Is it agreed to proceed in this manner?
Won his last election, in 2015, with 69% of the vote.
Concurrence in Vote 1B--Department of Finance December 4th, 2017
Is it agreed to proceed in this manner?
Point of Order November 30th, 2017
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on November 22, 2017, by the member for Montcalm regarding the participation of the Minister of Finance in the vote on Motion No. 42. In raising this matter, the member for Montcalm reiterated the arguments raised by the member for Joliette on November 8, 2017, contending that the Minister of Finance was in contravention of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons by participating in a vote on Motion No. 42 relating to tax avoidance. He also argued that the minister had attempted, through his parliamentary secretary, to influence the House in the furtherance of his private interest.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, page 568, states:
No Member is entitled to take part in debate or to vote on any question in which he or she has a private interest (formerly referred to as a “direct pecuniary interest”), and any vote subsequently determined to have been cast in these circumstances would be disallowed....
If a Member's vote is questioned after the fact, it is the practice to accept his or her word. If the House wishes to pursue the issue, notice must first be given of a substantive motion to disallow a Member's vote.
In addition, section 13 of the Conflict of Interest Code, which was established to guide members in the ethical discharge of their duties, including when there are private interests, states, and I quote:
A Member shall not participate in debate on or vote on a question in which he or she has a private interest.
Based on the restriction provided in the code, it is clear that the right of members to debate and vote is not absolute. Furthermore, Speaker Milliken, on October 6, 2005, stated, at page 8473 of the Debates:
...the Conflict of Interest Code contains rules that the House has adopted for itself and that the House has mandated the Ethics Commissioner to interpret and apply the code.
It is the commissioner who has the sole authority to apply the dispositions of the code and to investigate any alleged conflicts of interest. It should be noted, however, that members do have the ability to refer matters to the commissioner. Section 27 of the code establishes the process relating to concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving another member. The House too can direct the commissioner to conduct an inquiry by way of a resolution. Section 28 then outlines how the House may proceed if the commissioner concludes that a member has not complied with an obligation under the code.
It is not the role of the Chair to determine if a conflict of interest exists, but instead, to ensure that the rights and privileges of members of this House are always safeguarded. By extension, as Speaker, I cannot unilaterally deprive a member of the right to vote any more than I can unilaterally order that a vote be redone.
As members will surely appreciate, the seriousness of a charge against a member is such that the Chair must make absolutely certain that the procedures that the House has adopted are strictly followed. I would like to thank all members for their attention in this matter.
Canada's 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Athletes November 29th, 2017
It is my pleasure to welcome onto the floor of the chamber many of the athletes who competed in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria last March, led by the chef de mission and the 2017 honorary coach.
These athletes on the floor of the chamber and in the gallery have competed in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, and speed skating.
Canadians from across the country are justly proud of you, and so are we. Like them, we appreciate the years of training and sacrifice, and the determination it takes to become a world-class athlete.
You are all champions. You are an inspiration to your fellow Canadians.
Today is also an opportunity to recognize coaches, mission staff, and Special Olympics Canada for their hard work and dedication. Many of them are sitting in the gallery, and I would ask them to stand.
