Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity. I am rising on a point of order related to government Motion No. 11, which is scheduled for debate later this morning. By rising today, I am asking that you divide the motion for debating and voting purposes. Recognizing that you will require time to consider the matter, I am rising now, as soon as the House opened today.
The procedure that I am seeking to invoke is not referenced in any specific standing order. Rather, it falls under the general structures of Standing Order 1, which states:
In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by other Order of the House, procedural questions shall be decided by the Speaker or Chair of Committees of the Whole, whose decisions shall be based on the usages, forms, customs and precedents of the House of Commons of Canada....
As to those customs and precedents, I would refer the Chair to page 570 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, which states:
When a complicated motion comes before the House (for example, a motion containing two or more parts each capable of standing on its own), the Speaker has the authority to modify it in order to facilitate decision making in the House. When any Member objects to a motion containing two or more distinct propositions, he or she may request that the motion be divided and that each proposition be debated and voted on separately.
Government Motion No. 11 is an omnibus motion that, in the words of Bosc and Gagnon, contains “two or more parts each capable of standing on its own”. Looking at the motion on the Order Paper, it could, I think, be divided into at least seven separate questions.
First, we have paragraphs (a) and (b) and subparagraph (c)(ii), which concern extending sitting hours and consequential arrangements.
Second, we have subparagraph (c)(i), which contains voting on the main estimates and supplementary estimates in the current supply period.
Third, we have subparagraph (c)(iii), which would waive the one-sitting-day waiting period between the report stage and third reading stage.
Fourth, we have subparagraph (c)(iv), which would allow the Prime Minister, with the votes of his coalition partners in the NDP, to shut down the House for the summer whenever the political heat gets to be too much for him.
Fifth, we have paragraph (d), which would make provisions for voting on government business on June 22 and June 23, if the House is even still sitting then.
Sixth, we have paragraph (e), which would change the mandate of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.
Seventh, we have the final paragraph, which would permanently amend the Standing Orders to include the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation among the named holidays when the House would not sit.
The final part of government Motion No. 11 is the most jaded and cynical part of the entire package. Every party and every member of the House understands and believes in the importance of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. To try to stitch the House's own internal act of recognition and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action number 80 to a procedural motion with such a crassly partisan motivation to be able to ram bills through the House and then shutter our elected legislature is a nakedly cynical manoeuvre.
Is there any wonder why reconciliation efforts continue to stumble and stall under the Liberal government? It is because of political tactics and stunts like this. If ever there was a reason to draw upon this special practice among the House procedure, it is for exactly this particular situation.
As Mr. Speaker Macnaughton explained on June 15, 1964, at page 428 of the Journals, this practice can be traced to the April 19, 1888, ruling given by the United Kingdom's Mr. Speaker Peel: “It may be for the convenience of the House that the honourable gentleman's two propositions should be put together, but if any honourable gentleman objects to their being taken together, they will be put separately.” Indeed, there are very few cases to rely upon, but they are catalogued by Bosc and Gagnon at pages 570 and 571.
One of the Speaker's predecessors, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, observed the following on October 17, 2013, at page 65 of the Debates:
In adjudicating cases of this kind, the Chair must always be mindful to approach each new case with a fresh eye, taking into account the particular circumstances of the situation at hand. Often, there is little in the way of guidance for the speaker and a strict compliance with precedent is not always appropriate.
I would observe that, in point of fact, most of the situations where the Chair did undertake an intervention of some variety occurred on procedural types of motions not dissimilar to the one that will come before the House today. In 1991, a motion to make a series of amendments to the Standing Orders was divided for voting purposes. In 2002, a motion concerning government bills, the business of a special committee and the modification of the finance committee's pre-budget consultations was divided for debating purposes and then further divided for voting purposes. In 2013, a motion concerning the reinstatement of government bills and committee business, along with the temporary management of the House and committee business, was divided for voting purposes. Of these precedent cases, today's motion comes closest, I believe, to the situation the House faced 20 years ago.
I will admit there are some parts of government Motion No. 11 that might be convenient to group together for a common debate. Take, for example, the provisions on extended sitting hours and on votes demanded on June 22 and 23. However, there are other portions that are simply stitched together for apparent efficiency by a government that continues to mismanage its parliamentary agenda and the House's time. We have, on the one part, temporary measures to structure the rest of the spring sitting. Then there is the extension of the special joint committee's work through the summer and autumn. Finally, as I discussed earlier, there is a permanent standing order amendment as part of the reconciliation process.
Procedurally, distinct debates and votes are justifiable for these matters, I would submit. Morally, the proposal for the House to discuss and acknowledge reconciliation with indigenous peoples should be kept far away from the political controversy baked into the other components of government Motion No. 11. Reconciliation between the House of Commons and indigenous peoples should be acknowledged in a mature manner, appropriate to the gravity of the issue and the common cause, which I hope all hon. members can unite behind.
The Liberal government, however, along with its new New Democrat coalition partners, wants to wedge and divide Canadians time and again. This time, it is to try to leverage deeply objectionable proposals to ram a divisive legislative agenda through Parliament as an opportunity to claim that some members of the House oppose reconciliation. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the only thing that should be divided is government Motion No. 11.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to do the right thing and exercise the authority vested in you by Standing Order 1 and the precedents of the House to divide government Motion No. 11 for debating and voting purposes along the lines that I have laid out to you.