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March

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    MPcon
    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, furthermore, if Questions Nos. 653, 947, 949, 963, 964, 971, 973, 979, 980, 981, 987, 988, and 990 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

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    MPcon
    Mar 13, 2015 9:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 22 petitions.

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    MPcon
    Mar 13, 2015 8:55 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend and colleague from Palliser for all the hard work he has done for his constituents, not only in his riding but also in Saskatchewan.

    Yesterday, the Prime Minister was in Saskatchewan to announce a major infrastructure program of over $32 million for the twinning of Highway 7 to four lanes, from Saskatoon west to Delisle. This project will not only create jobs, it will improve safety, enhance traffic flow and reduce travel time.

    Unlike the NDP and Liberals, whose only plan to improve the economy is to raise taxes, we are committed to lowering taxes. That was why we launched the building Canada fund and approved, to date, over $5 billion worth of projects.

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    MPcon
    Mar 12, 2015 7:15 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Mar 12, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

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    MPcon
    Mar 11, 2015 12:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 29 petitions.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, Question No. 936 will be answered today.

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    MPcon
    Mar 09, 2015 12:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Mar 09, 2015 12:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, if a supplementary response to Question No. 522, which was initially tabled on September 15, 2014, could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

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    MPcon
    Mar 09, 2015 12:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 95 petitions.

February

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    MPcon
    Feb 26, 2015 7:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 25, 2015 12:35 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 25, 2015 12:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 24 petitions.

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    MPcon
    Feb 24, 2015 7:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 23, 2015 12:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 20, 2015 9:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 19, 2015 7:35 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I move:

    That the debate be now adjourned.

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    MPcon
    Feb 19, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to three petitions.

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    MPcon
    Feb 18, 2015 12:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 17, 2015 7:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 16, 2015 12:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 06, 2015 9:15 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 05, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 04, 2015 12:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 03, 2015 4:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad you told me about the time constraints on my presentation, because you know me well and my history in this place. I sometimes find it difficult to clear my throat in less than eight and a half minutes, but I appreciate the heads-up on that.

    It is a pleasure for me, honestly, to stand here and speak to Bill C-586, the bill now known as the reform act, brought forward by my colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills.

    I must first congratulate my colleague, as I have done before, and I mean this quite sincerely. Any time any person in this place brings forward an initiative to improve the functioning of this place or to try to improve the functioning of our democratic process, that individual should be applauded. I applaud my colleague for bringing forward this legislation, which has sparked more discussion than any other private member's bill I can recall, and I have been here for close to 11 years. That speaks to the impact the contents of the bill will have on average, or at least typical, Canadians.

    When the bill was first introduced, prior to the amendments, I received phone calls, letters, and emails from people, not only within my riding but throughout western Canada, encouraging me, in some cases, to support the bill. Some would merely query me as to how I would be reacting and whether I would be voting for or against the bill and asking for my rationale for the vote I would be undertaking.

    I cannot recall another private member's bill having that much impact, causing so much discussion, and creating so much attention. On that alone, I sincerely congratulate the member, because if nothing else, he has brought to the attention of a lot of Canadians what private members can do, what members commonly known as backbenchers can do.

    There is so much criticism of our democratic process. There is so much criticism these days about how this Chamber operates, and that criticism is usually targeted toward centralization and party leaders, or in some cases, the centre, having too much influence over how members operate and vote and over what they say in this place.

    To have a private member's bill that has sparked so much discussion and interest throughout Canada speaks to the fact that individual members who are not in cabinet, who are not in leadership roles in opposition parties, have the ability to enact positive change. More than anything else, that is the benefit this legislation will have, and that will be the legacy of the member for Wellington—Halton Hills. The member has demonstrated quite clearly to members within this place and to members of the general public that the power of one exists, that the power of individual members, whether or not they are in cabinet or in leadership roles, is still absolute. I will not go further than that.

    This is a powerful piece of legislation the member has brought forward. It speaks volumes about the ability of individual members and what they can do if they have an idea that would improve the functioning of this place and democracy. I hope more members take this into account when considering private member's bills they may want to bring forward in the future. Kudos to my colleague.

