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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I would invite hon. members to try to keep their questions or comments to around a minute and the responses to a similar length.

As we have done in the past with the rotation, I will give preference to opposition members, although government members will be given an opportunity to ask questions as well.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this represents the 26th time that the government has invoked time allocation and closure, shutting down debate and thereby breaking a record of previous governments.

Never before have we seen a bill like Bill C-38, the Trojan Horse budget bill. The government will claim that there has been a lot of debate. With 720-plus clauses, more than 400 pages and more than 70 acts of Parliament which would either being changed profoundly or ruined altogether, we have raised concerns from the opposition and from the voices of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. In this Trojan Horse of a bill, hundreds upon hundreds of pages, the implications of which Canadians can perhaps be fearful of a government that so fears transparency, we have raised opposition to these time allocations.

Our words have not swayed it, nor have the words of Canadians who are fearful of what the government plans. Perhaps the words of the Prime Minister may sway the government. When he was in opposition, and maybe his principles have since changed, he said the following:

Madam Speaker, this will be the only opportunity I have to address [this bill] in the Chamber. I was not able to speak to the bill at second reading because there was time allocation then. Now there is time allocation at report stage....It is unfortunate that in the end most members will be lucky to have 10 minutes to speak to this bill.

Where have those principles gone, for the need to have democratic debate in this House—

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments. The hon. Minister of State for Finance.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Madam Speaker, democratic debate is exactly what we have had. Democratic debate was taken away from all of the members in the House, if we will recall. Madam Speaker, I am sure you will recall the 13 hours of Twitter regurgitation that we sat through. In my books, that is not exactly learned debate.

We had a budget that was tabled in this House. Merely moments after, a very substantive budget document was read into the record outlining the government's overarching plan for this year. The NDP members announced that they would vote against it. Then they put up a speaker, the speaker for Burnaby—New Westminster, who basically stole everyone else's time. Every other elected member of Parliament who could have had an opportunity to either speak in favour of, or to ask questions of, the budget chose not to.

However, 13 hours of tweeting is not substantive debate.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. parliamentary secretary will find little dispute from me about the time spent by the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. It is irrelevant to this debate. That was not blocking any discussion of Bill C-38 because it had not been tabled at that time.

I dispute the sort of nonsense we have heard from the government House leader that there has been abundant debate. Budget bills between 1995 and 2000 averaged 12 pages long. It has been only this Conservative brand, under the current Prime Minister, that has taken budget bills and made them Trojan horses. It was 800 pages in 2010, and now a 420-page bill changing environmental assessment and fisheries and only 12 hours of witnesses in a committee. That is an outrage.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, starting off, the hon. member's address to me as parliamentary secretary actually shows that she has not been following the debate. I was quite honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to become the Minister of State for Finance. I carry that challenge honourably. I would also like to point out that was just the first mistake in the question or first unfactual comment.

I understand there was actually 70 hours of witnesses appearing at two subcommittees, not only one. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those individuals, all of those elected members of Parliament who sat until midnight many nights listening to all of those witnesses. That is the way policy should be debated in the House.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I wish to apologize to my hon. friend. I misspoke. I certainly know he is a minister of state. I find it a matter personal privilege in the assertion that I have not followed this debate. I have followed every minute of this debate and 12 hours--

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. Order, please. The member has apologized. I think we will move on at this point.

On the same point of order, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Actually, I would like to raise a new point of order, Madam Speaker, if that point of order has been resolved.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I consider the apology made and the issue closed. I would like to move on.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to read from our Standing Orders directly into the record. It is in regard to the time allocation motion that the government has just moved. I would seek your advice as to whether or not this particular time allocation might be a valid point of order. The government might want to reconsider whether it is a valid motion at this time.

Madam Speaker, if you look at time allocation motions on page 51, Standing Order 78(3)(a) halfway down states:

...for the purpose of allotting a specified number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage; provided that the time allotted for any stage is not to be less than one sitting day and provided that for the purposes of this paragraph an allocation may be proposed in one motion...

Today, because of extending sitting time, which the Liberal Party had agreed to, we are actually sitting for 14 hours. You will note that the time allocation motion makes reference to 10 hours. It would seem that would contradict what is being stated in the Standing Orders.

