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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:35 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 was listening intently to many of his remarks. Since I will be addressing this place in a few moments on the government side, much of what my colleague mentioned I will be addressing as well, particularly the working relationship among House leaders of all political parties. Although I dispute some of the analysis done by my friend, I certainly will speak to the relationship that I believe needs to be a healthy one for a good, functioning democracy in this place.

I want to point out one mistake, hopefully an inadvertent mistake, in some of the comments made earlier in his presentation, and that was about the Canadian Wheat Board. The member for Winnipeg North continues to say, as do many of his colleagues, that the government was obligated to hold a plebiscite before changes made to the Canadian Wheat Board. That, in fact, is not true. Section 47 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act specifically states that if a government were planning to eliminate either wheat or barley from the Canadian Wheat Board, then a plebiscite would be needed. We did not do that. We simply changed the act so the Canadian Wheat Board is now a voluntary mechanism. It controls both wheat and barley. Canadian farmers, being some of the smartest businesspeople in Canada, know that if they will get a better product at a better price by going through the Canadian Wheat Board, they will continue to use it. That is all we have done.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before going back to the hon. member for Winnipeg North, I would remind all members of the matter that is before the House. The hon. member for Winnipeg North raised this matter and it has been questioned, but I would encourage all members to make comments relevant to the matter before us.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat relevant in the sense that we are now dealing with a motion to extend sitting time. The bill that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons made reference to was in fact a time allocated bill because the government wanted to rush it through.

Having said that, where the member is wrong is that if he were to canvass the 20,000-plus prairie farmers who voted in a referendum, he would find that the vast majority of them believed that they had a right to a plebiscite. In fact, it is in court today. It is not as simple as he tried to portray it. There is a valid argument that thousands of prairie farmers have made that the government did not have the right to bring in that legislation.

It makes my point in the sense that there is legislation that is brought through the House and there will be controversial legislation that has to be thoroughly debated and sent to committee. This is critically important. When House leaders negotiate, they recognize that, but they equally recognize legislation that is not as important, does not require as much debate and will pass through the system more quickly. The key is that House leaders need to be prepared, in good faith, to sit at the table and set a legislative agenda so things can happen in a more timely way. If they cannot do it in year one after an election, they will find it more difficult in the years to follow. Now is the time for us to be trying to build a sense of co-operation going forward.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the comments he just made. I sit on a committee with him and really appreciate his thoughtful approach. The fact is that he does come across as one who wants to find solutions. I heard that in his speech today. This is not about not wanting to sit until midnight or 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. We have done that in the past. I have an incredible capacity to stay up, day in and day out, for quite a number of days and still sound semi-coherent. However, that is beside the point.

The question I have for my colleague who just spoke is: What are some of the key concerns he has with this Trojan Horse bill? What are the key elements that give him cause for concern that have not been debated in as fulsome a way as they should be? We feel that this new process that the government is suggesting is just another attempt at ramming things through rather than a thoughtful debate.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the simple answer is that, instead of being 400-plus pages that affect 70 acts and in some cases delete some of them, Bill C-38, the budget bill, likely could just as easily have been 14, 15, or even more substantial pieces of legislation. That is why Canadians need to be concerned with where the limit is. If the government says it is going to have a “long live Canada” budget bill, that means it could incorporate every piece of legislation it wants to put in in any given year and say it is now the budget implementation bill, and it could affect even more than this one does. It is a very dangerous direction we are going in today with Bill C-38.

What offends me most is that the government somehow accumulated the courage, and courage is probably not the right word on this. I would never have thought it would bring in a bill like this that incorporates so many changes in so many different ways in one bill, a budget bill. I believe it is dishonest and anti-democratic. I truly believe there are a number of Conservative members in the House who would be voting against Bill C-38, if there were a free vote.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before we resume debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's East, National Defence; the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, Canada Revenue Agency; and the hon. member for Western Arctic, the environment.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

4:40 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, it is an honour for me to stand here and debate some of my more learned colleagues on the motion we have before us, which is of course to extend debate until midnight over the course of the next two weeks.

Standing Order 27 is the standing order we are talking about here. I should say that this standing order, of course, has been utilized many times in the past. In fact I recall when we first formed government in 2006. I believe the first opportunity we had to utilize Standing Order 27 and extend debate was in 2007. Since that time we have not had extended debate.

We have not had extended sitting hours for the last two weeks of a Parliament, but that is due to a number of different factors. For a couple of years, 2008, 2009, I believe it was just an agreement made between parties that it would not be required. I also believe there was an implied threat from members of the opposition during those minority government years that, in fact, if our government had brought the motion forward it would have been defeated.

