House of Commons Hansard #349 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affairs.


The House resumed from September 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-316, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ donors), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to have a few minutes in the first hour of debate and I am now honoured to have the opportunity to continue my thoughts in this second hour of debate. In the first hour, I talked about what an elegant solution my colleague put forward in terms of organ donations, which is to have it on our tax returns and then the information going to the provinces. It is an inexpensive solution. It is an elegant solution that is not going to impact what is provincial jurisdiction or what is federal jurisdiction.

I talked about my experience as a nurse in rural communities. Many times, people were severely injured in accidents. We wanted to transfer them quickly and it was difficult for families to make those decisions. They were dealing with the very difficult situation of a loved one who was traumatically or fatally injured and did not know what their wishes were. From my experience, that helps me recognize how important it is to have those conversations up front. As we do our tax returns, what better time to think about those sorts of issues.

I put out householders in our community and I like to highlight some of the different private members' bills that have been put forward in the House that I think are particularly compelling. I sent out a householder that arrived on people's doorsteps a few weeks ago. If anyone thinks that their community is not on board with this, I do not think I have ever had such a positive, strong response to a private member's bill. I had people writing and phoning my office to ask how soon can this happen and say what a fantastic idea it is. As we look at our vote in the House, we can be quite reassured that Canadians from coast to coast to coast see it as a positive option.

I want to make a quick note. When people do their tax return, they would indicate what their wishes are; this is called consent. I want to contrast that with another issue, where government is trying to extract information from people. Right now we have an issue with Statistics Canada where it wants to have all individuals' private banking information, line by line, e-transfers, the times people went to Costco, how many times they went to Shoppers Drug Mart and so on. It is asking the banks to do basically a data dump with all that private financial information. I contrast where I have had an overwhelming response to that issue also where people are saying that is their data and their information and Statistics Canada cannot touch that without their consent.

There is a lesson to be learned here. When we ask Canadians to make a difficult decision, but it is their decision and the government is facilitating the decision, which is what is happening in my colleague's private member's bill, where people are making a decision around being an organ donor or not, and they want their wishes to be translated to the province, that is something that Canadians get behind.

When something imposes our personal information going to a big government bureaucracy, there is an incredible amount of mistrust. As we are looking at these two very different issues, it becomes important to recognize that Canadians typically want and rightfully need to give consent for these sorts of issues.

I hope when it comes to the vote as we finish the debate, I will then be able to do my 2019 tax return and have the opportunity to check that box. Many people would be very grateful to have a seamless way to add their names to the list.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the private member's bill of the member for Calgary Confederation, Bill C-316. The member is to be commended for his work and advocacy to facilitate organ donation in Canada. I fully support what the member is trying to accomplish with Bill C-316 and co-seconded the bill, and will vote in favour of it at second reading.

In light of a chronic shortage throughout Canada, there can be little doubt that measures must be taken to increase the number of organ and tissue donations available for transplantation. Bill C-316 would enact a provision that would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency to enter into an agreement with a province or territory regarding the collection and disclosure of information required for establishing or maintaining an organ donor registry in the province or territory. This would give Canadians an additional opportunity to become organ donors; as such, it is likely to increase the number of donors across the country over time.

In the spring of 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, HESA, of which I am a member with the hon. member, examined the status of Canada's organ and tissue donation procurement system. The committee heard from numerous witnesses, who shared their insights on how the federal government could strengthen Canada's organ donation and transplantation system. The committee tabled its report on this study on September 25, 2018. Among the seven recommendations made, recommendation number 4 reads as follows:

That the Government of Canada identify and create opportunities for Canadians to register as organ donors through access points for federal programs and services in collaboration with provincial and territorial organ donation programs.

This is exactly what Bill C-316 would do by making the Canada Revenue Agency, which interacts with millions of Canadians every year, an additional vehicle in the organ donation ecosystem.

It was no surprise to hear witnesses express support for Bill C-316 during the committee's study. According to the Canadian Transplant Society, more than 1,600 Canadians are added to the organ wait-list every year. While 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation, fewer than 20% of Canadians plan to donate their organs or tissue.

There is no question that more must be done to address the serious need for organs and tissue available for donation. In 2017, more than 4,333 people were waiting for transplants across Canada. These are our relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues. That same year, 2,979 organs were transplanted. However, hundreds of Canadians could no longer wait. In 2017, 242 people died while waiting for a transplant.

To address this situation, the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians must change. Individuals need to be informed that it is not complicated to register to be an organ and tissue donor. Individuals can register at any time. It is not necessary to wait until the end of one's life to become a donor, nor is age necessarily an impediment. We know that one donor can potentially save as many as eight lives and improve the quality of life for up to 75 people. This became clear to Canadians recently, following the terrible tragedy that hit the Humboldt Broncos. After the accident, it was revealed that one of the victims had registered to be an organ donor and went on to save six lives. This prompted Canadians from all walks of life, young and old, to become donors themselves. Registrations skyrocketed across the country.

The government recognizes both the importance of donations and the role the transplantation of organs and tissues plays in the protection of the health and safety of Canadians. Canadians can be assured that we are committed to improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in collaboration with provinces and territories and key stakeholders.

From 2008 to 2009 and from 2017 to 2018, provinces and territories, excluding Quebec, and the federal government provided over $70 million in funding to Canadian Blood Services to play a role in coordinating the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system by focusing on four areas: developing and implementing a national strategic plan, including a mandate, roles and responsibilities in a nationally coordinated system; establishing leading practices, professional education, knowledge translation, and public education and awareness campaigns; enhancing system performance reporting, including public reporting; and developing and maintaining interprovincial organ-sharing programs through the Canadian Transplant Registry. During this period, Quebec also contributed $845,000 per year to Canadian Blood Services to participate in certain elements of its program.

