House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elected.


JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Delta—Richmond East B.C.


Kerry-Lynne Findlay ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a happy and good-news day for justice. I am happy to report that today Bill C-22, the government's legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet service providers mandatory, has come into force.

Police forces across Canada make every effort to combat the creation and distribution of child pornography. They cannot eliminate online sexual exploitation by working alone. Our government is providing police with the tools they need. Our government makes it clear that we all have a role to play in protecting our children from this unspeakable--

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary is out of time.

The hon. member for Random--Burin--St. George's.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.


Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has said that the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is broken. Well, with the stroke of a pen he can help fix it. Sitting on his desk, waiting for his signature, are permits needed to fish sea cucumber for the Asian market.

Studies done by his department show that there is a healthy sea cucumber supply that can sustain a viable fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. Will the minister stop procrastinating, sign these permits and agree to a commercial sea cucumber fishery for Newfoundland and Labrador?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague that Fisheries and Oceans Canada does support the emergence of a sustainable commercial sea cucumber fishery. Sustainability of the resource will be the primary consideration as we move forward on this. Economic prosperity, as well as current and potential markets, will also be considered. The department is committed to undertaking allocation decisions related to the new emerging fisheries policy. That is the direction in which we are going. We are taking this very carefully.

International TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, as part of the European Union free trade negotiations, talks have been under way since 2009 to get Canada to agree to extend patent protection for prescription drugs by at least three years, which would increase their price by close to $3 billion. An independent report published this summer and commissioned by the European Commission indicates that this agreement could have a negative impact on consumers of pharmaceutical products in Canada.

In light of this report, will the government finally protect the interests of Canadians and our health care system?

International TradeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Abbotsford B.C.


Ed Fast ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that this government always protects and advances Canada's interests during international negotiations. We will only enter into an agreement that is in the best interests of Canada. We continue to consult closely with Canadians, stakeholders, and provincial and territorial governments. The member opposite should not prejudge the outcome of these negotiations. She should know that this government will always stand up for the interests of Canadians. We will only sign an agreement that represents those interests.

VeteransOral Questions

3 p.m.


Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Christmas Day 70 years ago, the Allies had no choice but to surrender. During seventeen and a half days of heavy fighting, 290 Canadians were killed and 493 were wounded while trying to defend Hong Kong. Those who survived spent the duration of the war facing inhumane conditions in prisoner of war camps in Hong Kong and Japan. After 70 years, the Japanese government has now apologized to Canadian veterans.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs please comment on the importance of this apology?

VeteransOral Questions

3 p.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario


Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to inform the House that earlier today, Canadian prisoners of war received an apology from the Government of Japan for the suffering they endured during World War II. For nearly four years, our prisoners of war endured systematic and continued abuse. They were frequently starved and they were forced into back-breaking labour. Of those who were able to return, many of them were disabled and many died prematurely.

This apology is an important step in reconciliation and healing. It recognizes the suffering of our prisoners of war while honouring their courage and sacrifice. I appreciate being allowed to share the story.

HousingOral Questions

3 p.m.


Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, 70,000 people are on a waiting list for affordable housing in Toronto alone. The government really does not get it. Low-income and middle-income Canadians right across the country are facing an affordable housing crisis. The government refuses to act, yet it could. It could work with New Democrats on a national affordable housing strategy but it does not.

Is building more prisons the only kind of housing program and strategy we are going to see from the government?

HousingOral Questions

3 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario


Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we do believe that every Canadian deserves a warm, safe place to put his or her head at night. We have made unprecedented investments in affordable housing for Canadians. Some 14,000 projects are under way, through construction or renovation. None of these things would have happened if the situation had been left to the NDP. As usual, although the NDP talks a good line, it votes against helping those who really need it.

International TradeOral Questions

3 p.m.


André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, through leaks we have learned details on the negotiation of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, such as the discussions about the supply management system that the Conservative government deliberately left on the table, the price of drugs and the protection of culture. Since these matters particularly affect Quebeckers, they would like to be informed of the content and the potential impacts of the negotiations.

Will the government finally be open with Parliament and Canadians and stop negotiating behind closed doors?

International TradeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Abbotsford B.C.


Ed Fast ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, this government has consulted broadly across the country on the EU free trade agreement, and we continue to consult. I want to assure the member that this government will only sign an agreement that is in the best interests of Canadians.

In fact, these consultations have been the most broad and most effective consultations we have ever had. We have had the provinces at the table. We have consulted broadly with stakeholders. All the feedback we are getting is that we are doing it right.

International TradeOral Questions

3 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

That concludes question period for today.

I understand there is an agreement between the parties to have some brief statements at this time regarding the Parliamentary Librarian's upcoming retirement.

I therefore recognize the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Parliamentary LibrarianOral Questions

3 p.m.


Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we honour the seventh Parliamentary Librarian.

William Young, Bill to most of us, is the incarnation of quiet wisdom.

As co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, I had the pleasure of working closely with Bill, as we tried to come up with innovative ways to promote the programs and services the library offers to parliamentarians.

