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House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first, I should point out for the hon. member that the Supreme Court has an excellent reputation and record in facilitating both official languages of our country. I have every confidence that will continue.

The individuals whose names have been unanimously approved and recommended by the committees of the House of Commons are based on merit and legal excellence. That should be important for the hon. member as well.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on the snow crab industry in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.

I wish to acknowledge the contribution of former members of the committee, especially those who are no longer among us in the House. I would also like to thank committee members from both sides of the House for their collaboration in making this report a unanimous one. Special thanks, as well, go to the committee staff for the hard work.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee advises that pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the items on the order of precedence. As a result of its establishment on Monday, October 3, it recommended that the items listed herein, which have been determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) the report is deemed adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Nuclear WeaponsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are well aware of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that the world's worst dictators and terrorists are trying to acquire.

I would like to present to the House a petition from the Oakville chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The petition is signed by 330 residents of Oakville.

The petitioners ask the government to commit to the motion passed by the House on December 7, 2010, regarding the global disarmament of nuclear weapons.

I am happy to present this petition for a response from our government.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my petitioners call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all its forms and to institute a just transition program for asbestos workers in the communities in which they live.

They call on the government to end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad and to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Fisheries and OceansPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present this petition. Several people in my riding, St. John's, Twillingate, Lewisporte and even places in New Brunswick have signed this petition.

The petitioners ask the government to dismantle the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Government of Canada should replace the current DFO with a scientifically-oriented body, although, in light of the recent announcement, that will be a little difficult to do.

The petitioners request that the Government of Canada initiate a public inquiry into all aspects of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, with emphasis on fisheries management, dismantle the current structure of the Department of the Fisheries and Oceans and put in place a model that takes into account fishery science, with an emphasis on serving the fishermen who make a living from the industry coast to coast to coast.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians from all over the country.

The petitioners draw the attention of Parliament to the fact that farmer and prairie grain producers have the right to decide the future of how they market their grain and of their organization, the Canadian Wheat Board. As such, they point out that they have conducted a prairie-wide vote on the single desk for wheat and barley. They point out that some 22,000 prairie farmers voted for the single desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Therefore, the petitioners request that the government and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food honour the democratically expressed wishes of western Canadian farmers and uphold the single desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Search and RescuePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition before the House, duly certified by the clerk of petitions, regarding the Government of Canada's hasty and uninformed announcement to close the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

In light of the historic and recent marine tragedies, including the Ocean Ranger tragedy, the Cougar 491 tragedy, the Ryan's Commander tragedy, the Melina and Keith II tragedy, to name just a few incidents, as the petitioners say in their prayer, and due to fatalities unique to Newfoundland and Labrador in the maritime setting, they request that Parliament reverse its ultimate decision and immediately reinstate the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

These petitioners hail from Englee, Newfoundland and Labrador, along with several other communities in my riding of Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by Canadians from across the country who recognize that farmers are able to work together to provide themselves with the best services and who are calling on the government to review its position regarding potentially abolishing the Canadian Wheat Board.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured today to bring forward a petition signed by hundreds of people from the wonderful province of Alberta.

The petitioners are asking parliamentarians to defend the right of western farmers, because the fundamental principle of any farm-based marketing system is that the farmers decide their future, and this is not happening in the case of the Wheat Board, wherein the government is intervening and ignoring the democratic choice of western prairie farmers.

The petitioners are asking us as the New Democratic Party to ensure their voices are heard in this House, because they are clearly not being represented by the government.

The petitioners are calling upon the government to bring to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food that the farmers have the right to decide the future of their marketing organization, the Canadian Wheat Board, and as such conducted a prairie-wide vote on the single desk for wheat and barley.

Therefore, the petitioners request the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to honour the democratically expressed wishes of western Canadian farmers.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.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

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 19th, 2011 / 3:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I would ask for unanimous consent for the following motion:

That the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be the committee for the purposes of the Statues of Canada, 2003, Chapter 9, section 32.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The House will soon begin private members' business for the first time in this Parliament. I would, therefore, like to make a brief statement regarding the management of private members' business.

I want to remind all hon. members about the procedures governing private members' business and the responsibilities of the Chair in the management of this process.

As members know, certain constitutional procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned. One such procedural principle concerns whether or not a private member’s bill requires a royal recommendation. The Speaker has underscored this principle in a number of statements over the course of preceding parliaments.

As noted on page 831 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition:

Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may only authorize spending which has been recommended by the Governor General. This prerogative, referred to as the “financial initiative of the Crown”, is the basis essential to the system of responsible government and is signified by way of the “royal recommendation”.

The requirement for a royal recommendation is grounded in constitutional principles found in the Constitution Act, 1867. The language of section 54 of that act is echoed in Standing Order 79(1), which reads:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed

Any bill that authorizes the spending of public funds for a new and distinct purpose or effects an appropriation of public funds must be accompanied by a message from the Governor General recommending the expenditure to the House. This message, known formally as the “royal recommendation”, can only be transmitted to the House by a minister of the crown.

