- MPndpMar 13, 2015 8:20 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, it is strange. They are pushing this controversial bill, but they will not introduce a budget. Canadians deserve better than that.
This week, private sector economists said that the government had no reason to delay introducing a budget. The Conservatives are futzing around while Canadians are losing their jobs. Again this morning we learned that the unemployment rate rose by two points in February. In other words, there are now 50,000 more unemployed workers. What is the government waiting for to introduce a budget that will stimulate job creation?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I have bad news and I have good news.
The bad news of course is that, as we just saw, this is the 91st time that the government is imposing time allocation and closure in this session.
The good news is that there are only 200 days before Canadians have their say about this government, throw it out of office and vote in an NDP government on October 19.
This week we have seen repeated closure through the use of time allocation at record levels, levels that are twice as bad as the previous bad record of any previous government in Canadian history.
We have also seen the denial of witnesses to speak on Bill C-51. Members will remember the Conservatives saying in the House that they would do a thorough vetting of Bill C-51. They are even denying having the Privacy Commissioner come before the public security committee.
There are other things as well. As members know, we have no budget and no plan at a time in Canadian history when Canadian families are struggling under a record Conservative debt load that is the worst in our history, and we have the worst quality of jobs that we have seen in Canada in a generation.
As well, Conservative scandals are multiplying. We have the Senate scandals. The Duffy trial is starting. We have the Public Works scandal. We have the Centre Jean Bosco scandal. We have a range of scandals.
However, as I mentioned, the good news is that there is 200 days before Canadians can choose to throw the current government out of office.
My question to the government House leader is simply this. What will the government's agenda for the next sitting week be?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 7:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day again for Canadian Parliament. This is the 91st time the government has used closure, or time allocation, in this Parliament. It goes beyond any previous government in Canadian history. It is twice as bad as what was the previous worst government in terms of open intolerance of democratic debate in this House. The only solace for the Canadian population is that Canadians know that in 200 days, they will be able to vote the current government out of office and bring in a government that actually respects parliamentary traditions.
With the last three closure motions and time allocation, we have seen a real intolerance of debate. We have seen with Bill C-51 that the government is systematically refusing witnesses who could bring a lot to bear on the bill, which is a controversial piece of legislation. Yesterday in the House, the minister might as well have told Yukoners that the government will not accept any amendments to Bill S-6. The Conservatives want to make a show of going up to Whitehorse but have absolutely no intention of actually listening to witnesses and bringing amendments to Bill S-6.
My questions to the minister with respect to Bill S-7 are simple. Will the government hear from witnesses who want to come forward on this bill? Will it actually entertain amendments, or will it show the same disdain it has shown with so many other pieces of legislation by refusing amendments put forth by parliamentarians?
- MPndpMar 11, 2015 1:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, let us hear the voices from Yukon:
The CYFN and Yukon First Nations assert that the federal government would breach its constitutional duty to uphold the honour of the Crown when it proceeded unilaterally with [these] amendments.
That is Mary Jane Jim, from a Yukon First Nation.
We have the Yukon News editorial:
A long list of people deserve raspberries for this needlessly shady behaviour. At the top of the naughty list are Senator Daniel Lang and [the Conservative member for Yukon], who are supposed to ensure that the interest of Yukoners are represented in Ottawa.
Shame on them. The official opposition NDP leader, Liz Hanson, said:
What we need, what is sorely missing, is a willingness to engage in an open and honest manner. We need a relationship built on dialogue and respect, rather than on lawsuits and secret negotiations.
Those are the voices of Yukon that the Conservatives are refusing to listen to. Why are they stifling the debate that Yukoners want to be engaged in?
- MPndpMar 11, 2015 12:55 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
It has been 90 times, Mr. Speaker. This is the 90th time for closure and time allocation. This is the worst record in Canadian parliamentary history by far. The current Conservative government shows a marked intolerance of debate and discussion.
What is really bizarre about this is that we are talking about a bill that has not even gone for its first round of debate. Only eight members of Parliament have even been able to speak on the bill. We have the government moving time allocation for the 90th time, when the bill has not even received proper scrutiny.
As members know, the government has another very poor record, which is for the most pieces of legislation rejected by the courts in Canadian history.
When we combine the two, the Conservatives' intolerance of debate and the fact that often they put forward legislation that has not been properly vetted or properly written, we can see that we have yet another case when it is very clear that the bill before us may well be challenged in the courts.
Just two weeks ago, the last piece of legislation the Conservatives forced through the House, Bill C-15, was rejected by the courts. There is now a court injunction.
We are seeing with the bill on the Yukon a growing tide of reaction from people in the Yukon territory who are saying that they are very concerned about the bill, that it deserves appropriate scrutiny, and that there has not been appropriate consultation. In fact, the Coalition of Yukon First Nations has now threatened court action for another injunction.
Is that not the reason the Conservatives are forcing through, for the 90th time, closure and time allocation? Is it because they know the bill is increasingly controversial?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 2:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I had informed the clerks that I would be making a brief presentation on a point of order, so I would like to do so now, although we are seeing the clock as 5:30 p.m.
I want to revisit the remarks made yesterday by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. He raised a few points about the point of order I had raised regarding the study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and decisions made by the committee with respect to the witnesses and Bill C-51.
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said two things in his intervention earlier this week. First of all, he said that the minutes of the meeting showed that the member for Northumberland—Quinte West had not requested that the question be put on the subamendment. He quoted from the actual minutes of the proceedings. The minutes clearly state, however, that the member for Northumberland—Quinte West requested that the Chair decide “to put the question on the subamendment, the amendment, and the main motion”.
It is therefore very clear that the question was raised. There can be no doubt about it. The chair then stated that the question would not be put until they had gone through the entire list of speakers. Indeed, the number of interventions and the length of speeches are unlimited in a standing committee meeting. That is when the member for Northumberland—Quinte West asked the chair to decide.
The record is very clear and there is no difference: what was requested is prohibited by the Standing Orders, House procedure and the traditions we have had here for the past 150 years. There is no doubt that the member for Northumberland—Quinte West requested that the Chair decide to put the question on the subamendment. There is no doubt that that is what happened.
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons also tried to use a point of order that I myself raised in the spring of 2010 regarding a decision of the Standing Committee on International Trade. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was pleased to remind members that in his ruling, the Speaker said that:
All members who have intervened in this matter have acknowledged that the Speaker does not sit as a court of appeal to adjudicate procedural issues that arise in the course of committee proceedings.
However, had he read the sentence that came just before that, he would have realized that he missed a key point that he did not bring up yesterday during his point of order. That sentence reads:
The member for Calgary Centre, the chair of the standing committee...stated that the committee had conducted its meeting fairly and in keeping with the rules of procedure.
The Speaker later said something in his decision that I, too, said, namely that “the chair had the support of the majority of the members of the committee”.
It is very clear: the rules were broken. Obviously the concern is that a majority committee can now make any decision, even if the chair follows the rules that have existed for 150 years. That is the point of order that we raised and that we asked the Speaker of the House to rule on. It is very clear that democratic rights have been violated by the Conservative majority. Of course, none of the three interventions by the government denied the fact that the rules and procedures by which we are governed and that we are required to observe were violated.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 12:20 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. It is my pleasure to come back with some additional comments.
