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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fair.

Topics

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I am only sitting because I cannot be heard.

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. We will hear the rest of the question.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the government House leader. Can we again restore a parliamentary tradition that limits on debates occur when matters are urgent or otherwise justified and do not become routine?

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in the last election Canadians gave us a strong mandate to deliver on jobs for Canadians--

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, order. The House wanted to hear the question and I am sure the House wants to hear the answer. The Chair wants to hear the answer.

The hon. government House leader.

Government PoliciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians asked us to deliver on tackling crime, on creating jobs for Canadians, on restoring the democratic principle of each vote having equal value on a range of commitments, and we are delivering on those commitments.

But what has happened each and every time is that the opposition has brought in a motion to stop debate, to say those bills should not go to committee, they should not go past second reading.

We will not stand for that. We will deliver on our commitments and ensure that the House has a chance to decide and debate these issues thoroughly at every stage.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

November 3rd, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Vu Trong Kim, General Secretary and Vice President for the Central Committee, Vietnam Father Land Front.

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 His Excellency Halim Benatallah, Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, responsible for the national community abroad, for the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria.

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 hon. Marie-Claude Blais, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs for New Brunswick.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, you deliberated over whether “lemon” and “blueberry” were unparliamentary language. I would like you to consider the word “potato” as well. On many issues, the Conservatives' carrot-and-stick approach will come back to bite them.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Perhaps it would be best to avoid any reference to fruits or vegetables in general. They do not seem to be helpful to the debate.

The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh on the Thursday question.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

It being Thursday, Mr. Speaker, and a Thursday before a break week when we will all be back in our ridings commemorating events around Remembrance Day on November 11, I would like to ask the government House leader what the agenda will be for the balance of this week and what it will be in the week when we return? In particular, will Bill C-18 be back in the House by that time?

Finally, perhaps as a follow-up to the question asked by the member from the Green Party, how many more times are we going to have time allocation? We are at seven and counting. He is going to catch the Liberals pretty soon if he does not stop, so how many more times do we get time allocation?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, nobody would be more delighted than I if we could actually not have to use time allocation, but so far we have not seen an indication from the opposition parties that they are prepared to deal with bills on an expeditious basis. We feel the need to actually get things done here and deliver on our commitments.

In fact, in each of these cases since we started in September, each one of those bills continues to be debated in the process in the House of Commons. At committee, they have not even returned here for report stage yet, let alone third reading. Extensive debate is taking place.

The fact is that the parliamentary process is a lengthy one with many stages. We want to ensure that bills have an opportunity to get through those stages so they can become law, so we can keep the commitments that we made to Canadians.

We are making good progress this week, democratic reform week.

We introduced the Political Loans Accountability Act, which will prevent future leadership contestants from bypassing the law’s contribution limits by running up huge interest-free loans from supporters. We saw this in the 2006 Liberal leadership race. Many of those loans do not get paid off and are really donations over the legal limit.

We have also begun debate on Bill C-20, the fair representation act. I am pleased that this bill will be voted on tonight before being referred to committee for study. The bill restores respect for the founding principle of our country at the heart of Confederation, that Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, forged, that of representation by population. The bill moves every single province closer to the principle of representation by population, that each vote should have, to the extent possible, the same weight.

I know that some members may be disappointed that we have not yet had an opportunity this week to debate Bill C-7, which is the Senate reform act, but they can rest assured I will be calling that bill for debate as our first item of business on the Monday following constituency week. It is part of what one opposition member properly calls our comprehensive democratic reform plan.

Tomorrow, I hope we can deal with Bill C-16, the Security of Tenure of Military Judges Act, and Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act. I hope both bills, which make important revisions to the military justice system, will garner all party support.

Of course, next week is a constituency week where members will be in their ridings speaking to Canadians about the issues that are important to them.

I know that most Canadians, whom I have spoken with at least, think that the jobs and economic growth issues are the top priority and they expect their government to focus on that right here in the House. With this in mind, the next week that we are back will be a jobs and economic growth week.

Jobs and economic growth week will kick off on Monday afternoon when we will again debate the copyright modernization act. The opposition introduced a motion to keep this bill from ever being debated at committee. This is disappointing. The bill would modernize our copyright laws and encourage job creation in one of Canada's most dynamic and important sectors of the economy.

I understand that the finance committee is meeting later today to conduct its clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, that implements the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. I will give priority to this job creation bill when the committee has completed its study. I anticipate scheduling report stage for Tuesday and Wednesday, which will undoubtedly be the highlight of jobs and economic growth week. This bill would implement important measures from our low tax plan for jobs and growth, including tax relief for small businesses that create jobs and a new tax credit for children who go to dance classes or take arts, music, or language lessons. I hope that it will pass swiftly through the House so that the measures can be implemented for the benefit of our economy and indeed all Canadians.

