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House of Commons Hansard #235 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

Telecommunications IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North now has the floor.

Telecommunications IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's feeble wireless policies are headed for failure. All three of Canada's small wireless companies are up for sale, owing to an unlevel playing field. Unchecked, Canada's theree big telecoms will grab the last 9% of the market, guaranteeing higher prices and worse service.

Will the minister protect consumers and block such a sale? Will he limit the auction of new spectrum to only new players?

Telecommunications IndustryOral Questions

April 18th, 2013 / 3:05 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, of course we are standing up for consumers. We want to enhance competition and investment in this country, and this is why we adopted this policy back in 2008 for the AWS spectrum.

Let me say that the price went down by an average of 11% since then, and we will continue this way with the 700 megahertz spectrum. We launched consultation with the industry to make sure that we enhance competition and provide better choice and better rates for our consumers.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the present in the gallery of Her Excellency Dr. Maia Panjikidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Georgia.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I know we have the normal Thursday question, but there is a point of order arising out of question period, I believe, from the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I do not often rise on points of order, but I just cannot remain seated after hearing what the member for St. Paul's screamed out in one of her uncontrolled outbursts, which we hear time and time again in question period.

When the Minister for Status of Women was speaking, the member for St. Paul's was disrespectful in the words she used to try to indicate that aboriginal women who do not have the same rights as other Canadian women ought to go and find shelters as opposed to getting the same rights as all the women here have.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, because of the out-of-control outburst by that member every single day, that you might consider putting a camera that way so that when we make points of order, you can actually discipline her for once.

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the outburst, but I believe that it should be on record that the Conservative government has refused to fund shelters on reserves at the levels of other shelters and that—

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I believe the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has the Thursday question.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise to ask the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons the usual Thursday question about what is on the agenda for the rest of this week and for next week.

This week's calendar has once again shown the utter lack of a plan from the government. Of the five days the House was sitting, four have been assigned as opposition days.

Yesterday, the one day the Conservatives actually chose to debate government legislation, they demonstrated once again their total lack of respect and fundamental disregard for Parliament and democracy by shutting down debate after only a few hours.

This was, in fact, the 31st time, in this Parliament alone, the government used the guillotine of shutting down debate, setting the all-time record for any government in Canadian history, in only two years.

The pace the Conservatives are on right now is that once every seven days, the government moves a motion to shut down debate on some bill or another.

Perhaps we will have a chance to discuss the new bill announced earlier this week. This bill has to do with the NDP motion presented on a previous opposition day calling on the government to amend the Canada Elections Act to prohibit tactics like the ones used in Guelph in 2011 aimed at suppressing votes.

As soon as the Conservatives announced that this new electoral reform act was coming, they had to immediately announce that they had to scrap that same plan, as they discovered so many flaws in their own legislation.

This may be reminiscent for Canadians, because they had to change fundamental mistakes in their own immigration bill, Bill C-31. They never even got to Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill. It never saw the light of day. The Conservatives had to wait until its omnibus crime bill got to the Senate before they could fix the fundamental flaws, because they so rushed it through this place with closure.

The government is totally out of ideas and out of gas. I beg the hon. House leader across the way to give us something, anything, that shows us that the Conservatives are doing something for hard-working families and Canadians in our economy.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the opposition House leader expressed concern that the scheduling of several opposition days, on which the opposition gets to determine the subject matter of debate in the House of Commons, showed a complete absence of a plan and a complete absence of any ideas for policy innovation. Having heard the debate and the resolutions coming from the opposition for debate on those days, I am inclined to agree with him.

Sadly, they have shown that when the opposition has the agenda, there are no new ideas and there is nothing of value spoken. However, the Standing Orders do require us to have those opposition days scheduled as part of our procedure, and that is what we are doing.

I would like, however, to respond a little bit to his comments on the time allocation on the bill yesterday. Yesterday's bill was Bill S-2, a bill to give aboriginal women and their children on reserve the same matrimonial rights that other people have. It is a bill that has been in Parliament for five years, through a series of Parliaments, in fact, and it has not yet come to a vote. To paraphrase the President of the United States in the recent State of the Union address, the aboriginal women and children of Canada deserve the right to a vote. That is why we did what we had to do, after five years of obstruction from the opposition preventing the bill from coming forward.