Congratulations again, félicitations, thank you all for representing Canada so well in the Special Olympics, and good luck in your future endeavours:
Sara Albers, Chris Anderson, Adelina Bailey-Lopes, Alexia Barré, Emile Baz, Matthew Bedard, Donna Bilous, Ryan Blinn, Kirsten Bobbie, Robert BomBoir, Darren Boryskavich, Serge Boulianne, Ronald Brandt, Susan Brophy-Leblanc, Holly Burton, Ronald Cambridge, Julien Cardinal Moffet, Alyssa Chapman, Janet Charchuk, Dr Neil Cheeseman, Ernest Chua, Janet Collins, Matthew Cormier, Mark Cullen, Kyrren Dean, Sheldon Dean, Justin Dodge, Kevin Dooks, Sylvie Ducharme, Doug Dunk, Jack Fan, Chelsea Fidler, Matthew Fields, Robert Fougere, Michael Gilbert, Timothy Goodacre, Stephen Graham, Jacqueline Gravel, Adam Guthrie, Shane Haddad, Tyler Haddad, Sébastien Hamel-Bourdeau, Brianna Harris, Floressa Harris, Kristen Hudson, Maureen Hunter, Raymond Huson, Elijah Ilag, Christopher Innes, Darren Inouye, Jade Irvine, Jennifer Jackson, Darlene Jakubowski, Evan James, Dan Jamieson, Mark Jamieson, Rosie Laidler, Michael Langridge, Zane Lauritsen, Veronique LeBlanc, Nancy Leduc, Allison Libertini, Terry Livingstone, Adam Lloyd, Allison Love, Dennis Lynch, Darlene MacQuarrie, Benjamin Maeseele, Daniel Martin, Rachel Mathews, Sarah McCarthy, Tijana McCarthy, Sara McKelvie, Andrew McTaggart, Paul McTaggart, Tracey Melesko, Kelsey Mellan, Michael Milani, Jill Moore, Paige Norton, Valerie Nyhout, Alexander Pang, Renée Pelletier, Christine Peters, Roxana Podrasky, Juli Prokopchuk Brattan, Barb Prystai, Mario Richard, Jonathan Robbins, David Robertson, Elizabeth Roman, Hellaina Rothenberg, Michael Roy, Jamie Salé, Stéphanie Savard, Randy Scott, Patric Seeds, Olivier Séguin, Justin Sigal, Sandra Smith, Peter Snider, Katherine St Amand, Francis Stanley, Philip Ste-Marie, Elouise Stewart, Shane Stewart, Kailinda Stewart, Ron Struch, Michael Sumner, Marc Theriault, Erin Thom, Ben Tinholt, Paul Turner, JorDen Tyson, Garth Vickers, Lucie Villeneuve, James Walker, Susan Wang, David Whyne, Tony Wilkinson, David Wilkinson, Michael Wimbs, Elijah Wood, Katie Xu, Crystal Young, Joanne Zahaiko, Tracey Zwiers,
Bill C-352--Canada Shipping Act, 2001 November 28th, 2017
The Chair wishes to make a brief statement on the manner in which the secret ballot vote will be conducted on the designation of Bill C-352, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to provide for the development of a national strategy (abandonment of vessels). In so doing, I also wish to address the point of order raised yesterday by the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
With regard to the voting process, members may obtain their ballot from the table officer seated on their side of the chamber. They will then be able to mark their ballots in secret at one of the two voting stations situated in the corridor behind the Speaker’s chair. Completed ballots are to be deposited in the ballot box which will be placed at the foot of the table.
During statements by members and oral questions, ballots will be distributed from the corridor behind the Speaker's chair and the ballot box will also be placed there so as to not disrupt the proceedings.
With regard to the manner in which the results will be revealed, I am afraid that I cannot accept the argument made by the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby that this process should be treated differently from the only other analogous practice that exists in our Standing Orders, that for the election of the Speaker.
In that case, Standing Order 4(12) provides that all ballots and records of the number of preferences marked for any candidate are to be destroyed by the Clerk of the House. It also instructs the Clerk to in no way reveal the number of preferences marked for any candidate.
Standing Order 92 does not provide any direction to the Chair which would cause it to depart from that now established practice. Accordingly, when the two days of voting have been completed, the table officers will count the ballots and provide me with the final result, not the number of members voting for or against the motion.
I will then provide that result to the House at the opening of the sitting on Thursday, November 30.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs may wish to consider this matter and if it deems necessary, provide further direction to the Chair with regard to the manner in which the result of the secret ballot is revealed.
Pursuant to Standing Order 92(4), I now direct that the vote on the designation of Bill C-352commence.
I thank hon. members for their attention.
Points of Order November 20th, 2017
I will ask the member to be patient for a moment while I provide a quick ruling on a point of order raised a bit earlier, and then there will be three minutes remaining in questions and comments. This will not take long.
I thank the hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly for raising a point of order with regard to the application of Standing Order 69.1, a motion under Standing Order 73. As hon. members know, Standing Order 69.1 is new, but its wording is clear. As is often the case, the powers of the Speaker are limited in the Standing Orders and that is case with Standing Order 69.1.
