House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was place.

Topics

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

That is unsafe.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sure the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre appreciates the coaching he is getting from the other side, but I am sure he can make his speech all on his own. If members would wait until the question and comment period, I am sure he would be more than happy to entertain questions then.

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fine comments coming from the other side. It is a wonderful thing. I love the heckling in the House. It is always most enjoyable. It actually adds some theatre to this place sometimes. It is very much appreciated.

I remember when I was an elementary school teacher. In grade 1 and 2, we would often try to quiet the classes. It was not always easy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the hard work you do in order to make this a more enjoyable place to work.

To resume, at the end of the day he was concerned about my safety. There are security concerns on this Hill, and that is a paramount issue. We have to find a balance not only between the privileges of members and our responsibilities but also to ensure that we have security. If we cannot access the House, there might be a very good reason relating to someone's personal security. For instance, if the bus driver had said to me that he was going to let me off even though he saw cars whipping by, and I had been hit by a car, I do not think we would be farther along. More rules would have been put in place.

Sometimes it takes a bit of listening, for instance, to the bus driver who is trying to do his job in a good way, trying to make a difference and do his work. He was not actively out there saying that he was going to stop a member from going to vote. Hopefully that never occurs.

In the Speaker's ruling, I enjoyed reading that he talked to the director of the Parliamentary Protective Service and indicated that one of the director's annual objectives should be “to provide mandatory training on an ongoing basis for all members of the service on the privileges, rights, immunities, and powers of the House of Commons, including unfettered access of members of the House of Commons to the parliamentary precinct.”

The Speaker also indicated he “has every confidence that the leadership of the Parliamentary Protective Service will be able to achieve this important understanding of the parliamentary community that they serve by availing themselves of all opportunities available for relevant training, including those previously offered by procedural staff of the House.”

For me, it is wonderful that we are able to actually raise these issues at any given time. However, there is also a moment when it is important for us to accept the ruling, to understand that on the procedures of the House, the bureaucracy will do its job, that they will be able to take that information and craft policy and better procedures that will help protect members and ensure that they have unfettered access to this place, allow the Speaker the opportunity to do his job in a good way, allow him to work with the parliamentary staff so that they can do their job in a good way, and allow him to work with the clerks so that they are able to inform the protective services of the rights and responsibilities of MPs in the House of Commons.

However, we have to give them the time to do so. We have to give them the time to carry out that function. We cannot immediately have knee-jerk reactions and all of a sudden slap our knee and say, “We have to do this lickety-split, right now.” Sometimes snapping our fingers and trying to get things done too quickly leads to a work environment that is not conducive to the long-term benefit of all people involved. Sometimes it is good to take the time to consult, talk, and think about things.

I very much enjoyed speaking on this issue. I was really interested in reading some of the examples.

Maybe I will highlight some other things for the House. There is a case I was reading, for instance, that described how obstruction or intimidation of members can sometimes be related to electronic surveillance, and I wanted to get this on the record. I believe it was actually Speaker Jeanne Sauvé who made a ruling on this issue. It is something that has been in the news a little lately. That is perhaps far more important to discuss. Nonetheless, buses are also very important.

I am going to finish off with a quote from elder Winston Wuttunee, who said, “Always do things in a good way, with an open heart, to offer yourself to those around who you must serve, to give yourself to your family and to your community, to your brothers and sisters, to all your relations, to not think selfishly of what you're hoping to gain from something but what you can actually give back.”

When we debate this in this place, in our House, the people's House, we need to have that foremost in our minds. We need to remember that it is not about playing political games but about how we work together and what we do in order to create a better life for more Canadians. To me, what we are actually doing for Canadians is the most important thing, because at the end of the day they are all that matters and they are the reason we are here. We are not here to play political games. We are not here to simply spend many hours debating things. While debating is very important, it is perhaps less important than many other issues that Canadians want us to deal with here and now.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was interesting.

The member went out of his way to, as the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley said, essentially challenge the ruling of the Speaker by saying that although the Speaker has declared that on the basis of an initial look at the facts that a member's privileges were violated, it is probably actually the fault of the member for Beauce and the member for Milton. This reminds me of another time when there was a prima facie case before the House. In this case members of the government blamed a member of the NDP for getting in the way of the Prime Minister when he was manhandling members of the opposition. The member says he does not want to make this partisan, but he is really saying that it is members' fault when their privileges are violated. That is unbelievable.

