Tuesday, February 27, 1996
SECOND SESSION-35TH PARLIAMENT-OPENING
Bill C-1 Motion for introduction and first readingagreed to. 1
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 6
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 6
Motion moved and agreed to. 6
Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge) 6
Motion agreed to on division: Yeas, 143; Nays, 89 8
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 9
Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge) 9
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 10
Division on motion deferred. 16
Motion for consideration of business of supply 16
Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge) 26
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Tuesday, February 27, 1996
SECOND SESSION-35TH PARLIAMENT-OPENING
The Parliament which had been prorogued on February 2, 1996,
met this day at Ottawa for the dispatch of business.
The House met at two o'clock, the Speaker in the chair.
The Speaker read a communication from the Secretary to the
Governor General announcing that His Excellency the Governor
General would proceed to the Senate chamber at 1.50 p.m. on this
day for the purpose of formally opening the Second Session of the
35th Parliament of Canada.
A message was delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black
Rod as follows:
Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the Governor General desires the immediate
attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the
Accordingly, the Speaker, with the House went up to the Senate
And being returned to the Commons chamber:
The Speaker: I wish to inform the House that in accordance
with the representation made by the government, pursuant to
Standing Order 55(1), I have caused to be published a special Order
Paper giving notice of a government motion. I now lay upon the
table the relevant document.
* * *
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
leave to introduce Bill C-1, respecting the administration of oaths
(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.)
I have the honour to inform the House that when
the House of Commons did attend His Excellency the Governor
General this day in the Senate chamber, His Excellency was
pleased to make a speech to both Houses of Parliament. To prevent
mistakes I have obtained a copy which is as follows:
* * *
February 27, 1996
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Members of the Senate;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons:
A year ago when I became Governor General, I spoke about the
generosity and the compassion of Canadians. I spoke especially of
the unsung heroes, the volunteers and helpers who encourage and
care for their communities.
Since then, travelling to almost every province, I have seen how
much Canadians love their country and how generous and open
they can be to those in need. I have discovered the great strength of
those currents of generosity and compassion.
In the schools and the Scout troops and in every part of life, from
the nurseries of the newborn to palliative care for the dying,
Canadians give endless help to one another. Surely this must be the
most giving of countries.
We are developing a new award to recognize the unsung heroes
of Canada; and hundreds of Canadians have already put forward the
names of their fellow citizens, to honour their constant help and
their open hearts.
On the opening of the second session of this Parliament, and on
behalf of the Government of Canada, I make the following brief
statements of government policy. The Prime Minister and
Ministers will expand on this in coming days. Legislation and other
administrative measures will follow.
Twenty-eight months ago, Canadians elected a new Parliament
and chose a new government. Since then, the Government has
acted to meet its commitments to the Canadian people. Ministers
have insisted upon the highest standards of integrity and honesty in
fulfilling their mandate.
The Government approaches the second half of its mandate
confident that what unites us as Canadians is far greater than what
divides us; certain that the values we share as Canadians are as
relevant today as they have been at any time during our history; and
determined to apply basic Canadian values and principles to the
new policies and fresh approaches that are required to prepare
ourselves and our national institutions to deal with the challenges
of the 21st century.
Canadians are concerned about economic uncertainty, the
sustainability of social programs and the unity of the country. The
scope and enormity of the challenges are such that no individual,
municipality, province or region acting in isolation can expect or
hope to address them successfully. It will take the will to reason
together and to pull together. Each of us must join with those with
whom we have the most in common, with whom we share the most
at the most basic level-at the level of values. And when we reflect
on it, we realize it is with other Canadians that we have the most in
common. And when we look at our history, and at our place in the
world, we know we can solve our problems.
Ensuring Opportunity: A Strong Economy
A strong economy is the essence of a strong society. A strong
economy creates the ability to translate into reality the values of
equality of opportunity, compassion for the underprivileged and
protection of the vulnerable.
Government has a necessary and essential role in facilitating
change in society. Many Canadians are concerned about their
security, and particularly their security of employment. The
Government will work with the private sector and the provinces to
make the collective investments required to produce hope, growth
and jobs. Because government does not have the resources to do
everything, it must be strategic in its approach. It must invest in
people. The Government will focus its new initiatives on youth,
science and technology, and trade.
Young Canadians want the opportunity to put their energies and
talents to use. Young Canadians deserve a climate of opportunity.
This must be a national objective.
It is time to harness the energy of the Team Canada partnership
abroad between the federal and the provincial governments and the
private sector to create hope, opportunity and jobs for young people
at home. The Government will challenge the provincial
governments and the private sector to enter into a domestic Team
Canada partnership to create such opportunity for young people. In
-The Government will announce measures to double the
number of federal summer student jobs this summer. The
Government challenges the business community and provincial
and municipal governments to do likewise.
-The Government will work in active partnership with the
provinces, the private sector and young people themselves to
prepare initiatives to enhance youth job opportunities so that young
Canadians can get work experience.
-The Government will challenge business and labour and all
levels of government to work together to create new approaches to
assist young people in finding their first job.
Science and Technology
To create enduring jobs for Canadians in the economy of the 21st
century, investment in knowledge and technology is essential. The
Government will establish guiding principles to improve the
effectiveness and focus of the federal science and technology
effort. In particular:
-The Government will make specific proposals to support
technology development in the aerospace industry, in
environmental technologies, and in critical enabling technologies
such as biotechnology. Further measures will be taken to promote
technology diffusion, including the launch of a Canadian
-The Government will support technological innovation by
providing a predictable policy and regulatory framework for the
-The Government will continue to expand the access to the
School Net and Community Access programs so that Canadians,
particularly those in rural communities, will be able to use
technology to increase their knowledge and access to each other
and to the rest of the world.
Canadian jobs and growth depend heavily on our exports. Every
one billion dollars of exports means 11,000 Canadian jobs. The
success of ``Trade Team Canada'' demonstrates the value of
working together to succeed in world markets and therefore create
job prospects at home.
Further ``Trade Team Canada'' missions will be undertaken
under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
To create jobs at home, the Government will announce new
measures to enhance export development and financing, with
emphasis on developing new products and new exporters and
attracting new foreign investment.
The Government will continue efforts to expand NAFTA and
will work towards more world trade liberalization.
Where there are trade disputes, the Government will spare no
effort to promote and defend legitimate Canadian trade rights and
A Climate for Economic Growth and Job Creation
In the first half of its mandate, the Government has taken steps to
ensure that the economic and fiscal conditions are in place for
sustained growth and job creation. The Government has made
major structural reforms. The deficit has been cut. International
trade and investment initiatives have been undertaken. Much has
been accomplished. Canadians are beginning to see dividends,
particularly with lower interest rates.
But the job is not yet completed. The Government will continue
to take appropriate action to promote a proper climate for
economic growth and jobs. In particular:
-The 1996 Budget will set out how the Government will attain
its deficit-reduction targets, bringing the deficit down to two
percent of gross domestic product in 1997-98 and ensuring that
further progress will be realized in 1998-99 and beyond.
-The Government will work with the provinces to conclude
discussions on sales tax harmonization and establish a process to
replace the GST and provincial sales taxes with a national sales tax.
-The Government will introduce proposals to strengthen the
economic framework with legislative improvements in the areas of
competition, bankruptcy and copyright.
-The Government will introduce proposals to update
legislation governing financial institutions to ensure that it
continues to be relevant to the emerging needs of businesses and
-The Government will propose a modernization of the rules
governing labour relations under federal jurisdiction through
changes in Part I of the Canada Labour Code.
-The Government will ensure through regulatory reform that
requirements are strong and clear, delays are minimized and
activities co-ordinated between departments and between levels of
-The Government is committed to the economic renewal of
rural Canada. The Government will address the problems facing
rural Canadians in a way that is tailored to their needs. Rural
Canada is rich in natural and human resources and faces different
challenges than urban areas. The Government will move forward in
the coming session to make sure that all Canadians benefit from
Ensuring Opportunity: Security for Canadians
Economic growth is not an end in itself. Government has the
obligation, in accordance with basic Canadian values, to ensure
security for Canadians in a rapidly changing world. Our legacy to
future generations must include the assurance for all Canadians,
wherever they live, that there will be a modern and accessible
health care system; that a helping hand will be available when a
helping hand is needed; that a public pension system will be there
to support people in their old age; that our environment is
protected; and that Canadians will be safe in their homes and
A Secure Social Safety Net
The Government is committed to ensuring opportunity through a
sustainable social safety net for the future. The Government will
secure Canada's social union for the future and will adapt our
federal arrangements as necessary to meet current challenges and
to prepare for the next century. The Government is open to new
ways and new directions to pursue our values. In particular:
-The Government will work with the provinces and Canadians
to develop by mutual consent the values, principles and objectives
that should underlie, first, the Canada Health and Social Transfer
and, building on this, the social union more generally.
-The CHST consists of tax points and cash. The Government
will announce plans to put a floor under the cash transfer
component to provide a guarantee of continuing federal cash to the
provinces. This will serve to secure Canada's safety net,
Canadians attach high priority to our health care system and to
the principles of medicare. The Government reaffirms its
unwavering commitment to the five principles of the Canada
Health Act. The Government will continue to work with the
provinces to ensure the future of our publicly financed health care
Canadians expect to have secure elderly benefits and pensions
available to them when they retire.
-The Government will propose to Parliament measures to
sustain Canada's elderly benefits system for the future.
-The Canada Pension Plan will be made sustainable for future
generations. Discussions are already under way with the provinces
on possible changes. A joint federal-provincial paper setting out
the problems and challenges facing the Plan has already been
released for public consultation. And reforms will be legislated
once the required provincial consent has been obtained.
Equality of opportunity is a basic Canadian value. It begins with
children. The Government will announce measures to improve
Canada's child support system, with the particular objective of
helping single parents and low-income working families.
Security for Canadians means ensuring that people who are out
of work can get help while they are unemployed and can get help to
go back to work.
-The Government will implement a new Employment
Insurance System beginning July 1, 1996. The Government will
ensure that the legislation, while respecting the fiscal parameters of
the proposed reforms, is responsive to the realities of the Canadian
market and that the impact of changes does not fall unfairly on
workers who are most in need of support.
-The Government will accelerate its current discussions with
the provinces on labour market training and development to ensure
the orderly withdrawal of federal activity in training, and to explore
new approaches and the appropriate roles and responsibilities of
each level of government for strengthening national and local
While sustaining the social safety net is an essential element of
security for Canadians, it is not all. The quality of Canada's natural
environment is a matter of national pride. Security for Canadians
means sustaining our environment. All Canadians must work
together to protect the environment. In particular:
-The Government will propose the modernization of the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
-A federal Endangered Species Protection Act will be
-Legislation to ratify the UN Straddling Stocks Agreement and
the Law of the Sea Convention will be presented to Parliament.
-The Government will promote the long-term conservation and
revitalization of the Pacific salmon fishery and continue with the
revitalization of the east coast fishery.
National parks are the heritage of a nation. The Government will
seek agreements with provincial and territorial governments and
with First Nations to establish new national parks and national
marine conservation areas.
The solutions to many environmental problems lie outside our
borders. The Government will continue to play an environmental
leadership role both at home and in the international arena.
The non-violent character of our country-safe homes, safe
streets-is also an essential element of security for Canadians. The
Government will focus corrections resources on high-risk
offenders while increasing efforts to lower the number of young
people who come into contact with the justice system. The
Government will develop innovative alternatives to incarceration
for low-risk offenders. Criminal procedures will be reformed to
better serve victims of crime.
In an interdependent world, security means taking an active role
on the international stage. All Canadians strongly identify with,
and take great pride in, the role Canada plays in the world. The
Government will continue to work in the G-7, NATO and the
United Nations for a more stable and peaceful world. It will pursue
a wider spread entrenchment of democracy, and greater respect for
In keeping with its commitment to advancing human rights and
dignity, the Government will make the rights of children a
Canadian priority and seek an international consensus to eliminate
exploitative child labour.
The Government will pay special attention to addressing the
growing crisis of confidence in the United Nations, which
Canadians rightly regard as the most important multilateral
organization to ensure international peace and security.
Canada will also do its part to help keep and build peace in
Bosnia, Haiti, the Middle East and elsewhere.
A Modern and United Country
Canadians have a common history, a common collective
experience, a shared territory, and institutions that are uniquely our
own. The Government will act to preserve this heritage.
Canadians also agree upon the values and principles which bind
us together and give us confidence in ourselves and in each other.
On October 27, the people of Canada came together in their own
communities and in Montreal to demonstrate as never before the
will to stay together. On October 30, the people of Quebec voted in
a referendum to stay in Canada.
At the same time, the referendum result gave a clear message
that Quebeckers want change in the federation. This desire for
change is broadly shared across Canada. The Government will act
on a responsible agenda for change for all of Canada.
In the last two years, the Government has made significant
changes in a number of areas. The Government will work with the
provinces and individual Canadians to ensure that the Canadian
federation is modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century. This
modernization must be respectful of our diversity and be based on
partnership and dialogue. Canadians want and expect governments
to be flexible and to operate efficiently and effectively so that the
country functions well. In particular:
-The Government will not use its spending power to create new
shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction
without the consent of a majority of the provinces. Any new
program will be designed so that non-participating provinces will
be compensated, provided they establish equivalent or comparable
-There are areas where, in the 21st century, the federal
government does not have to be involved. For example,
components of Canada's transportation infrastructure are being
transferred to community-based groups, municipal authorities and
the private sector.