A private member's bill that requires a royal recommendation may, however, be introduced and considered right up until third reading, on the assumption that a royal recommendation will be provided by a minister. If none is produced by the conclusion of the third reading stage, the Speaker is required to decline to put the question on third reading.

Following the establishment or the replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed a practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills which, at first glance, appear to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. The aim of this practice is to allow members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Accordingly, following the establishment of the order of precedence on October 5, 2011, I wish to draw the attention of the House to three bills that give the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions they contemplate. These are Bill C-215, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (deletion of deduction from annuity), standing in the name of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

There is also Bill C-291, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (waiting period and maximum special benefits), standing in the name of the member for Bourassa.

The third bill is Bill C-308, An Act respecting a Commission of Inquiry into the development and implementation of a national fishery rebuilding strategy for fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, standing in the name of the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.

I would encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement of a royal recommendation for any of these bills, or with regard to any other bills now on the order of precedence, to do so at an early opportunity.

In addition, members are likely aware that a point of order was raised yesterday by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh regarding Bill C-317, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations), standing in the name of the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, arguing that this bill should have been preceded by a ways and means motion. As members know, limitations exist on the manner in which taxation measures may be amended in the absence of an accompanying ways and means motion. If a bill that requires a ways and means motion has not been preceded by one, our rules do not permit it to remain on the order paper.

As I stated in the House last night, should any other members wish to provide additional information regarding Bill C-317, they are encouraged to raise them without unnecessary delay, as the Chair has taken note of the matter and would like to ensure the question is resolved as quickly as possible.

Finally, I should inform members that earlier today I received written notice from the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale that he would be unable to move his motion should private members' business begin tomorrow.

As members well know, private members' business is set to start 24 hours following the presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs indicating those items which remain votable, and no exchange can be requested prior to the tabling of the said report.

The report was indeed tabled earlier today, and the member now finds himself in the unforeseen situation of not being able to provide the 48 hours' notice required to proceed with an exchange.

In this particular case, and considering my role regarding the orderly and timely conduct of private members' business pursuant to Standing Order 94(1)(a), I will allow the exchange to proceed without the usual notice requirement.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs may wish to examine this matter and consider whether our practices in relation to the application of Standing Orders 94(1)(a) and 94(2)(a) continue to serve the House in an effective manner. As your Speaker, I see no reason why the member occupying the first position on the order of precedence would not be afforded an opportunity to make an exchange, while all other members can do so.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

I understand the hon. member for Malpeque has some further comments about the question of privilege raised.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to the government House leader's intervention yesterday afternoon with respect to the question of privilege I raised earlier in the day in regard to the legitimacy of the government's tabling Bill C-18, which in effect requires members of this House to engage in a process that, according to a statute previously passed by the House, violates a specific provision of that statute.

The government House leader appeared somewhat concerned over the fact that in my submission I failed to cite precedents. I feel obligated to address his concerns. His point, apparently, was that “....questions of law are beyond the jurisdiction of the Chair”.

What the government House leader overlooked the beginning of the quote he referenced. Perhaps it was not provided to him or perhaps it was purposely overlooked. It is on page 261 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition. I will read the whole quote. I will not leave part of it out.

Finally, while Speakers must take the Constitution and statutes into account when preparing a ruling, numerous...

Note the word “numerous”. It is not stating “all”.

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

The government House leader and government members generally would do well to spend a little more time reading House of Commons Procedure and Practice before venturing forth.

The following is found at page 261 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, and refers to a statement of Speaker Fraser from Debates, April 14, 1987:

Speaker Fraser summed the fine balancing act that is often involved in adapting old rules to new situations: “When interpreting the rules of procedure, the Speaker must take account not only of their letter but of their spirit and be guided by the most basic rule of all, that of common sense”.

I would also point to the conclusion contained in the same page in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states:

Speakers have never shied away from creating new precedents when faced with an apparent contradiction between Standing Orders and contemporary values.

It is my submission that this is one of these instances.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you are our elected Speaker, new in the job, and this is really an opportunity for you, in looking at these precedents, to establish fair play that protects the interests of Canadians and prevents Parliament from violating its own acts that it passed at a previous time.

I would now draw the attention of the Speaker to the following, found at page 720 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition:

The enactment of a statute by Parliament is the final step in a long process that starts with the proposal, preparation and drafting of a bill. The drafting of a bill is a vital stage in this process—one which challenges the decision makers and drafters to take carefully into account certain constraints, since a failure to abide by these may have negative consequences in relation to the eventual interpretation and application of the law and to the proper functioning of the legislative process.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to take special note of the reference to the fact that decision-makers, in this case the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:

....take carefully into account certain constraints, since a failure to abide by these may have negative consequences in relation to the eventual interpretation and application of the law and to the proper functioning of the legislative process.