The member went on to talk about members having a responsibility. He said that the members should have known there would be a nine-minute delay on the bus. He questioned how the members could not have known, saying that if they had done their planning they would have known. That is ridiculous and is not what the Speaker found. We have a responsibility, he said; we also have privileges, which is what we are debating here.

The Speaker has said that members' privileges were violated and has invited the House to take this matter up. The member for Winnipeg Centre seems to think the matter is closed, that the Speaker has ruled. The Speaker has ruled, but he has ruled that we have the right to have this matter considered, and we have asked that it be considered as a priority matter, because it is so serious.

The Liberals keep on saying how serious it is, but they do not want it to be at the procedure and House affairs committee as a priority item. They want to punt it back behind the other violation of privileges that is currently taking place at the procedure and House affairs committee.

If the Liberals want this matter to be taken seriously, will they join with us on this side of the House and instruct the procedure and House affairs committee to treat this violation of the privileges of a member of Parliament to be the most pressing matter and consider it immediately?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, games, games, anger, anger: that is a lot of what I seem to be hearing.

It is important that we do debate this, but at some point we need to move on. We need to listen to the Speaker. What l said before was that the Speaker has already made a ruling, and yes, he has suggested this can be moved on, but it is also up to the House to decide if it does in fact move on.

I would also like to point out that we have an opportunity to debate things that are of graver importance to Canadians than some other issues. We should be discussing issues that actually impact the lives of everyday Canadians rather than the bollards on the precinct and whether we can get in or out of the bollards and how we plan our time. Canadians expect us to be here to vote, and they expect us to be able to plan ourselves accordingly.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, trying to put aside the obvious irony of my friend from Winnipeg complaining that we should be talking about something else just after he has given a 20-minute speech talking about it, the House of Commons is talking about this issue and this impasse because the Liberals refused to move it to the appropriate committee—ironically enough, because that committee is studying a motion the Liberals are trying to ram down the throat of Parliament and is at an impasse. The number of contradictions in my friend's speech is breathtaking.

My point is this. He tries to belittle the notion that members of Parliament were denied their ability to vote, that it is somehow about bollards or something. He said that this is frivolous and we should move on, and at the same time he said that of course this is a sacred right and obligation we have as members of Parliament.

Blaming the victim does not work in this situation. He understands that. Members of Parliament, as has been ruled by the Speaker, were denied their right to get into the House of Commons and do their job.

We have simply suggested what has happened in every other case that I am aware of: that we take the ruling from the Speaker that says something went wrong to the appropriate committee so that we can hear the evidence from our security officials and from the MPs who were affected, and then find out how to fix it. The Liberals again stand in the way of moving forward. They stand and say there are more important things we should be seized with.

First of all, for members of Parliament to be able to vote and work on behalf of the people who sent us here is the most important thing this place has to talk about. Second, it is the Liberals who are holding up the process. The member should walk down the aisle, tap on his House leader's shoulder, and say, “Let us get this off to the committee, and then the House of Commons can return back to all those important issues that Canadians are facing today and tomorrow.”

Will the member do that? Will he agree with us that this needs to move out of the House of Commons and get to the committee so we can resolve it, or would he just like to talk some more and complain about all the time that we are wasting talking some more?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I used the words “anger, anger” and “games, games”, and now I can add the words “time, time, wasted, wasted”. I think the Chair has made a good ruling. I think the Chair has offered some suggestions for repair to make sure this does not occur in the future, and we have to give time to the bureaucracy to actually do their work. We have to give time to the precinct staff to make sure that they correct what happened before and to make sure it does not occur in the future. It takes time to let the experts accomplish that work.

I would not pretend to be an expert on security on the Hill, but I know there are people who work in this precinct who have the ability to do that day in and day out.

