House of Commons Hansard #252 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.


Scope of Private Members' Bills--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

May 21st, 2013 / 1:35 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Before moving on to questions and comments, I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on April 25 by the hon. member for Toronto Centre regarding the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, recommending that the scope of Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), be expanded.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Toronto Centre for having raised this issue, and the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the members for Winnipeg North, Saint-Lambert and Calgary Northeast for their interventions.

In raising this matter, the hon. member for Toronto Centre explained that during its consideration of Bill C-425, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration adopted a motion recommending that the House grant the committee the power to expand the scope of the bill in order to allow for the consideration of what he called “amendments that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has asked be added to the list”.

This led to the presentation on April 23, 2013, of the committee's eighth report. He found this approach to be problematic in two respects. First, he argued that pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, committees examining private members' bills are restricted as to the types of reports they can present to the House. He argued essentially that since the eighth report falls outside these parameters, it is out of order.

His second argument centred on the impact such a manner of proceeding could have. Specifically, he expressed concern that if committees examining private members' bills were to be allowed latitude to proceed in this fashion, the effect of this practice “will be that the government could, by extrapolation, even add an omnibus feature to a private member’s bill and say it is using its majority to add everything, the whole kitchen sink, into the measure.”

The Government House Leader explained that, in view of the differences of opinion expressed in the committee as to whether the amendments proposed were within the scope of the bill, the committee was seeking guidance from the House on the matter. In making this observation, he pointed out that this process would result in a number of hours of debate in the House on the committee report before a decision was taken.

In his presentation the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that Standing Order 97.1 does not preclude a committee from seeking an instruction from the House in relation to a private member's bill. He further explained that the committee remains seized of Bill C-425 and that its eighth report in no way supersedes the 60-sitting-day deadline to report the bill back to the House.

At the outset the Chair wishes to clarify what appear to be certain misconceptions about the nature of private members' bills.

The first of these has to do with the arguments made by the House leader for the official opposition and the member for Saint-Lambert in reference to the constitutional compliance of legislation sponsored by private members.

As pointed out by the member for Saint-Lambert, constitutional compliance is among the criteria used by the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business to determine non-votability of private members' bills. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, describes these criteria at page 1130, including one requirement that “bills and motions must not clearly violate the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

The Chair is not aware of further constitutional compliance tests that are applied to any kind of legislation, whether sponsored by the government or by private members, once bills are before the House or its committees. In addition, hon. members will recall that in a recent ruling delivered on March 27, I reminded the House that as Speaker I have no role in interpreting matters of a constitutional or legal nature.

Another apparent source of confusion has to do with the difference between private bills and public bills. Virtually all the bills that come before the House are public bills, whether they are sponsored by private members or by the government.

As O'Brien and Bosc explains at page 1178:

Private bills must not be confused with private Members' bills. Although private bills are sponsored by private Members, the term “private Member's bill” refers only to public bills dealing with a matter of public policy introduced by Members who are not Ministers.

Thus both government and private members’ bills are subject to the same basic legislative process, namely introduction and first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage and, finally, third reading. At the same time, the House has seen fit to devise specific procedures for dealing with public bills sponsored by the government and private members alike.

For example, Standing Order 73 allows the government to propose that a government bill be referred to committee before second reading after a five-hour debate. The purpose of this rule is to allow greater flexibility to members in committee by enabling them to propose amendments to alter the scope of the measure.

The procedures in place for dealing with private members’ bills are likewise many layered, and have evolved in response to particular situations faced by the House in the past. This is the case with the provision for a maximum of two hours of debate at second reading, which came about to allow the House to consider more items and thus to allow more private members to have their measures considered. Similarly, Standing Order 97.1 was originally brought in to ensure that private members’ bills referred to committee would be returned to the House and to the order of precedence in a timely fashion.

In the present case, it appears to the Chair that the essence of the procedural question before me is to determine whether the House has the power to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a private member's bill after that scope has been agreed to by the House at second reading and, if so, whether this can be achieved by way of a committee report.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, is helpful in this regard. It states at page 752:

Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill.

Clearly then, by way of a motion of instruction, the House can grant a committee the power to expand the scope of a bill, be it a government bill or a private member's bill. An example can be found at page 289 of the Journals for April 27, 2010, where an opposition member moved a motion of instruction related to a government bill.