    When the bill was originally brought forward by the member, I had some concerns. My primary concern was that in its original form, caucuses would have the ability not only to cause a leadership review to take place but to determine the fate of a leader. I had great difficulty with that. My point then, and still is today, was that if party memberships elect a leader, they should have the ability to get rid of a leader or to at least review and vote on whether they want that leader to continue. That was my primary concern. The amendments brought forward by my colleague are certainly measures I can support now.

    I was very taken by my colleague's words when he said that perfection is sometimes the enemy of the good. What he was actually saying is that he has discovered and has worked toward the art of the possible. I think my colleague is quite correct. In its original form, I do not believe the bill would have passed Parliament, but there is so much good in the original bill and this revision that it should pass Parliament.

    I will point out a couple of things in the bill that, in my personal view, are excellent. One is the ability of caucuses, if they choose to adopt the suggestions contained in Bill C-586, to vote for the caucus chair. I have long held that belief. I believe that as members we should have the ability to determine whom we wish to see in that chair representing us. I think that is an excellent suggestion, one I will wholeheartedly support and encourage my colleagues to support.

    The other point that I think is extremely well-intended and makes for a very, very solid bill is the ability of caucus members to determine if one of their caucus colleagues should either be expelled or re-admitted to caucus. I think every party in this place has had members of their caucuses who have left, sometimes for different reasons.

    Looking at my colleagues across the floor in the the official opposition, since this Parliament was first elected in 2011, there have been six members of the NDP who have left their caucus, sometimes voluntarily, and perhaps sometimes with a little encouragement, shall we say.

    In our party, we have had a number of examples as well, but the point is that many times there are issues that we have within caucus. Those issues in large part remain private, but if they were serious enough to the point where caucus members themselves believed there should at least be a discussion on whether the admissibility of a caucus member should be in question, they should have the right to do so.

    I do not believe that it should be the unilateral right of a leader to make those determinations. Certainly, the opinion of party leaders will play a great role in that determination, but ultimately I believe that members of Parliament in all caucuses have the intelligence and the ability to make that determination themselves.

    I have been in caucuses where we have seen caucus members leave. I have also been in caucuses where I have personally known that some of those members would like to have been re-admitted, but there was no method for me or other caucus members to have a say in that process. The bill deals with that, and I think that is a very, very positive aspect of it.

    I will just say in conclusion that while I agree with my colleague and my friend that the bill may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction, and I strongly encourage all of my colleagues throughout the House to support the bill because, as my colleague quite correctly pointed out, it is perhaps the first step in an ongoing series of reforms that will improve the functioning of this place. If that is the case, then his legacy will be forever enshrined as one of the great movers of democracy in our country.

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    MPcon
    Feb 03, 2015 7:40 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 1:50 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my remarks a few moments ago, we are continually working with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to see whether there would be any injury, such as lost revenue or job losses, resulting from the removal of the minimum processing requirement. This is an ongoing process.

    If we can establish a mechanism whereby the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador can demonstrate to the federal government that there have been certain injuries and that compensation is required, then we will be there. We will certainly honour our commitment. However, so far there has been no such demonstration of injury, and there may never be. Through the larger CETA agreement, the fishing and seafood industry in Newfoundland and Labrador may be able to go into the European Union and other parts of the world without worry because it can compete with other countries and compete at an even higher level than it is now.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 1:45 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague from Calgary—Nose Hill for once again demonstrating that she has an abundance of common sense.

    The member is absolutely right. The federal government would not enter into an agreement saying, without attachment, without any strings, “Here is $400 million. Do with it what you wish, even if there is not going to be any injury”. Of course, we will not even know that until implementation of the agreement itself, which has not occurred.