I hope no one here pretends to be an expert on security on the Hill, because there are very few people who have that expertise. We have to make sure those functionaries—those bureaucrats, those people who carry out the day-to-day functions—have the rules and procedures they believe are necessary so that after listening to us and what our concerns are, they then correct the situation so that things actually work on the ground.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on my colleague's words of “games, games”. The Speaker made the ruling, and I appreciate the ruling that was made by the Speaker, but the member for Milton was the one who moved the motion, and just prior to moving it, this is what she indicated to the House in regard to going to the vote. She said that “the supremacy of one was paramount over the supremacy of the members of Parliament going to vote. The supremacy was in one person, and that was the Prime Minister.” She went on to be very critical of the Prime Minister.

If we listen to the Speaker's ruling, we see that nowhere did it make reference to the Prime Minister or any motorcade. It causes me to believe that this is a game. Indeed privilege is very serious, and unfettered access to the Parliament buildings is also an important issue. I recognize that, but it seems that there might be other members across the way who are prepared to make a game of this. That is a concern that I have, and that is why I would be interested in hearing more from some of the Conservative members on that issue.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I believe I know the intentions of the Prime Minister. He wants me here voting all the time, as much as I possibly can be. I hope he does, anyway, even though sometimes I do not always vote with the government. Nonetheless, he wants me here, because he believes it is my responsibility to be here. He also believes it is the responsibility of members of the opposition. I do not believe that at any moment he wants to impede people.

The great thing about this Speaker's ruling is that he actually conducted an investigation. He went out and looked for the information. He asked the right people to conduct an investigation.

As a former sergeant-at-arms with the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, Quebec, I had to conduct a number of security investigations myself on security breaches of some of the buildings I was responsible for. It is no small task. One has to go around and find people who might have witnessed a small incident, such as a door left unlocked or something. No matter how small or how large, they were all important. However, we had to take the time to do an investigation, and once we had all the facts, we were able to lay out what actually occurred.

I think in this case, the Speaker has laid out a very clear and precise document that gives all of us a way to move forward. I do not believe it needs to be studied any further. Personally, I think what we have is a document that really allows us to now create a way to ensure that this never occurs in the future. Therefore, we should let the bureaucracy do what it does best and let the House of Commons staff do what they do best. Let them get down to work and ensure that we are no longer late for our votes. I know that I have never been late.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate. It would be better if I did not have to, but I am certainly pleased to come to the House to offer my thoughts in this debate, coming from a number of perspectives from my own personal experience.

I, of course, spent a number of years as minister of public safety, and in that regard, had responsibility for, among other things, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who, at that time, had responsibility for security in the precinct outside this building. I also, of course, spent some time as government House leader. We had occasions when we had to deal with questions of privilege when peoples' access was denied, for one reason or another, on the Hill. As well, I had the honour of serving on the Board of Internal Economy, which wrestled with the many questions on how to deal with security and at the same time with the question of members' privileges.

The recurring theme that has become loud and clear here is that notwithstanding these repeated problems in the past, members' privileges continue to be denied. Why is that important and why is the amendment of the member for Beauce so important in that context?

There is no greater privilege a member of this House has, and no greater duty and responsibility, than the duty and obligation to be in the House to cast a vote on behalf of constituents. Hence, there is no greater violation of members' privileges than actions that deny them that most fundamental right. That is why it is taken so seriously. That is why it must be taken so seriously. That is why it is a matter of urgency, and that is why the member for Beauce is so correct in his amendment that says that not only must this be studied, but this study must be given priority and treated as an urgent and important matter. That is certainly the case here.

As I said, this is the second time. There was another occasion in this Parliament, in different circumstances, admittedly, when tempers were high and people were heated over Motion No. 6. It is funny how that happens. Every time someone is denied a chance to vote, it is at the same time as Liberals are proposing draconian rule changes to suppress the rights of members in the opposition, and lo and behold, at the same time, members of the opposition are denied their privilege and right to vote. I do not know if that is coincidence or God sending a message or some kind of literary theme at work, but it is a recurring theme. We are seeing that right now with the effort by the government to unilaterally force changes through the procedure and House affairs committee.

It is also a nice way of juxtaposing those two issues and focusing on why, indeed, the privilege of members to vote needs to take precedence at this particular time. It is a matter of urgency that could occur again tomorrow. It could occur again today, for all we know. None of the changes being talked about at that committee include this dramatic, urgent situation, but we could face the exact same problem today, tomorrow, or the next day, and we have to work to resolve it as soon as possible.