There is a reason why Standing Order 27 was incorporated to begin with, and that is to allow the government of the day to bring forward pieces of legislation in an attempt to get them passed before that Parliament rose for the summer. It is always in the last two weeks of a parliamentary session, heading into the summer months, that this ability of a government to bring forward a motion for extended sitting hours is there.

I find it interesting that members of the opposition, particularly members of the official opposition, the NDP, have stated that they will be opposing our motion for extended sitting hours. In fact I always find that disingenuous on behalf of the opposition members, because they have consistently stated that they want more debate time. On almost every single piece of legislation we have introduced in this Parliament and previous parliaments, the NDP has consistently stated it wants more debate time.

We are now offering more debate time on several bills that are on our legislative calendar, yet faced with the opportunity for increased debate, enhanced scrutiny, the NDP says no. The NDP members do not want to sit the extra hours each and every night to debate bills.

I do not know if we have heard nothing but loose lips talking in previous months and previous years, from the NDP, if in fact it really did not want increased debate all these years, or if the NDP is actually telling the truth right now when it says it opposes the increased debate because it disagrees fundamentally with the government on Bill C-38.

I find it strange that the NDP uses that argument when we in fact have been debating Bill C-38. The opposition obviously has seen enough of the bill to be able to introduce more than 1,000 amendments originally, pared down to 871 amendments.

On one hand, again, we see this disconnect between reality and what the official opposition is stating publicly, and that is simply this: if it did not have enough information about Bill C-38 to begin with, how in the world could it have then brought forward 1,000 amendments? It does not seem to make sense to me that it would have a lack of information about what is contained in Bill C-38 but still have the ability to bring forward more than 1,000 amendments. It must have some knowledge of what is contained in Bill C-38, or else how could it have brought forward any amendments?

We know, of course, that the reality is simply this: opposition members, both on the NDP benches and the Liberal benches, are not looking for more reasoned debate on any piece of legislation that our government has brought forward. They are simply trying to delay implementation of each and every piece of legislation we bring forward.

That is readily apparent, and not only on Bill C-38 but on some of the other pieces of legislation in which we wish to engage the opposition in debate over the course of the next two weeks. There is Canada-Jordan free trade, Canada-Panama free trade and the modernization of the Copyright Act.

All these legislative initiatives were brought forward not only a few weeks ago but, in some cases, years ago. We have been engaging the opposition in debate on some of these matters for literally years, but to no avail. Something I find very troubling is that I hear members of the opposition state that they wish to have meaningful debate and they want to have co-operation with all parties in this place, yet they consistently go out of their way to try to inhibit legislation from passing.

I understand. I get what an opposition does, and I certainly agree that it is there to hold the government to account. I understand that the opposition members' primary function is to oppose government legislation. However, they cannot then say they want to work with the government to bring legislation to fruition if in fact their primary motive is simply to kill the bill, with apologies to Quentin Tarantino.

The government is attempting to bring forward legislation in a timely fashion and to ensure we have adequate debate. However, members of the opposition have consistently demonstrated that they wish nothing more than to delay, obfuscate and do anything in their power, through procedural tactics like hoist bills and other delaying tactics, to prevent our government from passing legislation. That is okay. If that is what they consider to be their primary function in this place, we will deal with that.

However, that is the reason, more than anything else, that we have brought forward time allocation on a number of occasions now. I will also point out to those who may be paying attention to this debate, who are not completely familiar with parliamentary procedures, that time allocation is a function used by many governments in previous years. It is a part of our Standing Order package that allows the government of the day to put a certain time allocation on a respective bill before it comes forward for debate at either second reading, report stage or third reading.

However, I will point out differences between our approach and those of governments in past years, particularly the previous Liberal governments who used time allocation and closure far more frequently than our government and used to have a standard one day of debate on bills that they used to time allocate. Members of this place will know, if they have been paying attention, that is not the approach we have been taking. When we have brought forward time allocation, we have done so in a fashion that would allow for several days of debate after the time allocation motion has been brought forward. Again, contrast that with the previous Liberal government, which would bring forward time allocation motions and restrict the debate to one day and sometimes, as the record would show, to as few as three hours in some cases.

So the only reason we have been bringing forward time allocation on a number of bills is that the opposition members have demonstrated that they will do everything within their powers to delay implementation. If any government is faced with a situation where it has been demonstrated that the opposition will delay and obfuscate to the point of never allowing any legislation to pass, then the government has no recourse and no other option but to bring forward time allocation motions, and that is what we have been doing.