    I agree with my esteemed colleague. I do not know why the NDP would bring this forward, other than that it is trying to create a political wedge. It is trying to create an issue. It does not matter whether it is fact-free, which it is, the NDP is simply trying to politicize the situation. We are trying to work with the province for the betterment, not only of that province, but the entire nation.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 1:40 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, number one, I guess I should take some solace that, at least according to the member opposite, I have been promoted to cabinet. I thank him for that.

    Second, I completely know how to pronounce Newfoundland. I have been involved on many occasions with representatives from that great province, and they have continually told me, as the member opposite has, “understand Newfoundland”. I did not mispronounce the name, nor would I.

    With respect to the member's particular question of why the province of Newfoundland and Labrador would participate in this compensation fund, it is because it is in the best interest of the province. CETA is in the best interest of all Canadian provinces. It understands that. It does not want its relatively small concern about the elimination of minimum processing requirements to stand in the way of the greater good. That is why it wants to participate in this fund: it knows that the greater good is the entire CETA agreement.

    There will be untold billions of dollars going into that province alone. If the only thing standing in the way of a completed agreement is the elimination of minimum processing requirements, the province says, “Let's do it. Let us just make sure that we participate financially to compensate if there is an injury”. We have yet to determine that.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 1:30 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I see that we have touched a nerve. Every time we talk the truth about the NDP and how members hate free trade, it touches a nerve across the floor, and we can see that today as well.

    The point is that if there were to be injury to the processing plants, the canneries, and the industry in general, the federal government agreed to provide monetary compensation, but only if there is empirical evidence to suggest that injury has taken place. We are standing by that commitment. We are working with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to try to set up a process and system that would empirically identify any monetary loss experienced by the fisheries industry in that province. We would then be there for them. We would step up to the plate with this fund.

    However, the fund was never established to simply give money if no injury, job loss, or revenue loss has taken place. We have never done that when negotiating compensation with any other sector in Canada. We did not do that for CETA, or any other trade deal for that matter. It makes sense. Why in the world would any government simply say to a province, “You may not be having any problems whatsoever. There may not be any loss of revenue, loss of jobs, or any injury to a certain sector, but, what the heck, we will give you $400 million anyway because we are good guys”. That has never happened.

    Sector by sector, when negotiating, we have sat down with the provinces and said that if there is demonstrated lost revenue, demonstrated loss of jobs, or demonstrated injury as a result of this agreement, we will then compensate, and there will be a transition to allow them to be whole. That is a responsible stance that the government has taken, and it is the right stance for a government to take.

    I started by talking about all of the benefits of CETA, and they are immense. This is, without question, the best free trade agreement that our country has ever entered into. However, we need to have the co-operation of all of the provinces. To date, the provinces have been generally extremely supportive because they know the type of benefits they will receive by having preferential access to this huge market.

    Whether it be the fishing and seafood industry in Atlantic Canada, the manufacturing sector across Canada, the agriculture and agri-food sector in my home province of Saskatchewan, having access to 500 million consumers will be a tremendous boon to every single sector in the Canadian economy. That is why we need agreement from all provinces as we move forward. That is why we, as a federal government, have dealt with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in a responsible manner, by agreeing to compensate its affected industries if it can demonstrate it has been negatively impacted. No government would enter into an agreement simply to give a blank cheque, to say that it does not matter, take the money and run.

    There has to be an agreement. There has to be a demonstration that injury has taken place. That is what we are prepared to do, and that is what we have stated from the outset. If there is to be lost revenue, or trade-distorting injury on behalf of the fishing industry or the province of Newfoundland and Labrador generally, we would be there to work with them, to ease the pain, to enter into a transition plan that would allow affected industries to remain whole and not be negatively impacted. We stand by that agreement, and it is the right position for the federal government to take.

    We are not here today during this debate to try to spark some confrontation with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are more than willing to continue to work with them to identify if there are problems with the removal of the minimum processing requirement. From a financial standpoint, we will be there. We will step up to the plate. However, to date, we have not seen any demonstrated loss of revenue, job losses, or any negative impact on the fishing and seafood industry. We want to work with the province to develop a process that would identify any of these issues, and, if they occur, we will be there as a willing and able partner.

