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41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 263

CONTENTS

Wednesday, June 5, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
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NUMBER 263 
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1st SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers


[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

    It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of our national anthem, today led by the pages.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, the community training and development centre, in conjunction with the Community Employment Resource Partnership Northumberland and the Status of Women Canada, have designed an initiative for the women of Northumberland County. The WISE By Plan initiative allows rural women to enhance their economic security.
    Approximately 200 women provided their feedback requesting local, accessible and easily understood training in job search strategies and in financial literacy. The response includes a series of videos featuring local job search stories. Within each video experts will provide leadership and guidance to job seekers. In addition, an online virtual coaching tool will be implemented to assist job seekers in developing personal career action plans.
    This $296,000 project is just one more example of how our Conservative government is improving the lives of rural women in Northumberland—Quinte West and in Canada.

[Translation]

World Environment Day

    Mr. Speaker, today marks World Environment Day. This year's theme is “Think.Eat.Save”. World Environment Day asks us to reflect on the environmental impact of our food choices. It encourages us to avoid waste and buy locally.
    For example, in Drummond people can buy local food at the farmer's market and at the Écomarché de l'Avenir. In Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, there is the ÉcoMarché de solidarité régionale and the farmer's market, the oldest public market in Quebec.
    Although this is a day for positive action, today's events are taking place in the shadow of Conservative attacks on the environment and science.
    The greatest legacy we can leave to future generations is a clean and healthy planet. Conservative policies threaten the environment, health and economic prosperity of Canadians. The NDP will replace the Conservatives in 2015, to offer future generations a healthy environment and a prosperous economy for all.

  (1405)  

[English]

Prostate Cancer

    Mr. Speaker, prostate cancer is a serious health concern for all Canadians. In fact, it is the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadian men. Prostate cancer accounts for over a quarter of all new cancer cases in men. As we in this chamber know all too well, it can have fatal consequences.
    In my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's, Dan Hennessey of Bridgewater, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer over six years ago, has dedicated himself to making a difference in the lives of those going through this disease, in addition to doing his part to raise awareness. To this end, he authored a book entitled With the Snap of a Glove and most recently launched the Blue Glove Men's Health Fund, a not-for-profit that raises funds dedicated to men's health. The Blue Glove fund is committed to improving the health and wellness of men and boys and their families, through mobile men's health clinics and an education campaign.
    I would like to thank Dan and recognize him for his dedication and hard work.

Grandmothers Advocacy Network

    Mr. Speaker, across a continent ravaged by HIV/AIDS, grandmothers have once again become primary caregivers for millions of children left orphaned by the terrible scourge and a lack of access to life-saving medicines and treatment. Unable to abide with the knowledge that so many sub-Saharan grandmothers are left labouring through what should be more peaceful years, a group of selfless and dedicated women, and some men, came together and vowed they would not rest until their African counterparts can.
    These women, now known as the Grandmothers Advocacy Network, are tireless in their efforts to not only bring awareness to the plight of parents, grandparents and children in sub-Saharan Africa, but they are also determined campaigners for reform of our access to medicines regime.
    When considering my role here in Parliament, I often look to the example provided by these spectacular women. I hope to embody a sliver of their dedication to service.
    I rise on behalf of all members here to congratulate them on their hard work and to stand with them as they stand with the grandmothers of Africa.

69th Anniversary of D-Day

    Mr. Speaker, I attended the 69th anniversary of D-Day in my riding of Etobicoke Centre last Sunday, organized by the Royal Canadian Legion.
    D-Day was history's greatest military invasion, and Canadians were integral to victory from the time they came ashore on June 6, 1944 to VE Day. Despite fierce opposition, 14,000 Canadians took Juno Beach. In doing so, Canadians and Allied forces liberated Europe and ended the Nazi regime.
    However, such victories come with a cost. There were 340 brave souls who were killed and a further 574 were wounded. We remember their sacrifice made so that future generations of Canadians could live in freedom and never face the appalling horrors that rendered humanity speechless.
    I congratulate the Legion's district D for organizing this very moving service. What Canadians accomplished on D-Day will live forever in our memories as one of the greatest moments of one of the greatest generations of Canadians that history will ever have the honour to know.

[Translation]

Quebec's Rural Communities

    Mr. Speaker, while rural areas continue to deal with a major structural crisis, there is an organization in Quebec whose mission is to promote the revitalization and development of rural areas.
    For more than 20 years, Solidarité rurale du Québec has been defending rural communities' right to be different and to use that difference to their advantage. This organization is proposing a regional development model that focuses on the distinct character of rural areas.
    I am extremely privileged to have Claire Bolduc, the president of the organization, living in my riding. She is constantly travelling around Quebec to listen to, inspire and invigorate rural communities.
    Tomorrow, Quebec's premier will appoint Claire Bolduc a chevalière de l'Ordre National du Québec, which is the highest distinction the Quebec government can bestow upon an outstanding citizen.
    On behalf of all my constituents and the members of the House, I would like to congratulate her on this well-deserved honour. As she so eloquently says, “A country is only as strong as its towns”.

  (1410)  

[English]

Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption

    Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Canadian chapter of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming a delegation of four MPs from the National Assembly of Guyana who have come to study the estimates process here in Canada.
    This event comes on the heels of a visit held by GOPAC Canada to the Parliament of Jamaica, in which GOPAC Canada shared its experience with the public accounts committee of Jamaica and offered its assistance in helping the Jamaican PAC review and expand its mandate.
    GOPAC is composed of past and sitting members of Parliament, from all parties, who put their political differences aside to work together constructively to share experiences with other countries that are looking to strengthen accountability through improved scrutiny of the budget estimates.
    Today I would like to thank my colleagues from both sides of this House and the members of GOPAC Canada for sharing their experiences this week, and to the Guyanese delegation for their interest in Canada's process. We look forward to continuing to learn from each other and to deepening our co-operation.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the oil sands are the economic engine of this country, providing 334,000 jobs in Canada today and $2.1 trillion toward our GDP—yes, that is trillion with a t—and one million jobs by 2035.
    The approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would not only create economic stability for all of Canada, it would also provide the United States with $172 billion—that is billion with b—toward the U.S. GDP by 2035, with $99 million in local government revenues, $486 million in state government revenues, and 1.8 million person-years of employment in the next 22 years. Wow. I am no doctor, but Keystone XL sounds like a perfect prescription to begin to cure an ailing U.S. economy.
    As usual, the NDP opposes this Canadian pipeline and all Canadian jobs, but I would argue that a strong Canada-U.S. economic partnership could only mean success for all citizens of our great countries.

[Translation]

International Day of Action for Women's Health

    Mr. Speaker, on May 28 we celebrated the International Day of Action for Women's Health. This day provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges associated with women's health, especially with regard to reproductive rights.
    A number of studies prove that access to contraceptives and vital information results in positive outcomes such as better health, reduced poverty and greater gender equality.
    The situation of Beatriz in El Salvador is a glaring example of the need to fight for this right. Her life was at risk because of her pregnancy, which she also had no chance of bringing to term.
    Women have the right to choose. It is because of people like Beatriz that this day of action is necessary.

[English]

Egypt

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my deep concern regarding Tuesday's decision by an Egyptian court to convict 43 non-profit workers, including 27 foreign nationals, of illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in the country and sentencing them up to five years in jail.
    Civil society and international NGOs are legitimate actors in any democratic state. These individuals were working to support the transparency of the government that has been closed for too long. They seek to strengthen the dialogue between citizens and the government, supporting the aspirations of Egyptians for a stronger democratic country.
    The targeting of civil society actors undermines the legitimacy of the judicial process and is a clear misuse of government power. Without legitimate institutions, a government cannot hope to maintain the confidence of its people.
    We continue to call on Egypt to work with their citizens to build a stronger and more democratic Egypt.

[Translation]

Grandmothers Advocacy Network

    Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me today to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network.

[English]

    The Grandmothers Advocacy Network, or GRAN, is a pan-Canadian network of volunteer grandmother advocates working with a multi-partisan scope and a humanitarian intent. It acts as a voice for the grandmothers of sub-Saharan Africa who are caring for millions of AIDS-orphaned children.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

    Today we have 45 grandmothers here from all across Canada.
    I would like to invite my colleagues to join us after oral question period to meet the grandmothers and congratulate them on their efforts.

[English]

    I congratulate GRAN for working to ensure dignity for the present and hope for the future of grandmothers and vulnerable young people in Africa.

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, days, weeks, and even months have passed by since news broke of Liberal Senator Pana Merchant's $1.7 million offshore account, and the leader of the Liberal Party still has not said a word.
    What is worse, the Liberals are blocking the Auditor General from undertaking the audit in the Senate for which our government called. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Liberal leader is more interested in protecting the entitlements of Liberal senators and championing the status quo.
    In fact, the Liberal leader recently confessed that he did not think the Senate should change one bit because, “it benefits us”. For the Liberal leader, “us”, of course, equals just his home province of Quebec.
     When it comes to protecting Canada's national interests, the Liberal leader does not seem to grasp that Canada is more than the interest of any single province. When it comes to the Senate and his support for the status quo, the Liberal leader simply is in way over his head.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, World Environment Day aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.
    In Canada, during our Environment week, we must push the government to develop a comprehensive climate change plan instead of its delay tactic, its sector-by-sector approach, as climate change is accelerating at a much faster rate than previously thought.
    We must also push the government to protect the Arctic, which faces unprecedented challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, ozone depletion, ensuring responsible and safe shipping and security issues.
    We must also push the government to protect our water, keep our water safe for future generations and commit to a national water strategy.
    Let us recommit today to protecting our natural environment, particularly for the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren. To ignore Canada's pressing environmental needs would be a gross disservice to future generations.

[Translation]

The Senate

    Mr. Speaker, our party and our government demand real accountability of the Senate. That is why the Leader of the Government in the Senate asked the Auditor General to conduct a full audit of Senate expenses.
    However, the Liberals in the Senate have prevented the Auditor General from undertaking that audit.
    Speaking of the Senate, the Liberal leader is busy defending the status quo and the Liberal senators are busy protecting their rights.
    The Liberal leader's poor judgment does not stop there. The Liberal leader has known for weeks that a Liberal senator is hiding $1.7 million in an offshore account. That senator continues to be part of the Liberal caucus only because the Liberal leader refuses to hold the Senate to account. He is clearly not equipped to deal with this issue.

The Senate

    Mr. Speaker, we will let them fight it out. The upper chamber is so high up—uppity, even—that it is completely out of touch with reality. The Senate remains stuck in the 19th century.
    The chamber houses unelected party cronies who are not accountable to anyone, other than their buddies who put them there. The very people who are supposed to act as a counterbalance to the executive are themselves appointed by the executive. That is ridiculous.
    It gets worse. Senator Dagenais, a walking example of ridiculousness, is ignoring the advice of the Leader of the Government in the Senate and does not want the Auditor General sticking his nose in the senator's business because he follows the rules. The Prime Minister said the same thing about Wallin and Duffy. He said that they followed the residency rules, until we realized that was not true.
    The Senate is like that box of junk you drag around move after move without ever opening, yet that box does not cost $92 million a year and is not mired in scandal year after year.
    The Liberals and Conservatives can defend their Senate friends all they want. They can claim to want to reform the Senate or they can propose an improved status quo. The NDP, on the other hand, will take care of things.

Taxes

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that, to keep taxes low, everyone must do his or her fair share, and they expect MPs in particular to set an example, and with good reason.
    Nevertheless, we know that the member for Brossard—La Prairie owes thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes. When he was asked about this yesterday, he told a newspaper that he had never tried to hide the fact, yet in his 2011 declaration to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, he made no mention of this debt. So much for transparency.
    What is even more worrisome is that the Leader of the Opposition ignored the member's history as a deadbeat and appointed him as revenue critic in 2012.
    Canadians want an explanation from the Leader of the Opposition, and they want him to give this message to his caucus: pay your taxes.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said, “Mr. Duffy approached me to seek some clarification”. What kind of clarification did Mike Duffy seek?
    Mr. Speaker, our view from the outset is that all expenses must be appropriate when they are claimed. If they are not appropriate, they should be reimbursed to the taxpayers. I have made this view known to a range of our caucus and also my staff.
     Mr. Duffy was seeking clarification on remarks I had made to this effect in caucus and I was adamant that any inappropriate expenses had to be reimbursed by him.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the scandal, the Prime Minister denied giving orders to his staff. Yesterday, he was forced to admit that he did indeed give orders to his caucus.
    Was Nigel Wright at that caucus meeting or not?
    Mr. Speaker, my view from the outset has been clear. Expenses must be appropriate and if there are inappropriate expenses claimed by a senator or a member, then they must be reimbursed to the taxpayers.
    I made this view known to my caucus and obviously to my staff. We have very high expectations of our staff.
    Mr. Speaker, was Nigel Wright present at the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy or not?
    Mr. Speaker, I already said that I made my view known to the entire caucus and all my employees.

[English]

    I have been clear about this. I have made it very clear what my views were to all my staff and to our caucus. We expect inappropriate expenses to be reimbursed and I would expect they would be reimbursed by the person who incurred them. I would certainly not expect them to be reimbursed by somebody else.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister stated that Nigel Wright's full severance package, including vacation pay and other benefits, would be less than $90,000, so he knows the amount. If he can tell us it is less than $90,000, why can he not tell us the amount?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, I have indicated that Mr. Wright will obviously be paid only those amounts required by law. That is our obligation under the law. Any suggestion that he is being compensated for any other reason, anything directly or indirectly, to do with his paying Mr. Duffy's expenses is categorically false.
    Mr. Speaker, on May 17, long after the Prime Minister knew about the cheque, his director of communications said, “The prime minister has full confidence in Mr. Wright and Mr. Wright is staying on”. Yes or no, did the Prime Minister authorize that statement by Andrew MacDougall?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, Mr. Wright informed me of his personal cheque on May 15. This was an error in judgment. He indicated he did this because he believed that taxpayers should be reimbursed and he was prepared to ensure that happened, as in fact it did happen. However, obviously this was an error in judgment for many reasons that have already been outlined and for that reason, I accepted his resignation.
    This is a couple of days we are talking about. The leader of the NDP withheld information from the public about envelopes from the mayor of Laval for 17 years. He can explain that.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister's Office wanted to save the taxpayers $90,000 from Mike Duffy's expenses, it could have docked his Senate pay until it was paid back. The Prime Minister said that his chief of staff thought, ethics rules and criminal law aside, that writing a big cheque was the best plan. I presume the Prime Minister would not buy that flimsy excuse any more than Canadians do.
    What real reason did Nigel Wright give for writing that $90,000 cheque?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, Mr. Wright has been clear about why he did what he did and the effect of what he did. He has also accepted responsibility for that. He has been very clear that he is prepared to be accountable and answer all questions from the Ethics Commissioner and all authorities, and he is doing that.

[Translation]

    If the Prime Minister's Office really wanted to reimburse taxpayers for Mike Duffy's $90,000 in expenses, it could have deducted the money from his pay.
    The Prime Minister claims that despite the ethics rules and the Criminal Code, his chief of staff thought that the best solution was to write a big cheque.
    If I can be so bold as to assume that the Prime Minister did not buy this excuse any more than Canadians do, what real reasons did Nigel Wright give for writing that $90,000 cheque?
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright said he wrote cheques to ensure that the taxpayers would be reimbursed, and he actually repaid taxpayers out of his own pocket.
    He admitted that this was an error in judgment and he is prepared to be accountable to the authorities, including the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we still have not heard why. Perhaps the real reason is linked to the fact that Nigel Wright was a director, for seven years, of the Conservative Fund, the fundraising arm of the Conservative Party, including in 2008, when Mike Duffy was appointed to the Senate and became active as an important fundraiser.
    I will ask the Prime Minister again: Why did he appoint Mike Duffy to the Senate?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, we need to be absolutely clear here. Mr. Wright paid these monies from his own personal funds. That was his decision, for which he takes full responsibility.
    We appoint a range of Canadians from different backgrounds to the Senate, and we expect all of these senators to, obviously, uphold higher standards of ethics in the use of taxpayers' money. If they do not, we expect there to be accountability.
    On this side of the House, unlike the Liberal Party, we think the Senate needs to be reformed or abolished. We do not defend the status quo.
    Mr. Speaker, something does not add up. The Prime Minister just said that Nigel Wright's motive in cutting the $90,000 cheque was to protect the taxpayers. Mike Duffy is a wealthy man. He owns two houses, and he is earning a six-figure salary. The Senate could have obliged him to reimburse. There is no way the taxpayer could have been on the hook for that money.
    How can he believe that that is the motive? It does not even make sense.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this: Mr. Wright spent his own money. He assured that that money went back to the Receiver General of Canada, to the taxpayers of Canada. He wanted the taxpayers reimbursed, and he is prepared to be accountable before the Ethics Commissioner and others for his decision in that matter, which he admits was an error in judgment.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Senate could have forced Mike Duffy to pay. Is it not also clear that Nigel Wright's real motive was to get this problem out of the Prime Minister's Office, as he had ordered during the meeting of his caucus where Nigel Wright was present?
    Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear. I never gave any such order, any suggestion nor had any idea that Mr. Wright was using his personal money to make sure the taxpayers were reimbursed. That is a decision he took on his own that he chose not to inform me about. He admits that was an error in judgment, and he will be accountable to the Ethics Commissioner for that decision.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, since February, how many times has the Prime Minister spoken to Senator Marjory LeBreton about the Senate expense scandal?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously, I speak to the senators regularly, and I encourage the Senate to take measures to ensure that senators treat taxpayers' money with respect and uphold the highest standards of behaviour.
    That is what we expect from all of the senators.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the results of the Pamela Wallin audit are expected in the coming days. Has the Prime Minister been briefed in any way, shape or form concerning the preliminary results of the audit of Pamela Wallin, Yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the results of the audit. I am aware that the audit has taken considerable time, and considerable issues remain unresolved. Beyond that, I am not aware of any particulars. Obviously, Senator Wallin has stepped outside the Conservative caucus and understands she must resolve these matters.
    Mr. Speaker, was Pamela Wallin offered the same deal by the Prime Minister's chief of staff that was offered to Mike Duffy, Yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright informed me of his payment to Senator Duffy on May 15. I immediately required that matter to be disclosed, both to the Ethics Commissioner and to the public. At the same time, I did ask Mr. Wright whether he had any similar arrangements or had discussed any similar arrangements or had any similar arrangements with other senators, and he said no.
    Mr. Speaker, see? It is not that hard to answer.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, Benjamin Perrin has said that he was not involved in the “decision” to pay Mike Duffy $90,000. He has not said if he was involved in the transaction in other ways.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us if his lawyer, Ben Perrin, was involved in any way, shape or form in this transaction with Mike Duffy?
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Perrin, who is now a private citizen, speaks for himself on these matters. I believe, in fact, he has answered these questions and obviously would be prepared to answer the questions from anybody else, just as I have done here.
    While we are answering questions, exactly how many stuffed envelopes over his career in Quebec provincial politics was the leader of the NDP offered?
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister refused to say whether Ray Novak was involved in any of these discussions concerning Mike Duffy. I would like to ask the Prime Minister clearly now: Was Ray Novak involved in any way, shape or form in these discussions concerning Mike Duffy, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the facts here are very clear. Mr. Wright decided to take an action on his own initiative, using his own funds. These actions are his sole responsibility. I have no information before me to suggest they are anyone else's responsibility. Mr. Wright is obviously answering for those actions, which he admits were a mistake, to the appropriate authorities.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, did Andrew MacDougall or Carl Vallée take part in any discussions regarding the situation with Senator Mike Duffy?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I said, there is only one person responsible. Mr. Wright admitted what he did and chose to take full responsibility for his actions. He is prepared to answer questions from the authorities about his actions, for which he is responsible.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, how, then, was it possible for Andrew MacDougall and Carl Vallée to comment on all of these issues in detail on behalf of the Prime Minister if they had not attended any of those meetings?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, it was Mr. Wright who made the decision to take his personal funds and give those to Mr. Duffy so that Mr. Duffy could reimburse the taxpayers. Those were his decisions. They were not communicated to me or to members of my office. They were Mr. Wright's decisions, but he takes full responsibility for them.