-The Government is prepared to withdraw from its functions
in such areas as labour market training, forestry, mining, and
recreation, that are more appropriately the responsibility of others,
including provincial governments, local authorities or the private
-The federal government will propose to the provinces a much
strengthened process to work in partnership, focussing on such
priorities as food inspection, environmental management, social
housing, tourism and freshwater fish habitat.
The federal government has an important contribution to make
in preserving and modernizing Canada's social union so that the
caring society remains Canada-wide in scope. In particular:
-The Government will work with the provinces and Canadians
to develop agreed-upon values and principles to underlie the social
union and to explore new approaches to decision making in social
-The Government will continue to protect and promote
unhampered social mobility between provinces and access to social
and other benefits, and will work with the provinces to identify new
and mutually agreed approaches.
The federal government has a major role to play in strengthening
the Canadian economy and the Canadian economic union. The
Government will work with the provinces to take concrete steps to
further improve the functioning of the Canadian economic union.
-The Internal Trade Agreement, which came into effect in July
1995, must be improved. The government will work with the
provinces and the private sector to achieve a much more open
-The Government is prepared to work with the provinces and
other partners to reduce or eliminate remaining barriers to labour
-The Government is prepared to work with interested provinces
towards the development of a Canadian Securities Commission, a
single food inspection service, and a national revenue collection
The Government welcomes public participation in the debate
about Canada. It will encourage Parliament to reach out to
Canadians to seek their views on the specific components of an
agenda for change.
A First Ministers meeting will be called in the months ahead to
discuss how governments can better work together for job creation
in Canada, how to secure the social safety net and how to put into
place a common agenda for change to renew Canada.
The Government intends to focus its energies on positive action
to prepare Canada for the 21st century. The Government welcomes
the commitment of the new government of Quebec to focus all its
energies on the real problems of its citizens. The Government will
work in collaboration with the Government of Quebec and all
provincial governments on an agenda of economic renewal and job
But as long as the prospect of another Quebec referendum exists,
the Government will exercise its responsibility to ensure that the
debate is conducted with all the facts on the table, that the rules of
the process are fair, that the consequences are clear, and that
Canadians, no matter where they live, will have their say in the
future of their country.
The Government recognizes that national unity is more than a
re-balancing of roles and responsibilities of levels of government.
At a time of globalization of the economy, Canada is especially
well placed to compete because of two official languages and the
many Canadians who speak languages other than English and
French. The Government recognizes that because of the minority
status of the French language in North America, French-speaking
Canadians have legitimate concerns. The Government affirms that
it is particularly important to reinforce a Francophone presence at
home and abroad. Such a presence contributes to our national
identity and is a source of strength and enrichment for our country.
Action has already been taken to recognize Quebec as a distinct
society within Canada and to guarantee that no constitutional
change affecting any major region of the country will take place
without the consent of that region. The Government supports the
entrenchment of these provisions in the Constitution.
National unity means reminding Canadians of what they have in
common. The Government will put forward a series of measures
with special emphasis on helping Canadians, particularly young
Canadians, to broaden their experience of Canada and to learn
more about their country. A new Citizenship Act will be introduced
to better reflect contemporary views of the rights and
responsibilities of citizenship.
Culture is at the core of our identity as Canadians. The
Government is committed to strong Canadian cultural industries.
The Government will propose measures to strengthen culture in
Canada and will ensure continued access to our own cultural
products in order to maintain a balance between Canadian
perspectives and those from abroad. The Government reaffirms its
commitment to ensuring the long-term vitality of the CBC, the
National Film Board and Telefilm Canada as institutions which
interpret Canada to Canadians and to the world.
The Government believes that one of the tests of Canadian
values is our ability to incorporate the aspirations of Canada's
Aboriginal peoples. The recent historic Nisga'a agreement in
principle shows that this is possible. The Minister of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development will continue to pursue other initiatives
in partnership with Aboriginal people and other governments.
Honourable Members of the Senate;
Members of the House of Commons:
In looking to the 21st century, it is essential that the federal
government, in its own policies and programs, be dedicated to
providing modern, flexible public services-services that are
accessible, affordable and responsive to the needs of clients and
citizens. The Government acknowledges the contribution of the
Public Service of Canada to the continuing achievement of its
goals. Further measures will be introduced to enable more flexible
and innovative methods of service delivery.
By working in partnership throughout Canadian society to create
jobs and economic opportunity, to provide the security of a modern
social safety net, and to preserve national unity, the Government
affirms that a legacy of hope can be left to future generations.
Members of the House of Commons:
You will be asked to appropriate the funds required to carry out
the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.
May Divine Providence guide all of you in your deliberations.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.) moved:
That the Speech of His Excellency the Governor General, delivered this day
from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, be taken into consideration later
(Motion agreed to.)
* * *
I have the honour to inform the House that I have
received a communication notifying me that vacancies have
occurred in the representation, namely: the Hon. Lucien Bouchard,
member for the electoral district of Lac-Saint-Jean, who resigned
January 15, 1996; the Hon. André Ouellet, member for the electoral
district of Papineau-Saint-Michel, who resigned January 24,
1996; the Hon. Roy MacLaren, member for the electoral district of
Etobicoke North, who resigned on January 24, 1996; the Hon.
Brian Tobin, member for the electoral district of
Humber-Sainte-Barbe-Baie Verte, who resigned on January 24,
1996; Mrs. Shirley Maheu, member for the electoral district of
Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, who resigned on January 31, 1996.
Pursuant to subsection 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act,
I have addressed warrants to the Chief Electoral Officer for the
issue of writs for the election of members to fill these vacancies.
* * *
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.):
Speaker, I move:
That Mr. Bob Kilger, member for the electoral district of Stormont-Dundas,
be appointed deputy chairman of the committee of the whole House.
(Motion agreed to.)
Mr. Ray Speaker (Lethbridge, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am rising
on a point of debate with regard to this motion.
I would like to say a few words with regard to this motion and
the appointment of deputy chairman of committees of the whole
House. I am not taking exception at all with regard to the person
who is appointed. I certainly give due respect for that person.
I am rising on the basis of principle. I raise a matter which was
brought into the House of Commons via the Liberal red book and
also under a paper entitled ``Reviving Parliamentary Democracy:
the Liberal Plan for the House of Commons and Electoral
Reform''. This paper was submitted at an earlier date by members
of the opposition, at that time, the member for Cape Breton-East
Richmond; opposition House leader, the member of Saint-Léonard;
chief opposition whip, the member for Kingston and the Islands;
assistant House leader, the member for
In their statement they agreed to the independence of the Chair:
In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an effort to reduce
the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is from the government party, two of
the junior chair officers should be from the oppositions so that the four
presiding officer positions are shared equally by government and opposition.
The paper further suggests that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker
positions could alternate between government and opposition, the
Deputy Chairperson could be from the government, and the fourth
person from the opposition. There would then be equity and
balance between the two sides of the House.
In the Liberal red book the Prime Minister stated:
So you can come with this book every week in front of me after I'm Prime
Minister and say: ``Where are you with your promises?''
The Prime Minister promised he would carry out this policy of
his caucus, which he is not doing today.
I used the privilege of giving prior notice to the Prime Minister
on February 7, 1996 by letter, quoting the policy of the
government: ``I would appreciate your examination of this and in
this House, the second session of the 35th Parliament, that you
would introduce this new policy''.
Again the Prime Minister has forgotten about the red book. He
has forgotten about the promises to Canadians and has turned down
that policy. I ask clearly of the Prime Minister today, why did he
not keep his promise? He still has a chance before we finalize this
motion to allow an opposition member to be appointed to the
position we have now discussed. It is incumbent upon the Prime
Minister, if he is unable to do it, to explain to the people of Canada
why he has again broken a red book promise that should be held.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, I will be brief. During the first session we realized that the
government was having a lot of trouble keeping its promises, and
the speech from the throne we just heard does not bode well in this
There was a suggestion in the famous red book, which I will read
to you, since on the other side of the House they have made a habit
of reading from the red book, although practising what it says is
another matter altogether. I read this to refresh the government's
memory: ``In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in
an effort to reduce the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is
from the government party, two of the junior chair officers should
be from the oppositions so that the four presiding officers'
positions are shared equally by government and opposition''. It
seems this was discussed during the election campaign. I admit we
did not hear much about it in Quebec, but apparently it was a very
popular topic in the rest of Canada. There was some reference to
the British habit of giving presiding officers' positions to members
of the opposition.
To give the government a chance to keep one of its promises, for
a change, we intend to support this motion. This should be a simple
matter, because although it seems they have a lot of trouble
convincing the public, this time it would just be a matter of
convincing the caucus. I know that in some areas, the Prime
Minister has trouble convincing not just his caucus but his cabinet
as well. We are giving him a chance here. It seems pretty
straightforward, and I hardly think it would create too many
problems in caucus to find two positions for the people who would
otherwise be appointed Chairman and Deputy Chairman. I may add
this is no reflection on the qualifications of the people who are
being proposed, including the hon. member whose name was
proposed just now and for whom I have the greatest respect.
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons and Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the House leaders of the two opposition parties have made some
My first response is that my recollection of what has been quoted
is with respect to a document published some months before the
red book and is not in the red book as such. I suggest this would be
a topic worthy of consideration by the Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs when it is constituted later on.
Finally, I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition in the
House for his support of the British usage. It is very interesting to
see this support for the British usage, which is fundamental to the
whole of Canada's constitutional context.
I want to thank the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois for
support of British usage because this is one of the foundations of
what we are proud to see as one united Canada from sea to sea to
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to indicate to those members of the House who may not
know that the recommendation that the speakership be more
non-partisan by having members of the opposition appointed to
various positions in the chain of command from the Speaker on
down was considered by a standing committee of the House in the
last Parliament. It was unanimously recommended by a standing
committee of the House of Commons in the last Parliament and
was approved by the Liberals at that time. It did not originate in the
red book nor did it originate with the people who are now on the
government side. It originated from a careful consideration of what
would be in the interests of Parliament by members of all parties in
the last Parliament.
The recommendation was made and I see no reason why it
cannot be lived up to. Therefore, I would like to join in whatever
criticism is being offered to the government for not living up to that
I might also say that when we listen to rhetoric about the House
and co-operation and non-partisanship, I as the NDP House leader
have been around all day and no one from the Reform Party took
the time or the courtesy to let me know this was going to happen. If
we want to work together and we want to talk about
non-partisanship, then let us work together and not surprise each
other in these ways.
The Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Speaker: Call in the members.
Before the taking of the vote:
Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
a point of order.
There appears to be some debate whether or not the matter to be
voted on is a matter that is included in the so-called red book. I
have had an opportunity to review the red book, in particular
appendix B, which is platform papers. The appendix refers to a
document dated January 19, 1993 entitled ``Reviving
Parliamentary Democracy: The Liberal Plan for House of
Commons and Electoral Reform''.
The Speaker: The hon. member rose on a point of order. I would
ask him to put his point forthwith.
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, in view of the concern, I would ask
that you seek the unanimous consent of the House prior to the vote
to have the appointment of officers referred to a committee to give
consideration to the commitment that would appear to be in the red
The Speaker: Does the member have unanimous consent to put
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: The question is on the motion.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the
(Division No. 1)
Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre/Sud-Centre)
Gray (Windsor West/Ouest)
LeBlanc (Cape/Cap-Breton Highlands-Canso)
McLellan (Edmonton Northwest/Nord-Ouest)
Grey (Beaver River)
Harper (Calgary West/Ouest)
Harper (Simcoe Centre)
Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.):
Speaker, I move:
That Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais, member for the electoral district of
Madawaska-Victoria, be appointed Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees
of the Whole House.
Mr. Ray Speaker (Lethbridge, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I say again
to the Prime Minister that we in this House would like to give him a
second chance to meet the commitment he made to Canadians
through the red book. The hon. member pointed out very clearly
that the policy of the Liberal government is there in appendix B,
endorsed, enunciated, clarified and committed to by this
government. However, the government is not prepared to live up to
those commitments. When will the government do that? It is very
clear that it should at this point in time.
We are going to vote against the motion. Again it will be on
principle, but it will be a little different from the other one. We do
not agree with the Prime Minister's appointment in this case.
Therefore, it is for two reasons that we will vote against the motion
if it is to proceed.
I want to say this clearly and I want it on the record. On the last
motion we voted on principle to reject the motion. We did not reject
the appointee. The person named by the Prime Minister in that
motion is acceptable to the Reform Party. However, in this
instance, the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria is not
acceptable as far as we are concerned.
I believe that we must set the ground rules in this House so they
are fair to all members of the House, whether they are on the
government side or the opposition side. The ground rules for the
second session of the 35th Parliament are being set in a manner that
is going to be unfair with respect to the openness and the
opportunity for us to debate in a fair manner. That is the way it is.