It was as a plain member of Parliament that I met him 2,146 days ago to offer my support and to thank him for the above-the-call professionalism of his dedicated staff.

Many members know that I spend a considerable amount of time in the library. I have a deep appreciation for the vital and trusted work that the library staff provides to support my insatiable curiosity as a legislator and as a servant. I most certainly appreciate that this library does not charge fines for late books.

For some reason that I do not quite understand, particularly since we are all such nice people, I have been told that reporting to a parliamentary committee is not always a bowl of cherries. While I may doubt that statement, I will acknowledge that the last couple of years have brought their challenges as we have dealt with successive minority parliaments and the reality of a global recession, and the fiscal restraint measures that have gone along with it.

Bill always managed to overcome these challenges with ease, grace and humour. This definitely made our committee work much more enjoyable. I am sure that his management team, and all Library of Parliament employees for that matter, really appreciate his style.

Style notwithstanding, he and his team have also delivered on their promises. Each year our committee has seen measurable progress on the broad-based plan of renewal that Bill initiated when he took over the role of Parliamentary Librarian six years ago. These are things that, by and large, may go unnoticed by other parliamentarians, such as the extensive managerial reforms that have taken place to ensure modern controllership and innovation in services.

Pass(e)port is a selection of articles about Canada or current issues of interest to parliamentarians. The articles are gathered from online international news sources every week. It was developed in committee by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, in order to better connect parliamentarians to the rest of the world.

Given that Bill devoted most of his career to Parliament, I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that much of the Library of Parliament's effectiveness today can be attributed to Bill.

The former prime minister, the Right Hon. Paul Martin, was inspired when he appointed Bill as Parliamentary Librarian. The current Prime Minister displayed his legendary wisdom when he extended that appointment.

Last summer I undertook to read Bill's doctoral thesis, but it took me a week to read the title, “Making the Truth Graphic: The Canadian Government's Home-Front Information Structure and Programs During World War II”. I will finish reading the thesis in time for the book report.

In conclusion, I would like to say a few words to Bill's prospective successors and give them a bit of perspective about working at the Library of Parliament.

Since Confederation, we have had 43 leaders of the opposition, 35 speakers, 22 prime ministers, 18 members for the district that I represent, and 12 clerks of the House of Commons. Against all this, the Library of Parliament is a model of stability. We have had only seven Parliamentary Librarians. They get to keep their job. On average, they have each served two decades.

As many of you know, I count every day that I am here. This is to ensure that every day counts. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.

And as we count our service here in days, parliamentary librarians count theirs in decades. William Shakespeare was right when he wrote, “The better part of valour is discretion”. William Young is blessed to live by those wise words.

In closing, on behalf of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament and on behalf of every member of this House, I would like to commend Bill on all of his excellent work and extend our best wishes for his retirement.

On behalf of the Standing Joint Committee of the Library of Parliament, and on behalf of every member of this House, I want to close with a heartfelt bravo and our best wishes to Bill and to his family on his retirement.

Like that of his predecessor and my esteemed friend, Erik Spicer, may Bill's retirement be long, fruitful and filled with serenity and delight.

Parliamentary LibrarianOral Questions

3:10 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to pay tribute to Bill Young. I have had the pleasure to know Bill Young since 1997, when I was first elected as a new member of Parliament.

I first encountered Bill at the human resources committee where he served as an analyst. As the lone NDP member, I was trying to figure out how committees worked and what we were meant to do.

I had many chats with Bill and because of him, I came to appreciate what an amazing resource the Library of Parliament is, and also appreciate the role of the analysts. Their superb ability to help committee members and MPs generally in such a non-partisan way is something on which all of us rely.

His career at the Library of Parliament, where he also occupied the positions of principal and senior research officer, spans 18 years. Bill Young was also deputy team leader, Social Security Reform -- Coordination Group for Human Resources Development Canada, from 1994 to 1995.

As we know, he was appointed as the Parliamentary Librarian in 2005. I would like to read from when he appeared as a witness before the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, because I think it gives us a flavour of his passion and his dedication. He said before that committee:

I'm very honoured to have my name go forward for the position of the Parliamentary Librarian, because for a political historian like I am, it's a job that brings both my passions and interests but also my training and experience. As I have mentioned, it's almost twenty years that I have worked with parliamentarians from all parties at the parliamentary research branch.

He went on to say:

For nearly 150 years, the Library of Parliament has been a shining light on our country's political and historical landscape. It is an architectural gem, a historical landmark and a unique institution that serves Parliament as well as the general public....While the library remains a repository of books and other printed information, it has moved into the technological era in its collections and reference services.Over 30 years ago it added a research and analysis function. During the past decade, it has been the public face of Parliament by providing information to citizens about how our Parliament works.

That is what Bill said to the standing joint committee.