The bill would provide the protection they have been denied for decades. It is truly shameful that, starting with the Leader of the Opposition, every single opposition member stood up against this bill at second reading. They voted against the principle of protecting aboriginal women and children and providing them with rights equal to those of all Canadian women off reserve. They voted against giving them protection from violence in the situation of a domestic family breakdown and giving them the same rights to matrimonial homes that other women have had for decades in this country.

It is another example of how the NDP approaches things. It claims that it is for women's rights and aboriginal rights, but when it comes time to actually take action, it does not. It is “do as I say, not as I do”.

This afternoon we will continue the New Democrats' opposition day. Tomorrow is the fourth allotted day, when the New Democrats will again propose our topic for debate. Monday shall be the fifth allotted day, which will see a Liberal motion debated. Tuesday shall be the sixth allotted day, with a further New Democratic motion being considered.

Next week is victims week in Canada, so on Wednesday, the House will continue the second reading debate on Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act, which aims to put the protection of society and of victims front and centre.

On Thursday morning we will consider Bill C-48, the technical tax amendments act, 2012, at report stage. After question period on Thursday, we will start report stage for Bill C-52, the fair rail freight service act, which was reported back from the transport committee this morning.

Finally, next Friday, Bill C-15, the strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act, will be again considered at report stage.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, during question period on Tuesday, in response to a question I posed to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, the minister made reference to a letter I had sent in support of the temporary foreign worker program. We have had an opportunity in the office to go back through all records and saw no such correspondence.

In an attempt to try to put some truth to this issue, I ask the minister to table that letter.

Mr. Speaker, does the member have to respond to the request to table such a document?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a member of some standing in the House. He raised the subject earlier in the week. The member is aware of the rules. It is quite clear that if one quotes or reads from a document, there may be a requirement for tabling. However, simply indicating that one has a document in one's possession and that it exists does not give rise to an obligation to table. That being said, the minister certainly has the right to table it at some point if she sees fit.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, just as a courtesy, when a member stands in his or her place and waves a document around implying that it is a letter, and a member of Parliament is not 100% sure and questions whether the letter was sent, there is some obligation for a minister or member to at least demonstrate that he or she is not just throwing a name or a piece of paper around.

There has to be some sort of accountability. Otherwise, any member could stand up and say that he or she has a letter from so and so. I am sure that the government House leader will look into the matter, and if there was, in fact, a letter, the member will provide some assurance that it exists. That would be the proper thing to do.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would be quite easy for the hon. member to go through his records and find any letter he might have sent to the minister asking for additional foreign workers for his riding. Perhaps the mistake is that the member has so many letters he has written requesting them that he does not know which one the minister is talking about. I do not know if that is where the problem arises. However, if it is a question of his having written only one letter, it should be fairly easy for him to find it. I can only presume, from the hon. member's remarks, that there must have been several letters, and he just wants to know which one the minister was waving about.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, this discussion is getting out of hand.

The member for Cape Breton—Canso made it very clear in his first intervention to you, Mr. Speaker, that he searched his records and found no indication of the existence of any such document. The government House leader is now more than trying to make a joke of it; he is trying to leave a very false impression of what the member for Cape Breton—Canso in fact said.

In fairness, the record has to be clear. The member searched his records. He found no evidence of any such document, and the latest gratuitous remark by the government House leader is complete horse feathers and ought to be withdrawn.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will allow the hon. government House leader one more intervention, and then I think we can bring this to a conclusion.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will speak with the minister involved. I am quite sure that she will be able to find this letter that he has not been able to find fairly quickly. Perhaps we can have a discussion and solve the matter after that.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. government House leader for that assurance, and I am sure that the House will look forward to whatever comes out of that.

Electoral Reform Bill—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Yesterday, the members for Ottawa—Vanier and Toronto—Danforth both rose on a question of privilege regarding the possible premature disclosure of the contents of a government bill prior to its introduction in the House.

Both members referenced an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail newspaper that suggested that during the weekly Conservative Party caucus meeting, some Conservative members had expressed concerns about how specific sections of the bill were drafted and had asked that they be rewritten. The members for Ottawa—Vanier and Toronto—Danforth suggested that this demonstrated that the Conservative members may have been provided with the actual text of the draft bill in question. Both members emphasized the seriousness of the premature disclosure of bills and asked the Chair to investigate this matter.

