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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

VIA RailPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I too am very sad that I have here in my hands a petition signed by people from northern New Brunswick and eastern Quebec. They want better VIA Rail service, not what the Conservatives are suggesting, which is the total elimination of VIA Rail service.

Elections CanadaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from 25 friends and neighbours from St. Thomas and the area on Canada's voting system.

VIA RailPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition signed by New Brunswickers. Together, we have collected over 24,000 signatures. People are very worried because cuts to rail services will have major repercussions on their communities. They are asking the Government of Canada to take all necessary measures to restore VIA Rail's daily services.

Mining IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from constituents who are requesting the creation of a legislated ombudsman mechanism for responsible mining.

Gatineau ParkPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition from many people in my riding who are calling for legislation to protect Gatineau Park. The park is in my riding, but it is also visited by hundreds of people from across the country. Right now, there is no legislation protecting it. I hope to have the support of this government to pass a law protecting Gatineau Park.

Lyme DiseasePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 10th, 2014 / 3:15 p.m.

Green

Bruce Hyer Green Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians, including those from Thunder Bay—Superior North, who support Bill C-442, an act respecting a national Lyme disease strategy, introduced by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Lyme disease is serious. A growing number of Canadians will soon be living in areas at risk of Lyme disease due to climate change and global warming. This bill would lead to a national strategy.

VIA RailPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am joining all those people from New Brunswick, eastern Quebec and Haute-Mauricie who are sending a clear message to this government that VIA Rail services must be restored to provide for economic development in those regions as well as a greener mode of transportation.

Impaired DrivingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition signed by Albertans who call upon the Government of Canada to increase drinking and driving offences sentences to vehicular manslaughter and other increases and to consider drunk driving a more serious offence.

Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting two petitions in the House.

The first is about the fact that Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a public transit strategy. This petition calls on the government to develop a public transit strategy.

VIA RailPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from more than 24,000 people from New Brunswick who are asking for the re-establishment of daily rail service by VIA Rail. The petitioners call upon the government to make sure that certain communities in New Brunswick are served by VIA Rail.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I table a petition that I am sure my constituents would want the Prime Minister to be aware of. The petitioners believe that people should be able to continue to have the option of retiring at the age of 65 and that the government should not in any way diminish the importance and value of Canada's three major seniors programs: OAS, GIS, and CPP.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition on the cuts to Canada Post. For two years I have been hearing people around my riding talk about their growing concern over these cuts to services. The post offices are vitally important to the towns and villages, and home delivery is still an essential service to a number of people, particularly seniors and people with reduced mobility. This petition asks that the government work with the opposition on finding ways to make Canada Post profitable without eliminating jobs and services to the public.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too have in my hands a petition that concerns Canada Post. It is very easy to get people to sign it. In fact, they are coming to see us to sign petitions about Canada Post.

This time, roughly 200 people from British Columbia are calling on Canada Post to stop reducing services to the public by closing post offices one after the other, for example. They are also calling for real public consultations in order to come up with an updated mail delivery service that adequately meets the needs of the public.

VIA RailPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a faithful and regular VIA Rail passenger between Ottawa and Montreal, I also am pleased to present a petition signed by people from eastern Quebec and New Brunswick. They are urging the federal government not to close the section of railway between Quebec and Halifax and to do everything in its power to maintain that VIA Rail route.

Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, I represent the people of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher. They also dream of seeing Canada create an integrated policy on public transit. I would therefore like to present a petition signed by 35 people.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 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 questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fair Elections Act—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on February 6, 2014, by the hon. House leader for the official opposition, regarding the form of Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

I would like to thank the hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for their comments.

The opposition House leader claimed that a significant error had occurred in the tabling and the drafting of the bill, namely that there was contradictory information provided in the French and English versions of the summary of the bill. More specifically, he explained that the notion of exemption, though central to that section of the summary, was absent in the French version.