I will read the section that I believe pertains in this case. The Standing Order says, “the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill”.
The motion currently before the House, the one requested in the point of order, is not in fact a motion for second reading. Nor is it a motion of course at third reading to adopt the motion. It is instead a motion to refer the bill to committee forthwith.
As the Speaker, I am bound to apply the Standing Order as it is written, and Standing Order 69.1 is not written in a manner that allows me, as the Speaker, to apply it in a motion which is to refer the bill to committee before second reading. Therefore, I cannot, in my view, invoke Standing Order 69.1 in this case.
However, should the motion in fact be adopted to send the bill to committee before second reading and should the bill be concurred in at report stage and second reading, I could certainly, as the Speaker, apply Standing Order 69.1 at second reading of the bill. At that time, one would anticipate that after it came back from committee, the bounds of the bill and its principles would be more clearly established.
As I mentioned a few days ago, in my previous ruling on a motion concerning Standing Order 69.1, at such time I would encourage members to bring forth their arguments about whether the bill should be divided for the purposes of voting as early as possible.
I thank hon. members for their attention.
Privilege November 20th, 2017
I would like to thank the hon. member for Thornhill for having raised this matter, as well as the parliamentary secretary to the government House Leader and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for their comments.
In raising the matter, the member for Thornhill alleged that the Prime Minister had misled the House when, during oral questions on October 31, 2017, he stated that the Minister of Finance was the only minister currently holding controlled assets indirectly. This, the member indicated, contradicted information provided by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
In turn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader noted that, in fact, the then Ethics Commissioner herself declared that she was not at odds with the Prime Minister's statement. Furthermore, he explained that the established criteria used to determine if a member has deliberately misled the House had not been met and characterized the matter as simply a dispute as to facts.
Members know well that in any case in which the veracity of what a member of the House has said is called into question, the Chair's role is very limited to the review of the statements made in a proceeding of Parliament. In other words, the Chair cannot comment on what transpires outside of the deliberations of the House or its committees.
Speaker Milliken reiterated this essential principle in a ruling of February 10, 2011, which can be found at page 8030 of the Debates:
It may sound overly technical but the reality is that when adjudicating cases of this kind, the Chair is obliged to reference material fully and properly before the House.
In keeping with this limitation, any comments made by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner outside of our proceedings are not officially before the House. That is not to say that the right and need of members to receive accurate information is in any way diminished, for it is not, but it does place boundaries on what comments the Chair can review.
In addition, as with any charge that a member has misled the House, the Speaker must uphold the requirement that the three pre-established conditions be met; that is, the statement must be misleading, the member must know in making the statement that it is incorrect, and finally, there must be proof that the member deliberately intended to mislead the House by making the statement.
In the absence of these criteria, the matter is usually found to be simply a question of debate. In a ruling from January 31, 2008, which can be found at page 2435 of the Debates, Speaker Milliken stated that:
...Any dispute regarding the accuracy or appropriateness of a minister's response to an oral question is a matter of debate; it is not a matter for the Speaker to judge.
A review of the evidence officially before the House leaves the Chair unable to conclude that on the basis of exchanges last October 31, the member was unable to fulfill his parliamentary functions. Accordingly, I do not find that there is a prima facie question of privilege.
I thank all hon. members for their attention.
Points of Order November 8th, 2017
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on November 3, by the hon. member for Carleton concerning the applicability of Standing Order 69.1 to Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Carleton for raising this matter, as well as the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby, the hon. member for Calgary Shepard, and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader for their comments.
The hon. member for Carleton asked that the Chair use the authority granted under Standing Order 69.1 to divide the question on the motions for second and, if necessary, third reading of Bill C-63, as he argued the bill contained measures not announced in the budget of March 22, 2017.
He noted, for example, that the summary indicated that a measure in part 2 of the bill was implementing a change to the GST/HST rebate for public service bodies announced on September 8, 2017. He also argued that the measures concerning the taxation of agricultural and fisheries co-operatives in part 1, and those concerning beer made from concentrate in part 3, were not in the budget, nor were three measures from part 5, namely division 5 regarding the Bank of Canada, division 11 concerning judges, and division 13 regarding payments to discharge debt.