41st General Election

    Mr. Speaker, the Elections Act is explicit, and I quote: “An elected candidate who fails to provide a document as required by [subsection 463(2)]...shall not continue to sit or vote as a member until they are provided”.
    Today, two Conservatives have not provided these documents and are therefore not allowed to sit in the House. Tonight we will be voting on the estimates. Is the Prime Minister seriously going to allow the member for Selkirk—Interlake and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to vote illegally on over $65 billion?
    Mr. Speaker, the Elections Act is clear on a lot of things. First of all, it is clear that these members have the ability to make this intervention at the court level. We also know that they acted in good faith, and there is a difference of interpretation with Elections Canada.
    The act is also clear that when a loan is not repaid, it becomes a donation. If that donation is larger than the donation limit, it is a violation of the law. There are $500,000 in such illegal donations currently held by the former Liberal leadership candidates. What is the Liberal Party doing to hold them to account?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Peter Penashue resigned for the simple reason that Elections Canada was investigating his election expenses. In the case of the two Conservative members, Elections Canada informed this chamber that they do not have the right to sit in the House. However, there they are in their seats.
    When will this Prime Minister order these two Conservatives to leave the House until such time as they obey the law?
    Mr. Speaker, these members acted in good faith. They were democratically elected by their constituents. The Elections Act is also very clear that loans to candidates that are not repaid become donations and that donations of more than $1,000 are illegal. Liberal leadership candidates also received illegal donations. When will the Liberal Party be accountable for those illegal donations?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party pleaded guilty in its in-and-out finance scandal. Peter Penashue was forced out by gross campaign irregularities. The Conservative database was used for illegal voter suppression. The PMO and Conservative senators engaged in a cover-up of the Nigel Wright affair, and now we have two more Conservative MPs sitting in this place under a cloud.
    Any fisherman in Newfoundland and Labrador would say that fish rots from the head down. When will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the scandals in his caucus and on his watch?
    Mr. Speaker, we will be happy to compare our record on this side of the House of Commons to the Liberal record any day of the week. This is the party that passed the Federal Accountability Act. This is the party that banned big money and corporate cash from the political system. This is the party whose Prime Minister has appointed every single senator who has been elected in the province of Alberta and who has said to every province that they too can have the opportunity to choose their own senators. On this side of the House, we say, in both official languages, the exact same thing: Our Senate should be elected. Our government should be accountable.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, behold the Conservatives' code of ethics. Bend the rules, we blame the bureaucrats. Break the law, we hide behind party lawyers. Abuse the public trust, we just deny all responsibility.
    The Conservative members from Saint Boniface and Selkirk—Interlake contravened the Canada Elections Act, and the Chief Electoral Officer has asked that they be suspended as MPs for these violations, as is mandatory under subsection 463(2). What is the government going to do to hold these Conservative MPs to account for violating elections law?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said already, these members acted in good faith, and they were democratically elected by their constituents. That is why they sit in the House of Commons.They are exercising their right to have this latest interpretation by Elections Canada reviewed by the courts, and we look forward to the outcome of that.
    The Leader of the Opposition said it was very easy to answer questions, and then seconds later he refused to answer a very basic factual one: How many envelopes of cash had he been offered when he was in Quebec politics?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, either the parliamentary secretary does not know the law or he is ignoring it because he believes his party is above the law.
    It is extremely important that we report our election campaign expenses in detail. However, the members for Saint Boniface and Selkirk—Interlake are still hiding theirs. They believe that they have found a loophole in the law, as in the case of the in and out scheme, that will allow them to win out. However, there are no shortcuts in a democracy.
    When will the Conservatives give Elections Canada the powers needed to prevent other violations of the Canada Elections Act?
    Mr. Speaker, these members acted in good faith. They were democratically elected by their constituents. They now have the right to argue their case in court, and we respect that right.

Government Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, they did not even need to break the law. If they had lost the election, they were guaranteed a job in the Social Security Tribunal.
    Take another example. Claude Durand, who ran in 2008, was parachuted into the EI Board of Referees, where she promptly broke the rules by continuing to make donations to the Conservatives. Was she punished? No. She was appointed to the Social Security Tribunal.
    Why do they continue their Duplessis-style patronage, even when those who benefit do not follow the rules?
    Mr. Speaker, our government makes appointments based on merit. The Social Security Tribunal positions were widely advertised. The members appointed were subject to a rigorous competency-based selection process and had to meet specific criteria relating to the experience and competencies required to perform these duties.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is pretty simple.
     People like Margot Ballagh, Claude Durand and Neil Nawaz broke donation rules by giving money to the Conservative Party after their first patronage appointment. However, instead of being punished, they are being rewarded by the Conservatives with yet another plum patronage appointment.
    What is it about these Conservatives that makes them believe that the rules do not apply to them? Is it really possible that they still do not understand that they are not above the law?
     Our government makes appointments based on merit. Positions on the Social Security Tribunal were advertised broadly. Members appointed went through a rigorous, competency-based selection process where they had to meet specific experience and competency criteria in order to have the roles.

  (1445)  

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the anniversary of D-Day. Canada's armed forces played a critical role in ensuring the liberation of Europe. We fought on the water, we fought in the skies and we fought on the ground against the tyranny of Nazism. We will always remember the sacrifices of our men and women who died fighting in Canada's name for freedom.
    Today, the Canadian Forces continue that proud tradition. We know that HMCS Toronto is doing incredible work in the international fight against terrorism. Can the Associate Minister of National Defence update this House on the efforts of our brave men and women sailing aboard HMCS Toronto?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Durham for his service.
    The Royal Canadian Navy has done incredible work in disrupting the illegal drug trade in the Indian Ocean. In the past few weeks, HMCS Toronto stopped and boarded ships, and recovered over 1,100 kilograms of heroin. This week, HMCS Toronto made an astonishing seizure of over six metric tonnes, or 6,000 kilograms, of hashish, the largest seizure in the history of the Combined Maritime Forces.
    The women and men on the HMCS Toronto are working to keep shipping sea lanes free of pirates and terrorists, and our streets free of illicit drugs. We are very proud of these sailors.

[Translation]

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety did not speak out against the RCMP commissioner's condescending remarks about sexual harassment.
    By calling into question the validity of the complaints, he is encouraging women who work for the RCMP to continue to remain silent for fear of reprisal. The existing system is not working at all.
    Can the minister reassure us and confirm that these women did the right thing by coming forward? Can he also tell us where this much-promised change in RCMP culture is?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we take the issue of harassment within the RCMP, and specifically sexual harassment, very seriously. That is why our government introduced Bill C-42, the enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act, to, among other things, modernize and speed up the process whereby complaints like this can be handled.
    Sadly, the NDP opposed this important piece of legislation, which was supported by police organizations, by civil liberties within B.C. and by justice ministers across the country. The New Democrats speak about accountability. They speak about stopping sexual harassment, but do nothing.
    Mr. Speaker, we heard from witness after witness that Bill C-42 is not enough to put an end to sexual harassment in the RCMP and the government knows that. The RCMP members will not feel comfortable coming forward, especially when other complaints are being questioned publicly and in the media.
    Public confidence in the RCMP must be restored, but Canadians need to see change. Will the minister show leadership and establish an out-of-court process to resolve these very serious harassment complaints?
    Mr. Speaker, I was at every committee meeting that covered this bill. I do not think that member was. I can say that the witnesses overwhelmingly supported this legislation.
    What we have done is put in place not only a process whereby complaints can be handled more quickly, but also a new civilian review commission that can handle complaints from within the RCMP as well as from out of the RCMP.
    The opposition members offer no solutions. All they do is oppose good, sound legislation.

Public Works and Government Services

    Mr. Speaker, not only has Public Works been charged, and is soon to be sentenced, in the case of the boiler explosion that killed and injured workers, but it has been revealed that failure to obey health and safety laws is systemic. The truth is out on a pattern of neglect for repeated warnings about unqualified contractors, code violations, and reports by both workers and health and safety officers.
    The buck stops with the minister. When can we expect the minister to make compliance with worker safety a priority?
    Mr. Speaker, our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the family of the deceased from the Cliff plant incident. Since this incident we have made sure that the department has implemented a number of additional health and safety measures, including enhancing training and management oversight, conducting a review of the occupational health and safety training program, and investing in third-party procedural reviews.
    I am happy to report that Donna Lackie, who is the National President of the Government Services Union, has said that we are moving in the right direction. She said, “We're confident the measures they have put in place will ensure the proper training has been done...so employees can do their job safely ”

  (1450)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, a man is dead because Public Works and Government Services Canada used an unqualified subcontractor. This situation is ultimately the department's responsibility.
    A former Public Works and Government Services Canada employee warned his supervisors about a problem with the subcontractors that had been hired. Safety codes had been violated.
    Even though Public Works and Government Services Canada has been charged, the company involved could not be brought to justice simply because the incident occurred on federal property.
    It is high time the government stopped stalling and provided better protection for people working on federal property.
    When will the government change the law to better protect workers?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in terms of the mandate of Public Works and the work that we could do, I instructed my department in every way to work with the union and with the investigation, with our labour department. As I said, we have introduced a number of enhanced measures to make sure that this does not happen again. We have worked closely with the union. The head of the union did say that she feels confident that the measures we have put in place will ensure that the proper training has been done, that the programs and policies are now in place to make sure that employees are working in a safe environment. That is what matters.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, we have crowd-sourced over 3,000 questions from Canadians across the country for the Prime Minister on economic challenges facing the middle class. I want to ask the Prime Minister a question I received from Dustin in Calgary. His question is specifically about his EI premiums, which are rising by $50 this year, a direct payroll tax increase.
    Dustin would like to know why the Prime Minister chose to raise EI premiums for him and every other working Canadian?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, employment insurance premiums are paid by both workers and employers.
    Let us be very clear. We are focused on making sure that employment insurance is available for those who need it when they, through no fault of their own, are not able to be employed. More importantly, we are focused on ensuring that Canadians are connected to jobs so that they have the right skills in the right place so that they can provide for their families.
    I encourage the member opposite to get on board and support the Canada job grant and our numerous other initiatives in economic action plan 2013.

[Translation]

Government Advertising

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Prime Minister another question, this one from Monique in Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix.
    Monique would like to know how the government can justify spending Canadians' money on negative partisan advertising. She does not think that is productive for anyone, except the Conservative Party, and she thinks that there are many other causes that would be worthy of her tax money and that would help Canadians.
    She wants to know why the Prime Minister is wasting her tax dollars on negative partisan advertising.
    I will say that advertising is an essential means for informing Canadians about important issues, such as temporary stimulus measures, tax credits and public health issues.

[English]

    I would say, of course, that our rates of advertising are much lower than those of the previous Liberal government, and we will continue to do so to make sure that the taxpayer is defended.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, today, the Hupacasath First Nation is in court, challenging the legality of the Canada-China FIPA. Despite a constitutional obligation to consult first nations, the Conservative government rammed through this agreement with no talks whatsoever.
    The Prime Minister signed this deal on September 9, 2012. While the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge the serious problems with this agreement nine months later, the government still has not ratified it. Why not?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will take no lessons from the NDP on protecting the interests of Canadians. While the NDP supports giving special breaks to Chinese manufacturers, it has no interest in protecting Canadians who are investing in China.
    This agreement will give Canadian investors in China the same types of protections that foreign investors have long had in Canada. Just once, the NDP should stand up for the interests of Canadians.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand whether the minister does not want to answer the question or whether he simply cannot. I will try again.
    The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement has been ready for ratification since November 10, but the Conservatives have not yet ratified it.
    If, as the Conservatives claim, there is no problem with the agreement, why have they not yet ratified it?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will repeat. Canadian investors have applauded this agreement because it protects their interests. It is a fully reciprocal agreement that ensures that Canadians have a level playing field on which to compete, but of course, the NDP supports measures that tilt the balance in favour of Chinese exports.
    It is a shame the NDP is more interested in standing up for Chinese manufacturers than for Canadian investors. Shame on them.

Food Safety

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to providing safe food for Canadians. In fact, since 2006, our government has invested over half a billion new dollars in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and has hired over 750 net new inspectors.
    Our government has also passed the Safe Food for Canadians Act and brought in new E. coli controls. We have also put in place an independent expert panel to look into the events of last fall, stemming from the XL beef plant in Brooks, Alberta.
    Can the Minister of Agriculture please update the House on that panel and its findings?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Medicine Hat knows that Canadian families must have confidence in our food safety system.
    Following the recall of XL Foods last fall, this government initiated an independent review panel. I met with that panel earlier today. I am pleased to say I will be tabling that report in the House this afternoon.
    Let me be clear. Our government accepts the recommendations that the panel has made. We will continue to work on bolstering our food safety system by improving inspections, strengthening food safety rules and recalls and improving communications of Canadian consumers and passing things like Bill S-11.

Government Advertising

    Mr. Speaker, the government's own research shows its ads are ineffective, yet tonight, Conservative MPs will approve spending $24 million more in wasteful and ineffective advertising, including $140,000 for a single 30-second ad.
    One report last year showed that 92% of people who saw the ad did nothing at all in reaction.
    How could the government possibly justify spending millions more on advertising that it knows does not provide any useful information to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member, as is consistent with the public accounts, that advertising represents 0.3% of government spending, less than that in fact. It is the responsibility of governments to communicate on important programs and services available to Canadians.
    Unlike the previous Liberal government, when we allocate money to advertising, it actually goes to advertising.

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have a short memory when it comes to their promises.
    Last December, the Minister of Finance made a clear commitment to meet with his provincial counterparts this month about CPP and QPP. CPP and QPP are the backbone of out pension system. Our communities and all Canadians will benefit from CPP-QPP expansion.
    Will the minister tell us when this meeting is happening and will he be keeping his promises to strengthen CPP and QPP?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, I must remind the hon. member that the Canada pension plan has shared jurisdiction between the provinces. We cannot arbitrarily make any changes to the Canada pension plan without consulting with the provinces.
    We continue to do that, but not all the provinces are in support now of expanding the Canada pension plan, but they were all in support of putting in place a framework for the pooled registered pension plan.
    We think that is a good idea, but apparently the NDP members do not. They do not think we should help people have another option for savings, because they voted against that in the House.

  (1500)  

Telecommunications Industry

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal Party's industry critic criticized our government's decision to promote competition so Canadian consumers could benefit from more choices and lower wireless prices.
    Frankly, this is not surprising. After all, the Liberal leader does not have to look far to find inspiration in the 1970s era Liberal monopolies that hurt the economy and Canadians.
    By contrast, will the Minister of Industry explain to the House how our government's decision will benefit consumers?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mississauga South for her very relevant question.

[English]

    It was clear yesterday that the Liberal Party was more comfortable with the status quo in the telecom industry than real progress. Liberals have made it clear that they stand against Canadian consumers and for higher prices and less choice.
    Meanwhile our government sent a bold, clear message to the industry. In that sense, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said loud and clear that our government stood up for wireless consumers.

[Translation]

    The Conservative government will not hesitate to use all of the tools at its disposal to promote healthier competition and to protect Canadian consumers in this industry.

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the Canadian Transportation Agency concluded that compensation offered to Air Canada customers bumped from overbooked flights is insufficient. That compensation would have been sufficient if the Conservatives had supported Bill C-459.
    Why do the Conservatives feel that Canadian passengers do not deserve the same protection as Europeans and Americans?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada's airline industry is based on a user-pay principle. Other countries have chosen different options, but here, people who use the air transportation system pay for its services. We have excellent airline service in our country.
    We will continue to support airlines across the country by putting in place infrastructure, security measures and regulations that allow them to run a successful business.
    Our system operates on a user-pay principle.

The Senate

    Mr. Speaker, when the government ran out of ways to cover up the Senate expense scandal, it asked the Auditor General to look into the senators' shady claims.
    In 2010, the Bloc Québécois was the only party to immediately agree to the request by former auditor general Sheila Fraser to conduct such an audit for the House of Commons.
    Why stop there? Why not ensure that the Auditor General can go over senators' and members' expenses with a fine-toothed comb and make it a regular, statutory review?
    Mr. Speaker, as our colleague well knows, last week, we took very responsible measures to protect the taxpayers' interests by adopting 11 tough new rules.
    We will continue in that vein by making changes to the Senate. We will also proceed with bigger changes: having senators elected or abolishing the Senate, if necessary, and changing the length of senators' terms.
    That is the direction the Conservative government is taking. We will do what is right for the taxpayers.

[English]

Presence in Gallery

    I would like draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of a parliamentary delegation from the Kingdom of Lesotho, led by the Hon. Sephiri Enoch Motanyane, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Points of Order

Oral Questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order relating to a number of questions that were raised by the leader of the Liberal Party, which were clearly in contravention of the rules of this place.
    I know he is somewhat new here and is not entirely familiar yet with the rules, but when we look at the good book, O'Brien and Bosc, we will find at pages 502 and 503 a reference to questions in question period. A question should not be a representation and, furthermore, it should not be a question from a constituent. This has been dealt with on occasion by Speakers of the House. For example, in early 1994, the member for Fraser Valley West asked the finance minister a question on behalf of one of his constituents and Speaker Parent advised that was out of order.
    I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you not permit such questions and that you ask the hon. member to withdraw his inappropriate context or otherwise acknowledge he is just simply in over his head.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a shame of mine, but I am not an MP from Calgary. I am the MP for Papineau and neither question was from a constituent. The questions were from Canadians who had questions they wanted the Prime Minister to answer. That is part of our jobs as members of Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, I will not state the obvious, that he does not think he represents Canadians but only one constituency in the city of Montreal. However, I will point out that the reference means a question of any representative type on behalf of a Canadian. We are here in our role, as the Speaker has ruled clearly in the past, to ask questions, not to ask representative questions on behalf of individual Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, members in the House have asked many times of the Prime Minister why he is choosing to raise payroll taxes and why he is choosing to spend public funds on accounts. These are questions Canadians have.

[Translation]

    On another point of order, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on another point of order.
    I would like to give the Minister of Canadian Heritage and his government the chance to make amends since he did not really provide a clear answer as to whether the government has decided to allow the Auditor General to review the management of the Senate as a result of the spending scandal.
    For the sake of consistency and transparency, I seek unanimous consent for the following:
    That this House allow the Auditor General to conduct regular, statutory audits of the expenditures of senators and MPs.

[English]

    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Language Skills Act

     The House resumed from May 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-419, An Act respecting language skills, be read the third time and passed.
    Pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, May 22 the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-419.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

  (1515)  

[English]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 727)

YEAS

Members

Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Ashton
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Baird
Bateman
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Borg
Boughen
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Byrne
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Clement
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Foote
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Gallant
Garneau
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harper
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jean
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Laverdière
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKenzie
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
Mayes
McCallum
McColeman
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Pacetti
Papillon
Paradis
Patry
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Toone
Tremblay
Trottier
Trudeau
Truppe
Turmel
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 271

NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (prize fights)

     The House resumed from May 29 consideration of the motion that Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (prize fights), be read the third time and passed.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading of the bill.

  (1525)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 728)

YEAS

Members

Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Ashton
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Baird
Bateman
Bélanger
Bellavance
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Borg
Boughen
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Byrne
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chisholm
Chisu
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Clement
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Foote
Fortin
Freeman
Gallant
Garneau
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harper
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
James
Jean
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Laverdière
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKenzie
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McColeman
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Michaud
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Pacetti
Papillon
Paradis
Patry
Payne
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Toone
Tremblay
Trottier
Trudeau
Truppe
Turmel
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Yelich
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 267

NAYS

Members

Albrecht
Ambler
Chong
Galipeau
Holder
Mayes
Watson
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)

Total: -- 9

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act

    The House resumed from June 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-478, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-478 under private members' business.

  (1530)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 729)

YEAS

Members

Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Bellavance
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Fortin
Galipeau
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Patry
Payne
Plamondon
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trottier
Truppe
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 156

NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

     (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Chief Electoral Officer of Canada

    I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada regarding returning officers. This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

XL Foods Inc. Beef Recall 2012

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I am pleased to table, in both officials languages, the independent review of XL Foods Inc. beef recall 2012.

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 18 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, I have two reports to present to the House on behalf of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 34, the first report I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, is the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in a parliamentary mission to the Republic of Lithuania, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe, the European Union and the European Parliament, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Brussels, Belgium, from April 3 to 9, 2013.
    The second report that I wish to present to the House, pursuant to Standing Order 34, in both official languages, is the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, held in Washington, D.C., in the United States of America, from March 12 to 13, 2013.

Committees of the House

Public Accounts  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in relation to its study “Public Accounts of Canada, 2012”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

  (1535)  

Employees' Voting Rights Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce my private member's bill.
    Bill C-525 would provide necessary amendments to the certification and decertification of a bargaining agent by way of a mandatory secret ballot vote based on a majority.
    For far too long the federal legislation has lagged behind that of our provincial counterparts, and workers deserve the right to have a secret ballot vote to decide who represents them at the bargaining table.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Cracking Down on Organized Crime and Terrorism Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my private member's bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code, also entitled the “cracking down on organized crime and terrorism act”.
    It has been identified by this Parliament, the RCMP and criminal law experts that organized crime is a serious problem in Canada and around the world. Currently, offences connected with organized crime and terrorism are considered aggravating factors during sentencing.
    Bill C-526 would protect Canadians further by creating a new subcategory of serious aggravating factors and, secondly, providing greater direction and additional tools to judges to identify and punish gang members, organized criminals and terrorists.
    The purpose of the bill is to ensure that those committing a criminal offence in collusion with others, and those committing acts of terrorism, are severely punished.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act

     (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Committees of the House

Finance  

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
     I move:
    That, in relation to its study on income inequality, the Standing Committee on Finance be authorized to continue its deliberations beyond Thursday, June 13, 2013, and to present its report no later than Thursday, October 31, 2013.

    (Motion agreed to)

Iran

    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among parties, and I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the following motion, jointly seconded by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake and the hon. member for Mount Royal.
    I move:
    That, this House condemn the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, honours the memory of the victims buried in the mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes September 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present six sets of petitions today from constituents from the London area, Woodstock, Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Toronto.
     All of these petitioners are asking to draw the attention of the House of Commons to the fact that millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective pregnancy termination, which creates a global gender imbalance and causes girls to be trafficked into prostitution.
    Therefore, the petitioners are asking Parliament to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.

  (1540)  

Employment Insurance  

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to present a petition signed by hundreds of residents of New Brunswick and other provinces in Atlantic Canada.
     They are objecting to the very wrong-spirited and mean-spirited changes that the government is making to employment insurance, particularly as it impacts seasonal industries and those who work in seasonal industries.
    The petitioners are asking this House and the government to change direction and to rescind these changes to employment insurance to ensure that economic progress and fairness can continue in areas dependent on seasonal work.

Venezuela  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition on behalf of Venezuelan Canadians residing in Ontario. They are asking to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the civil rights and electoral rights of Venezuelan people have been shamefully violated since the last presidential election. The petitioners are asking our government, the champions of democracy, to take a strong position regarding this matter, and call for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the crisis in Venezuela.

National Parks  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding Rouge national park. The petitioners call on the government to protect the 100-square-kilometre public land assembly with a healthy and sustainable Rouge national park; ensure that the Rouge national park implements and strengthens the ecological visions and policies of previously approved Rouge park plans; conduct a rational, scientific and transparent public planning process to create Rouge national park's boundaries, legislation and strategic plan; and, include first nations and Friends of the Rouge Watershed on an advisory board.