Having established that the House does have the authority to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a bill through a motion of instruction, the question becomes whether a committee report is also a procedurally valid way to achieve the same result.

The member for Toronto Centre is correct in saying that the explicit authority to present this type of report is not found in Standing Order No. 97.1, which exists to oblige committees to respect deadlines for reporting back to the House on private members' bills. In that respect, Standing Order No. 97.1 continues to apply.

However, Standing Order No. 108(1)(a) does grant committees this power under their more general mandate to:

examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House [and] to report from time to time

In describing the three broad categories of reports that standing committees normally present, O’Brien and Bosc, at page 985, describe administrative and procedural reports as those:

in which standing committees ask the House for special permission or additional powers, or those that deal with a matter of privilege or procedure arising from committee proceedings.

An example of a committee reporting on a matter related to a bill may be found in the Journals of April 29, 2008, where, in its sixth report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development felt compelled to provide reasons why it did not complete the study of a particular private member’s bill.

Finally, O'Brien and Bosc, at page 752, further state:

A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

This undoubtedly could be done only through the presentation of a committee report to the House.

What this confirms is that the authority of the House to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a bill can be sought and secured, either through a motion of instruction or through concurrence in a committee report.

O’Brien and Bosc summarizes this well at page 992:

If a standing, legislative or special committee requires additional powers, they may be conferred on the committee by an order of the House—by far the most common approach—or by concurrence in a committee report requesting the conferring of those powers.

Later, O’Brien and Bosc explain, at page 1075:

Recommendations in committee reports are normally drafted in the form of motions so that, if the reports are concurred in, the recommendations become clear orders or resolutions of the House.

Just as the adoption of a motion of instruction to a committee would become an order of the House, so too would the adoption of a committee report requesting the permission of the House to expand the scope of a bill.

Of course, it has always been the case that instructions to a committee must be in proper form. According to O’Brien and Bosc, at page 754, such instructions must be “worded in such a way that the committee will clearly understand what the House wants”.

It is nevertheless clear to the Chair that there is genuine disquiet about the impact of this attempted procedural course of action. The Chair is not deaf to those concerns and, in that light, wishes to reassure the House that this manner of proceedings does not obviate the need for committees to observe all the usual rules governing the admissibility of amendments to the clauses of a bill, which are described in detail at pages 766 to 761 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition.

In particular, granting a committee permission to expand the scope of a bill does not, ipso facto, grant it permission to adopt amendments that run counter to its principle. Were a committee to report a bill to the House containing inadmissible amendments, O’Brien and Bosc at page 775 states:

The admissibility of those amendments, and of any other amendments made by a committee, may therefore be challenged on procedural grounds when the House resumes its consideration of the bill at report stage. The admissibility of the amendments is then determined by the Speaker of the House, whether in response to a point of order or on his or her own initiative.

For all of the reasons outlined, I must conclude that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is in order. I thank all hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been an interesting process we have witnessed over the last couple of years. We have gone from having a minority Conservative government to a totally different attitude on how to govern proceedings inside the House now that the Conservatives have a majority. Democracy has really fallen to the side. It is not as important as it used to be when the Conservative/Reformers had a minority government.

I want to raise a specific issue. It was during the 39th Parliament that the previous clerk of the House of Commons told the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that the budget for Parliament can handle two weeks of extended sitting hours in June. However, if the extended hours were to continue for additional weeks, the government would likely have to seek Parliament's approval for more money.

I notice that the supplementary estimates (A) do not include a request to make any of the payments that will be generated by things such as overtime for House of Commons staff. I would argue that the government House leader seems to be responding to a Conservative crisis from last week and is getting anxious to leave a little early as opposed to going through the normal process. If the government had a plan to sit extra hours, there should have been a budget request going into the estimates to increase the budget, which would allow us to sit the extra weeks.

My question to the opposition House leader is whether he would concur that this might have been done in a very hasty fashion, possibly as a way to deal with the crisis that is looming with respect to the Senate.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it seems to the Conservatives that something so unimportant as taxpayer dollars would never get in the way of their avoiding a crisis. The fact that they have not actually accounted for the money required to run Parliament for these extra hours for an extended time—a month, in this case—shows two things. One is that they do not really care all that much if they have to blow more money. I remind my hon. colleague of the scandal around the F-35 purchase. It does not really matter what kind of evidence comes forward or how expensive it is, whether the evidence is from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the U.S. Congress or the Auditor General of Canada. The political expediency of buying those particular jets, which they seem obsessed with, always overrides the responsibility they have to taxpayers.