I was almost tempted to raise a point of order on the relevance of the intervention from the government House leader because every time he stands up he seems to be proving the point we made at that outrageous committee meeting where the rules we are governed by were so clearly violated.
The government House leader or members of the Conservative Party have now intervened three times, and at no point have they contradicted what is clearly the fundamental rule in the rule book, which states very simply, and I am referring to O'Brien and Bosc, page 1057, as the Speaker knows so well, that in committee “motions for the previous question are inadmissible”. That is the fundamental rule that was broken.
That was the rule that the Conservative majority tried to steamroll through. The political comments they make, or the ad hominem attacks they make on individuals, simply do not go around the fact that they violated a fundamental rule.
There was a new bit of information brought forward by the government House leader where he attempts to claim that the previous question was not moved. I want to restate what I stated a week and a half ago, that the Conservative member very clearly said, “I am asking you to...put the question on the subamendment, the amendment, and the main motion now...”.
It could not be clearer than that. There are fundamental rules that were broken in committee, and that is why we have brought it to your attention, Mr. Speaker. Very clearly, despite the political rhetoric coming from the Conservatives, the rule book cannot be thrown out by Conservatives. They have to respect the rules under which we are governed. They cannot throw them out. They cannot rip them up. They cannot burn that book. They have to follow the rules.
That is why we have raised this issue. What happened at the public safety committee was outrageous, and there is no doubt about that. It was also a very clear contravention of the rules.
We may come back later to add to our submission, but I think the case is very clear. The Conservatives violated those rules under which we are governed. That is what we submit today.
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 9:30 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I just want to reply to the comments from my friend and colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. If anything, he has served to reinforce the point of order that I made this morning.
I reiterate that he has not at any point contradicted that the rule book says that in committee, motions for the previous question are inadmissible. The member has not contradicted that in any way. That reinforces the principal argument that we made this morning, which is that committees cannot just write their own rule book and that they indeed do have to follow House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
The government House leader made essentially political arguments, and I want to take a few minutes to reply to the political arguments he made before I come back to the technicality. Political arguments are basically the only thing that the government is hanging its hat on.
First is the issue of speed and the importance of the legislation. We have no doubt that this is important legislation that needs to be considered. However, as the 100 law professors across the country noted this morning in their open letter to the government and all members of Parliament, saying that this dangerous legislation needs to be amended or killed:
...Bill C-51 does not include “the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work [against radicalization], such as working with communities on measures to counter radicalization of youth — [and the bill] may even undermine outreach.”
On the issue of speed, we have 100 of Canada's leading law professors across the country, most of whom are in Conservative ridings, saying they have read and scrutinized the bill and that what it would actually do is maybe even hinder the types of measures that the government should be putting into place.
We have seen the Conservatives claw back money from the RCMP. That was an issue in this House last week, as you know, Mr. Speaker. It is a program that was supposed to counter radicalization, and instead the government clawed back money.
We have seen the government gut the Canada Border Services Agency, eliminating hundreds of front-line investigative officers in the Canada Border Services Agency. All the measures that the Conservatives should be taking if there is real concern from the government side about taking effective measures, they are not taking. In fact, the Conservatives have done measures that are counterproductive.
Therefore, the issue that the government House leader raises about speed contradicts every action the Conservatives have carried out over the last few months, except putting in place Bill C-51, which the most learned law professors in the country, the experts that the government members refuse to hear from, say does not include the concrete, effective measures that are needed and that bill may even undermine that outreach and those measures.
Second is the issue of the New Democrats speaking in committee. What the government House leader forgot to mention, or omitted mentioning, is that over the course of this week New Democrats have called for hearings that would include hearing expert testimony and hearing from Canadians. The hearings would take place during both day and evening, including the break weeks. It is Conservatives who refuse to sit during break weeks. It is Conservatives who have refused to sit in the evening. Hard-working NDP members of Parliament, such as the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and the member for Alfred-Pellan, are saying we should sit next week. It is a break week, but let us be in Ottawa and let us hear from experts.
The Conservatives say they do not want to work on this bill next week. We had New Democrats saying they want to sit in the evening and Conservatives saying they do not want to sit, that they want to go to their socials or to the bar and do not want to sit during an evening session.
Quite frankly, it is appalling to hear Conservatives who refused those extra hearings now saying that somehow the New Democrats did not want to work. We always want to work. We are the worker bees in this House. We do not mind being the worker bees. We do not mind scrutinizing legislation. However, it is simply false to pretend that Conservatives wanted to work and New Democrats did not. We want to work night and day on this bill. We believe it requires close scrutiny. It is Conservatives who have systematically blocked that tight scrutiny.
The question has to be asked: what are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Why do they not want full scrutiny of the bill? Who are the Conservatives cutting out by slashing the witness list? How many former prime ministers have expressed concerns about this bill? How many former chief justices or justices of the Supreme Court are they cutting out? How many people who have actually been involved in security issues are they cutting out? How many of those law professors who are some of the leading minds on security issues in the country are the Conservatives refusing to hear from?
They want a short list with only pro-government witnesses, except for a handful of people who may have opposing concerns or real concerns about this bill.
The Conservatives say that they want to hear from the public, but everything they have done this week demonstrates exactly the opposite. They want to shut down debate. They do not want to sit during break weeks. They do not want to sit during the evenings. They want to get through this bill with the minimum amount of public scrutiny.
Finally, we get to the one procedural argument that was raised. I will say this to conclude. You have been very patient, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate that. The argument is what the government House leader admits is a technicality. He said that we had not had a report from the committee, and he was going to hang his hat on that technicality. That is the one procedural argument that the Conservatives have to offer— as if a Conservative majority that has just ripped up the rule book and run roughshod over the procedures, precedents, and practice that we have had in the House of Commons for 150 years, as if the Conservatives are going to send the evidence to the House of Commons.
I am simply going to ask members of the House. We can solve this very simply. If that little technicality is the only thing that the government can point to to avoid the important guidance and wisdom that we have asked for from the Speaker, which we hope to get in the coming days, I am going to ask unanimous consent for the following motion: that the official transcript of the 51st meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security of Thursday, February 26, 2015, be deemed to be the 10th report of said committee and that it be deemed reported to the House.
That way, the evidence is delivered. Conservatives cannot hide it. The government cannot hang its hat on a technicality. What that means, of course, is that the truth will out.
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 8:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, over a hundred of Canada's leading law professors wrote to the government today saying it has to amend it, or kill the bill. How many of those law professors are going to be cut out because the government does not respect principles of law and justice and it does not want a study on Bill C-51?
The fact is, Conservatives are fighting hard to avoid scrutiny on the bill, and that is a disservice to Canadians. This open letter from Canada's leading law professors raises even greater concerns about this dangerous piece of legislation. What are the Conservatives hiding? Why are they so afraid to subject this overreaching new law to proper scrutiny?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 7:00 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I hope you will indulge me for a few minutes. I would like to raise a point of order and seek your guidance on the absolutely outrageous actions of the Conservative majority on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security yesterday evening. I am raising that first thing this morning, because I believe it is a question that has to be put to you for keen deliberation over the course of the weekend and to provide the House with some guidance on the matter.
Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, the bible on which our democratic practice and procedure that has evolved over a century and a half in the House comes from House of Commons Procedure and Practice. This is the bible, or the guide to the Speaker's deliberations, that guides all of our deliberations as members of the House of Commons.
In House of Commons Procedure and Practice, on page 1057, is a very important regulation that guides our deliberations and guides the deliberations of committee structures in the House. It is a comment on the framing of the motion for the previous question. I will read for a moment how it is framed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
The motion that “The question be now put” is known as the previous question. In the House, the previous question is a debatable motion. When the debate ends, the motion for the previous question is put to a vote. If the motion is carried, the initial motion under consideration is immediately put to the vote in the House.
At committee, and this is on page 1057 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it says very clearly:
In committee, motions for the previous question are inadmissible.
That is black and white. There is no way of getting around what is a very clear regulation and very clear guidance that is given to committees. Motions for the previous question are inadmissible. I want to reference for a moment, as well, former Speaker Milliken's ruling on April 2, 2009, when he said:
...committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.
Former Speaker Milliken was very clear that the guidelines, the procedure and practice rules we are governed by that are contained within House of Commons Procedure and Practice, that clearly say that motions for the previous question in committee are inadmissible, are very clear direction to committees. Committees that then overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports will have them declared null and void.
Last night, at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, exactly what I have just referenced happened. The Conservative majority on the committee threw out the rule book, threw out a century and a half of traditions that exist in our country and in this Parliament, and took matters into their own hands. The victims, of course, of this are all Canadians concerned about fundamental and sound principles of Canadian democracy and also the committee chair, who is the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.
Last night the majority on the committee simply told the chair that his intention to stick to the rule book was simply not going to be followed by the Conservative majority on the committee. They ignored the rules. They ignored the practice. They ignored all the precedents. They ignored the clear direction, and they overturned a procedurally sound ruling by the chair, showing profound disrespect to the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, even more profound disrespect to the rule book under which we are governed, and perhaps the greatest disrespect to Canadians as a whole. Conservatives threw out those democratic principles, and they threw out the rule book.
By ignoring the rules and forcing their majority will on the committee, the Conservatives have produced what is a real-life incarnation of the tyranny of the majority. The implications are pretty profound for our democracy. In the past, we have seen the government throw away the rule book. We have seen this with the Board of Internal Economy.
However, this was done in a public forum. I think it makes it even more outrageous that this took place in a public forum, in front of the public.
I am going to take a few minutes to recount what happened yesterday evening at the time the member for Northumberland—Quinte West stepped forward and moved a motion that was procedurally unacceptable.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, in the rule book, it is very clear that motions for the previous question are inadmissible. The member for Northumberland—Quinte West, perhaps because he was unaware of the rule book, perhaps because he had not read it, or perhaps because he does not think the rule book applied to him, moved that motion.
The chair, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, made the following ruling. He said, “ The chair cannot support this motion...due to the fact...that...we have other speakers on the list yet and our practice has been to continue the debate until the speakers are exhausted, and at the time then the motion would be brought forward”.
Very clearly, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, was following the rule book, and he clearly ruled it out of order.
The member for Northumberland—Quinte West then threw out the rule book and challenged the chair.
Now, at that point, the member for St. John's East stepped up and said, “I don't think that the overruling of the chair makes a motion” which was clearly inadmissible, “in order”. You know that when one moves a motion that is inadmissible, one simply cannot just overrule the chair. They cannot throw out the rule book.
At that point, the chair, following interventions from the Conservative majority, pushed ahead just the same.
The member for Alfred-Pellan also intervened to request clarification. She asked the chair if there was no longer any right to debate the amendment to the amendment or the main motion between votes. The chair replied that that was indeed the case.
Mr. Speaker, what happened yesterday was that a clearly inadmissible motion, one that is clearly prohibited by the rule book, was ruled out of order, quite properly, by the chair, and the Conservative majority said, “The rules do not apply to us. We are just going to use our majority on this committee, and we are going to simply bulldoze through something that is clearly inadmissible, something that violates the principles, the democratic principles, under which we are governed and the rules that all of us, all members of Parliament, are supposed to follow”.
It is not just that they ruled what is inadmissible admissible, throwing out the rule book. They also eliminated any debate, as the member for Alfred-Pellan stated very clearly, after the Conservative majority tried to push through on this. It also eliminated any debate whatsoever on the amendment and on the main motion.
This is not some minor bill the Conservatives have brought forward. This is Bill C-51. This is a bill that has growing concern across the country about what it would mean to our democracy, what it would mean to democratic rights and freedoms. There have been questions raised in this House repeatedly. No answers have been forthcoming from the government.
This is a bill that, in many people's minds, including former prime ministers and Supreme Court justices, would be a danger to Canadian fundamental precepts of Canadian democracy.
To throw out the rule book on the debate on Bill C-51 and the extent to which, actually, Canadians would be consulted on the bill at the committee stage is no minor matter. This is a fundamental principle of Canadian democracy.
On this side of the House, as New Democrats, we believe that Canadians are entitled to add their voices on Bill C-51 and that the experts are entitled to come forward and provide their recommendations on Bill C-51. We believe that this is a fundamental bill that could, in a very dangerous way, impact fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada, and we believe that Canadians have the right to be heard on the bill. That is what we believe on this side of the House.
This is an important study. The freedom of committees, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is circumscribed by our rule book, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which is what all of us, as members of Parliament, are supposed to follow,.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 116 says very clearly, as well:
In a standing, special or legislative committee, the Standing Orders shall apply so far as may be applicable, except the Standing Orders as to the election of a Speaker, seconding of motions, limiting the number of times of speaking and the length of speeches.
Since committees are regarded as creatures of the House, Standing Order 116 provides that the rules of the House have force in committees, so far as they are applicable. A member may speak on issues before a committee, and that is very clearly delineated in Standing Order 116.
However, it is also the precedents in the past. In the past, but perhaps not in events as outrageous as what we saw last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, we have had issues with conduct in committees that have been brought to the House, and Speakers have made rulings on them. As well, for the guidance you will be giving us in the coming days, Mr. Speaker, I want to restate some of the Speakers' rulings and some of the comments previous Speakers have made on committee actions.
First, Speaker Milliken, on March 29, 2007, said the following:
At the present time, the chair occupants, like our counterparts in House committees, daily face the challenge of dealing with the pressures of a minority government, but neither the political realities of the moment nor the sheer force of numbers should force us to set aside the values inherent in the parliamentary conventions and procedures by which we govern our deliberations.
Hon. members are all aware of situations in committees of this Parliament where, because decisions of the chair are subject to appeal, decisions that were procedurally sound have been overturned by the majority on a committee
.....All the more reason then for the Chair to exercise its awesome responsibility carefully and to ensure that the House does not, in the heat of the moment, veer dangerously off course.
Speaker Milliken also, on March 14, 2008, said:
The Speaker must remain ever mindful of the first principles of our parliamentary tradition which Bourinot described thus: “To protect the minority and restrain the improvidence and tyranny of the majority, to secure the transaction of public business in a decent and orderly manner—”
As well, Speaker Milliken, on April 2, 2009, as I mentioned earlier, said:
As explained in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 857, decisions of committee chairs may be appealed to the committee. However, as I noted in rulings on March 14, 2008 and May 15, 2008, committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.