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to table from British Columbians throughout metro Vancouver. The petitioners call on Parliament to acknowledge that current impaired driving laws are too lenient and they request tougher laws, including mandatory minimum sentences for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death.

Search and Rescue  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario and across Ontario protesting the closure of the Thunder Bay Marine Communications and Traffic Service centre. This centre is crucial for the safety of boaters and marine traffic on lakes and rivers, all the way from Lake Winnipeg downstream through Lake Superior to Lake Huron.
    The petitioners are asking that the House reverse the government's decision to close the centre, which has been a critical institution in the northern marine safety community for the past 104 years.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from a number of constituents from Prince Edward Island. They wish to indicate to the House that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a national public broadcaster, plays an important role in reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs of those regions.
    They call upon the Government of Canada to maintain stable, predictable, long-term core funding to the public broadcaster, including CBC Radio and Radio-Canada, in support of their unique and critical role.

Peace  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition signed by hundreds of Canadians, mostly from western Quebec and eastern Ontario, who are among the more than one million Canadians who actively support the creation of a federal department of peace. They call upon the government to create such a department to provide leadership toward ensuring the government's commitment to the promotion of peace worldwide.

National Parks  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present a petition from approximately 650 petitioners from the Toronto area, but including from a region extending to Burlington, St. Catharines and Oakville. They are petitioning the House to pay attention to the implementation of the vision of a Rouge Valley national park worthy of the name.
    I started working on the Rouge issue back in the 1980s, and I am disheartened to find that the current plans and the May 2012 operating plan and vision for the park might even leave the national park with less protection than it had under provincial control.
    The petitioners ask for a full, rational planning process and consultation with first nations and with Friends of the Rouge so that we can respect the ecological integrity and move forward with the government's vision of a national park in the Rouge Valley.

  (1545)  

Mining Industry  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table today a petition from students from a north end Winnipeg school dealing with the issue of corporate social responsibility and Canadian companies. Petitioners are asking that the House of Commons legislate that the standards for Canadian mining companies operating outside of Canada be the same as the standards they must reach operating inside of Canada.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if question no. 1317 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1317--
Mr. Scott Simms:
     With regard to Bill C-11 from the 1st session of the 38th Parliament, “An Act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings”, what are the details of all codes of conduct that have been implemented, considered, modified, or withdrawn by the government under Chapter 46, clauses 5 through 7, of the bill since it received Royal Assent on November 25, 2005, and what is the current status of each code of conduct?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Avalon.

Privilege

Elections Canada  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege to discuss a matter of great importance relating to two Conservative MPs and whether they should currently be sitting in the House of Commons.
    We learned recently that the Chief Electoral Officer sent you a notice, Mr. Speaker, in relation to the two Conservative MPs in question, specifically the member for Selkirk—Interlake and the member for Saint Boniface, indicating that he had made requests for corrections to their electoral campaign returns and that the corrections requested had not been made.
    Before I start my arguments, I would like to quote the Canada Elections Act, which reads, in subsection 463(2):
    An elected candidate who fails to provide a document as required by section 451 or 455 or fails to make a correction as requested under subsection 457(2) or authorized by 458(1) shall not continue to sit or vote as a member until they are provided or made, as the case may be.
    It is quite clear that this subsection of the Canada Elections Act would require that these two members be suspended immediately, because the act says that they are to be suspended until the correction requested by the Chief Electoral Officer is made.
    I understand that they may disagree with Elections Canada on the substance of their filings and that they have both made applications to the Federal Court on this matter. However, this does not change the fact that they should not sit or vote in the House until the matter is rectified, either by Elections Canada or by the Federal Court.
    The precedence on this matter is clear. On March 1, 1966, in dealing with a similar question of privilege, Speaker Lamoureux ruled:
(a) That, even if there is a penalty provision in section 63 of the Canada Elections Act and whatever may be the terms of the order made by the judge pursuant to the said section in allowing an authorized excuse, the house is still the sole judge of its own proceedings, and for the purposes of determining on a right to be exercised within the house itself which, in this particular case, is the right of one hon. member to sit and to vote, the house alone can interpret the relevant statute.
(b) That the procedure followed in 1875 with regard to the precedent above referred to, which bears a resemblance to the case before us, seems to me to indicate that the question was dealt with at the time as being of the nature of a prima facie case of a breach of privilege.
(c) That it is not within the competence of the Speaker to decide as to the question of substance or as to the disallowance of a vote, and that such decisions are to be made by the house itself.
    This ruling makes it perfectly clear that the House, not the courts, and with due respect, not the Speaker, determines whether the member for Saint Boniface and the member for Selkirk—Interlake have the right to sit in the House.
    As for how this matter should be addressed, we are of the view that the question on this matter should be put to the House. According to Maingot, 2nd edition, on page 188, in reference to and from the same ruling, it says:
    [T]he Speaker said that the right of the Member for Montmagny—L'Islet to vote subsequent to the date when he should have paid his election expenses was a proper subject of privilege, but that the House must decide that issue, and whether his votes should be disallowed. The Member who raised the matter did not move the usual motion to refer it to the committee and no further proceedings were taken.
    Again, on page 247 of Maingot, 2nd edition, it says:
    A...procedure akin to "privilege" (because it would be given precedence and discussed without delay) would be the case of whether a Member was disqualified to sit and ineligible to vote. These matters may only be resolved ultimately by the House, and they are "privilege" matters because the House has the power to rule that a Member is ineligible to sit and vote, and to expel the Member.
    It goes on to say:
    The determination of whether a Member is ineligible to sit and vote is a matter to be initiated without notice and would be given precedence by its very nature.
    The facts are clear. The members have not made the proper filings or corrections, as requested by Elections Canada.

  (1550)  

    The act plainly states:
    An elected candidate who fails to provide a document as required by section 451 or 455 or fails to make a correction as requested under subsection 457(2) or authorized by 458(1) shall not continue to sit or vote as a member until they are provided or made....
    The review by the Federal Court does not provide relief from this section of the Canada Elections Act. Precedent clearly states that it is for the House to determine the member's eligibility to sit and vote in the House, not the Federal Court and not the Speaker. As such, I would ask that members of the House be provided the letter sent to the Speaker by Elections Canada on this matter.
    This goes to the heart of our democracy. The fact that we are all elected to this place on the same footing, by the same rules and on an even playing field for all provides for a fair election to the House of Commons.
    If Elections Canada, our independent elections agency, determines that rules have not been followed or have been broken, there are consequences. Those consequences are that those members do not deserve the right to sit or vote in this House as members.
    Finally, if you do find that there is a breach of privilege, I will be prepared to move the appropriate motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I anticipate that the hon. members from Saint Boniface and Selkirk—Interlake may wish to address this more fully, once they have an opportunity, and the related issue of whether it is their privileges that have been offended by what has unfolded here.
    Briefly speaking, my understanding of the issue is that the individuals in question are being asked to account twice for a single campaign expense, that being the billboards that were put up on a permanent basis. The rules in the past have always been that if there is spending that transfers over from an election period to a non-election period, any costs that are fixed are pro-rated.
    Apparently, Elections Canada wishes to take a new interpretation of this. The members are disputing this new interpretation, which has not been applied, certainly in my own experience and that of others in the past. As such, the members have availed themselves of the only avenue that exists, which is to have the issue resolved in the courts.
    That is where the matter sits right now. It is a quite simple dispute. It is certainly not the kind of question of accounting interpretation that I think a reasonable person would say would justify a member being suspended from being able to participate in the House, having been duly elected by the voters.
    From that perspective, knowing how simple that issue is and also the legal framework in which you are working, the decision you have taken to allow that legal process to unfold to resolve the issue, at which point the question of how it would function under the act might come into play, is an appropriate one. Therefore, I do not see particular merit in the suggestion, in advance of the resolution of the issue and in advance of the court deciding on the interpretation of the fixed costs of billboards, that it has reached a level such that the member is asking you to intervene. I would suggest that it is obviously very premature. Another process is under way, and it would not be your place as Speaker to interpret that process and make a ruling when it is before the courts.
    That being said, I think the hon. members may wish to come back here and make further submissions on the points that have been raised and if the fashion in which it has unfolded has offended their own privileges.
    You, as the Speaker, I think have conducted yourself in the fashion that the rules of this place suggest, that being as the guardian of the privileges of the members of this place. The way in which you have responded to this issue has been the appropriate response in those circumstances.
    As I said, the hon. members will likely return with further submissions.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the official opposition, we would also like to reserve the right to come back to this as soon as possible and to let you know when that would be.
    It is true what the member for Avalon said. The provisions of section 463(2) do not make specific reference to an appeal process or a court process as trumping the section. The section is a mandatory section, but the approach you have taken also obviously has its merit. Therefore, we would much prefer to reserve for the moment and come back to address the matter.
    Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that while the Conservative members may try to argue that they have filed the appropriate documents and it is only the substance of those documents that is in dispute, that point is in fact irrelevant.
    Thinking strictly in terms of Elections Canada's legislation, subsection 463(2) uses the word “or”, not “and”, where it says:
....or fails to make a correction as requested under subsection 457(2) or authorized by 458(1) shall not continue to sit....
    The word “or” is disjunctive, not conjunctive.
    Mr. Speaker, this puts you in a position where you are bound to comply with the request of the Chief Electoral Officer. To do anything less will constitute a breach of the privileges of the rest of us in the House and, worse, bring the proper application of the Canada Elections Act and our willingness to abide by it into disrepute.
    I look forward to further submissions on this question. We will move on now to orders of the day.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—The Senate  

    That all funding should cease to be provided to the Senate beginning on July 1, 2013.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions, government orders will be extended by 24 minutes.
    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2013, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    I am pleased to rise in the House to begin debate on my motion regarding funding for the Senate.
    As hon. members know, the Senate dates back to the time of Confederation. The Fathers of Confederation gave that chamber the mission of reviewing and improving legislation passed by the House of Commons. The Senate was also designed to ensure that the provinces and regions are represented in the federal legislative process. Thus, the Constitution Act of 1867 divides the country into four regions—Ontario, Quebec, the maritime provinces and the western provinces—and sets out the number of senators that represent each of those regions.
    That was the vision, but the problem is that the Fathers of Confederation also decided that the Senate would be made up of unelected, partisan members. That is the problem. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental contradiction between the duties of the Senate and its partisan nature. This contradiction has now become a democratic crisis. We are at a turning point in the history of this institution and the democracy of our country. Today, senators more and more frequently vote along party lines rather than in the interest of the region that they are supposed to be representing. What is more, they refuse to pass bills that were carefully considered by the House and its committees.
    Unfortunately, today, many of the senators were appointed to the Senate not on their merit, but as payback for their loyal service to the party in power. The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party have both appointed defeated candidates, campaign managers, close friends and party donors to the Senate.
    We can talk at length about the democratic deficiencies of this outdated institution, but as the Treasury Board critic, I will let my colleagues add their important contribution to the debate and focus instead on the financial side of the issue.
    Before moving this motion I asked myself the following questions: is the Senate a good deal? Is the Senate a good investment for Canadian taxpayers? I will show in the rest of my speech that the answer to these questions is a categorical no.
    The reality is that the Senate costs Canadians a lot of money, more than $90 million a year. While the Conservatives have reduced the House of Commons budget, the budget of the duly elected members, they have just increased the Senate budget to a total of $92.5 million.
    We are spending $92.5 million for an upper chamber when the provincial senates have been abolished since 1968. The provinces are getting along quite well without a senate. No one has convinced me that the difference between federal and provincial governance is enough to justify spending $92 million for a senate.
    I would also remind Canadians that the senators worked only 71 days last year, roughly three months out of 12, and that they earn a salary of more than $130,000 a year, in addition to all their benefits. What is more, 31 senators were absent for 25% of those 71 working days.
    As incredible as it may seem, it takes the annual taxes paid by more than 8,000 families to pay for the Senate. Just by way of example, the total of other shady expenses, in other words, those claimed by Senator Wallin, are equivalent to the federal taxes paid by 28 Canadian families. The senator's $350,000 in travel expenses would be enough to pay for old age security for 57 seniors for one year.
    Between now and the end of his term, Senator Duffy, who is at the centre of a scandal, will pocket a further $1.3 million in salary. Between now and the end of his term, Mr. Brazeau, who is himself involved in a scandal, will earn $7 million. The total future payroll for the senators appointed by the Prime Minister is $116 million.

  (1600)  

    Senator absenteeism has become a problem. The average number of days worked by a senator in 2011-12 was only 56, which is not even two months of work.

[English]

    If that is not convincing enough, several senators are double-dipping by claiming a residence that they do not really use.
    According to the Constitution, senators must reside in the province they represent. Under section 31 of the Constitution Act of 1867, a senator's seat shall become vacant if “he ceases to be qualified in respect of property or of residence”.
    Senators must also own a minimum of $4,000 worth of land in their home province, and according to internal regulations at the Senate, senators who live more than 100 kilometres from Ottawa are entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses and to a $21,000 annual housing allowance.
    The problem is that several senators have declared second residences in Ottawa when these residences are actually their primary places of residence.
    For example, in 2012 Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau declared that his primary residence was in Maniwaki, Quebec, thus enabling him to claim a housing allowance for a secondary residence in the national capital region. Maniwaki is 130 kilometres from Ottawa. Media reports indicate that the residence in question is in fact the home of Patrick Brazeau's father. Brazeau resigned from the Conservative caucus and is now sitting as an independent.
    On May 9, the Deloitte audit and the Senate committee on internal economy's report ordered Senator Brazeau to repay $48,000 in unjustifiable claims.
    Another Conservative senator, Pamela Wallin, is supposed to represent Saskatchewan, but her primary residence is in Toronto and she holds an Ontario health insurance card. Since 2010 she has claimed $300,000 worth of travel expenses not related to travel to her province of origin and has been seen at numerous Conservative fundraising events.
    In question period on February 13, 2013, the Prime Minister confirmed that he had seen the senator's travel expenses and that they were normal.
    However, Deloitte is still examining the senator's expenses. On May 17, 2013, the senator left the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent.
    Mike Duffy is supposed to represent Prince Edward Island, where he owns a cottage, but he does not have a P.E.I. health insurance card. His primary residence is in Ontario. On March 26, Deloitte confirmed they had received a letter from Mike Duffy's lawyer stating that Duffy had repaid $90,000 and would no longer participate in the audit, and we know how that went.
    All of these senators were named by the current Prime Minister, but to show that the problem is not limited to the governing party, Liberal Senator Mac Harb has claimed $31,237 in living expenses since 2010. Even though he is supposed to represent the riding of Ottawa Centre in the House of Commons, he has not been living in Ottawa for a long time and has now confirmed that he lives in Pembroke, Ontario, a 90-minute drive from Ottawa.
    Deloitte's audit and the Senate committee on internal economy's report made public on May 9 ordered Mac Harb to repay $51,000, after which the senator resigned from the Liberal caucus in shame.
    These are only examples that we know of, and the secretive way the Senate functions may very well mean that there are hidden abuses that we do not know about. These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg.
    In his 2012 audit of Senate expenses, the Auditor General audited the housing allowance and travel expense claims for a number of senators. The Auditor General recommended as follows:
    The Senate Administration should ensure that it has sufficient documentation to clearly demonstrate that expenses are appropriate.
    We on this side of the House agree with him, but this is like putting a Band-Aid on an amputation. The problem is that senators are really on a different planet than most Canadians, and we cannot expect them to police themselves.
    Here is the proof that the Senate cannot investigate itself. On February 28, 2013, the Senate committee on internal economy determined at the outcome of its investigation that senators' housing allowances, including those of Mike Duffy, were in compliance with the rules.
    Well, that is convenient.

  (1605)  

    Let us not forget that the Senate committee on internal economy removed paragraphs in its report that criticized Mike Duffy because he had supposedly reimbursed the amount that he owed.
    No, the institution is outdated and fundamentally anti-democratic and non-elected senators are entrusted with duties similar to those of elected officials. This is the very definition of redundancy. Its continued existence just cannot pass the test of good value for money. It is time to solve the issue once and for all. Let us do Canadians and our democracy a favour and let us shut off the tap and empty the trough.
    Mr. Speaker, I talk to my daughter who is five years old. I understand she wants to get something done and yet I have to explain to her that there are rules in place, so if she wants to do something that is not how she can do it. I feel that this is the problem with the NDP right now.
    I understand New Democrats want to make some changes to the Senate. We are doing that as well and we have a plan to do that. What they have is a gimmick and they do not understand that there is a proper way to do things.
    I would like the ask the hon. member if they are trying to fool Canadians. Or do they just not understand the Constitution? Can he tell us whether their gimmick today, their little plan, is even constitutional?

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, what I can tell my hon. colleague is that all it has been is inaction for the last two years on behalf of the Conservative government. Conservatives were elected on a promise they would do something about the Senate. What have they done? Nothing.
    Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party members have demonstrated once again that they just do not understand what is important to Canadians today. It is the issue in regard to the Prime Minister's Office and the $90,000. We have seen that in question period where it is prioritized, but New Democrats are off on this tangent in regard to the Senate. They are being a little dishonest because they know full well it takes a constitutional amendment to do what they claim they would like to do some day.
    Can the member provide a list of the provinces that the New Democratic Party has actually approached? Does he have any idea of how many provinces, according to the Constitution, would be required? How many provinces do they have onside with the resolution proposed today?
    Why is the NDP not dealing with the issue that is on the minds of Canadians today, which is the issue related to the Prime Minister's Office and the $90,000?
    Mr. Speaker, what I do understand is that we can always count on a Liberal to defend entitlements and patronage. That is exactly what the Liberals are doing. That is exactly what their leader did. Canadians deserve better. They deserve that the institution be put to bed.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just heard the Liberal Party tell us that Canadians do not care that the Liberal senators have been ripping off the Canadian taxpayer for the last 106 years, that it is not important to Canadians.
    What does my hon. colleague hear? Does he hear from people who think that people like Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Mac Harb are an absolute disgrace and there needs to be accountability? I know the Liberals will defend it to the bitter end, but what is he hearing from his constituents?
    Mr. Speaker, from coast to coast to coast, I have had support for this motion from ordinary Canadians. It is not all that difficult to recognize that spending $92.5 million on a House in which the majority of people do not do their job is not worth taxpayers' money.
    Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that if the NDP is really serious about the motion today, I think it is disrespectful to the Supreme Court because the question is in front of the Supreme Court now, what has to be done if we want to change the Senate in different ways.
    I would say the NDP cannot be serious. If that is the case, we should not be debating it in the House today.
    Mr. Speaker, getting rid of its funding is not an issue that is before the Supreme Court.
    The motion, and I am sure my hon. colleague has read it, is about cutting the funding to the Senate, and that is completely possible.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to express the frustration of the people of Canada at an institution that has belligerently refused to reform itself over the years and is now at the heart of the worst spending scandal in Canadian history. Still, we see Liberal and Conservative senators, and the Liberal Party working with them, trying to deflect people from the fact that we have an unelected, unaccountable body with senators who feel that they are entitled to take money when they want it and how they want it. When they are under pressure, they say that maybe they will start providing a few receipts and ask if that would make it go away. That will not make it go away.
    This is not an obscure constitutional debating point. We are talking about an institution in 2013 that is unelected and unaccountable to Canadians, that has the power to interfere with the work of the democratically elected House. The House of Commons passed a bill dealing with catastrophic climate change because that is what Canadians want action on. It went to the other chamber, the red chamber. It is not called the red chamber just because of the colour of the carpet. This is the institution of patronage and corruption that was created by the Liberal Party. When that bill went to that place, it was senators who undermined the democratically elected will of Parliament.
    One of the key senators who undermined that bill that was passed by the House of Commons to deal with catastrophic climate change was Pamela Wallin. Pamela Wallin is one of the rogues' gallery chosen by the Prime Minister. Pamela Wallin also sits on the board of directors of a major oil sands development company. Is that not a conflict of interest? I ask the people of Canada that. When Pamela Wallin was asked why these unelected and unaccountable senators monkeywrenched legislation that had been passed by a democratically elected House, she said that bill was a nuisance.
    I have talked to senators. Some of them are nice people, some of them are smart people, but they see us as a nuisance. They believe that their work in the Senate is somehow more important than our work. There is at least one NDP private member's bill somewhere that they are all hot and bothered about that they have to deal with. Meanwhile, when the Conservative government stripped the Navigable Waters Protection Act and stripped environmental protection for lakes and rivers across this country, we did not hear a peep from senators. They rolled over like a bunch of obedient puppies doing tricks for their political masters.
    We are talking about a Senate where the Liberal Party members, though I see now the Conservatives are starting to get in on this, say that House of Commons MPs are just not bright enough and we do not understand that we cannot make changes. I hear that from senators all the time. They are not going to reform themselves because they do not think they can be forced to reform. They say it is a constitutional issue. We will hear that all day from the Liberals. They say it is constitutional and we cannot touch it. It is perfectly constitutional for the House of Commons to decide how much money to appropriate.
    Given the abuse of the taxpayers, given what has happened in the other chamber, I say that it is time to turn off the taps. Is there a precedent for it? Certainly, there is. We come from the Westminster tradition. Did members know that members of the House of Lords do not get salaries? No, peers do not get salaries. What they get is a per diem if they show up. Imagine the situation where hacks and party pals get to sit in the Senate until they are 75 and cannot be fired. They cannot be fired.
    Today someone from the media asked me if I was shocked that Mike Duffy missed half the committee meetings. I said heck no, I was shocked that he even showed up. There is no obligation for him to show up. Senators cannot be fired. Conservatives are looking at each other and sort of grinning about Patrick Brazeau, a man who has certainly disgraced a public office. He cannot be fired. He is in there until he is 75. He is a $7 million man. However, if we turn the taps off, we can tell Mr. Brazeau he can come back any time as a volunteer, just like in the patronage. I hear some squawking from the Liberals asking what the per diem is. Certainly members of the House of Lords get per diems, but if we turn off the taps, it would allow the House of Commons to finally start a discussion with these unelected and unaccountable cronies.
    However, that is not what the other two parties want to do right now because they have used the Senate to place their party organizers. The people that the member for Papineau relies on for fundraising sit in the other chamber. They do the party work on the taxpayers' dime. This is the way it has always been and this is still going on. They get to do that regardless of whether Canadians want them to do it or not because they believe Canadians cannot touch them.