With respect to this new bullying tactic and ramming bills through Parliament and the fact that it is going to cost more money to do what the Conservatives say they are going to do, I am going to take the House leader at his word today. When he was asked by my friend from Gatineau if we were sitting all the way to the end of June, as the calendar now states, at these extended hours, he said yes, because they are such hard-working Conservatives.

They do not have the money to pay for it. We will find out where they claw it back from. I have an idea. There is $90 million being spent on the Senate, where we do not really get good value for money. Why do we not cut that budget down a few hundred million dollars over the years and pay for some things Canadians want?

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am curious about the procedural and traditional question he raised on extended hours until the very end of the current sitting, with no justification. Another place we could find the money would be the completely unaccountable budget of the Prime Minister's office, currently at $10 million. We cannot even get a list of who works there or what they earn. Perhaps we could attach that as a condition precedent to meeting until midnight. I also do not mind late hours, but I would like to see taxpayers get the accountability they deserve.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting and maybe fruitful exercise. We could start to look at the way the Conservative government spends its money, which is badly, on gazebos and F-35s. There is $3 billion it cannot actually account for, which I believe was meant for anti-terrorism measures, and $100-plus million for ads Canadians are annoyed by. Those all seem like good places to start to look for the money we need to allow Parliament to function. I think Canadians could actually get behind the idea of allowing democracy to go ahead of all of these wasteful, ridiculous expenditures of the Conservatives, who were supposed to be conservative with taxpayer dollars and have turned out to be anything but. Those would all be great sources.

I would like to suggest to my friend down the way that the Senate would be the New Democrats' preferred place to start. Not only are we losing money in the proposition and getting nothing for it, we are probably being defrauded right now. I do not want to pay for Conservative senators to run around raising money for Conservative MPs and the party itself. That is one of the worst uses of taxpayer money I have ever seen.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague pointed out, actually, a really interesting aspect. When one is in trouble, what does one do? One runs for the border and goes south, just like the Prime Minister has done.

I want to go to a specific element he pointed out that is important, which is that legislation that is tied up in the budget bill does not go to committee. We are dealing with the Investment Canada Act. This is the third time it has been in a budget bill, because it has been done wrong every single time. There is legislation related to CIDA. There is all kinds of legislation in this budget bill. It not only locks out the committee process, it locks out the public, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, researchers and the experts. All those that have provided value-added input are now disappearing. That is why we are losing in the courts.

I would like my hon. colleague to expand on that.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Windsor West not only for his question but for the work he has done with respect to the border. Every time the current government increases the hardship for the border guards who work at all the border crossings, but particularly at Windsor, he has recognized not only the harm and the risk to our border agents but the harm to our Canadian economy when we do not have the free flow and exchange of goods, particularly with our largest trading partner.

With respect to how legislation comes through now, it has become a fundamental and categorical mess. Not only is there the expense to Canadians from all these Charter challenges that go to the Supreme Court, while the government uses Canadians' money to defend bad legislation it knows is wrong, it also hurts the business community, which is looking for certainty of the rules, whether it is the foreign investment act, et cetera. It would be incredible if one of these ministers would get up one day and actually define “net benefit” when talking about the acquisition of Canadian companies from, in some cases, Chinese state-owned enterprises. It hurts the business community and it hurts our economy when the government keeps writing such bad laws and keeps getting it wrong, simply out of hubris and arrogance.

Let us do it right. Let us use Parliament for what it is for, which is to conduct debate, hold these guys to account, and make sure that they stop blowing so many billions of dollars on such wasteful and dumb ideas.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, there was some talk of overtime from the other side of the House. I think the idea of having question period for an extra 45 minutes may be a bit of overtime for ministers on the other side. However, is it possible that with an extra 45 minutes, we might actually get some answers at question period?

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a novel concept. The opposition would put forward the questions we put each and every day and then the government would seek to actually answer those questions.