Finally, Speaker Fraser, on November 28, 1990, had this to say:
I have to say to hon. members and to the public that the workings of committees is very important to the working of the House of Commons. I do ask hon. colleagues to make every effort possible to come to whatever agreements and understandings among themselves which are necessary to make these committees work.
I do not want to state this too often, and I hope that I will not have to, but there is a general feeling across the country that somehow or other not only politicians, but maybe institutions, are letting down the country. This is why it is essential that everybody make an extra effort to try to make this system work.
I am not happy with this situation, obviously. But, I am also bound by rules here and if I am to intervene in committees, it has to be in a very severe and outrageous situation indeed.
I would submit that this is an absolutely outrageous situation, that the rules under which we are governed were clearly violated yesterday, and that the chair made a procedurally sound decision, based on the fact that motions for the previous question are inadmissible.
Even more so, motions for the previous question eliminate all questions at once. With a sleight of hand, it simply eliminates any ability for opposition members of Parliament to speak on that issue at all.
What could be next? If the tyranny of the majority means that at any time a procedurally sound decision made by a chair of a committee can be overturned by a Conservative majority, what is to stop Conservatives from saying that opposition members have no right to speak at all, or that opposition members have no right to appear at committee? At what point are they going to stop this tyranny of the majority?
There is absolutely no doubt that what happened last night was a travesty. It ripped up the rule book on a fundamental piece of law that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about. I have no doubt that the government does not want debate on this bill. The more there is debate, the more Canadians are calling into question how this bill was put together and the vague language and loopholes that can lead to dangerous precedents in our country. There is no doubt about that. However, they do not have the right to completely shut down debate. They do not have the right to move procedurally wrong motions, to overrule the chair when the chair is ruling, having followed the rule book in the interest of Canadian democracy, and they do not have the right to simply shut down debate.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking for guidance from you in the coming days. The House has an objective referee, and so should committees. When committee chairs make procedurally sound rulings following the rule book, they should be respected. Rules are there for a reason. The implications of allowing a wild west in committees in the final 11 weeks of Parliament are simply too serious to even contemplate at this point.
I ask for the Speaker's guidance on what was an outrageous action by the Conservative majority last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and, as a member of the opposition, I also ask for his guidance as a Canadian. What happened last night was a travesty. It was outrageous, and it should not be permitted. We ask for the Speaker's wisdom and guidance so that these kinds of instances do not occur again.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I have good news for all Canadians, and that is that there are only 11 sitting weeks in the life of this Parliament and in the life of this government before Canadians will actually have the opportunity to cast their judgment on the last 4 years of this government and the last 10 years of Conservative government. I know many Canadians can hardly wait to cast their ballots and change the government.
The bad news is that the intolerance of the government for democratic debate continues to grow. Earlier today we had the 89th imposition of time allocation or closure. In the history of Parliament, there has never been any government that has even come close to that in not respecting democratic debate. For the 89th time, it imposed closure or time allocation.
The government will say it is just being efficient and it does not believe in debate, but the reality is that this government has had more pieces of legislation rejected by the courts than any other government in Canadian history. Its legislation is often poorly written, often filled with holes and loopholes. It simply cannot get legislation right. To the idea that imposing time allocation and closure somehow leads to more efficiency, the reality is that it has to reintroduce bills to fix the problems caused by the previous bills that it railroaded through the House of Commons, because they are poorly crafted, often written on the back of a napkin, and poorly written.
In that context, I would simply like to ask the government House leader what is on the government's agenda for the week after the constituency week next week.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 7:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, the more the Minister of Health speaks, the more we understand the reason for this closure motion, which brings time allocation to the House for the 89th time.
The reality is that the government has refused to bring the legislation forward to the House for over a year simply because it was obvious after the first round of debates that there were many flaws in the bill.
The government has not been willing to accept amendments. There have been concerns raised about jurisdiction and about strangling the safe injection site and what that means for health. There was concern over a wide variety of community impacts as well. We have a government that brought forward a badly flawed bill last year and forced it through. Initial debates reflected very poorly on the government, so it hid the bill for a year and is now bringing it forward with closure, trying to ram it through the House with no due parliamentary consideration.
Is that not the real reason we are seeing closure today? Why did the government sit on the bill for over a year?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2015 12:30 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present in the House a petition signed by nearly 100 residents from the constituency I represent, Burnaby—New Westminster, as well as residents from Delta and Surrey, British Columbia.
The petitioners call upon the government to address the deplorable fact that we do not have a national strategy for dementia. They call upon the House of Commons to pass Bill C-356, which was introduced by the NDP MP for Nickel Belt.
The strategy would require the Minister of Health to initiate discussions within 30 days of the bill coming into effect, develop national objectives, provide an annual report, and also ensure that there is greater investment in research, discovery and development of treatments for dementia and dementia-related diseases that would prevent, help or reverse all of those dementia-related diseases.
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from 200 of my constituents in the city of Burnaby and the city of New Westminster as well as a handful of people from Vancouver and Surrey in beautiful British Columbia.
The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to commit to adopting international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize the vital role they play in the struggle against hunger and poverty. They also call upon the Government of Canada to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 11:20 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, we all agree public safety is important, but it must never be used as an excuse for dividing Canadians.
There is growing criticism that Bill C-51 goes too far. First nations in particular are sounding the alarm about how the bill would impact them. Grand Chief Terrance Nelson spoke out, saying, “Treaty rights, land rights, natural resource development, any protest like that, they could be considered eco terrorists”.
Does the government not understand that the bill is not just about terrorism? Is it really blind to the fact it can also target legitimate dissent and take away fundamental rights of Canadians?
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 11:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, from the day the Prime Minister announced Bill C-51 in a campaign-style event, this has been about politics and not about protecting Canadians.
Bill C-51 is a 62-page omnibus bill that amends no fewer than 13 acts, and despite ministers not being clear and sometimes even contradicting each other on the bill, the Conservatives still want to force it through after only a few hours of debate.
If the government is so confident about the bill, why is it ramming it through to avoid debate? Why is it trying to keep it away from public scrutiny?
- MPndpFeb 20, 2015 10:30 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As you know, questions and comments around private members' business are supposed to be directed to the bill itself, rather than making partisan shots.
- MPndpFeb 20, 2015 9:05 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition in the House today, signed by hundreds of residents of the city I represent, New Westminster, but also Richmond, British Columbia, and Delta, British Columbia.
These Canadians are concerned about increasing illegality because of seed patents that are being privatized. The petitioners are calling for Parliament to ensure that the Government of Canada and the House of Commons are committing to international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty; that they ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers; and that they protect the rights of small family farmers, particularly in the global south, to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.
- MPndpFeb 20, 2015 8:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, it is now clear that the Conservatives never had any real intention of debating Bill C-51. No sooner did debate begin than it was shut down. There were just a few hours of debate on an issue as important as Canadians' basic rights and freedoms. That is ridiculous.
Why is the government trying to sweep this under the rug? What is with the steamroller approach? What is the government trying to hide from Canadians?
