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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 080

CONTENTS

Thursday, June 2, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 080
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer


  (1005)  

[English]

Privilege

Adjournment Proceedings—Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 30, 2022, by the member for Perth—Wellington concerning questions related to the Board of Internal Economy in Adjournment Proceedings.
    In presenting his question of privilege, the member for Perth—Wellington explained that he had put a question to the chief opposition whip, in his role as a spokesman for the Board of Internal Economy, during Oral Questions on May 16, 2022. Since he was not satisfied with the response, he gave notice of his intention to raise the matter with the whip during Adjournment Proceedings.

[Translation]

     The Private Members’ Business Office, which organizes these debates, then informed him that his notice was inadmissible because, under Standing Order 38(5), only a minister or parliamentary secretary can respond to questions asked during this period.
    According to the member, this decision does not take account of an order adopted by the House on October 2, 2001, that indeed allows a spokesperson for the Board of Internal Economy to answer these questions. Even if no such change was made to the Standing Orders, he believes that this order was of a permanent nature. He also argued that the decision to refuse his notice was a breach of his privileges and non-compliance with an order of the House.

[English]

    First off, since this is a question of interpretation of the Standing Orders and our practice, the matter will be dealt with as a point of order and not a point of privilege.
    Fundamentally, what is at issue in the case before us is the nature of the order adopted by unanimous consent on October 2, 2001. Normally, an order is valid for the session under way. When the House wishes to make permanent changes, it normally does so by amending the Standing Orders. In fact, the name of this document, “Standing Orders”, expresses this well. These are orders that remain in effect from one session to the next. The member did, however, cite examples of orders adopted by the House that, without amending the Standing Orders, were permanent. This was the case with the adoption of the current wording of the prayer and with the designation of a committee for the consideration of certain reports.

[Translation]

     The recourse of unanimous consent is described thus in the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at pages 591 and 592:
    At times, the House may choose to depart from, vary or abridge the rules it has made for itself. When the House has made substantial or permanent modifications to its procedures or practices, it has usually proceeded by way of motion preceded by notice; ad hoc changes, on the other hand, are often made by obtaining the consent of all Members present in the House at the time the departure from the rules or practices is proposed. Such a suspension of the rules or usual practices is accomplished by what is termed “unanimous consent”.
    The motion adopted on October 2, 2001, that the member cited, began with the words, “notwithstanding any Standing Order”, which normally announces a temporary departure from the rules of the House. As such, a question was exceptionally allowed to be answered by a spokesperson for the Board of Internal Economy who is neither a minister nor a parliamentary secretary during Adjournment Proceedings.

  (1010)  

[English]

    By all appearances, the decision was an agreement for the case raised a few days earlier, on September 28, 2001. At that time, everyone agreed that it was an inconsistency in the Standing Orders, an inconsistency that, in the opinion of the Chair, is still there. The solution chosen at the time was a temporary order. In order to make that decision permanent, it should have been worded differently.
    In the meantime, if the member for Perth—Wellington wishes the chief opposition whip, one of the spokesmen for the Board of Internal Economy, to be able to answer the question during Adjournment Proceedings, he can ask for the unanimous consent of the House to temporarily depart from the Standing Orders.
    Moreover, if the member wishes to suggest a permanent change to Standing Order 38, I invite him to take advantage of the debate on the Standing Orders and procedure of the House and its committees, held pursuant to Standing Order 51, to make the suggestion. He can also raise the matter with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, whose mandate is to guide the House in reviewing the Standing Orders.
    I thank all members for their attention.
    The hon. member for Perth—Wellington is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, in response to your ruling, I will take your advice. By unanimous consent, I seek that notwithstanding any standing order, a question to the spokesperson for the Board of Internal Economy may be raised during the proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order 38, and a spokesperson for the board who is not a minister of the Crown or a parliamentary secretary may give the response during those proceedings.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.

Certain Amendments Made to Bill C-19

    Following the presentation yesterday of the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-19, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures, the Chair wishes to draw the attention of members to a procedural issue related to two amendments adopted by the committee during clause-by-clause study of the bill.

[Translation]

    As the House knows, the Speaker does not normally intervene in committee matters. However, in cases where a committee has exceeded its authority, particularly in relation to bills, the Speaker has a responsibility to ensure that certain fundamental rules and practices are properly observed. As Speaker Fraser explained on April 28, 1992, at page 9801 of the Debates:
    When a bill is referred to a standing or legislative committee of the House, that committee is only empowered to adopt, amend or negative the clauses found in that piece of legislation and to report the bill to the House with or without amendments. The committee is restricted in its examination in a number of ways. It cannot infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown, ... no matter how tempting that may be.

[English]

    The first questionable amendment modified clause 6 of the bill in order to amend the Income Tax Act and allow individuals with type 1 diabetes to automatically qualify for a tax credit. Some uncertainty was raised about whether this amendment required a royal recommendation, and the chair of the committee ruled it inadmissible. This decision was challenged and subsequently overturned. The committee then debated and adopted this amendment.
    The second amendment seeks to amend clause 135 of Bill C-19 to modify the select luxury items tax act. With respect to subject aircraft, the coming into force is changed from September 1, 2022, to a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. Here again, the chair of the committee ruled the amendment inadmissible because it lacked a needed ways and means motion. This decision was also challenged and overturned, and again the committee then debated the amendment and adopted it.

  (1015)  

[Translation]

     Both amendments bring up different, but equally important, questions about the admissibility of amendments and their compliance with certain financial procedures. Page 772 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, reminds us that:
    Since an amendment may not infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown, it is inadmissible if it imposes a charge on the public treasury, or if it extends the objects or purposes or relaxes the conditions and qualifications specified in the royal recommendation. An amendment is also inadmissible if it exceeds the scope of the ways and means motion on which a bill is based, or if it imposes a new charge on the people that is not preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion or not covered by the terms of a ways and means motion already adopted.

[English]

    Given the potential consequences rising from these amendments and the way they were considered in committee, the Chair felt it necessary to review the relevant evidence together with the rules relating to financial procedure.
    With respect to the first amendment related to clause 6, the Chair is unclear as to how it constitutes a new and distinct charge on the public treasury. In fact, based on the information the Chair has before it, it appears that this amendment allows a tax credit that in its application is non-refundable. Accordingly, while the chair of the committee determined that the amendment required a royal recommendation, I am of the view that it does not need one.

[Translation]

    With regard to the amendment to clause 135, the Chair agrees with the committee chair that this amendment, by changing the date of the coming into force of the clause, could oblige certain entities to bear an additional charge. Consequently, given this possibility, this amendment needs to be preceded by a ways and means motion.

[English]

    While the Chair appreciates the difficulties that can arise when examining a bill in committee, it is important to remember that a committee must carry out its mandate without exceeding its powers. In the Chair’s view, by adopting an amendment that infringes on the financial initiative of the Crown, a committee ventures beyond its powers.
    Consequently, the Chair must order that the amendment to clause 135, adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance, be declared null and void, and that the amendment no longer form part of the bill as reported to the House.
    I want to thank all members for their attention.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

[Translation]

Canada Disability Benefit Act

  (1020)  

[English]

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in relation to Bill S-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.

[Translation]

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities entitled “Railway Safety and the Effects of Railway Operations on the Surrounding Communities in which they Operate”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[English]

National Strategy on Brain Injuries Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, in Canada, June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and it is a time to increase awareness about the prevalence of brain injury, the obstacles that exist for those with brain injury and the need for more services and support at all stages of recovery.
    The 2022 national collaborative Brain Injury Awareness Month campaign is focused on raising awareness of brain injury in Canada. We know that over 1.5 million Canadians live with brain injury and it contributes to homelessness, incarceration, substance use and mental health issues.
    That is why I am very pleased to be introducing this bill today, which would establish a national brain injury strategy. It would require the Minister of Health to develop a national strategy to support and improve brain injury awareness, prevention and treatment, as well as the rehabilitation and recovery of persons living with brain injury.
    The strategy requires a number of things, like the implementation of preventative measures and identifying the training, education and guidance needs of health care professionals, but it will also identify the challenges resulting from brain injury, such as mental health problems, addiction, housing and homelessness issues, and criminality. The bill would also have reporting requirements so that Parliament can keep tabs on this strategy.
    Finally, I would like to thank both Brain Injury Canada and Janelle from my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, who is a member of the Constable Gerald Breese Centre for Traumatic Life Losses, for their collaboration and input, which made this bill today possible.

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

Prevention of Government-imposed Vaccination Mandates Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, today I am taking another step to give Canadians back control of their lives with the prevention of government-imposed vaccination mandates act.
    This bill would ban the government from imposing vaccine mandates as a condition of travel or employment. If the bill passes, the government would no longer be able to require federal workers to get vaccinated in order to keep their paycheques and jobs. It would also ban the federal government from requiring vaccines in order for people to travel. In other words, it would allow all Canadians, regardless of their personal medical decisions, to continue to work in the federal sector or travel on trains, planes and other federally regulated modes of transportation, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.
    We are an outlier here in Canada today. Most countries have removed mandates for travel, including the U.K., Germany, Italy, Thailand, Poland, Argentina, Chile and many others. All provinces have now removed vaccine mandates. The five big banks have done likewise, and public sector unions have even begun legal actions to remove these discriminatory mandates.
    I have met countless people and heard endless tragic stories of people separated from family members by their inability to get on an airplane or people languishing without a paycheque, despite having a spotless track record serving their employer over many years. These mandates have become nothing more than a cruel attempt to demonize a small minority. They are absolutely unnecessary and without any scientific basis.
    I call on all members of Parliament to end this discrimination and give people back control of their own personal medical decisions and their bodies by passing this bill banning the federal government from imposing these mandates and allowing Canadians to take back control of their lives.

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

  (1025)  

[Translation]

    We will now proceed to consideration of the motion moved by the member for La Prairie.
    Mr. Therrien moves that it be an instruction to the Standing Committee—
    The member for La Prairie is rising on a point of order.
    I apologize, Mr. Speaker.
    We were supposed to be able to introduce a bill from my colleague, the member for Rivière-du-Nord. It seems that the Chair did not call his bill, and I am wondering if it would be possible to do that.
    It is not on my list, but I will check with the table and see if there is a change.

[English]

    There seems to have been an oversight.

[Translation]

    There was a small problem because the motion was not there. Since we have moved on to the next rubric, I will have to seek the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the introduction of private members' bills.
    Do we have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1030)  

Criminal Code

    moved for leave to introduce Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal organizations).
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce this bill today because, as we in the Bloc Québécois often say, it is in keeping with the interests and values of our citizens.
    As everyone knows, there is currently a significant spike in gun violence throughout America and, for us in Canada, particularly in the Montreal area. Again last night, a man was shot at point blank range in a restaurant at 7:30 p.m., at dinner time, in front of children.
    This situation has gone on day after day. There are new such incidents every day, and it is Parliament's responsibility to do something about this. The federal government is responsible for the Criminal Code, and provisions must be put in place quickly, because this cannot go on.
    Bill C-279 seeks to give the Minister of Public Safety the authority to establish a list of criminal organizations that individuals will be prohibited from joining under the Criminal Code. This will help make the work of police and the courts easier.
    Right now, when the authorities want to put someone who is accused of belonging to a criminal organization on trial, not only do they have to prove that the accused belongs to the organization, but they also have to prove that the organization in question is a criminal organization. That is the kind of proof that can often take weeks or even months to provide.
    Bill C‑279 would provide for the creation of a list of criminal organizations, much like what is already being done for terrorist organizations. There are currently about 30 to 50 organizations listed as terrorist organizations. The same thing would be done for criminal organizations. This would make it easier to fight organized crime, it would help curb the flow of illegal firearms as much as possible, and it would hopefully put an end to the shootings on our streets.

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

[English]

    The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, welcome back. I would like to mention to those assembled and the people listening at home that when one asks for unanimous consent to accept a change in the schedule, that is actually what unanimous consent votes are for, as opposed to bringing a treaty before the House that has been unseen by many of the members, voting on it and going forward without so much as debate. I thank you very much for once again pointing out and using a unanimous consent motion for what it was intended.
    I want to thank the hon. member, and I want to remind hon. members what unanimous consent is all about. I encourage anyone seeking unanimous consent to actually go and do the groundwork beforehand, so by the time the members come to the chamber, they have had discussions and we know that we have unanimous consent.

  (1035)  

[Translation]

Instruction to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs Regarding Bill C-14

    That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that, during its consideration of Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (electoral representation), the committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the bill in order to amend the formula for apportioning seats in the House and include provisions that maintain the Quebec nation's political weight, as the House of Commons recognized on March 2, 2022.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, Bill C-14 originally provided that no province would lose any federal ridings in the next electoral redistribution. Let us not forget that the future configuration of Parliament threatened to remove one riding from Quebec, which would have seen its number of seats in the House drop from 78 to 77. The Bloc Québécois obviously let it be known that this was outrageous.
    We are now moving this motion of instruction for the following reason. It is true that we do not want to see a decrease in the number of members from Quebec in the House, but we want to go even further by asking for an end to the relative decrease in Quebec's political weight, which has been happening since the start of the 20th century.
    Since this bill is already too restrictive to allow for these kinds of amendments, we are forced to propose amendments through a motion of instruction to ensure that it is in order. In this way, Bill C‑14 would become embedded in the parliamentary journey we set out on in June 2021.
    Allow me to recap. Last year, in June 2021, we moved the following motion:
    That the House agree...that Quebeckers form a nation, that French is the only official language of Quebec and that it is also the common language of the Quebec nation.
    This motion was adopted by the vast majority of members in the House, which was the first step in this legislative journey.
    Since that first step, Quebec has not been seen as a province like the others. It is seen as a nation, which we have known for a long time. However, if Quebec is a nation, it should have the same powers afforded to nations. We must therefore take action to protect the Quebec nation, whose common language is French, which is something that a very large majority of members recognized.
    The second step was taken in March, when, once again, a large majority of members in the House adopted the following motion, which I will read because it is very important:
    That, in the opinion of the House:
(a) any scenario for redrawing the federal electoral map that would result in Quebec losing one or more electoral districts or that would reduce Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons must be rejected...
    Order. The hon. member for Jonquière on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, could our colleagues please move their conversations somewhere outside the House?
    Even though I am next to the member for La Prairie, I cannot hear what he is saying.
    That is a good point. If members wish to chat, I would ask them to find a place to have their conversation rather than talking back and forth across the House. They can continue their conversation in the lobby and whisper, or even go out into the hallway or lobby.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a point well taken by my Quebec colleague. I was just a little thrown off. I thought we were going to be having a debate here on Standing Order 51. As a member of PROC, it took me by surprise that there is this new motion before us to talk about something that I thought would be dealt with at committee.