  (1615)  

    We are not talking about constitutional change. We are talking about cutting off the taps. Let us put that to the Canadian people.
    The other thing that is really galling, from a democratic point of view, is the belief that in the 21st century Canadians have no ability to decide whether they want an unaccountable body.
     Every now and then, we will see the poor young tour guides who go around the House of Commons. They give a spiel about how the senators are there to defend minorities. I was at lunch the other day and I heard a senator go on about how her job was to defend minorities.
    When John A. Macdonald set up the Senate in 1867, he was very concerned about minorities, but he was not worried about women, francophones and gay people. What he was concerned about was the rich people. John A. Macdonald said that there would always be more poor people than rich people and that was why the Senate was needed to protect their interests. If the Senate has done one job well over the years, it has certainly looked after the interests of that class of people.
    On the housing scandal, the Liberal and Conservative senators came out and asked how we defined a primary residence. What planet do these guys live on? I go home to Cobalt. I could ask people if they know where their primary residences are because there are senators who do not know where their residences are. It is really complicated for them.
    This is part of the scam that went on in the Senate and why we have to demand some accountability from it. We were told that poor Mike Duffy just was not all that bright, that he could not fill out a form. That is why he was on the hook for $90,000.
    Certainly, if an average Canadian cannot fill out a form and claims $90,000, they get charged with fraud. However, we were told, according to internal audit of the Senate by Senator Tkachuk, Senator Olsen and the Liberal senators who were there, that the only problem with Mike Duffy was that he could not figure out where he lived, so they had to cut him some slack.
    On May 9, Marjory LeBreton, Conservative leader in the Senate, said that the case was closed, that it was over. It was as if there was nothing to see and they were going home. We did not hear a peep out of the Liberals about that, but they knew what was going on as well.
    Then we find out, because of the potentially illegal cheque that was written out of the Prime Minister's Office by Nigel Wright to Mike Duffy, which forced the light back on, that it was not just the fact that he did not know where he lived, but he could not seem to fill out expense forms. He would turn in an expense form and it would be rejected. He would turn in another one and it would be rejected. How many times does someone send in improper forms that even the Senate rejects without someone saying that there is a of abuse of the public trust.
    That was going on with Mike Duffy. I would be fascinated to hear what they say about Pamela Wallin, if we ever finally get that. Maybe the Liberal and Conservative senators will gang up and keep that hidden.
    There are a number of senators in the penalty box right now and none of them have responded with honour. The fundamental thing is public honour. We are called here to represent something better than ourselves.
    The Liberal leader, the member for Papineau, praised Mac Harb the other day. He said that Mac Harb did the right thing. What did Mac Harb do that was so good? The Liberals did not kick him out of the caucus. He quit the caucus so he could go after the Senate, go after his old comrades because he was not going to pay the money.
    Patrick Brazeau says that he is not going to pay the money. Mike Duffy did not even have to worry about paying the money, because he just called up Nigel Wright and asked him to give me $90,000 or he would not pay, so Nigel Wright paid him the $90,000.
    Do members think Pamela Wallin is going to easily fork out that money? That will be an interesting one.
    In 2013, when we have a group people that are defiant, people who cannot be fired and who refuse to be accountable to Canadians on the most basic things, we do not have to get into a constitutional debate with them, we simply have to say that enough is enough and we are turning off the taps.
    If they want to come back to us and discuss a role and what would be fair, I am sure we could talk about stuff. We could look at the situation in England where in the House of Lords, the members get a per diem. If they do not show up, they do not get paid. We could discuss that. Then it would restore it to the democratically elected House to decide what to do with that chamber, because it will not reform itself.

  (1620)  

    First, he is right that Canadians are disappointed and angry. I think they feel their trust has been betrayed, certainly by what they have heard in the news. I think that is why the NDP has reacted with this motion today.
    However, we have a reference right now to the Supreme Court of Canada. It asks a number of questions. One is about how the government could go about reforming the Senate, which is an important question. It also asks conditions under which we would have to satisfy if we were to look at abolishing the Senate.
    We have been consistent on that. Certainly I am never going to defend the status quo in the Senate. I know the Liberal leader has done that a number of times recently. I also know he gave Mac Harb a pat on the shoulder, which I thought was disgraceful
     I understand the motion the NDP brought forward which, by the way, I do not believe, even if the motion were passed, could ever be undertaken. However, would the member support our government's efforts to reform the Senate, if not reform, then abolish it? Will the member support the government in its stated direction?

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, what we find frustrating is we remember when the Conservatives came in and they agreed with the New Democrats on many areas. One was our share of frustration with the Senate. We were promised that action would be taken, but really no action has been taken. I do not know if it is whether the Conservatives do not want to do it or they realize the Senate will not do it. Therefore, it is important that the question is put before the Supreme Court.
    However, we have to send a message now. We cannot keep waiting. Because the Liberals keep telling us again and again that it cannot be done. Well, we turn off the taps. I certainly would like to hear from the courts on what we need to do.
    Also, when the Conservative government came in, it was working with the New Democrats on the accountability act. One of the key elements of the accountability act that we pushed was for a single ethics officer for both Houses and that was turned down by the Liberals in the Senate. Now the Senate officer needs permission from the people she will investigate and if she even gets that permission, she has to bring her recommendation to an in camera hearing and it will decide what to release.
    The Senate ethics officer has gone back into hibernation. There is no accountability. There were attempts to bring accountability and senators blocked it. It is time we take action.
    Mr. Speaker, the member is right. It is about accountability. Earlier today, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada had a proactive approach at disclosing expenses. That would have ensured more accountability for tax dollars, not only for the Senate but also for the House of Commons.
    The NDP's official response was that it was too onerous. The NDP wants to tell Canadians that we do not want this type of accountability because it is too onerous.
    I wonder if the member might want to reflect, in terms of that spontaneous statement from the New Democratic Party, and recognize that taking a proactive approach for both Houses, the Senate and the House of Commons, is what is in order and that he would in fact support the leader of the Liberal Party's call for more accountability of tax dollars, and that means taking a more proactive—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has just a little more than a minute.
    Boy, Mr. Speaker, he sounds defensive over there. I think it is cutting close to home.
    Let us go back to the Raymond Lavigne fraud case. He is the Liberal senator who was convicted of fraud. I urge people to Google it. They will see that everything was laid out there in the abuse of public trust, and they decided to go back to business as usual.
    Now what the Liberal leader is trying to do is what the Liberal senators are trying to do, saying “Don't look at us. Look over at the House of Commons”, and then they accuse us of diverting people's attention by throwing any attention elsewhere.
    If it had not been for us taking this up issue, the Liberals would be doing the same thing that happened under the Raymond Lavigne fraud case, saying, “You know what? Once people stop looking, we'll just ignore it and we'll be back to business”.

[Translation]

    Order, please. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas, Science and Technology.

  (1630)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me address this NDP gimmick, because that really is what it is. That is most obvious.
    Our party remains the only party with a serious plan to reform the Senate. Our party leader remains the only party leader with a clear plan. The Prime Minister has been clear. The Senate needs to be reformed or it needs to be abolished. While the NDP concocts this last minute motion, with serious constitutional ramifications without even consulting the provinces, our government takes real action such as tough new spending oversight for the Senate. That is not anything like the NDP window dressing. That is action.
    In fact, as recently as this week, the leader of the government in the Senate introduced a motion to call in the Auditor General to review Senate expenses. Of course, Liberal senators blocked it, as the Liberal leader continues to justify the status quo in the Senate.
    The New Democratic Party wants to call open season on Canada's constitution and the Liberal Party has its horse blinders on saying that the status quo is the way that it will go. Canadians want real action.
    Empty rhetoric in the case of the NDP and empty ideas in the case of the Liberals is not action. We believe that the Senate, in its current state, must change or it must go. It needs to reach its full potential as a democratic institution serving Canadians.
    To find out what we can change, we have taken several questions and proposals straight to the Supreme Court so it can clarify our mandate. The NDP meanwhile has not even tabled a serious or legitimate bill on abolishing the Senate, not one. They know they cannot get the support of the provinces, yet the New Democrats sit here today discussing this as if it is something more than an empty gimmick. Canadians will not be fooled.
    The NDP does not have an interest in actually reforming the Senate. It does not have an interest in talking to the provinces. Instead, it wants to ram through a poorly thought out gimmick that proves that it lacks the basic understanding of how our democracy works.
    Let us look at this concoction that the NDP has tabled today. The NDP wants to halt all funding to the Senate by Canada Day. It believes the Senate and the people who work there are rotten to the core. It is a broad brush. Let us pretend we have halted funding. What happens then? Legislation from the House still needs to pass in the other chamber.
    I just cannot believe the New Democrats are going to stand over there and pretend that this is an actual plan or anything more than what it actually is, just a gimmick. It shows how little they understand about functioning government. It shows how little they understand about our constitution. It shows how foolish they think Canadians are if they think they will buy this farce. No, Senate abolition is not a real goal for the NDP, a distraction maybe, but certainly not a goal.
    Why would a party serious about a constitutional battle with the provinces over Senate abolition make a caveat in the coalition agreement with the Bloc and the Liberals to have the power to appoint its own senators? The answer is that it is just not serious. Why would a party serious about Senate abolition state in its election platform that on top of a carbon tax if it formed government, it would bar party insiders from being appointed to the Senate? The answer again is, the NDP is just not serious.
    The NDP has been on every side of the issue. It calls for abolishing the Senate, then says it is open for reasonable reforms. Then it will not say whether it would appoint its own senators or not, when it is well known that it would, given the opportunity.
    The Supreme Court will provide a ruling on how to reform or abolish the Senate. However, given the NDP leader's past criticisms of the Supreme Court, I can see why it would rather roll the constitutional dice and hope it has pulled the wool over the eyes of Canadians.

  (1635)  

    Are the members over there actually intending to go home over the summer and attempt to sell this to their constituents as a real plan? Is this something that they would really try to sell? Surely, there must be a reasonable person on that side who knows full well that this is not action or a plan. It is simply empty rhetoric. Their own leader has said that abolition would require profound constitutional change and that they have other priorities before opening up the constitutional debate, yet here we are debating a motion that has no constitutional merit, one that would crack open the Constitution.
    What were the other priorities that the New Democrats had? Was the other priority to cover up their leader's cash-filled envelope offer from the former mayor of Laval, someone who faces numerous charges, including gangsterism and fraud? Why is it just coming to light now when he kept it to himself for 17 years? Is that the priority? They spent this time to discuss a gimmick when they could have used it to talk about the Canadian economy, something important to every Canadian and that affects us all.
     I can understand why they would not want to discuss their plans for the economy either. They are much like their proposal today.
    A $21-billion carbon tax. Maybe that is a tougher sell than today's concoction, but Canadians deserve to know what that means for them. It means essentially a tax on everything, on gas, on groceries, a tax on it all. It would kill jobs and hurt our economy. I would not want to spend the summer trying to sell that either.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. We have a minister who, rather than speaking to the motion, is just rambling all over the place. I would like to have you bring him back to order. He is supposed to speak relevantly to the bill at hand. I know he is shy about talking about the Senate given all the embarrassments. Regardless, he has to speak to the issue at hand, which is the Senate and the Conservatives who have been illegally taking money for expense claims that they should not have received. I hope he will address that.
    I appreciate the intervention on the part of the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. He will know of course, as will the hon. minister, that certainly relevance is part of the restrictions on debate in the chamber. Members are to address their remarks to the question that is before the House.
    Having said that, members will know that there is a great deal of liberty given to members to present their arguments and comments in a way that comes around to that question, and of course members have the time allowed for their remarks to do just that. I am sure the hon. minister will be making those connections in the course of his remarks in the time provided.
    Mr. Speaker, I will continue. I was talking about the NDP's $21-billion carbon tax as a priority for them.
    I would not want to sell that. However, what I would want to sell as a government is the leadership of our Prime Minister. In the first quarter of this year the Canadian economy grew by 2.5%. As a government, our focus is on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That is a plan that works. This country has added over 900,000 net new jobs. We have had the greatest job growth in the G7. We are saving families over $3,200 a year in taxes. That is something to be proud of. Under our government, families of four are better off by more than $3,200 a year.

[Translation]

    Does the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord wish to raise a point of order?
    Mr. Speaker, yes, I do.
    Could you repeat what you said earlier to my Conservative colleague, namely that he must speak about Senate reform, the issue that concerns us, rather than boasting about the Conservative government's record? If that is what he wants to do, he can clearly use other means of communication, such as his Twitter and Facebook accounts or the national news media. However, we are here to discuss a very important issue, that of cutting funding to the Senate.
    Mr. Speaker, I would be very grateful if you reminded him of what you said a bit earlier, because he apparently did not understand. You might want to repeat it in the other official language.
    I thank the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his intervention. It is true that members' comments and speeches must be relevant and pertain to the question that is before the House.

  (1640)  

[English]

    However, I would go on to say again that members are afforded a great deal of liberty in terms of how they present their arguments. I have been listening to the hon. minister. It is my understanding that he is drawing a contrast in terms of his initial argument in respect to the question that is before the House, and presenting arguments to support that assertion that he made in the initial comments that he offered. The hon. member does have some time to present those arguments. I am sure he is going to bring those ideas around to the question in due course.
    Mr. Speaker, I can understand the New Democrats would not want to discuss the fact that under our government, families of four are better off right now with more than $3,200 a year. I know that is something I am very proud of.
    Therefore, at a time when the economy is a top concern for Canadians, when it is so fragile, this is what the opposition members want to focus on, taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution. Canadians are concerned about the future of their own finances and the finances of this country. However, I just cannot connect the dots here. The New Democrats would rather debate a motion that they know has absolutely zero merit, that has absolutely zero chance of being remotely constitutional; a motion that looks like it has been written in their leader's dream diary. It is mind-boggling. Now we know the NDP plan.
    What about the third party's plan? What have the Liberals offered up? Well it is the same as all their policies that we heard during the leadership campaign to be sergeant for the third party: nothing. The Liberals want the status quo. They want to cover their eyes and pretend the Senate does not need reforming, that somehow the magic of their new leader will make the Senate more accountable because he said it should be. Besides, why would the Liberal leader attempt to reform a place that he says is an advantage for Quebec? He wants it to remain unelected and unaccountable for no other reason than to attempt to divide regions of this country. That is not leadership. That is just cheap politics. This not about one region being better than the other, as the member for Papineau suggested. It definitely should not be about defending his Liberal buddies' entitlements, and we cannot allow it to be about the same old, same old.
    We have the leader of the NDP proposing a ridiculous motion, and we have the leader of the Liberals sitting tight, careful not to breathe too heavily out of fear that it might come across as something that resembles an actual policy.
    We need real proposals. We need a real plan, and clearly ours is the only serious plan.
    I am going to circle back here and let the hon. members digest some of what I have just mentioned. It is such a clear difference between where we are and where we all stand. I saw in an article that one of the NDP members was interviewed on this motion and its merits. I was so surprised at how little he understood about the ramifications if this should actually pass. The reporter had him twisted and turned, and it was just obvious that his leader sent him out there to defend what is indefensible.
    We know the NDP leader likes to pick fights with the provinces. We have seen it before, and this is just another clear-cut example. If he is not accusing premiers of being de facto spokespeople for the Prime Minister, he is attempting to shut them out of a debate that requires clear provincial co-operation. The Constitution is not a document any government can wilfully ignore at its convenience, and it is not a document one wants to open or edit without a clearly defined plan. This gimmick before us today by the NDP is just not doable. It is as simple as that.
    My critic on the other side, the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, is an experienced professor of law. Would he honestly take this to his students and say to them that this is action, that it is legitimate, that it is constitutional and not at all a gimmick? I highly doubt that this is something he would want to put his name to. He must be as frustrated as I am by this empty motion. He has previously said the New Democrats are open to any kind of reasonable reform. I think our plan goes further: it is reasonable and it is needed. We know why this is not possible, and why this is as risky as the NDP's economic plans for taxes and more taxes.
    Part of the reasonable approach we know is needed is that the Senate should be elected, be accountable and have term limits. One of several questions we have put to the Supreme Court is, how do we do this? I, like many, am anxious to hear about the ruling.

  (1645)  

    The Senate reviews laws that affect the day-to-day lives of every Canadian. The Senate makes laws that affect the day-to-day lives of every Canadian. Lastly, it passes these laws. This is why the Senate should have a democratic mandate, a mandate to represent the people at the will of the people. It is a concrete proposal that we have.
    Compare that to the proposal in front of us today and it is a case of apples and oranges. I encourage the Liberals to support us in moving forward on reforming the Senate and move away from lobbying for the status quo. I understand that they are still searching for policies, so why not borrow some of the ones that work and have ensured long-term prosperity for our country?
    The status quo of the Senate is not good enough. I have long maintained and our government and party have long maintained that it is not transparent enough and it is not accountable enough. This is something that the Auditor General can maybe tend to, thanks to our Leader of the Government in the Senate taking firm and tough action on something that I know Canadians are proud to see happening.
    To my third party colleagues in the corner, I say drop the status quo policy. It is not what Canadians want. Maybe some of my colleagues are hoping to make it their retirement plan, which makes this a tougher choice. However, we are elected by Canadians and, unlike the Senate, we have the responsibility to do what is right. That is to reform the Senate or, if that is not possible, to see that it is abolished. This is a policy that we should stand behind.
    I can even offer up a policy to the NDP. If kids want to play soccer, support them. This is something that I take very seriously and I wish the NDP did too. If kids want to play sports or to be active, logic says that we want them to be healthy, so let them play. NDP logic, however, is to remain silent and hope that no one noticed, but people have noticed. It is another tick on the NDP's failed policy column.
    Yes, if the policy is not being serious about the Senate or calling for the return of a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, or if it is not a $21-billion carbon tax, the NDP members just cannot seem to get it right. They refuse to acknowledge the real and present concerns of Canadians. That is their economic future.
    Our government has done very well in keeping the economy on track and, like I said, one of the best job growths in the G7. We will continue to take action when necessary and hope that, for once, the Liberals and the NDP put the economy first and support our efforts.
    Mr. Speaker, I find it very difficult to follow the minister's quite meandering and not very relevant speech. It also occurred to me in the midst of his speech just how far the Conservatives have fallen from the commitments they made in the past.
    We can recall when a Liberal senator went AWOL in Mexico. The Conservative Party's predecessor was there with a mariachi band, saying how bad it was to have a Senate with no rules and a Senate that would gouge Canadian taxpayers. It said the same thing about Liberal Senator Lavigne. However, it now appears apparent that what it was actually committing to was replacing corrupt Liberal senators with corrupt Conservative senators. We can look at Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
    Today, in a debate that actually determines whether or not we are going to allow this Conservative gravy train to continue, we have a Conservative who would not even speak to the issue.
    The question is very clear. Given all of the scandals coming out of the Senate and the fact that Canadians, including Canadians who voted Conservative, want to press for abolition, why are Conservatives turning their backs on people who voted for them and have said that it is simply not good enough to have an unelected and unaccountable Senate? People want it abolished. Why do the Conservatives not support that? Why do they not stand with their constituents?

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Prime Minister has been very clear that the Senate must be reformed or it must be abolished. This has been our position for a long time.
    What the NDP is proposing today is clearly just a gimmick. It knows that it will not work. The Supreme Court will provide a ruling on how to reform or abolish the Senate in the not too distant future. We look forward to that ruling. However, again, what the New Democrats are proposing today is just a gimmick and it just shows that they either do not understand the Constitution or they just do not care.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with great interest, but I did not hear anything about the following: one, who appointed the senators; two, how the Prime Minister chose those senators; three, what the Prime Minister's Office knew from beginning to end on this particular deal, with a buyout of $90,000 and cover-ups and so on.
    It is great to sit there and say the NDP does not know where it is going and to say the Liberals are in cahoots with the NDP, but let me refresh this for the minister: first, when did the Prime Minister find out? Second, we are talking about his chief of staff. There could not be anyone closer to any one of us, besides a wife or husband. I am wondering if the minister is trying to hoodwink the House, or does he really believe what he says?
     Does he really stand in front of the mirror and say “mirror, mirror on the wall, I believe what I say”. I would like to know what he can tell us about the $90,000 that was given to Mr. Duffy.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to give the hon. member a refresher. It was his party, in many years of being in government—the too many years, in fact—who did nothing at all to reform the Senate, make it more accountable or make it more transparent. They did nothing at all.
    We, on the other hand, have an actual plan. We have been clear that the Senate must be reformed, and if it cannot be reformed, it must be abolished. We have a plan to have elections to allow Canadians to have a say in who represents them in the Senate. We have appointed elected senators at every opportunity.
    I am very proud of the fact that Alberta has been holding those elections in my home province. We have term limits in our bill. We have brought in tough new spending rules for the Senate. We have a plan. The NDP has no plan and the Liberals do not want to do anything at all.
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the Liberals braying across the way about the Senate when we know they do not want to do anything about it. They do not want to change it. They want to leave it the way it is.
    Does the minister think the motion from the New Democrats comes out of silliness or from cluelessness? Clearly they have brought forward a mischievous motion that once again demonstrates their complete inability to govern or to actually give us an example of what would happen when they govern. If Canadians look at the motion and realize the consequences of it, I think it reminds them one more time that the New Democrats are not fit to govern in this country.
    We have done a number of things toward reforming the Senate, and certainly that includes 11 or 12 different measures to bring accountability and transparency to the Senate. The Senate leadership has called in the Auditor General. We have gone to the Supreme Court with the bill to see what we can do with it.
    I am wondering if the member could talk a little about the reforms we have already brought forward and our intentions in making senators transparent and accountable, which we want, as all Canadians do.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague sees very clearly, and Canadians see very clearly, that what the NDP members have proposed is nothing more than a gimmick. It is a political stunt. It is unfortunate that they are using up valuable House time just before we are going back to our constituencies for the summer. There are very few hours left in this place to debate very important issues, such as the budget or public safety. There are a number of issues we could be debating here. Unfortunately, the NDP brings forward this motion that it knows very well will not work.
    I do not mind debating Senate reform issues. If there is a real plan, the plan is worth discussing. Our plan is to have elections, term limits and to put in tougher spending rules. That is the real plan that we have.