Finally, Thursday, November 17, will be an allotted day.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday something very irresponsible happened in the House.

In that regard, we need to give the House another opportunity to give unanimous consent to the following motion. I move that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the House give leave for the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to speak immediately, after this motion is adopted, on the subject of veterans and their sacrifice and contribution to building a better Canada in light of the upcoming Remembrance Day observances across the country, that those two members be granted leave to speak for a period not exceeding five minutes each, and that time taken by the two members at the conclusion of their statements be added to the time provided for government orders today.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-20, Fair Representation Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Fair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, where was the consultation with Canadians on fair representation measures before we ever had a bill tabled in the House? Our side of the House has been calling for years for dialogue across Canada. My constituents have been calling for decades for the government to sponsor a dialogue across Canada on ways that we can provide more democracy at the federal level.

Instead, we get these very narrow bills being tabled on electing a Senate, which, by the way, does not provide equal representation, and now seat distribution simply on population when, in fact, an agreement between a former prime minister and the leaders of the provinces and territories had agreed on a different formula, which included representation by population and recognition of Quebec's contribution to Canada.

If the model in this narrow bill, which the government brought forward, is truly to be representation by population, what is the rush? Surely, if we are to fairly represent provinces such as mine where we have a booming economy, why do we not wait for the 2011 census this coming February? That would give us the accurate information.

My province and my constituency continue to have more Canadians and immigrants move in daily. I sign off certificates monthly congratulating new Canadians. What is the rush? Surely we can wait a few more months. If the government is so convinced that the way to have fair representation is based on population, then let us genuinely base it on population not on projections.

The historic compromise, which was mentioned by a number of members in the House, was that we should have representation by population but that we should also have representation by region. If we look at the bill brought forward by the government, it is not a true representation by population bill. As other members of the House have mentioned, we would be taking members out of the House from some of the very regions whose contributions to the House we honour. They provide a rich contribution to the dialogue in the House and the making of federal legislation and policy.

It is time to step back and actually have a dialogue with Canadians. Many of my constituents have been calling for proportional representation. Why is that? It is because every vote, every interest, every priority and every perspective should count.

I feel strongly that I represent every constituent in my riding whether they voted for me or not. I think it is incumbent that we have a system that represents that. If people have other perspectives in my riding, they have a right to be heard directly as well. Therefore, it is time to stand back from these narrow kinds of bills, which, frankly, the government is not even delivering on, which is representation by population.

The Prime Minister of Canada has said that we need to be respecting Quebec as a nation within a unified Canada. Why does the new formula not respect that?

As my hon. colleagues have previously stated, this merits thorough debate and goodwill and yet the government shuts down debate after less than a day.

I, myself, in representing my constituents, only have 10 minutes because there is not time for many of us in the House to have the full allocation of time. Many of my colleagues, who want to speak for their constituents to ensure their interests are represented, will not be allowed the opportunity to debate the bill. It is absolutely reprehensible.

We will fast-track the bill through the House and it will go to committee. What will happen at committee? I think the committee should go across Canada and visit every corner of the country to hear what Canadians think is the best way to have fair representation of all perspectives in the country.

I stood for that when I ran for office. I said that I would not just be another MP from Alberta who my constituents send to Ottawa. I said that I would work hard to bring the federal government back to the people. That is exactly the kind of process we should have in this area.

Frankly, I have not heard from any of my constituents that this is their number one priority, that there should be more seats either in our city or in our province. If it does happen, we should have our fair proportion of those new seats. My constituents are more concerned about extended care, positive education for their children and aboriginal children who do not have equal access to education or access to safe drinking water. Therefore, I would like us to take that dialogue out to Canadians.

We also need to take measures to ensure that every vote counts. In the last election, during the advance vote there was no poll on campus. I have three universities in my riding and they were all disenfranchised.

I work hard to represent temporary foreign workers. Who will speak for them?

Fair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has a position on this subject that is completely contrary to the principles of Confederation. I respect the member opposite and I know she is a hard-working MP, but this idea that a provincial division in the House should guarantee a certain number of seats, as proposed in the NDP's private member's bill, which, I think, is 24.3%, is not in accordance with the founding principles of Confederation.

In fact, during the time of the United Province of Canada, there actually was a guarantee for Canada East and Canada West. The legislature was divided into two. There were 42 seats for Canada East, Quebec, and 42 seats for Canada West, Ontario. That was in a unitary state and that was the deal,. However, it was changed in Confederation to go to a federal system of government, with two orders of government, wherein the federal order of government, the lower chamber, the House of Commons, would be representative of the population.

That was the foundation on which Confederation was based. It was the argument put forward by the Liberal leader of the day, George Brown, many clear Grits in Canada West and many other people throughout the United Province of Canada. It was the reason for which these buildings were built. It is a fundamental principle of Confederation. We need to respect that principle. The House is representative of its population. It has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court.