The member for Winnipeg Centre set the groundwork for me on what I want to say next, when he said that the Speaker went on at length in his decision on this. I want to approach my next set of comments with sensitivity and a bit of delicacy, because I am going into what is a very delicate area.

In his ruling, the Speaker stated, “In fact, I have received two reports of the incident. The first, from the House of Commons Corporate Security Officer and Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, provides an excellent minute-by-minute summary of events and is supplemented by witness statements. The second report was received from the acting director of the Parliamentary Protective Service. Based on those reports, here is what appears to have happened on March 22. At approximately 3:47 p.m., the bollards at the vehicle screening facility were lowered to allow for the arrival of a bus transporting journalists to Centre Block for the presentation of the budget. The media bus, under Parliamentary Protective Service escort, immediately proceeded to Centre Block”.

The Speaker then continued with his interpretation of events, as reflected in these reports. He went on for some time and then wove in references to the member's presence at the gate and the inquiries that were made. It is not clear in the reports where those came from or whether they were based on the member's representation in the House when this question of privilege was argued. In any event, they are there. Why am I troubled and uncomfortable?

Those findings were in reports that were apparently made available to the Speaker. I have not seen those. I do not believe they have been tendered to this House, yet they were the evidentiary basis on which the Speaker's finding was made.

I want to make it clear that I do not take issue with the prima facie finding of the Speaker. I conclude, in fact, that it is fair and correct. However, there is a long-established principle. In the courts, for example, we know full well that if judges are hearing a case and they hear evidence before them, they are to decide that case based on the evidence. It is considered highly inappropriate, and we would have an instant appeal to the courts, if judges were to play detective, gather evidence of their own, and seek out the advice of experts on their own.

I say this because the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre is saying that we should just leave it to the experts, something that is our responsibility, and we should trust them. That has already happened here, in part, in a way that I find uncomfortable, if I can put it delicately. That discomfort is that the basis of the decision in these reports was available to the Speaker but not to me, as a member of the House. It is evidence on which his finding of a prima facie case was made, but I had no opportunity to look at that evidence myself and make my submission on whether it supports or does not support a prima facie case, and that is, of course, the proper role in place in this House.

That evidence should have been before all of us before that finding was made. Certainly, I would hope, it would come out as part of what would be available to the committee when it does its study, a reason the study must go ahead and why it is urgent.

It really is not the place of the Speaker to conduct such inquiries. We have the good fortune of having had precedents on it. For example, Speaker Milliken was faced with this on one occasion. This is from October 25, 2001, where he stated the following:

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona in his remarks tried to assist the Chair by suggesting that it was for the Chair to investigate the matter and come up with the name of the culprit and so on. I respect his opinion of course in all matters, but in this matter I think his view is perhaps wrong. There is a body that is well equipped to commit acts of inquisition, and that is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which has a fearsome chairman, quite able to extract information from witnesses who appear before the committee, with the aid of capable members who form that committee of the House.

I think there the Speaker was saying that it is not the role of the Speaker to conduct inquiries, to gather evidence, and to make decisions about those him or herself.

I recognize that the Speaker has an administrative responsibility here, with the recomposition of the Parliamentary Protective Service and the unification of those on the Hill and in the House. That being said, that does not change the fundamental principle in law and in parliamentary law that if we are to be able to debate an issue and make a decision on it, if some facts or evidence, not law or previous decisions but facts or evidence, form the foundation of a Speaker's decision, it should be before all members of this House. We should all have an opportunity to evaluate it, pass comment on it, and make our submissions on it. That did not happen here. That I find a little bit troubling.

It then becomes one step more troubling. We have seen the member for Hull—Aylmer make reference to these documents, suggesting that he has them. We have had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons wave the documents about, yelling, “ Look it's in here, it's in the report”. Not only did the Speaker have this evidence and not present it to the House, but he apparently has presented it, or someone has, his administrative responsibility, to members of the Liberal government. It has not been presented to us in the opposition on this side, so we are handicapped in this debate to begin with.

The worst part is for the confidence of people in this House, the confidence that this House is working properly, fairly, and judiciously. We have to understand that this evidence was before everyone before the prima facie finding was made.

As I said, I believe the Speaker made the right finding in the end. My concern is the process of getting there and particularly that members of the Liberal government had access to this information.