Of course, from a political standpoint the narrative that the opposition members, particularly the NDP, have been trying to weave is that if they can force our government into bringing forward time allocation motions it benefits them politically, by allowing them to stand up in this House and to go to political meetings and say, “This government is restricting debate; look at all the time allocation motions it brought forward”. However, what the opposition members are trying to do is run up the score. They are trying to force our government to bring forward time allocation motions on almost every piece of legislation because it feeds their narrative. That is the reality. Is it good politics? Perhaps. We will find that out.

What Canadians expect of any government is that legislation be passed and that it be passed in a timely fashion. That is what we are doing, more than anything else.

If we look at the number of days of debate, the number of hours of debate, the number of speeches presented in this House on debate with various pieces of legislation that we have time allocated, we would find on average that there has been more debate on a bill-by-bill basis than with any government in the last 20 years. The opposition members do not like that because it is the truth, but if they took the time to actually research what I am saying, they will find it is absolutely true.

We have many new members in this place, so I do not expect them to know all of the parliamentary history, but I would encourage them to please go back and look at legislation that previous Liberal governments brought forward and look not only at how many times time allocation was used but also at closure. I am assuming that the members opposite know the distinction between time allocation and closure.

The reality is simply this, that Canadians expect governments of the day, regardless of their political stripe, to pass legislation, because without that ability, no government can function.

One of the problems in a minority government, which we all saw from time to time, is parliamentary gridlock. We reached an impasse where legislation simply would not pass because of the combined forces of the opposition blocking any attempt by this government to pass legislation in a timely fashion.

Obviously the dynamics have now changed: we have a majority government we are getting legislation through. Yet more needs to be done.

I will give four quick examples of what I consider to be critical pieces of legislation that Canadians would like to see our government act upon. I have mentioned them previously. One is the copyright modernization act, an act that has not been modernized for far too many years. We are on the cusp of finally passing that bill, but we need additional time to do so.

We have two more free trade agreements, one with Jordan and one with Panama, that will greatly enhance our economic ability to create jobs, to create wealth within our country. We need time, however, over the course of the next two weeks to get those bills properly debated and, hopefully, passed.

Of course, we have the pooled registered pension plans act that will provide, for the first time, to Canadians who are self-employed and do not currently have pensions the ability to opt into a pension plan, which will affect hundreds of thousands and actually millions of Canadians.

These are all extremely important pieces of legislation that Canadians want to see passed, which is all that we are trying to do, to ensure that over the course of the next two weeks before we rise for the summer, that at minimum these four pieces of critical legislation are passed.

Do we expect to get cooperation from the opposition? I will not prejudge that; I simply will not do that. I hope that the members opposite who have been speaking today in this debate, stating that they wish to cooperate with the government, are sincere in their comments, but time will tell.

I do want to mention the relationship, as I mentioned to my colleague, my friend from Winnipeg North, that should exist among House leaders. I, too, have been involved with the House leaders management team for the past number of years. In fact, I have been the parliamentary secretary to five different House leaders since we were first elected to government in 2006, and I can assure the members opposite, all members, that from time to time, while there may be acrimony and some hard feelings, I believe that on most occasions the House leaders of all parties, opposition and government together, do work together in a fairly collegial atmosphere.

There will also be times when all opposition parties and the government, through their House leaders and their House management teams, can agree on certain pieces of legislation that can be passed.

I will not tell any stories out of school, or break any confidential pact, because House leaders meetings of course are in camera and are confidential, but I can assure members opposite that I have been involved in previous years in negotiating when sessions end.

I do not want to give the impression to any Canadian that parliamentarians want to get out of here early and do not want to do the work they have been elected to do. However, from time to time, as we get close to an end of a parliamentary session, there is the opportunity for all parties to come together to try to agree on what legislation might be available for quick passage.

It is not uncommon, for example, for opposition parties to come forward during House leaders' discussions and ask what priority pieces of legislation the government has on its agenda. That is code of sorts, quite frankly, for what pieces of legislation the government wants passed before we get out of here for the summer. Maybe we could have some discussion; maybe we could find some common ground, some agreement. It has always worked well and I anticipate, or at least I certainly hope, that this opportunity over the course of two weeks will not disappoint me and that we will find common ground again.

