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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

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts.

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

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-331, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans).

Mr. Speaker, in Canada today when a company goes out of business and the employees' pension plan is wound up, under Canada's outdated bankruptcy laws, pensioners must wait behind every imaginable financial and corporate interest before getting paid out from the company's remaining assets because, according to Canadian law, pensions are considered unsecured debt. As such, pensions are paid out at the same time as every other kind of unsecured debt. In effect, it puts pensioners at the end of the line.

The practical consequence of being at the back of the line means that pensions are too often tapped into as just another asset pool to be used to pay off other creditors. Canadians say that is wrong. They say that any retiree who has worked for generations for a company should have greater access to the company assets than vulture capitalists and bond dealers.

New Democrats believe it is time for the situation to be corrected. Let us be clear. Pensions are not just some kind of a fringe benefit. Workplace pensions are nothing less than unpaid deferred wages. That is why I am introducing my pension protection bill today.

Once enacted, the bill would move pensions further up the line of creditors to be paid out during bankruptcy proceedings. Amending Canada's bankruptcy laws to provide greater protection for pensioners is an issue of considerable importance to the NDP.

In the last election, this particular promise was on the front page of our platform. For New Democrats this question is very straightforward. How many more victims will there be before we fix our outdated bankruptcy laws? We know the stories of Nortel, Fraser Paper and AbitibiBowater and the dozens of mills that closed in Quebec and in British Columbia.

One thing is sure, and that is the current government has not been prepared to act, has not been prepared to extend the pensions, the common sense protection Canadians deserve. New Democrats are ready, and thus we are introducing this bill today.

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

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations, and I believe you will find agreement for the following motion: “That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, when the House begins proceedings under the provisions of Standing Order 53.1 today, no quorum calls, requests for unanimous consent or dilatory motions shall be received by the Speaker and, any member rising to speak during debate may indicate to the Speaker that he or she will be dividing his or her time with another member.”

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the people of Syria, through their protests, have been asking for democracy and an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The number of people who have been killed during the protest has reached 3,000. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, President Bashar al-Assad has ordered the military to put down the protesters. The measures employed by the military have included gunning down unarmed protesters, searching people's homes for suspected protesters and jailing hundreds for expressing a wish for democracy and fundamental justice.

Syrian Canadians are looking to their government to condemn the brutal attacks in Syria--

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. Does the hon. member have a motion or is he reading a speech?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I am reading a motion.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would ask him to come to the motion.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent for the following motion, which is seconded by the member for York West: “That this House condemn the brutal attacks on members of the Syrian movement for democratic change and accountable government by the Bashar al-Assad regime; call on the Bashar al-Assad regime to meet the Arab League 15-day deadline to enact a ceasefire and to begin a dialogue between government officials and opposition representatives; accept the United Nations Human Rights Council's commission of inquiry into the violence of Syria to find out exactly what happened and to put an end to civilian deaths; and, ensure that all the perpetrators of these attacks are brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law.”

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt have unanimous consent to propose the motion?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I could not give my consent to the member's motion and I want to explain why. It is not that the motion is unsound; it is that he has a bad habit of not consulting the other parties—at least not ours—when moving this kind of motion. Therefore, we must refuse unanimous consent.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

October 18th, 2011 / 10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SyriaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The chair has notice of an application for emergency debate from the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt.

SyriaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I seek to have an emergency debate. The people of Syria and Canadian Syrians are looking to this House to address what is happening in Syria, to make sure the perpetrators are called to justice, and to make sure that the regime completely falls and a democratic process takes place. There have been over 4,000 people killed in Syria over the last few months.

On behalf of the people of Syria and Canadian Syrians, I look to you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that this House should hold an emergency debate on this very important subject in order to fully discuss it.

SyriaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. for bringing this matter to the attention of the chair. While I am sure it is an important issue to many, I do not think that it meets the test for granting an emergency debate at this time.

The hon. member for Malpeque has a question of privilege.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

The government has tabled Bill C-18 today and I have the legislation in my hands. This bill would terminate the single desk selling authority of the Canadian Wheat Board, in effect terminating the existing Canadian Wheat Board.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear! Hear!

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why members on the government side would applaud, because my whole question of privilege is based on the fact that the Conservative government is violating the very laws of this land in its action in terms of tabling Bill C-18 the way it is worded today.

The government has tried to use some fancy language in the bill, but in summary, the bill would change the governing structure of the Canadian Wheat Board. The Conservatives say that the new act continues the Canadian Wheat Board but changes it with the marketing of grain through voluntary pooling. Part III provides for the possible continuation of the board under other federal legislation. Part IV provides for its winding up if no such continuation occurs.