Mr. Speaker, I want to say clearly to you it is our intent to vote
against this motion and to have a standing vote not only to record
the Prime Minister's rejection of his own policy but also to indicate
our lack of support for the appointee.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, we will also vote against this motion, and not because of
the choice of the individual, particularly because she is a woman,
and I think women should be given prominence in this House.
What we do oppose, however, is the method being used. The
party in government should give some thought to the fact that it
could still keep one of its promises without too much difficulty. We
will therefore await its decision. It could perhaps make this motion
with respect to other committees or other positions, but in this
particular case, I think it should recall the red book. We are not
opposed to the individual, but rather to the approach and the many
forgotten promises, need I say.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it
seems to me this whole unfortunate mess could have been avoided
if the government had shown a little imagination and innovation by
living up to its own commitments. They are not radical
commitments but things that have been done in other Parliaments
and other legislatures that were quite doable.
Having said that, I regret that the Reform Party has made this a
personal matter with respect to the appointment. I say on behalf of
the NDP that we will continue to vote against these motions as a
way of registering our objection to the fact the government did not
take the opportunity to bring in these reforms. It is not because we
are making any statement about the person who has been suggested
by the government.
Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it gives
me great pleasure to rise and speak to the motion before us
concerning the appointment of the assistant deputy chair.
In the much vaunted Liberal red book the government indicated
it would enact certain reforms to ensure the House functioned in a
more democratic and open process. As part of that promise the
Liberals said that two of the junior chairs or deputy chair positions
would go to the opposition parties.
While in opposition the Liberals submitted a paper entitled
``Reviving Parliamentary Democracy''. This paper was signed onto
by the chief government whip. One of the recommendations was
that in order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an
effort to reduce the level of partisanship, two of the junior chair
officers should be from the opposition side of the House.
Like so many other Liberal initiatives, it would appear to be a
case of saying one thing while in opposition then doing nothing or
another thing once in power. Like so many other Liberal promises,
the commitment to enhancing democratic practice in the House of
Commons will not be served by this motion to appoint both deputy
chairs from the government side.
In particular the motion appointing the member for
Madawaska-Victoria is as much an affront to the principles of
fairness in this House as it is counterproductive to the goal of
enhancing the independence of the Chair. It is on this point that I
would like to elaborate for members in this Chamber.
There has been much comment lately about the chief
government whip's intention to bring the Reform House leader
before the Bar of the House on a charge of contempt of Parliament.
Given the hon. member's shortcomings as joint chair of the
Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages, the motion to
appoint the member for Madawaska-Victoria as assistant deputy
chair can rightly be viewed by Reform MPs as contemptuous. As
chair of the standing joint committee the member for
The Speaker: Colleagues, on the matter of debate, your Speaker
gives every latitude in the debate itself but I would appeal to the
hon. member to be very judicious in his choice of words. I would
ask him to keep that in mind for the remainder of his address to the
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead): Mr. Speaker, as joint chair of the
standing joint committee the member for Madawaska-Victoria
has shown nothing but condescension for her opposition colleagues
when addressing their concerns. On several occasions the member
in question has gone so far as to not even allow the committee clerk
to answer the questions of opposition MPs. Sadly, this member in
her duties as joint chair has even impeded the ability of Reform
members to bring forward motions.
In terms of being able to apply the standing orders of the House
in a fair and even-handed manner, the member for
Madawaska-Victoria has been unfair in the application of those
very standing orders in committee on everything from the election
of co-chair to not permitting votes on whether the chair should be
sustained in her rulings. The hon. member has run roughshod over
the legitimate responsibilities of fellow committee members, yet
the government has the audacity to put this member's name
forward for consideration as assistant deputy chair. What is even
more ludicrous is that the government expects it to go uncontested
by fair minded members who deserve and expect that the Chair be
objective in its dealings with all members.
While in this House and during a debate on the MP pension plan,
the member for Madawaska-Victoria showed a penchant for the
type of close physical contact that appears to be the trademark of
members across the way. Given the hon. Prime Minister's recent
actions at a flag day ceremony in Hull, this would perhaps serve to
explain the rationale behind the motion to appoint the member for
Madawaska-Victoria as assistant deputy chair.
In closing, if this motion is to stand as a reflection of the
government's commitment to enhance democratic procedure in the
House, then Canadians might well ask whether they are well served
by this government at all. Furthermore I call on members from both
sides of the House to reject the appointment of the member for
Madawaska-Victoria as assistant deputy chair.
Hon. Jean J. Charest (Sherbrooke, PC): Mr. Speaker, I do not
intend to be as long in my remarks but I will intervene to go on the
record today that we are opposed to the motion. It is not for
personal reasons, not for the reasons that my colleague just evoked
and certainly not for personal reasons in regard to the motion that
was just voted on in the House of Commons. It is that the
government made a commitment and clearly has not lived up to
that commitment. It is also my understanding that in these matters
the government would usually consult with the opposition parties
with regard to the nominations if only out of courtesy and in
respect to the functioning of the House of Commons.
As I comment on why we are equally opposed to this motion, I
cannot miss the opportunity to point out the incredible hypocrisy of
Reform Party members. They have the gall to talk of fairness to all
members as they speak and the same hypocrisy of a political party
whose members ran saying that they would not apply personal
politics to the House of Commons, that they would not behave the
way other parties have behaved.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Charest: Can you hear them now, Mr. Speaker, trying to
shout me down? This is the same group of people who said that
they could do politics differently. I hope Canadians will judge as
they can judge all members of the Reform Party, including their
colleague, Sugar Ray Grey.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would
like to speak specifically to the principle involved here. I am
looking at the red book put forward by the Liberals.
Quoting page 91, in the last election the Liberals said:
Canadians have always prided themselves on the quality of their democratic
institutions. Yet after nine years of Conservative rule, cynicism about public
institutions, governments, politicians, and the political process is at an all-time
I parenthesize here to state that they had not taken into account
their own hypocrisy with respect to the commitments they were
making to the people in the red book because in 1996 it is even
higher than it was in 1993.
I continue from the red book:
If government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honest and
integrity in our political institutions must be restored.
The most important asset of government is the confidence it enjoys of the
citizens to whom it is accountable. There is evidence today of considerable
dissatisfaction with government and a steady erosion of confidence in the
people and institutions of the public sector.
This erosion of confidence seems to have many causes: some have to do with
the behaviour of certain elected politicians, others with an arrogant style of
A few minutes ago the House leader for the Liberals talked about
the statement that there were to be people elected from the
opposition parties to fill the role of deputy chair. His direct
inference-he is welcome to correct me if I misunderstood
him-was basically that because it was not in the body of the red
book it was not a promise.
On the back page of the red book, appendix B, platform papers, it
These policy statements were released by the Liberal Party on the dates
shown. Copies may be obtained by writing to the Liberal Party of Canada.
One of the listings is Reviving Parliamentary Democracy: The
Liberal Plan for House of Commons and Electoral Reform
I draw to the member's attention, and if there are any fair minded
Liberals in the House I draw this to their attention, that my House
leader was reading from Reviving Parliamentary Democracy: The
Liberal Plan for House of Commons and Electoral Reform, the
document referred to in the appendix of the red book.
Although it appears within the binding of the red book as
appendix B, if the House leader and the rest of the Liberals are
saying that because this document was not quoted and not included
in the body of the red book we cannot take the Liberals seriously, I
suggest what we have been subjected to as Canadians with the red
book is a trick, a ruse and a deception. There is no other way around
I call on all fair minded people in the House to take into account
that the Minister of Health, the Minister of Labour, the member for
Kingston and the Islands, and the Liberal government whip applied
their names to this document which states:
In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an effort to reduce
the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is from the government party, two of
the junior chair officers should be from the opposition, so that the four presiding
officer positions are shared equally by government and opposition.
If this was said by those four members, and indeed their names
are applied to it, and if this document is referred to within the
covers of the Liberal red book, I ask any fair minded member of the
Liberal Party to at least abstain and if they have any backbone to
vote against this appointment. Otherwise they will be failing on a
matter of personal principle.
Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I completely and unequivocally support the member for
It is unfortunate and regrettable that the Reform Party has
personalized this rather important procedure we are going through.
It now has gone beyond whether there was a commitment in the red
book to have two of the junior officers from the opposition parties.
This is the first time in the 11 or 12 years I have been in Parliament
that the appointment or the election of the Speaker, the Deputy
Speaker or junior officers of the chair has been politicized and
personalized to the extent it has been today.
In order for you, Mr. Speaker, to be effective and in order for the
Chair to be effective, you must together with your junior officers
have the support and respect of all members and all parties in the
The moment the election of a Speaker or Deputy Speaker is
decided on a partisan or party basis and once the matter becomes
personalized, it is a very sad reflection on Parliament as a whole.
Earlier I tried to have the matter referred to a committee for
further consideration. Some members of the House in their wisdom
decided they would rather have a vote and personalize and
politicize the election of the junior officers.
I abstained in the first vote because I believe that if we made a
commitment in the election we should keep that commitment. I
intend to abstain from this vote as well, not because I disagree in
any way with the appointment of the member for
Madawaska-Victoria but because I disagree with the manner in
which this matter is being dealt with today.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, I will speak briefly to this matter because it is
something I was involved with earlier in my role as House leader
for the Reform Party in the previous session of this Parliament.
It is not that the government was not aware of this promise. We
talked about it in the procedure and House affairs committee and in
the House. A commitment was made, a promise to change the way
Deputy Speakers are selected. The government recognized and
acknowledged in committee and in the House that it was a policy it
had endorsed and that its party stood behind.
We are two years into the 35th Parliament and nothing has
happened. Now there is a motion before us today to debate. This is
a free country and we are allowed to speak. We should be consulted
about who is being proposed. However, we were told who was
being appointed. That is not consultation. We were not asked to
work with the government in choosing Deputy Speakers. We were
just told this was the way it was to be.
It is quite appropriate for those who have to deal with the Chair
to be able to make comments before a person is appointed.
We have worked in committee and in the House with the person
proposed to fill this position. At various times we have been slurred
by this person. This person has been unparliamentary toward us.
This person has denied us our parliamentary privileges. Certainly
we cannot speak after a person is appointed. That is not the time to
speak. The time to speak is before the damage is done while we can
still fix it and help the Liberal government to fulfil a promise it
Today is an important day. It is the first day of the second session
of this Parliament. The governor general has just read the speech
from the throne and expects Canadians to believe the government
will keep its promises and keep its commitments to Canadians.
Here is one of the simplest promises the government could have
kept. It ignored it. It has flaunted us with its failure to keep its
promises. Then it expects us and Canadians to believe it will keep
its word, its commitment to Canadians about jobs, its commitment
to Canadians about good reform to social programs. I doubt it. The
government is playing games. It is playing with words. It does not
prove its actions by its deeds.
The government could withdraw this motion. It could consult
with us properly. It could commit to its promises. Then we would
have a better Parliament. We would have a better situation in the
House and we would be able to get on with the nation's business in
an appropriate way.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is a sad day for parliamentary democracy, in my
opinion, when certain members choose to launch a personal attack
on someone whom I believe to be worthy of the confidence of
everyone in this House. The member for Madawaska-Victoria has
a most distinguished career to her credit, both politically and
She has studied at l'Université de Moncton and l'Université
Laval and holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree. She has
rendered distinguished service as deputy speaker of the legislature
in her home province of New Brunswick, bringing the wealth of
that experience with her to this House when she was elected to it.
Furthermore, she has been a member of the New Brunswick
chapter of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and has
acquitted herself in a distinguished manner during several missions
as an election observer. I believe that her outstanding contributions
should make all of us parliamentarians proud to have someone of
the calibre of the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria as a
It is rather sad to see something like this happening. Certain
members of the Reform Party have every right to say that a
government could have made a promise, ought to have, or
whatever. It is certain that the government, as it has indicated today
in the speech from the throne, has already fulfilled close to 75 per
cent of its commitments by this mid-point in its mandate, with
more yet to come. The House leader also brought to our attention
today the government's readiness to refer the matter to a
parliamentary committee. He made that same offer, moreover, a
little earlier on, when speaking about another appointment.
It is now obvious that this was not what the Reformers wanted.
Some of them, in fact, have indicated that what they had in mind
was not referring the matter to a parliamentary committee-since
that was what the House leader was offering to do-but rather
attacking a subsequent appointment, choosing as their victim not
only another colleague in the House, not only the only woman
among the four nominees, not only a member of a francophone
minority community, but also a distinguished parliamentarian, one
with experience in the Chair and in a legislative assembly. Let them
go ahead and do so. The people of Canada will judge them for their
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, my remarks will be brief, but I am sure I speak for my
colleagues in the official opposition in roundly criticizing attitudes
targeting individuals who hold values that the official opposition is
proud to defend.
There is such a thing as respect for people, and I think that,
when Canada's Parliament allows respect for individuals to fall
by the wayside through comments made, we must speak out, and
I am grateful to my colleague for having talked about this totally
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
have a few comments I would like to add to the debate. What we
are really debating is the integrity of the government and its
willingness and ability to keep its promises.
It is very symbolic on the day of the throne speech at the start of
the second session of this Parliament to hear the general statements
made. I know this is not a debate on that speech, but with those
general promises Canadians have good reason to wonder that if
they cannot trust the government on the small things, can they trust
it on the larger ones?