At the moment, only a fraction of Canadians are registered donors, despite it being easy to become one. Depending on where people live, there are different ways to register and decide what they want to donate. Of course, if Canadians opt to become organ and tissue donors, it is important to discuss this decision with those closest to them. People must ensure that family and friends are aware of their wishes.

For many Canadians it may just be a matter of becoming more aware and taking a step that could dramatically change the lives of thousands of Canadians facing health crises.

It is only by working together that we will continue to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system and ensure that Canadians have timely and effective access to care. Rest assured that the government will continue to assist on the important issue of organ and tissue donation and the transplantation needs of Canadians.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on this private member's bill from my colleague from Calgary Confederation.

Before I get into the contents of this private member's bill, I am just going to say that, from private conversations I have had with my colleague, this bill is really dedicated to Robert Sallows, a great activist for the Progressive Conservatives and for all Conservatives in Calgary, who passed away a few weeks ago. I know that the member who is proposing this bill was at his memorial service.

Robert was that guy in the room who just lifted up the entire room and made everything better. He brought volunteers from different factional sides of the Conservative Party together and just enjoyed being on a political campaign and meeting people. What many people did not know about Robert was that he was a double-lung transplant recipient. One would never know that, with the level of energy and dedication he had in political campaigns. This was his avenue of release, how he would meet people and make friends and make himself incredibly useful.

I will miss Robert greatly. I never got to know him as much as I would have liked to, but I know a great many activists in Calgary, from all political parties, who knew Robert. We will think of him very fondly for many years to come. As I said, this bill is dedicated to his memory, because he was a double-lung transplant recipient, and organ transplant issues are of concern, obviously, to the member from Calgary Confederation. In a previous life, as he mentioned, he was actually able to pass a private member's bill in the Alberta legislature to create the electronic Alberta organ donor registry. This is a continuation of his work to better that Alberta registry and to better all registries across Canada.

There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “Wisdom is more precious than pearls.” It speaks to how information is much more valuable than any type of earthly good. We know that our donation rates are low because people do not realize that they can sign up on these registries. Maybe people who would like to have never actually taken the time to, either online or by signing the back of a driver's licence, whatever way their provincial or territorial governments have determined they can make that choice.

I am an organ donor. I am registered in my province of Alberta, because we have made it easier in the province, thanks to the member for Calgary Confederation for making it possible to do that. I am one and my wife is one as well. Many others have chosen to do that.

We could raise the rates even further by passing this private member's bill to make it possible for members of the public to do a public service, to do a public good, by filling out their tax forms. We already have a box there for someone to be added to the national list of electors, which is not strictly a tax issue. I know that some members may have qualms about it being a jurisdictional problem to add on another box and have the information transferred. However, we would simply be asking the CRA to collect and then send on the information, just as it does with many other parts of the tax schedule it passes on to the provinces so that they know that individuals are filing their taxes, what they are filing for and if they are eligible for welfare benefits. Therefore, I think the jurisdictional question is easily solved. We would just be passing on information. We would not be creating a new national registry; we would be trying to empower provincial registries.

On the jurisdictional question, the member who is proposing this bill is a former member of the Alberta legislature. He also happens to be a former provincial cabinet minister. I would think that if there were issues of jurisdiction and protecting the jurisdiction of provincial or federal governments, that member, of all members, would know exactly where that fine line should rest.

The contents of the bill are quite simple, but they would achieve a great public good, which would be to allow members of the public to anonymously give of themselves. The day will come when each of us will pass away. That is something each of us knows, or should know. The moment we are born, we already have a foot set in the grave, and we will pass away. It is a great equalizer in life and gives us an opportunity to think about what type of life we want to have lived and what type of gift we want to give to others around us.

In this situation, we should make it simpler and easier for people to give of themselves, if they can and wish, to donate organs and tissues to others and for research via whatever method they would prefer.

Many provincial governments and territorial governments have already moved to make it simpler for people to donate. We want people to do it themselves, to make that choice themselves. It is a very personal choice and it should always remain a personal choice.

This bill meets a lot of my requirements for voting yes on private members' business, namely, whether it is reasonable and logical, and whether it empowers individuals to do more for the public. People giving of themselves in this situation is something that we can all agree is a good point in this bill.

As I mentioned before, the tax forms have a box that allow people to be added to the national list of electors. Maybe some members will be concerned about where we draw the line and what other types of information we could start adding and passing on to provincial governments or other bodies, such as Crown corporations. Where do we draw that fine line?

It should be up to this chamber to decide where that fine line should be drawn. Adding another box on the tax form, especially now with the advent and popularity of electronic tax filing, would be a good thing. We made it much simpler for people to file their taxes and join the national list of electors. If this bill passes to the next stage, through to the Senate, on to every other stage and gets royal assent, it will be easier for people to register with their provincial or territorial organ donor registries.

The advent of electronic tax filing makes it much easier for people to register, and that is a good thing. It gives people an opportunity. It prompts them to do something good for society. Again, as I said, it is a deeply personal choice, so we should leave it to the individual. However, at least once a year we would be asking people whether they wish to do this, yes or no, just as we do with the national list of electors.

People can change their minds. People can say yes, and then maybe five or 10 years down the line they can change their minds. Provincial registries typically make it quite simple, if people change their mind at some other point, to change their decision.

In my family's case, as members know, my kids suffer from a rare disease called Alport syndrome. I have mentioned this at committee and in the House. Someday the boys in my family will most definitely need a kidney transplant, because kidney failure is the end stage of the disease.

I have done the kidney march. I have volunteered for The Kidney Foundation. I have met many kidney donor recipients. In fact, one of them was a kidney marcher and a marathoner. He is on his second or third kidney now, and he is still faster than I am. He is still faster than almost every other person I have met who has done the kidney march.

