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House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was yea.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Question No. 636Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

With regard to Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, within the Health Portfolio: (a) with respect to Health Canada, (i) where will positions be cut, by branch and by division, (ii) which programs will be cut or eliminated, (iii) of programs cut or terminated, how many of these programs provide services to Canada’s Aboriginal, Inuit, or Métis peoples; and (b) with respect to Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB), (i) where will jobs be cut, by division, (ii) which programs will be cut or eliminated, (iii) what is the process and average timeline for a medication price review, (iv) will this process or timeline be changed due to funding cuts?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 637Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

With regard to the Atlantic Groundfish Licence Retirement Program (AGLRP): (a) has the government handed out payments to all 752 of the former fishers who were involved in the Victor White v. Canada federal court case; (b) if not, how many of the 752 remain to be paid; (c) what is the total number of members of the AGLRP who were not involved in the court case but who had requested reassessment or similar measures before the case went to court and had their decisions delayed as a result, and does the government plan to make payments to these people similar to those payments made to the fishers involved in the court case; and (d) what correspondence containing erroneous tax advice did the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) send to AGLRP members, (i) on what dates were these letters sent, (ii) to what regions were they sent, (iii) what is the total number of individuals who received these letters?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2012 / 4:55 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 ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the other day the official opposition raised a question of privilege of great importance. We indicated then that we would like to be able to respond to it. All Canadians would be concerned about what is taking place in the House of Commons. I will take this opportunity to get on the record why it is so critically important that the Speaker take into consideration what the House Leader of the Official Opposition has put on the record in this particular question of privilege.

As I am sure many members of the House recall, it is all related to Bill C-38. This bill would have a significant and profound impact on the lives of all Canadians. I want to express our concerns related to the question of privilege. This is probably the most opportune time to do so.

I take the issue very seriously. I have had many years to address important process questions inside the chamber. I, for one, believe in process. It is a critically important component of our democratic system to be able to stand in my place and express what I think is perhaps in the minds of many a boring issue, dealing with process. The Conservative government, likely more than any government before it, has been very negligent on the whole issue of process. So I want to share with the government some of my concerns.

We need to recognize that we are really talking about information. We have all heard the expression “information is gold”. It is critically important it is that we as legislators have access to information.

Over the years, I have met with a lot of youth. When I was over at the Manitoba legislature, young people would come down. Here, a lot of youth come and meet with their local members of Parliament to talk about what the politicians do in these buildings. When we reflect on the question of privilege that the House Leader of the Official Opposition brought to the floor the other day, it is important that we put into perspective what it is that we are telling people outside of this wonderful room. What we are really talking about is the rights of individual members of Parliament. We have to do what we can to protect those rights.

Over the years I have talked to hundreds, possibly thousands, of students and I often tell them that we do three things—

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg North has risen to comment on a question of privilege that has been brought in this place and other points of order have been raised.

I would like to remind all hon. members that the process by which the chamber hears questions of privilege and points of order is a serious one. It is important that all hon. members have the opportunity to rise and address those issues when they are brought forward. Having said that, it is not the purpose of this process that hon. members can rise under the suggestion of a point of order or a question of privilege and speak indefinitely.

This question of privilege has been discussed, points have been brought forward. If the hon. member has a point to make or any new information to bring before the House, that would be welcome. It is not the right of the member to speak indefinitely by providing simple commentary on the matter before the House

I would encourage the hon. member for Winnipeg North to get to the point and to bring forward his information, so that the Speaker can consider it.

The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, I presume on the same point.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I trust that I did not misinterpret your comments. Obviously the member for Winnipeg North is addressing the very important question of privilege that was brought up by the House leader of the opposition. I think that in explaining our concern and commenting on it, sometimes that requires some illustration to explain exactly what we feel needs to be said about that question of privilege.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before I go to the other hon. member on the same point, I would agree with the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie that members need to be given the latitude to make their points and add new information. I was merely cautioning the member that it does not translate into the right to speak indefinitely. All hon. members are urged to make their point and to bring new information before the House if they have it, so that the Chair can take that into consideration when a decision is made on something as important as a question of privilege.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think this is a critical issue.

I have been attentive to this debate. I have already made my submissions on the substantive question of privilege and do not intend to enter into that again. I have had my opportunity. However, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley made his point in an approximately 20-minute statement of argument around that question of privilege. I responded briefly. Now the Liberal Party in the House has chosen this moment to provide its guidance.

The Speaker has not yet ruled on that question of privilege. Falling back on parliamentary tradition, it seems to me that this is akin to what we would have in the British Commonwealth tradition of natural justice. One must allow all parties, in a timely fashion, to put forward their argumentation.

I agree, it would not be appropriate to talk forever. On the other hand, I think it is awkward for the Speaker to comment on the quality of a presentation until the hon. member for an official party of this House has concluded his or her remarks. This is not to criticize you, Mr. Speaker, I never would, but I think it is an important point.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I would simply remind all hon. members that any time a question of privilege is brought forward in this place it is an important matter. The House leader for the official opposition has made this question of privilege and it is under consideration. Absolutely, members have the opportunity to add comment.

The chair did not cut off the member for Winnipeg North but merely wished to point out that the ability to speak to a question of privilege is not indefinite. I was urging him to make his point, to present new information and to move forward with this as expeditiously as possible.

The hon. member for Bourassa.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of sitting in this House for the past 15 years. I truly hope that your ruling will not set a dangerous precedent.

Some members deliver their speeches off the cuff. Other members read their speeches.

There is sometimes an impression that when members read their texts, we can measure their time better and there is a beginning and an end. Just because my colleague is speaking off the cuff does not mean that he should be cut off.

It would be more judicious and more respectful to pay attention and to allow my colleague to express his point of view. I do not wish to give the impression that, here, in this cradle of democracy, a member can be cut off, especially when it is a point of privilege and not a point of order. When a question of privilege is raised, members should be allowed enough time to fully express their points of view.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The Chair appreciates the input and advice offered by all hon. members of this place. As I said before, the Chair did not cut off the hon. member for Winnipeg North, but merely asked him to move expeditiously.

With that, if the hon. member for Winnipeg North would like to continue with his address to this question of privilege, he has the floor.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate your comments and interjection.

I want to assure all members that in my experience through the years I have come to recognize that privileges are important. The reason so much attention is given to and a lot of discretion is allowed when a question of privilege is raised is so the member who raises the issue feels comfortable enough to adequately express what he or she believes is important to say. That is the spirit in which I raised point today.

I was present when the NDP House leader raised the privilege. I have had the opportunity to listen to many speeches regarding Bill C-38 and issues related to privilege.

The timing of my standing right now is critically important. Mr. Speaker, you have the power to make a difference in terms of what is going to happen over the next period of time. The Liberal Party as an entity, from what I understand, has not had the opportunity to express its thoughts on the privilege which the New Democratic Party member brought forward.

In the best way that I can, I will try to keep my comments short and concise, but I want to make sure that people understand why I feel it is so important and where I am coming from in regard to addressing this issue.

First and foremost, all members of Parliament have an important responsibility. Our constituents want to know that we are doing our job. Part of that job is what takes place on the floor of the House of Commons. We do our job in many different ways.

The privilege to which the member made reference is in regard to information that we have not been able to access. Not having access to information seriously impacts on our ability as members of Parliament to make good decisions.

The public has a great deal of interest in what we do inside the House. I always like to cut it down to two or three things. One of those things is the budget.

The Government of Canada spends a lot of money, in excess of $250 billion. As parliamentarians we have a responsibility to try to understand the kind of money that is being spent. We also need to be able to obtain information that the government has talked about in putting together its budget to present to the House. I could give a specific example in terms of my own critic portfolio. It is a relatively small expenditure, but it is an important expenditure which has a profound impact. That is why I say information is critically important. We ask the government to provide numbers and to tell us what type of offices are going to be closed down. We ask what impact it is going to have in terms of tax dollars.

There have been some significant changes in immigration. I want to cite a specific one. The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism made an announcement not that long ago, in which he said that the government wants to deal with the immigration backlog. In wanting to deal with the immigration backlog, he referred to skilled workers. He said that workers who had applied through the skilled workers program prior to 2008 were going to be deleted from the data banks. The government has put money aside that ultimately is going to be used to reimburse the landing and processing fees.

In looking at that, we say that we are debating a very important bill on the budget and we need specific information related to that. How do we know that the numbers mentioned by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism actually represent adequate compensation for those individuals? One could argue, as I have, that particular policy announcement was a cruel thing to have done, but at the end of the day, if we read the budget bill that we are expected to vote on intelligently, we need to have some very important information, and I am not convinced that information has been provided to us.

Let me use the example of someone from the Philippines who five years ago put in an application. According to this budget bill, the government is going to return that person's application fee and processing fee or landing fee. I am not 100% sure, but is important information to have. The government, with the passing of this budget bill, is going to be reimbursing those fees. If we look into it more deeply—

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the Speaker has told the member that this is supposed to be relevant to the question of privilege. It seems that the member is getting into the budget debate. I wonder if he understands that he is still speaking to a question of privilege. Just to keep him on track, I am curious to know if he has that in mind when making his statement now.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Point or order.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before I go to the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, at the time the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River rose, I was also rising to interrupt.

I would like to provide all hon. members with some guidance in terms of the way in which a point of order or question of privilege ought to be raised. I will quote from House of Commons Procedure and Practice, by O'Brien and Bosc, page 143, related to the initial discussion of points raised. It states:

A Member recognized on a question of privilege is expected to be brief and concise in explaining the event which has given rise to the question of privilege and the reasons why consideration of the event complained of should be given precedence over other House business.

It goes on to state on page 144:

The Speaker will hear the Member and may permit others who are directly implicated in the matter to intervene. In instances where more than one Member is involved in a question of privilege, the Speaker may postpone discussion until all concerned Members can be present in the House. The Speaker also has the discretion to seek the advice of other Members to help him or her in determining whether there is prima facie a matter of privilege involved which would warrant giving the matter priority of consideration over other House business. When satisfied, the Speaker will terminate the discussion.

I bring this to the House's attention. Before I go to the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel and back ultimately to the member for Winnipeg North, I will remind all hon. members that in the case of a question of privilege, the floor is not the members' until they choose to stop. The Speaker has the right to terminate that discussion if the Speaker feels that relevant points that have not been previously raised have not been brought forward. That is left to the judgment of the Speaker.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my interventions usually do not last very long, so I will make it quick. On the point of order by the member opposite from B.C., I am not sure if he understands what the question of privilege is. The member for Winnipeg North is responding on behalf of the Liberal Party.

As the member for Bourassa mentioned, just because the member does not speak from prepared notes and has a time limit of 5, 10, 15 minutes or half an hour, he is going to make a point.

I have the question of privilege by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He has easily made four or five points and spoken about two acts. To make a comment on each and every one of those points is going to take over two or three hours. The member, I think, is going to speak for another five minutes. I think we should allow him to make his point. We are talking about something that is timely. We are about to vote on a budget bill that is over 500 pages long and which affects over 70 acts. We do not have all the proper information. Parties on this side of the House are asking for information. The points have been relevant and I think it has to be put on the record.

With all due respect, I think the member for Winnipeg North should be given the time--

Bill C-38PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has suggested that the hon. member for Winnipeg North, who in this case is speaking on behalf of the Liberal caucus and wishes to put forward the position of the caucus ought to be given reasonable time. The Chair agrees that reasonable time should be provided. The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has suggested that if the hon. member for Winnipeg North had five more minutes, that would be sufficient. I am willing to take that suggestion. If the hon. member for Winnipeg North could complete his remarks in five minutes, I think that would be reasonable.

I thank the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his advice on that matter.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.