In claiming that the bill is, therefore, in imperfect form, the House Leader for the Official Opposition invoked House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, which states on page 728 that:

In the past, the Speaker has directed that the order for second reading of certain bills be discharged, when it was discovered that they were not in their final form and were therefore not ready to be introduced.

As well, he noted that Standing Order 68(3) states that, “No bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape” and asserted that the correction of errors on websites or through reprints of bills does not remedy such cases.

The hon. government House leader countered that the summary of a bill is not, in fact, considered to be a part of a bill and, thus, even grievous errors in the summary would not constitute grounds to find a bill to be in improper form. He cited precedents to demonstrate that previous Speakers had withdrawn bills only when they were not finalized or even drafted, and he noted that, on May 17, 1956, Speaker Beaudoin determined that a bill has to have blanks to be considered to be in imperfect form.

The hon. government House leader also noted that the wording was correct in both the version now before the House and in the version found on the Internet.

In drawing the attention of the House to the inconsistency found in the summary of the advance copy of the bill, the Opposition House Leader has reminded us all of the importance of proper drafting. This is recognized in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, on page 720, which states:

The enactment of a statute by Parliament is the final step in a long process that starts with the proposal, preparation and drafting of a bill. The drafting of a bill is a vital stage in this process—one which challenges the decision makers and drafters to take carefully into account certain constraints, since a failure to abide by these may have negative consequences in relation to the eventual interpretation and application of the law and to the proper functioning of the legislative process.

It is therefore comforting to know that members take their responsibility seriously and scrutinize the bills that come before the House.

Having said that, I must inform the House that in the official version of the bill, the one printed and found on our website, the concept of exemption has not been omitted. In other words, the inconsistency the opposition House leader noticed has been caught and corrected in the version of which the House is officially seized. On that basis, it would seem that the issue has been resolved.

But, I also want to take the time to add that the summary of a bill is not, per se, considered part of a bill. This is quite clear in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, on page 733:

The summary is a comprehensive and usually brief recapitulation of the substance of a bill. It offers “a clear, factual, non-partisan summary of the purpose of the bill and its main provisions”. The purpose of the summary is to contribute to a better understanding of the contents of the bill, of which it is not a part.

In addition, procedural authorities and precedents have provided us with a clear understanding of what constitutes an incomplete bill. O'Brien and Bosc, on page 728, states:

A bill in blank or in an imperfect shape is a bill which has only a title, or the drafting of which has not been completed.

In the present circumstances, the Chair is satisfied that Bill C-23, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to certain acts, is in proper form.

I thank all hon. members for their attention and I trust the references provided will assist members as they proceed to study the bill as it wends its way through the legislative process.

Bill C-15—Speaker's RulingReport of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It has been brought to my attention that a clerical error has been found in the report to the House on Bill C-15, an act to replace the Northwest Territories Act to implement certain provisions of the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement and to repeal or make amendments to the Territorial Lands Act, the Northwest Territories Waters Act, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, other acts and certain orders and regulations.

A consequential amendment that was adopted by the committee was omitted from the report to the House and the reprint of the bill. The report to the House should have indicated that Bill C-15, clause 2, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 32 with the following:

80. Subsections 4(3) and (4) are repealed 10 years

Therefore, I am directing that a corrigendum to the report be prepared to reflect this decision of the committee.

In addition, I am ordering the reprint of the bill also be corrected.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-23, the fair elections act.

The bill proposes a substantial reform of many basic aspects of our elections act. Moreover, it contains measures aimed at giving investigators more powers, measures to protect voters from rogue calls, measures aimed at protecting politicians from the corrupting influence of big money, measures to combat election fraud and measures to ensure predictable application in line with the rules in the elections act. These are very important measures.

However, today I would like to highlight the aspects of the bill that provide better service to voters. As we are all aware, there has been a significant drop in voter turnout in the last 30 years. This is a serious problem that could threaten our democracy.