As a trained historian, academic and then as a researcher, Bill has spent most of his career at the Library of Parliament. Shortly after he took the reins as the seventh Parliamentary Librarian in 2005, he set in place a broad-based plan for renewal of the institution to ensure that the library remained relevant for parliamentarians well into the 21st century.

Bill took on the big task of modernizing this honoured institution. This meant figuring out what it was that the users wanted and needed, and also how they wanted it to be delivered to them at a time when shifts to information technology and social networking seemed to be happening almost every day.

Bill has been with the library so long it is almost like he is part of the permanent collection. If he were a book in the library's collection, I think his staff would have a very difficult time deciding where to store him. He is certainly rare and valuable, so they would want to keep him under lock and key, but I am also sure that many people would be constantly referencing him that the tendency would be to leave him on a table by the main doors, just to save time.

I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that he is the reason the library remains relevant to parliamentarians today. Not only is it relevant, but it is vital to our work. On behalf of the NDP, we extend our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for his dedicated public service to us and all Canadians over so many years. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

I have just one word of caution. We do not want him to watch CPAC too often. We do not want him to worry about committee reports anymore. Because of his stellar work, we know it is all being left in good hands. I extend our congratulations to Bill.

Parliamentary LibrarianOral Questions

3:15 p.m.


Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to pay tribute to not only a remarkable parliamentary librarian, but an inspirational servant of Parliament and of Canadians for over 20 years.

As my colleague, the co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on the Library of Parliament, said, there have only been six previous parliamentary librarians: Alpheus Todd, came in with the country, Martin Joseph Griffin, Martin Burrell, Francis Aubrey Hardy, Erik John Spicer and Richard Paré. Each of these distinguished Canadians evolved the role of librarian to something way more than its traditional interpretation. This was not only about resources, but about the analysis and eventually, under Bill's watch, to the most trusted source of information that parliamentarians could receive. It means that each of us in the House performs to our best possible ability.

As Bill said in his interview in the Canadian Parliamentary Review on his appointment:

Most parliamentarians are here because they have a sense of purpose and public life-they are here to accomplish something. The Library's job is to help them succeed and to nurture the deliberative process for the benefit of all Canadians,

I first met Bill Young when he was the researcher on the HRDC committee in 1997 when I was first elected. I was pretty impressed then that he seemed to be able to have a relationship with almost every member of the committee. When Wendy Lill, the NDP member of Parliament, had pointed out that the issues of persons with disabilities had not really been discussed for over two years at committee, it became quite clear that Bill would help us form a subcommittee that I had the honour to chair.

That subcommittee became known as the tiny perfect committee. It ended up with Wendy Lill, Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral and Deb Grey. We all worked together to really fight for persons with disabilities, the disability tax credit, the Canadian pension plan disabilities. Under Bill's guidance, we were able to call ministers from all departments and commissioners. We were able to design one of the most interactive tools in terms of e-consultation that a parliamentary committee had ever done.

My love for Bill Young came, having him sit at my right shoulder for those five years, not only because of the institutional memory he carried for this place, but also the fact that when officials would come before our committee, he would whisper in my ear and said, “They said that last year”. It was only because of his coaching that we were able to get on and later understand his real understanding of the citizens of our country.

In 2000 I asked for help from the Library of Parliament, as I was concerned about the role of the citizen in our representative democracy and whether it was evolving over time. Bill wrote the most beautiful paper called “The Citizen Engagement and the Elected Representative” in which it began in his beautiful writing:

The social contract in our democracy is founded on the consent of the governed. This implies not just that voters select their governments, but also that there is more or less continuous contact between citizens and their elected representatives in order to exchange knowledge and opinions. It also implies the expression of preferences on the part of the citizen as well as a certain level of attentiveness and consciousness of what government is doing, or wants to do.

He helped us put together a conference in which Robert Putnam came from Harvard, Ted White, the Reform member of Parliament, Audrey O'Brien, Charles Pascal, Carol Goar, Monique Bégin and the hon. member for Toronto Centre. After that conference, we began to start to refer to this concept of democracy between elections, which is truly what the parliamentary librarian is able to provide us with.

Later in 2002, as co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on the Library of Parliament, I was able, with our co-chair Yves Morin, as well as Deb Grey, working with Graham Fox, to work on the consultations 2002 called “The Parliament we Want”.

It is very interesting that in the conclusion of that document, again a lot with the leadership of Bill, said:

Our message, based on our consultations, is this. In weighing the many options we have before us, and in making decisions on the future role of Parliamentarians, we should keep in mind that the reforms should aim to:

lead to more meaningful work;

look to the future, not the past;

enhance Parliament’s oversight of government activity;

enhance Parliament’s contribution to policy debates;

strike a balance between the adversarial and the consensual aspects of our democratic system;

focus on committees as an immediate priority;

make Parliamentarians knowledge-brokers;

and strike a new bargain between Parliament and the public service.

That is, in short, the Parliament we want. Parliamentarians ask, and Canadians deserve, nothing less.

When Mr. Young was appointed in 2005, his biography indicated that he had a Ph.D. in history and was a professional historian. Mr. Young is the author of a number of books as well as academic and popular papers. He has also written many parliamentary reports.