    In conclusion, let me say this. It is important for every province, region, and territory in our country to recognize the massive benefits that the Canada-European Union trade agreement would have on our economy. It will benefit every single province, territory, and sector of our economy. Let us not lose sight of that. Let us not allow a relatively small dispute to stand in the way of the most comprehensive and beneficial trade agreement that our country has ever seen.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 1:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me today to join in the debate on the NDP opposition motion concerning the minimum processing requirement fund in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Before I begin, there may be some questions. People in this House or perhaps those who are watching on television may be wondering why a member of Parliament from a land-locked province like Saskatchewan would be joining into a debate on a fisheries issue that primarily deals with some concerns the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador would have. The answer to that is very simply because the larger context of what we are debating today is really about the Canada–Europe trade agreement, also known as CETA.

    I am joining in this debate because CETA would positively affect every region of Canada. Whether it is the fisheries industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, the forestry industry in Quebec and British Columbia, the manufacturing industry in Ontario, or the grains and oilseed industry in the prairies, CETA would have a positive impact on literally every sector of the Canadian economy and every industry within Canada. That is why this debate is so important: to be able to point out to members opposite and to those who may be listening to this debate that signing the Canada–Europe trade agreement is one of the largest and most significant trade deals this country has ever engaged in. In fact, it is not an overstatement to say that it is the most important trade agreement our country has ever entered into.

    The reason is quite simple. First, the European Union has 500 million consumers that Canada would now have preferential access to. Second, since we already entered into an agreement several years ago with the United States, the North American free trade agreement, Canada would now be the only G7 country that has preferential access to two of the world's largest consumer bases: 500 million people in the European Union on one side and 300 million people in the United States on the other side. We are the only country that would have preferential access to that consumer market.

    In real terms, this would mean to Canada about an additional $12 billion in economic activity. If we want to drill that down to a per-household level, it comes out to about $1,000 per household. That is how much money this agreement with Europe would mean. It is the equivalent of about 80,000 additional jobs in Canada. It is a huge deal. That is why we have had unprecedented support from industry leaders, from union leaders, from consumer groups, and from trade analysts. Everyone who has examined this agreement agrees that it is a big win for Canada. That is why all of the provinces are on side with this agreement as well. All of the individual sectors in the industry within Canada's provinces and territories would also benefit from this agreement.

    However, what we have here today is a situation in which some people are suggesting that this agreement would not be a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador. In particular, the complaint coming from members opposite is that removing the minimum processing requirements would be injurious to the fish and seafood processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Perhaps I should first take a moment to explain, at least as I know it, what the minimum processing requirement is.

    It was set up several decades ago as a policy imposed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to assist and in many ways protect the fisheries processing industry. In other words, quite simply it states that there has to be a minimum processing element of all fish and seafood from Newfoundland and Labrador before they can be shipped to the European Union or anywhere outside of Canada.

    Why was this requirement put on? Again, to stimulate the processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and to protect those jobs. In other words, if I were a cod fisher, I could not necessarily ship all of my raw product to Europe. I would be required to give a certain amount of that raw product to the processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador so they could then process it and sell it as a value-added product worldwide. In particular, we are talking about the European Union.

    The only problem with that is that while it may have been good at the time for the processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is viewed, and quite correctly, as an unfair trade policy. In this day and age of global trading, there are mechanisms in place to ensure that trading practices between countries are fair and just. Because this would be a distortion of fair trade policy, if we entered into CETA with the European Union, any one of their member states could look at this minimum processing requirement in Newfoundland and Labrador and say, quite correctly, that it was an unfair trade policy and demand that it end. It was a legitimate concern of the European Union.

    During negotiations, our government negotiators agreed that the practice should in fact end, but we also recognized in discussions with Newfoundland and Labrador government officials that this could have some negative impact on the processing industry. In other words, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador pointed out to our trade negotiators that ending the minimum processing requirements might result in some lost revenue. It might even result in some job losses, because if fishers were not required to use the processing industry before their products were shipped overseas, it could have or might have a negative impact on the processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    We recognized that argument. Our government said that if it could be demonstrated that there is injury, that there may be some lost revenue, that there may be some job losses, that there may be some problems that the removal of the minimum processing requirement creates within the industry, we will then agree for some compensation.