These people lead incredible lives, but they could not do so without the generosity of others. In the case of kidneys, since we are born with two of them, people can give the gift of life by giving one, living the rest of their lives on the one they have. Unfortunately, though, we still rely on people who have passed away to have signed the back of their driver's licence or joined an electronic registry to give that gift of life.

For many of my constituents who have received a kidney or liver transplant, that gift of life is incredibly important to them. I have met Conservative staffers on Parliament Hill who have been recipients of organ donations. They could not live the lives they live today without that generous gift from someone else.

We should make it possible and easier for people to make the choice, and whether someone wishes to donate should always remain a choice. Everyone files a tax return. Even those who do not pay taxes have to file a tax return to qualify for many Government of Canada benefits, so all of us will file one eventually. Actually, many more people file taxes than get a driver's licence, and that is an important thing to remember. It is about giving more opportunity and giving more eyeball time to the question to be considered.

Many of us members spend quite a bit of time on our social media accounts trying to figure out how to reach our constituents, how to get them to answer questions and how to get them to tell us what is important to them. I think using the tax forms to offer people a choice as to whether they would like to be organ donors and tissue donors at the end of, or during, their lives is an incredible public good. It is an opportunity we are giving them. We should take it, and we should pass this private member's bill.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Deborah Schulte Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada recognizes the value of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, and has an important role to play in protecting the health and safety of Canadians. We all recognize that more work is needed to address the chronic shortages of organ and tissue donations for transplantation across the country. It is only by working together that we will continue to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system, and ensure that Canadians have timely and effective access to care.

The Canadian Transplant Society notes that more than 1,600 Canadians are added to organ wait lists every year. That is because transplants are often the only treatment for end-stage organ failure. In addition to treating conditions like cornea blindness, diabetes, and birth defects, organ transplants and tissue and organ donations can also help burn victims recover, remove the need for long-time dialysis, reduce amputations, repair childhood heart problems, assist in heart bypass surgery and heart failure, replace cystic fibrosis diseased lungs with healthy ones and provide a new cosmetic solution for disfigured facial accident victims.

We know that transplants both improve the quality of life of their recipients and also save lives.

The government recognizes that too many Canadians are on organ wait lists. In 2017, more than 4,333 people were waiting for transplants across Canada. That said, over the past decade the number of deceased organ donors has gone up by 42%. While that is encouraging, unfortunately, the number of people needing a transplant has also gone up in that time. In many ways, we not making the progress we need and many people are continuing to suffer and are dying waiting for a donor organ.

As our population ages, the need for transplants will only increase. Any one of us could one day find ourselves in need of a donation. I just want to tell a private story. This is very close to my heart. I did not know this when my boys were born, but both of them have a very serious heart defect that will ultimately require them at this point in time to have a transplant. Obviously, I am very excited about the technological changes in medical services today and I am hopeful maybe that will not be the case. However, I am mindful that both of my boys may need a transplant in their future. This is an issue that is very close to my heart.

That is why the Government of Canada continues to work with Canadian Blood Services and the provinces and territories to help increase organ donation rates and raise public awareness about organ donation across Canada. People need to know that registering to donate is not complicated and that registration can be done at any time. It is not necessary to wait until death. In fact, that is often too late, especially if loved ones are not aware of your wishes.

Living donors who are the age of majority and in good health can donate a kidney, part of their liver, a lobe of their lung and continue to lead full and rewarding lives. What could be more rewarding than saving someone's life? We know that one donor can potentially save as many as eight lives and improve the quality of life for up to 75 people.

I want to tell a personal story. In my riding we had a wonderful teacher and outstanding member of our Ahmadiyya Muslim community who died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. The family and she had decided to donate her organs if she died, and their decision saved the lives of eight members of our community. Those community members would not be living if it had not been for her tragedy. Thus, from one family's tragedy, eight other families have been blessed to have their loved ones still with them.

This is a huge gift, not only for the individuals with serious health problems who are direct beneficiaries of donations, but as I mentioned, also countless family members and our whole community at large. Their lives are also transformed with these miracles of life.

As I stated earlier, the government recognizes the value of organ and tissue donation and transplantation and has an important role to play in protecting the health and safety of Canadians. The Minister of Health is working with the provinces and territories to facilitate collaboration on an organ and tissue donation and transplantation system that gives Canadians timely and effective access to care. Canadians can be assured that we are committed to improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system.

In collaboration with provinces, territories and key stakeholders, we are establishing leading practices, strengthening professional education and raising awareness to improve organ and tissue donation. The Government of Canada also continues to work with Canadian Blood Services and our provincial and territorial partners to increase the donation rates of blood and blood components because we need to raise public awareness about that all across Canada. The need for blood donations is also great.

There is a constant demand. People do not realize that it takes five donors to save someone who needs heart surgery; 50 donors to help just one person in a serious car accident; and eight donors a week to help someone going through treatment for leukemia. I am sure many members are aware of people in their communities who have been dealing with that disease. This is why it is so crucial to get the message out that it is in everyone to donate.

Canadians can count on the government to continue to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system. To demonstrate this commitment, the Minister of Health announced on October 18, renewed funding of $3.3 million for the Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program.

This funding also allows the CDTRP, Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program, to continue its research to advance organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Canada. It is through research that we can increase the availability of transplants for Canadians and transform clinical outcomes for transplant patients from coast to coast.

Our government is committed to supporting the organ and tissue donation and transplantation needs of Canadians and is looking closely at Bill C-316 and other opportunities to determine how best to support that objective.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with enormous pleasure that I stand here today to speak in support of Bill C-316, an act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act, organ donors. This initiative was brought forward by my friend and colleague, the member for Calgary Confederation. The member has worked tirelessly in this Parliament to get this organ donor bill passed.