Would you, as the Speaker, review that and provide some input as to whether or not the government might be in violation of the Standing Orders, or maybe you could just provide a better interpretation for me of that clause.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

After I have had a chance to look at the motion in detail, I will take the comments of the hon. member into consideration and will come back to the House as necessary.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I find it really atrocious to see another time allocation motion to discuss a bill that is so large in proportion and would have such an impact on Canadians.

We are still finding out some other details that are coming out of all of this. There is still a lot of concern being raised by Canadians about what is really in the bill. Our colleague across has indicated that there has been lots of time allocated, but when we do studies in committees, we hear more hours of debate on one particular act or one particular change to an act than we do on this budget bill.

I am wondering how the Conservatives can really prevent democracy in relation to such a large bill. The impact it would have on Canadians would be felt on our young generations as well, so how can the Conservatives make so many changes and not allow for proper debate on each piece? Why will they not separate the bill to be discussed properly and effectively?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Madam Speaker, I would like to start off by apologizing to my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands. I should not have suggested that she was not following the debate. What I intended in my remark was to suggest that she was not listening to the facts and figures in that debate. I would like to offer that apology to my colleague.

We talked about the length of time. We have had double the time to discuss the overarching budget implementation act that is no different from any other budget implementation act. We call it budget implementation act one because there is a lot in a budget. There is a lot in a government's plan that is put forward during the year. It usually takes two budget bills to get all of this through.

This is a momentous year for us. We have been recognized around the world as being on the right track financially. We need to continue on that. It takes decisive actions. That is exactly what we put into the budget implementation act, the decisions that will keep us on the right financial track.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, I have listened to the Minister of State for Finance indicate that the Conservatives are on the right track. The fact is that they inherited the right track and now they are destroying it.

We have discussed over the years changes to the Fisheries Act. The discussion was going to take place right across the country. Now we cannot even go to the fisheries committee. What is going on is a disgrace. This bill would also give the minister authority to do many things in the fishery, such as taking quota in order to pay for science. There are massive changes to EI that would hurt Prince Edward Island in many ways. Many of the people on EI might have to work for 70% of the salaries they now make. If they do that, then next year it will be 70% of that.

I ask the Minister of State for Finance, is this a race to the bottom? Is this to make sure that the people who work part time in Prince Edward Island make little or nothing? Is that the government's idea behind this massive bill that should be split into many bills?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, absolutely not. What is in Bill C-38, budget implementation act one, is exactly what we heard from Canadians in consultation across this country. We need to make government more effective. We need to make government reflect the value of Canadians. There are lots of people looking for work. There are lots of people in the hon. member's province looking for work. The improvements to EI would provide them a conduit to find jobs within their region and skills sets. That is only common sense.

That is what this entire budget implementation act is all about. It is making sure that we protect the fisheries where it is important to protect them, not on my back forty out in southern Alberta where there never has been a fish. Those are the challenges we are facing. The old Liberal government liked to maintain a process in Fisheries and Oceans that actually impeded productivity on the Prairies and we have said that is not right. Let us focus our money and efforts where they are needed: in protecting the fishery.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My hon. colleague indicates that he did all this discussing with groups. I would think, for the House's sake, it would be important for him to name a few fisheries groups that he—

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I see that there is a real difference in points of view, but it is debate.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today, although I have to say I rise more in sadness than anger and not on my own behalf. It is not about silencing members in the House, it is about not allowing us to give expression to the legitimate concerns of people in our ridings about this budget bill.

This is a bill with 753 sections and 425 pages. People in my community are concerned about this bill. One-third of it deals with gutting environmental regulations. It would fundamentally change the EI system which the government does not pay for, but that people have paid for through their wages. It would change old age security and attack the wages of construction workers. People in communities across the country are mobilizing against this budget.