The hon. member also argued that the monies authorized in part 5, division 2, regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AllB, far exceeded what was announced in the budget.
In his budget speech, the Minister of Finance indicated that the government would be investing $256 million in the AllB over five years, while clause 176 of the bill authorizes the minister to spend $375 million U.S., or roughly $480 million Canadian.
While he indicated that he did not feel strongly about having a separate vote on each of the other measures, the hon. member for Carleton was particularly keen on having a separate vote on this measure. He thought the Standing Order provided the Speaker with such authority, given that the bill authorized quite a bit more spending than what was announced in the budget.
The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby argued that the bill was in fact an omnibus bill, insofar as it contained measures not announced in the budget. He also noted that this was specifically the case in relation to the measures concerning agricultural and fisheries cooperatives and those concerning beer from concentrate. Furthermore, he argued that the inclusion of such measures meant that Bill C-63 could not qualify for the exemption provided in the Standing Orders for budget implementation bills and that therefore the entire bill should be treated as an omnibus bill.
The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, in his intervention, sought to reassure the House that certain measures were indeed arising out of the budget. He pointed out that the plan for Canada to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was indeed announced in the budget, and that the bill operationalizes that plan. He also argued that the amendments to the Judges Act in division 11 give effect to the intention announced in the budget to implement the recommendations of the 2015 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. The changes relating to the Bank of Canada in division 5, he contended, are part of the government's plan to bolster the tool kit for managing the resolution of Canada's largest banks, as announced in the budget.
Finally, he insisted that the Standing Order does not foresee the division of a bill for the purposes of debate or committee referral, but only for the purpose of voting at second and third reading.
The hon. member for Calgary Shepard argued that in coming to a decision, the Speaker should be inspired by the procedure in the Quebec National Assembly in relation to motions to divide bills. He argued that the Chair should not confuse the principles contained in a bill with the field of legislative action it addresses. While the measures in the bill all deal with economic policy, he did not think that the Speaker should conclude that they are all interrelated. He also raised a number of points that were less specifically about Bill C-63, but concerned the mechanics of implementing a decision to divide a question, which he argued are unaddressed by the Standing Orders. In particular, he raised issues relating to amendments to the second and third reading motions, referral to committee, report stage and consideration of Senate amendments.
Yesterday, in response to a point of order from the hon. opposition House leader, I delivered a first ruling concerning the new Standing Order 69.1 on omnibus bills. This Standing Order empowers the Speaker to divide the question on the motion for second and third reading of a bill in circumstances where the bill contains a number of unrelated provisions.
The matter before us today concerns paragraph (2) of that Standing Order, which makes an exception for budget implementation bills. That paragraph reads as follows:
69.1(2) The present Standing Order shall not apply if the bill has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget and contains only provisions that were announced in the budget presentation or in the documents tabled during the budget presentation.
The question for the Speaker, then, is whether or not the measures identified by the hon. member for Carleton and the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby correspond to provisions announced in the budget.
Let me first say that establishing such a link is not always obvious. The budget document itself is almost 300 pages, while the supplementary tax information represents another 100 pages. The Chair has done its best to review the material in arriving at this decision.
Let me first deal with the measures in the bill relating to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The hon. member for Carleton acknowledged that these measures were indeed announced in the budget. The only issue is whether or not the variance in the amount invested is sufficient to sever this relationship.
In my view, the spirit of the Standing Order was to provide for a separate vote when new or unrelated matters were introduced in the budget implementation bill. The fact that the amounts are higher, though I admit the variance is considerable, does not, in my opinion, make the matter of the AllB markedly different from what was announced in the budget.
I believe it is understandable that, in between the time the budget is presented and the time the budget implementation bill is introduced, a change in circumstances could produce such a variation. I do not believe it is necessary to insist on an identical amount when the overall policy initiative is substantially the same. Therefore, I do not believe it would be appropriate to have a separate vote on this matter.