    This is not unusual. As we negotiated CETA, various sectors and various regions of the country pointed out there could be some negative impact as a result of signing this deal. Time after time, we were able to negotiate with the respective sectors some sort of a counterbalance, some negotiated settlement to offset the potential revenue loss or job loss. That is what we did in this case with Newfoundland and Labrador. We said that if there is to be injury, if there is to be lost revenue, if there are job losses, we will be there.

    Hence, the agreement was to set up a fund, the minimum processing requirement fund. It was a $400 million fund agreed upon by both the province and the federal government. The federal government would fund up to 70%, or $280 million, if there was proven, empirical evidence that there was injury because of the removal of this requirement.

    I keep using the word “if”, because it has not been demonstrated yet that there would be any loss of revenue or loss of jobs. In fact, I recall that when this agreement was first announced, the then president of the fisheries union in Newfoundland and Labrador, a gentleman by the name of Earle McCurdy, said he did not think there would be any problems caused by removing the minimum processing requirement.

    He pointed out that they were better off than processing plants in Europe, China, and the United States. Their wages are higher, and electricity and energy costs are higher. We are closer to the marketplace. In other words, we do not have to have a minimum processing requirement because our processors will be able to compete quite favourably with anyone else in the world. We do not need the protection that the minimum processing requirement currently affords. That was the president of the fisheries union.

    I understand that recently he has changed his tune somewhat; he is now a nominated NDP candidate in the province. Once he became a member of the NDP his initial thoughts have changed, and now removing the minimum processing requirements will be a terrible thing for the province. It shows how myopic the New Democrats truly are, who do not want any trade deals with any country. That is clearly the reality.

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    MPcon
    Feb 02, 2015 12:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

January

December

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    MPcon
    Dec 11, 2014 7:15 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 766 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

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    MPcon
    Dec 11, 2014 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 38(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

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    MPcon
    Dec 10, 2014 2:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today to Motion No. 535. At the outset, I will be speaking against the motion for a number of reasons.

    Although my hon. colleague opposite has suggested some very significant changes to the Standing Orders, in my view, they do not make a lot of sense. Specifically, they deal with three areas of how this Parliament, or any parliament, functions.

    First, it speaks to the method in which parties can elect or appoint House leaders and whips of their respective parties. Second, it suggests a significant change to how question period operates. Third, it suggests very significant changes to the composition and selection process of members to parliamentary committees.

    Let me start with the first suggestion the member opposite has on how parties should select or appoint their House officers.

    The member suggests in his motion that House leaders and party whips should be selected by an absolute majority vote within their respective caucuses. While to some that may seem like a fairly reasonable suggestion, it is inherent with a lot of problems. Let me give just a few examples of where this could be very problematic.

    First, let us suggest for a moment that some of the parties would have difficulty in determining which member of their caucus should be selected as their House leader. We could have two, or three or perhaps even more qualified candidates all having support within their respective caucuses, but because of that number, it would be difficult to find an absolute majority for one of the three or four candidates. If that were the case, then clearly that party would be under a very significant hardship because House leaders, as we all know in this place, play a very significant role in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

    Second, that should not be the proper way in which House leaders and whips are selected because both House leaders and whips work extremely closely with their party leaders. The party leader must have absolute confidence in those two House officers. Therefore, it would be helpful if party leaders maintained the status quo and appointed who they wished to see as their House leader and their whip.

    Third, the obvious, at least on the government side, is that every House leader in a government is a cabinet minister. Many times the chief government whip is a member vested in cabinet. Because of that, they are appointed to the cabinet based on recommendations by the prime minister to the governor general. What the member opposite has suggested in his private member's motion would take that prerogative away from the governor general and the prime minister. Therefore, it really does not look to me that this suggestion would be workable whatsoever.