I particularly want to point out that I agree with a comment by my friend from Winnipeg North a little earlier, that surely to goodness there could be the type of relationship among House leaders that allows for some legitimate debate on the length of time that bills need to be debated. I have had this conversation with the House leaders of both the Liberals and the NDP in months and years past. In a perfect world I would love to see a situation or the type of dynamic in play where on a relatively normal bill, a non-controversial bill, we could agree on an average length of debate. If we could agree, whether it is five days or ten days or so many hours, that would be the standard we would try to hold ourselves to.

Obviously there would be times where legislation that any government introduced would be opposed vigorously by the members of the opposition. We have clearly seen some of those in this session of Parliament, such as on the long gun registry and the Wheat Board, and there will be others. I can understand that, and I believe that the opposition members understand that those are the types of legislative initiatives where the opposition and the government will never find common ground. That is okay. That is the nature of democracy; that is the nature of Parliament. In those cases though, I still think that we could find some common ground to agree that if we are going to encounter vehement opposition, then what is a legitimate timeframe we can put on that debate. Perhaps it would not be as short as some of the more non-controversial pieces of legislation, but can we at least find some agreement to limit debate after a certain period of time, if we know that we will never find agreement between the opposite sides of the House?

That has been attempted. At times it has proven to be successful. I would like to see more of that type of dialogue between parties. However, where we cannot bridge that impasse, then we will find that the government has to use the levers at its disposal. We have been doing that, but I believe we have been doing that in a judicious manner.

I invite comments from opposition members to see if there are ways they would suggest for us to find even more enhanced co-operation between all parties in this place.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened attentively to the hon. member's presentation, with some admiration for his experience, his eloquence, and his ability to pass off half-truths as the whole truth. What more evidence do we need than this extension of sitting hours that we are being asked for? We are now being asked to believe that, finally, additional time is being allowed for debate in this House. But the list of bills that we are going to have to study keeps getting longer.

Let me do some simple calculations for those who are watching. Imagine we have one hour to debate one bill or two hours to debate five bills. In my opinion, the math can be done quite quickly, and everyone understands quite well that what is actually being proposed is once more a reduction in the time in which to debate each one of the bills that the government wants passed before the summer recess.

However, I am ready to listen to the proposals for a possible compromise on the amount of time allowed for various bills. I feel that there would be more chance of that if we had the feeling that we were listened to on at least one occasion. But really, that is extremely rare.

Is there a specific proposal on the table?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite feels that I have been speaking in half truths and trying to portray them as truths, and if he is willing to listen to anything I might say.

The reality is this: how can the member opposite say that the number of bills and the opportunities for debate are going to decrease when in fact we are increasing the hours per day for the next two weeks? We are proposing an extra five hours per day for the next two weeks. It seems to me that that would allow for more meaningful debate and more opportunities for compromise, or at least for some agreement. Frankly, I find it astonishing and quite confusing that the opposition would stand and say it is opposing increased hours for debate when it has in fact been saying for the last several months that it wants more time for debate.

There is a disconnect. I cannot see how it could possibly be bridged other than if the members of the opposition recognized what is known to all Canadians, that they are simply trying to delay legislation and not work together.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of quick comments and then a question.

First, I cannot resist commenting with regard to the time allocation debate. It is important to note that when the Liberal Party was in government, time allocation did not occur immediately after the introduction of bills, but often days after bills were introduced. When we take a look at the number of time allocation motions, I suspect that the entire Chrétien government, in its 10-plus years, did not bring in time allocation more than the Conservative government has in this last session since it acquired a majority. I am going to push that to the side right now.

The member offered a challenge. I love the idea. How do we pass, in a timely fashion, controversial legislation? Other jurisdictions, as an example, say that a controversial piece of legislation has to be introduced x number of days into a session and if it is not introduced before that time, time allocation is not allowed. Members have to make sure that it is done far enough in advance of the session winding down, for example, and then a minimum number of hours are established for debate before time application could be applied.

The point is that if there is a will among the House leaders and the House leadership team to sit down and negotiate in good faith, bills can get through the legislature, even the controversial ones, in which—

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. I would remind all hon. members to keep an eye on the Chair when they are asking questions or making comments for some indication of time.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for Winnipeg North for volunteering on behalf of his House management team that there be a solution, that we may be able to find some common ground; but, unfortunately, I have not been able to see that demonstrated yet.

Obviously, the members opposite will try to blame the government for the failure to find common ground on an appropriate length of time for debate. The government sees it quite differently. I know that from time to time, quite frequently in fact, our government has gone to the opposition and asked how many speakers will be standing on a particular bill and how much time it thinks it needs to speak on a certain bill. Unfortunately, many times the answer from the opposition benches has been nothing more than that they would like to see how it plays out.