  (1655)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of State for Democratic Reform said is bunch of nonsense. It is unbelievable. He is talking about a gimmick, but the only gimmick here is the Conservatives' Senate reform plan.
    The Conservatives are proposing elections and term limits. Senators would be elected one time. They would be able to serve nine years and would not be accountable to the public during their mandate. For nine years, they could do whatever they want without ever being accountable to the public. That is nonsense.
    His government is not doing anything about Senate reform. How can he justify keeping an institution that undermines democracy every single day? I am referring to how the Senate has rejected bills that originated in the House, such as the climate change bill the NDP introduced a few years ago. This bill had the support of all opposition parties in the House, but it was defeated in the Senate. I am also referring to the bill from my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst requiring Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. His bill was defeated in the Senate.
    How can the government justify keeping an obsolete institution that violates the rights of parliamentarians and prevents them from properly serving the people they represent?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the fact is, whether she likes it or not, the Senate is there; it is in our Constitution, and any legislation that we pass here must be passed in the other place. This is in the Constitution. I assume the NDP does not know this because the gimmick they have proposed today reflects that they do not understand.
    As for our plan, we have a plan for elections, term limits and toughening spending rules. Unfortunately, when we presented legislation in this place, the NDP has stalled it at every opportunity.
     Now we have taken a further step and referred a number of questions to the Supreme Court of Canada. We await its ruling on how we can move forward to reform the Senate, and if it cannot be reformed, how we can abolish it.
    Mr. Speaker, I have struggled with my position on the Canadian Senate.
     I can share with hon. members that my party's policy, based on our membership vote, was that we should move toward an elected Senate. However, I have always preferred our current model. I have worried that we would enter into a gridlock if we had an elected Senate that felt entitled to shoot down bills that came from the Commons. Therefore, I voted for the NDP motion that called for the abolition of the Senate.
    My views around the Senate have changed, basically because of the quality of the senators and the partisanship in the current administration of the current Prime Minister. That has made me fearful that the Senate would do again what it did on Bill C-311 in the previous Parliament. This was a bill that was passed by the House on climate and was voted down by unelected senators without a single day of hearings in committee.
    I have a question for the hon. minister. Is it not about time that we admitted we ought to follow the example of New Zealand, another Westminster parliamentary democracy, in eliminating the Senate, and that we move directly to abolition?
    The bill put forward by the government at the moment does nothing but provide the option for the Prime Minister to pick among possible senators who have been chosen through provincial or municipal elections.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been clear that we would prefer to reform the Senate, and if that is not possible to abolish the Senate. That is why we have referred questions to the Supreme Court, to find a pathway and get some clarity on the pathway to either reforming it, or abolishing it, if reform is not possible.
    I would refer a question back to the hon. member. Does she really think that the gimmick put forward today by the NDP is actually a real plan?
     It obviously is not. In fact, the NDP critic in this area, the member for Toronto—Danforth, said that abolition will be at minimum extraordinarily difficult. It is not going to happen with a little gimmick and a motion like this.

  (1700)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, there are a number of problems with the NDP motion.
    First, it does not respect the Supreme Court. Second, it does not respect the provinces. Third, the NDP is helping the government, which would rather talk about the issue of the Senate than the $90,000. What is worse, this motion would eliminate the role of the federal government in its entirety. This motion is absolutely ridiculous.

[English]

    When my Liberal colleagues and I saw today's motion from the NDP, we were taken by surprise. We had assumed that its caucus and, in particular, its Treasury Board critic, would understand the effects that the proposal would have on the government. In short, it would lead to the total shutdown of the Canadian government by the end of this fiscal year. We could not imagine that was the intent of the New Democrats. However, I was reminded that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance. It is our conclusion in this corner of the House that the NDP may very well be completely unaware of how the federal government works.
    It is clear what the NDP is trying to do: push forward its agenda for the federal government to unilaterally abolish the Senate. Liberals cannot agree with that short-sighted and, frankly, unconstitutional plan. We are also deeply troubled by the means to which the NDP is willing to go to further this agenda, including shutting down the entire Canadian government, and many provincial governments, too, I might add.
    First, let me address the underlying point on Senate reform. Despite what people hear from Conservatives and New Democrats, Liberals are not opposed to Senate reform. We are not pushing for the status quo. What we are opposed to are unconstitutional declarations from high atop the Hill in Ottawa demanding changes to the Senate. Let us be perfectly clear. That is what New Democrats are proposing. For all of their talk about consultations with the provinces, they have decided what the outcome of those discussions will be. That is not consultation. Provinces deserve to have a real voice in this matter.
    Before we enter any sort of discussion on Senate reform, Canadians, as well as our provincial and federal governments, need to know the terms under which the discussion will take place. This issue is now before the Supreme Court of Canada. That is the responsible way to handle this matter. In fact, Liberals have been asking the government to do this for years and the government has delayed forever. However, the Conservatives only wanted the appearance of action. Privately they know that changes to the Senate will require complex and messy negotiations with the provinces. The New Democrats are following right behind the Conservatives. They do not care about hearing from the court because they know deep down that their policy is unworkable.
    My colleague, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville and the Liberal democratic reform critic, has done a lot of work on this file, and I have spoken to him a great deal about the matter of Senate reform. Let me quote the member at some length regarding the complexities of Senate reform.

[Translation]

    Many Canadians would like their Senators elected rather than appointed. That’s understandable: it would be more democratic. But what would happen if, as proposed by the [Prime Minister's] government, we changed the way Senate seats are filled without amending our Constitution accordingly? If we went along with the Conservative Senate reform proposal, we would have: no dispute settlement mechanism between the elected Senate and the House; continued underrepresentation of Alberta and British Columbia, with only six Senators each (when New Brunswick holds ten); US-style (and now, Italian-style) gridlock between two elected chambers; and bitter constitutional disputes regarding the number of senatorial seats to which each province is entitled.
    So, first thing first: will the provinces be able to reach an agreement on the distribution of Senatorial seats? If they do, we can then figure out which Constitutional powers we should attribute to the Senate in order to create healthy complementarities with the House—rather than paralyzing duplication. After which we can agree on a process to elect Senators and finally, amend the Constitution accordingly.
    Should the provinces fail to agree about the number of Senators to which each one is entitled, we must avoid the kind of constitutional chaos that an elected Senate would cause. Instead [of risking that kind of chaos], let us keep the Prime Minister accountable for the quality of the individuals he appoints to the Upper House. And let the Senate continue playing the role conferred by the Fathers of Confederation: the Chamber of scrutiny, or “sober second thought”.
    That was a long quote, but I think it contains a reasonable proposal for Senate reform.

  (1705)  

[English]

    This motion is certainly not that.
    These are not simple questions. The Senate is the body of regional representation for the provinces. Provincial governments would not sit idly by while the New Democratic caucus decides for them what should happen to the Senate, and let us be perfectly honest about this point: consultations on how to abolish the Senate are not consultations on Senate reform.
    I now turn my attention to the quite incredible motion now before the House. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I do not attribute any malice to the actions of the NDP; rather, I believe the motion stems from a lack of understanding as to how the Government of Canada spends money.
    The motion is poorly constructed. It is simply not clear what the member is calling for. Does he simply want the annual appropriations of the Senate zeroed out, as his colleague from Winnipeg Centre has proposed for tonight's supply votes, or is the NDP also calling for the amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act that are required if we are to remove senators' salaries?
    I will give my colleague the benefit of the doubt, as I hope it was not the intent of New Democrats to leave senators with no work, but a full salary.
    However, it is clear that their intent is to shut the Senate down without making the necessary amendments to the Canadian Constitution. It is as if they think they have found a way around our founding laws and can perform an end run around the Supreme Court and the provinces.
    The motion does not abolish the Senate, it renders it inoperative. It does not matter how much they dislike the Senate; it is a needed part of our government under the Constitution.
    We should consider the effects that this proposal would have on our government. The Senate would still exist. In fact, there is a good chance senators would still get paid. However, some changes would be noticed on July 1, the day on which the money would be cut off. The hallway and offices down the hall would go dark. Senate security guards and staff in the other place would be laid off. This would be most unfortunate for our House colleagues who have offices in the east block.
     We would not notice any serious changes until the fall, when Parliament would return from the summer recess. It is then that the legislative backup would begin.
    Section 55 of the Constitution Act—meaning it cannot be changed by this Parliament alone—states:
    Where a Bill passed by the Houses of the Parliament is presented to the Governor General for the Queen’s Assent...
    et cetera, et cetera.
    The Constitution says the bill has to be passed by both Houses of Parliament. If the NDP gets rid of the Senate, we could not pass any legislation, and that includes money bills, supply bills. In layman's terms, we need the consent of both Houses of Parliament to enact legislation. There is no way around it except through a constitutional amendment.
    As opposition MPs, neither Liberals nor New Democrats may have that big of a problem with the government's not being able to get its ideological agenda through. However, private members' business would also grind to a halt and supply bills would cease to pass.
    This would be a good opportunity to explain to my NDP colleagues exactly how the Government of Canada spends money, as they do not seem to understand the process very well.
    Any expenditure must be authorized by a law passed by both Houses of Parliament. The only exception is during a general election, and only during a general election, when the government may use a Governor General's special warrant. This is the only exception.
    The authorizations for spending, known as an appropriation, come one of two ways: either there is an existing statute that provides an ongoing authorization to spend funds or the appropriation comes from the annual supply bills that we pass.
    My colleagues may be more familiar with the supply bills processes, as those bills are supported by the estimates that we review periodically in this House and in committee. In fact, we are dealing with two supply bills this evening.

  (1710)  

    It is important to consider what spending has to be authorized each and every year by Parliament, as I do not think the NDP has given any thought to this aspect.
    Voted spending, meaning the appropriations we have to approve every year, fund the operations of the government. Funding for civil service salaries, power and heating bills and printer paper all need to be authorized every year. None of this could be authorized with a de-funded Senate.
    This brings me back to April 1, 2014, the date the NDP want the Government of Canada to shut down completely. That is the beginning of the next fiscal year. All the funding we have approved this year expires on March 31. It does not matter if government departments scrimp and save in anticipation of the shutdown; the appropriations simply expire.
    This would be somewhat similar to the situation when Newt Gingrich forced the U.S. government to shut down in 1995 and 1996. However, it turns out the U.S. is prepared for such an eventuality. The Antideficiency Act allows for some government employees to remain paid and employed so that certain entitlement programs, such as social security and public safety operations, continue during a government shutdown.
    Canada has no such contingency.
    Under the NDP plan, April 1, 2014, would be a dark day in Canadian history. The Canadian Armed Forces would shut down. The RCMP would cease to be paid. The Correctional Service of Canada would shutter. Canadians would be worried about these events, but if they turned to the CBC for information on what was going on, they would be sorely disappointed, because the CBC relies heavily on annual appropriations. Canadians could call the government to register their concerns, but government phone lines would also go unanswered. The phones would ring, but no one would be there to answer them.
    Automatic processes would continue for a little while. According to Hydro Ottawa, we would have about 40 days to pay the bill before the power would be cut off. Without the ability to pay rent, many departments would be evicted from their office buildings across the country.
    Almost certainly, other countries would want to offer assistance to the suddenly governmentless Canadians; however, all of our embassies abroad would be closed. Here in Ottawa, the Department of Foreign Affairs would be dark.
    Canadians are a resilient group of people. We would adapt. I am sure many Canadians would enjoy the now unfettered access to cross-border shopping. Let us remember that CBSA would not be functional anymore.
    Luckily, many services Canadians rely on, such as health and education, are delivered by our provincial governments. However, almost every province depends on the CRA to collect their income taxes. Provinces that have HST rely on the CRA to collect that as well. Provincial governments also rely on billions in transfer payments from the federal government for health care, education, housing and other social services. These payments would stop because there would be no staff to administer them. Provincial governments would be left scrambling to find enough funding to deliver the services Canadians rely on from them. They would have no choice but to run massive deficits.
    Did the New Democrats consult with the premiers about this? How would the NDP premiers of Nova Scotia and Manitoba feel about their federal party's plan? Let us remember that Canadians would need that provincial health care, as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would also be completely de-funded. There would be no more food inspections.
    Canadians should also be rightly concerned about what would happen to their CPP, their EI and their OAS and GIS under this plan. The funding for those transfer payments are statutory in nature and do not need annual renewal, but there would be no one to administer those programs. There would be no civil service left. We simply do not know how long those programs would last; maybe it would be until their hydro was cut off. We do know that if anyone had a problem with these services, they would be out of luck.
    These are the problems that Canadians would immediately face. There would be nothing for the granting councils or the Canada Council for the Arts. Government research in investment would cease to exist.
    This is not a worst-case scenario; this would be the outcome of the NDP motion.
    I was shocked yesterday to read in an interview with the New Democratic treasury board critic that he expected the Senate staff should simply volunteer their time to pass bills. It is as if none of the hard-working staff of the Senate has a family to feed.
    It was always the contention of the NDP that it was the party of labour. How does it justify throwing 400 people out of work and then telling them that instead of finding new work, they need to show up and volunteer their time? Not only that, this army of 400 volunteers would have to spend their own money to print such things as the order paper and Hansard just to keep the place running.

  (1715)  

    We are left with three possible explanations for today's NDP motion, none of which are particularly comforting.
    The first possibility is that this is nothing but a cynical political ploy.
    The second, as I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, is that maybe the NDP just does not understand how our government works.
     The third explanation is the most concerning. It is that maybe we are witnessing the NDP's version of federalism. By reducing the Senate's appropriations to zero, the NDP would be dropping an atom bomb into the middle of federal-provincial relations. The provinces would be forced either to consent to the NDP's abolition plan or be faced with no tax money and no transfers on April 1.
    I think I have said enough to demonstrate that this motion is entirely idiotic. Not only does it fail to respect the Supreme Court and the provinces, not only does it let the government off the hook in terms of the debate about the role of the PMO in the $90,000, but it is inane. It is idiotic. It is stupid. It is farcical. It would result in the complete shutdown of the federal government and many of the provincial governments.
    It obviously shows the NDP is not fit to govern. The best advice I can give to sensible NDP members of Parliament is to vote against their own ridiculous motion.
    Mr. speaker, I think it obvious that when the Liberals were in power, they could not clean that House. The Conservatives cannot clean that House now either.
    Let me read something that one of my constituents wrote. This is from Marg McMillan from White River:
    Constituents in our neck of the woods are extremely disappointed with the government that the 3 known individuals as there may be more who have scammed the people and are not being fired. Even though the funds upon audit are repaid that does not excuse the theft—
    Order. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre has a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, did we not just all learn in question period that we, under the big green book, are not able to bring specific constituency examples into this House?
    I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre for her intervention. I will take a look at that. Earlier today I think the reference was made by the hon. government House leader in respect to questions during oral questions.
    Having said that, I do recall that the practice of citing specific references and/or quotations from individual constituents or Canadians is not something that is encouraged in the House.
    I will look into that and get back to the House as may be necessary.
    Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, if we are not here to represent our constituents and bring their views, and say what they are telling us, then who the heck are we here for?
    I think that is probably just adding to the same point.
    As I said, we will get back to the House as may be necessary on the question.
    Mr. Speaker, she goes on to say:
    They cannot explain this theft away with “I did not understand”...it was a fully knowledgeable theft. Personally I will check out exactly what these overpaid politicians do in the Senate.. it is some sort of retirement position I think. The entire government in my mind look like fools not demanding firing.
    On that note, the issue before us is to not fund the Senate. As for dealing with the Constitution after that, we are prepared to deal with that after the fact. This is the biggest piece that we have here.
    On this specific note, when someone is caught red-handed, as Mr. Duffy and some other senators have been, is it the opinion of the Liberals that such people should not be above the law? Do they think they should also be charged by the police?
    Mr. Speaker, of course we think that people should pay the money back, and then it is up to the authorities to decide whether or not to lay criminal charges.
    However, I wonder if the hon. member was listening to my speech. I tried to explain in very simple language that this is a ridiculous motion, the effect of which would be to close down the whole federal government.
    I do not know how any of the NDP members can continue to support their own motion, which would have disastrous effects on this country and which would never have been put by anybody who had the slightest understanding of how the government works.

  (1720)  

    Order, please. I just want to advise hon. members that there is a great deal of interest in questions and comments today. I would ask hon. members to keep their interventions to no more than a minute. That also applies to those who are responding.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the comments from the hon. member for Markham—Unionville. Specifically, I have two questions for this gentleman, who is a lawyer and has a lot of background.
    It is somewhat alarming that the motion put forward by the NDP today is not constitutional. We heard earlier from the hon. minister that even a five-year-old child has to be told about process and the importance of process.
    Therefore, my first question for the hon. member is, could he comment on the process, because I personally found the speech somewhat alarming?
     As for the second question, when there was a coalition being considered in 2008, as the member would know very clearly, the New Democrats were already naming whom they would appoint to the Senate. Could he enlighten us on that issue?
    Mr. Speaker, I do not take this as an insult, but I am not a lawyer; I am an economist.
    The process was described in that long quote I had from my colleague as “one sensible process”. This motion is just ridiculous, as I said earlier, but we cannot really do anything on the process until we hear from the Supreme Court. We had recommended a year ago to refer to the Supreme Court and finally the government has. Therefore, I do not think there is much point in having big discussions on Senate reform until we hear from the Supreme Court, because that will tell us the legitimate constitutional paths.
    Mr. Speaker, I very much enjoyed the speech by the member for Markham—Unionville. He posed a question that I would like to hear the answer to.
     He indicated that this motion is grounded in one of three possibilities: it is a cynical political stunt, it reflects a misunderstanding on the part of the NDP as to how government works or it reflects the New Democrats' idea of federalism.
     The member left it as an open question. I would invite him to answer it.
    Mr. Speaker, I would say it is all of the above, particularly one and two; I am not so sure about three. It is certainly a political stunt because the New Democrats realize the Senate is unpopular these days so they want that message out. As I indicated in my speech, it certainly reflects a total misunderstanding of how the government works.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable for an experienced member to make such comments. They are patronizing, almost colonial comments. It is unacceptable to say that it is impossible to carry out modern parliamentary reforms. The people are seeing all the scandals that have unfolded in the past two weeks, or in the past few years in the case of the Liberals. It is possible to carry out reforms.
    As for effectiveness, the Senate rates a zero. If its activities were included in Canada's GDP, we would be one of the worst countries in the world. The Senate is not effective in the least, it has a high absenteeism rate and we do not get our money's worth. The member just said that everything would shut down if we stopped funding the Senate. If they truly want to serve their country, senators should volunteer their time. In any event, they were elected by the Liberals and the Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, what is completely unacceptable is the NDP's ridiculous motion. The NDP should know that there are certain rules. We have a Constitution and we must abide by it. We have no choice. We will have to wait for the Supreme Court decision to find out the details. However, most experts believe that the consent of all the provinces and the federal government is needed to abolish the Senate. It cannot be done with just an NDP motion. It would take the approval of at least the majority of the provinces, if not all of them.

