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House of Commons Hansard #166 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debate.

Topics

Childhood CancerPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Neil Ellis Liberal Bay of Quinte, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table e-petition 627 on childhood cancer submitted by my constituent, Wayne Reil. There are 4,641 signatories who have shared their concern and passion for increasing the supports available to children with pediatric cancer.

Algoma Passenger Rail ServicePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Algoma passenger rail service is still off the rails and therefore I continue to get petitions for the Minister of Transport.

The petitioners basically indicate how much of a substantial hardship it has been for residents, businesses, and other passengers. The petitioners are from Sault Ste. Marie, Echo Bay, Goulais River, and Hilton Beach. The rail used to get a $2.2 million investment from the federal government and that investment actually netted $48 million a year. We can see how difficult it has been for the communities in those areas. The petitioners have also indicated that alternate ways of access are not reliable, safe year round, or are non-existent, and that the few industrial roads are only maintained when and if industries need them. They are not for public use.

The petitioners are calling on the government to put the Algoma passenger train back in service and to ensure the mission of Transport Canada be fulfilled.

Palliative CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today to present this petition that states: “Whereas hospice palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual; and whereas hospice palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms, affirms life, regards dying as a normal process, and intends neither to hasten nor postpone death; and whereas hospice palliative care is not specifically mentioned in the Canada Health Act; and whereas hospice palliative care is not accessible and available to all Canadians; we, the undersigned, residents of Canada, request the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to specifically identify hospice palliative care as a defined medical service covered under the Canada Health Act, so that provincial and territorial governments will be entitled to funds under the Canada health transfer system to be used to provide accessible and available hospice palliative care for all residents of Canada in their respective provinces and territories.”

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition on behalf of residents in the Cowichan Valley on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia, who recognize that climate change is resulting in lower water flows in the Cowichan River, which is posing a threat to fish and fish habitat, both of which fall under federal jurisdiction.

There is a Cowichan River weir up at Lake Cowichan, and that is responsible for maintaining adequate flow rates in the summer to ensure that healthy populations can survive in the river.

The petitioners are calling on the federal government to recognize its jurisdiction in these important areas, recognize that the Cowichan River is an important heritage and index river for British Columbia, and to provide the necessary funding to raise the weir to make sure that drought does not happen anymore.

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions. The first addresses gender-based violence. It is very appropriate with yesterday's visit from Malala.

It highlights that ultrasounds are being used to tell the sex of an unborn child, so if it is a girl the pregnancy can be terminated. It highlights that there are over 200 million girls missing in the world due to the use of sex selection.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through sex selection.

Impaired DrivingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to vehicular homicide. The petition sadly informs the House that 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was tragically killed by a drunk driver, a person who chose to drive while impaired.

Families for Justice are Canadians who have lost a loved one, killed by an impaired driver. They believe that Canada's impaired driving laws are much too lenient. They want the crime to be called what it is, vehicular homicide.

The petitioners are calling on the Prime Minister to honour his letter and to support legislation to condemn this. The petition also highlights that 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by a drunk driver.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish you and all members of this House a wonderful blessed Easter as we remember the great love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Use of Ion Scanners in PrisonsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table petition e-516 on behalf of Mothers Offering Mutual Support.

The petitioners are calling on the Minister of Public Safety to conduct a full review of the use of ion scanners in prisons, and to explore alternative measures of keeping drugs out of prison, given the extremely high rates of false positives and the impact that has on the rehabilitation of inmates as it causes problems with visits from family and friends. We know that is an important component to rehabilitation, and consequently to ensuring public safety.

I am very pleased to work with them and to table this petition on their behalf today.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from constituents right across Ontario.

The petitioners are calling on the Minister of Finance to ensure that family-run campgrounds are granted active business status, similar to other tourism operators, such as hotels, motels, and marinas, in order for campground owners to be able to claim the small business tax deduction.

Physician-Assisted DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions signed by Canadians from Westlock in my riding.