In fact, the legitimacy of our democracy depends on the fact that Canadians choose their government through free and fair elections. We must try to stop the drop in voter turnout and encourage people to vote so that we can protect our democracy.

I am pleased to see that the government has answered the call with this bill and that it is proposing measures designed to increase access to voting. Indeed, one measure in the fair elections act adds another day to advance polling: the eighth day before polling day, a Sunday. This will make for a continuous block of advance polling days, from Friday to Monday in the week before the election. The measure will lead to real results.

Studies done by universities and by Elections Canada show that the most common reason that people do not vote is that they do not have an opportunity to go to a polling station. Our modern lifestyle is increasingly hectic and it is often difficult to find the time to vote. During the 2011 election, more than 2 million Canadians exercised their right to vote at advance polling stations. This clearly shows that, if people are given the opportunity to vote, they will do so.

I am also pleased to see that thefair elections act proposes measures designed to eliminate congestion at polling stations. When voters come to polling stations, the very least we can do is to make sure that they can vote quickly and efficiently. I note that the bill follows up on a recommendation in the Chief Electoral Officer's report after the 40th general election. It provides for the appointment of additional election officers in order to reduce congestion at polling stations.

At the risk of repeating myself, everything must be done so that the voting process at polling stations moves quickly. More election officers in busy polling stations will make for a better voting process.

I also understand that election officers at polling stations will be able to spend more time serving voters, since the bill will eliminate the need to swear in candidates' representatives at each polling station they are responsible for in an electoral district.

With fewer oaths to administer, election officers will be able to let voters cast ballots more quickly, without interruptions. Furthermore, the bill will require candidates, parties and riding associations to submit the names of individuals who have the skills required to perform the duties of election officers earlier in the electoral period.

Right now, the names must be submitted no later than the 17th day before polling day, but in future they will need to be submitted a week earlier, no later than the 24th day before polling day.

This reform is important, because those people can be trained earlier and will have more time for their training. A better trained election officer will be able to make sure that the voting process is more efficient and quicker.

I am sure that a more efficient voting process will enable voters to cast ballots despite the pressures of their daily obligations.

Finally, I am happy to see that the fair elections act will require the Chief Electoral Officer to focus his communications on voters in order to provide them with the information they need to be able to vote. The Chief Electoral Officer will be required to provide information on how to vote, including the times, dates and locations for voting.

The Chief Electoral Office will also be required to provide voters with disabilities with information on the measures designed to help them exercise their right to vote. Everyone with special needs must know about the help that is available to them.

The fair elections act emphasizes the importance of making this information accessible to voters.

To conclude, I would once again like to voice my support for Bill C-23. The fair elections act will ensure that voters are better served when they go to the polling stations.

Given that the first duty of any Canadian citizen is to exercise their right to vote, and for all the reasons mentioned earlier, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to support Bill C-23 at second reading.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech. He elaborated on various measures included in the bill, but seems to have avoided a few of them.

For that reason, I would like to ask a question about one of the measures, namely the fact that election spending will not include money raised when a third party is hired to fundraise from existing donors who have donated more than $20 over the previous five years. If the bill is passed as-is, collecting funds from those donors during an election campaign will not be included as part of election campaign spending.

Generally speaking, legislators will try to address an issue by proposing amendments to an existing law. I am wondering what the issue was here and why the Conservatives are proposing these amendments, which would mean that funds raised through existing donors would be excluded from election campaign spending.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this measure will allow every candidate from every party to focus on the election campaign with the funding required to do so.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that both the Chief Electoral Officer and the commissioner both asked for the authority to compel evidence by going through a judge. This is not a big ask. There are a number of provinces that have that ability, and their independent elections officers do not have to go through a judge.

The question I have for the government is this. Given the importance of this issue, allowing Elections Canada and the commissioner to compel testimony would have gone a long way in resolving many of the outstanding issues we have today in areas such as robocalling and so forth. Why did the government completely ignore that recommendation?