    The member opposite's second point is on how we make fundamental changes to question period. The member suggests that each member of the opposition should have at least one question per week. If my math is correct, there are approximately 170 questions asked weekly by members of the opposition. In the current configuration of Parliament, there are approximately 135 to 140 members of the opposition. Therefore, individual parties would have very little leeway in which to construct a strategic approach to question period.

    Let me give an example from the not too distant past. We saw recently, and months previously, the leader of the official opposition would from time to time stand up during question period and ask the first 10, 12 or 14 questions, all directed at the Prime Minister. That was his strategic imperative. The members felt as a party, and he probably felt as a leader, that was the most effective use of their questions during question period. Perhaps it was to give him increased profile. Perhaps they felt he was the most effective questioner in their caucus. Regardless, in was the prerogative of the Leader of the Opposition and his party to determine who in his caucus would ask questions, in what order and how many questions that individual would ask.

    Under the member opposite's suggestion, that right of opposition leaders and opposition caucuses would be taken away because, in effect, there would be a selection process where each member of the opposition would have the ability to ask a question each week during question period.

    That may seem democratic to some, but I can assure everyone that it would very much curtail the abilities of opposition parties to form a strategic approach to question period. Many times, as we have seen, and we have certainly seen recently, opposition parties will hone in on a particular minister of the government, thinking they have an area to explore, some criticisms to try to exploit. If a caucus does not have the ability to design its own strategy in question period, it is really at a disadvantage.

    We know that question period, primarily, is to the advantage of opposition parties, so why in the world would opposition members want that curtailment, which would prevent them from asking the most penetrating and effective questions of the government of the day? Again, it does not seem to make much sense to me.

    Last, the member opposite suggested that in the composition of committees, it should not be done as it is now, with the whips of each party selecting members to sit on particular committees based on their levels of expertise or interest. The member suggested, basically, that a reverse order on the order of precedence in private members' bills be used to allow members to select their own committee. Again, I would point out that sometimes members may want to sit on a committee where they have absolutely no expertise, but they want to sit on it because it is something they find exciting or interesting, or they may even feel they have an opportunity to do some travelling. I know that may seem odd to some, but those of us who have been around here for a while realize that some members take that right very seriously.

    With all due respect to my colleague opposite, while these suggestions may be, in his mind, an improvement to the way Parliament operates, I suggest it is just the opposite. Further, I would point out that, as the member opposite should know and I hope does know, we currently have a process in Parliament where after each new election there is a requirement for Parliament, through the procedure and House affairs committee, to do a thorough examination of the current Standing Orders and make recommendations for change if it feels it is deemed necessary.

    I have been a member of the procedure and House affairs committee for eight of the ten years I have been in Parliament. I can assure members that the examination and reconstruction sometimes of the Standing Orders is not something to be trivialized. It is something to be taken very seriously. However, it is also an extremely onerous task. We have spent the last several years in Parliament examining the Standing Orders, all parties trying to come to some agreement in finding ways to make the Standing Orders better so they better serve all members of Parliament.

    I can assure my colleague opposite, who put this private member's bill forward, that members in the committee worked very collegially and effectively. The approach we took was that any suggestion to change the Standing Orders had to be agreed upon by all members of the procedure and House affairs committee who were examining the Standing Orders. We believed that if there was not total unanimity, then it was not worth the attempt to change the orders, because Standing Orders govern and guide us all.

    Using that approach, we have made a few modest changes to the current Standing Orders, but in years future, should there be a need to change the Standing Orders, it should be done in the current method before us, where the procedure and House affairs committee examines it at the start of each Parliament, makes changes that it feels necessary, and does not make changes arbitrarily through a private member's bill.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 10, 2014 1:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 10, 2014 1:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to eight petitions.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 09, 2014 7:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 09, 2014 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 16 petitions.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 08, 2014 12:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions No. 756 to 760 and 762 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 08, 2014 12:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 05, 2014 9:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Dec 05, 2014 9:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 14 petitions.


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MP
Tom Lukiwski

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