These petitioners are concerned that assisted suicide creates new opportunities and occasions of abuse against seniors, disabled people, and other socially vulnerable people. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt the strongest possible legislation against the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, and to establish a robust national strategy on palliative care.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary 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

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency DebatePoints of Order

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

On Monday evening, I submitted a request for emergency debate to the Chair. The normal process would be that the request for emergency debate would be considered during requests for emergency debate, which is the following day. Typically that happens on Tuesday. However, because of various motions that took place on Tuesday and because of an order set out changing the normal rules on Wednesday, I did not have a chance to move that motion for an emergency debate.

The Standing Orders, as I read them, are quite clear. They do not prescribe a maximum amount of time for that prior notice. They only prescribe the minimum time. The member must provide a letter to the Speaker at least one hour before that motion is moved, then the member has an opportunity to move that request during requests for emergency debate. I sent a letter asking for an emergency debate with respect to the crisis in Syria.

Today would be the first available opportunity after I sent the letter to move the request for an emergency debate. There has been no period of requests for emergency debate since that letter was placed on Monday. There is nothing in the Standing Orders to describe a maximum period of notice, be it 24 hours, the day before, or anything else. Therefore, given the Standing Orders, I think I should have the opportunity now to request an emergency debate with respect to the situation in Syria, as per the letter I sent to the Speaker on Monday.

Request for Emergency DebatePoints of Order

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Sherwood Park for his point of order. I refer to page 690 of O'Brien and Bosc, under initiating debate, pertaining to emergency debates. It states:

Any Member...who wishes to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration must give the Speaker written notice of the matter he or she wishes to propose for discussion at least one hour prior to rising in the House to make the formal request.

In respect to the member's request, it is noted that the member did submit the request at an earlier time. In fact, the House was not in a position to accept that request for emergency debate as routine proceedings had not completed at that time. Therefore, the member would be obliged to resubmit his request for said emergency debate. Therefore, due to the fact that notice had not been given in the last hour, or at least an hour prior to today's consideration of routine proceedings, we are not in a position to receive the request for emergency debate.

Of course, the hon. member will have the opportunity to do so the next time we have routine proceedings, which will be on Monday, May 1, at the ordinary time of routine proceedings. He can get his request in prior to one hour before routine proceedings that day, which typically occurs after question period.

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

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House last took up debate on the question, the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill had eleven and a half minutes remaining in the time for her remarks, plus the time for questions and comments that will follow.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to speak to a question of privilege. Before question period today, I finished my remarks by talking about how the subamendment that has been moved in this House is to address this question of privilege by having it take precedence at PROC. I would like to spend the remainder of my time trying to persuade some of my colleagues here on the import of supporting this particular subamendment.

Right now, I believe PROC is looking at an issue that should definitely be punted to the side in terms of the importance of this particular motion of privilege. What is PROC looking at right now? As I mentioned earlier, the government House leader has introduced some marching orders on behalf of the Prime Minister to unilaterally change the rules of Parliament. The proposed changes would effectively and permanently shut down Parliament on Fridays, allow the Prime Minister to be accountable to this place for only 45 minutes per week, and also permanently curtail my voice and the voice of others who are sitting here, in terms of the amount of time and the different mechanisms at our disposal to raise the issues that our constituents bring to us.

I believe that PROC started looking at this particular issue on March 22, and that meeting has extended until today because, regardless of political stripe in this House, we feel that nobody should be able to change the rules such that they make it more convenient for the Prime Minister to push an agenda forward. My colleague from Chilliwack earlier today talked about how these seats do not belong to us but rather to the people of Canada, and our role here is to hold the government to account in its legislation. That of course means that many of us are not going to agree with government legislation. Sometimes we might. However, our purpose here is to come up with policy instruments that are in the best interests of all Canadians, which is why this place exists. This is why debate exists. Each of us is elected by people to stand here and debate legislation. What these marching orders from the government House leader would do is permanently curtail our ability to do that, because the Prime Minister sees this place as an inconvenience.

Earlier today, I noted that the key difference between us and dictatorships like China is that we actually have the ability to push back and hold the government to account. This place here is Canadian democracy, and if they take away our ability to utilize the rules of democracy, they are actually fundamentally changing the tenets of Canadian democracy, which we do not support.

