetical motions. He or she relies on the procedural rules that have been established as precedents over the years and upon the authorities on parliamentary procedure and practice.
Now we have a contrasting situation. Chairs' rulings in committees can be appealed. The chair can be challenged, and that is exactly what happened. In the House that is not the case.
With regard to the amendment to clause 7, it seeks to establish a fundraising campaign to cover the cost. I mentioned earlier that this is different from the intent of the bill because it involves the National Capital Commission. The member has asserted that Bill C-442 is merely calling on the government to do what it easily could do administratively.
The point is, the National Capital Commission already possesses the authority to establish a monument without parliamentary approval. Indeed, the National Capital Commission currently is responsible for 16 monuments, including the Hungarian monument, the Canadian tribute to human rights, and the monument to Canadian aid workers. Construction is currently under way for the national naval monument. In addition, the National Capital Commission is in the planning phase for the creation of a national monument for the victims of communism. None of these monuments required legislation to move forward.
That precedent, that process and structure whereby a decision is taken to have a monument through the auspices of the National Capital Commission does not require public funding. It is funded by the taxpayers' purse, through taxes, through government money. That is the model on which Bill C-442 was done. It was never done to say that we have to set up a structure that is going to have to raise the money to do it.
This is an important monument for Canadians. It is not one that somehow we are going to put the burden on those taxpayers who want it to come up with the money themselves and somehow do the job that the National Capital Commission was engaged to do.
I could go through all of O'Brien and Bosc on the terms of admissibility. I could talk about principle and scope, which I think the member for Eglinton—Lawrence has done quite clearly. Those remarks have been put on the record and I will not repeat them. I am not trying to just add words.
The parliamentary secretary got up and summarily dismissed the arguments that have been made simply because of the summary of the bill, and he read it into the record. I would like to read it into the record as well. A little summary appears on all bills. The summary for this bill states:
This enactment requires the minister responsible for the National Capital Act to establish and work in cooperation with a Holocaust Monument Development Council to design and build a Holocaust Monument to be located in the National Capital Region.
This is a project for the National Capital Commission. Every one of the projects that I referred to with regard to those other monuments had a work group established to make it happen. There is a lot of planning. There are a lot of things that have to happen. The fact that there is reference to a Holocaust monument development council does not in itself suggest that there has to be fundraising. In fact, before these amendments were made, there was nothing like that in the bill.
Mr. Speaker, if you are going to rule on the admissibility of these amendments, first of all, I submit that they are beyond the scope and intent of the bill. The evidence is in debate both at committee and in the House at second reading that there was never any discussion, any suggestion that fundraising would be involved. It was always understood. In fact, what the House of Commons voted unanimously for at second reading was to send to committee a bill to engage the government to have the National Capital Commission do the Holocaust memorial on behalf of all Canadians.
I submit that this is a clear case where the amendments proposed by the government, ruled inadmissible by the Chair but overruled by the government, is simply an attempt to take this instrument, the private member's bill asking for this monument, and turn it into a project to be run by and fundraised by the public as a separate project without government money.
That cannot possibly be interpreted as the intent of the bill. It was never mentioned. It was never voted on by this place to send it to committee for that purpose. It was for the National Capital Commission as a project, as other monuments. I am totally disgusted that the parliamentary secretary would rise and summarily dismiss fundamental principles of practice and procedure when in fact the government is trying to change the bill.
This is so important, Mr. Speaker, that you must rule this to be inadmissible, order the committee to review the bill again without those amendments and then let the government defeat it or pass it in committee. When it comes back to the House, the government can defeat it at report stage or at third reading and it can be responsible for why there is not a Holocaust memorial.
The issue is that this is a different bill and members would vote differently depending on whether or not these amendments were there.
Therefore, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the government's arguments are contrary to our practices and procedure and I ask you for a favourable ruling on the point of order raised by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence.