Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the interruption, yet I am compelled by circumstances to rise on a point of order related to the special Order Paper you just tabled in this place and specifically to government business Motion No. 2.
This highly unusual and complex motion puts 13 separate questions before the House, all of which are capable of standing on their own and all of which should be debated and voted upon separately. The omnibus motion is very lengthy, but I will mention just a few items to give a sense of the broad, sweeping nature of what is before us, and I will offer some argument of the rules that guide Parliament, along with the convictions that Conservatives themselves had when they sat in opposition.
The first part of the motion would allow the government to reinstate any and every bill it passed in the previous session to the last stage completed before the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament, essentially attempting to de-prorogue and return to the legislative agenda that his prorogation cancelled.
A second aspect is that the government would then link the remaking of the special committee on indigenous women that had been studying the critical issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
It would also attempt to give direction to the procedure and House affairs committee to begin its vital work on making the members' expenses disclosure regime more open, mandatory, and consistent.
Last, it would direct the House to not sit on November 1 in order to accommodate the Conservative caucus and its upcoming policy convention.
The sponsor of this motion, the government House leader, is fully aware that the official opposition supports the last three aspects of this motion. To flip a now infamous quote on its head, the government simply will not take yes for an answer.
The government House leader is also fully aware that we are strongly opposed to the first clause that would allow for an across-the-board reinstatement of all government bills, a legislative carte blanche to attempt to undo the natural consequences of the Conservatives' own decision to shut down Parliament. We find it particularly offensive for the government to use a solemn, non-partisan study on missing and murdered aboriginal women as a playing card in its attempt to try to force the opposition to grant it the power to reinstate its old legislative agenda.
In addition to being ethically worrisome, the manoeuvre also runs counter to the rules of this House. Perhaps the government members are not swayed yet by my arguments, so allow me to use some of their own in support of my case.
The Prime Minister will remember what his House leader, Carol Skelton, argued in 2002, when the Liberals tried this exact same tactic. She said:
If this motion is allowed to stand as is, members will be forced to vote for the reinstatement of [bills] to ensure prebudget consultations and to save the good work of the special committee. The motion is wrong procedurally and is wrong ethically.
Given that O'Brien and Bosc's second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice had not yet been published, she quoted the following from page 478 of Marleau and Montpetit:
When a complicated motion comes before the House (for example, a motion containing two or more parts each capable of standing on its own), the Speaker has the authority to modify it and thereby facilitate decision-making for the House. When any Member objects to a motion that contains two or more distinct propositions, he or she may request that the motion be divided and that each proposition be debated and voted on separately.
In 2002, Ms. Skelton referred to a case from June 15, when the Speaker concluded as follows:
I must come to the conclusion that the motion before the House contains two propositions and since strong objections have been made to the effect that these two propositions should not be considered together, it is my duty to divide them.
In 2002 we even heard from the current member for Vegreville—Wainwright, who said:
I would suggest that this is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that it is serious about trying to make the House democratic by dividing this motion so that members of the House can vote on each motion separately. The current motion does not allow that.
Eleven years later they seem to have learned nothing from the failures of the previous government. I would ask that you, Mr. Speaker, review the precedents on this, review the motion placed on the Order Paper that you have just tabled, and come back to the House, as quickly as you are able, to divide the motion for both debate and votes.
It is therefore your duty, Mr. Speaker, to rule on this kind of tactic. This is completely contrary to our rules and precedents and to the spirit of respectful negotiations that allows this institution to function properly.
As a sign of good faith to my friends across the way, perhaps I can help speed up the passage of clause (m) of government business Motion No. 2, the one I have referred to. This is the part of the motion that changes the schedule of the House to allow the Conservative caucus members to get to their party convention in Calgary. This is a courtesy that is often extended, as you know, Mr. Speaker, to all major parties in the House when their conventions conflict with the sitting schedule of the House.
Therefore, I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion, which is taken word for word from the government motion on today's Order Paper:
“On Thursday, October 31, 2013, the hours of sitting and order of business of the House shall be that of a Friday, provided that (i) the time for filing of any notice be no later than 6:00 p.m., (ii) when the House adjourns it shall stand adjourned until Monday, November 4, 2013, and (iii) any recorded division in respect of a debatable motion requested on, or deferred to, October 31, 2013, shall be deemed to be deferred or further deferred, as the case may be, to the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on November 4, 2013.”
The coupling of the government's attempts to ram together all of its previous legislative agenda to something as important as the study and the pursuit of justice for missing and murdered aboriginal women, we find offensive. The government has the opportunity to decouple these statements and allow for a free and fair vote that is in line with our rules and the ethics of this place. I put that motion before you now, Mr. Speaker.