As was pointed out by government members, a promise was
made to appoint deputy chair positions from the opposition
benches. This seems to follow the trend on any democratic reforms
which the Liberal government has talked about, which is the
tendency to ignore the very things on which it campaigned.
For example, we have yet to see free votes in the House of
Commons. Where are they? They are not here. It is a sad thing and
something which could easily be remedied by a statement from the
In a few days we will go through the charade of the election of
the co-chairs of committees. When that comes up we will again see
what will happen. The whip will tell party members who will be the
chairs. The people sitting opposite are just voting machines. They
are robots. They are seals. That is a shame because there are some
very competent people over there who could be doing much more.
The government appointed an ethics counsellor. The ethics
counsellor does not report to the House, but to the Prime Minister
behind closed doors. That is not an ethics counsellor. That is
someone who barks on demand. That is not good enough.
Now we have the latest broken promise, a promise printed in
black and white in the red book: to appoint the chairs from the
second and third parties.
I also have to comment on some of the things which have been
said regarding the way this person was selected. I have heard three
comments made in the House which have indicated that the reason
this person should be selected is because she is female and she is
from a minority position in a province.
The government has done itself a disservice. There are many
competent women in the House who could fulfil the role.
However, the government needs to look for a consensus among the
parties for the people that have the respect of the parties and of all
members to hold that chair; that neutral position. That is what
should determine it, not the gender of the person.
I do not think anyone here, of either gender, would say that they
have in the past felt slighted because someone of another gender
was in the Chair. That is ridiculous. It is a preposterous way to
choose someone for the position. It is a mistake to select people
based on their gender for the very important role about which we
are talking today.
I would like to add that after the hon. member for Sherbrooke
rose to add his particular brand of whatever one would call it to this
debate, I have to say that we have nothing to learn from the
Conservatives when it comes to democratic reform. Absolutely
We watched in disdain from afar his government over eight years
use one example after another of absolutely contemptuous
behaviour toward the House of Commons and the people in it. The
only thing he is right about is that it seems the members over there
on the Liberal side have learned well. It is a shame on them. It is a
shame to this Parliament. It brings about the entire issue that this
whole thing is symbolic of: You cannot trust the Liberals.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, the government whip said that this is a sad day in the
House of Commons and I have to agree with him. It is a sad day in
the House when another promise contained in the Liberal red book
has been broken once again.
Reform members have sat here day after day for the last two
years and have watched over and over again as the government has
failed to fulfil promises which it made in its infamous red book.
Congratulations, once again, to the Liberal government.
The hon. government whip mentioned in his comments two
words, confidence and trust of this House. I am sure hon. members
will agree with me that the characteristics of confidence, trust and
respect are not something that is taken on as a mantle with this
appointment. Indeed, confidence, trust and respect must be earned.
It is not something that is bestowed on a person.
As members of my party have pointed out earlier, the member
for Madawaska-Victoria in her duties on the committees that she
has chaired has not exhibited the characteristics of confidence and
trust. This party would not be comfortable with having that person
in the chair as Acting Speaker.
For this reason I must oppose the appointment of this person as
well as the mechanism by which this appointment is being made, in
blatant disregard of the promise of the Liberal red book.
I would also like to refer to the statements made by the member
for Sherbrooke in respect to his comments of our party talking
of hypocrisy. Let me remind the House that this is the same
member who not more than a year ago on national television said
that some day Canadians will realize what a great Prime Minister
Brian Mulroney was. Enough said.
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I have a short comment for the record to clarify or counter
what was said by the other side of the House.
I want to make it absolutely clear that when we vote against the
person proposed it is not because she is female, it is not because of
where she is from, it is not because of her French connection. There
is a certain level of partisanship in this House. I get along with
some people on the other side of the House very well. They are
very fair-minded. I may disagree with them. I may agree with
them. But it does not alter the fact that they are presenting their
views very clearly and very fairly.
There are some on the other side of the House that come from the
west that are male, that are anglophone, that I would not want to see
in that position either. We are voting because of the characteristics
of the partisanship of this individual, not because of gender,
language or any other factor.
There is a history in this Parliament in the first session of very
credible people sitting in the chair that you now occupy, Mr.
Speaker. At the very least the Liberal government should keep up
Ms. Margaret Bridgman (Surrey North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to add to the statement of my colleague. This is exactly
what we are on about. It is not a personalized instance at all.
Basically what we are talking about is merit and how we
perceive it. There are other choices in this House and we feel that
based on merit that this is not a good choice.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
enter this debate by recollecting the day that you were elected as
Speaker of this House. I was so impressed as a rookie MP coming
into this House to see how the Speaker was elected to the office, the
august position that you hold, to keep impartial judgment of what
happens and to apply the rules in a fair and accurate manner so that
everybody would be treated fairly.
I commend you for all the good things you have done and I
commend the Liberal Party, the government, for the way in which
this House started. It was wonderful. However we have seen that
degenerate to the point where we are today debating a promise that
was made and is now being ignored. There is a denial of the very
good place where this House started, the way in which you were
elected, Mr. Speaker. I honour and respect and have great
confidence in that.
We are now seeing a degeneration of that very noble start into
something that has become partisan, that has become personal. It is
a denigration of the respect that this House should enjoy in the
hearts and the minds of every Canadian.
I am not proud to have to say this today. Mr. Speaker, I appeal to
you that this motion be withdrawn and that a fair and accurate
election take place of this individual to the office of Acting Speaker
at the level that is being proposed in this motion.
Mr. Leonard Hopkins (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, all I have to say to you is that I am certainly
glad you do not have to be appointed today.
As I sit here and listen to the debate I am particularly concerned
about the way it has been personalized. The hon. member for
Madawaska-Victoria is a very intelligent young person who has
had considerable experience. The government promised that when
it got into office it would put responsible people into responsible
The hon. member for Surrey North said that it is not a
personalized matter, yet the hon. member for Lethbridge started the
debate by saying that Reform members personally did not support
the person who has been nominated. It was made a personalized
matter by the Reform Party this afternoon.
I was interested in another comment made by the hon. member
for Kindersley-Lloydminster who accused others of playing
games in this House. The hon. member for Fraser Valley East
talked about integrity. He said that they had nothing to learn from
the Conservatives. They have learned too much from the
Conservatives. Today we have heard about hypocrisy and so on.
The hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria has my total
confidence. She has the total confidence of her constituents, the
people in that region and right across Canada. If we are going to
have confidence and trust in office-this is a very key point down
the road-and this debate has made it a personal matter, what is
going to happen when the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria
takes the chair?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Hopkins: This is the very point.
Every member in the House has a right to take a responsible
position but never in the history of Parliament or ever in the history
of Parliaments to come should the Chair be condemned because of
a personal battle. It has become that today. I heard one member go
on at great length about how the member for Madawaska-Victoria
handled the chair in a committee. When it comes to the chair of the
House of Commons no member in this House should be thinking
about carrying personal grudges or old debts against the person
sitting in the chair of the House of Commons.
I am very sorry this has been made a personal matter by the
House leader of the Reform Party and others. They came into the
House saying that they were going to lay down new conduct in the
House of Commons. They cannot do that if they are going to attack
people personally. We are here to debate but this chair here must
have the confidence of all members in the House when a person is
put in it.
Mr. Speaker, I say to you that we should let the vote go forward
as long as we do not have a whole batch of other speakers to hold
the House up today. Let us elect this person to the position of chair
in a democratic fashion on the floor of this House.
The conduct of the Reform Party today has been to accuse others
of hypocrisy. They have spent a lot of time talking about new ideas
of being civil in the House of Commons and so on. One cannot
accuse an individual of not being capable of taking the chair when
one has the background the hon. member for
Today when the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria is
elected by a vote in the House of Commons as one of the
chairpersons, it is up to the Reform Party to respect her when she is
in the chair on future occasions and not carry the old grudges from
Parliament or committees into the House. Let us run this in a
civilized manner. However, the House can run in a civilized
manner only if the people who say they came here to change the
House run it in a civilized manner themselves. It is not up to just a
few people to be civil; everybody must be civil.
In fairness, let us get on with the democratic vote and let the
chips fall where they may. However, after this person is elected let
us respect the Chair of the House of Commons of Canada.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this
proposal from the committee was intended to eliminate
partisanship from the management, if I may put it that way, of the
debates in the House. Had the government implemented it, we
would not have had this debate, which, far from eliminating
partisanship, does the very opposite.
I regret the fact that, in their defence of their position, the
members of the Reform Party are in fact helping to make it
partisan. Had the government done what it ought to, our Reform
colleagues would have proposed someone as deputy speaker, I hope
it would have been a woman, and I would not criticize her,
particularly on the basis of incidents that allegedly occurred in a
committee where I was not present.
I think the spirit was to have each party participate in the
management of the House and therefore each party believed that
those it proposed were best suited to ensure that debates were
appropriate to the institution.
Mr. Jake E. Hoeppner (Lisgar-Marquette, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I have been listening to this debate and I bring forward a
slogan taught to me as a child. It is something we have forgotten
I was always taught that an ounce of prevention was worth a
pound of cure. Today we heard a throne speech in which the
government made commitments to bring unity to the country, to
depend on provinces and negotiate with them under the
circumstances of honour and trust. The government knew there
were hard feelings on some of these issues. If it had wanted to
prevent this it could have exercised an ounce of prevention. It could
have been very easily done if it had consulted with all the House
leaders and had put forward all of the people it wanted to put into
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the way you have run the House. I
know I am probably not one of your favourite constituents but I
still respect and honour you for what you have done. However,
what the government is trying to do right now is going against
exhibits you have shown to the House such as fairness, respect and
discipline. If we want to correct that we will have to put pounds of
cure into the House to ever receive the trust of the Canadian people.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I guess it is
politics as usual. I know when this 35th session of Parliament
started we had promises of things being done differently from the
The opposition parties have referred to some appendices
included in the red book. We hear the carping coming our way from
the members of the third party. There were issues stated in the red
book such as gun control which they very much wanted the
government to oppose. We did not. We kept our promises.
They wanted us to reject the infrastructure program in the body
of the red book. They wanted us to gut national health care. We had
it in the red book. We kept those promises. They did not want us to
keep our promise of reducing the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in
When they talk about some appendices of the red book, when
they have done nothing but stand up and oppose what we have done
in terms of keeping the commitments spelled out in the red book, it
is a degree of hypocrisy in terms of the arguments. As far as
personal attacks on the proposed junior officer, again I say to the
Reform Party, shame.
The Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure
of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Speaker: Call in the members.
A recorded division on the proposed motion stands deferred until
tomorrow at 6.30 p.m.
* * *
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and
Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I
That this House at its next sitting consider the business of supply.
(Motion agreed to.)
The Speaker: It is my duty to inform the House that a total of
four days will be allotted for the supply period ending March 26,
* * *
Before we proceed to the consideration of the
speech of His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, I wish
to address the matter of the designation of the official opposition.
Members will recall that in the last session on December 14, 1995
the hon. member for Lethbridge raised a point of order and
presented arguments supporting his contention that the Reform
Party should be designated the official opposition.
As hon. members are aware, the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform
Party are now tied with 52 seats each in the House. It is within this
new context that I must address the House today. While
prorogation terminates all outstanding business before the House
including points of order, in this case there are mitigating
circumstances that compel me to refer to arguments presented by
hon. members last December.
Before doing so, I want to make a few remarks concerning the
role of the Speaker in situations such as this. In some jurisdictions
faced with similar questions, the laws or rules of those legislatures
give the Speaker precise powers to designate the official
opposition, or specify the criteria upon which the designation of
official opposition is to be made. In such cases, the Speaker is left
with no discretion in the matter. I would refer hon. members to the
Ministerial and other Salaries Act, 1975, of the United Kingdom,
and the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, of
Saskatchewan as examples.
Here in the House of Commons, however, there are no such rules
or guidelines. On December 14 several members who contributed
to the discussion contended that it was up to me as Speaker to
decide this question. The hon. member for Elk Island, after raising
the idea that the official opposition may be considered as a
government in waiting, went as far as to state on page 17677 of the
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of the decision you are
about to make in the next six weeks. You are being called upon to decide who
would form the Government of Canada in the event the Liberals resigned.
If you decide Canadians are best served by a party whose stated objective,
which it has demonstrated in the last two years consistently, is to break the
country into two pieces, you would err greatly.
I must respectfully differ with the hon. member. Your Speaker of
the House has no role to play in the selection of a government. In
our system the Speaker chooses neither the government nor the
government in waiting. That prerogative belongs to the Governor
General of Canada on the advice of his privy council.
To put the Speaker in a position in which he would be choosing
not only the official opposition but perhaps the next government
based not on any objective criteria such as numbers in the House
but rather on a qualitative judgment about the performance of the
current official opposition party seems to me an untenable
proposition. It would also be an encroachment on the royal
prerogative and a violation of our long established constitutional
Unless the House wishes, either in the rules or in legislation, to
give the Speaker precise powers and guidelines by which to
designate the official opposition, I must state at the outset that I do
not feel it is within my power to make such a decision, based on the
argument advanced by the hon. member for Elk Island.