I would also reference footnote 59 at page 721 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition. It refers to the guide to making federal acts and regulations, which is found on the Government of Canada, Privy Council office website.

In the introduction to that document, the following statement is found with respect to the law-making process:

If the process is carefully planned and competently carried out, the resulting legislation will achieve the Government's goals while adhering strictly to the principles and policies underlying our legal system.

Within that same document, under the section “Acts of General Application”, the following statement is found:

Those involved in the preparation of bills will take into account the requirement of explicitness so as to ensure that any political decision to exclude the operation of a presumptively applicable law is legally effective.

Finally, I would reference the following from the document under the section entitled “Legal Practises of General Application”. It states:

In addition to rules stated in Acts of general application, there are also a number of important principles that form part of the legal system. They operate in much the same way and must also be taken into account in developing legislative proposals. The following are examples of these principles:

the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, which require that a person whose rights or interests are affected by an administrative decision be given a reasonable notice of the proposed decision and an opportunity to be heard by an unbiased decision maker;

I do not want to take too much more time but I will now turn to the issue at hand, namely, that, in the context of this legislation, my privileges have been violated due to the expectation that I will be required to engage in and cast a vote upon legislation that begins from the premise of a deliberate and overt violation of statutes passed by the House with the expectation that those provisions would be respected most of all by members of the House.

I will quote from page 140 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition. It states:

The purpose of raising matters of “privilege” in either House of Parliament is to maintain the respect and credibility due to and required of each House in respect of these privileges, to uphold [the laws of Parliament].

In his reference to the Speaker, the government House leader attempted to claim that the question of privilege I have raised has been disposed of by rulings of previous Speakers. For example, he referenced the decision of Speaker Milliken on May 13, 2003, at pages 6123 and 6124 of Debates. Speaker Milliken, in that decision, reminded the House that the issue before him concerned an issue of regulatory authority, stating at page 6123:

I am unable to find a case where any Speaker has ruled that a government, in the exercise of a regulatory power conferred upon it by statute, has been found to have breached the privileges of the House.

Note should be taken, though, of the fact that the matter I have raised relates not to a question of regulatory authority, but rather to the matter as to whether my privileges have been violated as a result of the government tabling legislation in direct contravention to statute passed by Parliament.

I would also note that the reference made by the government House leader to the decision of Speaker Milliken on March 13, 2005 at page 4498-4500 was in relation to an issue of government reorganization in the wake of the defeat of specific legislation. Again, my point being that the decision sought was not in relation to the matter before the House and the citation of this matter as precedent is not applicable.

I would conclude by quoting from page 262 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition. It states:

Determining what is or is not a precedent is not always straightforward. Speaker Fraser once said that “a precedent is something that happened once upon a time and that everyone decided to follow. ... [I]n legal terms, it is usually the consequence of a decision made after argument has been proferred to the Chair ... on a certain point”. The mere occurrence of an event does not make it a precedent, and Speakers have on occasion ruled that a special circumstance justifies a deviation from a known precedent.

I will conclude by repeating the point I raised yesterday. I submit that to place this legislation before the House and to seek the support of the House will require members of the House to endorse legislation that begins from a premise that contravenes the existing law and, thus, places members of the House in an untenable and unacceptable position.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I see the hon. government House leader is rising. I do not know if I need to hear anything more, but if he feels he has something pertinent to add, I will allow him a few moments.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be brief, and what I say may be obvious.

The issue in question was a question of whether the Speaker should be making decisions on the constitutionality or legality of proposed legislation before the Speaker. We cited numerous decisions of Speakers' previously, precedents that indicate that should not be the practice of the Speaker. Rulings should not go in that territory.

My friend said that he would cite some precedents but then produced absolutely no precedents whatsoever that contradict that. In fact, the argument that he made was that you, Mr. Speaker, should rely on the principle that you can make new rulings, that you can carve new law or write new law on how Parliament should work.

However, he then said that that should be done under the principles of natural justice that prevail in this Parliament. If we were to follow his route, there are two fundamental principles of natural justice that would be offended. The first of those is the fettering of the discretion of this Parliament. The member is suggesting that this Parliament is now free to legislate on issues because a previous Parliament has legislated on them and, therefore, we are prohibited from legislating the same questions or, if I may, changing the laws that were made in the past. That would be fettering the discretion of this Parliament in a way that totally would offend the principles of natural justice.

The second is that his approach would result in a delegation of the ability of this Parliament to make decisions to individuals outside of this Parliament, effectively giving them the power to legislate the law of this land rather than Parliament doing so. That kind of discretion would not be legal. It would offend the principles of natural justice.

For those reasons, even on the arguments that the member put forward to you, Mr. Speaker, for why you should carve new law, the fundamental basis for them is lacking and you should not do so.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank hon. members for their further representations. I can assure the House I will get back to them in due course.