There are some issues that transcend party lines and this bill is certainly one of them. We have a responsibility to support one another when something as simple as an adjustment on our tax form can save the lives of hundreds and thousands of Canadians.

Canada is a nation that has much to be proud of, but where organ donation is concerned, too many Canadians are dying while on the wait-list. Although 90% of Canadians support organ donation, less than 20% have made plans to donate. According to global comparison statistics from the Council of Europe, Canada has a donors per million people rate of 20:1. This low ratio places us 18th internationally in organ donation, behind Italy with a donor rate of 24:7 and the U.S. with a rate of 30:8. Spain has the highest national donors per million people rate at 43.8. This is a ratio that we should set our sights on as a country.

We have the opportunity to drastically change the lives of individuals and their families.

In a 2016 study, the health committee found that close to 4,500 people were on the wait-list, and a staggering 6% of people died while waiting for an organ. Furthermore, according to the data, while about two-thirds of people on the wait-list received an organ, that meant that one-third of people on the wait-list did not receive an organ. This wait-list is ever-increasing. It is estimated that over 1,600 Canadians are added to it every year.

While true that the number of organ donors has increased over the past decade, they are not increasing at a high enough rate to meet the demand. People are still dying needlessly because there are not enough donors on the list. We must make every effort to ensure that every Canadian who needs an organ can be matched with someone who can and is willing to donate an organ.

Again, these deaths are not because Canadians do not support organ donation, but rather opportunities and infrastructure are missing. This is not something we can hope will get better without action, and many people and organizations have worked determinedly over the years to address this.

The current version of Bill C-316, as tabled by my colleague from Calgary Confederation, builds on legislative and advocacy work done over the past 20 years around creating a system of organ donation.

Similar legislation has been introduced numerous times since 1999.

Lou Sekora, a Liberal MP, introduced a bill calling for the establishment of a national organ donation registry in 1999 and again in 2000. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the former NDP MP from Winnipeg South, introduced legislation on this topic in 2002, 2003 and again in 2008. Malcolm Allen, a NDP MP from Welland, introduced similar legislation in 2009 and 2013. In 2016, my colleague from Edmonton Manning reintroduced legislation calling for the establishment of a national organ donor registry. Now we are once again presented with an opportunity from my colleague, the member for Calgary Confederation. That equals nine times over the past 20 years that this has been introduced by people from all political parties. This many attempts over the past two decades clearly demonstrates that there is a huge void this bill can fill.

We should do better, we need to do better and we can do better.

In February 2016, I stood in the House with the other MPs from the NDP caucus and the Conservative caucus who unanimously voted yea for the earlier version of this bill, Bill C-223, which was a private member's bill put forward by the member from Edmonton-Manning. MPs have worked tirelessly to get legislation in place that facilitates organ donation and once again to encourage all MPs to vote in favour of this important legislation. Indeed, along with many of my colleagues here, I look forward to and will work toward a day when every Canadian in need of an organ has access to one.

It is not a stretch to say that this incarnation, Bill C-316, is the ninth version of a long line of attempts to get some legislation put in place around this very important subject. Let us ensure that we do not have to sit here for a 10th. Let us put partisan blindness aside and stop letting it get in the way of good legislation.

A piecemeal approach with different programs in different provinces was the exact reason why we asked for the creation of a pan-Canadian organ donor program in the first place. Federal legislation is needed to fill the legislative void on this subject. We need to pass this. This is not a simple matter of provincial jurisdiction. We need a centralized list of people waiting for an organ. By way of this legislation, we are simply looking for co-operation in the service of people who sent us here, Canadians.

Many organizations have repeatedly asked for a national strategy and national oversight of the organ donation system.

Dr. Lori West, the director of the pan-Canadian National Transplant Research Program, aptly said, “we cannot afford to be stymied by the makeup of our country. We can turn it to our benefit and really use those sorts of strategies to get where we want to go.”

The Kidney Foundation of Canada stated, “[We] recommend that the federal government take steps to improve Canada’s Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation system and save more lives by: Implementing a national strategy and oversight to ensure every potential deceased donor is identified and that every person awaiting transplant has equitable access to organ transplantation across the country.”

Dr. Philip Halloran, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Alberta, stated, “Donations in Canada are not performing at the standard that our colleagues in the United States are performing and there isn’t really any excuse except organization and accountability.”

The testimony from these experts underscores once again that there is a dire need for federal legislation and oversight over this very critical issue.

Once again, I want to urge my colleagues to support this bill and a commitment to progressive co-operation and getting results for Canadians.

I want to thank my friend from Calgary for championing this very important issue.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today in support of the private member's bill sponsored by the member for Calgary Confederation to streamline organ donation. I want to thank the member for his work on the bill, as well as his hard work in helping to create the organ donation registry in our home province of Alberta when we served in the provincial legislature together. I had the opportunity to speak to both his provincial bill and now to the federal bill, hoping that we will see similar results in passing both of them.

Almost every Canadian has heard about someone whose life was impacted by organ donation, whether in the media or through personal connections. The organ donation of one person can save up to eight people, and a tissue donation can impact more than 70 people. Of course, even more people than that are impacted as families get to keep their loved ones alive longer because of donation. However, only a quarter of Canadians are registered to donate.

Our organ donation rate is among the lowest in the world. Currently, almost 5,000 Canadians are waiting for a transplant on which their lives depend. Sadly, about 260 Canadians lose their lives every year while waiting for a transplant that, sadly, never happens. That is about five deaths per week, or one death about every 30 hours, that could be prevented if they had a viable donor. Ninety per cent of Canadians say that they support organ and tissue donation. However, in practice, less than 20% have actually made plans and registered to donate.