That could lead a critic to suggest there were perhaps an unseemly, inappropriate proximity between the role of the Speaker, sitting in a quasi-judicial function deciding a question like this, and the government having and sharing information unavailable to other members of the House. By this, I do not wish to in anyway call disrespect upon the role of the Speaker and the job he has done. This ruling is a sound one in the end. It is not unusual for a sound ruling to occasionally have an error in process on the way. However, I did want to share with the House my discomfort with that process. There is a concern there.

That we have these documents floating about, which the opposition has not seen, underlines the importance of why this has to go to the procedure and House affairs committee to be studied. It also underlines why it is a matter of urgency.

There is a lot at the procedure and House affairs committee right now. The government has suggested all kinds of things that in other ways will tilt the table toward the Liberal government.

In all my time as House leader, and I am the longest-serving Conservative government House leader in Canadian history, we never, ever proposed unilateral changes to the rules. I know I am well respected for the approach I took of respecting the rules of the House and making everyone happy that we were in it. We never once sought to propose unilateral changes. In fact, my friend, who was my parliamentary secretary, the member from Regina, was very good at laying out the government's position at the procedure and House affairs committee. We agreed that changes would not made without agreement among all the parties. That is the proper approach.

Something like that can be done in the matter before the procedure and House affairs committee. If such a commitment is made, if such an agreement is arrived at, the committee need simply pass a resolution like that and we can proceed on with all the business. I do not think anyone in that context would argue that it does not make sense for our procedural matter here, the question of privilege about the rights of members to vote, to take immediate precedence.

What is so discomforting is that when we pull all these things together, there is a recurring theme again and again. It is a recurring theme where Liberals may have said one thing when they were in opposition, but now have a very different approach in government. That has never been my approach. I have tried to be consistent throughout, and tried to follow the rules of the House. They are very important and should be followed. However, to change those rules in mid-stream for partisan advantage is poisoning the well of this place. I think everyone who has been here sees how it is poisoning that well.

I feel badly for many of the Liberals, including the candidate I ran against, a fine lady, who spent much time in meetings telling their constituents they wanted to do things differently with a new respect for Parliament. They wanted to be more consensus-oriented, communicate and consult more, and work together. Apparently, that was not true. I sense that is why in these debates we see such lack of diversity in the spokespeople on the other side, because so many of them feel that discomfort. They did not campaign on the proposition of replacing or adding to time allocation, with an ability for the government to unilaterally impose it without a vote of the House, not just in each stage of the bill, but all the way through the process, to dictate it for every stage and advance, and thereby limit debate. No one ever talked about that. However, that is what the Liberal government now wants to do.

Now the Liberals think it is more important to talk about that and make that happen than it is to talk about the fundamental privileges of members of the House to vote. That is what the member for Beauce is saying. If we keep having occasions where people get denied their opportunity to vote, the most critical central part of every member of Parliament's role, what do I say? I feel for the member for Beauce and the member for Milton. What do they say to their constituents who ask why they missed that vote?

Some people care about voting records. As leadership candidates, they may have the odd hole. However, to then have additional holes created because somebody stopped them from carrying out their duties here, how could that be? How can somebody stop them from voting? They are there to vote on behalf of their constituents. It is a difficult thing to explain. Some people may begin to arrive at arguments like that presented by the member for Winnipeg Centre, that it must be the fault of the members somehow that they got stopped. That is why this is so serious.

If I can step into a place as genuinely non-partisan as possible, we had the same problems when we were in government. I wrestled with them as a member of the Board of Internal Economy, as government House leader, and as public safety minister. Why? Because people had a job to do, usually in the security service, that they took far too seriously and did not appreciate the importance of the privileges here. The thought and the hope was that by creating a single unified service on the Hill, we would finally overcome that, because the problems were always on the RCMP side. The Parliament Hill side was pretty good. It was always the RCMP.

Guess what? Notwithstanding all the changes, the problem has not been solved. That is pretty urgent. That is pretty important for us. Toward the end of our government, when these questions would come up, I would be very quick to stand and say that the member of the opposition, who was unhappy with the circumstances, was absolutely right. A member's privilege should never be violated in this fashion. Even if it is just to hear the speech of a visiting head of state who we are interested in, a member's privileges should not be denied. Certainly, when it is the question of that most profound element of our job here, to vote, it should not be denied and should not be permitted.