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that there are only 12 more weeks of sittings before the end of this Parliament and the end of this government. That is good news for all Canadians. The bad news is that the government is continuing to wreak havoc.
Earlier, this government moved its 88th closure and time allocation motion. That is a sorry record. We have never seen the like in the history of Canadian Parliament. This time, the notice of motion was given after only three parliamentarians had the chance to speak to Bill C-51.
Although we have not been given a lot of answers, the government would prefer to steamroll this bill through, even though Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about this bill's flaws and problems.
The reality is that this government always refuses to work with the opposition members, unless they comply with its agenda.
Fortunately, the other good news is that all this will change on October 19, 2015, because Canadians will have the opportunity to vote for a new NDP government, which will restore respect for Parliament.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Next week, will the government finally learn its lesson and begin working with parliamentarians? What is the government's plan for next week?
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 9:55 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, what the chief government whip is doing he knows he cannot do, and that is challenge a decision made by the Chair. He knows that is improper. He knows he should not be doing that. The ruling of the Chair stands, and so let us move on.
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, we are now looking at the 87th time, nearly 100 times, that the government has imposed closure or time allocation. However, on this particular motion, we certainly understand why.
As the government surprised us with this motion a week and a half ago, not giving due consideration, not even allowing members of caucus to actually have a discussion prior to the motion being dumped in the House, we found out three things.
First of all, and this is extremely important, the heroes of October 22 are the Senate and House of Commons security guards who performed so bravely, and with such incredible courage, on the day when we had the incident of the man running into the House of Commons. At that time, as members know, the whole country was willing to call them heroes. What the Conservative government is doing with Motion No. 14 is actually demoting them, if members can believe that. They would be demoted for their bravery and courage.
The second thing that has come out in the brief debate of only a few hours that we have had on this issue is that the RCMP is far from ready to take over Hill security. It came out in the The Globe and Mail, which reported that the RCMP commissioner said that there is still so much work to do.
Third, of course, which is extremely important, comes from the Commons Protective Service, the women and men in uniform who protect us every day and have showed such courage and bravery, who said that the government's position is as follows:
an indefensible and dangerous interference of government into the independence of the legislative function, as well as a solid breach into one of the foundational pillars of our democratic system: the principle of separation of powers.
Is the real reason that the government is doing this because as the facts come out the public is opposed to this initiative that comes from the Prime Minister's Office?
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on the date in question, the Speaker himself said that he would follow up with the member for Ottawa—Orléans and make sure that he gave his excuse and his apologies to the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. That has not been the case.
Through you, again, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Ottawa—Orléans, he should be standing, he should be apologizing, he should be withdrawing his remarks, and that is all he should be doing.
The member for Beauharnois—Salaberry is owed an apology.
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 9:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, has said very eloquently, the issue of the right for collective negotiations is something we on this side of the House believe is fundamental. The Supreme Court, in its admonishment to the government a couple of weeks ago on the right to strike, has agreed with the idea that in a free democracy there should be the right to collective negotiations.
This is a problem of the government's own making. We have seen steadily increasing incidences and accidents in rail safety. A number of organized men and women have come forward and said that one of the main aspects they have to tackle is the issue of crew fatigue. The incredibly archaic way that the crew schedules are sometimes put together means that they have to deal with crew fatigue.
As we saw last night on the news, there are crews, who after working a shift for a number of hours are called back to work early in the morning after an hour's sleep. The issue of crew fatigue is something that most Canadians are aware of, and most Canadians understand that we need to have the utmost standards of rail safety. However, the government has done nothing to bring in regulations to govern working hours so that we can diminish crew fatigue, and it has done no review of the Rail Safety Act.
Why has the government not acted on regulation, not acted on the Rail Safety Act, not acted to put in place the kind of regulation that would bring about a lower rate of accidents in a rail system, rather than a higher level?
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 8:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this long overdue legislation.
I would like to start off by praising our public transportation workers across the country. Every day, thousands of women and men across this country basically ensure the safety and security of our loved ones in getting to work, to school, or to a wide variety of places. Their job is to ensure that our loved ones make it to work, school, shopping, and any other circumstance as safely as possible. Tragically, we are seeing that increasingly, their safety and security is in jeopardy because of an epidemic of attacks, and there is no other way to put it, against public transit operators and public transportation workers.
Today we are seeing across the country thousands of transit workers who are making sure, even in adverse weather conditions, that our loved ones get to work or school safely. Yet today, an average day in Canada, four, five, or six of those transit operators and public transportation workers may be assaulted in the line of duty. As they are doing their work of ensuring the safety and security of our loved ones, their safety and security is often put into question because of a growing number of tragic assaults against these workers.
This did not start happening yesterday. It has developed over a number of years. That is why the NDP over the past number of years has put forward legislation to combat this epidemic of attacks on public transportation workers and drivers across this country.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who members will remember, first put forward a bill. I myself put forward a bill a number of years ago. We encouraged the government at the time to put in place these measures. My colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River also put forward legislation.
Bill S-221 is currently on the docket in the House of Commons. It would increase penalties for anyone who assaults or abuses a public transportation worker. By putting this legislation in place, we would be sending a message to people right across the country that this is unacceptable. The safety and security of our public transportation workers should not be put into question because of the growing likelihood that they may be assaulted in the line of duty.
Imagine driving a bus and trying to maintain the safety and security of perhaps dozens of passengers, and someone gets on the bus who feels that he or she has free rein to assault the driver. While the driver is trying to protect members of the travelling public, his or her own safety is in question.
That is why it is important to send an inescapable message to all Canadians that assault or abuse is simply not acceptable. That is why we support the bill. That is why we have called for tougher penalties, as well.
Part of the reason this is an important step and the reason the NDP has put forward legislation over the past few years a number of times is the public education that can come from it. Saying that it is a case of aggravated assault, as we have said in the NDP bill, or an aggravating circumstance, as in the bill before us today, is something the public transportation companies and private taxi companies can use to ensure that the public is aware that when they try to abuse or assault a taxi driver or transit operator, it is a serious crime.
There is no doubt that this is something that would help to address this tragic epidemic of attacks on transit workers. In many cases, we are talking about serious assaults. These are assaults that have resulted in serious, permanent disability. We are talking about situations where the bus driver or transit operator has been unable to return to work. We are not talking about minor assaults here. In many cases, we are talking about tragic, serious assaults.
That is why we have been bringing this forward in the House of Commons for so many years. We need to change the public perception that somehow it is okay to attack a transit operator, a bus driver, or a taxi driver.
The bill today is long overdue. We would have liked the government to have adopted the NDP legislation we have been pushing forward in the House years ago. It will nonetheless make a difference, particularly when the public transportation companies are able to put forward the very clear message that this is unacceptable.
The bus drivers and transit operators in my riding are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Unifor, as well, formerly the CAW transit operators. We also have the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has also been a phenomenal force in campaigning for this change.
The Société de transport de Montréal drivers' association also played a major role.
With Unifor, CUPE, ATU, and the STM we have a real consensus among bus drivers and transit operators across the country that it is time for a change. It is time to send an unmistakable message to all Canadians that to assault a transit operator or a bus driver is a serious offence. Those bus drivers and transit drivers get up every day in the morning with one thought in mind, which is to make sure that our loved ones get to their workplaces, their schools, or wherever they are going safely. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure their safety, to ensure that they go to a safe workplace and can come home and know that they have provided that service to Canadians, that there are no scars to show for it, and that they have been able to work in a safe environment.
