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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was dismayed to learn last week some of the details surrounding the apparent plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington. While the plot was thankfully foiled this time, the threat that Iran poses to the world remains.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please inform the House about measures that Canada is taking to respond to Iran's latest affront to international law?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada finds Iran's actions absolutely and totally unacceptable. We condemn them without reservation.

Last week I committed to working with our international partners in considering the consequences for such actions. Today, Canada is imposing sanctions on five additional Iranian nationals. Four are members of the Iranian national guard. These sanctions are on top of others already in place against Iran.

As the Prime Minister said last week, this regime in Tehran represents probably the most significant threat to the world, to global peace and security and I completely agree.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, Majeed Uddin Ahmed and his family have been in a Saudi jail for almost a month. His two Canadian children are in jail. Their family in Canada is gravely concerned and has said, “It took three weeks for a Canadian official to simply visit the family from the time they were taken away. We have had no contact with my brother for a month now and his daughter is suffering illness and needs medical attention. Please help”.

When will the minister get off her seat and offer some help? If not, will she step aside and let the Prime Minister appoint someone else to help the family?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, in spite of his bombast, I can assure the member that Canadian consular officials are in fact providing the detained Canadian, his family and their relatives with consular assistance as requested both here and in Saudi Arabia.

We have been granted access to see the family. We will continue to engage with Saudi officials about this family's case and provide it with the support it has requested.

PovertyOral Questions

October 18th, 2011 / 3 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, poverty is no longer just an inner city problem. Pockets of poverty are appearing in the suburbs of cities across Canada. Inequality continues to grow in the regions. Because of isolation and under-funded community organizations, the suburbs are not properly prepared to address poverty. Meanwhile, the government has no action plan to fight poverty. Bill C-13 does not propose any solutions to improve the situation.

When will the Conservatives bring forward a real plan to fight poverty?

PovertyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, during the global recession, we introduced measures to help people who had lost their jobs find new positions and get training in order to get the skills they needed to find new jobs. We also introduced several measures to help all Canadians, such as lowering taxes—particularly the GST—and several other programs. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against all—

PovertyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Vancouver South.

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about crime. This is one reason why our government received a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe.

Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act, contains targeted measures designed to disrupt criminal enterprise, while ensuring that those who sell drugs to children serve sentences which reflect the severity of their crime.

Contrary to a recent report by CBC, Bill C-10 contains specific measures to help those who are unfortunately addicted to drugs.

Could the minister inform the House on how Bill C-10 takes a balanced approach to tackling crime?

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct. Canadians are quite concerned about crime. Contrary to the report, as I pointed out, there are specific exemptions in the bill with respect to drug treatment courts.

We have also been very clear that if individuals get into the business of selling drugs to children or they bring illegal drugs into this country, they will go to jail, and that is what Canadians want.

VeteransOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, our soldiers and veterans are not a priority to this government. How else can we explain the $226 million cut to the Veterans Affairs budget, mainly in financial support for former soldiers?

We also learned recently that the new veterans charter would penalize our reservists, who face the same risks in the field as our regular soldiers.

Why did the minister decide that our reservists will receive half as much from now on?

VeteransOral Questions

3 p.m.

Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades.

I invite the hon. member to support this government's initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers. She can do so—

VeteransOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I shared with the Minister of State for Democratic Reform the newsletter of the Saanich Gulf Islands Conservative Party.

I am so proud to represent the people of Saanich—Gulf Islands and I am sure he will be as distressed as I am by that party's transparent plan for gerrymandering in hopes of winning the riding back. They write, “If you lose South of MacKenzie, lose the Gulf Islands, lose Gordon Head, if you removed all these three areas, we would have won the last election”

Will the minister reassure us that the redistribution will be by population and not by population of Conservative voters?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the statute is quite clear. It sets out a process for redistribution that is run on a non-partisan basis by independent commissions. Those will be under way in the appropriate time.

Under our legislation, we will ensure that there is a formula in place that ensures people of Saanich—Gulf Islands--or of British Columbia, in fact, and all of Canada--will have the fair representation that has long been denied to them.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the recipients of the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case: Nancy Hartling, Lucie Joyal, Kim Pate, Madeline Boscoe, Sharon Donna McIvor, and Amber JoAnn Fletcher, the Youth Award recipient.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak a little further on the points that were raised earlier today related to section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and the question of privilege on the potential contempt allegation that was raised by the member opposite. It was the hon. member for Malpeque who raised those questions.

Our government, of course, considers the bill, which would restore freedom to Canadian farmers, to be of great importance. We returned to office after the last election and after a broad consultation with Canadians, I hasten to add, with a clear set of issues that we promised Canadians we would tackle. Establishing marketing freedom for Canadian farmers was one of those critically important issues.

At the core of my friend's submissions, the hon. gentleman asserts that there would be a breach of section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act if that act is amended or repealed by Bill C-18 without a vote of producers. In short, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking you to interpret the provisions of the statute.

