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:
--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.