How many constituents have we all heard from who have said, “I watched question period the other day. You know what frustrates me the most? You guys ask a simple, direct question, such as, 'When is the government going to do X?' or 'When is decision Y?' and all you get back is this bafflegab time and again.” Maybe an extra 45 minutes a day would do the trick.

What we will see in question period today is that each of the ministers has a little binder. They flip open these little cheat sheets to answer questions they do not know the answers to. Perhaps after another 45 minutes, they would run out of those little cheat sheets, and then, lo and behold, they might actually answer a question. They might actually give us their thoughts on the affairs of the state and tell Canadians, for once, what is actually going on. Rather than finding out about it from access to information and through scandal-plagued Senate debacles, we could find out what the government is actually planning to do with the money it spends on behalf of Canadians.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, when we hear that we have this legislative agenda and we are going to sit until midnight every night until June 21, this is really legislation through exhaustion.

We have so much stuff being done by the current government outside of Parliament. We watched as major changes to family reunification were announced on Friday, the Friday before the break week, that would basically put families under stress. Yet here we are now saying that we will be meeting until midnight. If we have so much stuff to debate, why does the government keep shutting down debate constantly?

I have to say to my esteemed colleague that if we were to have a longer question period, my fear is that the government would keep reading the same answers over and over again.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, hope springs eternal to my friend from Surrey.

One wonders if we actually ever saw the legislation that allowed for half of all so-called immigration into Canada to be now under the foreign temporary worker program. I do not recall seeing legislation from the government that said that one out of every three new jobs created since 2008 would go to a foreign temporary worker. I do not remember that bill.

I do not remember the bill before Parliament in which it said that Chinese state-owned enterprises can buy up Canadian enterprises with little to no oversight. I do not remember that legislation. If the government had actually moved some legislation and new law, we would have debated it. The government would not have had the courage of its convictions, and we would actually have seen something that is quite unique under a Conservative government: Parliament doing its job and members of Parliament speaking on behalf of the people they represent and holding these guys to account. Lord knows, they need it.

Etobicoke CentreStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I meet with constituents frequently. Their insights are invaluable, and I am grateful for their confidence and the opportunity to serve Etobicoke Centre these past two years.

This past week, I updated my constituents of Somali heritage on our government's support of Somalia, and I announced new humanitarian funding for the region.

I discussed the super visa with the Serbian community.

I met with the Ukrainian community in my capacity as chair of the Canada-Ukraine Friendship Group.

I toured an adult learning and training centre for developing skills and finding jobs for Canadians.

I attended the Toronto Catholic District School Board's mini-Olympics.

I was interviewed on a Hungarian TV program, Magyar Képek.

I participated in the Rotary Club reception for Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recipients.

I welcomed the International Development and Relief Foundation to Etobicoke Centre.

I presented Florence Thiffault greetings on her 95th birthday at the season opening of the Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club.

I visited a photo exhibition chronicling the Katyn massacre, and I addressed Polish veterans who valiantly fought for and won the Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1943, a battle my own father fought in.

It was yet another productive week in Etobicoke Centre.

Elijah HarperStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents and all New Democrats, I stand in this House and pay tribute to Elijah Harper. I would like to share our condolences with Elijah Harper's family and his community on this great loss.

From a young age, I had the honour of knowing Elijah as he was first elected MLA in Manitoba in 1981, along with my father.

Elijah made history as the first first nations person to be elected as MLA and then as cabinet minister in Manitoba. He changed the course of history by speaking for aboriginal people on the Meech Lake accord. He spoke with courage on first nations issues and was a champion for first nations sovereignty, for justice, for building a better future.

I have the honour to represent the same constituency Elijah Harper represented, including Red Sucker Lake, Elijah's first nation, a nation that is so proud of him. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with Elijah on a number of occasions to share perspectives on northern and aboriginal issues.

Elijah Harper was a visionary and a trailblazer. He was a role model. History will record him as being a great leader for first nations, for Manitobans and for Canadians.

We thank Elijah. Chii-Miigwetch.

Memorial CupStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it will be an incredible week in Saskatoon as the city and the province of Saskatchewan host the Memorial Cup. The Memorial Cup will be an outstanding event, thanks to the true Saskatchewan volunteer spirit.