I would love to find a system that works, but it takes two to tango. Unfortunately, to date we have not been able to find that compromise and that common ground. I can assure the member opposite, however, that we will continue to work as hard as we can to see if we can find common ground.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had some time this weekend to travel through my riding and I ran into some folks who always ask what Parliament is doing and what we are working on. I shared with them that we would again be talking about pooled registered pension plans this week and they asked, “Did you not finish that in the spring? Haven't you already talked about that?” They are quite amazed at how long it takes and how much conversation takes place. They also ask how I can sit and listen to the same things over and over again. I am all for great debate, but when the members opposite continue to get up one after the other and say exactly the same things, it does make me feel a bit weary.

I want to ask the member if he is hearing the same thing, that this is about getting the job done and being asked by people back home to come here and have good, earnest debate, but at some time to finish our job.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud my good friend for asking a tough but fair question. All kidding aside, I mentioned in my address earlier that Canadians do expect government, regardless of whether it be Conservative, Liberal, NDP or whatever government, to get legislation passed. That is why its members are elected. Unfortunately, we find far too many times that debate is just extended for the sake of debate, not for the sake of trying to improve a piece of legislation.

I know others share this view with me. I would love to see a system, such as other jurisdictions have, where we are not allowed to read a speech in debate. I do not mean any disrespect to any members. Members from all sides do this. I see them during debate and question period with written questions or a speech that somebody else has written which they read verbatim. We would have far more meaningful dialogue if more members did not use written texts. There are many here who do not, and I am one of them, but there are many opposite who do. Frankly, if we simply had a rule, such as other jurisdictions employ, wherein members were not allowed to read a speech, they would have to stand up and speak extemporaneously. The level of debate would increase significantly. Canadians would be the beneficiaries of that debate.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will ask my colleague a fair and hopefully tough question. I am sure he has a lot of experience in the House. There are many rules and procedures that he has talked about in this House.

One of the procedures or rules that I have learned from my friends the Conservatives is time allocation. They have certainly used it enough times. I know backwards and inside out how the motion is put together. My Liberal colleague talked earlier about how that is used to stop debate in the House. I will go even further. I think the Conservatives really do not want to talk about what is in Bill C-38 so we cannot get to the bottom of it.

Therefore, my question to my colleagues is this. What are they hiding? What do they have to hide that we cannot have a proper discussion in the House on Bill C-38?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. parliamentary secretary. A short answer, please.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, all parties and all members use different techniques that are available to them. However, what I find more distressing and most undemocratic is this. Earlier this year when we introduced the budget, and I wish I could remember the name of his riding, the member who was the acting finance critic on behalf of the opposition used I think two and a half or three days of debate without allowing the Liberal opposition party members to put their views forward.

If we want to talk about preventing honest debate and dialogue among all parties, I would suggest that my friends opposite look in the mirror.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak on behalf of my party on this motion. I want to preface my remarks by saying I was hoping to have the opportunity to ask my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, a question. I, too, am amazed at how he can so articulately outline the position of the government and make it so understandable and do it without notes. Unfortunately, I have not gained that opportunity. However, maybe with a few more years of sitting under his mentorship I will have some of that under my belt.

I am pleased to rise in support of the government's motion, pursuant to Standing Order 27, to extend the sitting hours of the House in the final two weeks before the summer adjournment. Later, I want to make a few general comments about why we need to extend the hours. Now, I would like to focus on the House rules as they relate to the ability of the government and the need of the government to implement this measure.

O'Brien and Bosc House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 403:

Since 1982, and the advent of a fixed House of Commons calendar, the Standing Orders have provided for the extension of sitting hours during the last 10 sitting days in June.

O'Brien and Bosc further states, on pages 403 to 404:

In order to extend the hours of sitting in June, a motion, for which no notice is required, must be moved by a Minister during Routine Proceedings on the 10th sitting day preceding June 23. The motion, which must propose to extend sittings to a specific hour, but not necessarily for every day during that period, is subject to a maximum two-hour debate before the question is put by the Speaker.

Standing Order 27 is designed to provide the government with the option of seeking additional time before the summer adjournment for consideration by the House of important government priorities. This House has accomplished a lot this session, but there is more important work to do. Adopting the motion would provide further time for the House to debate important economic bills, like Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, which would benefit our constituents, before we return to our ridings this summer.