It is, indeed, the case of Bill Young, from his Ph.D thesis on the role of the National Film Board and propaganda in World War II to the many reports he wrote on disability issues, with Dr. Halliday and Andy Scott, to the London diaries of Paul Martin Sr., to Sacred Trust, a book he wrote with David Bercuson and Jack Granatstein on Brian Mulroney and the Conservative Party.

Since his nomination, he has continued to embark, as we have heard already, on a significant renewal of the Library, with the modern controllership of its resources and the redesign of numbers of products for parliamentarians better suited to their needs in the time and format they need.

As well as the historian, he reconstituted debates of early years of Parliament for future generations with the digitalization project. He also worked with his posse of parliamentary librarians from around the world, like John Pullinger from the U.K. parliament of Westminster, Soledad Ferreiro in Chile, to commission Nick Nanos and others on the parliament of 2020 and what the future of Parliament would be like using the kind of evolving communication technologies and how that could support a more effective Parliament and a more engaged public in the future.

He was seconded to the Department of Social Development for two years, where he was the departmental assistant to the deputy minister. His minister, who Bill lovingly referred to as number 29, asked me to send Bill this message. It states:

Bill is the good civil servant. He embodies why doing a government's work matters. He believes good can be done, that better is possible, but he also knows that bad and worse are much easier to deliver. So he looks--every day--to do the good and the better and expose the bad and the worse.

He has a joy about him. A joy that comes from knowing why he does what he does, from a pride, but also from always putting people at the centre. He knows that it's with people that he does things, and for people that he does them, people with all their--and his own--wonderful strengths and wonderful foibles. So to Bill nothing is ever old and dry and boring.

He has a curiosity, this fascination, with life. He wants to know - everything. About everyone. Every delicious fact; every delicious insight; and every delicious morsel of gossip. Always, of course, delivered with that twinkle, and that laugh.

As Ken Dryden has said, Bill Young is more than an institutional memory. To me, Bill Young is the ultimate leader of vision, values and risk taking. He imparts that to his team and his team knows, as the best of every team leader, that it will be allowed to do its very best performance, but when it stumbles, he will be there for it.

Parliament is not only losing a great friend, a great defender of this institution, but also a great believer in the role of citizens in their democracy and the need to build better mechanisms between citizens and their Parliament and their parliamentarians to ensure that their voices are heard.

The eighth parliamentary librarian will have a tough act to follow, big shoes to fill, but the most important qualification will be the love of this place and the understanding of the good it can do.

We wish Bill and Philippe some well-earned time, but I cannot wait until the next chapter when he is back actually inspiring us all to just do better.

Parliamentary LibrarianOral Questions

3:25 p.m.


Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to speak to the excellent character of Mr. Young. I have met him on a number of occasions. The first time was in 2006, just after he was appointed.

Mr. Young is a dedicated, caring and competent person. He cares about the important role of parliamentarians. Those who have made his acquaintance also know that he uses humour intelligently. He is a good person and a good boss. I have it from a reliable source that many of his employees consider him to be an exceptional man. Involved and respected by everyone, Mr. Young is personally committed to causes dear to him and I would like to take off my hat to him.

I had the opportunity to work with him through the Library of Parliament's programs for teachers. I attended the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy. Mr. Young was committed to providing teachers with the tools they needed to teach about parliamentary democracy in Canada and Quebec.

In his role, Mr. Young supported teachers in what they did on a daily basis. He did so especially in programs for the public. The Library of Parliament's educational programs serve all Canadian youth, whether they live in Alberta, British Columbia or Quebec. These young people can learn about Parliament by using the Library of Parliament's tools, thanks to Mr. Young's efforts to promote all these tools. This allows young people to embrace democracy and the parliamentary system in a non-partisan way.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Young will have some wonderful challenges after he leaves us. He is always steadfast and looks to the future. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish him all the best in the future. I take off my hat to him again for all his wonderful accomplishments as parliamentary librarian.

Parliamentary LibrarianOral Questions

3:25 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Mr. Young, on my own part, I would like, on behalf of all members of Parliament, to thank you and add my best wishes and offer you our heartfelt best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

I would like to also thank the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh for allowing the tributes to proceed. Now he might like to ask his Thursday question.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

December 8th, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been thinking about the importance of leading by example. I think that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons should do the same. Last week, he said that we would conclude law-abiding Canadians week and that this week would be democratic reform week. That is very ironic.

It is ironic because of what happened this week. We saw the passing of Bill C-10 on Monday, a bill that has been almost universally panned as being ineffective, not even knowing how much it is going to cost the Canadian public at both the provincial and federal levels. It is probably going to increase crime in this country at the end of the day. Yet, that was supposed to be part of the week when the Conservatives were having their crime agenda.

Then we saw this spectacle yesterday at the Federal Court, slamming a minister, berating a minister actually, in the written judgment for breaking the Canadian Wheat Board Act. It was to the extent, and this is quite unusual, that the federal court judge actually awarded costs to all the applicants against the government for the breach of that act. So that was the Conservatives' crime agenda.