As I did when preparing my June 16, 1994 ruling on the
designation of party status for members of the New Democratic
Party, I have again looked to the rulings of my predecessors for
guidance in understanding my role in dealing with such
unprecedented cases. In 1963, Speaker MacNaughton was asked to
rule on the question of seating of opposition parties in the
Chamber. At that time, he commented at length on what he
perceived to be the role of the Speaker in such matters. This
statement can be found at pages 385 to 388 of the Journals for
September 30, 1963. I feel that much of what he said is relevant to
the current circumstances and have used his words as a guide in
examining the matter.
I would like to quote again certain sections of Speaker
The legal rights and duties of the Speaker are to be found in the Statutes of
Canada, the Standing Orders of the House, in the Constitutional and
Parliamentary authors and finally in the customs and precedents which have
become constitutional conventions.
According to Campion, the Speaker is the representative of the House itself,
in its powers, proceedings and dignity and the chief characteristics attaching to
the office of Speaker of the House of Commons are authority and
impartiality-.It is in consequence among the duties of the Speaker to see that
the Standing Orders of the House are followed in the course of its procedures
and that the privileges of the House, once they have been defined and
recognized, are protected. It is also the duty of the Speaker to be impartial and
removed from politics-.
Allow me to refer once more to the special traditions that surround the Office
of the Speaker. While he is the servant of the House he is, at the same time, its
spokesman and its symbol. His value to the House and its Members continues
effectively only when the House assists him in every way to maintain his dignity
and his impartiality-.
It seems to me that-a situation such as that now facing the House must be
resolved by the House itself. It is not one where the Speaker ought by himself to
take a position where any group of members might feel that their interests as a
group or a party have been prejudiced. Nor should the Speaker be put in a
position where he must decide, to the advantage or to the disadvantage of any
group or party, matters affecting the character or existence of a party, for this
surely would signify that the Speaker has taken what is almost a political
decision, a decision where the question involves the rights and privileges of the
The designation of the official opposition has never been decided
on the floor of the House of Commons. As Speaker, I am entrusted
with the responsibility of ensuring the orderly conduct of business
in the House. To do so, I must now determine, in light of the tie
situation and the point of order raised, which party shall form the
It is a cornerstone of our democratic tradition that government
rests on the consent of the governed. This means that the minority
accepts the right of the majority to make decisions provided that
the right of the minority to be heard, to dissent, to air grievances
and to promote alternative policies is respected.
The role of an opposition in our form of parliamentary
government is therefore fundamental. Its leadership is equally
For this reason, Parliament has seen fit to acknowledge the
importance of the individual holding the position of Leader of the
Official Opposition by providing this person with support and
allowances similar to those granted to the Prime Minister. As well,
in its procedures the House recognizes the significance of this
position, despite the lack of any official definition thereof.
The position of Leader of the Official Opposition is firmly
anchored in our parliamentary system of government through
practice and the implementation of various statutes and rules of
procedure. The importance of the Official Opposition and its leader
has been commented on both in Canada and in other countries with
Westminister style Parliaments for well over a century.
The question of which party would assume the role of the official
opposition, however, has never been an issue in our House of
Commons until now. As the hon. member for Lethbridge pointed
out, perhaps it is for this reason that there has never been any
definition or method of designating the official opposition or the
leader of the opposition in either our statutes or standing orders.
Without written rules detailing the procedures for the selection
of the official opposition, the title has traditionally been assumed
by the party which held the second highest number of seats in the
House of Commons. The one exception occurred after the 1921
general election when the Progressive Party won the second highest
number of seats but, because of their support of the government of
the day, declined to assume the role of official opposition.
In his submission, the hon. member for Lethbridge cited three
precedents to support his claim that the Reform Party should be
designated the official opposition. The first precedent the hon.
member cited illustrated his contention that, in the case of an
equality of seats, popular vote and the range of interests
represented by a party should determine which party is designated
the official opposition. The other two precedents, he suggested,
indicated that where doubt exists in the choice of the official
opposition, members of the opposition have been allowed to select
their leader; the Speaker has had a role to play in this process; and
parties which have not had the second highest number of seats in
the legislature have become the official opposition.
While all three precedents occurred in circumstances quite
different from our present situation, for the benefit of hon.
members I would like to comment on each.
The first precedent referred to by the hon. member was the ruling
of Speaker Amerongen in Alberta in 1983. I have reviewed this
ruling and the circumstances in which it was given.
As the hon. member knows, this matter was raised at the
beginning of a new legislature following a general election. The
opposition was composed of two New Democrats and two
independent members. Both the leader of the NDP and the then
member for Little Bow, who is currently the hon. member for
Lethbridge in our House, had sought recognition as leader of the
official opposition. As the hon. member pointed out, the Alberta
speaker based his decision to grant official opposition status to the
New Democratic Party, in part, on the popular vote received by the
New Democratic Party.
However, in a ruling on the designation of the New Brunswick
official opposition given by Speaker Dysart on December 16, 1994,
a ruling referred to by the chief government whip, the Chair
rejected the Alberta precedent based on popular vote as being
unsound and as setting an undesirable precedent. I must concur
with Speaker Dysart when she stated on page 3752 of Hansard of
the Legislative Assembly:
Basing a decision on factors outside Parliament opens the door or invites
future decisions with no basis in parliamentary precedents or practice. With the
one noted exception,-
that of Alberta-
-the Official Opposition has been determined by the number of seats held by
the party, not by their popular vote.
The second precedent referred to by hon. members concerns the
outcome of the first post World War I general election in Great
Britain. The situation was very complicated and I would like to
describe the circumstances faced by the British Speaker at that
As the hon. member for Lethbridge noted, the government
elected in December 1918 was a coalition of 383
Conservative-Unionists, 133 Coalition Liberals and 10 Coalition
Labourites led by the Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
The main opposition groups in descending order of seats were the
Labour Party, a number of anti-coalition Liberals, and the Irish
Nationalists. Members of the Sinn Fein, the largest party in
opposition with 73 members, refused to take their seats at
The anti-coalition Liberals under Herbert Asquith, had suffered a
severe election defeat and Mr. Asquith himself had lost his seat.
Until he could return to the House in a byelection, the Liberals
chose Sir Donald Maclean, the former deputy speaker, as the
party's parliamentary leader.
The Labour Party, whose defection from the wartime coalition
government had in part precipitated the election, increased its
representation in the House, but the party's leaders were defeated
in their own seats. William Adamson, a returning member from
Scotland, was selected as the Labour leader in the Commons since
the majority of the Labour members were new members without
From my research, it would appear that the situation as described
by the hon. member for Lethbridge was not completely accurate. In
Volume II of A Speaker's Commentaries, the memoirs of the then
British Speaker James Lowther, at pages 251 and 252, he describes
the situation as follows:
Before the new parliament met I was confronted with the difficulty of having to
decide which party constituted His Majesty's Opposition. The Liberals only
mustered 26, whilst Labour numbered 59. The latter, therefore, claimed to have
become the official Opposition. I was interviewed by Mr. Adamson, who was then
the chairman of the Labour Party, and strongly urged their claims. He argued that
there were 59 Labour Members representing a distinct and independent Party, that
Labour candidates had received the support of more than 2 1/4 million voters at the
recent Election, that the Liberals numbered only 26, and that even those 26 were
only a minority of a Party which was identified with and formed part of the
Coalition Government. On the other hand, some Members of the Liberal Party
argued to me that their discomfiture was only temporary and that they were the real
``Simon pure'', with great historical traditions behind them, which should not be
lightly set aside by reason of a passing failure at the polls. It was a difficult
situation. I pointed out to Mr. Adamson that my share in determining the question
of the leadership of His Majesty's Opposition was a very small one, and was
limited to determining who on the front Opposition bench should, every
Thursday, ask the formal question as to future business; that if the question of
determining the official Opposition was to be solved by numbers, the Sinn Fein
Party, who had not then decided whether they would come to Westminster or not,
outnumbered the Labour Party by a dozen or more; and that the application of a
strict arithmetical rule might lead to some embarrassment and might compel me,
in the event of the Opposition parties becoming about equal in numbers, through
the decision of by-elections, to resort to a weekly census. I therefore solved it in the
usual British fashion by a compromise, in the nature of Solomon's judgment,
suggesting that the leadership should be divided between Sir Donald Maclean and
Mr. Adamson. This course was adopted, and during the duration of the Parliament
Sir Donald and Mr. Adamson used in alternate weeks to exercise their privilege as
leader, of asking the formal questions as to the future business of the House, the
only Parliamentary act which by tradition is the prerogative of the leader of His
Majesty's Opposition. In the matter of initiating or winding up debates on behalf
of their parties, they both took part, dividing the honours between them so far as
My understanding of the events and recollections of Speaker
Lowther is that there was no formal decision rendered by the
Speaker. Rather, he simply offered a suggestion which the two
parties accepted. The consultations which occurred took place
outside the Chamber before the new Parliament met, and before
Speaker Lowther was re-elected.
Nothing in the Debates indicates that Sir Donald Maclean of the
anti-coalition Liberals was Leader of the Official Opposition. In
fact an examination of the Debates in the House of Commons for
that session of Parliament confirms that the two party leaders did
alternate in asking the Thursday business question, but in debate
Mr. Adamson was given precedence over Mr. Maclean. It should
also be borne in mind that in Britain the leader of the opposition did
not receive an additional allowance until 1937.
Thus even with much less serious consequences, Speaker
Lowther was reluctant to play a role in determining the leader of
the opposition and limited his role to suggesting a compromise.
This precedent in my view does not support the position of the hon.
member for Lethbridge.
The third precedent cited by the hon. member concerns events
which occurred in Australia during the second world war. The
situation in the House of Representatives at that time was as
complex as that of Great Britain in 1918. The Australian
government at that time was a coalition of the larger United
Australia Party or UAP, under Mr. Robert Menzies, and the smaller
United Country Party or UCP, under the leadership of Mr. Arthur
Fadden. Mr. Fadden, however, was the Prime Minister. On October
7, 1941, the coalition was defeated in the House, the government
resigned and a Labour Party government was sworn in.
The Australia and Country Parties remained a coalition going
into opposition. As leader of the larger of the two parties, Mr.
Menzies normally would be expected to become leader of the
opposition. However, as the outgoing prime minister, Mr. Fadden
also had a claim to the position.
The hon. member for Lethbridge stated that the United Australia
Party settled its own leadership and then in a joint meeting,
presided over by the Speaker, elected the leader of the United
Country Party as leader of the opposition.
The events, however, were far more complicated. According to
Australia's Commonwealth Parliament, 1901-1988 by G.S. Reid
and Martyn Forrest, at pages 58 and 59, at a meeting of the
Australia Party Mr. Menzies tried to convince his colleagues that
the opposition leadership should not be left to Mr. Fadden. He also
suggested the Speaker of the House, Walter Nairn, should preside
over the joint meeting.
Mr. Menzies' motion concerning the opposition leadership was
soundly defeated by his party colleagues and as a result Mr.
Menzies declined to seek renomination for his party's leadership.
The result of the joint meeting, convened immediately after the
UAP meeting, saw the selection of Mr. Fadden as leader of the
opposition supported by many Australia Party members.
According to Reid and Forrest, press reports of the period stated
that Mr. Fadden's election was unanimous.
It should be noted that where the number of seats in the
Australian House did not clearly determine which party should be
the official opposition, the opposition parties took it upon
themselves to meet outside the chamber to try to resolve the
With information obtained directly from the Australian House of
Representatives, it cannot be confirmed that Speaker Nairn
presided over the joint meeting. However, as Speaker Nairn was a
member of the Australia Party, he would probably have been
present at the meeting, as it was common practice then and still is
the practice for the Australian Speaker to attend his party caucuses.
Since no records of these meetings have been published, I am
unable to determine with any certainty who presided over this
meeting. If Speaker Nairn had chaired the meeting he probably
would have done so in a party role and not as an impartial Speaker
of the House.
In the Canadian House of Commons, the election of the Speaker
by secret ballot affects his or her political relationships. It places
upon the Chair occupant an even greater obligation to set aside his
or her parliamentary party connections while serving as the
Speaker for all members of the House. Once elected, the Speaker
therefore does not attend any caucus. If any group of members
wished to meet outside the Chamber to deal with some matter, and
indicated their wish for me to chair such a meeting, I would of
course offer my services as an impartial, neutral facilitator. I am
sure that no member of this House would want to see the Speaker
involve himself in partisan matters.
Therefore the Australian precedent does not assist me in the
matter currently before me. Having listened to the presentations by
hon. members, having examined the precendents referred to by the
hon. member for Lethbridge as well as others from provinces and
other countries, and having taken into account our own traditions, I
can find nothing which would have supported the contention of the
hon. member for Lethbridge that the Speaker of the House of
Commons may decide to grant official opposition status to the
second numerically important party in opposition.
By convention the number of seats held by a party in the House
has been the determining factor.
I would now like to address the new reality which the House
faces today, and that is the issue of the equality of seats of the Bloc
Quebecois and the Reform Party.
At the beginning of this Parliament the Bloc Quebecois, the
largest minority party in the House, assumed the role of the official
opposition with their leader taking up the duties of the Leader of
the Official Opposition. As a result of a byelection and the
resignation of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean on January 15,
the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party now have the same
number of seats in the House.
