Mr. Speaker, we looked for precedence as well. We think there is an important grey zone. You read the reference in terms of hearing the substance of a motion, yet we have tried to rely on the core issue that guides the House when it comes to unanimous consent.
We looked at the motion from, I believe, Mr. Epp, who started to name various members of Parliament in his motion. In that precedent, he named every member of the Liberal Party by name and riding. Speaker Milliken had to intervene. However, I do not think that the intervention was on its length but rather the fact that the member started to name members of Parliament of an entire party.
We looked at the precedent of the now Minister of Justice who moved a similar motion both in extension and length. It was on a money laundering and terrorism bill where the government sought to make substantive amendments to a bill at this stage in debate, which is exactly what we have tried to do. The minister read out a very lengthy amendment seeking unanimous consent. He rose on a point of order and the House had to hear the entire motion before it could decide whether it was in favour or not of allowing that practice.
We know this place can do almost anything under unanimous consent, and that is what the minister sought to do that day. The member for Halifax is attempting the exact same process.
Reading out those particular bodies of water that would no longer be protected has importance. I am sure members of the Conservative Party would also be interested in this, particularly the Minister of Public Safety, as we had not even got to the lakes and rivers in his constituency that would no longer be protected. His ability to say that he gives no consent before having even heard the motion, or any of the Conservative members to say “nay” before they have heard it, pleads ignorance before the facts have been read out. It is disturbing as to their own decision-making process in that they no before they have heard.
This reminds me of the government House leader who just last week said that it did not matter what amendments would be moved, that the Conservatives would vote against them anyway. It shows a certain amount of disregard for the parliamentary process.
In terms of your role, Mr. Speaker, in this intervention, I want to be quite clear with the way we are approaching this process. This is a grey zone created by moving a substantive and detailed amendment, which the member for Halifax is seeking to do to protect Canadians' lakes and rivers. After the bill passes, these lakes and rivers will no longer have protection for their navigation and other important environment considerations.
The House has not yet heard the terms for the particular lakes and rivers that are involved. I think this would be of interest to not just members in this place, but the Canadians they propose to represent as well. To say “nay” before one has heard about the lakes and rivers in one's riding seems to say that they are not important and that moving the motion is not important.
The Minister of Public Safety can keep muttering out “no consent”, but the fact is he does not yet know the implications to his own constituency, nor do any of the Conservatives. This is why it is important to have the capacity to do this.
Mr. Speaker, I respect the ruling and judgment that you have given in referring to other parts of our practice, but it seems that this quote is quite clear:
With unanimous consent, bills have been advanced through more than one stage in a single day and referred to a Committee of the Whole rather than a standing committee and have even been amended by unanimous consent.
This is what the Minister of Justice, then House leader, did before to address the crime bill. Also:
—a Member wishing to waive the usual notice requirement before moving a substantive motion would ask the unanimous consent of the House “for the following motion”.
This is then read in extenso. It seems to me that maybe you heard the essentials of the motion, Mr. Speaker, in the first iteration from the member for Halifax, but one would hope Conservatives, hearing about an important lake or river in their ridings, might think they should have a moment where they would be allowed to change the legislation for the better.
I know it is a novel concept for the government because in almost 900 pages of omnibus legislation it has not changed a comma or a period. All these things seem to have been made perfect by the Conservatives in their first writing. However, we know that not to be true because this omnibus bill is making corrections to the last omnibus bill.
Therefore, in this case, the member for Halifax is attempting to make improvements to the bill through unanimous consent, which seems to me to be worthwhile and viable according to the rules we are guided by.
I understand your ruling, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the initial preconception. However, in terms of members being able to vote on a motion that they have not yet heard, even if it is large, seems to be a practice that the House should be very careful of and wary in moving down that path, particularly with a government like that one that seems so keen on shutting down debate at all its various stages and allowing legislation to go through untouched.