Then, democratic reform is supposed to be this week. What did we see this week? We saw the Conservatives, once again, set the all-time record for closure and time allocation motions by doing so for the 12th time in less than 70 sitting days. The Conservatives beat the Liberal record by almost 40%, if my math is correct. That is what we saw.

In all honesty, after what we have just seen go on, I am almost afraid to ask the question of what is coming this week not knowing the consequences. However, I will close with the question, since that is my duty here, to the House leader of the Government and it is with substantial trepidation that I do this.

I would like to know, and I think Parliament and Canadians would like to know, what is going to happen in the House the rest of this week and the week coming up to next Friday, which is when the House will rise for the winter break? In part, we need to know that. Parliament and Canadians need to know, so they can get ready for what may be some of the consequences if we see the same kind of experience we have seen this week.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important things we are looking forward to in the next week or so is the passage of the major priority pieces of legislation we have been advancing this fall, for which we have been seeking to set timetables to ensure they could pass to be in effect for next year. They are our budget implementation act to ensure that important tax measures are in place like a tax credit for job creation and accelerated capital cost allowance to create jobs; our bill to ensure fair representation, to have that in place in time for the redistribution that is going to unfold next year; and in addition to that another bill which again is a time priority, the crime bill, and I do not think we are going to be able to make that objective.

However, we are looking to get those in place and, having done that, we look forward to, in the next 10 days or so, the very first of those bills we have been working on all fall to actually becoming law. That will be a very exciting time for us when we finally achieve Royal Assent, having spent that time.

I should advise members that next week will be free trade and jobs week. We will begin Monday morning with second reading of Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama free trade act. This free trade agreement was signed on May 14, 2010. It is now time for Parliament to put it into effect, so that Canadians can benefit from the jobs and economic growth it will deliver.

It being free trade and jobs week, we will begin second reading debate on Wednesday of another bill to implement a job-creating free trade agreement. In this case, we will discuss Bill C-23, the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act, which will implement Canada's first free trade agreement with an Arab country.

This will be the last week before the House adjourns for the holidays. And it is with the Christmas spirit in mind that we hope to have the co-operation of all members in making great progress on a number of important bills with a focus on job creation and economic growth.

On Monday, if we are able to pass Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama free trade bill, we would call Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act. Bill C-11 is another bill that would lead to more jobs in Canada, and our world-leading digital and cultural sectors. Earlier this week, the Liberal motion to block further debate on this important bill was defeated in this House. That means we can get back to second reading debate and I would hope that after being debated for over one sitting week, the opposition will finally allow this bill to get to committee.

If we continue to make the progress I am hoping for, we will then call Bill C-14, the Improving Trade Within Canada Act, for further second reading debate. This is a fairly straightforward bill that will benefit the economy by implementing amendments to the Agreement on Internal Trade agreed by the provinces. I expect all parties will allow it to move swiftly to committee.

In addition to passing these job creating bills, on Monday, ideally, we would then call C-26, the citizen's arrest and self-defence act for further debate.

For the balance of free trade and jobs week, we will continue to debate any of those bills which have not yet been referred to committee. We would also look to begin second reading debate on Bill C-28, the financial literacy leader act. This bill will create a new position in the government dedicated to encouraging financial literacy for Canadians.

As for the balance of this week, which is democratic reform week, Bill C-20, the fair representation act, will be debated tomorrow at report stage, further to the motion adopted yesterday. Third reading in the House on this bill will be Tuesday. This will be followed by a vote Tuesday night, a vote that will give all members in this place an opportunity to vote on the important democratic principle of representation by population.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:35 p.m.


Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on this question of privilege to request, in recognition of the decision made yesterday by Mr. Justice Campbell of the Federal Court, and the need that this House be in compliance with the rule of law and be seen by all Canadians to actively demonstrate its willingness to accept and defer to the rule of law, that you reconsider the basis of your earlier ruling stemming from the question of privilege raised by my colleague, the member for Malpeque, on October 18 of this year.

It is now unambiguous that as members of Parliament our privileges have been violated as a result of our participation in the Minister of Agriculture's single-minded mission to dismantle the Wheat Board without first consulting with and determining the will of western Canadian wheat and barley farmers, as he remains required to do.

In light of the ruling of the Federal Court, dated December 7, 2011, in the case of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board et al. v. The Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, it is now apparent that this honourable House was forced to participate in a debate that is now, and was then, contrary to the rule of law.

In his ruling yesterday, Mr. Justice Campbell ordered the following declaration be made:

--the Minister failed to comply with his statutory duty pursuant to section 47.1 of the Act, to consult with the Board and to hold a producer vote, prior to the causing to be introduced in Parliament Bill C-18,--

The very same argument was made at that juncture by the member for Malpeque, the member for Winnipeg North, and me on October 18. In fact, it has been the position put forward by this party from the very beginning of the Minister of Agriculture's quest to fulfill his ideological obsession.