  (1040)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my father always said that good things come to those who wait, and my colleague will have to wait. I am sorry that my voice does not carry far, but my colleague was told that this motion would be moved and that I would speak for four or five minutes. Since my time has not yet expired, he should pay close attention. He may learn something.
    There were two parts to the motion. The number of members from Quebec cannot be reduced, and the proportion of Quebec members in the House cannot be reduced. Those were the two aspects to this motion, and the vast majority of members voted in favour.
    Bill C-14 is a step forward. The number of members from Quebec will not be reduced. Confucius said that even the longest journey always begins with a first step. The is the first step.
    What we are asking for is the second step. That is obvious. Everyone here, or almost everyone here, has said that they cannot allow Quebec, which is a nation with French as its common language, to have its relative political weight in the House reduced.
    The point of this motion of instruction is to allow the Bloc Québécois to table an amendment to Bill C‑14 so that we can finally carry out the mission provided for in the motion tabled in March. That is the bare minimum. The House needs to finally understand that we are not talkers, but doers. That is what I am asking the House to do.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting the manner in which we are having this debate today, and I will be able to expand on that during my comments, but I will say that, when the commission came down indicating that it was looking at reducing the number of seats in the province of Quebec from 78 to 77, the reaction in the Government of Canada, the Liberal caucus, was very swift. We indicated that it could not happen and that we did not support the reduction of the number of seats in the province of Quebec. It was universally felt within the government that it was something that was not acceptable. That is the reason why we have Bill C-14.
    I will get the opportunity to expand upon that point when I get the opportunity to address the motion. Historically we have witnessed, whether it is Prince Edward Island or out west, there have been guarantees of numbers. What are the member's thoughts on previous guarantees that were put in place to ensure that jurisdictions would not lose the number of members of Parliament they had?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. Yes, there are guarantees. In particular, there is the senatorial clause, which gives Prince Edward Island four members instead of one, and the grandfather clause. It is true.
    That precedent is the reason we are proposing a new clause. Since there are already several clauses, we simply want to add a “Quebec clause” to make sure that Quebec always has 25% of the number of seats in the House of Commons.
    That is in line with the remarks of my colleague from Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the motion tabled by the Bloc Québécois House leader. I think that the motion of instruction highlights the important work that the House standing committees do. I trust the committee members to decide what type of motion and amendment regarding Bill C‑14 they might introduce.
    I would also like to remind my colleagues that the substance of Bill C‑14 comes, as I believe, from the motion moved in early March by the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable. His motion sought unanimous consent to ensure that no province in this country loses a single seat.
    I do not really have any questions for the hon. member for La Prairie. I simply wanted to address these remarks to the House and say that I think the motion is reasonable.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, all that remains for me to do is to thank my colleague for his words of wisdom and, as always, commend him for the quality of his French. It is impressive. I would like to thank him.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised at the question that has been implied by the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party seems to be taking the position that one of the ways in which we can expand the scope of legislation is to just bring forward a motion that enables any committee on any piece of legislation to say it would like to go in this direction or that direction. Then, by using a vote in the House, we give a different type of mandate to our standing committees.
     I am wondering if this is the principle that the members of the Bloc would advocate for, whether here in the Parliament of Canada or in the parliament of Quebec. Would that very same principle apply so we should be encouraging these types of motions? I am not talking about the motion itself as much as the principle of having a motion that would enable legislation to be changed in committees on the issue of scope. That is one of the reasons why we have standing orders, which are technically what we were supposed to be debating today.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when I got up this morning, I do not know why, but I had a feeling that it was going to be a big day. Now I know why. I just got a second question from my colleague from Winnipeg North. It is enough to wear a body out, but I thank him anyway.
    The ability of parliamentary committees to amend bills is a basic rule of the parliamentary system. I did not make it up. We are all here to work on amendments and improve bills so they better reflect what the people of Canada and Quebec want.
    In this particular case, it is all about Quebec. Everybody knows that the point of Bill C‑14 is to make sure Quebec does not lose any seats, so it makes sense to listen to what Quebec wants. Since the purpose of this bill is for Quebec to improve its political prospects within the House of Commons, for as long as we are here, we might as well go all in and get the job done properly.
    I listened to my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North, which I always enjoy doing, but let me read part of the motion he voted for: “any scenario for redrawing the federal electoral map that would result in Quebec losing one or more electoral districts or that would reduce Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons must be rejected”.
    He voted in favour of that.
    He needs to explain why he does seem to comprehend that Bill C‑14 includes a section to satisfy Quebeckers.
    Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to understand the motion's significance.
    First of all, I see that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could be given the ability to make more significant amendments to Bill C‑14.
    In that case, would the Bloc Québécois potentially accept a motion to guarantee sufficient powers for the province of British Columbia? As members know, British Columbia does not have enough seats in the House.
    Will the Bloc Québécois support my province and its powers?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question and commend the quality of his French. He told me once that he learned some of that French in Quebec, and that comes through in his strength and passion. We are very pleased to hear it.
    If he thinks British Columbia should have more seats, then let him go through all the same steps we did. He needs to start by saying that British Columbia is a nation. Then we will discuss why it may or may not be a nation. That is what I am wondering. Is British Columbia a nation? We can discuss that at length, but I do know one thing: Quebec is a nation.
    When Félix Leclerc died, the member did not know who he was, while Quebec was mourning his loss. I could come up with a whole list of reasons for why Quebec is a nation. I could talk about it all day.
    If my colleague can do that with British Columbia, then let him put it to a vote in the House and we can talk about it again later.

  (1050)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a little bit about the Alberta nation.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: This is not a joke, Mr. Speaker. We have a distinct culture, different festivals. We use the same language as some other parts of the country, just like Quebec uses the same language as some other parts of the world.
    Does the member agree with me that Alberta is a nation and has the right to be recognized as such?
    This is not a joke. It is very serious.
     Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his excellent French. We have reached the point where Alberta is a nation.
    British Columbia is a nation, Alberta is a nation. We can settle this right now. Why do we not all separate and form a confederation of sovereign states?
    We could share an economic space, keep the same currency and each have our own country. Rather than arguing about what divides us, we could meet to talk about what unites us.
    I say yes to the sovereignty of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec with a shared economic space. Vive le Québec libre.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it has been an interesting exchange of ideas, particularly during the questions and answers, and in the way Bloc members have this dogged attitude of pursuing their ultimate objective, which is the breakup of Canada.
    I see Canada as a great nation. In fact, around the world, we see a great demand from people wanting to come to Canada, and I believe it is because of our diversity. The diversity we have to offer the world is second to none.
    In terms of observing what is taking place during the five or 10 minutes of questions and answers, it emboldens me to point out why it is so important that we have a government that governs all of Canada. It is working with the provinces, territories and indigenous leaders, and continues, as we saw during the pandemic, to work with many stakeholders. In the House of Commons, we have a government that is very sensitive to the needs of the different regions and provinces, and I saw that in terms of the Electoral Commission.
    I made reference to this in my question to the member from the Bloc. When the Electoral Commission came out suggesting that the province of Quebec would lose a seat, the reaction was immediate for members of the Liberal caucus, and it was from all of us. We did not have to be from the province, even though I would argue that my colleagues from Quebec were quite boisterous about it, to realize how important it was that the province of Quebec did not lose a seat. This was quickly understood and shared with many in the public and within this chamber. The member referred to a vote I participated in, where I voted in the affirmative and showed my support for Quebec to not lose a seat.
    I have spoken in the past about the province of Quebec, which is where my ancestral heritage comes from, both on my mother's and father's sides. For generations, my family grew up in and, I would suggest, helped pioneer Quebec. I have a great passion for the province. It also happens to have my second-favourite hockey team: the Montreal Canadiens.
    That aside, I recognize the importance of representation, and the fine work that Elections Canada and the commission have done over the years. As we try to understand what is going to be taking place today in terms of the actual debate, it appears that we have the Bloc party working with the Conservative party, and no, I am not dreaming this. It seems as if the Conservative Party is going to be supporting the motion. It will be a blue and light-blue coalition on this particular issue to see it go to committee. I can tell members that this concerns me in a number of ways.
    Are we now seeing the stage be set so that when the government is able to pass legislation, we will see future changes be proposed by the double-blue saying that those members want to widen the scope on this legislation that has now passed into second reading?
    An hon. member: Oh, oh.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, a member from the Bloc asks, “Why not?” I think that we need to be aware of that fact.

  (1055)  

    What is interesting is this. I suspect that the Conservatives, based on what I witnessed when I was here for second reading of the bill, do not support what the Bloc is proposing to do at committee. In principle, though, it would appear that they are going to support the initiative moving forward to committee. Maybe the coalition on that side has come to an agreement on it, but we will have to wait and see. If I were to wager a quarter, my quarter says it is the double-blue coalition that will attempt to get this to committee.
    I have a problem with that. I have a problem because, at the end of the day, where is it going to stop? We have seen how difficult it is for the government to get legislation through the House of Commons, the chamber, because the Conservative opposition members have taken the approach that it does not matter what the legislation is, whether they support it or they do not support it. Unless the government is prepared to bring in time allocation, it is not going to pass going to committee.
    I do not know. I did not do the research on this, but I suspect we might have even had to bring in time allocation on Bill C-14. I do not know that for sure. What I can say is that we now have debate on that bill resurfacing. We are now going to be debating Bill C-14 all over again today because the Bloc wants to have something instituted in it that the members kind of sense, perhaps with accuracy, goes beyond its scope during committee proceedings. At the commission, the commissioners have responsibilities. They have deadlines. They need to meet those deadlines. I think the Conservatives are enabling the Bloc to cause even more confusion within the province of Quebec in regard to meeting some of those deadlines.
    The commission came down with numbers. We disagreed and we made an amendment, because we all recognized the value of Quebec not losing a seat. That was unanimous inside this chamber, or at least I believe it was. That sent a fairly significant message to Quebec. I believe it enabled the people of Quebec to better understand and appreciate that, as we go through this process, there are independent commissioners.
    The province of Manitoba, for example, is already redrawing the boundaries. The boundaries will be coming out. I am not exactly sure on what day they will be coming out, but they have already looked for public consultation on the 14 ridings in the province of Manitoba and then there will be dialogue and public input. For the province of Quebec, if the commission listens to what has been taking place in the House, it could anticipate that there will be 78 seats to readjust the boundaries with, but there is no guarantee until the legislation passes. That is why we encouraged members, when we were debating Bill C-14, to pass the legislation. By passing the legislation and pushing it through, we are enabling the commission in Quebec to finalize the boundaries.

  (1100)  

    Now, with what appears to be the support of the Conservative Party, the Bloc at least has found a way to cause some potential mischief in committees. From our perspective, and I would like to think a majority perspective, we not only want the province of Quebec not to lose a seat, but we want to ensure that the commission is able to provide the report that is going to respond to what the people of Quebec want to see in terms of boundary alignments, which is absolutely critical. It is all part of the process. There are deadlines that have to be met that will ultimately see these new boundaries take effect in the next federal election.
    I can say first-hand how important that process is in Winnipeg North. Ten years ago, when there were modifications to the boundaries in Winnipeg North, what was proposed was far different from what it is today. In fact, Amber Trails was not in Winnipeg North at all. A good portion of The Maples was excluded, and there we are talking about 10,000-plus people who were excluded from what today is in Winnipeg North. The expansion went north of McPhillips, all the way up to between Kingsbury and Inkster Boulevard. It was completely different from what it is today.
    As part of the process, a presentation was provided that included the boundary maps. The public received it and responded, and because of the response provided by the public, the boundaries were dramatically changed, in Winnipeg North at the very least. It had an impact on the ridings of Kildonan—St. Paul and Winnipeg North, which today includes 85% of Amber Trails and all of The Maples. Those communities were clustered back into Winnipeg North.
    I say that because I think we need to give more respect to the Province of Quebec and the commission and the fine work that, no doubt, they will be doing. With the riding changes in the city of Montreal, I suspect we will see a number of streets being changed, or in Quebec City or rural municipalities. We have to recognize that the reason this happens in the first place is because of shifting populations and increases in population. Manitoba, for example, is a whole lot more urban today than it was 30 years ago. At the provincial legislature at one time, there was a larger number of seats from rural Manitoba than from the city of Winnipeg. Today, there are more MLAs in Winnipeg than in rural Manitoba, but that is strictly urban-rural. That is not to mention that some rural communities grow more than other rural communities. The population decreases and increases.
    The same principle applies to the province of Quebec. Manitoba's population has grown from 1.15 million to close to 1.3 million. The numbers remain relatively the same in terms of the number of seats because there is a guarantee, as has been referenced even by the Bloc. We have taken that into consideration. The best example is the province of Prince Edward Island. When Prince Edward Island came into Confederation, it had four seats. Part of the Constitution says that it retains those four seats.

  (1105)  

    It is actually the number of senators. Do not quote me on that, but I believe that is what it is. There is a constitutional agreement that enables—
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: It is in Hansard.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Yes, Mr. Speaker, if it is in Hansard it is true. There is a constitutional agreement that enables Prince Edward Island to retain that minimum number of seats. The same principle applies in other jurisdictions. We have three territories to the north, each one having a representative. Who in the chamber would deny that representation?
    Clearly, we have seen the types of changes put into place that Bill C-14 is attempting to do, so why add confusion? That is why Elections Canada is charged with ensuring that we have a fair and equitable system. We have the commission, which in a very apolitical fashion comes up with the actual numbers.
    When it came up with the number for Quebec, as I pointed out, it was for a wide variety of reasons, the French language being one of them. There is an island of French or francophone uniqueness in North America in the province of Quebec. I am very proud of that fact. I might not have the ability to speak French, but I can still care for the language. It is a part of my personal heritage. I am very proud of the French language. I encourage it in Winnipeg North. I am always amazed when I see immigrants, especially first-generation immigrants, whether of Filipino, Punjabi or Indo-Canadian heritage, who can speak Punjabi, English and French or Tagalog, English and French. I am very proud of the fact that we are a bilingual country.
    In the province of Quebec, French is the spoken language, and we have seen how the Minister of Canadian Heritage, many of my Quebec colleagues, and those far beyond appreciate just how important the French language is, not only to the province of Quebec but to all of Canada. It speaks to our diversity. That is why, when the announcement was made that there would be a reduction in the number of seats in Quebec, the reaction within the Liberal caucus, from the Prime Minister to the ministers to the caucus as a whole, was quite swift. In a relatively short period of time, we saw legislation brought forward and introduced and brought to second reading. Then, I suspect through time allocation, it will go to committee stage. We want to see the legislation pass. The need for 78 seats as the bare minimum is something all members appreciate, from what I understand. If it were up to me, I would like to see not only the French language increase, but also the French population.
    At the end of the day, I would hope that members will value the independence and fine work that Elections Canada and our commissions have done and allow the people of Quebec to have that full public discussion with the commission with respect to the communities that will make up the federal ridings that are going to represent the people of Quebec here in Ottawa.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am troubled in this debate, although there has been unanimous support for Bill C-14. I think we have responded positively right across all party lines to the concerns of our Quebec colleagues that the voice of Quebec would be reduced within this place.

