I would like to make a statement concerning similarities between two bills that are currently before the House. These are Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (prohibition—promotion of antisemitism), standing in the name of the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, and Bill C-19, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022, and other measures.
Clause 332 of Bill C-19 contains near identical text to Bill C-250. To be more specific, the two bills seek to amend section 319 of the Criminal Code pertaining to hate propaganda, for similar purposes. Both make it an offence to wilfully promote antisemitism by condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust through statements communicated other than in private conversation. There is only a minor difference in the wording of one of the acceptable defences.
Bill C-19 was adopted at second reading and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance yesterday. The House is now placed in a situation where a decision was made on one of the two bills that contain very similar provisions.
There is a long-standing practice that prohibits the same question from being decided twice by the House during the same session. As stated at page 568 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition:
...two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of. If a decision is taken on the first bill (for example, to defeat the bill or advance it through a stage in the legislative process), then the other may not be proceeded with.
The Chair recognizes that these bills are not identical, as Bill C-19 is much broader in scope and contains other provisions related to the implementation of the budget.
However, in adopting Bill C-19 at second reading, the House has also agreed to the principle of that bill, and consequently, has agreed, among other things, to amend section 319 of the Criminal Code dealing with hate propaganda. As I explained a few moments ago, these are provisions substantially similar to the ones contained in Bill C-250.
Therefore, the question for the Chair is, should Bill C-250 be allowed to proceed further in the legislative process at this time? In the Chair's opinion, it should not be allowed. The House should not face a situation where the same question can be cited twice within the same session, unless the House's intention is to rescind or revoke the decision.
Government and private members' bills belong to different categories of items and are governed by different sets of rules and precedents. Standing Order 94(1) provides the Speaker with the authority to “make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of Private Members' Business”.
Applying this authority, I am ordering that the status of Bill C-250 remain pending and that it not be called for its second hour of debate. This leaves open the possibility that Bill C-250 could be reinstated in the next session, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, should by any chance Bill C-19 fail to be enacted in this session.
I thank all members for their attention on this matter.