Let me turn now to the other issues raised by hon. members. I am willing to accept the arguments from the hon. parliamentary secretary that division 5 of part 5 regarding the Bank of Canada and division 11 of part 5 regarding judges’ compensation flow out of measures announced in the budget. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate that those measures be included in the general vote at second reading and, if necessary, at third reading.
However, in relation to the other matters raised by the hon. members for Carleton and New Westminster—Burnaby, I have been unable to find a link between them, and what is contained in the budget documents. The parliamentary secretary did not refute the contention that these matters were indeed new and unrelated to the budget.
Accordingly, I believe that I can and should exercise the powers granted to me in the Standing Order to divide the question at second reading and, if necessary, at third reading.
Having come to this conclusion, the question is, how to effect such a division? The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby argues that the entire bill should be subject to division. Since it does not solely implement measures announced in the budget, he believes the exemption in Standing Order 69.1(2) no longer applies.
As I stated earlier, I believe the purpose of the Standing Order is to allow such a division in relation to those matters which are unrelated to the budget, accepting that the purpose of the remainder of the bill is to implement the budget.
Points of Order November 7th, 2017
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on October 31, 2017 by the hon. opposition House leader concerning the applicability of the new Standing Order 69.1 to Bill C-56, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act.
The opposition House leader contended that Bill C-56 contains two parts that should be separated through the application of Standing Order 69.1. One part amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to address issues relating to the use of administrative segregation. The other part aims to amend the Abolition of Early Parole Act in relation to accelerated parole for certain offenders. She argued that these two matters were unrelated and therefore invited the Chair to divide the question on the bill.
The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby agreed with these arguments, and indicated that dividing the question on the bill would better allow members to represent their constituents.
éAs members will recall, the House adopted a series of changes to the Standing Orders on June 20, 2017. Since this is the first time I have been asked to render a decision using this new Standing Order, I would like to elaborate on certain aspects of its application. New Standing Order 69.1 provides as follows:
In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill. The Speaker shall have the power to combine clauses of the bill thematically and to put the aforementioned questions on each of these groups of clauses separately, provided that there will be a single debate at each stage.
The power of the Chair to divide a complicated question has long existed in our parliamentary practice, though it has only rarely been exercised. The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at pages 562 and 563, describes this power and enumerates the few examples of it being used. It also makes clear that this power had never traditionally applied to bills, but only to motions.
In her presentation, the hon. opposition House leader elaborated on several of these examples. In the Flag Debate of 1964, Speaker Macnaughton divided a motion into two questions, the first concerning the establishment of a new Canadian flag and the second concerning the continued use of the Union Jack.
In 1991, Speaker Fraser divided a 64-part motion to amend the Standing Orders into three separate questions.
In 2002, Speaker Milliken divided a lengthy motion to reinstate certain items of business into two questions, while ordering that another portion of the motion be considered separately.
Though not mentioned, a similar decision was rendered by my predecessor on October 17, 2013 in relation to a motion to reinstate certain items of business, where two separate votes were held.
The opposition House leader also referred to several examples of motions being divided in British practice, dating back to the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
Standing Order 69.1 empowers the Speaker, for the first time, to divide the question on a government bill both at second reading and third reading, except where the legislation has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget. In so doing, the Chair is to consider the degree to which the various provisions of a bill lack commonality.
Where a bill contains unrelated initiatives, the Speaker may group clauses thematically for the purposes of voting, maintaining a single debate. Though there may be multiple questions put to a vote for second or third reading, there remains only one bill. This is in contrast to cases where bills themselves have been divided, either as a result of a motion adopted in the House or an instruction given to a committee.
Since the analysis and division of a bill into different parts can sometimes be complex, I am grateful that the member raised her point of order as early as she did, prior to the commencement of debate at second reading.
Where members believe that the Standing Order should apply, I would encourage them to raise their arguments as early as possible in the process, especially given that the length of debate at a particular stage can be unpredictable. If an objection is raised too late in the process, the Chair may have no choice but to allow the matter to go to a single vote at second reading or third reading, as the case may be.