In the past 10 years, the number of deceased organ donors has gone up by 42%. The number of people needing a transplant has also gone up in that time. Therefore, a more effective method is needed in order to increase the size of the organ donor base in Canada. The proposal of the member for Calgary Confederation is so simple and yet so smart. Implementing it could mean a huge increase in the number of organ donations in Canada, and my friend is proposing to add an option on tax revenue forms, where people can declare whether they would like to register to be an organ or tissue donor. If they check yes, their names and information are given to their provincial government and added to an organ donor database.

Almost every Canadian fills out these forms annually. Making registration for organ and tissue donors easier will save more lives. It will be the same process for everyone, no matter what province they live in. There is no need to create new computer and database systems, because the existing system can do that job.

This method will reach the most potential donors at the lowest cost. It will also help identify organ donors when someone dies outside of his or her province of residence. The new system proposed by the member for Calgary Confederation will be more efficient at identifying donors, resulting in more lives being saved.

Earlier this year, our country suffered a horrible tragedy when 15 young men and one young woman from the Humboldt Broncos hockey team died after a bus crash. After that tragedy, there was a spike in the number of people who signed up to become organ donors. I wish it had not taken such an unfortunate accident to encourage people to become organ donors. However, I am glad to see organ donation on the rise.

The current process to register to become an organ donor in my province of Alberta involves going online to put one's name on the organ donation registry. This was spearheaded by the member for Calgary Confederation while he was a member of the legislative assembly, and it is so great to see him work so hard to continue this good work on a national scale here in Parliament.

It is so important to have the registry, and the number of organ donors has risen since it was implemented in 2013, but it is just not front of mind for most people. With so many things going on in our lives, we do not always remember to complete this type of task. Bringing the option of organ donation right to Canadians instead of waiting for Canadians to come to a website will no doubt result in an increase in the number of registered donors in Canada.

Currently, the only proactive approach by governments is to register Canadians via the driver's licence registration process. However, the percentage of Canadians with a driver's licence is dropping in every age category. While young Canadians are our future donors and they have the healthiest organs, less than 70% of 19-year-olds obtain a driver's licence. This indicates a 20% drop from the previous generation.

In Canada, only 1,600 people are added to organ transplant waiting lists each and every year. On top of that, there is also a limited time in which organs can be viable for transplant to a matching donor on the waiting list. It is typically less than a day after death. With the continuous decline of driver's licence registrations, Bill C-316 is a sensible solution to gather more donors, decrease the numbers of Canadian patients on donation wait-lists and, ultimately, save more lives.

Kidney donations are the most common organ transplant in Canada, followed by the liver, lungs and heart. A study done by Canadian Blood Services examining organ transplants between 2006 and 2015 found that transplants benefit both patients and provincial health services. According to the study, “Kidney transplantation is the best therapy for patients with end-stage kidney disease. Compared to dialysis, it can more than double a patient's life expectancy. Although the data in this section speaks primarily to the benefits of kidney transplantation, other types of transplantations, such as lung, heart and liver, are also beneficial.”

The same study found that transplants can save governments money because of reduced hospital stays. It is estimated that Ontario alone already loses approximately $100 million every year to support the care of those on the waiting list for a donated kidney. The study states:

Liver, heart and lung transplants may also reduce costs for governments. Although there is limited information on the cost avoidance associated with the transplantation of organs other than kidneys, a U.K. report states, “there is some evidence that the care of patients with life-threatening organ failure may involve many days or weeks of in-hospital care, including significant time in intensive care (which is very expensive), that would be avoided if transplantation had taken place.”

It is evident that organ and tissue donation benefits patients, families and taxpayers because of decreased health care costs. However, other countries are far ahead of Canada in terms of successful transplants. As I said earlier, Canada has a low organ donation rate. Figures from 2015 show that only 1% of Canadians who die in hospital donate their organs. We lag behind many other countries, including the United States, in registered donors.

In Europe, many countries have opt-out organ donation systems. This means that all citizens are automatically registered as organ donors and have to deregister themselves if they do not wish to be a donor. It is because of this system that Spain leads the world in the number of registered donors.

However, the system proposed by the member for Calgary Confederation achieves a happy medium. It will reach almost all adult Canadians without being heavy-handed. Canadians do not want the government telling them what to do. With the tax form system, Canadians can decide for themselves what they want to happen to their bodies. This would be a most convenient system for potential donors.

Additionally, it would be practically free to implement, because it would utilize existing documents. This system is economical for taxpayers and would ultimately help to save more lives.

Many of us do not like to think about it, but we never know when or if we will need an organ donation. Our lives could change in an instant. Many families have been put in a position where they have to wait for life-saving organs or tissue to become available. This is an incredibly nerve-racking wait. Often, families do not know whether the donations will come in time.

In Edmonton right now, a young girl from Okotoks is waiting to receive a number of life-saving organs. Thousands of other Canadians are in the exact same situation. The wait is agonizing for these families. I would like us as parliamentarians to do everything we can to decrease the number of families in this situation.

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-316 would be a great amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act. As I have said, it would reach more Canadians, increase the number of donors, save taxpayers money and ultimately save more lives. This is a sensible solution to our problem of low donor numbers. It is a very straightforward private member's bill, and I am pleased to support it today. I urge all members of this House to consider supporting Bill C-316.

I want to thank my friend, the member for Calgary Confederation, for bringing this bill forward. I also want to thank him for all the work he has done on organ donation, both here and in Alberta. He was instrumental in bringing in Alberta's organ donation registry, and he has stayed true to his word to continue to fight right here in Parliament for strong organ donation access.

I hope the next time we all do our taxes, we see the option of becoming an organ donor right there on the forms.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Bill Casey Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-316 today. I sit on the health committee with the hon. member for Calgary Confederation, and if there is one thing I have learned about him, it is that he is dedicated and persistent when he has an issue he wants followed up. He has done a great job on this bill.