  (1725)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is not a serious proposal from the opposition. This is great for grandstanding in the House of Commons in the Ottawa bubble, but this is not a serious motion.
    The NDP wants to abolish the Senate, but it knows that it does not have the support to do that in this country. Whether we believe it requires the 7/50 amending formula or it requires the unanimity of 11 legislatures in this country, the NDP realizes it does not have the support for that.
    Not to mention that a majority of its Quebec caucus has not responded as to whether or not the province of Quebec would demand its Meech Lake five demands: the recognition of Quebec's nationhood, appointments to the Supreme Court, vetoes for all provinces, opt-out provisions and control of immigration by provincial governments. They have not responded as to whether the province of Quebec would demand that ahead of any abolition of the Senate.
    Instead, what the NDP is trying to do is something through the back door that it cannot accomplish through the front door. It reminds me of the tactics, frankly, of what the Republicans are doing in the United States. The affordable care act, otherwise known as Obamacare, passed in the legislature. Instead of ensuring the successful implementation of the act, the GOP has decided to starve it of its funds so as to not allow it to operate.
     Clearly, this motion is nothing more than political grandstanding. It is not a serious proposal from a government that is supposed to be in-waiting.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with what my colleague said. However, I also think that the government's current plan is not serious. It is also trying to do things through the back door by avoiding the Constitution.
    If we have an elected Senate, which is what the government wants, but we have no change in the distribution of seats, it would be grossly unfair to British Columbia and Alberta, which only have 6 seats each versus New Brunswick, which has 10, P.E.I., which has 4, and so on. If we are going to have an elected Senate which is more powerful, we have to first deal with the distribution of the seats. The current government appears not to be willing to do that.
    However, again, we will have to see what the Supreme Court says.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Halifax.
    Josée gets up very early in the morning and takes her child to daycare. She has been working in a grocery store for 15 years. She has no pension and is not unionized.
     Roger, my neighbour in Saint-Jérôme, rises at 5:30 in the morning and gets in his car. He used to work at Air Canada, but was later transferred to Aveos. Aveos closed. Now he is forced to commute from Saint-Jérôme to work in the east end. He is on the road for an hour and a half every morning.
    Denise is 75 years old. She has health problems. She goes to the hospital and waits 15 hours in the emergency room. She has trouble getting the health care she needs. She has no support at home.
    While this goes on, what is Parliament doing? What is being done by the people sitting in front of me and next to me—the people who were elected to run this country? We are busy discussing people who were not elected and use a lot of taxpayers' money illegally. When Josée, Roger and Denise come home in the evening, they turn on the radio and hear about Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and Harb, and they are fed up with politics.
    There is a moral and social crisis in Canada regarding the political elite. It starts with the municipalities. People are disgusted by what is happening at the municipal level. They are disgusted by what is happening at the provincial level. At the federal level, it is more than people can stomach. It is incredible that there can be such an abuse of funds, especially since these people are not legitimately appointed. Who are these people in the Senate?
    Before the scandals broke, I was not really interested in who sits in the Senate. However, I recently looked up the senators and why they are there. It is despicable.
    We cannot accept that a political instrument such as the Senate is used to reward fundraisers. It is unbelievable. The list is long. Liberal and Conservative fundraisers have equal representation. They are obviously friends. A buddy is a buddy. I look at the list of people who have been appointed to the Senate by the Conservative Party and I just cannot believe it.
    I will start with the Liberals' friends. David Smith is a chair of the national fundraising campaign. James Cowan was vice-chair of the Nova Scotia fundraising campaign. I have a couple of examples for the Conservatives. Irving Gerstein was a party fundraiser. Judith Seidman was co-chair of the leadership campaign. Other buddies include Donald Neil Plett, president of the Conservative Party, and David Braley, a major donor. The list goes on. It is a cushy job for party cronies. We cannot accept that. It is an incredible situation.
    Can someone in this House tell me why Jacques Demers is a senator? I like the man. I liked him as a hockey coach. However, he is now behind the bench of a team that is asleep at the switch. What is Josée Verner doing there? People did not vote for her. She is a failed candidate. Right after the election they sent her to the Senate. That is just incredible. It is outrageous. People are fed up. They are disgusted with politics. They do not want to vote any more, and that has been brought about by the people who are governing this country in a totalitarian and, I dare say, unethical manner. It has come to this.
    My ancestors fought in Lower Canada for the 92 resolutions, for responsible government, for elected individuals who would be accountable to a parliament for making laws and administering them and who would be accountable to the electorate. My ancestors were hanged for that.

  (1730)  

    Here we have a situation where people can overturn the decisions of the public's elected representatives without being accountable to anyone. That is unacceptable.
    The Liberals are scaring people. They are saying that our motion will paralyze Parliament and that we will not be able to pass any more laws. They have spent the past 30 years scaring Quebec and the rest of Canada. It is unacceptable that they are standing and trying to ridicule us when, basically, they are the ridiculous ones in the eyes of history.
    They forced the Constitution down our throats even though Quebec did not sign it. Now, they are saying that this is unconstitutional and so on. Where was their respect for the democratic process when the Constitution was signed in 1982? They had no respect. I am getting carried away, but I believe that things need to change.
    Moving on to the subject of volunteering, I have worked with exceptional men and women in the community over the past 15 years. Every day, hundreds of people are working for causes they believe in, whether it is supporting abused women, women's groups or food banks. Every day, hundreds of people give of their time to food banks to help people living in poverty and isolation.
    I am told that the politics could never attract volunteers to improve the country's situation. I do not believe it. I have seen people work hard, raise money, go into hospitals and go into schools to help children. Why would such volunteerism not be appropriate in politics?
    I have seen people get involved in protecting wetlands and fighting against oil development projects that threatened the environment. I have seen volunteers get involved in sports organizations across the country. It is not ridiculous to propose that senators not be paid. It is an idea that I really like.
    When we talk about the amending formula, we must remember that Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Chrétien patriated the Constitution without Quebec's consent, obviously, and imposed an unworkable amending formula on us. They locked the Constitution up tight, and now that we are trying to make reforms, we are being told that changes require the support of 50% of the population and seven of the provinces, yet Quebec did not support this amending formula. In fact, people do not agree with the Constitution.
    Was the Constitution ratified at the national level? Was a vote held on it? People are discouraged and fed up with the situation. In that regard, today's debate is moving things forward. I am talking primarily to the people who are watching at home. I am not trying to convince the people in power, because they are cynics. They use their power for their own purposes.
    If Canadians want responsible MPs who will improve the political situation in Canada, they should vote for the NDP.

  (1735)  

[English]

    Before we go to questions and comments, the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate taking place on this motion and it concerns me a great deal that we are bringing disrespect on Parliament and the Senate. I would ask, through you Mr. Speaker, that members of this House show respect for this institution as it is structured in the Constitution of this country, the basic law of the land.
    For reference, pages 614 and 615 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice , second edition, say: “Disrespectful reflections on Parliament as a whole, or on the House and the Senate individually are not permitted. Members of the House and the Senate are also protected by this rule”.
    It goes on to say, on page 615, that: “it is out of order to question a Senator’s integrity, honesty or character”.
    I think it is clear what the rules of this chamber are, and I ask, through you Mr. Speaker, that all members respect the rules of this place, the rule of law, and that we all follow that as this debate unfolds over the rest of this evening.
    I thank the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills for his intervention in this matter. Members will be reminded that when they are compelled to attribute characterizations or descriptions of other hon. members, be they members here in the House or otherwise, that is an area that should be used with extreme care and caution, as the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has pointed out. It is a long-standing practice of the House that while members can bring strong arguments in terms of the specific question they have to present, they should avoid these kinds of characterizations because they can quickly move into the area of unparliamentary debate. Of course, as members know, that would be ruled out of order. I thank hon. members for their attention and thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for his comments on the matter.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

  (1740)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord. I listened carefully to his speech. However, I am not sure whether he himself paid attention to what he was saying. He was getting really agitated, practically tearing his hair out. At some point he could not even understand why I was applauding him.
    I was applauding to show my support for the May 2, 2011 election result in the Louis-Saint-Laurent riding. I respect this result. I would like him to respect all the other results, including those that legitimately allowed the government currently in power to sit to the right of the Speaker.
    In his speech he ranted about all kinds of issues under provincial jurisdiction, over which we have no authority whatsoever. The issue of the day is his proposal to abolish the Senate. I would like him to tell us what legal mechanism he intends to use to do that.
    Mr. Speaker, I do feel strongly about the Senate and the use of public funds by unelected individuals who were appointed so they could take advantage of these privileges. We are not proposing to abolish the Senate.
    Here is what the motion says: “That all funding should cease to be provided to the Senate...”.
    We are not talking about abolishing the Senate. That is not what the motion is about. We want to ensure that senators do not receive different treatment than most Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member on constitutionality in terms of what the New Democratic Party has before us today. If we look at the substance of the motion and the debate, it would appear that the New Democrats do not understand the way in which our process works in Canada and that there are some constitutionally challenged ideas that are being talked about by the NDP. Do New Democrats have any form of legal opinions that would support their position that we can take every nickel or dime away from the Senate and that it would allow us to be in compliance with our Constitution?
    Does the member have a list of provinces that support what the New Democrats are proposing, given that there is a 7/50 rule across Canada in terms of constitutional change?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I know that the Conservative government has increased the Senate's budget and decreased the budget of the House of Commons. Since the Senate's budget has been increased, it can logically also be decreased. I do not see how that is connected to the Constitution in any way.
    The Liberal Party's constitutional experts are the same ones who patriated the Constitution and shoved it down Quebeckers' throats. They did so without Quebec's approval.
    I do not think this is a constitutional matter. This is about logic, pure and simple.
    People might be prepared to give their time to reflect on our country's future without being paid and without an unlimited budget.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak to this. I have been listening to the debate in the House and I heard the member for Markham—Unionville say in his speech that the motion was poorly worded. I want to challenge that because I think it is not a poorly worded motion; the motion is quite beautiful. It is beautifully worded and it is elegant in its simplicity. It says:
    That all funding should cease to be provided to the Senate beginning on July 1, 2013.

  (1745)  

    I do think it is beautiful in its simplicity. We need to do something about the Senate. Look at the situation we are in right now when it comes to the Senate.
    What are the facts? What do we know? We are constantly being told that the Senate offers us this house of sober second thought. I think that is debatable. I will return to the sober second thought part.
    The member for Wellington—Halton Hills pointed out that we need to speak respectfully about Parliament. That includes the Senate, the other place. I would argue that it is the senators who are bringing disrespect to Parliament, not us who are here in this chamber. They are the ones who are bringing disrespect to Parliament.
    This so-called house of sober second thought, these sober second thinkers, are also filing false expense claims. We know that to be true. They are also misleading the public and Parliament about where they live. We know that they are abusing public funds. We know that they find the forms that ask them where they live to be confusing and difficult to understand. We also know that they are driving around with expired licence plates.
    I think that Canadians have paid enough money for this undemocratic institution and it is time that we stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars on this institution. The Senate is costing taxpayers $92.5 million a year. Frankly, that is $92.5 million too much.
    The member for Markham—Unionville said that this motion is idiotic. Tell that to the British House of Lords because they do not get paid as a right. They do not get paid for being lords. They do not have a salary in the House of Lords. Those folks get paid sort of a per diem for showing up. I would ask this question. Is that an idiotic way of doing things?
    The Liberals and Conservatives insist that we cannot do anything about the Senate. They say it is too big a constitutional issue, and once we open up the Pandora's box of constitutional issues no one will ever agree. We will go into this dark abyss of constitutional pandemonium, never to escape. Give me a break.
    The NDP does not believe this. That is why we are talking to Canadians first. That is the first step, talking to Canadians. I have been going door-to-door quite a bit at home, and at every single door people are asking if I can tell them what is going on with the Senate. This is what folks are talking about. We want to tap into that and see what people are saying. The NDP has launched our petition to roll up the red carpet, which people can sign, saying that this institution is outdated and it is time to get rid of it.
    After talking to Canadians, we need to start talking with the provinces. It is not that difficult. We can start with these baby steps. Let us talk to the provinces. Unfortunately, we have a Prime Minister who refuses to meet with the provinces. He has not been to the Council of the Federation. I cannot remember when he was there last, or if he was even there.
    The Liberals and Conservatives are insisting that they cannot do anything, that it is sad and unfortunate but their hands are bound. This is it. It is lovely. It is simple. It is elegant. Here is a solution. Let us pass this motion. There is nothing stopping us from doing this.
    I have heard some comments about the constitutionality of this motion. It is not unconstitutional to adopt a motion saying that the Senate should be defunded. The constitutionality of any subsequent legislation is a separate issue. This in itself is no problem. The sole purpose of this motion is the signal that it sends that the Senate is an illegitimate drain on the public purse.
    Let us do it. Let us move to the House of Lords model. Those guys are doing just fine. I do not think what they are doing is idiotic. There is not a lot of response to that. The cat has their tongues, the Liberals and Conservatives, because I do not think they treat the Senate as a house of sober second thought. They treat it as a fundraising arm for their parties. They want to keep appointing senators so they can go out and raise money for their parties on the taxpayer's dime.
    Let us look at who is in the Senate. There are David Smith and James Cowan, and they are the co-chairs of the Liberal campaign. They are campaign directors. I get along with James Cowan. I have worked with him. He is a nice guy. We are both from Nova Scotia and we have done some work together. We get along because we have a lot in common and we both like politics. I also get along with the Halifax Federal Liberal Riding Association president, Layton Dorey. He and I have a lot in common. We like to talk politics and we can shoot the breeze. I get along with these folks, but there is a big difference between Layton Dorey and James Cowan, because Layton Dorey is not being paid by taxpayers to do the work that he is doing for the Liberal Party.
    Let us look at the Conservatives. The chief fundraiser and chair of the Conservative Fund Canada is a senator. They should go for it, fill their boots, do all the fundraising they want to do, but they should not be able to do it on the taxpayer's dime. We should not be paying for a fundraising arm of these political parties. Let us remember that they are being paid, in total, $92.5 million. Senators are campaigning for the Conservatives and Liberals, while being paid by taxpayers and I do not think that is what Canadians are paying them for. If they are doing useful work for those parties, then those parties should be paying them out of their own coffers as fundraisers.
    The raison d'être of the Senate, when it was formed at Confederation, was one of sober second thought, with representatives from the provinces bringing regional interests to Parliament in doing that kind of political analysis on policy debates. Senators were supposed to be an integral part of our democracy, but we have seen anything but in the past 146 years. Fundraisers, failed candidates and senior party staffers have all been appointed time and time again to the upper chamber and the reality is that senators appointed by partisan prime ministers have a poor record of defending our regional interests.
    When I first arrived here, I spoke with our then democratic reform critic from Hamilton Centre and told him that I was from Nova Scotia, that there were Nova Scotian senators and I was conflicted about our position on abolishing the Senate. He asked when was the last time a senator ever stood up for Nova Scotia. I realized that they did not, they just did what their parties told them to do.
    Here is what they are told to do. The Climate Change Accountability Act passed in the House by a majority of democratically-elected members of Parliament. We acted on the will of the people and the will of the people was to pass climate change accountability legislation. When it got to the other place, it was voted down. This is what Marjory LeBreton, the Conservative Senate house leader, stated:
    We were as surprised as anyone else that the Liberals forced a vote on second reading of this bill. But once the Liberals presented us with an opportunity to defeat the bill, we of course were going to take it and defeat the bill because the government does not support this bill. The fact of the matter is this was not part of a strategy, this was something that landed in our laps. It was an opportunity to defeat the bill and we took the opportunity.
    That evening I was upstairs in this very place with Jack Layton, our then NDP leader. I had never seen him so angry. I had never heard him yell. He was beside himself with rage about how a bill in the House of Commons could be passed by democratically-elected MPs and when it got to the Senate, the senators said it was gone. It was unbelievable. It is $92.5 million too much.

  (1750)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have spent a number of years in the House and, to be quite frank, I have never seen a motion from the opposition that is so absolutely ludicrous. It shows that the New Democrats have no respect for our Constitution or they do not understand.
    We know we have to make changes to the Senate. We are going through a process and have referred it to the Supreme Court. We heard some great words from some of the Liberals in terms of what would actually happen if this motion passed. She needs to explain to Canadians how she could be so irresponsible as to speak to this motion.

  (1755)  

    Mr. Speaker, I go back to the beginning of my speech, where I pointed out that this was the situation in the House of Lords. It is not unheard of. It is not silly. It is not some crazy concept. This is the way it is in England. They get their per diem if they show up and do the work, but it is not a salary as a right.
    If we de-fund the Senate, this is the first step. What the heck? There would be a lot of Canadians out there who would be pretty interested in volunteering in Parliament. They actually care about what is going on in Parliament. They want to see good legislation pass. If we had volunteers, they would not go across the country fundraising for the folks in here.
    Mr. Speaker, I was interested when the member said she was here with Jack Layton and she went on to say something. I presume that she would have said something like he kicked something.
    I remember the late Mr. Layton when he was on the city council in Toronto. We talk about people at the trough, we talk about people who are getting $90,000 and all that kind of stuff. If I remember correctly, was it not Jack Layton who was living in co-op housing when he and his spouse were city councillors? Is that not being at the trough?
    Mr. Speaker, if you find this unparliamentary, that is fine, but that is a gross question.
    The member knows full well that Jack Layton was living in co-operative housing. It is co-operative housing, not low-income housing. He was paying according to his income. That is a Liberal smear campaign against Jack Layton. It is one of the grossest things I have heard in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Halifax for speaking about our late leader, Jack Layton. Quite frankly, with regards to the member for Scarborough—Agincourt, it was absolutely contemptible that he would actually stand and say what he did.
    Besides all of that, it is clear to me, although it is not as clear to my colleague down there. Then again, they are Liberals and I would not expect it to be clear. That is why they are like flags on a flag pole, whichever way the wind blows today, they will blow that way too.
    The bottom line is that there are many folks who would be more than pleased to come here and serve their country. In fact, I could name five people in Welland for the member for Halifax. I have heard Senators say that is why they are there. They are there to serve our country. Let them come and serve, and we will give them per diem. However, they do not need to get paid. If the parliamentary secretary says that the only reason they come is because they get a salary, perhaps that is not who we want to have in there in the first place.
    What does my hon. colleague think about that?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Welland for that perspective and for talking about his constituents, who would be proud to serve.
    We are forced to do this because of the inaction of the other two parties over all this time. They keep insisting we cannot do anything. The Conservatives are saying that we need to reform the Senate. They need to show it to us. What are they doing? We have had no action on this. The Prime Minister campaigned on this, yet there is no action from the Conservatives.
    If the Conservatives are actually serious about reform, show it to us. However, they have not, so here we are. We are offering a simple scalpel-like opportunity to drain the senators of funding so we can all move on, end of story.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose the NDP's motion to de-fund the Senate.
    Our government and our party have always been clear about our commitment to bring reform to the Senate chamber. We pledged to do this in 2011 and we have taken real action toward achieving this goal. While this process is long and we wait to hear from the Supreme Court regarding our reference, we are confident that our reforms have moved the ball forward.
    We have proposed term limits because we believe that the legitimacy of the Senate suffers when its membership can be appointed for up to 45 years. We have also proposed a selection mechanism for Senate nominees, so that willing provinces and territories can give Canadians a say on who serves as their representative in the upper chamber. Taken together, these modest reforms represent a positive development in building a modern, representative democracy that has faith in its institutions.
    Our government has long believed that the Senate status quo is not acceptable and must change in order to reach its full potential, as an accountable and democratic institution. With that understood, I have two goals for my remarks today, and I will address each in turn.
    First, I will defend our government's plan for Senate reform for what it is: a practical effort to make the Senate democratically legitimate. Second, I will address the opposition motion and refute it. Not because the members are from a different party, but because their short motion represents everything wrong with their Senate reform position. We have a duty to point out those problems for the record. I believe that our reforms are sound, pragmatic and achievable and that they would lead to a fundamentally more accountable and effective upper chamber.
    I am honoured to share my thoughts with members today, so let us begin.
    I have said our government has long been committed to Senate reform. The Senate must change and we intend to make it happen. By referring questions to the Supreme Court, we have signalled that it is time for action that concludes the commitment we made to Canadians during the last federal election. We look forward to the opinion of the Supreme Court on these questions, as they will give Canadians certainty about what is possible and how reform must be done.
    The rules should be clear for all to see. Our government believes that Senate reform is needed now and we are committed to pushing a practical, reasonable approach to reform that we believe would help restore effectiveness and legitimacy in the upper chamber. If we have learned anything from the history of the 1980s or 1990s, we know Canadians do not want another long constitutional battle that flares tempers and detracts from the government's top priority, which is the economy.
    Through the reforms that our government has tabled since we have been in government, we have demonstrated that we are willing to take concrete action to fulfill our commitments to Canadians. As we said, our reforms aim to accomplish two things.
     First, we are in favour of a democratic Senate. We support establishing a framework for provinces and territories to establish democratic consultation processes to give Canadians a say in who represents them in the Senate.
     Second, we support term limits for senators. We have consistently supported legislation to introduce term limits for new and recently appointed senators, which would ensure the Senate would be refreshed with new ideas on a regular basis.
    With respect to the first change, we believe prime ministers should have to consider the names of anyone selected using democratic processes. This is a good idea worthy of support. Why? The process would be entirely optional and inherently co-operative. It would allow the provinces to opt in and tailor their rules to fit their provinces' circumstances and the desires of their people. Alberta has been doing this since the 1980s, and our reforms would encourage other provinces to develop their own set of selection processes to give their citizens a greater voice in selecting their representatives.

  (1800)  

    Second, we have consistently said that we believe that the system is constitutional. Under section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, Parliament has the legislative authority to amend the Constitution in relation to the Senate. By allowing the provinces to choose a democratic process for senate nominations, we are being open and co-operative. Our plan gives different communities the freedom to find different solutions to their representation challenges.
    The other major initiative of our position is the imposition of Senate term limits. When we first approached this problem, we saw that the status quo was clearly problematic. Terms in the upper chamber could span several decades, and there were few mechanisms for removing senators from office once they had been appointed.
    Polls have consistently shown that over 70% of Canadians support limiting senators' terms, but this goes beyond the obvious accountability reasons for limiting term length. Allowing a greater turnover of senators actually makes for a more representative Senate, one that reflects national minorities and current regional opinions. When senators have to be replaced every nine years, there will not be a representative body that looks like Canada did 50 years ago. This reform would increase accountability and make for a more relevant and representative Senate. These are changes we can support.
    We have always believed that like the change in Senate terms from life to age 65, limiting the terms of senators is an amendment Parliament can make itself.
    We have indicated previously that the property requirements should be examined due to the way property is dealt with in our northern areas and as a look toward modernizing the Senate.
    Ultimately, we believe that the Senate must be reformed or else must be abolished. The Prime Minister has said this many times. The minister has said this many times, and I will repeat it many times. The Senate needs to reform, or it should be abolished. It is very simple. That is why we have referred questions to the Supreme Court of Canada on abolition. It is because we need certainty, if we can get it, on how to go about abolishing the Senate if it cannot be reformed. However, we are optimistic on this side of the House that the Senate can and should be reformed. We think Canadians agree with us that the Senate should be reformed and that politicians can come together to agree on that too.
    If it is not possible, if the Senate cannot be reformed, because senators will not co-operate or because politicians cannot work together to solve a national problem, then it needs to go. It would need to go, because the status quo is unacceptable. That is something we all agree on, but our party, our government, is the only one with an actual plan. We are the only ones who have put forward concrete steps to move toward a defined goal. The other parties just talk about ideas, but we have a plan.
    The other parties just want to say the easy things. They say to just appoint better people. That is easy to say. They say to just make a better appointment process, but they do not suggest a better process. That is easy to say. They say to just get rid of it. That is easy to say and is very hard to do. The opposition is just taking the easy way out and saying what it thinks people want to hear.
    This is what I think. I think Canadians want a government with a plan. I think Canadians want a government willing to deal with the hard questions and willing to work across the country to find a way to solve the problems of the Senate. It is very clear that the opposition parties will not do that and cannot do that. They just want to take the easy way out. Our approach is much better.
    Our government is the only party to put forward a plan, and we have asked the Supreme Court to set out some of the rules to make sure that we can deliver on our promises to Canadians.
     Let us look at what the NDP is offering Canadians. I think they will be disappointed.