When the Chair finds that the Standing Order does apply and that the question should be divided on a bill, I will indicate to the House which elements will be grouped together for the purposes of voting. As I noted earlier, legislation is often complex and such divisions are not always simple. This is particularly the case when a bill contains coordinating and consequential amendments, as well as coming-into-force provisions, which impact various sections of the bill. In presenting their arguments in favour of the division of a question, members are encouraged to indicate which provisions they feel should be grouped together.
In the event that the House rejects certain provisions at second reading while adopting others, the adopted portions of the bill will be referred to committee. In such cases, I would order that the bill be reprinted for the committee’s consideration. In our current practice, reprints of a bill are generally only undertaken upon an order of a committee following the adoption of amendments or upon the passage of a bill at third reading. I believe, however, that when a portion of a bill has been rejected by the House at second reading, it would be useful for a committee to have a new version of the bill so that the measures contained in its order of reference are clear.
In the specific case of Bill C-56, after having examined the bill, I also concluded that the bill does indeed contain two distinct measures. The first part amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to implement a new regime for the administrative segregation of inmates. The second part, essentially clause 10 of the bill, amends the Abolition of Early Parole Act, dealing with the eligibility of certain offenders for accelerated parole reviews.
I note that the Abolition of Early Parole Act is the short title of “An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts”. This act was enacted in 2011 and repealed the accelerated parole review framework established by sections 125 and 126.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. With Bill C-56, the transitional provisions contained in the Abolition of Early Parole Act will be amended so that offenders who committed their offence prior to the law coming into effect in 2011 but who were sentenced only after that date may be eligible under the previous framework.
The hon. opposition House leader argued that, in this case, the two initiatives are unrelated and that members may well support the first and oppose the second. Members will know that many bills contain a number of initiatives on a number of policy areas, some of which members support and some of which they might oppose.
The amending process affords members an opportunity to propose changes, including the opportunity to remove portions of a bill to which they object. The question for the Chair, in applying Standing Order 69.1, is whether the matters are so unrelated as to warrant a separate vote at second and third reading.
At first glance, it may appear that the provisions in clause 10 of Bill C-56 are unrelated to the rest of the bill. However, the accelerated review process envisioned in that clause, as indicated earlier, was in fact set out in sections 125 to 126.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the very act which is amended by the other clauses of the bill.
Since the subject matter of the bill as a whole deals with the treatment of inmates, either in the case of administrative segregation under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act or in the application of the accelerated parole review process under that same act, it is my view that the two parts are indeed related and that, consequently, the question on Bill C-56 should not be divided.
I thank all honourable members for their attention in this matter.
150th Anniversary of the First Meeting of Parliament November 6th, 2017
Pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, I will now make a statement commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the first Parliament of Canada, after which I invite representatives of all parties in the House to proceed with their own statements.
I invite all members to the Hall of Honour for the unveiling of a decorative window commemorating this event.
Today we mark an important milestone in Canada's history, the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the first Parliament. I am honoured that in recognition of this significant chapter in our nation's history, we have in attendance today several of our former prime ministers, speakers, and clerks of the House of Commons.
On November 6, 1867, Canada's members of Parliament came together for the first time to begin shaping their new country, writing the laws that would enable their fellow citizens to govern themselves and strengthen our fledging democracy.
On this day 150 years ago, our predecessors embarked on an ambitious journey that continues to this day, the journey towards a fair, prosperous country for all citizens.
It is difficult to imagine the enormity of the task before those first parliamentarians gathered in the chamber that used to stand here, facing the monumental challenge of governing a vast and sprawling country still in its infancy. Consider, too, that in those days, Ottawa was not perhaps the most sophisticated location for Canada's capital. A decade before Confederation, the English essayist and political scientist, Goldwin Smith, dismissed Ottawa as “a sub-Arctic lumber-village converted by royal mandate into a political cockpit”.
To avoid hurting the feelings of Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa, I should add that Ottawa has come a long way since those days. It has even become a leading city, and a lot of work has gone into its development, but there is, of course, always more to be done.
Any democracy worthy of its name is always a work in progress, and it is our duty as parliamentarians to build on the foundation laid by those first members of Parliament who established the country that it is our privilege to serve.