Just as Speaker Dysart of New Brunswick was required to do in
1994, I must answer the following question: is the existence of a tie
sufficient to overthrow or displace the recognized official
opposition? From my examination of the precedents from other
Canadian jurisdictions, including the most recent precedent from
New Brunswick, I must conclude, just as Speaker Dysart and other
Speakers have, that in the case of a tie during the course of a
Parliament incumbency should be the determining factor and the
status quo should therefore be maintained.
An equality of seats in the two largest opposition parties should
neither deny the members of the Bloc Quebecois their position
today as the official opposition nor prevent them from choosing
from among their members the leader of the official opposition.
Thus the Bloc Quebecois will currently retain its status as the
official opposition until a further review of this status is warranted.
I hope it is clear to all members that in this matter the role of the
Speaker is to ensure the business of the House is conducted
according to the standing orders and our practices. It is my duty to
ensure that any matter which may be legitimately brought before
the House meets the procedural requirements for the form in which
it is presented.
As I noted earlier, the designation of the official opposition has
never been decided on the floor of the House, and the House has
never put in place a procedure for the selection of the official
opposition. My comments are obviously made in relation to the
present context of the number of seats on the opposition side of the
House and in the absence of any statutory authority or rules or
guidelines for the Speaker to act on if required to intervene in
determining which party should at a certain point in time become
the official opposition
I wish to thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for raising the
point of order and all other members for their contributions, as well
as their patience in listening to this lengthy but important
* * *
The House proceeded to the consideration of the speech
delivered by His Excellency the Governor General at the opening
of the session.
Mrs. Georgette Sheridan (Saskatoon-Humboldt, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is with great pleasure and some relief that at last I rise to
move the motion on the address and reply to the speech from the
To you, Mr. Speaker, welcome back. Like you, I do look forward
to the second session of this 35th Parliament. It is clearly a place
for open debate.
Although it has now been some time since we heard the speech
from the throne, at that time I was reflecting on all that has
happened in the 28 months since the election brought us here to the
Chamber. In the intervening period I have had time to consider it
even more closely. Unlike what I have just heard from members
opposite, my memories of the red book are quite different. I
remember it as an ambitious plan, a plan taken to the people by our
Prime Minister in 1993, a plan overwhelmingly endorsed by the
Canadian electorate from coast to coast, a plan that has been put
Only half way into our mandate the government has already
delivered on the vast majority of commitments in the red book and
in the first throne speech.
The two-fold objective to stimulate job creation and economic
growth while reducing the debt and the deficit lay at the very heart
of the action plan. The emphasis on jobs and the economy helped to
create half a million new jobs and achieve a rate of economic
growth that ranked among the highest in the world.
Having clearly set out fiscal targets in the first budget, we
consistently met those targets. How did we do that? By sticking to
the economic fundamentals, keeping inflation low and reducing the
deficit from over 6 per cent of GDP when we took office to a
projected 2 per cent by 1997-98. The government has always
believed in a balanced approach.
We have remained true to the words of my colleague the hon.
member for Madawaska-Victoria who, though perhaps ill
qualified as a defensive back, will make a very good Speaker upon
the opening of the 35th Parliament. She said: ``A Liberal
government will have a social conscience while being fiscally
responsible. A lean government does not have to be a mean
We are proud of our record in the first half of our mandate but
this no time to grow complacent, and that is what brings us here
today. Today's throne speech represents a reaffirmation of our
initial goals. Its purpose is to set out our plan of action for how we
will build on past accomplishments during the second half of our
The throne speech focused on three priority themes: jobs and
growth, security for Canadians and modernizing the Canadian
federation to ensure unity.
Canadians do not want nor do they expect government to do
everything. Canadians expect government to make strategic
choices. By forming partnerships with the provinces and the
private sector we can succeed in helping Canadians achieve the
dignity of work.
When I think of work I think of youth. What immediately comes
to mind are my own 19-year old twin boys who happen to be here in
Ottawa today. Their existence has a lot to do with my concerns for
ensuring there are job opportunities for our youth. I do not suffer
from any empty nest syndrome. These boys need to get out of the
house. They need to get jobs.
The priority of this issue was brought home to me again last
week. The University of Saskatchewan is in my riding in
Saskatoon. USSU vice-president Robert Millard, to use our finance
minister's expression, keeps my feet to the fire on this issue. He
and students across the country will be happy with today's throne
speech announcement that we will double the number of federal
student jobs this summer.
I read in yesterday's newspaper that youth are exiting
Saskatchewan in record numbers because there are no jobs. Last
night I heard the same thing on a local Ottawa station in the hon.
whip's riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
The announcements made in today's speech are directed at
exactly that problem. The government has shown its commitment
to our youth by announcing initiatives that will help them make the
transition from school to work and find real jobs in the future, a
good example of our reaffirmation of our commitment to be an
innovative technology leader
By concentrating our efforts on science and technology, we will
help Canadians take advantage of the creation of knowledge-based
industries, which will generate more jobs, better jobs and durable
jobs for Canadians young and old.
Jobs in areas such as agricultural biotechnology, the aerospace
industry, environmental technologies are opportunities that
currently exist in Innovation Place in my riding of
Saskatoon-Humboldt and which will be further enhanced by
Another aspect mentioned in today's speech is the importance of
trade. Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from the Secretary
of State for Asia-Pacific in Saskatoon to discuss the importance of
national trade in creating jobs and growth.
The tremendous success of the Team Canada trade missions led
by the Prime Minister, most recently in Asia, has resulted in
billions of dollars in business deals for Canadian companies and
tens of thousands of new jobs. The government will continue to
enhance export development and financing and encourage
Canadians to be key players in world markets.
The next theme we discussed earlier today was security for
Canadians. When I was in my riding during the January recess a
consistent message I heard from my constituents was the value they
place on the maintenance of our social programs. They and many
other Canadians who share their concerns will be heartened by
today's commitment to safeguard the principles of medicare, to
reform and sustain the public pension system and to implement a
new employment insurance program.
Perhaps nothing unites us as a nation like our belief in the need
to preserve the fabric of the Canadian social safety net. It is one of
the attributes that has earned us the status of the best country in the
world. This is high praise to our modest Canadian way of thinking,
making us far too prone to blush, to brush it aside, little realizing
with what envy our nation is eyed by others around the globe.
This does not mean we can afford to take our federation for
granted. The throne speech indicated the commitment of the
government to keep Canada together. To remain strong and united
we must be open to changing needs and circumstances, ready to be
flexible and adapt to the needs of all parts of the country as we
enter the next century.
This pledge is not lightly given. Like the other commitments in
the throne speech, it is a promise to be kept. ``The most important
asset of government is the confidence it enjoys of the citizens to
whom it is accountable''. That quote appeared in chapter 6 of the
red book under the heading ``Governing with Integrity'', from
which, I was pleased to see, the hon. member from Kootenay East
was quoting earlier this afternoon. I was pleased to see he has a
copy. I am equally pleased to see he has read it. I am pleased to see
that he can read.
If members think back to the time of the next election, they will
recall that no longer did Canadians perceive their elected officials
as the trusted servants of the people. Again we heard the member
for Kootenay East quoting from the red book to suggest that after
years of scandal and patronage, by 1993 politicians did not enjoy
the best of reputations. Perhaps after the comments from the
member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley his leader may be
distressed to learn this member pines for the days of Brian
The difficulty we faced at the time of the last election was that
Canadians had lost faith in the political leadership to maintain the
integrity of government institutions.
In the months leading up to the last election, I too was among the
ranks of despairing Canadians who had lost faith. Like many other
rookie members of the House, I would say from all parties, at that
time I had finally reached the point at which action had become the
only antidote for the cynicism and discontent tormenting me.
Although I had not held political office before, I decided the time
had come to get involved.
As I mentioned from chapter 6, restoring integrity to our
political institutions, a personal priority for the Prime Minister,
became one of the first orders of the day. As my boys will tell you, I
say with annoying regularity actions speak louder than words. We
have only to look to the example set by the Prime Minister, his own
long political career, his unblemished record of honourable service
to his country to find out what standard is required. Having
regained the trust of the Canadian electorate in 1993, the Prime
Minister received a mandate to begin the process of restoring the
faith of Canadians.
I mentioned a few moments ago that I have the honour to
represent the riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt. It is a long way from
Ottawa. Canada is a big country. In spite of the convenience of air
travel, what with the time change and connections required, it takes
me a good six hours to get from door to door; back to the riding on
Friday for the weekend and back on the plane Monday to work in
Ottawa. Many Canadians perhaps do not realize that when the
House is in session this is a weekly commute.
Before you get too choked up with this sad story, Mr. Speaker, let
me say I am lucky. I live in the city of Saskatoon. When I get off
the plane I am home. Many of my colleagues who live in rural
Canada have yet another leg of the journey ahead, a long lonely
drive usually in the dark after a gruelling week and a long flight.
I think in particular of my colleague from Saskatchewan, the
member for Souris-Moose Mountain, a young lad of 27; clearly
the driving has taken its toll.
Members from other geographically distant areas, the territories,
the interior of British Columbia, northern Ontario, rural Quebec or
Atlantic Canada, know exactly what I am talking about. Even when
we are in our ridings, often in the rural areas declining populations
are so scattered over such vast geographical areas that travelling is
a real challenge. Even worse, it makes personal interaction between
the MP and the constituent increasingly difficult.
Members representing urban ridings face the same outcome but
for entirely different reasons. Though geographically manageable,
ridings in large centres such as Vancouver or Toronto have
undergone tremendous population increases. I think of my
colleagues, the member for Mississauga West and the member for
North York, whose ridings have populations of over 300,000.
We have shifting population patterns, the challenges presented
by time and distance and the increased workload in Ottawa
severely taxing the ability of the MP to maintain direct contact with
Consider my own riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt. It is a
rural-urban split. It is located virtually in the heart of the province
of Saskatchewan. It includes one-third of the city of Saskatoon and
large rural area to the north and east. It is bounded on the west by
the South Saskatchewan River, putting to rest any popularly held
misconceptions that there is no water in Saskatchewan.
If you were to accompany me on a tour of the riding, Mr.
Speaker, first we would make our way through a well treed
residential area. Myth number two debunked, we have trees. We
would end up at the University of Saskatchewan, established just
after we became a province in 1905. On that campus we would find
a variety of colleges including law, engineering, fine arts, medicine
and agriculture. We would find the Royal University Hospital. We
would find the Saskatchewan Accelerator Laboratory and finally
on the outer edges, Innovation Place with its thriving ag-biotech
Travelling beyond that we would end up at the edge of the city
where in the interest of time we would have to transfer to a
helicopter to view the hundreds of square miles that make up the
rural portion of Saskatoon-Humboldt. Flying over this vast area
we would see First Nations communities, grain farms, agricultural
manufacturing, beef and pork operations, schools, churches, town
halls, post offices, curling rinks and that prairie landmark, the grain
elevator. Most important, we would see the people who live in that
riding, the constituents.
Who are these people? We would see a young mother working on
aboriginal justice initiatives; a first year engineering student who
wonders where the money will come from for next year's tuition; a
hospital cafeteria worker who is worried about special care for her
diabetic preschooler; a particle physicist who does not want to have
to leave Canada to continue her research; a new Canadian pumping
gas who devotes his spare time to the jazz festival; a feedlot
operator linked to the Internet for market prices who keeps a .22 in
the corner to shoot gophers; a farm woman who drives a school
bus, works at the credit union and who cannot find decent child
care; a Roman Catholic priest with an aging flock; and finally, one
of my favourites, an 86-year old francophone lady who cannot get
out any more but who crochets like a demon and sends me
There is not a member in the House who could not produce an
equally lengthy, diverse or interesting profile of the Canadians in
his or her own riding.
If we stitch all of those ridings together we end up with a map of
Canada, a tapestry of rich and varied hue reflecting the myriad of
constituents whose interests,both individual and collective we have
been sent here to represent.
There are so many different strands of opinion. There are
different strands of thought, religious belief, education, ethnic
background, income brackets, age groups and loyalties.
Our challenge as parliamentarians, as Canadians, is to be the
loom that will take those many strands, all those different colours,
all those different fabrics and strengths, and weave them into a
strong, beautiful, sheltering Canada.
As was stated in the throne speech, the government approaches
the second half of its mandate confident that what unites us as
Canadians is far greater than what divides us. The commitment
made today is to find those precious threads that strengthen the
national fabric without constricting those within its folds; to call
upon our shared Canadian values; to build an independent nation,
economically strong, socially just, proud of its diversity and
characterized by its integrity, compassion and competence.
I have no doubt this challenge can be met and that the
opportunity is there. As we head into a new session of Parliament I
urge all members of the House to reflect on what we cherish about
Canada, to recognize the privileged responsibility we share and the
sacred duty we owe to the Canadians we represent to strengthen
and preserve this country.
Long live Canada!
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mrs. Sheridan: I now move, seconded by the hon. member for
Ottawa-Vanier, that the following Address be presented to His
Excellency the Governor General of Canada:
To His Excellency the Right Honourable Roméo A. LeBlanc, a Member of the
Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the
Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit,
upon whom has been conferred the Canadian Forces' Decoration, Governor
General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of
Canada, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to your
Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to
both Houses of Parliament.