I would like to conclude by saying that this is long overdue legislation. We support it. In fact, the NDP has been the impetus behind the legislation, and we are happy to see that it is finally coming forward on the floor of the House of Commons.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 10:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. This is a very clear demotion.
For the Conservatives who say it is not, that they object and consider it unfair, they should read the motion as presented, a motion which the Prime Minister is trying to force through the House today.
The government House leader has said the government will impose closure because it does not want a debate on this. I know there are some Canadians who are very interested in this. They want access to Parliament Hill. They want to ensure we preserve our rights and freedoms.
Those Canadians who are listening to us today should contact their Conservative members of Parliament to tell them that this is very poor treatment of courageous men and women who deserve better. They should also tell them they want to preserve the kind of checks and balances we have always had in our system, the separation of power, as well as access to the front lawn of Canada.
Canadians phoning Conservative MPs in the next week will make a difference. Hopefully some Conservatives will break their whip and vote for Canadian democracy.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 10:10 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
Indeed, the most important issue here is what kind of training these people receive.
I strongly disagree with the comments made by the government whip earlier this morning and what the member for Yukon said later today, when they denigrated that training. I think those comments went too far.
Our security guards receive the best training there is. It is the best training given anywhere in Canada. We are talking about training in VIP bodyguard protection, immediate action, rapid deployment and firearms.
This service is already being provided by people who know us, and it works well. They have shown extraordinary courage and have had the best possible training.
That is why we need to listen to them. We must respect Canada's democratic values, vote in favour of the NDP amendment, and of course, vote against this motion—
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 10:05 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, after hearing the somewhat disturbing comments with respect to the level of training given to security guards, my point is that our security guards have the best training available in Canada and we should support them because of that. No point of order can change what the whip and the member for Yukon said, and they are simply wrong.
If the members on the opposite side really want to support our security guards, then all they have to do is vote for the NDP amendment. Rather than being cobbled together, it is well-thought out and in order. It also ensures an integrated security system that both sides are looking for. It does it without the ramrod bulldozing that the Prime Minister is proposing with respect to putting the security of Parliament in the hands of our security organization, which has stated publicly that it is not ready to take over.
This is a poorly thought-out motion. It was done with complete disregard for the opposition or other members in this House. Therefore, we call upon the Conservative members to disregard the whip on this issue, to stand up for our security guards, for public access to Parliament Hill, and for a security system that preserves rights and freedoms in this country, including the separation of powers. If they vote for the amendment, that will be achieved.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 9:45 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Let me just tell you, Mr. Speaker, through you to those members opposite, that our security guards—
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 9:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I too am presenting a petition from hundreds of British Columbians in Conservative ridings such as Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Surrey. Almost all of them are constituents of Conservative MPs.
The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to reverse the cuts to Canada Post. They claim that this will hurt seniors, disabled Canadians, small businesses and will dramatically increase mail theft because superboxes are easy to break into.
These constituents of Conservative MPs call upon the Government of Canada to reverse the cuts to our postal system.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 9:00 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, during question period, the member for Ottawa—Orléans shouted disparaging and inappropriate remarks regarding the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
That member has been in the House for a long time. He knows what is appropriate and what is not. I therefore ask that he apologize to the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry and withdraw his remarks.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 8:20 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked the minister a simple question about the new anti-terrorism bill. Once again, we did not get an answer.
Bill C-51 would extend CSIS' powers beyond intelligence activities, to enable the agency to disrupt terrorist acts, or interfere somehow, before they happen.
Could the minister clearly explain the types of activities that will be authorized?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, Parliament will have 13 more weeks of sittings and then Canadians will have their say about this government. The election will be held on October 19, eight months from now.
Canadians know very well that this government continues to use processes and to head in a direction that the vast majority of them do not agree with, as we saw for the 86th time this week with the closure and time allocation motion.
It would not be that serious if not for the fact that, at the same time, half a dozen government bills have been struck down by the courts in the past year. We can see that the government wants to pass its bills very quickly without any real parliamentary oversight to ensure that the bills are coherent.
Once again, we must ask the government to work with the official opposition. This will ensure that the courts reject fewer flawed bills and improve the legislative process for everyone.
My question is quite simple: what is on the government's agenda for the next week?
- MPndpFeb 04, 2015 2:40 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I will be brief.
The Conservatives are trying to defend government policy in a kind of bizarre way. They are not touching in any way the question of privilege raised by my colleague.
Mr. Speaker, I know that you will be taking under serious consideration the concerns that have been raised by the member.
Quite frankly, I hope that the government has a better thought-out intervention than simply going off politically and saying that the traditions of this place do not matter. They certainly do matter. Democratic institutions matter and we will defend them, because that is what we are all about.
- MPndpFeb 04, 2015 12:50 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I had to rise to correct some egregious misinformation coming from the other side. The fact, as the member for Gatineau pointed out at the beginning, is that this is the 86th time the current government has used time allocation and closure. There is no precedent in the history of the Canadian Parliament of a government that is so willing to use its procedural weapons to shut down debate.
The fact is that there have been three and a half hours of debate at this stage. The other fact is that the opposition parties presented dozens of amendments to try to improve the bill, and the Conservatives shot down every single one. They are not looking to improve the bill. They are not looking to do anything other than score political points.
The reality is that we have now seen under time allocation half a dozen bills rejected by the courts after the Conservatives rammed them through Parliament. It is not even good law-making when they have bills that are basically product recalls, that are rejected by the courts because the Conservatives did not get them right in the first place.
My question is very simple. Why have the Conservatives rejected every single amendment brought forward by the opposition to improve the bill? Why are the Conservatives risking having yet another bill rejected by the courts because they are not allowing appropriate parliamentary scrutiny?
- MPndpJan 29, 2015 12:05 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I can only say, as a British Columbian, go Seahawks. We will have to see what the result is.
There are 14 sitting weeks left before Canadians decide on the fate of this government. There will be a pre-election period at the end of those 14 weeks.
As far as the NDP official opposition is concerned, the leader of the official opposition this week talked about the NDP plan to kick-start good jobs in Canada. He talked about measures to help small business, the manufacturing sector, and research and development. Those are some of the NDP priorities.
I would like to ask my colleague, the government House leader, what the agenda is for the government in the week to come and when the budget is going to be tabled in the House of Commons.
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 12:55 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, the intervention by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons only reinforces the argument that the member for St. John's East just made.
I say that because it is not about the rhetoric that the House leader for the government applied, who seemed to think this was some kind of debate, but a very serious consideration of the breaches of the privileges of the House. At no point did he really contradict the essential arguments put forward by the member for St. John's East.
I will briefly refer back to the facts of September 30, which are important, when the Prime Minister said in the House that the role of our soldiers would be to advise and assist. It was not to accompany, meaning to be in combat zones. He later responded to the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the NDP, by saying, “I just said that Canadian soldiers are not accompanying the Iraqi forces into combat”.
