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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wineries.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 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 notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Message from the SenateRoutine Proceedings

December 7th, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill: S-4, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.

Decorum in the HousePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to make very clear my intentions with my point of order. I have already committed that I will not make gestures according to your ruling. I have already committed to dedicating myself to the safety of Canadians and especially against violence against women. I also want to make it very clear that I understand that many victims of violence and people who fear violence could be offended by those gestures and I am sorry if they did.

Decorum in the HousePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for his further statements on that matter.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There will now be a 30 minute question period. Once again, I would like to remind members that members of the opposition will get preference from the Chair in terms of recognizing them for this time.

The hon. member for Windsor--Tecumseh.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are now at a stage where this has become almost farcical. It would be farcical if it were not so serious in terms of undermining a basic democratic process, which is the right of parliamentarians to have a full and complete debate on issues that confront the country, and the ability of citizens in this country to watch that debate and take part in it across the country.

I just want to recite these facts. The Conservative government has used time allocation or closure 12 times since the election, nine times since the House came back in September. It has used closure on seven different bills since the election, six since September. It has used time allocation 12 times in 62 sitting days, 9 times in the last 48 sitting days.

It is important to draw this into the historical context. The worst that we ever had before this was the Liberal government in the 2000-2004 Parliament. At that point, the Liberals took 122 days before they used closure or time allocation nine times in that one period. We are way beyond that.

How many more times will we have to put up with this undemocratic process?

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we pass the fair representation act as soon as possible. This is a commitment by the government. Even the Chief Electoral Officer, who said at committee in November regarding the passing of the bill:

The best date, in our mind, would be before the commissions are set up in February. Otherwise, commissions will have to start their work, the legislation will come into place later on, and they will have to restart again. That may, of course, generate additional costs, but also quite a bit of confusion, depending on what time the legislation comes into place.

That is the Chief Electoral Officer talking about why it is so important that we pass the fair representation act as soon as possible.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians should be concerned in the sense that this is now becoming standard procedure for the Conservative majority government. It does not respect the importance of debate and has demonstrated that time and time again.

The minister says the legislation is really important. We have heard that line on every piece of legislation that the government has brought forward. The government has to allow debate to occur inside this chamber. Time and time again the government has introduced time allocation which does not afford members of this chamber, whether they are government backbenchers or members of the opposition, time to participate and engage in the flawed legislation that is being brought forward. A good example of that is the Canadian Wheat Board legislation about which the Federal Court today said the government broke the law.

Why has the government decided to use time allocation almost as a standard procedure nowadays in order to pass its legislation? Why has it given up on true democracy within this chamber?

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is important to have good debate in the House, and on this legislation there has been great debate in the House. I thank members of the opposition for contributing to that debate.

We have had good discussions at committee. It was my pleasure to be at committee to answer questions there. The Chief Electoral Officer appeared at committee to talk about the bill. Other experts and witnesses were at committee. We debated the bill again here yesterday. There has been debate.

It is time to move forward and allow Canadians to have those extra seats, to have fair representation in the House of Commons. We need to put this to a vote, so we have this in place before Christmas and before the electoral commissions begin their work in February.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues said earlier, this way of doing things is starting to become fairly routine. The time when we actually felt as though we all had a say is over. With this government, the time when all those who had the desire, the need and the right to speak on behalf of their constituents—who elected them democratically—were able to have their say is basically a thing of the past. Now that the Conservatives have a majority and know full well that the numbers are on their side when it comes to votes, they do not give the other side, the various opposition parties, or even their own members enough time to discuss the bills in question. We are not talking about small bills. Here we are talking about a major change to the distribution of seats.

I would like to give the minister the opportunity to once again explain or to provide clarification. When he says that it is the Chief Electoral Officer who said that this must be done quickly, he is misleading the House a little. This is true only if we want this legislation to be in place by 2015. So, this is not an urgent issue. It is a matter of doing the job right.

I would like the minister to tell us that it is not the Chief Electoral Officer who is insisting that this be done quickly. It must be done quickly only if we want these changes to take effect by the next election in 2015.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I was having my consultations across the country, I heard from Canadians, who are under-represented in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, who believe they deserve to have fair representation. It is only fair that to the greatest extent possible every Canadian vote should have equal weight. They want this equal weight, this fairness at the next voting opportunity, not eight years from now.