Some hon. members:
Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa-Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it
is a real privilege to speak in support of the Address in Reply to the
Speech from the Throne before it gets dated.
As the representative of the electoral district of Ottawa-Vanier,
which is in many ways a microcosm of this great country of ours, it
is with a mixture of pride and humility not to mention trepidation
and some nervousness, that I accepted the Prime Minister's
It is also with gratitude; gratitude because the speech from the
throne speaks of the values that unite us. It speaks of the
sustainability of our social programs. It speaks of ensuring
opportunity, in particular for our young people. It speaks of fiscal
responsibility guided by equity, fairness and balance. It speaks of
safe and clean communities. It speaks of a rejuvenated, flexible and
exemplary public service. It speaks of a proud and effective
participant on the international stage. It speaks of our Canadian
identity, of our cultural institutions, of our future, of the hope we
all share for a better tomorrow. Most important, it speaks of and for
a united Canada. On this very date last year, a scant four days after
having been sworn in, I sat in the Chamber and listened to the
Minister of Finance introduce the 1995 budget. These were his
words: ``Mr. Speaker, there are times in the progress of a people
when fundamental challenges must be faced, fundamental choices
made, a new course charted. For Canada, this is one of those times.
Our resolve, our values, our very way of life as Canadians are being
tested. The choice is clear. We can take the path too well trodden of
minimal change, of least resistance, of leadership lost. Or we can
set out on a new road of fundamental reform, of renewal, of hope
restored. Today we have made our choice. Today we take action''.
That budget charted the course of our economic recovery. The
actions taken that day and since have inspired in the country a
sense that we are on the right path. When was the last time the
national government spoke with any credibility of a $17 billion
deficit target? Yet that is the target reaffirmed in the throne speech
for fiscal 1997-98.
The government has met its targets and will continue to do so for
the betterment of the country. Next week the government will table
its third budget, once more reflecting the priorities of Canadians.
While our goal of progressively lowering the deficit and eventually
eliminating it is essential in maintaining the confidence of our
financial markets, lenders are not the focus, nor the reason, of the
deficit reduction strategy. Rather, the focus is the need to foster a
climate for wealth creation, a climate within which the private
sector can prosper, grow and create employment. The creation of a
variety of productive opportunities for Canadians, the creation of
work, that is our primary focus.
As Félix Leclerc stated so very aptly in one of his songs, the best
way to finish a man off is to pay him to do nothing. All too often
loss of work leads to loss of spirit, loss of hope, dropping out of
society, fear, crime. The speech from the throne represents a great
challenge, a magnificent challenge to us all, a noble challenge, a
challenge that requires all of the creativity and all of the resources
of both our government and the private sector.
It is not an easy challenge. Nowhere has it been felt more than in
the nation's capital. The federal government's decision to reduce
its workforce by some 45,000 has had profound effects on the
national capital region where residents make up one-third of the
While it has a history of dependence on the federal government
for employment, the national capital region has chosen to ride the
wave of change rather than drown in it. History is rife with
examples of communities stagnating or disappearing because they
were unable to adapt to change. I assure the House that this will not
be the case in our region.
The national capital region has changed. It has a strong and
vibrant private sector. Tourism, high technology industries,
biotechnology industries, colleges and universities, research
centres and a myriad of trade related businesses have turned our
community into a dynamic region, a region focused on success, a
region preparing to compete head on in the international arena.
A word of caution however. As the former member for Sudbury,
the Hon. Doug Frith, said in his remarks in support of the Address
in Reply to the Speech from the Throne in 1980:
The development of the various regions of Canada need not be at the expense
of others. Surely as Canadians we realize that a strong western and Atlantic
Canada are as important to the confederation as a strong central Canada. We
must begin to understand that by strengthening the parts we strengthen the
whole, and that by promoting regional cannibalism, we begin to road to
self-destruction. The strength of confederation has been the ability of the
federal system to share and redistribute the resources of the various regions of
Canada in order to preserve an economically and socially progressive
Our region will continue to absorb its fair share of reduced
spending. However, our people are hurting too. Unemployment in
our region is now higher than the national average. Also, there are
more people dependent on social benefits in our region alone than
in all of Saskatchewan, with all due respect to my colleague across
Therefore, we too will need some tender loving care, not
necessarily in the form of large cash infusions but perhaps along
the lines of removing barriers and facilitating economic
Just as economic development is the focus of our deficit
reduction plans, the ability to maintain meaningful and necessary
social programs is its raison d'être.
By continuing to increase the nation's debt we only reduce
opportunities to provide for the needy. On the other hand, by
reducing the debt relative to the gross domestic product and
eventually by reducing it in absolute terms, the country will be able
to guarantee the long term viability of our social programs.
Think of the day when we will start paying off the debt, which is
not too distant in the future. Think of the perpetual annual savings
of $80 million or so every time we knock a billion dollars off the
debt. As the ads state: ``Imagine the freedom''.
Already the benefits of our strategy are becoming visible. The
ability to introduce a cash floor in the Canadian health and social
transfer is but a first manifestation of healthier finances.
As the fiscal health is restored so will the ability to ensure the
financial, physical and mental well-being of elderly people,
physically challenged people and of those who cannot fend for
themselves. In other words, the improving economic and fiscal
situation will also improve the ability to redistribute wealth, one of
the primary functions of any national government.
Changing topics, I would like to talk a little bit about the riding
of Ottawa, particularly its northern boundary, the Ottawa River.
Crossing that river, as some 40,000 people from Eastern Ontario or
West Quebec do every day to get to work, one discovers the other
component of the National Capital Region. Together we, that is
those on both sides, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec, comprise a
single economic area, so much so that the Globe and Mail
committed an interesting slip in a page one headline after last
year's byelections, which you will remember were in
Brome-Missisquoi, Saint-Henri-Westmount and
Ottawa-Vanier. To quote the Globe and Mail: ``Liberals win three
Quebec byelections.'' You cannot win them all.
In this National Capital Region of ours, we are so alike in the
way we talk, the way we think and the way we live that an outside
observer like the Globe and Mail would have trouble determining
our province of origin. Our region straddles both provinces.
Anglophones and francophones, both on the Ontario and the
Quebec side, live in harmony with each other.
This region is a good example and a wonderful symbol of our
ability to live together. However, we are not the only symbol of this
duality. A brand new symbol has now been added to the
constellation of Canadian symbols: the two-dollar coin. What a
marvellous symbol of a country where two official languages
coexist, a country where two main cultural groups live together, a
nation with two founding peoples. What a wonderful idea to design
a bimetallic coin to reflect our bilingualism and our biculturalism.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Bélanger: This new two-dollar coin, which is getting a
rather rough ride in some quarters, is nevertheless an interesting
reflection on the Canadian situation. Some people are trying to
break it up, to divide it, to separate it, to separate one piece from
the other by hitting it with a hammer or exposing it to the worst
possible weather, to extreme conditions. No wonder that a few of
the 70 million coins that were minted finally split in two.
But why should anyone try to separate two sections that are part
of a whole? Once separated, they no longer have the recognition or
the value of the whole coin. Separated from each other, their
distinctness diminishes and even disappears. Only when they are
together do we see that each part is distinct from the other. Only
when both pieces are fitted together, each in their proper place,
does this coin have its full and proper value, and the same applies
to our country.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Bélanger: So I say three cheers for those who designed the
coin and, especially, three cheers for those who created this country
129 years ago.
I may add that the same analogy could apply to Canada's
francophone communities. Imagine the francophone community
without Quebec or imagine Quebec separated from the one million
francophones in the other provinces. In both instances,
communities would be divided, and all francophones would come
out losers, should the country break up. However, the value of
francophone communities, in a united country, is beyond measure.
I would like to thank the Prime Minister most sincerely for
according me this badge of honour and especially for the privilege
of seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I
am particularly grateful, because the speech from the throne
prepares the way for reconciliation.
In terms that are appropriate and in a manner that is direct,
honest, and unequivocal, it deals with questions vital to the renewal
of our federation and questions we will have to try to answer in the
coming months. They include recognition of the distinct nature of
Quebec society, a constitutional veto for Canada's regions and the
enshrinement of these two important concepts in the Canadian
It also raises the thorny question of the division of powers. The
genius of the British North America Act and its sections 91 and 92
lies not in the creation of two levels of government: a senior and a
necessarily junior one. It lies in the creation of two orders of
government that may and can co-operate while keeping separate
All too often in this House and elsewhere in the country, we hear
talk of two levels of government rather than two orders of
government, of a national government and its responsibilities and
authority and of provincial governments with their own
responsibilities and authorities. One is not subordinate to the other
nor subject to the other. Neither is better than the other, they are
Like many, I believe in a strong national government, as do most
of the people in Ottawa-Vanier.
However, a strong central government does not mean a national
government that does everything, has a finger in every pie, imposes
its will on everything, in short acts like Big Brother. No. A strong
central government means a national government that does a good
job, a very good one even, in areas within its jurisdiction, in its
public finances, in its relationships with other individuals,
communities or governments.
The throne speech reflects that spirit of respectfulness and
open-mindedness toward the provincial governments. I feel we are
on the right path. The path we have begun along today will lead us
to our intended destination: a strong country that respects all of its
constituent elements, a country where there is a sense of harmony,
where all ethnic groups have a place alongside the two founding
peoples, and where those two peoples live in harmony with each
other and with those who were the original occupants of this land,
each adding to the strength of the other, understanding each other,
accepting each other, helping each other out, growing and
For this reason, I am pleased to support the motion of my
colleague from Saskatoon-Humboldt on the address in reply to
the speech from the throne.
The Deputy Speaker: My dear colleagues, it is now the official
opposition's turn. As I recognize the hon. member for Roberval for
the first time this session, I wish to extend on behalf of the Chair
congratulations on his election as leader of the Bloc Quebecois.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, this will certainly not be my longest speech. I will now
move, seconded by the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie:
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Deputy Speaker:
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons and Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)
That the Business of Supply be considered at the next sitting of the House.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ):
Speaker, I have a point of order concerning Motion No. 1. I think
you will have to agree with the point I intend to make, which is that
this motion is out of order.
I would refer to arguments made by the present government in
1991, when it was in the opposition, in response to a motion
presented by the Progressive Conservative Party, the government
party at the time, when it wanted to resurrect measures that had
died on the Order Paper when the House was prorogued.
At the time, the Conservative motion listed the bills in question
and, if I remember correctly, there were six. The Liberal opposition
argued that a general motion could not be debated and that the
House would have to proceed item by item, motion by motion and
bill by bill. I realize that, in this case, the government has avoided
the pitfalls of the motion it condemned at the time by not
specifying the bills it wants back on the Order Paper. The
government is trying to resurrect all the bills that died on the Order
Paper instead of taking them one by one.
I would like to recall some of the statements that were made at
the time. Mind you, all this was item by item. Speaker Fraser
finally agreed with the arguments put forward by the opposition.
These included, and I am reminded of what was said by the hon.
member for Ottawa-Vanier at the time-his successor just made
an eloquent speech-who is now a senator, who condemned this
approach, referring to it as a legislative mess, and who called hon.
members opposite-who were sitting where I am now but are
sitting opposite today-government bullies. It seems to me that
borders on the unparliamentary, but apparently it was accepted by
The government is trying to do exactly the same thing today, but
in a roundabout way. It is are trying to accomplish indirectly what
it cannot accomplish directly. I realize that the government
members have realized that their arguments were not totally
convincing, since the approach has been an item by item approach,
even if that had been condemned, as seen by the statements I just
Nevertheless, the approach has been item by item, bill by bill.
When the official opposition was consulted by the government, it
was made clear to the government that we were prepared to
examine each bill on its merits and that we would agree to a certain
number of them. I am thinking, for instance, of the bill of my
colleague for Québec making excision illegal. We are, of course,
prepared to resume examination of that bill where we left it last
December, but it would take a lot of gall to assume that we would
agree to re-examine the Axworthy reform as the Young reform.
There are limits.
On these grounds I would ask you to consider this motion as not
in order, as you cannot do otherwise, based on the arguments put
forth several years ago by the government party in terms far more
crude than mine.
Mr. Ray Speaker (Lethbridge, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to
challenge the validity of the motion which has been put forward by
the government with respect to reinstating bills and amending
The motion has many faults. It deals with two entirely separate
matters and it deals with the reinstatement of bills and with the
changing of the standing orders.
The first half of the motion that deals with the reinstatement of
bills contains within it over 30 pieces of legislation. I refer to
citation 552(3) of Beauchesne's sixth edition:
There can be but one question pending at the same time, though there may be
numerous matters of business in various stages of progress standing on the
Order Paper for consideration during the session. The only exception from this
citation occurs at the report stage of a bill, when the Standing Orders confer
upon the Speaker the power to combine amendments or causes for discussion
How can a member responsibly take a decision on this motion
put forward by the government today? We do not know which bills
will be introduced. In essence we are signing blank cheque.
The motion says that at first reading:
-if the speaker is satisfied that the said bill is in the same form as at
prorogation, the said bill shall be deemed to have been considered and approved
at all stages completed at the time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary,
on the Order Paper, or, as the case may be, referred to committee, at the same
stage and under the same legislative procedural process at which it stood at the
time of prorogation.