[Translation]

    Obviously, we support the idea of measures to protect Quebec's number of seats in the House.

[English]

    At the same time, as someone who was elected in 2011 when we had 308 MPs here, I have a larger concern. We are now at 338. Do we constantly expand the number of members of Parliament we have? In the U.K., they have 650-some MPs. Is it really better representation for our constituents that as the population expands, there are more voices? Does that not dilute the voice of each riding if we have more MPs? In a chamber of 650, very few people out of the whole number get to contribute to the debate.
     I would rather see, and I put this to the hon. member, fair voting in this country through proportional representation and through limiting the constant growth in the number of MPs. In other words, in the concept of representation by population, we actually may not have better democracy, compared to actually fixing our voting system to have real democracy.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member. When I reflect on it, the number of members of Parliament does weighs heavily on my mind personally. What we ultimately want to see is all members of Parliament having a very important role in the chamber. I suspect that if we started to have numbers like 400 or 500, it could diminish.
    The way in which we increase or provide services as the population continues to grow is by enhancing the resources that members of Parliament have. For example, members' allowances or their access to finances could be enhanced so that members of Parliament could better serve their constituents. We have seen that if MPs have more resources to serve their constituents, they are able to serve a larger number of people.
    What I am glad and grateful for hearing in the member's comments is that the member supports retaining the 78 seats for Quebec. I do appreciate that, because I was not 100% sure, and that is why I could not say that it was unanimous in the House of Commons.
    Based on what the member has just said, I am more confident that it is unanimously felt inside the House of Commons today that the Province of Quebec will retain 78 seats at the very least as a base mark here in the House of Commons. I see that as a positive thing, as a commitment to la belle province, a province that all of us no doubt care deeply about and that plays such an important role within our federation.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, during your time speaking, you mentioned the importance of Quebec and the French language to Winnipeg. Perhaps you could expand on that and talk about how important the feeling is that various communities in Manitoba have toward Quebec.
    I know that in northern Ontario, places like Dubreuilville or Sturgeon Falls, which are predominantly French, support a lot of what is happening in Quebec. They basically see it as the motherland that they emigrated from, and they see a very strong, united Canada with Quebec in it.
    Could you please expand on the feelings of Winnipeg towards maintaining or grandfathering these 78 seats for Quebec?
    First of all, I know the member for Kingston and the Islands would stand and make sure on a point of order that we run all our questions through the Chair and not use “you” and speak directly to the member, but since he is not here, I thought I would do that myself and remind folks to run comments through the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, the connections that take place interprovincially are truly amazing.
    I reference my own heritage from the province, along the St. Lawrence. My great-great-great-grandparents came from that region and moved out to St-Pierre-Jolys, Manitoba. From there, they went to St. Boniface, which became a part of the city of Winnipeg.
    The St. Boniface community and many rural communities in Manitoba have very strong ties to the province of Quebec. One thing that holds that tie so closely is the French language. When things take place in the province of Quebec, whether it is an ice storm or the Olympics of many years ago, there is always interest from my home province of Manitoba. There are strong ties between people, and that is one of the nice things about the federation. I believe no matter where we go, we will always find those types of connections.
     The general feeling I get is that people are very proud of other aspects of Canada, and I do not think anyone who has that passion for Quebec would want to see Quebec lose a House of Commons seat. Equally, I do not think the Province of Quebec or the people of Quebec would want to see Manitoba lose a seat when we look at electoral boundary changes.
    Mr. Speaker, I too share some of the views of my colleague here in the House. I know the French language is extremely important across the entire country. I have four grandchildren who are enrolled in French immersion programs, and they are there because their parents and I as a grandparent encouraged them to do so. One of the things I regret is I did not have the opportunity to study French when I was in school, or at university, for that matter.
    In my view as an MP in Ottawa, the French language today is extremely important. For example, the mayor of Blanc Sablon in Labrador was at a transport committee meeting talking about the fixed link from Newfoundland to Labrador, which is a tunnel that would be a great project to connect Labrador and the island portion of Newfoundland. The important part of that is that the mayor is French, and of course the north shore is very much French, and the people feel like they are losing their identity to a certain extent. They were there in support of that kind of project, because they want to see the highway to Quebec finished and they want to keep that connection. In fact, they want to grow that connection.
    I strongly supported them, and I still do, in chasing that kind of project. It is important to them and to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
    We talk about the balance we need when we talk about the numbers of seats in the House. I ask the member if indeed what we see is a fair balance.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member amplifies the issue of what I think would be a wonderful debate, which is the French language, where it is at and how that language builds our nation in a very positive way. Many different communities from coast to coast to coast are brought together by the French language.
    In terms of Election Canada and Bill C-14, it is one of the reasons we had the reaction we did in the Liberal caucus. We want to ensure Quebec has that 78-floor base so that it can never go below that, and I see that as a positive.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member for Winnipeg North, who I find very interesting and enjoy hearing from.
    I do not mean to insult him, but I noticed something in his presentation that I see frequently and that I would describe as “predatory federalism”. I apologize for using that phrase, but it means that the Quebec nation and the French language are great as long as they remain a quaint curiosity.
    If we look back in history, we have seen this predatory federalism on several occasions. I could even go back to the Laurendeau-Dunton commission, which could have led to Quebec being recognized, since Canada was supposed to be a bilingual and bicultural country. However, the federalists got scared and resorted to predatory federalism. They thought that if they granted recognition to Quebec, they would have a problem later on because that recognition could be leveraged for political power. That is why they went with multiculturalism instead.
    That was the first time Quebec was rejected, but it was far from the last. Just think of Meech Lake or Charlottetown. Every time Quebec has asked for the political power to which it is entitled as a nation, the federalists have said no and invoked what I call “predatory federalism”. It goes without saying that Quebec is trying to protect itself in response to that.
    If they recognize us as a nation, why not give us the power and the potential that belong to a nation? I would remind my colleague from Winnipeg North that this assembly was once prepared to recognize Quebec's political power by giving it 25% of the seats in the Charlottetown accord. Unfortunately, that accord was never adopted because people got scared, as my colleague explained earlier.
     I do not see why he is afraid to add a Quebec clause to Bill C‑14. I do not know what scares him about that prospect, other than the fact that it would give Quebec a certain recognition. I believe that is clear enough. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I move:

That this question be now put.

  (1125)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, just for clarification, we will get 10 minutes for questions and comments and then I will be able to speak for a full 20 minutes, I understand.
    Yes.
    Mr. Speaker, the first thing that comes to my mind is, why the hurry? The Bloc has brought forward a motion, and what they are suggesting is that we stop the debate on it when there is so much more we can talk about with regard to Elections Canada, the role it plays and the possible options. There are other things that can be addressed.
    In my opening comments, I was dealing more with specifics. There are other aspects to Elections Canada. On the one hand, the Bloc is bringing forward this motion asking for us to have a debate on it so it can go to committee, and then right away they want to have a vote on it.
    Does the member not want to hear what other members have to say about what the Bloc is proposing to do today?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is asking why we are in such a hurry. Simply put, we have been waiting a long time for the Quebec nation to be recognized.
    Earlier, I was talking about the Laurendeau-Dunton commission, which was in 1963, if I am not mistaken. It proved to be a failure for us. Then, in 1982, the Quebec nation suffered another setback with the patriation of the Constitution. Then there was Meech Lake and Charlottetown, two more disappointments for the Quebec nation. Then came a referendum, and we were so close to achieving our destiny. In the end, our victory was stolen, perhaps by the sponsorship program, which my colleague may have heard about.
    I do not know about him, but we are losing patience, which is perhaps why we are acting quickly.

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for clarification. Today's procedures are little different.
    Is the Bloc Québécois MPs' goal to have a vote right away or another day, with or without debate?
    I just want clarification as to the procedure for what the Bloc Québécois is asking for at this point.
    Mr. Speaker, the procedure is very straightforward. We want this assembly to vote on the motion moved by my colleague. It is as simple as that.
    We can talk about it now. We spent an entire day doing so. As members know, there was an opposition day about Quebec's political weight during which we discussed an issue similar to this morning's issue. The House had a chance to vote then.
    This is very simple. We want this assembly to vote. It is as simple as that. We do this all day long.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that when I posed the question to the member, right away he made reference to the Constitution. What he is talking about, from his perspective, is that the Bloc would like to have a discussion about the Constitution. I am wondering why that is. I did not even talk at length at all about the Constitution. Whether it was the constitutional agreements that were achieved in the 1970s, the Charlottetown accord or the Meech Lake accord, these are all no doubt important debates, but is it the position of the Bloc today that we should have a constitutional debate?
    To the best I can tell, even people in the province of Quebec, like the residents of Winnipeg North, do not want to be talking about the Constitution. What they want to be talking about is Canada's economy. They want to be talking about the pandemic.
    I am wondering if my friend could share with the House whether he agrees with me and the government that the priority today is not constitutional change. The priority today is how we can deliver better quality long-term health care and how we can ensure we are creating and supporting the many different industries, such as the aerospace industry, which is so important to the province of Quebec and the province of Manitoba. To me, that is what the legislature should be talking about. That is where the focus of the Bloc party should be, if it wants to be constructive in what it is doing inside the House of Commons. If Bloc members do not want to be constructive and want to be destructive, I suggest maybe they should continue along the line of constitutional debate.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I find the hon. member for Winnipeg North’s approach very interesting.
    Actually, I am not the only one to mention the Constitution. Earlier this week, we spoke about Bill 21 on state secularism.
    His colleague from Mont-Royal said that the notwithstanding clause should never be applied. However, it is part of the Constitution. Does this colleague not respect his voters, since he talks about the Constitution and says the notwithstanding clause should never be applied?
    I spoke earlier of predatory federalism. When it suits them to put Quebec in its place, saying that the notwithstanding clause should be removed, saying that it is not up to Quebec to decide how to manage secularism, the Liberals talk to us about the Constitution. When it comes to Bill 96 to protect the French language, the Liberals are ready to talk about the Constitution and to say that they do not want to hear about the notwithstanding clause.
    However, when it comes to recognizing the Quebec nation as we ask, talking about the Constitution is like talking about a shameful disease.
    They need to make up their minds. My colleague from Winnipeg North’s remarks are not in line with what his colleagues and the people in his own party are saying.
    Mr. Speaker, I think that we have made an effort here, step by step, and I am concerned. I have no problem with the idea. In fact, we voted in favour of protecting the number of members from Quebec.
    However, the idea of having percentage representation is based on another principle entirely. It is not the same thing as in Bill C-14. I think that this involves the Constitution.
    We debated for an entire day, as the hon. member pointed out. However, the principle proposed in today’s motion is different. We have not had a chance to review it and discuss it.
    I think I agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North. He is right when he says that this involves the Constitution.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer my colleague by saying that informed politicians who are familiar with Quebec and Canadian politics would know that we have been talking about these issues for more than 50 years. At some point we need to stop debating; we need to do something.
    We are moving this motion today. I do not think it is illegitimate or irrational to ask that a nation like the Quebec nation be ensured 25% representation in the House for the time it remains in Canada. I do not think that this is unreasonable. As I said earlier, it was part of the Charlottetown Accord. We talked about it on our opposition day.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North often uses closure these days to say that we must move things forward. This is the Bloc’s answer to that. It is the Bloc’s closure. We want to move our issues forward. I invite my colleagues to look at it that way, in a spirit of friendship and cordiality.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing is the real motivation behind this: The Bloc wants to have a debate on the Constitution. If the Bloc members are so gung-ho on debating an issue that Canadians do not want to deal with today, why do they not just introduce it as an opposition day motion and make very clear that they want to talk about the Constitution, as opposed to trying to do it through a back door?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to point out to my colleague from Winnipeg North that he and I are the only ones debating the Constitution. The motion is specifically about Quebec's political weight, not the Constitution. I would also point out that it was his party that raised the constitutional issue by saying that the notwithstanding clause should not be used. It was his party that raised this, not me.
    If my colleague wants to be consistent, he should also be talking about secularism, and not the notwithstanding clause.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the debate, even though at the beginning of the day, many colleagues from both sides of the House anticipated that we would be engaging in a debate on the Standing Orders. Every election cycle there is a date set aside when members can give their opinions on changes to our rules and how we can enhance opportunities to make the chamber more effective, whether it is in the chamber or at committees.
    That is technically what we are supposed to be debating today. After going through motions we went on to petitions. I know that some of my colleagues had petitions to bring forward. Then we were meant to go into the Standing Orders debate. I was prepared to speak to the Standing Orders, but now we find that the Bloc has found a way to bring back a debate on Bill C-14 to the floor of the House of Commons, a debate that we have already had. We already debated Bill C-14 in the House of Commons.
    It would appear that Bloc members, with the support of the Conservative Party of Canada, are trying to push forward this motion. I am going to know when the vote occurs, but I am speculating my quarter on the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc have already negotiated this as a part of their double blue coalition. What we will see is an attempt to get this motion passed. When they do that—

  (1140)  

[Translation]

    Order. The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite cannot impute motives or attribute words to other colleagues without evidence. All he is doing right now is spewing rhetoric and making some pretty big assumptions about what is going to happen—
    Order. I thank the hon. member for his intervention.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me enlighten the member. When we first began this discussion, the Conservative Party somewhat indicated that it was sympathetic and would like to see it pass. Then we had another member who seemed to be upset with it asking why we would want it to go to committee. There might be some confusion among the Conservative ranks on this, but I could be wrong in my speculation.
    However, from what I can see, we have the double blue. The nice thing is they are still the dark blue versus the light blue. At the end of the day, it would appear as if they are coming together to see this thing go to committee if, in fact, they can get it to committee.
    I say that because the member moved the motion to say that the vote now be heard and then there was some dialogue that occurred after that. Through that dialogue, we get a better picture of what it is the Bloc really wants to talk about. We saw that. It was the member who raised the issue. I just responded to it.
    Constitutional change is what the member from the Bloc has raised. They talk about the need for some of the things that the Bloc would like to see take place, and they would require a constitutional change. Let me suggest to my Bloc friends that Canadians, as a whole, no matter where they live, whether it is Manitoba, Quebec or any other jurisdiction in Canada, do not want the government to have talks about the Constitution. It is just not anywhere on the political agenda.
    That is the nice thing about Bill C-14. Bill C-14 will do what every member in the House, from what I understand, wants to see happen, and that is that the province of Quebec not lose a seat, maintaining at minimum 78 seats. In its own mischievous way, the Bloc wants to raise the issue of the Constitution.
    As much as the Bloc may want to focus its attention in the chamber on that issue, I can assure people who might be following the debate, or just following the proceedings in the House day by day, that no matter what the Conservative-Bloc coalition comes up with, whether it is character assassination, constitutional debates or whatever else, the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister will remain focused on the issues that are important to Canadians.
    On the specific issue of Bill C-14, which this motion is dealing with, the Prime Minister has been very clear, through the minister and the entire Liberal caucus, that the baseline is 78 seats.
    There is a lot more on the government agenda than Bill C-14. I suspect we are not going to spend our future resources on issues such as constitutional debates over the next 12 months. Canadians are getting through the pandemic. Industries are looking for employees. Concerns are there in the many departments the federal government deals with on a daily basis. Those are the issues that are of critical importance.