Points of Order October 31st, 2017
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on May 12, 2017, by the hon. member for Winnipeg North concerning the possible requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to four private members' bills, two from the House of Commons and two from the Senate.
The Commons bills are Bill C-315, an act to amend the Parks Canada Agency Act, conservation of national historic sites account, standing in the name of the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and Bill C-343, an act to establish the office of the federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts and to amend certain acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix. Both bills are currently in the order of precedence at second reading.
The two Senate bills are Bill S-205, an act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act, Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, and Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety, standing in the name of the hon. member for Guelph. Both of these bills are currently awaiting first reading.
Members will recall that on May 9, 2017, I made a statement in which I invited arguments in relation to these four bills. I would like to thank the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Guelph, and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for their detailed interventions.
Of the four bills, Bill C-315, in proposing to establish a separate account as part of the accounts of Canada from which disbursements could be made, raises most clearly a question about the possible need for a royal recommendation. The other three bills, C-343, S-205, and S-229, are different. While they present schemes that could lead to new spending, all contain coming-into-force provisions designed to make such spending conditional on separate parliamentary appropriations. I will address Bill C-315 first, and then the other three.
Bill C-315 establishes a distinct account for the conservation of national historic sites, called the conservation of national historic sites account. The funds for this account are to be raised exclusively through private donations and from the interest generated from them. I should note that this fund seems to be separate from the pre-existing new parks and historic sites account, which serves a similar purpose and is also based, at least in part, on donations.
Bill C-315 also provides that the funds may be spent for specific purposes in relation to national historic sites. The parliamentary secretary contended that the creation of such a new account, and the authority to spend its funds on national historic sites, would be a new and distinct purpose that is not specifically authorized by any statute, thus clearly requiring a royal recommendation.
In making his case, the parliamentary secretary drew a parallel to the employment insurance fund. While nominally its own account, all amounts received and dispersed from the EI fund are deposited in and drawn from the consolidated revenue fund. Because these monies are part of the consolidated revenue fund, a royal recommendation is necessary to authorize any expenditure from it.
Although the situation with Bill C-315 is not entirely analogous to the EI fund, I believe that a similar principle still applies. Even if the monies are accounted for separately and raised exclusively through donations and interest generated from those donations, once collected, they become public funds deposited into the consolidated revenue fund. Any payments from this fund would also be drawn from the CRF. As the bill authorizes this spending for a specified purpose, it must be accompanied by a royal recommendation. Therefore, I find that the objections raised by the parliamentary secretary are well founded.
However, as is consistent with our practice with respect to Commons bills, Bill C-315 can continue through the legislative process as long as there is a possibility that a royal recommendation could be obtained before the final vote on the bill. Alternatively, the bill could perhaps be amended in such a way as to obviate the need for a royal recommendation. Absent one or other of these options being exercised, the question at third reading of the bill will not be put.
Let me now turn to the issues raised in the three other bills, namely S-205, S-229, and C-343. The parliamentary secretary argued that the bills in question were proposing new and distinct expenditures and that the accompanying coming-into-force provisions did not alter this fact. In support of this argument, he cited a Speaker’s ruling from November 9, 1978 about clauses in bills that seek to elude the requirement for a royal recommendation. Accordingly, it was his contention that the question could not be put at third reading on Bill C-343. Moreover, with respect to Bills S-205 and S-229, which originated in the Senate, both should be removed from the Order Paper since any bills appropriating public funds must originate in the House of Commons.
The member for Guelph argued, on June 20, 2017, that Bill S-229 is in order and should be allowed to proceed. First, he contended that no procedural authority exists to remove Bill S-229 from the Order Paper. To do so, the Chair would be relying exclusively on constitutional principles set out in sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, which, in his view, is contrary to the principle that the Chair does not rule on matters of constitutionality. He also contended that even if a royal recommendation were needed, the Chair should allow the bill to continue until the end of the debate at third reading, as is done for private members' bills first introduced in the House.