That was a clear, factual statement that he made, and in the last few days we have had equally and completely contradictory factual statements made in which the Prime Minister has very proudly said that they are engaged in combat, that they are engaged in killing.
It is not an issue of debate around the question itself. There is a very clear breach, as the member for St. John's East has said very eloquently. There is a very, very clear contradiction between the facts as laid out by the Prime Minister back on September 30 and the facts that he has been announcing to us. There has never been any explanation of that.
I will end just by reciting what the member for St. John's East said. It is from Erskine May at page 63:
...it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.
There has been no correction. There has been no explanation, and the merits of the argument advanced by the member for St. John's East, I think, have just been enhanced by the reaction of the leader of the government in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope you will give serious consideration to what is a very well-thought-out argument by the member for St. John's East on the breaches of the privileges of the House.
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 12:10 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, in a moment I will be asking for unanimous consent to table an important document.
The Minister of Industry in question period referenced Dan Kelly, who is president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Here is the real quote from Dan Kelly on the NDP plan. “Cutting the small business tax rate by nearly twenty percent will provide a big boost to—
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:30 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard made her presentation this morning.
I would like to focus on three elements that the minister just mentioned. First, before receiving any information in response to her access to information request, the member was unaware of the extent to which the minister interfered with the work of his officials, who said that the work was perfectly feasible. Once she received that information, she decided to raise this question of privilege here in the House, so in terms of time, the documentation was already there.
Second—and this is the most important point—as the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard said this morning, officials had replied that the work was perfectly feasible. Then, on May 2, 2014, information was released following her access to information request.
I would like to quote what the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard said this morning.
An email dated the next day, May 2, 2014, then ordered the officials who worked on this issue to stop their work because “...[the] (minister’s office) has come back to advise...[the] (office of the assistant deputy minister for operations) that we will use the same response we provided to Q-359”.
It was therefore quite doable and the question was relevant. As the member pointed out this morning, this relates directly to parliamentary proceedings and her work as a parliamentarian. The minister said that it would take more time, while officials from the department said they could provide an answer. Furthermore, as the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard showed this morning, this directly relates to her work and she was deprived of standard information that she requested through this process.
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
With respect to the evidence requested from the Department of Justice by the Costa Rican Attorney General, to which the latter referred in his statement of October 3, 2014: (a) does the Minister of Justice or his Department have any information regarding an amount of $200,000 sent to the Aria Foundation for Peace in 2008 and, if so, what are details, including the identity of the sender and the relationship between the sender and Infinito Gold, Ronald Mannix, the Norlien Foundation, and Coril Holdings Ltd.; and (b) did the Department of Justice answer the Costa Rican Attorney General's questions in the first request letter (#08-000011-033-PE) sent on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, as well as in the second request letter (#12-000124-621-PE) dated Tuesday, February 4, 2014, (i) if so, what answer was provided, (ii) if not, why not?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 11:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, climate change continues to be a threat to our future and costs our economy billions of dollars, but the Conservatives continue to evade any action on the climate crisis.
The Prime Minister promised to introduce regulations on oil and gas emissions. For years, that was his stock answer, “just wait for the regulations”. Then one day, the Prime Minister decided his own plan was “crazy”. Despite promising a cap and trade system in the 2008 campaign, Conservatives now say they are opposed to dealing with the climate crisis.
What about the Liberals? Just a few days ago, the leader of the Liberal Party announced that he did not believe in any federal role in dealing with climate change. Shame. This is the voice of a corporate party that champions the Keystone pipeline and says that carbon pricing is for others.
Only the NDP can be counted on to take action on climate change. Later this year, with a new NDP government, we will take action because Canadians deserve better from their government.
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 8:05 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-518, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing lines 12 to 16 on page 1 with the following:
“ceases or has ceased to be a member and who, on or after the day on which this subsection comes into force, is either convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code mentioned in subsection (4) or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years or more for an offence under any other Act of Parliament, if the offence arose out of conduct that in whole or in part occurred while the person was a member, a”
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-518, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 20 to 25 on page 3 with the following:
“ceases or has ceased to be a member and who, on or after the day on which this subsection comes into force, is either convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code mentioned in subsection 19(4) or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years or more for an offence under any other Act of Parliament, if the offence arose out of conduct that in whole or in part occurred while the person was a member, a withdrawal”
Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish you and all of the members here today a happy new year. We have a lot of work to do in the House of Commons over the coming months. Even though I was sad to leave my friends and family in Burnaby—New Westminster, I am pleased that we are all here to work for the people, for Canadians.
I think that this bill will be of great interest to Canadians. The Conservatives' amendments to this bill will also be of interest to people across the country. I am therefore pleased to rise in the House to deliver the first speech of 2015 and talk about Bill C-518.
As members know, the NDP was in favour of the bill in principle. In fact, when the bill was originally presented, we raised the fact that the former NDP government in Nova Scotia was a pioneer in this regard. It presented legislation in the Nova Scotia legislature that took away the ability of representatives who have been convicted to be able to fall back on a pension, coming out of that conviction. We supported it in principle, and we supported bringing it to committee.
Then, what I can only consider to be the centralized control of the Prime Minister's Office kicked in around this particular bill. That is why we are offering the amendments that have just been proposed by the Speaker. They are amendments that seek to close the loopholes that were opened up in committee. We certainly hope that the Conservative members of Parliament will support the amendments we are bringing forward. We believe that most Canadians support those amendments as well.
When this bill was brought forward, we raised the very clear concerns about loopholes around acts of Parliament that are violated. As we know, when an act of Parliament is violated, it is a serious breach of trust by any member of Parliament. We have seen it particularly in the Senate with Conservative and Liberal senators, but also here in the House of Commons. We can think of the former member Dean Del Mastro, who resigned just before Christmas.
Crimes were committed. In the case of Mr. Del Mastro, he was convicted in court. Crimes were brought about by this particular member of Parliament, and we felt it important that the legislation, Bill C-518, actually reference those criminal violations, which result from a violation of an act of Parliament.
To our surprise, in the heat of the scandal around Mr. Del Mastro, Conservative members at the committee that was given the task of studying Bill C-518 actually put in place an amendment that would simply subtract these types of criminal violations from the overall thrust of the bill. I do not fault the member who proposed the bill for this. I think he is very well meaning in this regard. I have a sense that he believes that the bill should cover every member of Parliament convicted of serious criminal violations including acts of Parliament.
However, at committee, the order came down, as we have seen with other pieces of legislation brought forward by Conservative members. The order came down from the Prime Minister's Office, I can only assume, and it basically subtracted any criminal violation of an act of Parliament from the overall thrust of the bill.
What does that mean? It means that there is the Del Mastro loophole, which is a sizeable loophole in this legislation. If this legislation were passed as is, it would allow the Conservative and Liberal senators the violations that they have committed, as well as violations that we have seen in the case of Dean Del Mastro. Even when it is a serious criminal conviction, the bill, as amended by the Conservatives in committee, would not allow for their retiring allowance to be withdrawn.
What we have is this curious cherry-picking of what offences would and would not be included. That is why we decided to bring forward the two motions, the amendments we have brought forward today. The idea is to assure that any serious violation or criminal conviction that includes violations of acts of Parliament, which are certainly breaches of trust by any member of Parliament as part of our duties to uphold the acts, be considered in withdrawing the retiring allowance.