  (1145)  

    Bill C-14 deals with one aspect, and that is the boundary redistribution commission and the report it made public not that long ago indicating the number of seats. I have been around for a few years, and Elections Canada, as an institution, is recognized around the world for the fine work it does. In fact, if we take a look at many other countries around the world, we will find that Elections Canada is often sourced and appealed to in order to assist other countries conduct their elections. A part of that status is that sense of independence, whether it is the creation of the election boundary commissions, the election commissioner, the Elections Act or the putting in place an actual election.
    In fact, I made a suggestion earlier today referencing the sense of pride Canadians have in being a bilingual country with both French and English. No matter what region of the country we go to, there is equally a need for us to look at ways in which we can enrich Elections Canada's ability to ultimately not only make changes to boundaries indirectly, but also allow for wider participation in the elections.
    When I made the suggestion about languages and having that as a topic on an opposition day, I thought it would have been a wonderful thing to see take place, but in a positive way. The Bloc seems to have a negative twist to things, and its members do not necessarily recognize the true value of Canada's diversity, but I think there is a positive way we could have that debate. I would equally like to see a debate on this if opposition members are looking for other areas in which they can explore and have these types of discussions about Elections Canada and ways we can enhance Elections Canada's role during election periods.
    There are many different things we can do with elections. I have participated in debates on PROC, both on boundaries and on election reform, and I know there is a very keen interest in both areas. People understand why we have to have these commissions. These commissions are necessary because of shifting populations. All levels of government have them.
    Within the legislation, we often will find variances that take place. For example, in the Province of Manitoba, it is rural versus urban. I have made reference to the fact that at one time we had more rural seats, which were outside the perimeter, than we did within the City of Winnipeg, and now that has changed. However, there are rules that enable rural representation to, in certain areas, have a lower number of voters or population. If we take a look at average populations, we will often find that we might get some at the lower end in rural communities.
    I have spoken to commissioners before, and the types of things they have to take into consideration when making the decisions on boundary redistribution are not as simple as drawing a line on a map wherever there are waterways and major streets. It is far from that.

  (1150)  

    I recall a discussion with a board member on a commission, it was a provincial one, where he indicated that they have to also factor in rapid-growth communities. These are the areas where they anticipate there is going to be a lot of growth, so they do not want to go much above the average, knowing full well that a particular area will continue to grow at an exponential pace.
    I also recall a riding change, which occurred in 1988, where a provincial riding was literally cut in half. The same principle applies at the national level, and this is one element that has to be taken into consideration. Another consideration is communities and, as much as possible, we want to keep communities together. I have seen all sorts of boundary changes in the past that often divided communities. I remember one occasion where we saw Weston and Brooklands, just south of Winnipeg North, and many identify those two communities as one. However, at the civic level, they were cut in half along one street. It was presumed to be a natural divide, a “concrete” divide, if I can put it that way, because it is a major artery. In fact, there is a very strong connection between both sides.
    This is why I would ultimately argue that, when we take a look at the demographics, the population growth, both today and over the next few years, it is absolutely critical that these commissions are afforded the opportunity to be able to have proper consultations with members of the public. I honestly believe that.
    As opposed to attempting to filibuster the bill again at committee stage by saying, “Well, let us expand the scope of the discussion at the committee stage”, when it has already been determined here in the House once before, why not allow the bill, in its simplicity, to pass? This would allow the commission for the Province of Quebec to get down to the job at hand and actually meet with the people of Quebec to get their direct input. If it wants input from the Bloc party, heck, I could probably give that input in where the Bloc party lies on the issue.
    It is time for the politicians to allow Bill C-14 out of committee so that it can come back to the House because we do not have that much time. We are already in June, and I think we will be out of here June 23. That does not leave that much time. Members can do the math: How many hours are left to sit in the House?
    I do not think that we should be playing games on this issue. Hopefully, at the end of the day, I will inspire members from the Bloc and possibly Conservatives not to filibuster the bill in any way when it comes before a standing committee, so the committee can pass the legislation, get it back in here and get it through third reading so it can go to the Senate and be given royal assent. All of that needs to happen relatively quickly.
    For those who might think that this could be, in some twisted way, a filibuster, the legislation is already before the committee. The committee could pass the legislation. It does not need this motion. This motion is not meant to help facilitate the passage of Bill C-14, and the Conservatives, even though they will likely support this motion passing, know that.

  (1155)  

    At the end of the day, there is a different agenda being played out on the floor of the House of Commons. It has more to do with the gamesmanship of the Bloc and the Conservatives trying to change legislation or the scope of legislation after filibustering that legislation here. It is like they did not have enough filibustering on the floor of the House of Commons and want to do more at committee, in terms of changing the scope, so they bring in an amendment that really has no relevance or the chair would rule it as being beyond the scope of the legislation. If this motion does not pass, that would likely be the ruling of the chair. That is the reason why the members of the Bloc have brought it. I think they are starting to adopt some of the same principles of obstruction as the Conservatives.
    My suggestion to the Bloc members is that if they truly care about what the people of Quebec have to say about this legislation, what they should be doing is encouraging the passage of it and joining the Liberal members from Quebec, who want to see this legislation pass and get royal assent, so that the people who live in Quebec, the people who actually contribute to where those lines are going to be drawn, are given the same sort of opportunity to participate as the rest of the people in Canada.
    Other commissions are moving forward. Why would the Bloc not allow the people of Quebec that same opportunity? I suspect it is because there might be an alternative agenda. We saw that in the questions and answers of the member who moved the motion, to try to force a vote on this. They are eager to get it passed. They want to get it to committee so that they can cause more issues, which will ultimately cause additional delays. That is part of the motivation of the Bloc. I understand that, but the time will not allow me to expand on that particular point.
    I can say that we, in the government caucus, believe that the people of Quebec, the public, need to be able to contribute to the commission on where those boundaries could be, or provide their recommendations in terms of the report that will be provided to the people of Quebec from the commission that has been designated in the province of Quebec.
    Let us get it done. Let us pass the legislation out of committee and bring it back for third reading.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, according to the hon. member for Winnipeg North, defending the Quebec nation means playing politics and obstructing Parliament.
    I will be frank: Earlier, I referred to history, by saying that in 1963, Quebec was sidelined by the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission. In 1982, when the Constitution was repatriated, Quebec was sidelined. In the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords, Quebec was sidelined.
    I was referring to what I called predatory federalism. I did not want to launch a constitutional debate. The only people who launch constitutional debates these days are the hon. member for Mont-Royal, who said that the notwithstanding clause should be removed from the Constitution, and the Prime Minister, who is prepared to defy a legitimate Quebec law, Bill 21 on secularism, and to try to stop Quebec from legislating on the French language. These are the only people who are prepared to talk about the Constitution.

  (1200)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, what I know is that the Prime Minister is a great defender of the French language. I know that first-hand, not only in the province of Quebec but in all regions of our country. We understand. We can have that debate. I would encourage the members, if it is the French-language debate that the member wants to see, to bring it forward in a motion.
    I would suggest to my colleague across the way that having that debate could be a positive experience for all of us here in the House of Commons. For the people of Quebec or the people of Saint-Boniface and Saint-Pierre-Jolys in my home province, there is a very strong French connection. There is a high sense of pride in the language from coast to coast to coast. If that is what the member would like to debate, I am happy to debate it.
    To me, what we are really debating is a political manouevre to try to get legislation held up at committee stage, when we should not be doing that. We need that legislation to pass through committee.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, apart from expressing his love for the French language, why does my colleague oppose the recommendation that a parliamentary committee review Quebec’s political weight and, by extension, its citizen representation and the foundations of democracy?
    As elected members of Parliament, are there other more important subjects for us than the quality of our democratic life and respect for Quebec communities and the Quebec nation? Why is he opposed to this? I find it pretty benign.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we understand that the legislation is unanimously supported in the House, that everyone wants 78 seats to be maintained. Bill C-14 would guarantee that. It would guarantee the province 78 seats. We should be able to pass that legislation. It should have been done by now, as far as I am concerned, and if the political will was there on all sides of the House to make that happen, it could be done. In fact, we have the power to do it today if we wanted to. I can say that the government's desire would be to see the legislation pass.
    In terms of the debate that the member is suggesting, nothing prevents a standing committee to conduct a study of that. They could establish that at any point in time. All they have to do is raise the issue at the most appropriate standing committee. They could raise it at two or three different standing committees, but that is not the essence of what we should be debating today. What we are doing today is ultimately feeding the Conservative agenda, which the Bloc is indirectly supporting by bringing forward yet another motion in a standing committee that will enable them to continue to filibuster, and I do not think that is a good thing for the people of Quebec or Canada.
    Madam Speaker, in listening to this debate, I think about representation across the country. We are talking about 78 seats in Quebec, but if we think about the rural parts of the country in smaller provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador, which is geographically large, but in terms of population, of course, it is small, we have seven seats in the House of Commons. We come here to do our lobbying for the province, vote on different legislation, and so on. We would love to have more seats. In fact, we are dwarfed by provinces like Quebec and Ontario, larger provinces with huge populations, which I understand, but in terms of representation, I think Bill C-14 strikes a good balance. We would also like to encourage more seats in Newfoundland and Labrador. We would love to have another seven, but the reality is that if we were to allow the system to continue as it currently exists, we would fall even further behind in terms of striking a balance in representation.
    I would ask my colleague if he sees Bill C-14 as striking a good balance in terms of representation across the country.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, the member mentioned that there are only seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador. One would never know it, given the power of the Atlantic caucus. It is exceptionally effective, I must say, and Newfoundland and Labrador is represented exceptionally well in the House and in the committees in terms of the amount of workload that the members carry and their impact on government policy.
    However, the member raises a very valid point. People as a whole in Canada understand our federation and why it is important that Prince Edward Island has four seats, and why it is important that we guarantee that the province of Quebec never goes below 78 seats, which is what Bill C-14 would do.
    My colleague planted a seed asking about the future, about the province of Newfoundland or other provinces and the representation that they have. There are other opportunities, no doubt, both in opposition and in government, for us to enter into that dialogue. Canadians as a whole understand what is happening, they support it and it is time that we move on.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, that is just amazing. I think there is a picture of my colleague from Winnipeg North beside the definition of “bad faith” in the dictionary. In fact, I am eager to check the latest edition to make sure.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North speaks of the maritime provinces, and I think that is good. I think it is a magnificent region of Canada. It is wonderful to visit. However, I am trying to remember when in history Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland, for example, were recognized as nations. I would like to remind my colleague that the goal, the idea and the intention of what the Bloc Québécois is proposing is that we walk the talk. It has been recognized that Quebec is a nation. It has been recognized that Quebec has its own identity, an identity it must protect, and that it should be given the tools to protect its unique identity and its values. That is precisely what we are talking about today.
    Can my colleague tell me in a few words whether, yes or no, he understands the importance Quebecers place on this principle of defence—
    Order. I have to give the member time to answer, and we are running out of time.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary has roughly 30 seconds to answer.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to believe that I have a decent understanding of the uniqueness of the province of Quebec and its distinct nature, its culture and its heritage. I would love the opportunity to spend more time in Quebec as a province.
    I can assure the member that when I look in particular at the Prime Minister, I see someone who has a love and passion for the province of Quebec and the French language. As a party, we encourage and we want to see the growth of the French language throughout our country. We recognize the unique nature of the province of Quebec when it comes to French in North America, and we have to preserve that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to this motion, which I find interesting. We welcome it because it raises an important issue.
    The Bloc is calling on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to study the issue of the political weight of Quebec. We are very open to this possibility because it is a matter of democracy and equality, recognizing the Quebec nation, protecting Quebec in the House and the weight we can have as representatives of our constituents.
    I think it is a truly important topic and studying it would not get in the way of parliamentary business on other files and other issues.
    I am also very proud of the work done by the NDP as a first step towards protecting Quebec's political weight and place in the House. We made sure that the agreement we negotiated with the minority government guaranteed the protection of the 78 seats allocated to Quebec, which risked losing one, as members will recall. That guarantee is set out in Bill C-14.
    I am very proud of this NDP achievement. We can clearly tell Quebeckers that we kept our promise to represent them with this first step in the right direction. They are now protected whereas before they stood to lose some ground. We were there. We kept our promise to defend Quebeckers.
    This is an important issue because, when we talk about the political weight of Quebec or a province, we are talking about something that affects all citizens, almost the entire population, not just small groups or one sector.
    I find it interesting that we are discussing this today at a time when Ontarians are on their way to the polls, and have been all day, to elect their MPP. I encourage everyone to vote, and it will come as no surprise that I am encouraging Ontarians to support the provincial NDP. I hope that their leader, Andrea Horwath, has a good day, and I hope that she will end the day with a strong caucus. We will be watching the day unfold with great interest.
    Speaking of the provinces' political weight, I want to talk about some of the more technical details of our Canadian federation's rather unique system.
    There is also the whole issue of immigrants. There are political, administrative and legislative tools that can help, but the basic tool is demographic weight. I think that we are encouraging open and inclusive immigration that enables Quebec to welcome more immigrants and to have the means and resources to help them integrate properly and learn French if necessary.
    This is all part of the effort to maintain fair representation for Quebec, which is about 23% right now. This also makes it possible to guarantee the 78th seat.
    The NDP is strongly in favour of encouraging a path to citizenship, rather than throwing up roadblocks in the case of temporary workers and permanent residents who come to work in Quebec and Canada. I think we need to set up mechanisms to properly welcome new citizens and to expedite the process, because wait times are extremely long right now. I want to stress that we know that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is currently having a lot of problems. I think that is part of the reflection and debate that we need to have on citizenship in general.
    Basically, democracy is a revolutionary principle under which decisions are made by the people, not by a king who rules by so-called divine right and whose family has reigned for centuries by dividing power among aristocrats. A major revolutionary movement occurred in France, obviously, but also in England and the United States, driven by the belief that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and that it is up to them to choose their leaders and how they will be represented.