The member then turned to more substantive arguments about the bill, claiming that the coming-into-force clause ensured that it did not appropriate any part of the public revenue, as such appropriations would have to be granted through subsequent legislation. He further contended that it was not a “money bill”, but, and I quote, “merely contemplates the minister entering into an agreement but does not directly involve any expenditure”.
The hon. member for Perth—Wellington, on September 19, 2017, made a similar argument in relation to Bill C-344. In his view, it was clear that no money could be spent for the purposes set out in the bill unless and until such funds were appropriated by Parliament in a separate measure. He argued that the bill merely established the machinery under which some future expenditure might be made and that for this reason it did not require a royal recommendation.
As Speaker, I am mindful of my responsibility to provide members with the widest amount of latitude possible in bringing forward measures for consideration as long as these conform to our rules and practices. Their proposals may take the form of either motions or bills. The Chair would only intervene to prevent consideration of such items when they are clearly defective in some procedural way. One of the most important tests when it comes to bills that authorize spending is that they must first be introduced in the House of Commons and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation prior to final adoption. The key question in relation to these three bills is whether they authorize any spending. That is to say, would their adoption result in public funds being appropriated for new and distinct purposes?
The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out measures in each bill that he felt required a royal recommendation. Bill C-343 provides for the appointment of a federal ombudsman for victims of crime, with remuneration and associated expenses for the appointee, and the hiring and remuneration of the necessary staff.
As the member for Perth—Wellington mentioned in passing, this office already exists as a program within the Department of Justice and the ombudsman is appointed as a special advisor to the Minister of Justice pursuant to the Public Service Employment Act. What Bill C-343 proposes, I would argue, is different, insofar as it seeks to establish the ombudsman as a separate and independent office outside of the department. In such circumstances, a royal recommendation would be needed to properly implement the creation of this office and authorize spending to this end.
Bill S-205 proposes the appointment of a new inspector general of the Canada Border Services Agency, the appointee's remuneration, and associated employment benefits. These provisions, if implemented, would require new and distinct spending not currently covered by existing appropriations.
Bill S-229 seeks to authorize the designated minister to make regulations allowing for, among other things, the establishment of a funding program to enable notification centres and damage-prevention organizations to exercise the functions assigned to them under this act, potentially involving new expenditures not currently authorized. Excepting that certain clauses of each bill seem to involve potential spending for which a royal recommendation would ordinarily be required, the critical question is the impact of the coming-into-force clause.
The hon. member for Guelph and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington cited certain authorities and precedents to justify why a royal recommendation is not required. Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, at page 186, citation 613 reads:
A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted by Parliament, is not a money bill, and no royal recommendation is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.
The same publication, at page 185, citation 611, addresses the issue of Senate bills containing a clause that states that no money will spent as long as the necessary parliamentary appropriation is not secured. Specifically, it states:
A bill from the Senate, certain clauses of which would necessitate some public expenditure, is in order if it is provided by a clause of the said bill that no such expenditure shall be made unless previously sanctioned by Parliament.
All three bills explicitly provide that they cannot be brought into force until funds are appropriated by a subsequent act of Parliament, which would have to be initiated in the House of Commons and be accompanied by a royal recommendation. The adoption of these bills, then, does not authorize the appropriation of any funds from the consolidated revenue fund. They would establish a framework in law to establish the new offices proposed by Bill C-343 and Bill S-205, or to develop the system proposed by Bill S-229.
However, the crown is in no way obligated to spend money for these purposes. If, in the future, Parliament granted the necessary funds for these purposes, it would be doing so in the full knowledge that it would allow these measures to come into force. Such a granting of funds would have to be done pursuant to our normal financial procedures. This being so, the financial prerogatives of the crown and the privileges of the House of Commons are entirely respected.
It must also be recognized that the House has not had to deal with bills providing for conditional spending in recent years and certainly not since the significant changes to our practices surrounding private members' business made in 1994.
After careful consideration, I am of the view that a royal recommendation is not required, and that these three bills may continue along the usual legislative process. With that said, I believe it might be useful for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to consider the matter of private members' bills that contain what I would call, for lack of a better term, non-appropriation clauses. The House would likely welcome any views that the committee would have to offer on this subject.
I thank hon. members for their attention.