  (1805)  

    The NDP proposes to de-fund the Senate rather than go through any hard work. I can only guess that it hopes that this path produces a de facto abolition of the upper chamber, since it would lack the funds to do anything. Senators and the Senate would still exist, of course, but they would be starved of money. The Senate would lack the ability to pay senators, fund their travel, or deal with expenses, which we have seen can be a bit of a mess.
    The NDP motion would do more than that. The member for Pontiac, who introduced the motion, acknowledged that it would do more in an interview he did with iPolitics, just yesterday.
    It would stop the funding for translators. It would stop the funding for research and committee support staff. It would stop the funding for administrative staff and perhaps even the security staff. Many people would be out of work, over 400 or so, and on Canada Day, no less.
    Let us be clear. The member for Pontiac actually said that the Senate staff of public servants could “do some volunteer work”. I am not sure that those people would see it the same way. Perhaps the Senate support staff could ask Ontario public servants about the days under the member for Toronto Centre and their experiences when they were de-funded, when the member, now in the Liberal caucus, was running Ontario as an NDP premier.
    The NDP motion is not a serious proposal. It is not a serious plan. It is simply a communications exercise. The New Democrats want stories about how they want to cut off the Senate but the other parties just stand in their way. However, their motion is not a serious plan.
    When something is broken, the first thing one does is see if it can be fixed and maybe made better and stronger. The NDP wants to skip straight to the trash bin. That is where the NDP motion should have gone, because the NDP motion is not a serious plan, and because the members know it cannot work, and because it was done simply as a communications exercise, I would call it a gimmick. The NDP is pulling a gimmick today.
    Do not get me wrong. I know that the member for Winnipeg Centre will want to object. The New Democrats are following the rules, yes. They say that they want to debate funding of the Senate, which they are doing right now. Yes, having a debate about how Parliament spends taxpayer dollars is important. It is probably the single most important thing we can do in the House. The reason they proposed this motion was as a communications gimmick. That is what I am saying, and I think it is clear to everyone paying attention.
    For all the NDP's talk about democracy and accountability to Canadians and consulting with Canadians, it is just doing this to get more media attention. Regardless of the merits of the Senate, it is part of this institution and this Parliament and is part of the fabric of our constitution. Our institutions and our constitution deserve better than the NDP's attempt to score a few more media points.
    If I recall correctly, just a few weeks ago, the NDP leader announced his grand plan to go across Canada to consult Canadians and convince them that the NDP's position is a plan. Is he done already? Is the NDP's nationwide consultation process finished after a couple of weeks? Has he forgotten about the Supreme Court of Canada and the reference it is considering this fall? Do the opinions of the Supreme Court, the provinces and Canadians across the country matter to the NDP? If its idea of a comprehensive consultation process is a press conference, then a gimmick motion in the House, I am not sure it cares about what anyone else thinks at all.

  (1810)  

    Again, the NDP is taking the easy way out and is ducking the hard work. To them, it is better to give up than to work together. That is what this motion says. It says that they are the NDP and they give up. This is the best they can come up with, and they are not even going to go through with their promise of a national consultation.
    De-funding is not a plan. It is resignation and a declaration of failure. It is an admission that Canadians cannot be trusted if they are asked what they want to do with the Senate and that the provinces do not deserve to have a say in who represents their unique interests.
    To take away the Senate, without significant other reforms, would seriously damage the representation of a large section of our country in our Parliament. If we abolish or de-fund the Senate without doing the hard work of consultation and negotiation, we lose this representation too. While according to polls, many Canadians might want the Senate abolished, just as many Canadians want the Senate reformed.
    Our position is that the Senate should be reformed. If it cannot be reformed, then we should consider abolition. However, we should have enough respect for our institutions and our democracy to work toward the improvement of an institution in need of repair before turning to the proverbial wrecking ball.
    We in this House owe it to Canadians to do better than what the NDP is asking for. I ask my colleagues to support our government's plan to move forward and become part of the solution.
     In 2006, the Prime Minister sat before the Senate special committee on Senate reform to speak in favour of adopting Bill S-4, one of our government's first attempts at Senate reform. At the end of his presentation, he shared a short quote from a book he had recently reviewed. It said:
    Probably on no other public question in Canada has there been such unanimity of opinion as on that of the necessity for Senate reform.
    The book he quoted was entitled, The Unreformed Senate Of Canada, by Robert A. Mackay. It was written in 1926. I do not think I can make it any more clear how vital these reforms are. We need change in the Senate, but not the sort the NDP proposes.
    The way forward is one that addresses the institution's shortcomings but strengthens it. That is what our government believes. That is what I believe. That is why I am proud to support our vision for Senate reform.
    Our government believes that Senate reform is needed now, and we are committed to pursuing a practical, reasonable approach to reform. Improving our democratic institution is a significant responsibility. I am privileged to work alongside my hon. colleagues to meet this common objective. I encourage everyone to work towards achieving these reforms and giving Canadians a stronger voice in determining who represents them in the Senate.
    Our plan is reasonable and achievable, and we are eagerly awaiting the opinion of the Supreme Court so we can move forward, confident in the legitimacy of our efforts.

  (1815)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, through our motion to cut off funding to the Senate, it is clear that we, the NDP, are trying to do what is best for the taxpayers by saving them $92 million a year.
    Can my Conservative colleague tell us why the Liberals are in favour of the status quo and why the Conservatives are still standing behind dishonest senators?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned saving money.
    We have a Constitution, and we need to respect our Constitution. We need to have a process in place if we want to reform and change things. The NDP motion put forward on de-funding the Senate is not a solution. I am an engineer. This is failure.
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. Here we have a motion that, I agree, is a bit of a gimmick. A joke of a motion, I think, summarizes it quite well.
    We have many different issues before us. Here we are in the last days prior to the summer break with the last opposition motion. We could be dealing with things that are related to jobs, health care or a litany of issues. Question period after question period was on the Prime Minister's Office and the $90,000 that was given to a particular senator. However, the NDP come up with a deceptive motion that really makes no sense whatsoever.
    If the New Democrats wanted to be honest with Canadians they would realize that what they are proposing is just not viable, it is not doable. Recognizing that this motion attempts to do something that is impossible to implement, even if it passes, not only shows that the New Democrats do not understand the process of administration but it also highlights the fact that they do not understand that there is a constitutional requirement in order to—

  (1820)  

    The hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, we have a Constitution, and we need to respect it.
     I think that our proposal to the Supreme Court is a great proposal. The Supreme Court can provide us with a ruling on how to reform or abolish the Senate.
    The Supreme Court is part of our democratic institutions. Let us find out what it has to say and not go the easy way of playing gimmicks and communication exercises, which does not serve Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Pickering—Scarborough East for a very articulate and well thought out speech in terms of what the responsibilities are, what the Constitution demands and where our government is planning to go.
    I would like to ask the member this: if we were as irresponsible as the NDP and actually voted for this motion, what would the practical outcomes be and how would this actually completely impede the ability of our government and our country to continue to do the important work we need to do?
    Mr. Speaker, what would happen if we supported the NDP motion? We would create unemployment as there are 400 people who are supporting the Senate. They would be unemployed. Is it the policy of the NDP to lose jobs instead of creating jobs?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Welland.
    Mr. Speaker, I have listened, quite frankly, ad nauseam to the job creation plans of this government, but this is the first time I have ever heard that the Senate is a job creation plan. However, there is no question in my mind that it is. There is no doubt about it, when the Conservatives have been jamming them in there like there is no tomorrow. I guess if that is job creation, then they can add those 60-odd members to the number that they make up all the time.
    To my friend down the end for Winnipeg North, he has to get with the 21st century. The bottom line is, the Senate is an archaic institution. If they are not paid as of July 1, if they go on strike, the government can do what it has done to everyone else who went on strike in the public service and legislate them back to work. Let us see if they can do that. Let us see if they can manage that. If that is what you want to do--
    Order. The hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East.
    Thank you Mr. Speaker. To the member, thank you for the question and the passion you are showing for the Senate. The fact that you would like to do something—
    I caution the member to direct his comments to the Chair and not to the individual member.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Here we are and we are serious. We have a proposal. We have a plan. The NDP has a plan to de-fund the Senate. What kind of plan is this? I am just asking the hon. member to answer this question for Canadians. We are not here to make communication and to have a Muppet Show. We are serious here. We are elected by people to do things by the Constitution as was written.

  (1825)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to Bill C-7 and what is being described in this chamber as though it is Senate reform. I think it is actually a series of half measures that make a dog's breakfast and we cannot call that Senate reform. It would mandate provinces with no help for their expenses to hold elections for senators.
    The rules, for instance, for campaign financing would vary from province to province. Senator by senator would have different rules on which their election was run. Municipal elections were also considered, but in municipal elections people can vote if they have a property inside the city limit, but they might have a residence somewhere else, so it forces the province to try to eliminate people who might vote twice for a senator of choice. At the end of all this mess, there would be a list from which the Prime Minister may or may not, at his discretion, pick someone or not. It is not reform, it is just public relations.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that our government has a plan. The NDP only criticizes. It does not have a plan. Its plan is to de-fund the Senate, throw staff and so on out of work. New Democrats do not care. We have a plan.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans. We only have a little over a minute, so a 30-second question.
    I was not rising on questions and comments, sir. I was rising on a point of order, so I will wait my turn.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to just comment that when the member for Markham—Unionville talked earlier and he called this motion embarrassing, farcical and idiotic, he was dead-on. I do not think in the 12 years that I have been here I have ever seen anything so asinine. When I had the opportunity to hear—
    There has already been one ruling from the Chair about the language in the House at this time. I would caution all members to stay within parliamentary language. We have hardly any time left. Could I have a question so the member can respond?
    Mr. Speaker, I was not referring to any individual member or their behaviour here. I was talking about a motion in the House of Commons. When the member for Markham—Unionville went through the list of consequences of this motion, Canadians could not reach any other conclusion but this is ridiculous. My colleague talked about this being a media stunt. I would like him to address the issue. How could any journalist with any integrity see this as anything but ludicrous?
    Mr. Speaker, I will say only a couple of words from Cicero:
    [Member spoke in Latin, as follows:]
    Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend you for the admonition that you gave to my colleague from Pickering—Scarborough East. Of course, when he speaks he should address the Chair and only the Chair and should never use the second person, only the third person, but if it is true for him, it is also true for the member for Welland who had spoken only instants before and without any admonition. There should be a single standard for all members on both sides of the House.
    I can assure the member for Ottawa—Orléans that I and all other occupants of this chair treat everybody equally. If the member for Welland did in fact use the individual “you”, I did not hear it, because there was a lot of noise in the House at that time.
    It being 6:30 p.m., and today being the final supply day in the period ending June, 23, 2013, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and to put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the opposition motion.
    The vote is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:

  (1830)  

[Translation]

    The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 81(18), a recorded division on the motion stands deferred until later today.

[English]

Main Estimates 2013-14

Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate  

Hon. Tim Uppal (for the President of the Treasury Board)  
    moved:
    That Vote 1, in the amount of $58,169,816, under PARLIAMENT — The Senate — Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, be concurred in.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, reform of the Senate has been debated in the House of Commons and around kitchen tables in homes across the country since shortly after the Fathers of Confederation met to decide how Canada would be governed. All of us here today who have the privilege to take our seats in Canada's House of Commons, representing our constituents and voting on decisions that will make our country stronger, should think about them and give them our thanks. I know there were those who said it could not be done, or many said it should not be done, but there were enough who could see past the challenges and were willing to stake out bold policy challenges to create Canada.
    We are still a young country, but if the Fathers of Confederation could see us now they would be proud. They would see that their bold efforts against the status quo have led to a strong stable nation, which is the envy of the world, and a beacon of peace, security and economic prosperity. However, what they would also see is a country that has changed since the soot-filled candlelit debates that the first MPs would have had in the House of Commons. Things have changed. Canada has changed. However, our Senate has not changed.
    Throughout our history, there have been those on the side of reforming the Senate and those who have wanted to protect the status quo. It disappoints me to say that the protectors of the Senate have most often won that day. I do not know why, and I am not sure if Canadians know why either. When the only Senate reform measure we can point to throughout our nation's history is a reduction from lifetime appointments to a maximum term of 45 years, members can appreciate the difficulties that Senate reformers have faced. For me, it only gives me more resolve to take the first steps to reform the Senate. It is the right thing to do, and it is what Canadians want us to do.
    The status quo in the Senate is not acceptable. We have heard from Canadians that they want the Senate to change. Our government recognizes that the Senate as it stands today must either change or, like the upper Houses of our provinces, vanish. Canadians know that the Conservative Party is the only one that has a real plan to make the changes that are so desperately needed. Senate reform is fundamental to our party. It is at our core. Our government has long believed that the Senate's status quo is unacceptable and therefore it must change in order to reach its full potential as an accountable and democratic institution.
    The alternative is the continuation of a situation where senators are appointed for long terms without any democratic mandate. We have said “enough”, and Canadians are with us in saying no to the status quo in the Senate. It is our government that has put forward proposals to elect senators and to limit their term to nine years, as well as measures to ensure tough spending oversight. These measures would immediately increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of our upper chamber. They would drag the Senate into the 21st century. Our proposals would deliver meaningful change within Parliament's authority to act now. Our new measures would make the upper chamber more accountable, more legitimate and more democratic.
     Term limits in the Senate would also work hand in hand with our efforts to make government more representative. When senators have to be replaced every nine years, we would not have a representative body that looks like Canada did fifty years ago. These are the most recent of the practical changes that we propose in order to make our democratic institutions serve Canadians better.
    However, change cannot come slowly enough for the Liberals and the New Democrats. Through nearly 20 hours of debate, over 7 days, we have heard opposition member after opposition member tell us why reforming the Senate was not possible. This is despite the fact that our government has received a strong mandate from Canadians to reform the Senate and, in fact, already have hard-working elected senators representing their provinces in the Senate.

  (1835)  

    All we learned from those seven days of debate was that the NDP and the Liberals would use any tactic to maintain the status quo and to block the reform that Canadians have been demanding.
    We believe that encouraging provinces to elect senators and setting nine-year term limits are both reasonable measures that can be enacted within Parliament's authority. We have a plan. We have meaningful legislation. We have the support of Canadians.
    What we did not have was an opposition who shared our urgent belief that Senate reform is critically necessary and immediately possible. Let us be clear. Our reforms are reasonable and achievable, and they lead us on the path to further reforms. The Prime Minister has been clear. The Senate must be reformed or it must be abolished.
    While we are committed to debating the merits of Senate reform and specific proposals in actual legislation, the NDP and the Liberals are committed to telling us why they think our actions are unconstitutional. It is not that they have a plan themselves. They did not have a plan and they still do not have a plan. We are the only party with a plan.
    To prove our commitment to either fixing or ridding ourselves of the Senate, we decided to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on Parliament's authority to make these meaningful changes. For the first time in a generation, we asked the Supreme Court's opinion on what is required to reform the Senate and what is required to abolish the Senate. The aim in seeking a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada is to accelerate the pace of Senate reform and to lay the foundation for further reform to the Senate. It sends a strong signal to Canadians that we are ready to move forward, confident in the legitimacy and strength of our reforms.
    The questions referred to the Supreme Court reflect the government's position that meaningful change to the Senate can be achieved within Parliament's authority. As I have said before, the Senate must reform or vanish. The questions asked of the Supreme Court seek legal certainty on the constitutional amending procedure for term limits for senators, democratic selection of senate nominees, net worth and property qualifications for senators, and abolition of the Senate. We are eagerly waiting the Supreme Court's opinion on these important issues. We said we would reform the Senate, and we will deliver.
    Until the Supreme Court returns its opinion, we will continue to bring forward measures to strengthen the accountability of senators to taxpayers, including when the Senate adopted eleven tough new accountability rules governing travel and expenses that were put forward last week by Conservative senators. These strong new measures will improve accountability and prevent abuse.
    We said we would fix the Senate's rules governing travel and expenses, and we delivered. Yesterday the Leader of the Government in the Senate introduced a motion asking the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses. These are strong measures that will protect taxpayers, and I outlined these improvements earlier today.
    I spoke earlier about the protectors of the Senate, those who want the status quo; those who say it should not be done or it cannot be done. While we have been moving Senate reform forward with meaningful proposals, a reference to seek clarity from the Supreme Court and a tough new accountability rules, the Liberal leader and his party have once again staked the claim as the champion of the status quo in the Senate.
    The Liberals go so far as to demand that the Senate remain unelected and unaccountable because it is an advantage for Quebec. This has come after 13 years of inaction, where the Liberal Party took every opportunity to protect the Senate from any and all reform. Actually, it is probably closer to a hundred years. The Liberals have abused the Senate in its current form for the past three generations.

  (1840)  

    I can see why the Liberals are attracted to the status quo, but they certainly had an option. In all their years in office, they could have taken the initiative to correct the Senate. They could have admitted that it was wrong for Canada and Canadians, and tackled this democratic deficit. They had an option to stand up, but they chose to say yes to the old attitudes and the entrenched entitlements of the Liberal Party. It is time for the Liberal Party to stop protecting the status quo and to support our efforts for a more accountable, democratic, and representative upper house.
    The Conservative plan to reform the Senate is clear and real. Our government wants to see changes in the Senate. The Liberals only seem to want it to remain the same. While the Liberals continue to stake out and vigorously defend the position of the status quo, the opportunistic NDP has shown, once more, that there is no plan too risky for it.
    While Conservative members have been squarely focused on what matters to Canadians, jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, the NDP has decided to advance a gimmicky proposal to unilaterally defund the Senate.
    To really appreciate the NDP's logic, I think it is worth reviewing the statements made by the NDP's senior treasury board critic, the member for Pontiac, just yesterday. When asked about the constitutional requirement to have the Senate pass legislation, he said:
    There's no reason why the Senate can't do its job without funds. It's not an issue of constitutionality.
    Listening to the NDP say that the Constitution is no big deal is also concerning. Canadians are learning every day how risky the NDP and its ideas really are. To him the upper chamber is rotten to the core, as the member has stated, casting a very wide net. The member for Pontiac is even willing to strip the jobs of some 400 Senate employees, who have absolutely nothing to do with recent events in the Senate.
    To the NDP, it seems that the end always justifies the means. Better yet, when the member opposite was called out by his interviewer for being heavy-handed, he said that employees and senators could do some volunteer work. He expects our Senate employees to come to work but not get paid. Ask the member for Toronto Centre how that went for them.
    The NDP knows that its motion is a gimmick and it will not work. Canadians are more than smart enough to see through the NDP's opportunism. It should trouble Canadians that the NDP has chosen to debate this gimmick that it knows will not work instead of important issues like job creation and economic growth. However, we should perhaps not be surprised that the NDP does not want to talk about the risky tax plan.
    Our government's priorities are unchanged. The economy remains our top priority. Our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. We are proud of our record. Thanks to Canada's economic action plan, under our watch Canada has created over 900,000 net new jobs since the depths of the global recession. That is the best job creation record in the G7.
    However, we can see where the NDP's priorities are. It could have chosen to use its debate time today on the important economic issues that Canadians continue to care about, such as, indexing tax fund payments to better support job-creating infrastructure in municipalities right across the country, reforming the temporary foreign worker program to ensure Canadians are given the first crack at available jobs, expanding tax relief for home care services to better meet the health care needs of Canadians, and removing tariffs on important imports of baby clothing and certain sports and athletic equipment.
    While we are focused on growing the Canadian economy and jobs in the face of ongoing global economic challenges, the NDP keeps pushing job-killing carbon taxes and picking constitutional fights.
    Canadians know full well that the NDP's claim that it wants to abolish the Senate is nothing more than a gimmick. The NDP has never brought forward a serious proposal, and Canadians know that it has no intention of ever doing so. They know its position is unrealistic and that the NDP is making it up as it goes along.

  (1845)  

    I am surprised that the NDP chose to debate its real record on the Senate today. Here are the facts.
    In 2008, the NDP worked out a deal to appoint its own senators when it conspired with the Liberals and the Bloc to form a coalition.
    The Leader of the Opposition has claimed to support abolition, yet introduced a bill to give the Senate more powers.
    The NDP democratic reform critic, the member for Toronto—Danforth, provided further proof of the NDP's lack of sincerity when he said that the NDP is open to any kind of reasonable Senate reform.
    On March 4, 2013, the NDP brought forward a motion calling on the government to consult with the provinces and territories on the steps necessary to abolish the Senate.
    Two weeks ago, the NDP launched a website and said it would start a discussion with the provinces on whether there was support, as required by the Constitution, for abolition.
    In January of this last year, the leader of the NDP said that abolition of the Senate would be a profound constitutional change and that his party and country had other priorities before opening up a constitutional debate.
    The NDP record on Senate reform can be summed up in four points.
    First, it claims it will abolish the place.
    Second, the NDP repeatedly acknowledges that it does not have the constitutionally required support to actually abolish the Senate.
    Third, it obstructs every government effort to bring accountability and transparency to a reformed Senate.
    Fourth, it proposes gimmicky motions that it knows will not work.
    The NDP has frequently admitted that it needs the support of the provinces and territories to abolish the Senate, support that it knows it does not have.
    The NDP's grand consultation with Canadians and the provinces was announced just two weeks ago. Is that grand consultation finished already? Did it take just two weeks? Did the NDP members even talk to anyone? Perhaps they have abandoned that consultation because they did not hear what they wanted to hear. We can only guess, as it took so little time.
    Whatever the reason, it shows that the NDP is just not serious when it talks about the Senate. It does not matter whether it is talking about consultations or funding or anything else; it is just not serious. That is why it has never put forward a legitimate plan to reform the Senate.
    We must then ask ourselves this simple question: is the status quo good enough?
    It is clear that while there may be different approaches to solving the problem, we know that the status quo is not in the interests of Canadians. Our government believes that Senate reform is needed now. Canadians deserve better.
    In closing, we are the only party with a real plan to reform the Senate. My constituents tell me that they want change. Canadians want change.