PROC has become a tool of the Prime Minister's Office, so instead of the committee itself becoming a master of its own domain, it is taking orders from the Prime Minister's Office. Some of the things that are in here are very Orwellian newspeak. The term “modernizing the Standing Orders” I find hilarious. Basically, what the Liberals are trying to do is to permanently take away my right to speak for my constituents, and even Liberal backbenchers would lose their ability to hold the government to account. That is not modernization.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

That is called a dictatorship.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

That is called a dictatorship. My colleague from Lethbridge filled in the blank for me on that one.

Mr. Speaker, here are some of the things that I find absolutely crazy. Listen to this line: “...decisions must be made after a reasonable amount of debate.” The government does not get to decide what a reasonable amount of debate is. The people of Canada get to decide what a reasonable amount of debate is, by electing us. The Prime Minister cannot unilaterally change the rules of Parliament to decide what that is. That is a function of Parliament.

It also states, “Societal changes have also brought about the need to ensure greater predictability in the House...to ensure Members have a better balance; and, to encourage under-represented segments of society to seek elected office.” I do not understand how curtailing the amount of debate time that each of us who has been elected here has would achieve better “balance”. I take that as meaning that the Prime Minister wants to work less. That is better balance to me. Taking Fridays off seems a little crazy. As for “to encourage under-represented segments of society to seek elected office”, I am not sure who would want to seek elected office after we have all had the ability to rise and speak, per the rules of this House, taken away. This is why what is happening at PROC is so ridiculous.

Even under previous Liberal governments, former prime minister Jean Chrétien utilized a mechanism by which all parties had to have consensus on any rule change, because we realized that while we may disagree vociferously on matters of public policy, we all agree that Canadian democracy has to function by some standard framework of rules that cannot be unilaterally changed by the dictator who is the current Prime Minister.

The other thing that I found in here was that the Prime Minister's Office said that the ringing of bells and taking of recorded divisions is a time-consuming exercise.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

My colleagues are laughing. What the Liberals are saying in this paper is that being summoned to vote on legislation is somehow an inconvenience. For anyone who might be watching this debate, that is our job. That is what we get paid to do. When the bell rings, we get to stand up and vote. However, they want to change that somehow.

The Liberals want the House to agree to sit beyond the dates of adjournment, and to sit longer days. I am just reading through this, and every time I look through this craziness, I wonder why the government is doing this.

I have just had a note passed to me suggesting I explain what PROC means, for the people who are listening. This is the procedure and House affairs committee that examines these types of changes. This committee is also tasked with looking at motions of privilege.

The Liberals tried to do this last year. We all remember the infamous Motion No. 6, where the government tried to change the Standing Orders unilaterally. The only reason that motion failed was that the House of Commons got so heated over our rule changes that the Prime Minister elbowed somebody in a fist fight here in the House of Commons. What I am wondering is why, instead of wasting all of this time trying to change the rules to make Parliament less democratic, the government cannot just get on with the business of governing this country. Canadians must be watching the Prime Minister trying to make his job easier and saying he should just do his job; that is what they are paying him to do. However, no, here we are today.

One of my many colleagues here today who sit on the PROC committee told me that—I think it was last night—one of the Liberal members on the committee stood up and professed not to understand why members were doing this, saying it is just such a waste of time. For the Liberal Party of Canada, Parliament is a waste of time. What we do here when we stand up and oppose the tax hikes or the justice legislation that waters down the rights of victims to seek justice, and all of these sorts of things, the Liberals feel is a waste of time because they just want to push their agenda through.

My colleagues opposite will not agree with my position on many issues, as I don't agree with them, but what we do here matters. This debate matters. That is why we will see members from the NDP, the Bloc, and the Green Party all stand up and say in unison that this is important.

In fact, the member for Malpeque, who is a Liberal member, said the same thing in debate. I do not have time read the whole quote, but he said:

However, this place is called the House of Commons for a reason. It is not the House of cabinet or the House of PMO. Protecting the rights of members in this place, whether it is the opposition members in terms of the stance they are taking, is also protecting the rights of the other members here who are not members of cabinet or the government.