  (1210)  

    Of course, things started out far from perfect. The first democratic system was based on selective suffrage, where only the wealthiest people had the right to vote. People who were too poor to own property or pay taxes could not vote. It was a two-tier system that claimed to promote equality, but that was not an established right.
    In our current system, roughly the same number of people are represented in each riding, in order to ensure fairness and equality in the right to vote as expressed in the House or in a Parliament, so that people are not unduly overrepresented or under-represented. There is a genuine concern for fairness and equality. It is one of the basic criteria recognized by Elections Canada for the redistribution of electoral boundaries, which is conducted by the provincial commissions. Is it the only factor? No, it is not.
    We live in a system of exceptions, because other criteria apply to representation in the House of Commons. Currently, there are three criteria.
    The senatorial clause ensures that no province has fewer MPs than it has senators. This creates significant distortions in representation relative to demographic weight and population size, but it is recognized and accepted. For instance, it clearly and blatantly benefits Prince Edward Island, and that is fine. It was negotiated and agreed to. That is how the system works.
    There is the “territorial clause”, or the representation rule, for Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. It would be difficult to strictly apply the rule to the number of people who live in these ridings, because this would mean that huge territories with their own identities and sense of community could not be represented, or would be drowned out in a riding so large and immense that it would be meaningless. This representation rule is important; it is respected, and it must continue to be respected.
    I am thinking in particular of my colleague from Nunavut, who represents communities with a common identity, culture, language and interests. Every day, she fights here in the House to promote and defend the interests of such important communities that have very specific needs in specific contexts.
    There is the grandfather clause, which had not applied to Quebec until now. However, the NDP managed to negotiate a guarantee that no province would lose seats in the event of electoral redistribution, immigration, or differences in provincial demographic weights.
    Taken together, the senatorial clause, the representation rule and the grandfather clause for four provinces, if memory serves, demonstrate that there are already exceptions in the system and that demographic weight is not the only criterion, but it is controlled, improved or amended in accordance with certain provisions.
    This brings us to today's motion, which asks us to consider the possibility of a Quebec clause. As parliamentarians, we recognized that Quebec is a nation, so we must consider the political, democratic and administrative implications of this recognition.
    Ottawa and Quebec have already negotiated a number of asymmetrical agreements in the past, and that is to be expected. The NDP recognized the Quebec nation when it adopted the Sherbrooke declaration and other resolutions at its conventions. There is also the notion of asymmetrical federalism, which would allow Quebec to negotiate special powers or agreements with respect to particular issues.
    As progressive New Democrats, we support the recognition of the Quebec nation and the idea of asymmetrical federalism. I think that we need to discuss what this means in practical terms in order to think about the potential consequences. If certain clauses were negotiated and drafted for certain provinces and territories in the past, I think we need to be brave and coherent and move forward in this special context.
    The idea of protecting Quebec's political weight in the House is neither new or revolutionary.

  (1215)  

    It was negotiated by Brian Mulroney's Conservative federal government and Robert Bourassa's Liberal Quebec government. The provision was included in the Charlottetown accord. It is nothing new. It was accepted in the past, so it has already been normalized. There were discussions on the subject, and on many others as well, since the Charlottetown accord addressed many other issues. The NDP supported the Charlottetown accord. We reflected on the issue and discussed it, and the NDP accepted it.
    I also think that it is in line with the historical view of the two founding nations. Consider the Laurendeau-Dunton commission on bilingualism and biculturalism. Consider also the historic agreement that began by saying that we would be together but that there were two founding nations, one British and the other French. I think we need to bear this in mind in our work and in the representation we have in the House. We must preserve this vision in the Official Languages Act, which recognizes French and English as Canada's two official languages. That is the rule used in the House of Commons. It is not always followed by the Liberal administration or by some companies that are subject to the Official Languages Act, but that is a separate issue.
    That being said, I feel uncomfortable saying that we need to respect the concept of two founding nations. Of course it is important but, at the same time, it is historically insulting to the first nations, who were here long before any French or British settlers. We need to keep this concept of two founding nations in mind, and as a Quebecker, I will always defend it, but we must remember that by the time these two founding nations arrived, other nations had been living here for thousands of years. They were shunted aside, forgotten, disrespected. Some were even subjected to cultural genocide, an attempt to annihilate them. Awful things were done, like the residential schools, and that is part of our history.
    We must therefore discuss the role and weight of the first nations in our democracy and in the House. Personally, I am open to studying various scenarios, like the system used in New Zealand, where seats are reserved for indigenous New Zealanders. This is another way of looking at things and building a unifying political system and democracy that could correct the historical mistake of thinking that there were only two founding nations.
    To strike this balance, which is not an easy thing to do, we need to have an open mind and approach this in a spirit of reconciliation with the first nations and indigenous peoples. This is an issue that I think is important and that the NDP caucus is promoting. We should also have a discussion about the role and the political weight of the first nations in the House.
    I want to come back to the issue of equality because, while we are on the topic of democracy, the political system and representation, I will say that, unfortunately, the very idea that all votes are equal is currently not true. This is not because of the provisions of our electoral system that I have just mentioned. It is because our voting system is unfair.
    We live with an archaic first-past-the-post system that allows for startling democratic discrepancies between what the people decide and how they are represented in this House.
    Let us talk about it. If we want to have the best possible system, we need to be able to talk about proportional voting, which would respect the popular will and the choices of voters. We live in an absurd system where a government can sometimes be elected with less than 40% of the vote. This is a common occurrence. A political party can get 37% or 38% of the vote and 55% to 60% of the seats in the House, which means 100% of the power. That is absurd. A majority of the people voted against a political party, sometimes by 60% or 62%, but that political party is given the keys to absolute power for four years.

  (1220)  

    In 2015, the Liberals made a promise to change this. The 2015 election was supposed to be the last one under an unfair and archaic voting system.
    I sat on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. We travelled the country for a year listening to members of the public, stakeholders from interest groups, local elected officials, university professors and experts. We conducted online surveys and listened to people. Overwhelmingly, everyone saw that the current system is broken, that it does not ensure equality among all Canadians and that the House does not represent the will of the people. Ninety per cent of the witnesses who spoke at committee told us that, and 90% of the briefs we received said the same thing. Then the Liberal government realized that this was going in the wrong direction and that this was not necessarily where they wanted to go, so they conducted an online survey. It was an incredibly biased survey, but 75% of respondents still said they wanted a proportional representation voting system.
    At the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, there was an agreement between the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Green Party. We agreed to hold a referendum and suggest that Canadians and Quebeckers adopt a proportional voting system. The majority of committee members reached a consensus to move forward and propose real change. The Liberals shocked us by responding that there was no consensus. They took that work and threw it in the garbage. That was the end of it. Then they walked away. They did that because it was not the direction they wanted to take. It was absolutely false to say that there was no consensus. There was a strong consensus among the witnesses, the people we consulted and the political parties represented on the committee. The Liberals were the only outliers. However, because they were in power, they did what they wanted. They broke their promise, and we missed an historic opportunity.
    I believe we need to put this issue back on the front burner. It is important for improving our democratic system. I was saying earlier that a political party can be elected to a position of absolute power with less than 40% of the votes. We have even seen worse. One political party received more votes, but it became the opposition party, while the party that came second in terms of the popular vote got to form government. It is not just a distortion, it is hypocrisy. It goes against the popular will. If we are true democrats who believe that we must represent the people's choice in the House, then we must have a real conversation about adopting a much more suitable voting system, the one used by the vast majority of the world's democracies.
    Canada is one of few countries, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, that still has this system. Most other countries have proportional voting systems of one kind or another. We could spend a long time talking about all the different systems, but my point is that proportional representation is much more respectful of the people's will.
    I am very happy to be participating in today's debate. I think that our voting system, recognition of the Quebec nation, the political weight of various jurisdictions, communities and nations in the House are major issues, crucial ones. As a democrat, I always enjoy talking about democracy, about the people's power and about how we can improve our system.
    I am ready to answer questions, but I do want to say that I think the recommendation in the motion is a good one and that it makes perfect sense to ask a parliamentary committee to study Quebec's political weight. This is an issue we should be talking about in the House.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's intervention, and in the last point he made, he said it was appropriate for a committee to be studying this. The committee is already going to be studying this. What this motion is really about is telling the committee in more detail exactly how to study it and perhaps what the outcome should be in advance of letting it do the work.
    More importantly, the member spent a lot of time talking about proportional representation. The NDP seems to come from this perspective that proportional representation is all or nothing. However, the reality of the situation is that my riding is unique. It is different from his riding. It is different from the ridings out west. It is different from many, if not all, ridings throughout the country. When constituents have an issue, they like coming to see me. They want a door they can go to and knock on so they can talk to local people about their issues, people who will represent them locally.
    In the NDP's version of proportional representation, how do we ensure that people continue to have local representation? I know the member said there are a whole bunch of different models we could be studying and deliberating on, but could he comment more generally on this?

  (1230)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that excellent question. Earlier I said that I was part of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, which travelled across the country to hear what people had to say. This is an issue that came up many times. I know that in my colleague's riding, people like to know who their MP is, sometimes so that they can congratulate him, sometimes so that they can criticize him, sometimes so that they can hold him to account and sometimes so that they can ask for federal government services. That is entirely appropriate. We could have a big discussion about that, but there is a way to maintain that contact.
    Let us look at Germany, which has a mixed member proportional system. Half of the members are elected in local ridings, like in our current system. The other half are elected by a proportional voting system. Proportional representation corrects the major distortions created by a purely local electoral model.
    Why is it that Conservative voters have basically no representation in Toronto? Why do Liberal voters have no representation in the Prairies? I think we also need to keep that in mind. There are models that can help us maintain that connection with voters while correcting problems with the system.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his speech, the first part of which I thought was quite nationalist and even independentist. It was good. I thank him for supporting the Bloc's position on Quebec's representation in the House of Commons.
    My question is this: If we were to base this “Quebec clause” for example on the Charlottetown accord, which gave Quebec 25% representation in the House, would my colleague agree that we could go that far, 25%, which would mean six more members for Quebec?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. However, I am not sure about how he interpreted the start of my speech. I think that he took the rubber band and stretched it a bit.
    I believe that this is a legitimate and reasonable target. That is part of the discussion that we need to have. We need to see what the current situation is. Is what was negotiated in 1992 necessarily applicable today? Maybe so, or maybe not, although I do think that we need to at least have this discussion and see how we can move forward to protect Quebec's political weight in the House.
    I am very proud of the work that the NDP did in their negotiations; they at least protected what Quebec has right now and saved the province from losing a seat. I think that the NDP won a great victory for Quebec in its negotiations with the Liberal government.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his speech and especially for having once again raised the issue of our current voting system. I, too, was a member of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

[English]