  (1850)  

    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's comments would be marginally more plausible if it were not for the fact that he serves under the most profligate and prolific abuser of the powers of the Senate in Canadian history.
    He should be willing to admit that he and his party are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It would be almost comical, if it were not so sad, to watch successive Conservative and Liberal members of Parliament stand up here and squirm, wriggle and tie themselves in knots trying to defend the indefensible, when it is as plain as the nose on one's face that the Senate of Canada is beyond redemption.
     I have not been here that long, but I have been here for 16 years and I have been watching these attempts to reform the Senate. Since 1972, there have been 28 significant attempts to constitutionally reform the Senate, and 28 times they have failed.
     The position of our party has been consistent since 1933. In fact, the second term in our founding constitution, the second item for both the CCF and the NDP, is to abolish the Senate. We have been consistent.
    My colleague is correct that back in 1867, working people immediately objected to the creation of a House of Lords. The founding fathers believed Canada needed an aristocracy because we had none, so they created an imitation of the House of Lords to make sure that the great unwashed did not pass any bills that might inadvertently share the wealth of the nation. They needed to—
    Order, please.
    The hon. Minister of State for Democratic Reform.
    Mr. Speaker, the member talks about a solution and says that the Senate must change. Well, we also say that the Senate must change. Unfortunately, the member and his party have brought forward no real plan to change anything in the Senate. They bring forward a political stunt, a gimmick. It is deceptive and it is clearly unconstitutional.
     The member just said that he has been here for 16 years. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows that what they have brought forward is unconstitutional. He knows it will not work. The NDP is just being deceptive and not being honest with Canadians.
    The fact is that we as a government, as a party, have a real plan to reform the Senate. It would include elections, term limits so that we can regularly refresh the Senate and tough new spending accountability rules.
    We have a plan. Unfortunately, all the NDP has is a gimmick.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with many parts of the minister's presentation. Some I thought were unnecessary. If a minister wants to be taken seriously about advancing legislation, to withdraw rhetoric out of comments is, I think, important.
    That said, he understands fully that if there to be significant change brought upon the Senate, it would require the support of provinces. That is why you identify this motion as a gimmick, and I do not discount your comment on it.
    If I could just come shortly to my question—
    Order.
    The member is again repeating what we have had three times already in less than an hour. He is addressing comments to another member of the House rather than through the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, the past minister of intergovernmental affairs, Peter Penashue, would have been charged with the responsibility to deal with provinces on such issues. I cannot ask him that question because he is no longer here.
    However, would he have been charged with consulting with the provinces? Would he have had the opportunity to meet with the provinces? Indeed, if those types of meetings took place, would the minister share with us where the provinces are with this issue?

  (1855)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member took objection to something in my speech. I suspect it was that I raised the issue that the leader of the Liberal Party said he supports the status quo in the Senate because it is better for Quebec. I do take great offence to that comment, and that is why I raised it.
    Right across the country, we do have support for Senate reform. Coming from Alberta, I am very proud to say that our province holds elections for senators. We give Albertans an opportunity to have a say in who represents them in the Senate. British Columbia has looked at legislation. Saskatchewan has passed legislation. We are seeing out east in the Maritimes as well that New Brunswick is now putting forward legislation to have elections, so we do have support.
    However, what we really need is a serious plan. What we see today from the NDP is not a serious plan. Again, it is a gimmick.
    We have a serious plan that we put forward to Parliament, a bill. Unfortunately, that was delayed and stalled by the opposition. We have now put forward some questions to the Supreme Court to get clarity on Parliament's authority to make these changes.
    The Prime Minister has been clear that if we cannot reform the Senate, it must be abolished, and that is what we are going to do.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for again clearly articulating our position on moving forward with Senate reform. It has certainly been a long-standing commitment. No one ever said it would be an easy task. I suppose that if it were an easy task, it would be done.
    We have talked about the NDP and what was really a very gimmicky approach. I cannot think it was a very serious approach.
    However, as a westerner, I have to say I was most offended by the comments of the Liberal leader on why we should maintain the status quo.
     I would ask the minister to contrast the Liberal approach to the Senate versus our plan to move forward. It is not an easy task, but we are moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. I was quite taken aback as well. For the Liberal leader to come forward and say that the Liberals support the status quo because it is of benefit to Quebec is just unfortunate and has no place here. The leader pits one part of the country against another. It is just not responsible.
    Therein lies the challenge with Senate reform itself. The challenge for close to 100 years has been people who support the status quo, people who want to see the Senate continue the way it is today.
    We as a government, as a party, have been very clear. We want to reform the Senate to be more democratic and more accountable. We put forward plans for elections to allow Canadians to have a say in who represents them in the Senate and plans for implementing term limits for senators so that we can regularly refresh the Senate. We have also presented tough new spending rules so that there is more Senate accountability to taxpayers.
    We have a plan and we are moving forward with that plan.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the mayors in my riding work hard every day. Only 21 of the mayors of these 23 municipalities receive a salary. These people truly represent the riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges. They work hard for no pay. They receive an optional salary of roughly $17,000 or $20,000. That is not much for those who do real work on the ground.
    The minister says this is a gimmick. I think it is a pretty clear plan. We will stop providing money to the Senate in order to address other priorities in the country. It is possible to reduce the amount of money that goes to the Senate.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that the NDP would consider what they have put forward today a real plan. This goes right back to the NDP's economic policies. They are not real plans, and it is obvious that the New Democrats are just not ready to govern.
    We cannot just turn off the tap. We cannot just change the fundamental characteristic of the Senate without making some amendments to the Constitution and without consulting the provinces.
    Their leader has said that before, and now, today, more or less because of opportunity, they are putting this measure forward.
    I would have a lot more respect for the NDP if they wanted to debate such things as economic bills today. There is crime legislation we could debate. There are many other issues that are important to Canadians that we could be debating today instead of this silly gimmick that they have put forward.

  (1900)  

    Mr. Speaker, in the interest of clarity and just to keep people posted on what is really going on tonight, we had a debate earlier on an opposition day motion put forward by the NDP. What we are debating now, and we should not confuse the two, is that we were asked, in the course of approving the main estimates, the instrument of supply for the Government of Canada, to vote to approve $58,169,816 funding for the Senate.
     I put forward a motion to pull that money out of the main estimates and consider it as a separate vote so we might consider, on behalf of the constituents that we represent, if this chamber really wanted tonight to vote for and approve another $58,169,816 for the Senate of Canada. I wish it was a larger figure. I wish we could vote tonight at 10 o'clock on the whole amount that this money pit sucks up every year, but $58 million, sadly, is the only amount that we deal with as a voted appropriation. The rest is statutory. That is what we are faced with tonight.
    This is the debate we are having on behalf of our constituents. Do we, or do we not, want to keep shovelling wheelbarrows full of money down the hallway and dumping it into that black hole, that money pit of the Senate. That place is insatiable. It will gobble up every nickel we put there and there will be nothing to show for it except for a bunch of high flying, globe trotting, semi diplomat senators. The only thing they like doing more than fundraising for the parties they represent is flying around the world on the taxpayers' dollar as some kind of a quasi diplomat.
    I will be the first to concede that it is difficult to abolish the Senate by constitutional amendment. That would take a referendum put to the people of Canada. Perhaps in the 2015 election it might be a good addition to ask the people of Canada what their wishes are at that point in time. However, one thing we can do tonight is cut off its blood supply. We can throttle it. We can shake it up. We can tell it in no uncertain terms that we are sick and tired of the shenanigans in the other place.
    I come from a time when we were not allowed to say the word Senate in the House of Commons. You, Mr. Speaker, would have called me out of order if I used the word Senate, never mind criticizing it. That place has fallen into such disrepute right across the country that even that rule is now out the window. The whole country is universally condemning and shouting it from the rooftops that they have had enough. They will not tolerate it anymore. They are sick of shovelling money into the Senate. It has gone from an impediment to democracy to an expensive nuisance to a national disgrace, and that is where we are right now.
    Frankly, the monkey business around a few expense accounts is the least of the problem here, because there is absolutely nothing new about senators fudging expense accounts and wasting their dough.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been listening to this debate for the last number of hours, both the previous debate on the motion put by the opposition and the debate currently on vote 1 of the estimates. Clearly, we need to be respectful of this institution of Parliament, which includes the Queen, the House of Commons and the Senate.
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, I ask for your guidance on this, but I quote from page 614 of the rules of the House, from O'Brien and Bosc. It says:
    Disrespectful reflections on Parliament as a whole, or on the House and the Senate individually are not permitted.
    I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask members in the chamber during this debate on the vote to exercise restraint in their reflections on this institution.

  (1905)  

    I think the difficulty we are having from the Chair, and this is the second time it has been raised in the House today in terms of language being used vis-à-vis the other House, is that although we have clear historical rulings, the reality has been that the practice with regard to comments regarding the other House have been allowed to expand quite dramatically over the last decade in this House.
    However, I would caution the member for Winnipeg Centre to try to moderate the tone and at least stay within some reasonable parameters, understanding the emotion that this issue is generating.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for that consideration. I would just remind my colleague of the doctrine of estoppel, but he can look that up later.
    The monkey business around misbehaviour by senators is the least of the problems with the Senate. There is nothing new about senators misbehaving.
    I remember a time when the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance guys brought a Mexican mariachi band and a bunch of straw hats in front of the Senate and were doing a Mexican hat dance to protest the behaviour of one senator who had established himself on a beach in Mexico and was pulling down a Senate salary. That was Randy White, Monte Solberg, the current Minister of Immigration, Rahim Jaffer. Those guys were a lot of fun, and they were right at that time.
    I remember when Deborah Grey bought 50 plastic pigs and placed them on the lawn in front of the Senate. The imagery I think she was trying to invoke, and correct me if I am wrong, was probably pigs at the trough. It is an unkind comparison perhaps, but it was her way of graphically illustrating what the Canadian public was feeling. That goes back 15 years. There is nothing new about that kind of misbehaviour.
    However, the expense scandals pale in comparison to what is really wrong with the Senate and that is why the NDP, the CCF before it and the Independent Labour Party before that when J.S. Woodsworth was elected in 1921, were consistent in that they wanted the Senate abolished. It was a party of the people. It is natural that the party of the people would oppose the Senate.
     As I said in earlier comments, one of the main reasons for establishing the Senate in 1867 was that the ruling class realized that they needed an equivalent of the House of Lords. We had no established aristocracy so one would have to be created to ensure that the great unwashed, that the working people of Canada, did not pass any legislation that might interfere with their ability to line their pockets with the resources of this great nation and they used their veto extensively.
    In those early days, fully 10% of all legislation passed by the House of Commons was vetoed. Fully, 25% of it was amended significantly by the other chamber before it was allowed to succeed. It managed to gut and veto anything that might have been of benefit to the ordinary, freely-elected representatives of the people in the House of Commons. That was why it was created. It is no wonder we were opposed to it and objected to it. Believe me, that attitude and atmosphere continues to this day.
    In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the few New Democrats who was in favour of Senate reform instead of Senate abolition as a young parliamentarian. I took part in something called the Charlottetown accord constituent assemblies in 1992. I answered a letter to The Globe and Mail as a working carpenter, as an ordinary Canadian, to see if I would be interested in this. There were 160 Canadians chosen from all walks of life. We visited six different cities over six months and studied the Constitution and the Senate in great deal with the leading constitutional experts of the day. For six months, we were fully immersed in all the complexities and nuances of intergovernmental affairs, the jurisdictional powers of the Senate and the House, the configuration of the Senate and whether the Senate should succeed.
    At that time, I believed the Senate could be reformed and it had merit, not because of the merit or the virtues of it but for one simple reason, and that being that in 1993 my party lost official party status, the party to which that I actively belonged. We were reduced to nine seats.
    The Conservative Party of Canada suffered its worst defeat in Canadian history. It was reduced to two seats. Its caucus—
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Pat Martin: Mr. Speaker, I do not know who is bad-mouthing me over there, but whomever it is has a lot of lip and a lot of nerve too. The member might get a fat lip by the time it is finished. No, I would not say that.
    The Conservative Party of Canada was reduced to two seats, but its caucus was 50 people because it had 48 senators and all their staff, resources and travel abilities. That is like 100 people fully salaried and fully staffed able to rebuild—

  (1910)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I take umbrage with what my colleague is saying. Clearly, his revisionist sense of history is not being genuine with this chamber.
    The Conservative Party of Canada was founded upon two political parties, the Reform Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. In that particular election, I think the cumulative effect of those two numbers was far greater than two.
    That was not a point of order. It is a point for debate, perhaps challenging some of the analysis of the member for Winnipeg Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order—
    It is not a point of order. We will resume debate with the member for Winnipeg Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, it was the Progressive Conservative Party that was defeated, from 202 seats down to 2. It was the worst defeat in Canadian history.
    However, their caucus remained at roughly 50 people, because they had all these senators. I said to myself, “Self, it would not have hurt if we had a dozen or so senators in the other chamber to help us live through those dark years when we were reduced to nine seats”.
    Hon. Jim Karygiannis: I'll give you some.
    Mr. Pat Martin: Mr. Speaker, again, we are getting some cheeky lip from behind me. You might want to call them to order at some point during my remarks. If you do not, I will.
    I had an open mind when in 2006, the Prime Minister introduced their first Senate reform amendments. I actually attended the Senate with him. We were wearing the same tie that day, and I remember it quite well.
    I was interested to see if Senate reform was possible. We had done our research. We knew that 28 times since 1972, significant attempts had been made to constitutionally amend the Senate, all of which failed.
    For me, that same Prime Minister, who I actually had some confidence might take a shot at the Senate, let us down so profoundly that he was responsible for my joining the prevailing attitude of the party to which I belong.
    The turning point for me was twofold.
     First, the Prime Minister, in a petulant huff, decided that if he could not beat them, he would join them. As I said earlier, he became the most profligate serial offender in Canadian history in terms of stacking the Senate with his party hacks and flaks and bagmen and failed candidates. He appointed the president of the Conservative Party. He appointed the chief campaign manager of the Conservative Party. He appointed the communications director of the Conservative Party. He appointed the senior bagman of the Conservative Party. The whole Conservative war room was now fully staffed and funded by the Canadian taxpayer with not only their salary, but with their four employees and with their travel privileges, doing full-time partisan work out of the Senate.
    That offended the sensibilities of anybody who considered themselves a democrat. It should rattle the very foundations of confidence in our democratic institutions. There has been no more profligate abuse of the Senate. The whole war room was now chocked full.
    He was not finished there. The Prime Minister has appointed some 50 senators. He was thumbing his nose. We now have full-time party fundraisers criss-crossing the country on the taxpayers' dime, engaged in purely partisan political activity. If there was any justification for a Senate, that was forgotten long ago.
    The Liberals are no better. Both the chair and the co-chair of their national campaign happen to be senators. I will not name them. The Conservative that ran the entire Manitoba provincial election was a sitting senator. His salary should go against the spending limits of those other members of Parliament running.
    Let us face it, the Duffy affair was only the tip of the iceberg. That is what really drew the public's attention. That was the catalyst that helped us focus down on what was really wrong here. This $90,000 soft landing was not really about making him whole, because of the money he had to shell out. It was to keep his mouth shut for the extent of the political interference by senators in election campaigns, which was widespread throughout the country.
    While I am on that point, if people here really believe that Nigel Wright dug into his own pocket and gave $90,000 of his after-tax earnings to Mike Duffy, they are nuttier than a porta-potty at a peanut farm. Anybody with any common sense would know that that money will come from the Conservative fund of which Nigel Wright was a director for seven years and Senator Irv Gerstein is the other director.
    That was it for me. I was absolutely fed up with this notion. I believe it is fitting and appropriate and maybe even poetic justice that the Prime Minister's monumental hypocrisy associated with the Senate is the one thing that has finally come to bite him in the what rhymes with gas.
    This is the first thing that turned me off the Senate forever.
     The second thing, though, was the direct political interference by the unelected, undemocratic Senate with the work and activity of the elected chamber where we as an elected House of Commons and representative of people passed the only piece of climate change legislation in the 39th, 40th or the 41st Parliament.

  (1915)  

    It was two years of negotiating and pushing by the former leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, that finally got this bill through, that finally got the approval of all the parties in the House of Commons. It wound up in the Senate, and without a single hour of debate or a single witness heard at committee, senators vetoed it and killed that bill. Now Canada, to its great shame, has no national climate change policy whatsoever.
    Even worse, just to add insult to injury, and what compounds the offence, in my view, is that the other bill the senators unilaterally and arbitrarily vetoed was the HIV-AIDS drugs for Africa bill. That was a real classy choice. They had no right to unilaterally and arbitrarily block and interfere with the will of the democratically elected members of the House of Commons. No one elected them to make legislation. No one gave them a mandate or the legitimacy to undermine democracy and act as stooges for the PMO. The Senate is not a chamber of any kind of thought, never mind sober thought.
    In the same vein, more and more pieces of legislation are originating in the Senate. As I say, I this is my sixth term. I have seen a lot of legislation come and go. It used to be a very rare thing when a bill would come to the House of Commons labelled S-10, S-11, S-12, S-13. Now the Senate is cranking them out like there is no tomorrow. Half the legislation we deal with originates in the other chamber. The stuff we get to deal with is lumped together in an omnibus bill, 60 or 70 pieces of legislation all packed into one, on which we get a few hours of debate and a few witnesses at committee. The substantive material is all being generated in the Senate. Again, no one elected senators to make legislation. No one gave them the authority or mandate to make legislation. It offends the sensibilities of any person who considers him or herself a democrat.
    When senators are not cranking out bills, they are gadding about the world like a bunch of globe-trotting quasi-diplomats. They have never seen a junket they did not like. They are always chock full of senators. We cannot afford that. We are broke. In case people forget, this is $58 million we have to borrow to shovel over there another wheelbarrow full of money. The Black Rod is going to knock on the door and ask for his dough pretty soon, and these guys will dutifully trudge down there and deliver to keep their political machine bankrolled and funded, like an unfair competitive advantage, by the Canadian taxpayer. Can people not see what is wrong with that? It is enough to drive a person crazy.
    One thing that really bugs me about the senators is that they are allowed to sit on boards of directors. The Senate of Canada is one big institutionalized conflict of interest. Let us look at one example. Senator Trevor Eyton, a Conservative senator, is CEO and president of one of the largest corporations in Canada, Brascan, which has been renamed Brookfield Asset Management. It happens to own Royal LePage. By some happy coincidence, it keeps winning the relocation contract for the military and the RCMP. It is a multi-billion dollar contract.
    The Auditor General looked at it and said that the bid had been rigged to give the contract to Royal LePage. It was offensive to everyone's sensibilities. Then the court looked at and said that the bid had been rigged and awarded $40 million in damages to the low bidder that should have won it, Envoy. Then, by some happy coincidence again, for a third time, in 2009, the cabinet got directly involved and made sure that Royal LePage, the very company this guy was CEO of and for which he continued to be the chairman of the board of directors into his Senate tenure, made sure that his company—let us face it; he has stock options in that company—got the same contract again. That should offend one's sensibilities.
    If there were no other reason to deny it any money, it is that inherent conflict of interest that comes from what I call an institutionalized conflict that is the Senate of Canada.

  (1920)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friend's remarks with a mixture of amusement and serious concern about the content of his remarks and the purpose of his motion.
     Like many members, I was in this House on March 7 when the member for Winnipeg Centre rose in this House on a question of privilege in relation to laws, bills or motions before this House potentially being unconstitutional. It offended his privilege, yet we are debating a motion brought by the same member today that is clearly unconstitutional and ultra vires.
    Leaving aside the personal slights and slagging the member has done here, I would like him to reflect on his question of privilege from March 7 and ask if his motion today is not violating the very privilege he raised on March 7.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague for Durham is new here, but I challenge him to find what is unconstitutional about moving a motion to have vote 1 pulled from the main estimates to be debated and voted on separately. That is all my motion aspires to do. It is to have a separate vote on the money allocated for the Senate of Canada, the $58 million. I think he is the one who should maybe re-read what is constitutional and what is not.
    Mr. Speaker, I like the member for Winnipeg Centre. He is chair of our committee. I would say that we are friends, but we do not necessarily agree on everything. I would characterize his motion and the NDP motion of today as nothing less than idiotic, and that is being generous—
    This is now the fourth time. It is the third time I have been up and the fourth time someone in this chair has been up. We are trying to control the language within this House, and the use of the term “idiotic” is simply not acceptable when one is describing legislation. I would ask all members, including the current member who is on his feet, to please temper their language.

  (1925)  

    Mr. Speaker, I apologize, but I want to be clear. I was not referring to the member with that adjective but rather to his motion. Shall we say, “foolish”, or “not a good motion”?
    I wonder if the member understands that according to Canada's Constitution, every bill, including supply bills, in order to become law, must be passed by both Houses of Parliament. If the Senate no longer exists, these laws cannot be passed, which would mean that, as of April 1 of next year, the federal government would shut down. There would be no more civil servants, and similarly, since the CRA collects the taxes for most provinces, many of the provinces would have to shut down. Is this a sensible idea?