When this issue arose initially, I found it surprising that the government did not offer to bring to the House the evidence that the Speaker went and got on his own. We always did that. We offered to go and get that information and provide it to the House. I am surprised that did not happen. I am surprised he did not intervene to do that at all, but let it come to this without providing those kinds of answers. It is not an answer to say that it should be turned over to the experts, that the functionaries, the officials, will decide for us what our privileges are and how they shall be respected.

If we do not assert our own privileges and rights in this place, I can assure members that nobody else will. That is why I thank the Speaker for his prima facie finding. That is why I think he made the right decision. That is why I think it is so important that we study it. I do not know if this is one of the things the Liberal government has proposed in its set of changes, but there is a reason why it is built into the rules right now. When a finding like this is made, the House proceeds immediately to the motion from the member and immediately to the debate and that debate continues until the question is resolved.

The drafters of those rules cared about how this place worked. They cared about balancing the rights of members. They cared about ensuring the minority was protected in all cases. They realized this place was not here for the convenience or efficiency of this place. I keep hearing the word efficiency from the government House leader in defending what the Liberals are doing. The drafters of those rules realized that this place has certain inefficiencies which are called “protecting people's rights”. Protecting our rights means sometimes those inefficiencies. They recognized it was so important that when a finding like this was made and a motion like this came forward, it took priority over all other business of the House. That is what the Standing Orders say now.

Perhaps the Liberals want to change that. Perhaps they do not think it should have precedence. Perhaps they do not think it is the most important part of business. That is what their conduct shows. That is what it showed with Motion No. 6. That is what it shows with their work at the procedure and House affairs committee now. That is what it shows with the submissions from the member for Winnipeg Centre from the Liberal Party. It shows that we should not deal with this, that it can be dealt with by officials, so never mind.

We stand on centuries of precedent in the Westminster system. These rules are there for a reason: to protect our democracy, to protect the rights of the minority. That is what this motion is for. That is what the motion moved by the member for Milton would do and what the amendment moved by the member for Beauce would do. That is why they should indeed be approved, and why priority must be given to this most fundamental question of a member's right to vote in the House.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, for years, I sat in opposition and listened to the member across the way. He commented about time allocation in particular. It was moved over 100 times, in record highs.

I am sure if the member were to be truly transparent and honest on the issue, he would recognize that the modernization of Parliament, in good part, is being driven by some of the things we witnessed over the last four years. There were the hundreds of hours where there were stand-up votes and bells ringing, as well as a pile of other things all related to time allocation. What is clear, in listening to the member, is that he is right. The Conservative Party never really wanted to modernize Parliament. That appears to be the case today. This does not mean the government of day cannot have that as a high priority. We made a commitment to it. We are inviting all members to get engaged in that discussion.

I have a question for the member. Given his comments in regard to the fact that we should have access to the report, I want to make it very clear that I do not have a copy of the report the member referred to, nor have I ever seen the report. Does the member believe that before it goes to PROC, at least the House leadership of the different parties should see that report? Is that what the member is suggesting with his implication?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am comforted by the hon. member's words now. They stand in stark contrast to what he was doing and saying in the House some hours ago. While other members were speaking, he was waving a piece of paper in the air and pointing to it, saying “I have the report. We know what happened. We have the report.” I will take him at his word now, as we all should do as members of the House, that what he is saying now is true, and that gives me great comfort. It still does not change the basic discomfort I have with the process of the Speaker conducting his own inquiry, but I am comforted to say that what he says is true. I hope the same is true for the member for Hull—Aylmer, who similarly indicated he had possession of the report. I hope that is not the case.

On the question of the rules, our approach was very simple. It might have been very convenient for me as government House leader to have different rules and to not have to stand and move time allocation, and pay what political price was necessary.

The Liberals want to short-circuit that, jam it down the throat of the committee right now, and never have to take responsibility for their actions under the rules. They would rather come to the game and decide that they would like to change the rules. I understand that if one comes from Winnipeg, perhaps occasionally, as their football team or hockey team has challenges, he or she might like to change the rules a little. However, I have never once heard those fine players on the Jets or the Blue Bombers suggest that what they needed to do was change the rules so they could finally—

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention.

I am very pleased to hear him speak today and see him be so reasonable to the minority in the House because that was not always the case when he was across the way.

I would like him to comment on why the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is the ideal place to get to the bottom of things, as we saw not so long ago when a similar thing happened to our former colleague Yvon Godin, who was prevented from getting to the Hill just before a vote. The question was thoroughly reviewed at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee heard witnesses and made its findings.

Can my colleague reiterate why the ideal place to address this type of issue is the committee and not the House, as part of a debate like the one we are currently having with all members?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the place where such matters are always studied. I appreciate the member's comments on fairness in the rules.

Of course, those of us who have been here for some time recognize that the purpose of the rules is not the efficiency of the government. The purpose of the rules is the protection of the rights of the minorities through which our democracy is protected. That is why we, as a government, never once proposed changing those rules without the consent of the other parties. That is why the only changes ever made by the Conservatives were with the consent of the opposition parties.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for York—Simcoe will have five minutes remaining for a period of questions and comments when the House next resumes debate on the question.

Hull—Aylmer Constituency Youth CouncilStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow I will have the enormous pleasure of hosting over 50 young people from the Hull—Aylmer constituency youth council for a day on the Hill. They will spend the day at the heart of our democracy, rubbing shoulders with people in our parliamentary community. They will take part in many workshops and attend lectures.

I wish to invite all of my colleagues in the House to come and meet them and share their political experiences with them.

I hope that two things will come out of tomorrow's events. First, I hope that all members will let themselves be taken by the enthusiasm, energy, and ideas of the members of the Hull-Aylmer youth council. They will remind us why we chose to enter this noble vocation. Second, members should please share freely with these young dynamic people the distinctiveness of the ridings they represent.

I can say confidently, Mr. Speaker, that the young people you will encounter on the Hill tomorrow are full of enthusiasm.

Sergei Magnitsky LegislationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, during the last federal election, all parties, including the Liberal Party, promised to bring forward a bill in memory of Sergei Magnitsky that would increase sanctions on foreign officials who are involved in government corruption and human rights abuses.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who uncovered the biggest tax fraud orchestrated by corrupt officials. The Russian government arrested Sergei. He was tortured, denied justice, and beaten to death in a Russian prison.

This morning, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development presented its unanimous report entitled “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanctions Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond”. Magnitsky legislation has been adopted by the United States, the European Parliament, and Estonia, to impose stricter sanctions on all corrupt officials and violators of human rights.

Adopting Magnitsky legislation here would further enable the Government of Canada to quickly sanction corrupt foreign officials from all corners of the world. This is not a partisan issue, but the Liberal government has refused to take action. I encourage government members to support my bill, Bill C-267, justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act (Sergei Magnitsky law), as the bill their campaign promised.

Reconciliation Totem PoleStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me today to rise and pay tribute to a truly meaningful and historic event that recently took place on Coast Salish territory at the University of British Columbia.

I often visited my friend Jim Hart, also known as 7idansuu, of Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, as he and his team of carvers for months worked on a 55-foot, 800-year-old red cedar totem pole.

This, the reconciliation pole, has salmon at its base representing the cycle of life. A mother bear holds her two cubs. Then comes the break: a residential school, a government-instituted system designed to assimilate and destroy all indigenous cultures across Canada. There are copper nails to represent the lives of the children that were lost. The children with numbers on their chests come next, but they are followed by four spirit figures representing the strong cultural roots of first nations people. Next comes a family holding a child, representing revitalization of the family in the story today. Two canoes, first nations and Canadian governments, represent different paths yet track together. An eagle rises at the top representing the hope for the future.

Battle of Vimy RidgeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we near the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of a wonderful group right here in Ottawa. This Sunday, the Ottawa Children's Choir will be performing as part of the official ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

The choir is comprised of 24 singers, ages 11 through 15. I am pleased to say that one of my constituents, Adrianna Winchester, will be taking part in the ceremony this weekend. The Ottawa Children's Choir will be joining Canadian dignitaries, veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP in participating in the ceremony.

I request to be joined by all members in the House in wishing Adrianna and the members of the Ottawa Children's Choir all the best in France.