    I was particularly amused to hear the hon. member recall the weird survey the government did, called “vox populi”. It turned out that even when it tried to torque the questions to get the answers it wanted, the survey was never clear, because no one ever had a chance to just mark down “I want proportional representation.” It was very twisted. We did find out that 70% of Canadians who did the survey said they would rather see a lot of smaller parties work together, even if it takes longer, to come to decisions in a co-operative fashion by consensus. Our system here is way too adversarial and way too partisan, and it is not necessary.
    Can the hon. member imagine a time when we can get rid of the perverse voting system we have here? We have been promised it over and over again by the Liberals, but it was snatched away from us.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right.
    If we look at the number of members that the parties get elected and the number of votes they get nationally, it creates distortions, as I was saying earlier. There was one election where it took an average of 35,000 votes to elect a Liberal member, 40,000 votes to elect a Conservative member, 80,000 votes to elect an NDP member and practically 300,000 votes to elect a Green Party member. It is completely unfair to the voters.
    I think that we do indeed need to work together, collaborate on finding a better system that will be fairer for everyone and will likely produce governments that will have to work together. A proportional voting system is not just more respectful of the voters; it also changes the political culture.
    I know that my colleague is keen on that notion and that idea. It creates parliaments that are less aggressive and confrontational with a lot more dialogue and consensus building. I think that is best for our democracy and it is also what people want from us.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I am going to take the liberty of passing the puck to my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. He can decide whether it lands on his stick or his skate; it depends how he takes it.
    We are trying to make the Liberals understand that the Bloc Québécois does not want to pick a fight. We just want to maintain Quebec's political weight and representation in Parliament. That is the rationale for the 25% representation that Quebec is requesting, which is the same ratio that was entrenched in the Charlottetown accord, as my colleague mentioned.
    When asked about this, the Liberals repeat that they have already given Quebec what it wanted, 78 seats. However, they set that number without considering representation, which is still at risk based on demographics and the gradual increase in the number of House seats.
    I would like to hear my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie offer his opinion and expertise on the Liberals' attitude. They do not understand what we are trying to say when we demand that Quebec's political weight be maintained in Parliament.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Drummond for his question.
    I am not yet sure if his pass will hit my stick or my skates; it depends on how fast I can get to the puck.
    My colleague asked an excellent question. I find it hard to understand the Liberals' stubbornness in refusing to discuss this. I am very proud that we were able to get the government to protect the 78 seats in Quebec. However, that is not the end of the discussion, or the end of the story.
    I think we need to be open to this discussion, and I do not understand why the Liberal members from Quebec are not. They probably need to discuss it within their caucus. Why are they not showing more support for this motion so that we can discuss it in committee and determine next steps?
    We protected 78 seats, and I think that this first step was absolutely necessary. However, this is not the end of this story or of this historic demand from Quebec.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time.
    This really is quite incredible. There is one day in the entire life of Parliament set aside for debate about the state of our democracy, and in particular the rules of order that govern this place. Unfortunately, we see other parties that want to debate a different motion and therefore overwhelm the time set aside for this important debate on the health of Parliament and the health of our democracy.
    In particular, the member for Winnipeg North, who seems to be the only person speaking most of the time in the government caucus, has already eaten 40 minutes of the day that would otherwise have been set aside for this conversation on the Standing Orders, the rules of Parliament, and the state of our democracy.
    It is very clear why the Liberals do not want to have a debate about the state of our democracy and the rules that govern it. The sad truth is that ours is a Parliament in decline. This is evident to many of us and is shown in the objective metrics of the health of our democracy. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the use of time allocation and prorogation of Parliament provoked conniptions from Liberals and from the commentariat concerned that such measures were hurting democracy by curtailing debate and limiting the ability of other parties to hold the government accountable.
    Today the Liberals, with the NPD's support, not only regularly use time allocation to limit debate but have normalized the routine use of programming motions that completely skip over whole stages of deliberation on bills, including blocking all committee study and preventing opportunities for amendment. These parties have gone from being apoplectic about any limiting of time at a particular stage of a bill, to passing motions to wholesale skip stages of consideration.
    This Parliament has also spent substantial portions of the past few years suspended, and when it is sits, it is partially reduced to a Zoom call. Duly elected members of Parliament and their staff are barred from entering Parliament because of personal health choices, even while those same people mix unmasked and unvaccinated with staff and MPs at receptions only a block away.
    Many of the same people who decried time allocation under Stephen Harper now defend the wholesale running over of the normal functioning of this institution on multiple fronts as allegedly necessary to prevent the so-called playing of partisan games and delay tactics, as if members of Parliament were obliged to do everything possible to pass government legislation quickly without serious review.
    Today we have Motion No. 11, which is another attack on democracy. It allows the government to change the adjournment time at will without any notice and without a vote, which makes it extremely difficult, by design, for opposition politicians to do their jobs.
    We are not just a Parliament in decline; we are a democracy in decline. To observe as much is not to say that we have ceased to be a democracy, but that our democracy is weakening and we need to act in response. The globally recognized authority on democracy measurement is called IDEA: the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. It is based in Stockholm.
    IDEA recognizes that democracy is not an absolute: It is a measure of a country's performance across a series of metrics, such as representative government, impartial institutions and fundamental rights. According to IDEA, Canada's performance on key variables of checks on government and effective Parliament are in sharp decline. Our performance, in terms of checks on government, is at .68. That is lower than the United States and any nation in western Europe. Our score for effective Parliament has dropped precipitously from .73 in 2015 to .59 now. It is just barely above the world average.
    It is not just Conservatives who say our Parliament is in decline. It is the world-leading experts responsible for measuring the health of parliaments and parliamentary democracies who say that we are a Parliament in decline.
    Unfortunately, I do not have time to do a complete analysis of democratic decline in Canada, but I want to talk about what we should be talking about today, which is how the proper functioning of the Standing Orders provides tools for us to resist democratic decline. As the rules of the House of Commons, the Standing Orders have a particular role to play in trying to help preserve the vitality of our institutions.
    The purpose of Parliament is to bring Canadians together who are chosen by and speak for the experience of different localities, to deliberate about the common good of the whole nation and pass laws in accordance with it. Within that, the role of the Standing Orders is to prescribe the form of that deliberation, such as who gets to speak, for how long and in what ways on what subjects. This balances the need to hear from a multiplicity of perspectives with a need to proceed with legislation in a reasonable amount of time.
    The Standing Orders and traditions of this place are finely tuned to achieve that necessary balance. Ultimately, in a democracy the majority should have its way. The rules of the House exist, to some extent, to slow down the majority and to give other points of view the opportunity to be heard and to create space for the minority to try to persuade the majority.
    Democracy is the idea that the majority should rule, but not that the majority is always right. Majorities can get vital issues wrong. In particular, since the dawn of democracy, thinkers have worried about how the stimulation of short-term passions in the majority can make for a kind of mob rule mentality and lead to bad decision-making. Even unanimous decisions stirred up around short-term impulses and passions can be deeply regretted afterward when the tyranny of the moment has passed.

  (1240)  

    The framers of modern democracies perceived these risks. They have noted that the world's first democracy killed the world's first known philosopher. Modern democracy has sought to improve on ancient mob rule by liberating the people from both the tyranny of elites and the tyranny of short-term thinking, and has thus sought to stimulate decision-making based on the considered judgment of the people over time.
    The majority should rule, but should still be expected to hear contrary points of view and to sleep on decisions before finalizing them. Such requirements still do not provide a guarantee of right decision-making, but they do improve the chances.
    Individuals and collectives make better decisions when they think about those decisions first. It is a key function of Parliament in general, and of the Standing Orders in particular, to create the time and space required for authentic, deliberative democracy and for the considered judgment of the people over time.
    Those who have developed and refined Parliament as both an expression of, but also a check on, majoritarianism understood well that proportionate deliberation increases the chance that the majority will get both the big and the small questions right without unintended consequences.
    The Standing Orders that we have are not perfect, but they are generally tuned to help strike this vital balance between majority rule and deliberation. A problem that is substantially driving the decline of our Parliament today is not so much the Standing Orders themselves, actually, but the casualness with which the rules contained therein are frequently abridged.
    In principle, if rules are established and structures are as they should be, there is no need to abridge them, yet it is a veritable constant that we hear some delegate of the government rise in the House to propose that the House take some action notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House. Every time we accept this, we are choosing to act contrary to that long-standing wisdom and, as such, we should be very careful.
    Unanimous consents, even on mundane procedural matters, involve the House derogating from established practice. I am certainly not against the limited use of this abridgement in such cases, but I still think we should acknowledge its risks.
    What is much worse is what we see more and more of in this Parliament, which is the way that the House now frequently goes beyond rule abridgement by unanimous consent for procedural simplicity. We are now operating under a series of special rules, passed by a majority of the House over the objections of the minority, that have fundamentally changed our operating practices to limit opposition input and government accountability.
    We have government programming motions, which I have already discussed. We have the routine efforts of members of the House to get the House to pronounce itself on substantive issues through unanimous consent, without notice, where members are asked to unanimously endorse something, oppose something, or even adopt a piece of legislation at all stages with no advance notice or debate.
    The use of these unanimous consent motions does respond to a real problem: It is that members of Parliament do not, I think, have enough opportunity to put substantive proposals forward. I would support changes to our Standing Orders that expand the available opportunities for members to put forward substantive motions or private members' bills for debate.
    I still suspect that even with those opportunities, we would see MPs stand up out of the blue and expect the entire House to pronounce itself on substantive matters without formal notice or debate, and we would still see government motions that try to abridge long-established Standing Orders.
    Those who obsessively use unanimous consent motions are, perhaps unwittingly, seeking to abridge vital checks and balances and bring us back to democratic mob rule, where the tyranny of the moment, instead of the considered judgment of the people over time, is what rules. I oppose these efforts to roll the clock back to a purely majoritarian democracy instead of a functioning, deliberative democracy.
    The use of unanimous consent motions also lends itself to significant gamesmanship: efforts to move such motions when particular members are out of the House, or to actively engage certain members in conversation so that they will not notice that a motion is being moved. It is a given, with committee assignments and other responsibilities, that all members are not able to be in the House all day.
    This is why we have, for instance, bells before votes. Unanimous consent motions override the rights of members who are not present. The Standing Orders and the Speaker should work to preserve and protect the rights of members and the health of our deliberative democracy by constraining these kinds of Standing Order—

  (1245)  

[Translation]

    Order. The member for Drummond on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I have two quick points that I feel are valid.
    I could have been handsome or intelligent. Unfortunately, I am neither. I am trying to see the link between the passionate speech by my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and the Bloc Québécois's proposal to broaden the scope of Bill C-14 and study it at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. There may be a link, but I need some clarification.
    Second, I do not mean to be critical of my colleague's passionate style, but I would very respectfully like to point out that he is speaking very quickly and that the interpreters are sometimes having a hard time following. It is very important for us to be able to properly hear his comments.
    I thank the hon. member for his intervention and I agree that this is an important point. The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is speaking very quickly, which makes it difficult for the interpreters to do their job. This is not the first time this issue has been raised in the House, not only in relation to that member, but to many other members too.
    If members could slow down a little, that would help the interpreters. Perhaps the interpreters have a copy of the member's speech. If not, I would encourage members to provide the interpreters with a copy of their speeches.
    With respect to the content of the speech, I just want to remind members that it is very important that the debates in the House focus on the issue at hand. That being said, we must also recognize that some flexibility is allowed in speeches. I am sure the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan will ensure that his arguments relate directly to the motion before the House.

[English]

    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan has one minute and 16 seconds, and I would just ask him to slow down a bit during the rest of his speech.
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc members point out we are into a debate on a different motion than what was scheduled for today, which was the one day when we were supposed to be talking about the rules of the House and the impact on our democracy. I will endeavour to make the link.
    The Standing Orders and the Speaker, I believe, should work to preserve and protect the rights of members and the health of our democracy by constraining these practices of Standing Order abridgment. Requests for unanimous consent motions should not be entertained outside of certain very narrow circumstances, and those circumstances should involve a required consultation with all elected members, not just three or four.
    The Standing Orders should constrain the use of programming motions, such as through prohibiting the use of time allocation or closure on a programming motion. The deadly combination of a programming motion and closure is allowing the government to pass a bill at all stages in an afternoon.
    By constraining their own abridgment, the Standing Orders could reduce these abuses that are weakening our Parliament and roll us back toward unconsidered mob rule. I have no desire to see our Parliament reduced to a body that ritualistically gives perfunctory approval to bills that ministers assure us are very good, while endorsing unconsidered motions simply because they sound nice at first hearing.
    Our parliamentary democracy, providing the mechanisms for the people's representatives to genuinely debate about important ideas over a reasonable period of time, is worth defending and preserving, and that is the issue we need to be discussing today.
    However, we have Liberal members, and one in particular, who want to talk for a great deal of time on a different Bloc motion: a motion that we are formally debating right now, but we could be debating at any time. They want to discuss it at great length to avoid this vital conversation about the health of our democracy, and that is shameful.

  (1250)  

    Again, I will remind the member that he needs to slow down a bit when he is speaking. I know he is very passionate, as was mentioned, but it is very difficult for the interpreters to follow. It is important that all the members within the House are able to understand the speech that is being delivered.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I guess it is in true form that Conservatives and the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan would somehow blame the government for the motion that we are debating today.
    Nonetheless, during his speech, I heard him speak at length about the freedoms of democracy, and he mentioned that democracy is in decline in Canada. I would refer him to an organization called Freedom House. Freedom House has been around for 80 years now. It was developed toward the latter half of World War II.
    It is an organization that enjoys bipartisan support in the United States and it rates freedoms throughout the world, specifically political and civil freedoms. Of the 210 countries that it rates, Canada comes in fifth. Canada gets a score of 40 out of 40 for political rights and 58 out of 60 for civil liberties.
    How is it possible that the member is able to suggest that the freedoms in Canada and the democracy that relies on those freedoms is somehow in jeopardy, given that this organization—
    I do have to allow for other questions. I find with the questions, there is a lot of preamble. I would ask members to shorten their preamble, and get straight to the questions and comments as quickly as possible.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member did not listen or he did not want to listen. IDEA, the organization I referred to that ranks global democracies across a series of metrics, draws on various metrics, and Freedom House is part of the input data that IDEA uses.
    IDEA ranks democratic performance across a range of metrics including civil liberties, checks on government, pluralism and other metrics. What I said is specifically on the metric of checks on government. I did not talk about civil liberties. There are issues there but I did not talk about them. On the issue of checks on government, our objective ranking is declining.
    The member's question completely ignored my comment on how checks on government and metrics on effective Parliament are in decline. On checks on government and effective Parliament, we have dropped massively in international ranking since 2015. That is a different metric from civil liberties. It is an extremely important metric and the member should be aware of the difference.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, but I would very much like him to bring the discussion back to Bill C-14 and Quebec representation.
    Where exactly does my colleague stand when it comes to the Charlottetown accord, which guaranteed Quebec 25% of the seats in the House of Commons?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, with respect to these issues of representation, the Conservatives supported the bill saying that no province's number of seats should drop, and I think I have been clear about that. I also think the principle of representation by population is an important principle in our democracy. We need to recognize that Quebec's identity is important, Alberta's identity is important and British Columbia's identity is important, and that every person in this country needs their voice to be heard in the House. That is my view.
    However, if Parliament is not functioning properly and is not the mechanism through which individual MPs can actually be heard, check the power of government and debate legislation, the Standing Orders are not working properly. If Parliament is not working properly, then it barely matters who is here, because Parliament is prevented from doing its job. Even prior to the issues the member is raising is the question of whether Parliament is able to be that deliberative assembly of one nation. That is what I think is really important.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, the member makes reference to unanimous consent motions, and for the most part I agree with what he is saying. However, does he believe that the Speaker has some authority to use discretion, as we have been witnessing over the last little while, to clamp down on UC motions? There should be an expectation of discussions and approvals prior to a member's standing up and introducing one. What are the member's thoughts on that?
    Madam Speaker, I have no choice but to find myself in violent agreement with the member that there should be proper consultations. I would just emphasize that those consultations should be with members of the House, not just with House leaders of recognized parties.
    When there is a unanimous consent motion, the idea is that the House as a whole is expressing itself. There needs to be a mechanism for all members of the House to be properly and officially informed prior, just as we have with bells and the normal notice procedure. That is extremely important for protecting the rights not just of parties, but of all members.
    Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour to stand in this place and talk about the issues that are pressing to our nation. Certainly, I find it interesting that today a mechanism is being used for a motion the Bloc has brought forward to share some of the priorities of Bloc members. They have highlighted and shared what has come from their constituents.
    Over the course of the next nine and a half minutes or so, I hope to discuss some of the substance of the motion and the overall realities that this place faces, in what I hope will be a productive conversation surrounding the importance of the institution that is Parliament and some of the rules and procedures that are associated with it. As will be no surprise to members who have had a chance to listen to some of my interventions in the past, I have a great deal of concern, because we are seeing what I would suggest is a decline in democracy in our nation.
    I will highlight as well, when it comes to the motion, that there are questions and concerns surrounding representation for certain provinces with distinct cultures. Coming from Alberta, I know what it is like to be under-represented in this place in terms of the number of seats. It is, I believe, meant to be representation by population in Canada's lower house of our bicameral legislature. We also have a severe under-representation in our upper house. In our conversation around ensuring that our democratic infrastructure is responsive to the realities of our future, that needs to be part of the conversation.
    Over the course of COVID, a massive effect has taken place that has impacted Parliament. Especially in the 43rd Parliament, I never thought I would have to fight so hard as a newly elected member of Parliament to simply do my job. There are many aspects of doing that job that have a clear relationship with the Standing Orders and rules we have, which govern the conduct of this place.
    Over the course of the last number of months since the election and over the last two Parliaments, there has been a very different look and feel to Parliament. Although this is necessitated by COVID, I note that Canada lagged far behind in terms of Parliament's ability to be reactive and responsive in ensuring that democracy was an essential service in the midst of what is a global pandemic. I hope we can learn the lessons, some of which have been learned, that ensure we can get the functioning of this place back to what I would call a standard of normalcy and ensure there is clear representation. I will touch on Motion No. 11 in a moment, but I will note that over the course of the pandemic, we have seen that accountability can hide behind a computer screen. I know the House leader of the official opposition has brought forward what is an eminently reasonable series of proposals to get the functioning of this place back to normal.
    I would like to highlight Motion No. 11. There are some very concerning aspects to it. As I said when discussing Motion No. 11, I can only imagine that had a Conservative prime minister, such as former prime minister Stephen Harper, even contemplated bringing forward something like Motion No. 11, there would have been an outcry by politicos and politicians from different political parties. The government eliminated quorum calls and preprogrammed the ability of a minister of the Crown to extend sittings, without consultation other than with a coalition partner, adding stress on resources. I have done a great deal of research into the matter, and I suggest that the consequences of Motion No. 11 may bring into question the constitutionality of the debate that is taking place.

  (1300)  

    As I referenced in a point of order earlier this year, the second edition of Parliamentary Privilege in Canada says, “the courts might be effective in ensuring the observance of procedural requirements imposed by the constitution with respect to the enactment of legislation.” Quorum in this place is a constitutional requirement. I would certainly like to hear from members of the government and their partners in the NDP whether they have acknowledged that there may be some constitutional implications to the debates that take place.
    Furthermore, I call into question the confidence and supply motion. Through Motion No. 11 and other methods, the government has shown that it does not really want an opposition in this place; it simply wants an audience, whether that means the Conservatives, the Bloc or even the Greens. Although the Greens do not have official standing in this Parliament as a party, they have made their stand. However, the government's confidence and supply agreement, which clearly Canadians did not vote for, and the collaboration that can take place actually circumvent the role that Parliament is supposed to play.
    I would also like to talk about the vaccine mandate that exists, which I suggest violates the privileges of members of the House. There is a larger conversation about the thousands of Canadians who have been fired due to the Liberal Prime Minister. What we just learned regarding 1,600 armed forces members, at a time when there is a huge shortage of personnel in our military, is that the government fired those individuals. That is unacceptable. Leadership needs to come from the top to adjust. Let us understand that imposing these sorts of things have consequences for our country. We need to ensure that the rules and procedures we follow respect the fact that we will have disagreements. We cannot weaponize things, as we have seen the Prime Minister do. We cannot weaponize something like a vaccine mandate to silence political opponents.
    I will now touch on, as the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan did before me, unanimous consent motions. We have seen a troubling divide grow between the executive government and administration and Parliament. Unanimous consent motions are one of the ways in which we see that.
    We have seen unanimous consent motions pass in this place that have not been followed and have allocated or said to allocate significant funds from the treasury without consequence. I suggest that when it comes to anything other than administrative procedures or dilatory motions, the current process works fine. However, when it comes to policy or political matters, there has to be an adjustment. There has to be a change to ensure that the spirit and use of these motions do not inhibit the ability of this place to function effectively and properly.
    I suggest that when it comes to a path forward for UC motions, if they are not, as I mentioned, administrative, procedural or dilatory, consent needs to be provided for a member to even present a unanimous consent motion. That would be a practical solution. Consent should have to be obtained. However, as an idea for those who will contemplate these important decisions, I suggest that if the House leaders of every registered political party were to agree, it would be perfectly reasonable for a unanimous consent motion to go forward, showing that there had been fulsome consultations. If not, they would need consent to simply proceed from there.
    In my last minute, I would like to touch on a couple of additional things. I will share that one has to ensure that the role of this place holds a parallel line with the administration managed by the executive of government. The only reason that government exists is Parliament. That is how it works in a parliamentary democracy.
     I hope there has been a connection between the debate at hand and the Standing Orders debate to come, and I hope I have been able to effectively bring some items of relevance that will help in the debate in this place.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, as I indicated to the previous speaker, on the idea of unanimous consent motions, I concur with many of the member's thoughts.
    Does the member concur, failing an agreement among the House leaders, that the Speaker does have the authority and control, based on what they observe, if a motion does not seem to have unanimous consent and there were no consultations, to rule it out three words into it?
    Madam Speaker, I would agree. That is why I would suggest that, other than administrative, procedural or dilatory items, consent needs to be acquired before even entering into a unanimous consent motion, and unless all four House leaders, in the case of this Parliament, were in agreement that a unanimous consent motion could go forward. Although, there are some unanimous consent motions, which I have seen before, that I would wholeheartedly agree with, but that the government did not appear to have followed through on, and so the question of confidence, I believe, can be brought into question.
    Certainly, we have to take seriously the decisions that this place makes in terms of their implication on the public purse, in terms of their implication on policy, and ensure that we find the right process and procedure to respect the spirit of what UC motions are, and need to be, but also the debate that needs to take place on important items that we have put before us.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague gave a thoughtful speech.
    About 14 years ago, I had occasion to sit with some parliamentarians who had served before me for several decades. Among the wisdom they imparted to me was that there are very few privileges of an individual member of Parliament, and they need to be judiciously protected. One of them is the right to vote the way they want to on private member's legislation and introducing private member's legislation, and the second is to always maintain their individual right to say yes or no on a unanimous consent motion because, of course, by definition, any motion in the House that is unanimous requires the consent of each member.
    I must say that I have been troubled recently by the springing of UC motions on members of the House who do not know what the motion is about and who have not had a chance to study or deliberate on it, yet they are asked to make a pronouncement, sometimes on very serious matters, including genocide.
    Does my hon. colleague agree that we need to find a mechanism to make sure that UC motions are only used for matters that have obvious and broad support or that are timely, and that every member in the House deserves to have the right to deliberate before passing judgment on any matter before the House, as our voters expect us to do?
    Madam Speaker, I would have just been voting for the first time 14 years ago.
    I would agree with the member that we do have to ensure that we get it right, and I did make some suggestions in my speech as to how, practically, we could do that. Certainly, although they are not well understood today, the reasons for the privilege within this place go back nearly a millennia, and those reasons, although from a very different context than we live in today, are equally important today. The highest elected office in this land is that of the member of Parliament, and to ensure that MPs have the authority and the ability to do their jobs, as their constituents require them, is absolutely fundamental.
    As well, I would suggest defending other areas of privilege, such as a member's entrance into this place and ensuring that there are free votes and protection. Certainly, the Conservatives supported the use of the Reform Act to ensure that, for example, a prime minister or the leader of a political party could not unilaterally kick somebody out of their caucus, which is, I would suggest, part of the preservation of the privilege of members of Parliament to ensure that democracy and Parliament is responsive to what its intent is in this place.

  (1310)  

    Madam Speaker, I participate in the debate today having really hoped that this would have been about the subject that was supposed to be debated. Once in a parliamentary cycle we have a unique opportunity to talk about the parliamentary procedure of the House and ways we could look at improving upon it. At least within the Liberal caucus, we have had a number of opportunities to talk about that, bringing forward ideas and discussing them among ourselves. It certainly would have been a great opportunity to have done that in the House with everyone else.
    I realize that some members have been inadvertently sneaking some of that into their speeches, as the last two Conservatives did, and I get that, but it would have been better to have had the opportunity to really do this. Instead, what we have before us is a motion of instruction that has been put forward by the Bloc Québécois. Most MPs probably had not even heard of a motion of instruction until two days ago when the Conservatives did it randomly, out of nowhere, and now we have the Bloc Québécois doing it. I cannot help but wonder if perhaps it saw what the Conservatives did two days ago and thought it was another good way to interfere with the business of the House. Perhaps it does not see the importance of needing to discuss the procedural items of the House.
    Nonetheless, I will start off by commenting on a couple of things that I just recently heard. The member for Battle River—Crowfoot said a couple of things that really resonated with me. One of those things was when he spoke about quorum calls. I know he has risen in the House on a couple of occasions to object to the use of a motion passed by the House to eliminate quorum calls at certain parts of the day through Motion No. 11. He seemed to suggest that there is a constitutional issue there that could rule that legislation unacceptable, inadmissible or out of order, whatever the term might be.
    However, the reality of the situation is that we routinely pass motions, usually unanimous consent motions, that prevent members from making quorum calls whenever we go into the evening. Whether we do that through a unanimous consent motion or an actual motion with a recorded vote, I do not think there is any difference at all. Whether everybody agrees to it or a majority agrees to it, the precedent has been set, and the precedent is well entrenched within the House that we have the opportunity to put forward a procedural rule to prevent those quorum calls from being made. I am pretty sure the Conservatives realize that too, even though the member brought it up a couple of times.
    The member for Battle River—Crowfoot also said something that I found very interesting about democracy being ineffective and was not able to fully function during the pandemic. I think he said people were hiding behind computer screens. I guess that is just in line with what we have heard from Conservatives over the last two years. They have never really taken the pandemic seriously. They have always been about three steps behind everybody else when it comes to what we should be doing. They were always the last ones to put on masks. They were the last ones to adopt the need for vaccines. They were the last ones to get vaccines. They were the last ones in every regard as it related to the pandemic, so I am not surprised about that, but I will say that democracy worked very well during the pandemic if anyone asks me, particularly in the beginning of the pandemic when members of the House of Commons came together and unanimously passed a number of measures to take care of Canadians.
    We have procedures that set out how we have to do things in the House, and coming into the House of Commons in the numbers that we did, based on the arrangements that we made with the various House leaders to ensure safety or make that as safe as possible, is something that we did. We were able to put money in the bank accounts of Canadians within five weeks of the World Health Organization declaring a global pandemic. If nothing else can say that democracy worked during the pandemic, I suggest that would be it.

  (1315)  

    I realize the Conservatives will, for a very long time into the future, make the suggestion that democracy is failing because we are looking at new ways of doing things and are not stuck in the stone age. They can argue that to their hearts' content, but I think the vast majority of people would see otherwise.
    Here we are with this motion of instruction from the Bloc Québécois. What I find very interesting about it is that it already had an opposition day motion on this exact issue. It clearly was not happy with the outcome because it was not in its favour, so rather than accept defeat and move on, it has decided it will jam up a day of House time and put forward this motion of instruction, which will basically rehash everything we have already attempted to do.
    My understanding, and I could be wrong, from having listened to some of what I have heard come from the Conservatives today, is it appears as though they might be willing to support this to go to committee, but after that they may or may not support it. It is almost as though the Conservatives and the Bloc have got together and decided they will collectively attempt to disrupt the proceedings of the House. That is what I am seeing here today.
    When we look back to just a few months ago when the member for Durham was still the Conservative leader, it was a completely different Bloc Québécois, but as soon as he left something happened. Things changed in the House of Commons. The Bloc Québécois suddenly started to become a lot more cozy with the Conservatives. It was right at that time when the member for Durham was kicked out, and it was becoming obvious that the member for Carleton was going to become the new leader. Suddenly, the posture within the House of Commons changed and the Bloc Québécois was trying to align itself with, or at least not be as aggressively against, the Conservatives, and I cannot help but wonder why. I have hypothesized on it before in the House, and I will save it from my doing that again, but I find it interesting that here we are seeing the exact same kind of thing happen with the Bloc Québécois now.
    It has put forward a motion that basically states that Quebec will always have 25% of the elected seats throughout Canada. While this work is at committee, it is basically telling the committee how to do its job. The Bloc already tried to do this through an opposition day motion, but were unsuccessful, yet here we are, and it is trying to ram it through again. I think it is extremely unfortunate that it cannot accept the fact that it has lost the battle and is looking for an opportunity to rehash it.
    I also find it extremely regrettable for the reasons I stated at the beginning. Today was supposed to be a very special day to discuss the procedures of the House. Unfortunately, it now looks as though that will not happen, and we will not be able to. I can tell from what the Conservative colleagues who spoke before me said that they had things they wanted to talk very passionately about with respect to this, but they were not able to do so, or at least not in the context in which they should have had the opportunity to do that.
    As it relates to what the Bloc Québécois is looking for specifically, it talks about arbitrarily ensuring that, regardless of what happens, Quebec gets 25% of the seats in the House of Commons. The reality is that we have a process in place that determines the number of seats to be distributed based on population and geography. That process exists and that is the process that is followed every 10 years when it comes to redistribution. I think it is clear the House has determined that Quebec should not ever lose any seats and, as a result, work can be done to ensure that does not happen, but what is missing from all of this is the fact that Quebeckers have not had an opportunity to speak to this yet, which is part of the process.