Military representatives, alumni from the host Saskatoon Blades and Canadian Hockey League officials were on hand as the Memorial Cup arrived in Saskatoon. The flyover by two members of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Canada's famed aerobatics team, made the opening ceremony special. It was an opportunity to acknowledge the role of the Canadian military in our country today. Its members' sacrifices are extraordinary, and the opening ceremony was an opportunity for the people of Saskatoon to express the gratitude they feel to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Special thanks to the many volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this Memorial Cup, led by Tim Gitzel and Jack Brodsky. They are to be commended for going above and beyond the call of duty. It is the effort they are demonstrating this week that has made Saskatoon the volunteer capital of Canada. We salute each and every unsung volunteer and thank them for making the Memorial Cup an event of which to be proud.

Haitian Community in the National Capital RegionStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, in recent years, there has been a notable resurgence of pride and energy from the Haitian diaspora in the national capital region.

I would especially like to congratulate His Excellency, Mr. Frantz Liautaud, Haiti's ambassador to Canada, on the occasion of the 210th anniversary of the creation of the Haitian flag. The anniversary celebrations were held on May 15 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, where hundreds of guests had the pleasure of listening to Chantale Laville's beautiful voice and David Bontemps's piano performance.

I am taking this opportunity to highlight the creation of excellence scholarships for the Haitian community in the Outaouais. Last year, together with Gatineau city councillor Mireille Apollon and a remarkable committee of volunteers, I launched this initiative at the University of Ottawa, and funds were collected to create an excellence scholarship for the Haitian community at that university. This year, we are holding an event on Thursday, May 23, with all profits going to create a matching scholarship fund at the Université du Québec en Outaouais.

Congratulations and all the best to our friends from the Haitian diaspora and, of course, heartfelt congratulations to all Haitians.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to stand and honour the men and women who have served in the Canadian Forces and who continue to serve our great country. Our Conservative government supports our troops while in combat, and we continue to support them when they return home safely.

This is why our government is getting things done for Canadian veterans, cutting red tape, creating new career opportunities and partnering with non-profit organizations and corporate Canada to ensure a seamless transition to civilian life.

In addition to what our government is doing, a Canadian charity, To the Stan and Back, supports post-combat wellness programs for returning troops from Afghanistan, or “the Stan” for short. Tonight, To the Stan and Back is hosting the fourth annual Party Under the Stars in Ottawa to raise money for the Canadian men and women who have returned recently from the Stan. This event is always a great time and raises money for a worthwhile cause.

I would like to invite my fellow parliamentarians to show their support for tonight's great event and support the men and women who have risked their lives for the safety of all Canadians.

Granby RegionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Réjean Genest NDP Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Granby region is a very popular summer destination, and it is easy to see why. Our major tourist attraction is without a doubt the well-known Granby Zoo and its aquatic park Amazoo. Every year, 600,000 visitors come to admire the zoo's 1,000 animals.

Yamaska National Park and its beach are also very popular with visitors who enjoy canoeing, camping and much more. The Granby area is also home to a fantastic bike path network. Granby also hosts a number of events, such as Granby International, one of the largest classic car shows in Canada, the Granby Challenger tennis championship, festivals in downtown Granby, and I could go on.

Campgrounds, hotels and bed and breakfasts offer a wide range of lodging options. This summer, you will need more than a week in Granby.

North Shore RescueStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the incredible work of North Shore Rescue.

Originally established as a civil defence unit in 1965, North Shore Rescue quickly evolved into a specialized, well-trained and highly-effective search and rescue team comprising entirely volunteers.

Their focus on mountain, helicopter and urban search and rescue and public education provides life-saving services all year round.

Last year I was pleased to present founding member Karl Winter with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of more than 50 years of contributions to this service.

Recently the combined efforts of rescue team leader Tim Jones and our government also helped to speedily resolve a regulatory problem with helicopter long line equipment. This quick action saved lives and is a testament to the importance of teamwork.

On behalf of the outdoor sports enthusiasts who enjoy North Vancouver's gorgeous terrain, I want to thank the North Shore Rescue team for its ongoing commitment to our safety and security, and send big congratulations on its new state-of-the-art command centre.