It is interesting that two of the last four speakers have said they have children who will need organ transplants. It just reminds me that we are all people, experiencing the same things everybody else in Canada experiences. We all have the same challenges. That is an incredible thing to have to face. I hope it works out well for both those members.

I would bet that if all 338 members could stand up and speak, they would all have stories about organ transplants. I have a story myself, which I will not go into, but it affects us all. It is critical that we do something about this. This is at least one step in the right direction, and I support it a hundred per cent.

It is almost embarrassing to me that Canada is in 18th place in the world in organ donation. It is almost not Canadian to be in 18th place, behind so many other countries. We should be doing much better. It would not take a lot to improve. A lot of it is just communication. A lot of it is focus.

In Spain, where they have twice the organ donation that we have, they have a very organized method. They educate doctors, and they have emergency rooms ready and available. They train people to improve the organ transplant success rate, as well as on the preservation of organs and so on. These are things we could do. They are not hard to do, and we should be doing them.

As one member said a little while ago, eight lives could be affected by one organ donor. Imagine, eight lives could be saved by one organ donor, and 75 lives could be affected one way or another. It is an incredible thing that we are so far behind.

I notice some of the members of the health committee are here today. In our committee, we have studied so many different diseases and health issues that could benefit from improved organ donation. For many of the subjects that we talk about, the only answer is organ donation, and here we are in 18th place in the world. It is hard to believe that we, as Canadians, accept that and continue on in that direction.

There are a lot of things we could do. We could expand the number of potential organ donors. We could change the rules to allow more people to donate organs, and we could educate our doctors in emergency rooms to these changes. That would help. We could have better transfer protocols. We could train doctors to help patients understand organ donation.

We heard at committee, over and over again, that it is difficult for a doctor who has worked so hard to save someone's life to then tell them that it might be a good idea to donate their organs. We heard that from doctors and health care providers. We could help doctors and the medical field in general to prepare patients for organ donation when the time comes.

A national registry is the key. We are not there yet, but hopefully we will get there. New technology could help preserve organs after they are harvested, so they last longer and can get to the people who need them the most. This is technology that we have within our reach. It is within our grasp. We can do it.

All of these things are very doable. They are very simple things to do, and would move us from 18th place closer to first place, which is where Canada should be. Canadians should not accept that we are in 18th place in this comparison. I do not accept it, and the member for Calgary Confederation certainly does not accept it.

I will be supporting Bill C-316, and I look forward to hearing about it at committee, hearing the pros and cons. I am sure there will be far more pros than cons, and perhaps we can find solutions to some of these problems I have listed and that some of the other members have talked about.

It should be easy to register. Just a little while ago, some of us checked our driver's licence to see if we were donors. I am a donor, but it is not on my licence. Maybe if something happened to me, it would not be known that I was a donor. It should be on my driver's licence. That is a simple thing we could do. It is on my health card. It says “donor” right on it, but it is not on my driver's licence. If the wrong card is picked to look at, somebody might lose. The opportunity to help eight people might be lost. I do not want that to happen.

That is really all I wanted to say. I want to say that I support Bill C-316. I congratulate the member. I know how determined and persistent he is on this, and he is right. All of us should accept the challenge to not accept that we are in 18th place in the world in organ donation. I look forward to the bill progressing through the system.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members who spoke to this legislation both today and a month ago during the first hour of second reading. The majority were very supportive, some I am not too sure about, like the hon. member for King—Vaughan. She did not quite mention where she was, but she is not in. I feel confident that she is along with the rest of the speakers who spoke to the bill.

This legislation really will make a difference. I truly believe that it will save lives. I sincerely ask all members of the House to please support it.

The bill is supported by many organizations throughout Canada, organizations such as the Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario, the Kidney Foundation, the Canadian Transplant Association, and I could go on. Many organizations support the bill with letters of support and lobbying efforts to all of us as well, which I appreciate.

Twenty of my colleagues here in the House of Commons from all parties have seconded the bill. I am truly honoured that they would second my bill. I appreciate that sincerely.

The hon. member for Edmonton Riverbend mentioned that I did some work in the Alberta legislature. I did create the Alberta organ donation registry along with help from many individuals, individuals like Nancy MacDonald, Ivonne Martinez, Karen Korchinski and Robert Sallows, who was mentioned earlier today by my hon. colleague from Calgary Shepard.

I spoke about Robert a month ago here in the House. He was an inspiration to me for the bill. Sadly, he has passed away. I was at his funeral, his celebration of life, this weekend. He continues to be an inspiration to me. He was a young man of 17 when he received his double lung transplant. He survived for 14 years. Unfortunately, he died from cancer at the age of 31 just a few weeks ago. He was unable to donate his organs like he had wished, but he was able to donate his eyes, and that would have been really important to him. I think of Robert often, and I wish him well in the other world, wherever that is.

I am a little disappointed about the registry we started in Alberta because it is not going as well as I hoped it would. Ninety per cent of Canadians support organ donation, yet only 20% of Albertans, and basically 20% of Canadians, have registered on their provincial registries. That to me is unacceptable and very disappointing.

I had to think of a way to get registration up, and what better way than to target Canadians through their income tax form. Most Canadians do their income taxes, so I thought it would be a good idea to just ask them on the form. It makes sense to me and I hope it makes sense to everybody in this room. I truly believe that the bill will significantly raise our registration rates and also create awareness.

I would also like to thank my health committee colleagues, a number of whom are here today, including our chair, the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester. We completed a study on organ donation, as he mentioned. I know that I cannot hold up a prop, but I do have the study here.

I want to indicate one specific recommendation in the report that was brought forward earlier by the hon. member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam. The recommendation states, “That the Government of Canada identify and create opportunities for Canadians to register as organ donors through access points for federal programs and services in collaboration with provincial and territorial organ donation programs.”

The income tax form is an access point that reaches all Canadians. This legislation will do wonders to increase our organ donation system.