Earlier in the debate today, my colleague from Winnipeg North made a comment to the House leader, something to the effect he was challenging the House leader to be sure that the House leader stayed here in Parliament for the full extent of the debate that we would have during these sitting hours.

I would like to point out to those who may be watching that much of the work of a parliamentarian is done outside this House. Yes, it is important that we are here for debates, motions and votes. However, my colleague will know that much of the work of a parliamentarian has to happen outside this House. We go back to our offices here on Parliament Hill. There are emails to deal with, phone calls to deal with, stakeholder meetings that are required of us. All of these functions are part of a parliamentarian's duties.

Add to that the responsibility of a House leader and one could imagine that it would be impossible, and my colleague knows this, for the House leader to sit here at his desk all day long to engage in debate. There are other important obligations placed upon our House leader.

It is important to point out to Canadians who were expecting us to move ahead on many of these initiatives to think about some of the positions that the NDP members have taken over the past number of weeks. They have repeatedly complained of lack of time to debate the legislation that we put before them. And now, here we have before us an opportunity to extend the hours to give them more opportunity.

Another point of irony in this whole debate is that during the debate on Bill C-38, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster used virtually 98% or more of the time available for all members to debate that bill. He used up all of that time, not allowing his colleagues, even the members of his own party, let alone the opposition, the opportunity to adequately enter into debate on that bill.

So, here we are, today, giving them the opportunity to extend those hours so that we can have important debate on the important legislation that we have tabled and they are saying, “No, we don't want to do that”. I think Canadians expect us to work until the job is done.

In these last six years that I have been a member of Parliament there are two things for which I am thankful. One is that I was raised on a farm and learned how to work hard and the other is that I learned how to work as a team member. Farmers realize that when it comes to spring planting season, they have to put in longer hours if the job is going to get done. When it comes to harvest in late summer or fall, farmers have to put in extra hours and extra resources may have to be called in. Canadians expect us at this point in history, when the economic recovery is still so fragile, to get the initiatives in this legislation implemented quickly.

Some misinformation has been given out today regarding the environmental changes that we are proposing. My colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands said “we are torching” the environmental regulations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bill C-38 proposes that when major projects are under review there be one project, one review, so that we are not needlessly duplicating and adding time and cost to those who are trying to move on with a project. Environmental assessments will be just as rigorous, perhaps more so. We will be giving companies a timeline in which the answer will be given. The answer may still be no, that the project cannot go ahead because of an environmental concern, but at least at the end of the day the company that is trying to move ahead with a project will have a definitive answer and it can move ahead with certainty.

Over the past number of days and weeks we have debated the changes to the EI system. I sat here through hours of debate as my colleagues on the other side argued against the fact that people should have the opportunity to take a job earning 80% of what they previously earned rather than sitting at home earning 55%.

Many of my constituents find that incongruous. How can those members possibly argue that it would be better for a Canadian to sit at home, not gainfully employed, not feeling productive, not having the honour and the self-esteem of having a productive job, when that individual could earn up to 80% of what he or she previously earned?

Also in the works here are the immigration and refugee changes we are suggesting in terms of getting rid of the hundreds of thousands of backlog cases that we inherited and trying to match the skills of those who plan to immigrate to Canada with job opportunities here. On this point, there is one thing that is being missed by a lot of Canadians.

People criticize us for wanting to keep immigrants out. Nothing could be further from the truth again. I have attended probably 100 citizenship ceremonies in the last six and a half years. Those who are calling for changes to our immigration and refugee system are new immigrants to Canada, who arrived here within the last 10 to 30 years. These people are saying that we need to ensure that we have a fair immigration system, one that gives a clear timeline as to what immigrants can expect in terms of job creation.

Changes to the fisheries and oceans act would also be implemented with the passing of this legislation. I come from an urban-rural riding. Many times farmers in my community have told me how frustrating it is when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans puts undue regulatory roadblocks in the way of their development simply because at one point a particular ditch may have had water in it and there may have been a few tadpoles in it and now they are facing many obstacles in getting on with fully implementing the projects that they want to do.

Under our government's economic action plan, Canada's deficit and taxes are going down. We heard today that Tax Freedom Day is today, June 11. I remember so clearly when I was running for office in 2005-06 that Tax Freedom Day was June 26. Here we are, fully two weeks earlier in reducing the tax burden on Canadians we have been called here to represent.

It is an honour for me to support the government's initiative to extend the sitting hours so that we can actually get the job done. Canadians expect that. They sent us here to do that. If we work together, we can get it done.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:25 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 27, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen: