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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Extension of sitting period June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to give notice that with respect to the consideration of Government Business No. 17, at the next sitting I shall move, pursuant to Standing Order 57, that the debate be not further adjourned.

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will respond directly to the hon. member's question. When he makes reference to a budget implementation bill that just passed the Senate, what he is referring to is a budget finance bill which contained housekeeping tax measures. The budget implementation bill from budget 2004 passed within months, not a year. In fact, it was presented in March and passed before the House recessed in June of last year.

I must correct the member. While he makes his argument, the argument is incorrect. I would also encourage him to look at the facts to see that the budget implementation bill itself was passed quite expeditiously, much along the same lines that Bill C-43 was passed. We hope to have Bill C-48 passed expeditiously.

With respect to disagreeing with Bill C-48, I accept the member's ability and right to disagree on legislation. I have no qualms with that at all. That is what this House is about. I think that debate is about changing minds. I do not think the debate should be about stalling the question so Parliament can decide, and the opposition members have done a very good job of trying to do exactly that.

Editorials across the country are asking why members continue to stall, why they do not allow the question and why they do not allow Parliament to decide. That is democracy in action. Members should be able to oppose, but I do not think they should be able to use debate just to delay.

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the motion is worded in such a way that if the House does sit an extended period of time, there would be an opportunity for the House to start back at a later date to compensate for the fact that we sat during this period of time. It is up to 95 days. It is the way the motion reads. It is quite fair to members of Parliament who might be in this place for an extended period of time during the summer, and that opportunity to do so is in the motion if the House passes it.

The purpose of the motion is to extend the sitting to deal with urgent matters with respect to the legislation before us. Once the House is adjourned, it allows for members of Parliament to go to their ridings to meet with constituents or go to different parts of the country to meet with Canadians.

I would think the opposition members would probably go around the country and talk about the fact that Bill C-48 itself should not have been supported. They are welcome to go to different cities to speak to different mayors and tell them how the money for transit should not go them, or the money for the new deal with respect to the gas tax should not flow to municipalities.

I am trying to provide ample opportunity for members opposite, once the House adjourns, to meet with their constituents and to travel the country so they can convey their message. I am sure they will find that the majority of the people whom they meet will disagree with their message.

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. member's questions, I would only draw his attention to premiers and mayors across the country. They have all indicated the need to ensure that the legislation passes immediately to ensure their planning process is at play and to ensure they are able to plan effectively, knowing full well that the federal legislation has passed the House and they can continue.

I also would draw attention, for instance, to the Premier of Quebec who talked about the more than $1 billion of funding that would go to Quebec and how there is a need to pass the legislation.

While the hon. member might have disagreement with this legislation, he is perfectly able to put forward his argument. In fact, I would argue that the opposition has done that at report stage with numerous speakers. I do not know the actual number, but I think close to 70 or 80 of the members got up and spoke to report stage. I may be incorrect, but there were certainly a lot of members on the opposite side who put forward their positions, offered amendments and we dealt with report stage. Now at third reading, I am sure more speakers will get up.

The point is that the bill itself is in the public interest and that is a consideration we should all have with respect to what other levels of government are doing.

Bill C-48 needs to pass the House. It is one of the reasons for extending this sitting. If the hon. member, on reflection, would look at what is in Bill C-48 and look at the impact it has across the country, he would support the motion to extend the sitting.

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

moved:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, when the House adjourns on June 23, 2005, it shall stand adjourned until June 27, 2005; at any time on or after June 27, 2005, a Minister of the Crown may propose, without notice, a motion that, upon adjournment on the day on which the said motion is proposed, the House shall stand adjourned to a specified date not more than 95 days later; the said motion immediately shall be deemed to have been adopted, provided that, during the adjournment, for the purposes of any Standing Order, the House shall be deemed to stand adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28; commencing June 27, 2005 and concluding on the day on which a motion that the House stand adjourned pursuant to this Order is adopted, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays shall be 12:00 midnight.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Government Business No. 17 respecting the extension of the sitting of the House. Members are aware that the House is scheduled to adjourn on June 23.

Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention to Marleau and Montpetit on page 347, which states:

There are times when the House may wish to temporarily set an adjournment time earlier or later than the time prescribed in the Standing Orders.

The process for a motion to extend the sitting was set out in a June 13, 1988 ruling by the Speaker.

First, the Speaker ruled that it was acceptable for the government to place such a motion under government notices of motions. This is because the Standing Orders themselves do not define what is to be in a motion from the government, nor do they limit the government's ability to place such a motion under government notices of motion.

Second, the Speaker then ruled that the government could initiate a motion to suspend the sitting provisions of the Standing Orders, and the Speaker noted that precedents and procedural authorities enabled the government to put forward a motion to suspend the sitting provisions rules.

Third, the Speaker ruled that such a motion can be adopted by a majority decision of the House. The Speaker stated that “there is no doubt that the House can amend or suspend its rules by unanimous consent and the House can also do so by a simple majority decision”.

Fourth, the Speaker then reminded the House that parliamentary reforms had not changed the practice of the House and had not rendered prior precedents inapplicable.

Therefore I would submit that the motion in Government Business No. 17 is consistent with the Speaker's June 13, 1988 ruling. It is also consistent with a motion to extend the sitting of the House which was adopted following the Speaker's ruling.

The purpose of the motion that is before us is quite simple. Urgent legislation that is before the House is being obstructed. I point to Bill C-48, the budget companion bill, that would provide for $4.5 billion in urgent funding for the environment, including public transit and an energy retrofit program for low income housing, training and post-secondary education to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians. Also in that bill are moneys for affordable housing, including housing for aboriginal Canadians, and foreign aid.

Yesterday the premier of Quebec asked the Bloc to support the legislation which would give more than $1 billion to Quebec. The government agrees with Premier Charest that the bill is clearly in the interests of Quebecers and, indeed, in the interests of all Canadians, and needs to be passed. I would urge the Bloc members to support the interests of Quebec and to respect the request of the premier of Quebec and support the passage of Bill C-48.

In order to ensure that we have an opportunity to pass Bill C-48, we also need to consider what the official opposition is now doing. The leader of the official opposition is blocking passage of legislation that would benefit Canadian workers, students, the environment and foreign aid. Bill C-48 maintains the principles of the government's budgetary policy. It includes balanced budgets and expenditures in priority areas, and yet we have the example of the official opposition moving concurrence motions or other dilatory tactics for the simple purpose of looking to run out the clock until the scheduled adjournment of the House on June 23.

The opposition is also preventing the House from dealing with Bill C-38. The government is prepared to support an amendment to the bill at report stage that would provide greater certainty for religious institutions under the Income Tax Act. The amendment itself would be beyond the scope of the bill and it would require unanimous consent of the House. However I would hope that members across the way would give the House the opportunity to hear that amendment and that all members would wish to support such an initiative.

The government recognizes that the purpose of debate in the House is to help people make up their minds on issues. All members have clearly made up their minds on Bill C-38 so debate itself should not be used to delay Parliament from deciding.

If we were to look back to the work done by the justice committee, although I know hon. members across the way and others would disagree, but the justice committee had detailed cross country hearings on civil marriage in 2002 and 2003. We have had extensive debate in the House on Bill C-38 at second reading. I indicated to my hon. colleague, the opposition House leader and other House leaders, that every member who wanted to speak to Bill C-38 should be allowed and will be given the opportunity to speak at second reading. I think that has happened. In committee we have heard from all sides on the bill.

I want to draw to the attention of members that an editorial in today's Globe and Mail stated:

There is nothing materially useful to add. It's time for Parliament to vote on the bill, and for all parties to let the Commons have its say.

The government agrees with that and I think it is important that parliamentarians deal with this issue. Canadians elected members to the House to work in the interest of Canadians. It is not time to adjourn. It is time to look at how we can better serve the interests of Canadians. We should continue to sit until we pass Bill C-48 and work toward passing Bill C-38, which is why the government put forward the motion to extend the sitting.

I have indicated publicly that I am giving the opposition the opportunity to show that Parliament can work. If the members obstruct the motion, I certainly think that closure is always a possibility, as provided under the Standing Orders, but I certainly hope that will not be necessary and that all members would take the opportunity to support the motion so that we can continue the work in the House and continue to serve the interests of Canadians.

Democratic Reform June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a copy of the government's first annual report on democratic reform.

Ethics Commissioner June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as has been said earlier, the Ethics Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament. Dr. Shapiro's appointment was in fact confirmed by all parties in the House of Commons in May 2004. I understand that a committee of this House is also seized with the member's concerns. I understand that they will be looking to address the motion on Thursday, that being tomorrow. I am not going to prejudge the work of the committee.

Points of Order June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would make the point that in terms of providing the motion, we met every requirement and every compliance. It went on notice as it should have. It was on the Order Paper today and there is an opportunity to call the motion on Wednesday.

I understand the hon. member across the way does not want to debate the motion and does not want to stay here and deal with the legislation that we are dealing with, which is why he is making this point of order. However I would submit that we have complied with every requirement in putting this on notice.

I expect you will consider that, Mr. Speaker, when you ultimately decide on whether the point of order has any merit.

Citizenship and Immigration June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as was said earlier, the report came out today and the government and the responsible ministers are reviewing the report. The Ethics Commissioner did his work. He provided that report to Parliament.

What is wrong is that the hon. members do not like the contents of that report, so they are attempting once again to discredit the Ethics Commissioner himself.

Civil Marriage Act June 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it was the Prime Minister and this government that brought this law to the House. It is this government that continues to fight to ensure equality of rights and protection of religious freedoms. It was this government and the justice minister that provided amendments in committee to provide greater certainty with respect to religious freedoms.

Finally, I would say to the hon. member that every necessary step to ensure passage of this legislation is taking place.