I would ask my colleagues to please support the bill and honour the work of Robert Sallows and help promote organ donor and tissue awareness here in Canada.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members



Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 7, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Before we get to the next part of the rubric, we are going to a point of order. The hon. member for Etobicoke Centre.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

November 5th, 2018 / noon


Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the issue raised in this House in regard to the annual general meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association held on October 30, 2018.

In our Westminster parliamentary system we govern ourselves by custom and convention, and by rules and procedures. According to long-standing custom and convention, the chairs of committees and formal associations of Parliament are held by government members, the exception being committees meant to hold the government to account, such as the public accounts committees, which, for good reason, are chaired by the opposition. Accordingly, a government member chairing has been the convention in the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. When the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill of her own volition walked across the aisle to the opposition, by custom and convention she ought to have resigned her chair position. Having breached this custom and convention, a process was triggered according to rules and procedures.

On October 1, 2018, 10 members of the association sent a letter to the secretary of the association that, pursuant to section 10 of the constitution of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, they were writing to call a special annual general meeting for Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. The secretary of the association then sent a notice of an annual general meeting, followed by a reminder notice on the morning of October 30, 2018.

The meeting began with the adoption of the draft agenda. After the draft agenda was adopted, and as the meeting moved to the second item on the agenda, which was adoption of the minutes of the March 28, 2018 annual general meeting, two points of order were raised. The first was raised by the member for Dufferin—Caledon, which was ruled out of order. The second, raised by the member for Prince Albert, was that two weeks' notice for nominations was not given and the vote for chair would not be legitimate, and suggested that we adjourn. The chair, after consultations including walking over to the opposition House leader and opposition whip and other members of her caucus at the side of the room, came back to the front table and ruled in favour of the point of order. The member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne was at the microphone challenging the ruling of the chair as the chair brought down the gavel declaring the meeting adjourned.

According to the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Third Edition, the committee cannot adjourn the meeting without the consent of the majority. Adjournment can be done by adoption of a motion; explicit consent, which did not occur; or by implied consent of the majority, typically occurring when the business of the meeting has been completed. The meeting's business, as per the adopted agenda, had not been completed, and there was clearly no implicit consent of the majority for the chair's adjournment. What made the breaching of the rules on adjournment particularly egregious was the chair bringing down the gavel as the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne was challenging the ruling of the chair on the point of order. The chair then departed the room in haste.

I believe that adjournment had not occurred and, as vice-chair, I approached the House of Commons staff at the front of the room to quickly consult. After consulting, and confirming my belief that the meeting was not in fact adjourned, according to House rules, I resumed the meeting as acting chair. I began by informing parliamentarians that the meeting had not in fact been adjourned, and read into the microphone the relevant section on adjournment, found on page 1,099 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Third Edition. The meeting then proceeded by the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne being allowed to complete her challenge of the chair's ruling. A vote was then called on this challenge.

A number of opposition colleagues stated the ballots had been discarded and hence individuals may be able to vote more than once. At this point, I consulted with the House staff, who confirmed that they had additional ballots of a different colour, as well as lists of all members of the association. I informed the assembled parliamentarians that, thanks to the preparedness of the staff, we would be able to proceed with the vote. Members of both the government and opposition, commons members and senators then lined up to be registered, were issued new ballots and then proceeded to drop their ballots into a slotted box provided by the House staff. When it appeared the vote was complete, I requested the clerk, the secretary, to go to the registration table to confirm no one was still in line to register for a ballot. Upon receiving his confirmation that this was in fact the case and, out of further caution, I advised the room I would provide an additional two minutes for voting, I asked the clerk to time the two minutes. When the two minutes were up, and no additional members had voted, I informed the room.

At this point, several members, including the member for Richmond Centre and the member for Yorkton—Melville, stood up to say that they had not yet voted. I then stated that those who had not voted would be allowed the time to do so. When several members, including the member for Richmond Centre, had finished taking a rather leisurely and circuitous route around chairs and had voted, the voting was closed.

At this point, the staff did the vote count, with the result being the chair's ruling was not upheld on the point of order that had claimed that the vote for a new chair would not be legitimate.

It should be noted that throughout this process, the official opposition House leader and whip were present and actively engaging their members and the House staff during the course of the meeting.

We then proceeded to the second item on the agenda, the adoption of minutes of the March 28 annual general meeting. Then we proceeded to the third item, the motion pursuant to section 10 of the constitution of the association, which was put up on the screen by staff and read as follows:

That the Chair no longer has the confidence of the members of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and, therefore, that we proceed immediately to the election of a new chair.

Once this motion passed, I suspended and left the front table. The association staff requested a member who was not being nominated for a position to chair. Subsequently, I was nominated from the floor and elected by acclamation.

At this point, I resumed chairing the meeting as duly elected chair of the NATO Parliamentary Association, and a motion for adjournment was made and passed.

Throughout the meeting, I did visual counts. I also confirmed with the association secretary that quorum, as defined by the rules of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association that quorum of a general meeting shall be set at 20 or one-third of the total membership, whichever is the lesser amount, provided that the Senate and the House of Commons are represented, was maintained.

There is an additional point in regard to adjournment. A chair can adjourn when the chair decides that a case of disorder or misconduct is so serious as to prevent the committee from continuing its work. It should be kept in mind that it is the chair's obligation to maintain decorum and that there are tools at the disposal of a chair to do so.

Up to the point when the previous chair brought down the gavel, there was no question that at any point decorum was not being maintained. On the other hand, as the meeting progressed, there were unprecedented challenges to decorum in what appeared to be an attempt to disrupt the meeting and call into question its legitimacy.