Let farmers decide. It is a simple enough precept.

Indeed, prior to our last general election on May 2, 2011, a then keen Minister of Agriculture assured farmers in Minnedosa, Manitoba, and in mid-March 2011 that he would not act arbitrarily and that the wishes of farmers would be respected.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the May 2 election, having finally won the majority it coveted for so many years, the Conservative government no longer felt it necessary to grant western grain farmers the very vote on the issue they were guaranteed by statute and was assured them by the minister.

Instead, the government spoke at length about the mandate given by Canadians. Which mandate? There is no mandate that enables the government to trample on the rights of western Canadian grain farmers, or any other Canadians, with impunity. What is the evidence of this complete lack of regard for the law by the government?

In the face of the words of Mr. Justice Campbell where he said, “The second and most important effect is that the minister will be held accountable for his disregard for the rule of law”, the Minister of Agriculture replied, “I can tell you that, at the end of the day, this declaration will have no effect on continuing to move forward. Bill C-18 will pass”.

This is important. The minister does not understand that while the Conservatives can change the law, they cannot break the law while changing it any more than they can ignore procedure within this very House when we make new laws.

Why is it that Parliament or government should be any less bound to laws than they are to the procedures in the House when passing those laws?

Many prairie farmers no doubt voted Conservative, but they did not vote for Conservative candidates only to see their democratic rights stripped from them as soon as the ballots were counted.

Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to Chief Justice Fraser's comments in Reece v. the City of Edmonton, 2011, cited at paragraph 3 of Mr. Justice Campbell's ruling, where the Chief Justice states:

When government does not comply with the law, this is not merely non-compliance with a particular law, it is an affront to the rule of law itself.

Moreover, in Justice Campbell's decision at paragraph 27, he makes reference to a memorandum of fact and law of an intervenor in the case before the Federal Court, which states:

As the Applicants note, western farmers relied on the fact that the government would have to conduct a plebiscite under section 47.1 before introducing legislation to change the marketing mandate of the CWB. Disregarding the requirements of s. 47.1 deprives farmers of the most important vehicle they have for expressing their views on the fundamental question of the single desk. Furthermore the opportunity to vote in a federal election is no answer to the loss of this particular democratic franchise. Until the sudden introduction of Bill C-18, Canadian farmers would have expected the requirements of s. 47.1 to be respected.

When originally introduced by a Liberal government in 1997 and finally passed in 1998, the intention of the bill introducing section 47.1 was to empower farmers with the necessary self-determination before the government could unilaterally or fundamentally alter the Canadian Wheat Board.

At that time it was argued, and I quote:

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

--this was back in 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 institution of the Canadian Wheat Board is considered so sacrosanct that codified in the statute is a mechanism designed to protect farmers from a government arbitrarily removing the strength and clout of an agency that markets and sells wheat and barley at the best possible price on behalf of all western Canadian grain farmers.

It is for this very reason that in his ruling yesterday Mr. Justice Campbell stated, and I quote:

I accept the argument that the CWB's democratic marketing practices are “significant and fundamental' because they are long standing, and strongly supported by a large number of the some 17,000 grain producers in Western Canada.

On October 18, Mr. Speaker, you spoke to your inability to rule on the legality of a bill, as it was the responsibility of the courts to decide. Well, now the courts have spoken, and just as we argued then, without first having consulted with the Canada Wheat Board and conducting the required plebiscite pursuant to section 47.1, the bill is illegal. These are exactly the circumstances that the member for Malpeque was rightly trying to steer this House away from: a situation wherein this House and its process is in contravention of the law, as is the participation by each of its members in such process.

According to the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 111:

A Member may also be obstructed or interfered with in the performance of his or her parliamentary functions by non-physical means.

Not only have we debated and voted on a bill that was not in the proper form, but our participation and the bill itself are illegal, as the bill did not respect the rule of law, let alone the farmers it affected most. Introducing a bill that was not in the proper form and was in violation of the rule of law for failure to follow the process dictated by section 47.1 has obstructed and interfered with our privileges by non-physical means.

Our Constitution, which we are all collectively responsible to uphold, maintain and protect, is so much more than just a written text; it is also an organism that is responsive to a number of underlying quintessential elements, foremost among them the rule of law.

The government continues to argue with impunity that it need not be bound by the legislation of a past government and that Parliament is supreme. While I agree that Parliament is indeed the paramount Canadian institution, it too is subject to the rule of law. In this case, the process that the minister ought to have followed as set out in section 47.1 of the Canada Wheat Board Act. Given this abuse and other abuses the Speaker is now considering, such as the case before us for the member for Mount Royal, what further abuses can we expect?

