I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence on October 20, 2010, concerning amendments contained in the third report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument, presented in the House on June 9, 2010.
I would like to thank the member for Eglinton—Lawrence for having raised this important matter. I would also like to thank the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the hon. member for Mississauga South for their contributions.
In raising his point of order, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence noted that the bill had been adopted by the House unanimously at second reading on March 3, 2010 and reported from the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on June 9, 2010. The member for Eglinton—Lawrence drew to the attention of the Speaker three of the amendments contained in that report. He pointed out that the chair of the transport, infrastructure and communities committee had ruled all three of these amendments inadmissible, judging them to be beyond the scope of the bill as approved by the House at second reading. Each of these rulings was appealed and overturned in the committee by a majority vote, as is reflected in the minutes of proceedings of the committee at a meeting held on June 3, 2010.
Let me briefly remind the House of the nature of the amendments that are in dispute. The first amendment, to clause 2 of the bill, provides the minister with the authority to require that the National Holocaust Monument Development Council constitute itself as a legal entity.
The second amendment, to clause 7, provides that the council’s role in raising funds for the construction of the national Holocaust monument be expanded to include fundraising for maintaining the monument and for the council’s own costs. I should note here that, as provided for in clause 5 of Bill C-442, the council members are unpaid and must apply for their positions.
The third amendment, to clause 8, allows the minister to delegate his responsibilities for overseeing the planning and design of the monument, for consulting the public concerning the design and site of the monument and for the construction and maintenance of the monument to the council.
In his comments on the point of order, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader contended that the amendments in question were consistent with the principle of the bill as well as within its scope. In his view, the amendment to clause 2 served only to clarify the definition and did not constitute a substantive amendment.
He argued that the amendment to clause 7 was similarly best regarded as a clarification of the source of funding for expenses entailed by the bill. He noted that the member for Eglinton—Lawrence had himself introduced an amendment to the effect that the minister's responsibility included both the construction and the maintenance of the monument and that this amendment was not found to contain any procedural defect.
With respect to the amendment to clause 8, the parliamentary secretary went on to state that it served to elaborate on concepts already contained in Bill C-442 and did not attempt to introduce a new concept. On the contrary, he contended that since clause 8 followed immediately upon those clauses which set out the minister’s responsibilities, it was completely appropriate to deal with the delegation of those responsibilities in clause 8.
In summary, the parliamentary secretary argued that the three disputed amendments were matters of clarification and elaboration, that they were within the scope of the bill and that they were therefore entirely acceptable from a procedural point of view.
In his remarks, the member for Mississauga South reviewed the procedural principles on which the Speaker should base his ruling. He pointed out certain differences between the bill as introduced and as reported from the standing committee and supported the position of the member for Eglinton—Lawrence that the amendments objected to were inadmissible.
As hon. members will agree and as has been frequently pointed out in the past, the Speaker's responsibility is clear in cases concerning procedural irregularities in a committee's consideration of a bill. As Mr. Speaker Fraser stated in a ruling in reference to amendments adopted by a committee after the committee chair's rulings on the amendments were overturned, in the Debates on April 28, 1992, at page 9801:
In cases in which the Chair is asked to rule on the admissibility of committee amendments to bills, any modifications which offend a basic principle in the legislative process are struck from the bill.
With reference to the three amendments contested by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, I have examined the third report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities carefully, as well as Bill C-442 both in its first reading version and in the reprint containing the committee's amendments. I have also consulted the minutes of the proceedings of the committee related to its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
Bill C-442, as stated in the summary to the bill, “requires the Minister responsible for the National Capital Act to establish and work in cooperation with a National Holocaust Monument Development Council to design and build a National Holocaust Monument to be located in the National Capital Region”.
The amendment to clause 2 of the bill empowers the minister to require the council to “form a legal entity”, by amending the definition of Council contained in the bill. In committee, it was ruled inadmissible on the basis that it constitutes a substantive amendment to the bill by way of a modification of the interpretation clause.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 769, states:
The interpretation clause of a bill is not the place to propose a substantive amendment to a bill. In addition, an amendment to the interpretation clause of a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading must always relate to the bill and may neither exceed the scope of nor be contrary to the principle of the bill.
I can see nothing in the bill as amended by the committee which requires that such a power be provided to the minister. It appears to me to be a new concept and on that basis to constitute a substantive amendment to the interpretation clause of Bill C-442.
Clause 7 of the bill originally required the council to spearhead a fundraising campaign for the sole purpose of funding the construction of the monument. The amendment added the additional purposes of funding the planning, designing, installing and maintaining of the monument, as well as “any other costs incurred by the Council”.
While certain of these elements may constitute an elaboration or clarification of the purpose for which the council was to raise funds, I do not regard the maintenance of the monument as an aspect of its construction. It seems to me that it is only once the monument has been constructed that maintenance may be required. Further, there do not appear to be any grounds on which the original bill might be said to allow money raised for construction to be used for the costs of the council, whatever they may be. Therefore, it is my view that these two elements are clearly beyond the scope of Bill C-442 and were rightly judged inadmissible by the chair of the transport, infrastructure and communities committee.
The amendment to clause 8 of the bill authorized the minister to delegate to the council certain of his responsibilities. In particular, this delegation would include the planning and design of the monument, its construction and its maintenance. There are no provisions in the bill as adopted by the House at second reading for any delegation of the minister's responsibilities. As such, this notion of delegation seems to be a new concept that is beyond the scope of the bill. Indeed, the delegation of the minister's responsibilities to the council seems to be directly contrary to the principle of the bill, which requires the minister to design and build the National Holocaust Memorial Monument, in co-operation with the national council, rather than have the national council do it in his stead.
I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify a certain confusion which appears to exist concerning the ruling that the amendment to clause 8 was offered at the wrong place in the bill. As I noted, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons felt that an amendment to delegate powers was appropriately placed if it followed those provisions which set out the powers to be delegated. While that is a reasonable position, it is not the point that is at issue here. Clause 8, in its original form, read:
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada may assist the Council in the performance of its functions under this Act.
A provision for the minister to delegate powers to the national council seems to me to be well beyond the scope of clause 8, which deals with the role of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Clause 8 is not the appropriate place to attempt the insertion of such a provision, even if it were otherwise admissible.
For all these reasons, I therefore rule that the amendments to clauses 2, 7 and 8 of Bill C-442 are null and void and no longer form part of the bill as reported to the House. In addition, I am ordering that a reprint of Bill C-442 be published to replace the reprint ordered by the committee.
I would like to once again thank the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence for having raised this important matter.