Gatineau Seniors' CentreStatements By Members

April 6th, 2017 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Monday I was at the Centre des aînés de Gatineau to kick off the programming for its 40th anniversary. This is good news.

For the past 40 years, the centre has been meeting the needs of people 50 and over in the areas of engagement, education, support, and socialization. Thanks to its partners, staff, and volunteers, it offers a variety of courses and services, as well as recreational activities, and even housing.

The housing offered by the centre provides an environment with plenty of services and activities designed to end isolation and solitude among seniors.

I have visited the centre many times, and I assure my colleagues that it offers high-quality services that should be a model throughout Canada.

The centre is using its 40th anniversary as an opportunity to unveil its new name. Since it is already a campus offering services and activities for Gatineau's seniors, the centre has decided to use the name “Campus 3”.

I want to congratulate Campus 3, which has been serving the Gatineau community for 40 years.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, last month the Liberal government introduced its second budget.

Budget 2017 actually does more to hurt Oshawa businesses and families than it does to help. We now have a new carbon tax, increased payroll taxes, and the highest electrical rates in all of North America, while the Americans are lowering taxes and lowering the costs of doing business.

Budget 2017 nickels and dimes Oshawa businesses and families, and makes life under the Liberals more expensive. In Oshawa, we know that in order to create jobs and grow the economy, we need to be competitive. The Liberals failed to lower small business taxes, and they did not offer any new incentives to create jobs.

Budget 2017 takes aim at Oshawa's middle-class families and students. Nothing in the budget puts money back into their pockets. The Liberal budget eliminated the public transit credit, the caregiver credit, and the family caregiver tax credit. Canadians said goodbye to the measures that hard-working middle-class students and young Canadians relied on to make their lives more affordable.

Working-class Canadians, and those wanting to join them, deserve better.

Quebec Lieutenant Governor's MedalsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, I had a very busy day. In the morning, I was in Deux-Montagnes to participate in a citizenship ceremony where 30 new citizens became members of the great Canadian family. I was then very pleased to go to Lachute to attend the ceremony where the Quebec Lieutenant Governor's medals were awarded for the Laurentian region.

Six people from my riding were honoured at that ceremony. First, the youth medal was awarded to three young people for their academic achievement and volunteer work. Congratulations to Jimmy Bell, Élizabeth Hua, and Helen Skalkogiannis.

I am also proud to recognize the three recipients of the seniors medal, which is awarded for volunteer work. Congratulations to Marilyn Drew, Thérèse Léger, and Gisèle Long.

Congratulations to all of you and thank you for helping our beautiful riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles to flourish.

I congratulate all of them.

Daffodil MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you have noticed the prevalence of the colour yellow in the halls of Parliament this month as MPs adorn themselves with daffodils, like the one I am wearing today. That is because April is Daffodil Month, a chance for Canadians to show solidarity with the more than 800,000 of those among us who live with cancer.

The daffodil is also a call to action. In the over 60 years since the Canadian Cancer Society sold its first daffodil, cancer survival rates have increased from 35% to over 60%. That is impressive, but there is more work to be done.

I know all MPs have organizations in their ridings which are part of the effort to defeat cancer and to support those who are battling it. In Halifax, groups like The Lodge that Gives, the IWK Health Centre, Prostate Cancer Canada, and Ovarian Cancer Canada are part of that fight every day.

I encourage everyone to reach out to organizations in their hometowns to #jointhefight, because in a time when we all know someone living with cancer, we are all in this together.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is throwback Thursday on the Internet, #tbt, and I can think of no better theme for this Liberal-spending deficit budget.

I know many Canadians' reaction to this “tax and borrow and spend” budget would be to throw it back in the government's face. However, this budget is also a throwback to a dark and painful time in Canadian history, the seventies. Disco was popular, bellbottoms were a fashion must, and the father of the current Prime Minister was unleashing a 25-year structural deficit on the nation.

Flash forward to today, and the son is practising what the father preached. Like something out of the seventies, the Liberal government believes in a sort of super-freaky Keynesian economics, which is another way of saying the Liberals have things backward. They run deficits when times are good, which means even bigger deficits when times are bad. The weird belief that spending more than we have will magically create jobs that last longer than the money we borrowed is throwback thinking, #tbt.