That is unacceptable. After we pass this motion we should leave
it to individuals to decide, not the House. Since when does
democracy act in this way? That is absolutely ridiculous and highly
I refer to citation 566(5) of Beauchesne's:
Any irregularity of any portion of a motion shall render the whole motion
Not only is the whole motion irregular but a portion of the
motion is extremely irregular and extremely dangerous to the way
we do business in the House or in any other legislative assembly.
There was a heated debate in May 1991 led by the Liberal Party
and many of the current sitting members of the House regarding an
exactly identical matter. The Liberals argued not only against the
ethics of reinstating bills without the unanimous consent of the
House but the receivability of a motion to do so.
The Mulroney motion of 1991 affected only five bills. This
Liberal clone motion is far more sweeping. The government has
taken the worst procedures from Mr. Mulroney's government of the
day and has somehow managed to make them even more offensive.
That is shameful and horribly unacceptable to this House.
The motion before us today has the potential of affecting over 30
bills and we do not even have the opportunity to know which ones
will be considered for reinstatement. We are going to make a
decision blindfolded and completely kept in the dark.
Some members of this House may feel that all bills should have
died on the Order Paper when the House prorogued and others may
think all bills should be reinstated. Some may think that just private
members' bills or just government bills or a combination of the two
should be put back into this assembly.
When we add the standing order changes we have got one big
mess, a Charlottetown accord kind of mess. It is a mess. It is
irregular and I declare and feel that it is certainly out of order as a
motion before this august body here today.
I will not waste the time of the House arguing that this cannot be
done other than by unanimous consent because that great
parliamentarian, Mr. Brian Mulroney, set the precedent in the last
Parliament. That is not good enough. Unfortunately though today
the Liberals have chosen to adopt the Mulroney style of democracy
in government and are again pursuing the Tory thrust that was in
the last Parliament. We know where that led us.
Notwithstanding the ethical consideration, Speaker Fraser in
considering the Mulroney motion ruled that there cannot be just
one vote on five separate pieces of legislation. The motion in 1991
was intended to reinstate five separate bills. The motion put
forward by this government today proposes to allow the
reinstatement of over 30 bills. The 1991 motion referred to specific
bills where today's motion deals with ``facilitating the business of
the House''. That is very general. The effect is the same. Many bills
will be reintroduced with one swoop and one motion. This is
Mr. Speaker, I now refer you to the Speaker's ruling of May 29,
1991, pages 733 to 735 of Hansard. The Speaker ruled the motion
in order but used his authority to amend the motion. He referred to
a ruling from another speaker on March 23, 1966 and I quote: ``It is
only in exceptional circumstances and when there is little doubt
about it that the Speaker can intervene and of his own initiative
amend the resolution proposed by the hon. member''. The Speaker
also cited citation 424(4) of Beauchesne's fifth edition which
states: ``The Speaker has the unquestioned authority to modify
motions with respect to form''.
The Speaker decided at that time to allow one debate but a
separate question for each bill. That is what happened. The Speaker
established that there ought to be a separate vote for each one of the
bills. That is the precedent we face here today.
The question, Mr. Speaker, that you are faced with is similar.
However, I believe there is a difference. You should not be bailing
out the government at this time as the Speaker did in the last
Parliament. The Speaker in that Parliament had no precedent for
such a motion and that qualified as exceptional circumstances. This
time around the government has no excuses. It knows what the
precedent is. It is not up to the Speaker to bail out the government
every time it presents an inferior motion, but that is what we are
faced with here today.
Mr. Speaker, you should rule this motion out of order and the
government should come back with proper motions so that the
House can take a responsible decision on each bill separately and
on each one of the issues that are in that motion in a separate way.
Fiscal discussions should be in one motion and bills should be in
another. Then we can look at them as such. However as this motion
is formed, it is highly unfair to the members of the House. It
certainly should be unacceptable to you, Mr. Speaker, in its form.
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons and Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I listened carefully to the submissions by the House leaders of the
Bloc and especially that of the Reform Party.
The motion I would like to move involves a totally different
approach to the motion in 1991 which is the subject of their critical
comment. In 1991 the motion dealt with specific government bills
but this motion simply provides a procedure or framework open to
all MPs and not just ministers.
Each bill affected by this order would have to be introduced
separately with the question put separately. My hon. friend, the
Reform House leader, has totally misunderstood the structure,
point and purpose of my motion.
My motion, if adopted by the House, would not restore a group
of unknown, unlisted bills. Instead it would simply provide a
framework enabling each minister and each private member who
wished to do so the opportunity to have their bills introduced
separately with the question put separately on each of those bills.
The hon. member for Lethbridge, in particular, says that the
motion will enable bills to be put forward whose identity we do not
know anything about. I respectfully submit that the hon. member
for Lethbridge again is quite incorrect in what he says because he
obviously has not understood what my motion clearly states.
My motion applies only to the bills that were on the Order Paper
at the time of prorogation. Those bills are listed. The order paper is
a public document. I am sure, contrary to what was suggested
earlier in the debate, that the hon. member for Lethbridge is able to
read the Order Paper. I would strongly disagree with anybody who
suggests the contrary.
There was concern about a motion like the one I want to present
affecting the standing orders but I submit that a motion to amend or
to suspend standing orders is always in order.
I submit that the fact this motion deals with two different
procedures does not in any way invalidate it. The House will recall
that in 1994, I proposed a motion which was accepted by the Chair
as being in order that amended dozens of standing orders affecting
five or six procedural issues.
The opposition parties did not get up at that time and say the
1994 motion was out of order because it dealt with more than one
subject. On the contrary, there were some words of praise for the
reforms to our parliamentary procedure that were involved in that
I submit on the precedent of the motion that I presented to make
permanent changes to the standing orders in 1994, this motion is
certainly in order even though like the one in 1994 it covers a
number of different issues and standing orders.
Again, that my motion is not intended to make any permanent
changes to the standing orders but merely to provide a procedure to
enable this House in a way that will be useful to all hon. members,
not only ministers but private members on all sides of the House, to
get on with the business of the House without repeating work that
has already been carried out.
I have just one or two other comments. An hon. member,
criticizing my motion in the debate on this point of order, said that
there was something wrong with individuals moving bills rather
than the House as a whole. Every bill is presented to the House by
an individual member moving the bill whether it is a government
bill moved by a minister or a private bill moved by a private
member. This is exactly what we do with every bill.
The last precedent that I want to bring to your attention, Mr.
Speaker, is one created by the hon. member for Lethbridge himself.
Last fall he presented a motion to the House which was accepted as
being in order and if adopted would have allowed the restoration
after a prorogation of all private members' bills in one fell swoop.
At that time he did not say: ``Oh, I am sorry. I made a big mistake. I
should not have presented this motion because it covers all private
members' bills''. No. He put it forward as a worthy reform of the
procedures of the House of Commons.
That motion was not ruled out of order by the Chair. It was
accepted by the Chair and placed on the Order Paper. If that motion
which dealt with private members' business was in order, then I
submit that my motion which deals not only with private members'
business but with government business is equally in order.
On the basis of all the points I have made but especially on the
basis of the words written down, submitted to the House and
accepted by the House, by the Reform House leader, I submit that
my motion is in order. He has proved it by his words and by his
motion. Therefore, I suggest that the point of order is not in order
and I should be permitted to proceed with my motion because it is
in the interest not just of the government but of all the members of
the House, private members on the government side and private
members on the opposition side. If the hon. members were really
interested in preserving the interests of private members they
would readily accept my motion rather than present this point of
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
government has been very cute in proposing a motion which ties
private members' business to government business in a way that
obviously gives the government House leader the opportunity to
make the Reform House leader feel uncomfortable.
However, I would like to speak to what I think is the larger point
which is the fact that this is in effect, as was argued earlier by my
colleague from the Reform Party, something in the nature of an
Certainly the government House leader will recall, having been
here in 1982, when an omnibus piece of legislation, albeit
legislation and not a motion, provoked 16 days of bell ringing. It is
not just in this House but in many other legislatures and most
recently in the Ontario legislature where omnibus bills provoke a
particularly strong reaction on the part of elected members. Why is
that? It is because it goes against the tradition established by
Speaker after Speaker in so many contexts that the House should
not be forced to rule on more than one matter at a time. People
should not be put in that kind of position.
It is somewhat misleading, although not deliberately so, for the
government House leader to suggest that the framework which the
motion establishes provides an opportunity for the question to be
put on each and every piece of legislation that would be reinstated
within this framework. What will happen is that the bill will be
reinstated at the particular point at which it was when the last
session came to an end. There will be no question put.
The government House leader suggests that there will be
individual questions put on whether or not legislation is reinstated.
That is the question we are debating here; not the questions that
will be put at the various stages of legislation, but whether the
legislation itself will be reinstated. That is the question that
opposition members want put and those are the questions that will
not be put if this framework motion is adopted.
The government House leader suggests that somehow there will
be individual questions put with respect to these 30 bills. The point
was rightly made that we are talking about 30 bills, not just the five
that we found so offensive and which the Liberals found offensive
when the Conservatives tried to do a similar thing in May 1991.
Is there no end to the parliamentary hypocrisy, call it what you
like, which we see from Parliament to Parliament to Parliament
where people get up on the government side and do in spades what
they condemned in an even smaller form when they were in
opposition? Is there no end?
I have seen this happen on a number of occasions. I have seen
Conservatives condemn Liberals and then do it. I have seen
Liberals condemn Conservatives and then do it. In this case it is the
Liberals who condemn the Conservatives and who now come
before us with a motion which does in a much more exaggerated
way the very thing that they found so heinous in May 1991. We
had a bad decision in May 1991. That motion never should have
been deemed acceptable by the Speaker at that time, a Speaker for
whom I had a great deal of respect, but I have to say I did not agree
with him on that occasion.
We should not let that precedent be magnified now by the
advancement of this particular motion. Basically if it is adopted it
will create a situation in which the end of session and a throne
speech really becomes just a PR opportunity for the government. It
is not the end of a session and the beginning of something new. It is
not what the end of session and the beginning of a new session used
to be. It is basically just a little photo-op for the government
because nothing stops. It does not have to take responsibility for
the parliamentary timetable. If it cannot score with the goal posts
the way they are and get its legislation through, this motion simply
says move the goal posts.
It says we can do anything we like with the standing orders any
time we like. There is too much of that going on. Too much of it
went on under the Conservatives for nine years where they just
moved the goal posts. I remember one time they had a motion
where they just said they could change any standing order any time
in any way they liked.
What we have here is a kind of parliamentary dictatorship when
it comes to standing orders. The Liberals saw through it at the time.
Yet now they do a very similar thing and it is very distressing. They
ought to think twice before they do this. For once somebody should
not do in government what they condemned in opposition. Indeed
they should say that was wrong and we are not going to do a similar
thing when we are in government. Would that not be a refreshing
The Deputy Speaker: I see several members standing. I will go
back and forth on this. I would ask all members to please not repeat
any point that has already been made.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I want to respond very briefly to some of the points that
have been raised.
First, there is a major difference between this initiative and the
one of 1991. This time we are offering an enabling motion and the
bills are reintroduced afterward. They are not introduced
automatically by way of the motion. That is the first point.
Second, Mr. Speaker will surely recognize and recall that there
was a very interesting debate in which a member of the Reform
Party, namely the member for Lethbridge, offered a very
constructive suggestion to bring back bills that had already reached
a certain stage in the previous session. In fact, what the government
House leader has done is precisely that.
I just heard a bit of heckling from an hon. member from the
Reform Party who said that was only for private members' bills.
Imagine the following proposition. The government in a different
Parliament had attempted to resuscitate only government bills and
that was deemed to be wrong. Now the Reform Party's solution is
to only reinstate opposition motions or bills and that would
presumably, according to their criteria, make it right.
As the hon. House leader stated, if the arguments made by the
Reform Party some weeks ago were correct, then surely the
arguments would apply equally to opposition members as they
would to government members. In fact, the enabling motion
offered by the government House leader today proposes a
mechanism whereby members, if they wish, can revive their own
bills within a 30 day time frame. It does not resuscitate or revive all
bills, but for those members who wish to bring them back, it brings
back to the House in an accelerated mechanism bills that had
passed second reading. For instance, there could be bills where the
solution has already been offered.
Some parliamentarians may choose not to proceed with certain
bills. That is their choice. We are still entitled in this House to
adopt a practical mechanism such as proposed by the member for
Lethbridge. However, if he were right, his reasoning in my opinion
would have to apply to both sides of the House. Parliamentarians
on both sides must be equally entitled to return bills to the stage
they were at prior to prorogation.
In brief, this is the decision the Chair will have to make to put an
end to this debate. I hope the Chair will decide the government may
proceed with the consideration of this motion.
The Reform and Bloc members have not convinced the Chair, I
think, or at least they have not convinced me of the merits of their
argument. The argument remains perfectly valid in that we have a
motion before us which is entirely in keeping with our rules.
The Deputy Speaker: Colleagues, it is now 6.30 p.m. I think I
have heard enough. The question is a very serious one. We will
consider the point our colleagues have raised and rule on its
admissibility as soon as possible.
A motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been adopted.
Accordingly the House is adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.
(The House adjourned at 6.30 p.m.)