He is recognizing the fact that Liberal members who are not part of the executive, who are not cabinet ministers, have to have the right to stand up and oppose or hold the government to account. This is not a partisan issue; this is Canadian democracy. When this motion comes forward, when the subamendment comes forward, anybody who votes against it is voting against that principle, that fundamental principle that there should be unanimity among parties before we change the rules, because they are checks and balances on us.

Going back to the comment made by the member for Chilliwack—Hope, these are not our chairs, they are the chairs of the people of Canada, ergo we cannot unilaterally change the rules of Parliament without the consent of the people of Canada, which the government does not have. That is why this motion of privilege should take precedence at the PROC committee.

I want to make this point. Some people have said that the Conservative Party invoked time allocation on so many bills, and we did. I take responsibility for that. However, Canadians held us to account for that in the last election. It was an election issue. People said, “You guys invoked time allocation on many bills.” For those people who are listening, time allocation is allowed in the Standing Orders to put a time limit on debate. However, there is a political cost to doing that.

What the Liberals want to do here is unilaterally change the rules so they do not have to be held to account by Canadians for curtailing debate on bills. The Liberals should have to stand every single time they invoke time allocation and say, “This is why we are invoking time allocation.” Every single time we did that, we were able to say, “This budget bill needs to pass. We feel that debate has been done.” The opposition was able to stand, and the media, and say, “No, it is not done”, and that discussion occurred.

Even in this marching-orders paper the House leader has talked about, there is actually a quote that says that somehow the discussion by the opposition parties and media about invoking time allocation being a bad thing should be taken out. No. That is democracy. What happens here, we should all be held to account for.

Every single person in this place, cabinet minister or not, should first and foremost prioritize the rights of Canadians to have their voices heard through elected members of Parliament. That is why this discussion is so important here today.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:45 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, at the heart of this debate, if we read the motion and the rulings that are tied to that original motion, is a point of privilege raised by a member who was on a bus when the bells were ringing, and because of the way security detail was leaving the Hill, that bus was blocked and that person failed to get to the House to vote. I think we all agree, because I certainly was here in the last term of Parliament when the same thing occurred to a member of the New Democratic Party, that this is a significant and serious issue. I do not think we would find any debate about that on this side of the House.

What we are also hearing is this now being linked to a debate happening in another committee. It is not on a motion or a bill or an act by the government proposed by anyone on the government bench. It is simply on a discussion paper on how to change some of the rules in this House to make sure that people do not get stuck on buses and miss their votes, which is the fundamental principle to which the member just spoke.

We seek to have a conversation about modernizing Parliament, and we seek to protect people's privilege on that. I respect the opposition for fighting for their rights as hard as they are fighting. That is their job and that is their privilege in this House. We are trying to fix the situation where someone with the intent to vote, the intent to represent their constituents, the intent to get to the Hill, is prevented from doing so because of a process that was developed two centuries ago on how to notify people about votes. Nine times out of 10, it is a text we get telling us to vote, not a bell we hear in our offices. It is a light that flashes, not the bell, that actually gets us here.

When we are trying to modernize Parliament, why are the members opposite not talking about how to fix that bus being stuck, to protect people's privilege? That is actually what is on the floor of the House today, not all the other stuff we just heard about for the last 10 minutes.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Number one, Mr. Speaker, I absolutely and unilaterally reject my colleague's newspeak and the use of the word “modernization”. What he is saying is that he supports the PMO's dictatorial approach to unilaterally ram down the throats of parliamentarians changes to Canadian democracy.

Second, I reject my colleague's premise, because it was the Prime Minister's Office and the Liberal Party that tried to shut down debate on the original motion. It is the second point of privilege we are debating, which the Speaker of the House of Commons called unprecedented. The premise of the member's question is false.

Third, let us say there was a bill that would give Bombardier subsidies to a company out east, government subsidies, because a member of Parliament in the Liberal Party would like to make it easier for him to get re-elected by not allowing the Billy Bishop airport to have jets. I would argue that it is very important for us to get here to vote, and I am quite pleased to stand here to continue to debate that.

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I am pleased to see that she corrected the parliamentary secretary's remarks because, in fact, had he been present for the entire debate, he would know that we resumed debate after the government tried to end debate on the question of privilege and that—

Access to the House of CommonsPrivilege

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on a point of order.