Cave and Basin National Historic SiteStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, last Friday it was my pleasure to announce the grand re-opening of Banff's Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

In 1883, Canadian Pacific Railway workers explored the site's warm mineral springs at Sulphur Mountain. They set off a chain of events that echoed eastward across the great plains, all the way to the ears of our country's founding prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Just two years later, his government reserved a wide swath of territory surrounding the cave and basin. This was the genesis of Canada's national parks system, which today includes 44 national parks and 167 national historic sites.

Since 2006, our Conservative government has expanded the total area of our national parks by more than 50%, an area larger than Greece. These are Canada's gift to future generations and form the very fabric of our great nation.

I invite all Canadians and the world to visit the revitalized Cave and Basin National Historic Site in beautiful Banff National Park to see where this dream truly began.

Shipwreck in TabusintacStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise today to pay my respects to the three lobster fishers who died in the early hours of Saturday, May 18. Samuel-René Boutin of Rivière-du-Portage, age 23; Alfred Rousselle of Brantville, age 32; and Ian Benoit of Grattan Road, age 35, left the Tabusintac wharf in New Brunswick, never to return. Their boat hit a sandbar and capsized.

Fishing was Samuel-René, Alfred and Ian's livelihood, but they also loved being at sea. Every morning, hundreds of fishers leave their families and go out to sea. Fishers and their families are all too familiar with the dangers involved, but they go out despite the risks.

On behalf of the NDP, I would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincere condolences to these men's families and to all the fishers who have lost friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with you.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 17 years, the NDP leader has known about corruption in Quebec, but kept it all to himself.

In 1994, the NDP leader met with the former mayor of Laval, who offered him help in the form of an envelope stuffed with cash.

Today, media are reporting that after the former mayor of Laval tried to bribe the NDP leader, the NDP leader had the gall to thank him and shake his hand. That does not sound like someone outraged by being witness to criminal activity.

Let us recap what we know. The NDP leader was silent about the criminal activity of the former mayor of Laval for 17 years. Then he was untruthful about it when he said he was never offered any money. Then he did not seem that upset about it.

The NDP leader has some explaining to do.

Peace and Friendship AwarenessStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Peace and Friendship Awareness Walk arrived in Ottawa.

Adam Barnaby, Christianne Bernard, Tina Caplin, Doris Martin, Richard Martin and Ryan Papineau all walked from Listuguj First Nation in the Gaspé all the way to Ottawa, starting 21 days ago, meeting many first nations along the way. They are calling for the respect of treaty rights and better environmental protection.

Their initiative is just the latest example of the leadership the Mi’kmaq Nations have taken in the Gaspé and across Atlantic Canada. From employment insurance to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, from wind energy production to salmon river protection, the Mi’kmaq are leaders in the many issues that impact Eastern Canada.

Their leadership is a perfect example of the benefits of working together.

I thank all of the walkers for reaching out to us. Now it is up to us to reciprocate.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP has been aware of the political corruption in Quebec since 1994, when the mayor of Laval allegedly offered him an envelope—the Liberals' preferred method of assistance. He kept this sordid affair a secret for 17 years.

In 2010, he even denied that he had ever been offered a bribe. After remaining silent for 17 years, he decided to speak out after an investigation was launched into these issues in 2011.

The leader of the NDP could be called to appear before the Charbonneau commission to explain his actions. The leader of the NDP hid his knowledge of corruption from the public for two years before deciding to break his silence last week.

The leader of the NDP must explain why he kept this a secret for 17 years.

Elijah HarperStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of Aboriginal Awareness Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the history and ongoing achievements of aboriginal peoples across Canada.

The late Elijah Harper is an example of leadership and inspiration. Last Friday Canada lost a great leader in Elijah Harper, a man who stood strong for aboriginal peoples and worked tirelessly throughout his life to ensure that the voice of indigenous peoples was, and continues to be, respected.

A memory of mine, which I will never forget, took place inside the Manitoba legislature. I was able to witness first-hand when Mr. Harper, in 1990, voted no on several consecutive days. By voting no, he single-handedly prevented the Meech Lake accord from passing the Manitoba legislature.

His actions then continue to be an enduring reminder of the need to respect the voice of aboriginal peoples. Mr. Harper was also a chief, a member of Parliament, a husband, a father and so much more.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and the residents of my home province, we offer our condolences to his family.