At paragraph 67 of the Quebec secession reference, the Supreme Court wrote the following:

The consent of the governed is a value that is basic to our understanding of a free and democratic society. Yet democracy in any real sense of the word cannot exist without the rule of law. It is the law that creates the framework within which the “sovereign will” is to be ascertained and implemented. To be accorded legitimacy, democratic institutions must rest, ultimately, on a legal foundation. That is, they must allow for the participation of, and accountability to, the people, through public institutions created under the Constitution. Equally, however, a system of government cannot survive through adherence to the law alone. A political system must also possess legitimacy, and in our particular culture, that requires an interaction between the rule of law and the democratic principle.

Through any number of actions, the government time and time again demonstrates its willingness to abuse, ignore and delegitimize democratic institutions, be it the Speaker's contempt ruling of spring 2011, the thoroughly outrageous deceit it has spread in the Mount Royal area about its member of Parliament, or its complete contempt of democracy and the rule of law in dealing with the outcome of the Canadian Wheat Board.

At the end of every week, I go home to my constituents, as every member in this place does. We are accountable to them. If anything must prevail, regardless of our party's affiliation, we must be able to say to them that we followed the legal process. This is what we have fought and died for in other lands.

It is not too late for the Minister of Agriculture to appeal to the Prime Minister to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to suspend deliberation on the bill at least until the end of the proceedings of the appeal, because if he fails to do so and the Federal Court ruling is upheld on appeal, we shall again find ourselves in the same embarrassing, unfortunate and antidemocratic circumstances in which we find ourselves now. Should the subsequent ruling favour the Canadian Wheat Board, the government could finally and rightfully hold the farmers' vote that is so richly deserved by western wheat farmers; if it does not, then the matter can proceed.

Parliament is supreme--not the Minister of Agriculture , not the Prime Minister, not any one of the members opposite, but Parliament as an institution. Barring an immediate decision by the government to reconsider its ill-conceived actions, I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to find that the actions of the minister and the government, which Mr. Justice Campbell declared to be conduct which is “an affront to the rule of law”, have violated our privilege as members and have sullied the honour of this venerable institution.

Accordingly, I therefore submit, Mr. Speaker, that you should find the matter a prima facie case of privilege. I would be prepared to move one of the following motions: that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for further study and recommendations to the House, that a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint senators of the Federal Court ruling and ask that in light of this ruling, all action on Bill C-18 be suspended.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I should start out by correcting the hon. member for Guelph.

He misrepresented from the outset what Bill C-18 is all about. He said it was about dismantling the Wheat Board; it is clearly not about doing that. It is in fact about maintaining the Wheat Board in existence while providing to western Canadian farmers the same choice that farmers in his part of Ontario have, which is to choose whether to market to the Wheat Board or to other entities. I think it should be clear that this is what the bill is about. His representation is inaccurate.

I am a little puzzled by what he is seeking to do here. You have already ruled on this matter. I see no reasonable challenge to that ruling here.

In terms of the remedy he is seeking, he is asking that you, Mr. Speaker, request the Leader of the Government in the Senate to suspend consideration of this matter. I suppose this House could, if it chose to, pass a resolution making such a request if it saw fit to do so. I do not think it is your place, as Speaker, to seek to apply your jurisdiction as Speaker into that other place and pretend to tell it how its affairs should be managed. That would be inappropriate for you in your role as Speaker and in your jurisdiction as Speaker.

In fact, what is truly fascinating is that this entire point of order is on a matter that is no longer before us. It is a matter on which we are functus, if you will. It is a matter on which this House has already made its decision, made its determination, and the jurisdiction with it lies right now entirely with the Senate. Should it seek changes and send the bill back to us, we will once again have a functional role, but at this point in time there is nothing before us to decide. As a House, we have no jurisdiction to deal with this matter at all.

In terms of the core questions at stake, the fundamental constitutional question that he is seeking to challenge is that of the ability of this Parliament to legislate and that we cannot change laws. He is saying that if a law purports to pose obligations in the future for the changing of a law, those obligations are valid. In the previous ruling that kind of fettering of discretion was canvassed extensively, and obviously this Parliament maintains that jurisdiction to legislate.

Let us examine whether there are any consequences that flow from the court decision that was rendered in this matter.

I think we have to look at the decision. I do not know that the hon. member for Guelph took you through what it actually determined. However, the justice, in his summary of the issues, did state the following:

“The Applicants

--those being the people who brought the matter to court--

--confirm that the validity of Bill C-18, and the validity and effects of any legislation which might become law as a result of Bill C-18 are not in issue in the present Applications.

It did not contest the validity of the bill or the validity of it to be before this House. In fact, a further statement is:

The Applicants make it clear that their Applications are no threat to the Sovereignty of Parliament to pass legislation.

Therefore the question of whether or this House could deal with it and whether it was appropriate for this House to deal with it was not even before the courts. The applicants confessed or acknowledged that it was fully within the jurisdiction of this House to deal with those matters, and that was not a decision. Should there be any confusion on that, one can go to the end of the decision. It is at page 21 of the decision of Justice Campbell. In that conclusion, he poses the question of the effects of his declaration.