That is why we are moving these two motions, and we hope the government members will support them.
The motion reads in part as follows:
...is either convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code mentioned in subsection (4)...
This covers offences already included in the bill, as amended by the members of the committee, which has a Conservative majority.
The motion continues:
...or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years or more for an offence under any other Act of Parliament....
We would then be able to strip these members of their pensions.
Currently, there is a list that includes certain offences and of course refers to provisions of the Criminal Code. Certain sections are mentioned; however, offences under acts of Parliament, which we are supposed to uphold as MPs, are not included.
Of course, that is why we want to repair the damage done by the Conservative majority on the committee, because some acts were eliminated, which changed the scope of the bill. These amendments would make the bill more just, especially when it comes to serious offences, including those that carry a sentence of five years or more in prison. Such offences should be included in the scope of this bill.
It is just common sense. This is hardly a radical idea. I think the vast majority of Canadians agree with us on this. We are here to support federal laws and the Criminal Code. In both cases, if a serious offence was committed, then it must be dealt with accordingly.
In this situation, that is not the case. The bill refers to a few Criminal Code offences, but not offences under acts of Parliament, such as a violation of the Canada Elections Act.
In the case of former Conservative MP Mr. Del Mastro, it was a serious offence. The bill came before the committee that very week, and it was certainly the time for the Conservative members to send a message. The Conservatives undermined their own bill. We are repairing the damage.
Under the leadership of our very experienced Leader of the Official Opposition, we are ready to take action. In the months to come and this fall, we will repair the damage caused by the Conservative government. That is our plan.
Today we will move motions and propose amendments that make sense, in order to repair the damage caused by the Conservative members of the committee when they removed offences under acts of Parliament and thereby changed the scope of Bill C-518.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, it really is profoundly moving to show our appreciation to the security guards who showed such incredible bravery on October 22.
It really is profoundly moving to be able to show our appreciation, as we just did, to the security guards who showed such incredible bravery on October 22.
When we come back in January, we will sit for 15 weeks, and there are just 30 weeks left before this government falls in the 2015 election.
There are only 15 sitting weeks, and 30 weeks in all, before the next election. I know many people are looking forward to it.
I am pleased to rise to ask the Thursday question, the last one before Christmas, and to thank all of the people who work so hard and contribute to life here at the House.
Today, I would like to borrow the words of the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain to thank those who work here:
I am pleased that we will all be able to get back to our ridings to work on behalf of our constituents, to celebrate Christmas and the holidays with our family and friends and to reflect on the work we do here on behalf of all Canadians, particularly those who are having a hard time making ends meet this holiday season.
Today I would like to extend wishes for a merry Christmas and happy holidays and to offer a very big thanks to everyone in and around the House of Commons.
Of course, that includes my colleagues on all sides of the House and all of our staff, who make us look good most of the time.
Canadians watching at home might not realize it, but there is a huge network of talented and professional staff who work tirelessly to make this place run like clockwork.
First is you, Mr. Speaker, and your staff, along with the unbelievably helpful procedural experts in the clerks' offices, the table, the journals branch, the committee directorate staff, the Library of Parliament staff and, of course, all of the incredible pages[, who do a wonderful job].
There is the Sergeant-at-Arms and everyone from security, [whose courage we just recognized in the House,] as well as traffic operations, the drivers of our green buses, dispatch operators, mail room staff and messengers.
There are also the cafeteria staff and all the food services and catering team. There is the maintenance staff, the trades people in the parliamentary precinct, materiel management, and room allocation. There is everyone in Information Services, including telecom, ISSI, printing services, and the broadcasting team. There are the people who deal with human resources, finance, travel, and pay and benefits. There are the folks who document all our words in Hansard, and those who translate and interpret them from one official language to the other. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and everyone who works so hard in this place.
I wish a merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
Merry Christmas and happy new year everyone.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 11:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, unlike the Conservatives and the Liberals who have shown once again how out of touch they are with the needs of Canadian families, the NDP has had another great parliamentary session.
We have achieved tangible results for Canadians, such as compensation for thalidomide victims and the phasing out of DOT-111 cars, which were involved in in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
We launched an affordable child care plan with the goal of ensuring that parents do not pay more than $15 a day for child care. After 20 years of empty promises, it is time.
We fought to maintain home mail delivery for Canadians and called for a moratorium. We stood up for veterans, and we stood up against constant Conservative corruption. We held the government to account for the military mission to Iraq.
We will continue to hold the Conservatives to account and to build a government in waiting for 2015, because Canadians deserve better.
We cannot wait for 2015.
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, that is a crazy response.
After his about-face on climate change, yesterday the Prime Minister also changed his mind on the veterans charter. After eight years in power, the Prime Minister now describes the charter as a Liberal policy. It is time to take responsibility.
Does this mean the Conservatives are no longer in favour of the lump sum payments? Will the government finally drop its current case against Canada's veterans?
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, tell that to the 50% of veterans who cannot even access disability benefits.
Yesterday, when asked about cuts to front-line services, the minister responded, “veterans have been saying that we should in fact reduce”, but the minister cannot tell us the names of these veterans who have supposedly been coming to him, demanding cuts.
In the minister's fantasy world, he has only been cutting backroom and internal services. He also says that cuts in his department are somehow reinvested back into service: wrong, wrong and wrong.
The minister has lost the confidence of veterans. Why does the Prime Minister not fire him?
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:20 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, we cannot wait to have a government with Canadian values.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs told us yesterday that he cut 1,000 specialists who help our veterans because they were just backroom bureaucrats who spent their days photocopying. That is false. Only 10% of those cuts involved administrative positions.
Why is the Prime Minister letting his minister mislead veterans? Why not fire him? He is incompetent and has lost the confidence of veterans.
- MPndpDec 08, 2014 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of dozens of residents from the city of Vancouver in British Columbia. These petitioners call upon Parliament to support Bill C-378 to end sweatshop labour goods from coming into Canada.
As the House knows, it is estimated that there are about 250 million children worldwide who work in appalling sweatshop conditions. As well, there are a number of women around the world working in these deplorable conditions. The petitioners call upon the Parliament of Canada to take action against this type of abusive sweatshop labour by adopting Bill C-378.
- MPndpDec 05, 2014 8:20 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that their so-called policy is a failure and is costing the Canadian economy billions of dollars. That is the reality.
What is more, instead of attacking climate change, the Conservatives are attacking honest people with the shameful bill introduced by the member for Vancouver South.
Ban Ki-moon has good reason to criticize this government's lack of action. Canada is ranked as one of the worst industrialized countries because of 20 years of inaction by the Liberals and the Conservatives.
The question is clear: will the Conservatives accept a binding international agreement to fight global warming, yes or no?
- MPndpDec 05, 2014 8:15 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly
Mr. Speaker, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is speaking out against the Conservatives' laissez-faire attitude towards climate change and is calling for a more ambitious and visionary policy. He notes that Canada lacks leadership and that it should immediately start transitioning towards a green economy.
Why are the Conservatives letting down the United Nations and the international community? Why do they not have a plan to fight climate change?
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