A group of young male official opposition staffers assembled, to whom songbooks were distributed. They were then encouraged by their members to sing loudly so as to interfere with and disrupt the meeting. I gave notice into the microphone that I would request the association secretary to call the Sergeant-at-Arms to have the disrupters removed should they not cease and desist. They did not, and appeared to be encouraged by a number of official opposition members, and particularly the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

As members were involved, I suspended. I walked over to the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and attempted to collegially advise him to desist by stating that he is doing good work on a number of very important human rights files and his conduct was a mistake.

I then went back to resume the meeting. As the group continued to disrupt even more loudly, I requested the House staff to summon Parliamentary Protective Service staff. When one security official was unable to get the individuals to cease, as they were being encouraged by opposition members and seemed to have lost their inhibitions, three or four additional security officials arrived and the staffers departed, at which point the meeting continued.

We are referred to as “honourable members” in this House. I deeply believe in the honour of elected public office and the dignity of this institution. In the most trying of circumstances on the night of October 30, I did my utmost, my best, to live up to the respect and honour this institution is deserving of.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre for his additional comments on this item that is before the House, the matter that has currently been taken into consideration.

I see other members standing. I will accept other interventions on this point of order. I am mindful, though, that today is an opposition day. Therefore, I would encourage additional members who may want to add their thoughts on this matter to keep them concise and to an area that may not have also been commented upon earlier. I acknowledge that last week, I believe on Wednesday, there were numerous interventions on this point of order as well. Therefore, I would ask hon. members to keep their additional comments, any new comments, concise.

We will go to the hon. member for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan first.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will keep my comments extremely short. I know it is the NDP opposition day and I do not want to cut into its time unduly. However, I would point out two facts.

First, I agree totally with the member when he says that according to procedures and practices, the chair is allowed to adjourn a meeting if there is serious disorder within the meeting itself, which clearly was the case there. The chair of the meeting at that time was perfectly within her right to adjourn the meeting and, in fact, as was pointed out before, the chair did consult and get concurrence from the clerk who was on duty that day at that meeting. It was done appropriately.

Second, I would simply point out for my friend opposite that there was another way in which the Liberal members present could have handled this, and that was simply to wait until the next meeting of the NATO association. They clearly would have the numbers and sufficient force to ask for non-confidence in the chair, then hold a vote and vote the chair out. It would have been done procedurally fair and accurate. They would not have needed the mob rule we saw the other night in that meeting and we would have avoided all of this controversy before us.

I would suggest for my friend opposite that it was not the actions of the chair that caused the reaction we have seen in subsequent days. It was the meeting itself, the meeting that was attended by almost every member of the Liberal cabinet and almost every member of the Liberal caucus, because they were whipped into attending. Why? Because one of their former colleagues crossed the floor and this of course, from a political standpoint, from the Liberals' standpoint, could not be tolerated. That was impetus. That is the genesis of this whole situation, and we all know it.

The Liberals simply could not accept the fact that one of their own flock had crossed the floor to the Conservative Party so they were going to do everything within their power to ensure that the chair was removed from her position, and they were ultimately successful. However, it did not have to be that way. They did not do it procedurally fair and they certainly did not do it in a manner which behooves the conduct of every member in this place.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too will try to keep my comments to just a couple of minutes, but it is important to intervene. We are talking about the NATO Parliamentary Association. If we look at what the purpose of NATO is, it is to safeguard freedom and security of all its members, collective defences at the heart and a spirit of solidarity and cohesion among members. It goes on to talk about the values of NATO. What happened last week was absolutely, totally inconsistent with what the spirit of NATO should be about.

When the meeting was adjourned, there were buses full of people leaving because they thought the meeting was over. Then the desk was stormed and it was taken over and reopened by the Liberals. As someone who left the meeting, it was not until the next morning that I even heard the meeting continued, that it was reopened illegally and there was more to it. As a member of the association, there is no question in my mind that there was a serious breach of what was appropriate protocol.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, keeping in mind that today is the New Democrats' opposition day and they are going to be talking about veterans, it is important to point this out. The former chair, or the current chair, in my opinion, of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, is a veteran herself. The Liberals claim that they are a feminist organization, yet they used Soviet-style antics to remove her from the chair. I am embarrassed and ashamed that the Liberals would employ this type of heavy-handed approach in taking over a parliamentary assembly. It completed violated the Constitution.

The member for Etobicoke Centre talked about the power of the chair to adjourn a meeting to maintain the decorum of the meeting. That was done. Then, after all the Conservatives left the room, cabinet members, including the Liberal House leader and the Liberal whip who were in the room, proceeded to empower the member for Etobicoke Centre to carry out a Soviet-style coup and took control of the NATO Parliamentary Association.

That is despicable and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to make the ruling that this should not have been allowed to happen, that there are proper processes and procedures, both the Standing Orders and House procedures, as well as the constitution of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, that the association should be following about the proper removal of a chair and then having a proper nomination process, with proper notice given to all members of the NATO Parliamentary Association.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I see other members standing. We should be appreciative of the time limit we are under because of the orders of the day before us.

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Continuing with the theme of your remarks, Mr. Speaker, one of many important responsibilities we have is to prioritize work in the chamber. The opposition motion is about veterans in the week leading up to Remembrance Day. We spent a lot of time on this already. I know the member did not have to raise this point of order this morning, although it is his right and no one contests that, but there is a question of timing and prioritization. I would appeal to the members of the chamber to get on with the debate that has to do with serving veterans better.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, I would not want the Speaker to necessarily buy into everything that has been said. For example, my understanding is that the government House leader was not at the meeting. I am not even sure why this issue is before the House, but that will be for the Chair to ultimately decide. Some of the information I have heard and read is disturbing, such as drinking in committees and so forth. They are very concerning.

Meeting of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary AssociationPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:20 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank hon. members for their additional comments on the matter and for keeping them reasonably concise. We are certainly taken up with this issue and all of the interventions will be considered in the decision on this matter relatively soon.