I am now prepared to rule on two points of order raised yesterday by the hon. opposition House leader regarding government Motion No. 22. I would like to thank the hon. opposition House leader for having raised these matters, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his comments.
On the first matter, the hon. opposition House leader argued that, since in her view no debate had taken place on the motion on Friday, May 25, the Journals for that day were inaccurate as they state, and I quote, “debate arose thereon”. She asked that the Journals be revised accordingly.
As recognized by the opposition House leader herself, this is a point of order for which I have already ruled on last Friday. At that time, members questioned whether, due to issues with simultaneous interpretation and disorder in the chamber, the motion was properly before the House. I indicated that the motion was, in fact, properly before the House and that interpreters had successfully interpreted the reading of the motion into the record. I also indicated that the wording of the motion was available for examination in the Order Paper in both official languages. I have not changed my view on that question; consequently, the Journals accurately reflect the proceedings of last Friday.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states the following at page 564, with respect to what is considered debate:
A Member initiates the process of debate in the Chamber by moving (i.e., proposing) a motion.
It also adds at page 566:
If the motion is found to be in order, and has been moved and seconded, the Speaker proposes it to the House. Once the Speaker has read the motion in the words of its mover, it is considered to be before the House....
After a motion has been proposed to the House, the Speaker recognizes the mover as the first to speak in debate. If the mover chooses not to speak, he or she is nonetheless deemed to have spoken (by nodding, the Member is considered to have said “I move” and this is taken as the equivalent of speech in the debate).
I also refer members to a ruling by the Acting Speaker on March 19, 1992, which can be found at pages 8479 and 8480 of the Debates, which provides clarification as to whether a mover of a motion should be counted as forming part of the debate on a motion. The Acting Speaker said:
Since the minister presented the motion, even if he did not speak, according to the Standing Orders his speaking time is deemed to have expired.
He later said:
The first speaker was for the government and is deemed to have spoken, even if he did not actually do so. The government presented a motion to table [a] bill. So that was the first speaker....
These citations confirm that the motion, having been read out by the Chair and the mover having been recognized to speak to it, initiated debate on the item.
In a ruling by Speaker Fraser on April 3, 1990, that can be found at pages 10155 and 10156 of the Debates, on a point of order that questioned whether debate had properly begun on a bill, which in turn could invalidate a notice to curtail debate on a bill, he confirmed that, despite the mover not having the opportunity to rise to speak to the item, debate had started, and the matter was properly before the House:
It is true that the hon. member for Gloucester was not on his feet on debate, but I think I would be stretching things a very long way indeed if I should rule today that the House was not seized of the Order of the Day.
Similarly, it is clear to the Chair that, as I stated on Friday, government Motion No. 22 was properly before the House, and debate on it had commenced.
I would now like to address the second point of order raised by the hon. opposition House leader immediately following the point of order by the government House leader, whereby she gave notice of closure with respect to proceedings on government Motion No. 22.
In her arguments, the opposition House leader questioned the validity of the notice on the basis that, in her view, it had yet to be determined that debate on the motion had commenced. Essentially, she contended that until the Speaker had ruled on the first point of order, notice of closure could not be given.
In his intervention, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons reiterated that page 19702 of Hansard clearly indicated that debate had commenced, and therefore the notice of closure was appropriately given.
At that point, the chair occupant indicated that:
...until such time as the Speaker has given a ruling on this question of whether the debate has begun on Motion No. 22 or not, we will reserve whether the motion for closure on Motion No. 22 is in fact in order. It is not at the moment. We will wait until such time as a decision on the previous point of order earlier today is rendered, at which point, depending on that outcome, the government House leader may then proceed accordingly.
As I have just now confirmed that debate had indeed commenced, it follows that the notice of closure, as given by the government House leader yesterday, was indeed valid.
I thank all members for their attention in this matter.