There is no question that the position of the Conservative Party and the government has been one of long standing, an initiative they have attempted through previous efforts, which is to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board. Some of those efforts have been determined to be illegal, but the Conservatives have attempted them even though they have been determined to be illegal. I submit that what the government is doing today is also illegal.

There is no ambiguity in what the government intends by this legislation as the government's intent has been stated by the Prime Minister, ministers and individual members of Parliament on any number of occasions. I would even go so far as to say that both the minister and his parliamentary secretary have violated their oaths of office in the way they have been attacking the Canadian Wheat Board over the years and through this legislation today. The words of the Minister of Agriculture in recent days have been very crude. He basically said that the Canadian Wheat Board would be toast by Christmas.

I would submit that western farmers have a right to be concerned about the integrity of the government as represented by the Minister of Agriculture on this issue.

On March 28, 2011, while attending an agricultural forum in Minnedosa, Manitoba, the minister stated with respect to the issue of whether he would respect the vote of farmers and that no attempt to undermine the board would occur until a vote were held:

Until farmers make that change, I'm not prepared to work arbitrarily.... They are absolutely right to believe in democracy. I do, too.

The legislation goes against what the minister said in that statement. There has been no vote under Section 47.1 of the act as the act demands, yet here we are today. So much for the minister and his so-called commitment to democracy for the farmers of western Canada.

The intention of the legislation to terminate the Canadian Wheat Board in favour of the creation of a “voluntary” Canadian Wheat Board as part of the private grain trade goes against the wishes of the board of directors of the Wheat Board itself.

It is my position that this legislation exceeds the authority of the government on the basis that it has neglected to fill an obligation currently in legislation. Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act reads:

The Minister shall not cause to be introduced in Parliament a bill that would exclude any kind, type, class or grade of wheat or barley, or wheat or barley produced in any area in Canada, from the provisions of Part IV, either in whole or in part, or generally, or for any period, or that would extend the application of Part III or Part IV or both Parts III and IV to any other grains, unless

(a) the Minister has consulted with the board about the exclusion or extension; and

(b) the producers of the grain have voted in favour of the exclusion or extension, the voting process having been determined by the Minister.

The intent of section 47.1, as contained in the legislation brought forward by a Liberal government, was stated clearly to the House on October 7, 1997 at page 571 of Debates by the minister of agriculture at that time.

It states:

Throughout its history the Canadian Wheat Board has been governed by a small group of up to five commissioners, all appointed by the Government of Canada without any requirement that anybody be consulted and legally responsible only to the Government of Canada. But in today’s dynamic [1997] and changing marketplace, producers have made it clear that they want the Canadian Wheat Board to be more accountable to them. They want more control...empowering producers, enshrining democratic authority which has never existed before, providing new accountability, new flexibility and responsiveness, and positioning farmers to shape the kind of wheat board they want for the future.

The 1997 bill was about giving farmers the right to control their own destinies and their own institution, that being the Canadian Wheat Board. Under section 47.1, Parliament gave them the clear authority to have a say by providing them the ability to vote prior to the government making any changes to that act.

Through this legislation, the government is denying farmers a legally constituted right that is currently provided for in legislation. All Canadians should be worried about this affront to democracy. Farmers were given protection under a law passed by Parliament which the minister is violating. If the government can violate that law, it can violate laws that protect other people as well.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I have not yet heard anything that would indicate to the Chair that the House's privileges have been affected. It is not the normal practice of the Chair to comment on the legality of legislation. That is usually done by the courts.

If the Chief Government Whip is rising on the same point, I will recognize him briefly.

I will then return to the member for Malpeque. I would ask him to advise the Chair if he has anything of substance to add as to where the House's privileges have been affected and, if so, I would appreciate that he get to that point quickly.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, if this question of privilege continues I would like to reserve the right to have a more lengthy argument.

My fundamental argument is that this is the House of Commons where we can pass laws subject to the Supreme Court. We can pass laws as long as they do not affect the Constitution or involve other legislatures. We can bring in laws that amend previous laws that can go back to 1867. We have that right. We have been elected by the people.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would remind the members that when this bill is brought before the House there will be ample opportunity for them to make their cases about how they might feel about the bill. However, at this point in the day, the Chair needs to hear where the House's privileges or existing Standing Orders have been affected. Therefore, I will allow the member for Malpeque to come to that point in his argument before we move on.

The hon. member for Malpeque.