He issued a declaration; he did not issue an injunction prohibiting Parliament from dealing with the legislation at all. He said that the applicants acknowledged it was appropriate for Parliament to deal with the legislation, but they did not dispute the validity of the legislation.

That raises the question of what the effect of his decision is.

He makes it clear that there are two meaningful effects of granting the declarations. The first effect is that to provide a meaningful opportunity for dissenting voices to be heard was the purpose of the legislation. The ruling says:

Judicial review serves an important function; in the present Applications the voices have been heard, which, in my opinion, is fundamentally important because it is the message that s. 47.1 conveys.

He said the court proceeding allowed those voices to be heard, and that is an important effect.

“The second and most important effect”, he says, “is that the minister will be held accountable...”.

He himself says that there are only two effects, and neither of those effects limits the ability of this House of Commons or of the Senate or this Parliament to pass legislation.

The section in question, section 47.1, is actually one that is being sought to be changed, to be repealed, in fact. Obviously, that would have no effect should the legislation be successful. The justice has clearly said in his decision that there is no effect at all on anything we are doing in this place.

Based on that decision itself, there is nothing new that my friend has brought to you, Mr. Speaker. I listened closely to his arguments. I did not see any authorities that suggested otherwise. I did not see anything that he could glean out of the decision that said we had to cease our discussions, and the Senate had to cease its discussions. No injunctive relief was provided in that regard. As a result, Mr. Speaker, I think the decision that you rendered in the earlier arguments on this matter fully satisfies the questions, and we are re-plowing the same turf all over again quite unnecessarily.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the government House leader, because his government obviously does not understand the nature of the decision that was made, and quite frankly, the nature of the law on this point.

The Conservatives are absolutely right that a parliament cannot pass legislation that would prevent a subsequent government administration from passing laws to change that law or do away with it completely, but it can restrict subsequent parliaments as to how they do it. That is exactly what was done in the Canadian Wheat Board Act, and that is exactly what was found as being proper by Justice Campbell of the Federal Court in his decision yesterday.

The position the Conservatives are taking obviously shows a significant lack of knowledge and understanding of that legislative constitutional principle. I hear from the government House leader that he thinks it is stupid. It may in fact be stupid, but it is the law of the land, and the Conservatives do not get the opportunity to unilaterally break the law of the land. I think this actually would require a constitutional change in order for that principle to be altered.

Mr. Speaker, I am, however, cognizant of his argument that he makes with regard to your status as Speaker to rule on this matter. Obviously the statute is no longer here; Bill C-18 has passed and has gone on to the other house, and so it should lie in the hands of the Speaker there. I have to admit ignorance in this regard in that I do not understand the rules of the other place. I am not sure anybody understands its rules, quite frankly, but I admit that I do not. Whether there is jurisdiction in the Speaker in that place, I simply cannot say.

At first blush one might wonder what jurisdiction and authority you have to rule on this, since this House has passed the bill. I want to say at this point, Mr. Speaker, and I am reserving my right to come back to you tomorrow if I can find more on this, that your jurisdiction may lie in the fact of being able to say to the minister of the day, “Your conduct has in fact breached our privilege. You should have known the law of the land. Every government is supposed to know that. Either out of incompetence that you did not know or out of refusal to acknowledge the law of the land, you went ahead, placed the bill before the House, voted it through the House by your majority government, and that has now clearly been determined by the courts of this land to have been improper conduct, to be illegal conduct on your part”.

Mr. Speaker, your order then would be, because you do have control over that member even though he is a minister, to in effect cease and desist, to find the prima facie case. I think anybody can argue clearly that our privileges have been breached. Our reputations as members of Parliament have been breached very clearly. We are a laughing stock in the general public. The bill went through this House clearly by that decision, and I will not give the government any hope at all that it will be successful on appeal. The government will lose that appeal, almost certainly.

It is a simple finding of fact. The bill reads this way. The existing law reads this way. It fits into the constitutional framework of our country. It is not a substantive issue of law. It is simply a form, how this law is to be changed. The Conservatives are bound by that. Parliament is bound by that. Our reputation has therefore been damaged, the reputation of all of us.

I will leave it at that point, but I would reserve the right to come back to you one more time, at least by tomorrow, if I can find more on it, Mr. Speaker.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

4 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Guelph had quite a lot of time to make his original remarks, but given that he seems to be indicating that it will be less than a minute, I will hear him very briefly.

Legislation to Reorganize the Canadian Wheat BoardPrivilegeOral Questions

4 p.m.


Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is in response to the comments by the government House leader.

First, Justice Campbell did not comment on the validity of Bill C-18 because he was not asked to. He made no comment one way or the other. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, you should not give any weight to the suggestions by the government House leader on that point.

Second, no injunction was granted because no injunction was sought. Mr. Speaker, you can give no weight to that comment by the member opposite.

Third, and this is the point I made very briefly, the government has an obligation to follow the law if it is changing the law, just as surely as it has an obligation to follow the rules of this House and all procedures associated with it when we are making new laws.

Those are my three points and I thank you again for your indulgence, Mr. Speaker.