As noted earlier by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, it is well established that questions of law are beyond the jurisdiction of the Chair. In addition to that straightforward argument, which I believe is correct and directly on point here, it may be of some benefit to have some precedents for reference. I would observe that none of the hon. members for Malpeque, Guelph or Winnipeg North referred to any Standing Orders or Speakers' rulings, and of course those rulings are much closer to coming within the Chair's jurisdiction to consider.

I would refer the House to page 261 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which reads as follows:

—numerous Speakers have explained that it is not up to the Speaker to rule on the “constitutionality” or “legality” of measures before the House.

Mr. Speaker Lamoureux, on July 8, 1969, at page 1319 of Journals, ruled on that point. He stated:

I have had occasion in the past to indicate that it is not the responsibility of the Chair to rule on questions of law or on constitutional questions. This ruling has been made in many instances by previous Speakers.

On May 2, 1989, a ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser articulated at page 1175 of Debates some rationale for this perspective. He stated:

The Speaker should not sit in judgment on constitutional or legal matters. That role belongs more properly to the courts and to the administration of justice. Previous Speakers have been very careful in strictly addressing themselves to matters of a parliamentary or procedural nature while avoiding dealing with constitutional or legal matters.

Another ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser on April 9, 1991, at page 19233 of Debates, offers a comment which I would suggest is analogous to the situation raised by the hon. member. In that case, the Chair was asked to rule whether a motion to make certain amendments to the Standing Orders contravened the Constitution and the Parliament of Canada Act. Mr. Speaker Fraser observed the following:

The Chair must avoid interpreting in any way, even indirectly, the limits set in the Constitution or the Parliament of Canada Act.

In these circumstances, I would argue that the Canadian Wheat Board Act is no different. Your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, has also made similar rulings, including those found at page 6123 of Debates on May 13, 2003, as well as page 4498 of Debates on March 23, 2005.

I would go further than that. If one is to accept the logic that has been set out by the members opposite, what they are suggesting is that one can, by passing a statute in the House, effectively fetter the future discretion of the House in passing future laws. In effect, by simply stating it is a law, they are saying that some laws stand above others and they essentially become constitutional provisions that cannot be amended by the House. Clearly, that would not be appropriate.

The precedent set by that approach would potentially create a very difficult situation to manage in the future, in the sense that any government could ensure that none of its measures could ever be repealed by a subsequent government through our democratic process simply by providing measures such as those that are referred to in section 47.1, barriers that stand in the way of modification of a statute. The fact is that Parliament reigns supreme on the question of passing statutes, and that includes amending statutes that are already in existence. The only law that stands above that is, of course, constitutional law.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest for that reason also--that is, the practical, logical problems that would result were Parliament able to fetter the subsequent discretion of all future Parliaments in this fashion--that our democratic system would indeed be paralyzed and held back by the heavy hand of history.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to find that the claim raised by the hon. member is beyond the jurisdiction of the Chair and that therefore no prima facia question of privilege can be found here.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is the hon. member for Malpeque rising on the same point?

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Yes I am, Mr. Speaker, just to add a little further.

Parliament clearly set out in its law, passed in 1997, the right of self-determination for farmers who ship through the Canadian Wheat Board. Parliament, this place that we call a democracy, passed a law, and here we have a government not going as far as allowing, as stipulated in the law, a vote of producers. What are we to see next? Will it be that there will not be elections every four years and that it will be ten years instead, because the Prime Minister so decides, and with his massive majority passes it in the House?

We have a responsibility as parliamentarians. My point of privilege is this: I am being asked as a member of Parliament to act on a piece of legislation to disband legislation that was passed in the House to give the right to farmers of self-determination in terms of their destiny. We are asked to look at a bill that takes that right away from them. It violates their right to vote as stated under section 47.1 of the act. Parliament made a commitment, and this is indeed a very serious issue. I believe it goes to the essence of our democracy. We are taking away rights.

No one is asking you, Mr. Speaker, to look at the legality of it. You are taking my right away as a member of Parliament if you rule with the government and you are certainly taking farmers' rights away if you rule with the government, because we passed a law in 1997. If you go back to the remarks I made this morning, I quoted from the minister of the day. He very clearly laid out the intent of that legislation, which was to give primary producers the right to have a say in their own destiny.

This is an extremely serious issue, and I do not put much merit in what the House leader opposite has said.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will allow the government House leader a brief opportunity to respond.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, responding narrowly to the point that my friend has raised, what he is saying logically is that Parliament has in effect delegated its decision-making power to another party and can never resume that power.

That of course would be an inappropriate delegation. Parliament cannot delegate its legislative or statutory powers. Those are powers that are held only by this body. They are not powers that can be delegated to any other group of individuals in the country. Therefore, the kind of delegation that he purports has happened here simply cannot be held to be a reasonable approach. Were it to be the case, we would have a situation in which Parliament would effectively become unable to govern the country, as powers could be delegated to other bodies by a previous Parliament, and this Parliament could never be able to legislate.

The arguments I have made are only further reinforced, I believe, by the logical outcome of my friend's position.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank hon. members for their further submissions. Once again I assure them that I will take these submissions under advisement and come back to the House with a ruling in due course.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.