We are working on a timeline of February. The Chief Electoral Officer himself has said that in order to have that process in place, and in order to stay away from duplication of the process, we need to have this bill passed as soon as possible. We are asking the opposition to at least follow through on what the Chief Electoral Officer has said.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we continue with questions, I see there are a number of members who wish to put questions, so I would ask members to confine their questions to around one minute if they can.

The hon. member for Wellington--Halton Hills.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have been debating this matter now for over four years. In fact, the first iteration of this bill was Bill C-22, an act to amend the Constitution Act, which was introduced by the then House leader, the current House leader, on November 14, 2007. That was over four years ago.

Then another bill was introduced on April 1, 2010, almost two years ago. That was Bill C-12. This is the third bill that has been introduced on this subject matter. It has been over four years now that we have had debate on this issue. We now need to pass this so we can get these changes in place before the next election to ensure that visible minorities are proportionately represented in this House in the rapidly growing regions of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work on the bill and on this issue of democratic reform itself. It is very important that those Canadians who are under-represented across the country receive fair representation. Our plan, which is fair and principled, brings every Canadian closer to representation by population.

He mentioned visible minorities and new Canadians. They actually live in those areas that are most under-represented because those are the areas that have the most growth. It is only fair that we move forward, pass this legislation, and give those Canadians fairness. They deserve, like all Canadians, to have their vote count.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government presented such bad bills in the past that it now wants to rush this one through, so this argument that we discussed other bills before is a very weak one. The question is, why has the government been so slow to table the bill?

Now it says it does not have time to properly debate the bill because we need to be on time for 2015. I had been told in the briefing that I received, and I thank the minister for that, that there were transitionary measures that would allow us to debate longer, including into February, and it would not put in danger the possibility of being ready for 2015.

I know why the government is rushing. The government knows that Canadians do not want more politicians, and this more politicians bill would create a backlash from Canadians as they realize that the government would impose on them 30 more seats for no valid reason. There is proportionate representation in the House with 308 members of Parliament.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, there has been a great deal of debate on this issue.

We have heard the government's proposal, which is fair, principled and balanced. We have heard proposals from the NDP. We have heard proposals from the Liberals which, as mentioned by the hon. member, would actually pick winners and losers, and pit one part of the country against the other. It would actually hurt rural Canadians more than anyone else, and that is why we need to move forward with this legislation as soon as possible.

What is the danger of delaying this legislation? The Chief Electoral Officer has said, “Imagine if the commissions began their work and held public hearings based on a certain formula, and then had to start all over and hold new consultations”.

It would probably cause some confusion among Canadian voters. We can not allow that duplication of work to happen. We need to pass this as soon as possible.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again today, this Conservative government's behaviour is pathetic. What was once supposed to be an exception is becoming the norm. For the ninth time this fall, the government is limiting time for debate in the House. It is a sign of contempt for parliamentarians, democracy, this institution, our debates and Parliament. The Conservatives are systematically preventing parliamentarians from speaking and debating because they do not want to listen.

They claim that it is urgent. What is urgent is helping people in Attawapiskat, the unemployed, people who are losing their jobs and people who are going to food banks on Christmas Eve. Bill C-20 addresses a serious issue that will change this House, but it is not urgent. The government should take time to hold debates and listen to everyone.

Why is this government incapable of moving its bills through the House without limiting debate?

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about some very important issues. He talked about the economy. Yes, that is very important and that continues to be this government's top priority. He talked about Attawapiskat. There are so many issues that this government needs to deal with and that is why we have debated this issue.

I thank the opposition for the debate. There has been very good debate on this issue. We have worked at committee on this bill. We have discussed it there, and now it is time to put this bill to a vote so we can get the commission to begin its work.

The hon. member is right, we do not need to spend more time on this issue. We need to vote on it and get it passed.

Bill C-20—Time Allocation MotionFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about any further delay on the bill.

I come from a riding where I represent essentially the average number of constituents, approximately 90,000 constituents. It is actually manageable in that sense, but my concern really is for those who have constituencies where there are 150,000 or more individuals. Some even have 200,000.

To delay this any further is not only doing an injustice to the people representing these constituents but the constituents themselves. I would urge the Minister of State for Democratic Reform to move the bill along as quickly as possible, so that each voter's interest is represented properly, at least in time for the next election.