If the government is so certain that this bill is great for all Canadians, I am surprised. It is not usually shy about self-promotion. Why would it not allow public consultations from coast to coast to coast to allow Canadians to voice their concerns, instead of, for the 26th time in a row, shutting down debate prematurely, when it knows that Canadians are fundamentally concerned about the direction of the government and that they deserve to be heard?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, there is a quote that I have been looking forward to reading. It is a good answer to the question from the hon. member on why we need to get this done. This is a quote from the Toronto Sun, which states:

As Europe stands poised on the brink of a disastrous economic wildfire that could blacken the world, NDP leader's hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame.... vowing to delay the passing of [economic action plan 2012]...by playing silly--

and I won't use the term

--silly [games] with amendments and procedure.... This is nothing but grandstanding.... This is a budget designed to create jobs and inspire economic growth, and it comes to the House of Commons at a moment that can only be described as the 11th hour of a global economic conflagration.... Right now, there is only one enemy in our fight to protect Canada from the repercussions of Europe's burning. And it's [the NDP leader].... This is inarguable.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I am rising in response to the point of order raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Standing Order 78(3) states that the amount of time allotted to any stage of a bill shall be not less than one sitting day. However, it also does not mean we should not take that particular reference to be interpreted as the length of the sitting day on which the bill is scheduled for debate or when the motion is moved.

Standing Order 78(3) affords the government the option to allot a specific number of “days” or “hours”. Sometimes time allocation motions allot sitting days. When a motion refers to a sitting day, we take the timeframe of a sitting day literally. It does not mean how long the day is or what the circumstances dictating the time available for government orders might be. On other occasions, time allocation motions have allotted hours. The hours allotted in those motions were respected.

Let me give some examples. On November 13, 1975, a motion allotting five further hours for the second reading stage of Bill C-58, which amended the Income Tax Act, was adopted; similar motions were adopted on March 10, 1976, for Bill C-68 amendments to the then Medical Care Act; on March 29, 1977, for Bill C-27, the Employment and Immigration Reorganization Act; and on November 22, 1977, for Bill C-11, another bill to amend the Income Tax Act. In relation to Bill C-18, the National Transportation Act, 1986, a motion allotting four hours for report stage and four hours for third reading was adopted on June 15, 1987.

Most recently, the House adopted two such motions last Thursday, June 7, 2012. One allotted five hours for third reading of Bill C-25, pooled registered pension plans act, and the other allotted seven hours for second reading of Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama free trade bill. Needless to say, both motions were in order last week and each was adopted by the House.

Of interest, regarding the 1987 case, the report and third reading stages happened to be the second order of the day called by the government on each sitting day, and the debates were interrupted by the Speaker after the expiry of the time provided for in the time allocation motion but before the end of government orders. It should be further noted that on both occasions, after Bill C-18 was dealt with, the government called a third order of the day.

Looking at our recent example of Bill C-25, yesterday's order paper said we had 2 hours and 24 minutes of debate remaining on the bill. Had we resumed debate on it at 3:00 p.m., after question period last Thursday, the debate would have ended before the end of government orders at 5:30 p.m. With routine proceedings and the consideration of procedural motions, it is not inconceivable to end up with a situation where only a few minutes are available to debate a bill on a given ordinary sitting day. Those few minutes would satisfy the minimum requirement of Standing Order 78(3) if the motion allotted one sitting day.

Our motion refers to hours. When dealing with hours, it makes more sense to interpret the minimum requirement of one sitting day differently because the number of available hours could vary from day to day.

As members are aware, not every sitting day is the same. Under the usual calendar, five and a half hours are set aside for both routine proceedings and government orders on Mondays; six and a half hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays; two and a half hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. The longer routine proceedings take, the less time there is for government orders. When allotting hours, the reference to one sitting day should be interpreted as a sitting day and not the sitting day on which the bill has been scheduled for debate.

I would argue that when referring to hours in a time allocation motion, the minimum allotment of hours should be consistent with the shortest day available under the current Standing Orders, and that is two and a half hours, and that assumes we breeze through routine proceedings in a heartbeat. Of course, our motion contemplates ten hours of debate for report stage and a further eight hours for third reading, which in both cases is at least three times the two and a half hour figure I just cited.

On three of the five sitting days each week, the time available for government business is routinely no more than five hours. Some may ask what impact there may be, given that we are operating under extended hours. I would say it should not be a relevant consideration. Calling government orders is the prerogative of the government. In other words, any item on the order paper could be called this week or this fall, when we are not in extended sittings. However, should the fact we adopted a motion yesterday under Standing Order 27(1) bear relevance to the chair's consideration, let me advance two further points.