In response, the Leader of the Government in the House assured the House that at the caucus meeting held by the Conservative Party that day, no draft copies of the bill or sections of it were circulated or displayed, nor were excerpts provided.

As members know, it is a well-established practice that the contents of a bill are kept confidential until introduced in Parliament, thus making their premature disclosure a serious matter. However, in this case, a careful reading of the arguments presented to the Chair about what transpired reveals that the concerns expressed appear to be based more on conjecture and supposition than on actual evidence.

Furthermore, the government House leader has stated categorically to the House that no copies, sections or excerpts of said bill were in any way made available to those who were in attendance at the caucus meeting. In other words, he challenges the supposition being made, and he insists that there was no breach of confidentiality regarding the bill.

In light of the lack of evidence and the minister's categorical assurances, the Chair considers the matter closed.

I thank members for their attention.

S. O. 31PrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour to rise today in this place as the democratically elected member of Parliament for Medicine Hat. I rise to speak on the question of privilege raised by my colleague, the hon. member for Langley. Our Westminster parliamentary system is without a doubt the best in the world, as we all know. It is not perfect, but if we look at all of the other democratic systems, ours is the best.

Obviously, here in Canada, our system has evolved over time. Starting in the early 1980s, it became the responsibility of the party whips to submit lists to the Speaker of those who would ask questions before each member is able to make an S. O. 31 statement before question period. That seemed to make sense at the time because Parliament was growing and the Speaker was getting busier. That is completely sensible. I do not think we could find any member who would disagree with that, and I am certainly not either.

What is unfortunate is that some members are denied the ability to speak if what they are going to say is unacceptable to the powers that be. I was elected by the people of my constituency to represent them in Ottawa. When the majority of my constituents feel strongly on one particular issue, I feel it is my duty to speak freely in the House about that issue. In fact, our handbook, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, 2009, clearly stipulates what my rights are as a duly elected member of the House.

Allow me to quote from O'Brien and Bosc, 2009, which states:

By far, the most important right accorded to Members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech in parliamentary proceedings.

Therefore, we know that freedom of speech in this place is key to us being able to carry out our task of being good representatives of the people who elected us.

It goes on to state:

Freedom of speech permits Members to speak freely in the Chamber during a sitting or in committees during meetings while enjoying complete immunity from prosecution or civil liability for any comment they might make. This freedom is essential for the effective working of the House.

Mr. Speaker, it is for you to decide whether the privileges of the member for Langley had been breached. O'Brien and Bosc further states:

A Member may also be obstructed or interfered with in the performance of his or her parliamentary functions by non-physical means. In ruling on such matters, the Speaker examines the effect the incident or event had on the Member's ability to fulfil his or her parliamentary responsibilities.

I realize that some have tried to make out of this issue more than what it is. I can assure the House and, indeed, all Canadians that there is nothing antagonistic or rebellious about these interventions. It is a question of the rights of members, like the member for Langley, who wish to speak out on issues that are important to his or her constituents. Is that not what the role of a member of Parliament is? His or her role is, indeed, to be their voice here. To suggest that voice should be muted because an issue is considered too controversial is bizarre, to say the least.

This is the Parliament of Canada. I do not believe there are issues here that are too controversial for members to debate. That is why we are here. If we do not do it as democratically elected officials, then who will? That is why I stand here today to lend my voice and wholehearted support not only to the member for Langley but other members of Parliament who have stood to speak out on this issue. The member for Langley should be allowed to speak. I believe he was dropped from the speaking order because the powers that be decided that what he was going to say was just too controversial for them and that goes against the point of our system.

What started as a way to make it easier for the Speaker to manage who stood up to speak has now become a way to control the message. I believe it has gone too far and that is why I stand here today to lend my support to my colleague from Langley, as well as all others who have risen to speak on what they feel is an injustice.

As one of my colleagues pointed out previously, we need not look outside the Westminster parliamentary system for clues on how we can do things better. Let us go directly to the source that we inherited the system from. In the United Kingdom, government backbenchers rise from time to time to ask very tough questions of their own government.

Mr. Speaker, I conclude by asking you to look into this matter at your earliest convenience and thank you for giving me this opportunity to make my case.

S. O. 31PrivilegeOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for Medicine Hat for his further comments on the question of privilege currently before the chair. Of course, I will be getting back to the House in due course with a decision.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection AgreementBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques has five minutes.