First, Wednesday, tomorrow for example, would have at most eight hours for government orders, and the coming Friday is operating in the usual schedule, with two and a half hours for government business.

The government could, if it so chooses, call Bill C-38 on either of those dates, and yet 10 hours could not be fully used in a single day. In fact, I believe everyone understands that we will be calling Bill C-38, in part, tomorrow.

Second, the 1987 precedent that I cited earlier speaks to our present circumstances. On Friday, June 12, 1987, the House adopted a special order respecting sitting hours, effective the following Tuesday. Now, recall that the time allocation motion was adopted on Monday, June 15. The House, knowing that extended hours were upon it, adopted the time allocation order for four hours for each of two different stages of the bill.

Report stage was called on Tuesday, June 16, as the second order of the day, and after all of the recorded votes at report stage there were still a couple of hours left in the day for a third item of government business. Third reading followed the next day, when again there was more than ample time in the day to accommodate that debate.

Looking at the cases I cited earlier, but in both the case of Bill C-18 in 1987 and Bill C-25 on Thursday last week, the minimum requirement of one sitting day was not interpreted by the Speaker as the length of the days on which either bill was scheduled.

Although no ruling was then given in 1987, I would submit that Mr. Speaker Fraser likely interpreted the length of the shortest available day to be the minimum time required by the Standing Orders, and as far as I can surmise, it would also have been the view of the Speaker last week.

Accordingly, I believe our motion should be allowed to stand for the same reason that it allots a greater number of hours than the shortest day on which it could be scheduled. Indeed, it will be a longer number of hours than in the normal circumstance would be provided any day at any other time of the year that we would be debating it in the House.

I believe the precedents are amply demonstrative that the motion you have before you, Madam Speaker, is in order.

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, the government House leader makes some interesting points.

He talks about the usual circumstances but, if members will remember, just yesterday in the Speaker's ruling on trying to allocate the number of votes and amendments to Bill C-38, the omnibus Trojan Horse budget bill we are talking about, the Speaker himself a number of times referred to these as extraordinary circumstances. Part of the reason for that is that this is an extraordinarily bad bill, massive in its implications and broad-sweeping.

To suggest that the government, and I want to get this right, in my friend's motion, seeks to have a distinction between “a” sitting day and not “the” sitting day is a debate that may be lost in its minutiae on Canadians, yet is important in its implications of what the government is doing.

We are in the midst of debating another closure motion from the government, another motion to shut down debate. It is the 26th time the government has moved time allocation and closure in this House. Twenty-six times is a lot for any government, in fact a record that the government seems proud to be breaking and setting anew for Canadian democracy.

The question and the challenge we have with this motion is that in redefining what “a day” is, the government is essentially trying to further speed its agenda through the House of Commons, to further shut down the amount of time MPs have to understand the implications of more than 420 pages of a budget implementation bill, and to further suggest to Canadians that the House of Commons and the members of Parliament do not have the responsibility to hold government to account.

We in the NDP take this job extremely seriously. I lament the fact that my friends across the way do not share that responsibility and feel that shutting down debate, invoking closures and time allocations, should be de rigueur for the government, and I lament that we are now into a debate about defining what the difference is between “a” sitting day and “the” sitting day and trying to pretend that this is somehow a normal circumstance.

There is nothing normal about the circumstance at all. It is extraordinary, as the Speaker of the House said just yesterday. If the Speaker wants to rule that we are going to change the definition of a day, and the government seems so encouraged to change the definition of what debate and democracy may mean, the government has a certain ease with which it is removing principles it used to hold, principles that it actually said at one point—

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Do you want the votes today or tomorrow?

Bill C-38—Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

With all the interruptions from the government House leader, I will continue.

If the government wants to say that the principles it used to hold while in opposition are no longer principles it holds so dear, that is fine. That is for it to work out with the people it seeks to represent.

For us, a principle is a principle. The fact is that this is a Parliament, based within the very name itself, a place where we discuss the matters of the nation not cram through omnibus Trojan Horse bills and start to redefine what a day actually is. I think most Canadians would find this entire discussion not just obtuse but obscene.