  (1320)  

    Quebeckers should have the right to speak to this, and they should have that opportunity now, when this is going to committee, but instead we see the Bloc members trying to come forward and circumvent the work that would have been done by the committee to get that public consultation and that feedback during committee, and trying to arbitrarily impose their own wishes. Quite frankly, that is not how our democratic process works.
    This bill is extremely important, but the most important thing right now as it relates to the bill is that the people get to speak. What is important here is people and public input, not politicians. Unfortunately, what we have seen the Bloc Québécois do is make this all about the politicians. The politicians in the Bloc Québécois seemingly know better and are not interested in hearing what the people of Quebec actually want to say and allowing them to have their input into this.
    As this process continues, as the redistribution process is upon us now, what always happens at this point is that every 10 years we go out and try to engage in these conversations. We have the elections office do its work in the beginning. We can give some preliminary directions, such as that Quebec does not lose any seats, but otherwise from that point forward it is important that we allow that process to occur. It appears as though we have just completely abandoned that and there is no longer an interest in allowing that to happen.
    When I think about how we should be moving forward on this, the best thing to do now is to allow the committee to do its work and solicit public input, to let people have the opportunity to have their say and inform the decisions, and to allow the Bloc member on that committee to ask similar questions. Then, based on the feedback that Bloc members receive at committee, they can put forward all the recommendations to their heart's content. What they should not be doing is trying to interject at this stage and insist on something that, quite frankly, the House has already dealt with.
    As I indicated earlier, we had an opposition day motion that was basically on this exact same subject matter. The Bloc members had the entire day to speak about it. They put up speaker after speaker. Nobody from the government and nobody from the opposition moved motions during the routine proceedings. We allowed the debate to happen, and at the end of the day we voted on it. Although the outcome of that vote was not what the Bloc particularly wanted it to be, the outcome was the outcome. It was over and that was it. The Bloc members should accept the democratic process. They should accept the fact that they lost that vote and, most importantly, that the rest of the House allowed the democratic process to happen that day.
    However, what we are seeing today is the exact opposite. It is not really even a government bill today. The House has a regular opportunity, once in a parliamentary session, to discuss the procedural elements of the House and the procedure of the House, and the Bloc should have done the right thing and allowed democracy to occur and members to have their say on how the House functions, just as the government and the other opposition parties did on their opposition day, but the Bloc members did not do that. Instead, they said they are going to ruin the day for everybody else and insist on having a debate about something they already debated and they already lost.

  (1325)  

    I have said many times in the House that I get frustrated with the obstructionist nature of the way things seem to be unfolding in the House lately. I see it quite often. I usually see it from the Conservatives, and now we are seeing it from the Bloc, which is doing the exact same thing. I think it is extremely unnecessary.
    The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, in his speech, talked about the need to be able to slow down. I agree with him. The most important tool that any opposition has, especially Her Majesty's loyal opposition, is the ability to slow things down. The opposition can force marathon votes, and we have seen it force voting for up to 30 hours, non-stop. It can filibuster on various issues, which we have seen the Conservatives do in the past. Those are tools to slow things down.
    However, I would suggest to my friend from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan that the Conservatives should pick their battles. They should determine what issues they are willing to die on, for lack of a better expression, and then they should use those opportunities to slow Parliament down because it means something to them. They should not do it at every single opportunity, but that is exactly what they do.
    Bill C-18 is a bill that has in it an election commitment from the Conservatives, and they are slowing that down. That was not the intent of giving those rules to the opposition to slow things down. It is not what it was meant for. It was not meant for the opposition to be able, without regard for anything whatsoever, to just try to put the brakes on, full stop, without any regard for anything, but that is what the Conservatives are doing.
    I agree with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan that having the ability to slow things down is important, but I would suggest to him that the Conservatives should pick their battles and decide what issues are the most important to them. At least then, when they do try to put the brakes on, people would pay attention and say that if they are putting the brakes on, it must be important. Instead, the public are just rolling their eyes and saying that the Conservatives are doing it again, just for any old reason, just refusing to let anything pass through the House.
    In any event, those are my thoughts on the matter. I have been speaking for almost 20 minutes now, and I have been given the two-minute warning. I will say that it is a much more enjoyable experience doing this virtually. I cannot hear a single heckle, and I have not given a speech in the House without a heckle in a long time. It could have very well been happening, but I just had no idea. Maybe I should try this more often, because at least it allows me to collect my thoughts a lot more easily.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, maybe the reason nobody said anything during the member for Kingston and the Islands' speech is that we were all speechless as we watched him dig himself deeper and deeper into a hole.
    The member spoke at length and in great detail about the Bloc Québécois opposition motion we voted on on March 2. He said the Bloc Québécois is frustrated by the outcome of its opposition day vote and is responding to defeat by trying again.
    That motion said that any scenario for redrawing the federal electoral map that would result in Quebec losing one or more electoral districts or that would reduce Quebec’s political weight in the House of Commons must be rejected.
    That day, we won the vote. We did not lose. Two hundred and sixty-one members of Parliament voted in favour of our motion. Who were some of those 261 MPs who voted in favour of it? The member for Kingston and the Islands, for one, and the member for Winnipeg North, for another.
    The member for Kingston and the Islands could answer my question by simply apologizing and saying that he did not understand, or that he never understands what we are voting on, or that he simply has no credibility.
    Those would all be good answers, and I will let him choose one.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I was there for that, and I certainly do remember voting in favour of it, but I ask the member if there was an amendment put forward by the Bloc, because I specifically remember the Bloc pushing for this angle of the 25%. Whether it was through an amendment that was defeated or on another occasion completely, and I could be wrong, I know the Bloc has been pushing this matter, and I am also aware the House has shown that it is not interested in proceeding. If I remember correctly, I believe there was an amendment put forward, and it would have been that amendment the Bloc had put forward that was defeated, but I could be wrong.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague would be happy to know that there were a lot of cheers from this side of the House, in terms of seeing him again.
    My colleague spoke a lot about democracy and the importance of it. Once again, we are seeing the Conservatives act as though they are champions of democracy, but then what we have here is a move to dictate and direct a committee in how it must proceed, after the House has already taken a position.
    How does he feel Conservative members from Alberta might feel about this particular motion moving forward, triggering the 7/50 rule, when that would have significant consequences for proportional representation? How might Alberta members, who have not had a chance to consult with their communities, feel about the House dictating to a committee how to move forward?
    Madam Speaker, first I want to congratulate the member for Pickering—Uxbridge on the outstanding work she did in reaching out to her community, Uxbridge in particular, during the recent events that happened with the storm and the number of people who were displaced in one way or another. She really rose up and showed what it is to be an exemplary member of Parliament in terms of taking care of her constituents.
    To her point, this is exactly what I was trying to say, which is that the Bloc Québécois wants to somehow tell the committee what to do, and we are past that point. The committee has been instructed on what to do. The committee has the work before it. The committee now has the opportunity to go out and talk to the public. The time for the politicians, with all due respect to my colleagues in the Bloc, is over, and now it is time to let the public speak. I want to hear what Quebeckers have to say about this particular piece of legislation and where they stand on it.
    I do not know why the Bloc Québécois is afraid to hear what Quebeckers actually have to say. Instead, its members seem more interested in trying to direct the discussion even more. Perhaps that is an indication they are worried about the outcome. I do not know, but I am just assuming.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I am surprised my colleague did not hear the cheering from the Liberal bench, and I am surprised he did not hear the heckling from this side of the House, because it was immense. It was a brouhaha. It was mayhem. I am surprised you did not intervene, Madam Speaker. I congratulate the member for actually causing that much dissension in this House, as he always does, because his comments are always so much on point that we all revel in the depth of his knowledge. Madam Speaker, thank you for not intervening in that discourse that happened back and forth.
    I wonder if the member really understands the democracy he is speaking about here. Does he really understand that this did not come from the Conservative Party, which he criticizes all the time? It came from the Bloc Québécois, and maybe we are supposed to work together with other parties in the House of Commons at some points in time and get good things done for Canadians. Does he understand that concept?
    Madam Speaker, I really wish he had just stopped after the first part of his question, because I thought it was just great. I look forward to being back in the House so we can do this in person.
    To the member's question, why are the Conservatives against Bill C-18? The Conservatives will not let Bill C-18 be discussed in the House of Commons. Bill C-18 is about ensuring that news organizations are properly taken care of in this country. It is a bill that has content in it that was in the Conservative Party's platform in the election. I want to work together with the Conservatives, and I want to work with that member, but I cannot even seem to have a working relationship with them on issues that they, in the election, said they supported.
    I encourage the member to find an issue we can work together on, as common as Bill C-18 appeared to be. Let us talk about how we can do that.
    Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member for Kingston and the Islands, but I will point out for the member for Calgary Centre that we could have heard a pin drop in here. People were in rapt attention as the member for Kingston and the Islands spoke.
    To pursue the question that the member alluded to in referring to losing time in this place and not getting to bills in debate, I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular, because I am in the unique position of being able to say “a plague on all their houses” when things go awry in this place.
    However—and I have made this point before—I would like the member for Kingston and the Islands to comment on what he thinks of the proposition that we would do better to follow our own rules, which say that no member can give a speech that is written. Ironically, it is even against our rules to use a lectern, although they are routinely handed out by the pages when people ask for them.
    If we did not ignore the rule against written speeches, it would not be possible for the party backrooms to say to each other that they are not sure how many members they are going to put up on bill whatever. It might be that everybody wants to speak. Well, everybody does not want to speak, but everybody can be put forward like cannon fodder in a pointless partisan battle in here, instead of actually discussing bills.
    In the Palace of Westminster, from which our rules derive, no member can stand up and read a speech. As a result, the people who speak to bills understand them thoroughly and can speak without notes.
    Madam Speaker, I will start by saying that I hold in highest regard the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, especially when it comes to describing events going on in the House. If she says we could have heard a pin drop in the room while I spoke, I totally believe her.
    To her point, I agree completely with her, but more importantly, I also do not think it is important to always have to speak for 10 minutes or always speak for 20 minutes. I feel as though the reason some people feel the need to speak for a full 10 or 20 minutes, or whatever it might be, might be that they are worried that they will not be able to fill up the time. I personally think that there is nothing wrong with speaking for three or four minutes. If that is all a member has to say, then maybe that is all that needs to be said.
    This is the kind of conversation I would have loved to have had on what we were supposed to discuss today, because I think this is the kind of thing that needs to come out. I also personally do not believe that the Speaker should hold a list of the people who are going to speak. Yes, we maintain the rotation, but it should be up to the Speaker to decide who is going to speak next, not the people in the backrooms.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak again today on Bill C-14, a bill that we have already spoken on and have already sent away to committee. We find ourselves, or at least some of us in the House, speaking to Bill C-14.
    In this bill, the government proposed to update the grandfather clause in the seat allocation formula. That was to ensure that no province would ever have fewer seats in the House of Commons than it did in 2021. That seemed to reflect what the House was asking for at the time, and it was something that Liberal colleagues were asking for in our caucus, and we know that this is also what the Bloc was asking for.
    This updated clause speaks to the heart of the concerns that we have heard from Canadians and would ensure that all provinces would continue to have a strong voice in our House of Commons. Specifically, it would ensure that Quebec would not lose a seat. Again, this is what was being asked for. It would keep all existing protections in place and it would continue—
    Madam Speaker, very quickly, I believe that the member was going to be splitting his time. I just wanted to make that point.
    That is not generally a point of order, but we had it done by the Conservative Party yesterday as well. I would ask members to be mindful that if they are going to be splitting their time, they should do it ahead of time. Forgetting to do that does happen to every member in the House, because they are just so anxious to start their speech.
    Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have something to add?
    Madam Speaker, I did forget, despite the many times that I reminded myself, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Sault Ste. Marie.
    As I was saying, this updated clause speaks to the heart of the concerns that we have heard from Canadians. It would ensure that all provinces would continue to have a strong voice in this House of Commons. Specifically, it would ensure that Quebec does not lose a seat, while keeping all existing protections in place and continuing to allow for incremental seat increases among provinces with growing populations without disruption to the redistribution of federal electoral districts in Canada.
    As many of my colleagues know, the formal process of redrawing the electoral boundaries is a process that is required under law to take place every 10 years. It has begun. There are consultations right now. We are doing consultations in Nova Scotia, and there are quite significant changes being proposed, at least under the first tranche, and many members of our communities are reaching out to this commission and having their say.
    I want to take this opportunity to speak about an important aspect of this very detailed and considered process, which is the independent and—something we probably do not get very often in our House—non-partisan commissions that are responsible for undertaking this important role.
    For close to 60 years, independent, non-partisan electoral boundary commissions have been responsible for redrawing our electoral maps based on population and communities of interest. These commissions were established in 1964 when Parliament passed the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. The act sets out the roles and responsibilities, the process and the criteria these commissions must follow when redrawing our federal electoral boundaries.
    The member for Winnipeg Centre said earlier that it is important that these folks get the communities of interest correct. It is not as easy as drawing a line straight up a highway, through a lake or along a river, although that is sometimes what we see in the first proposals. I do not know if it is because it is low-hanging fruit, but it is easy for the commission to do, and then it would take into consideration, one would expect, all of the public consultation.
    This independent approach was introduced by design to eliminate the risk of political interference in the process and to maintain integrity and transparency in our democratic systems and institutions. Before 1964, the House of Commons itself was responsible for fixing the boundaries of electoral districts through a committee appointed especially for that purpose, but Parliament realized that gerrymandering, a term used to describe the manipulation of riding boundaries to benefit members of the governing party, was a significant risk to the integrity of the system. That was and remains unacceptable. The introduction of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act was a critical measure put in place to solve that problem, and it was the right thing to do.
    As outlined in the act, a three-member commission must be established for each province, and as I said, Nova Scotia has its commission set up and is currently receiving feedback from its citizens on all of the electoral boundaries. These commissions are composed of one chairperson and two commissioners.
    As this process occurs over every 10 years, I would like to remind our hon. members that the government does not recommend or appoint members to these provincial commissions. They are independently appointed. In fact, the government's role in the entire process is extremely limited.
    For example, the minister is responsible for receiving the census data from the chief statistician, for being notified of the appointment of new commissioners and for receiving the final reports from the commission. The minister is also responsible for facilitating the orders in council that are required to proclaim the establishment of the commissions and to proclaim the new electoral boundaries as set out by the commissions at the conclusion of the process.
    It is also important to note once again that the government does not have any decision-making role or influence when it comes to how electoral boundaries are redrawn. That would be the commissioners' job, and that would hopefully reflect the feedback that they get from members of their community on how they see the boundaries being drawn or redrawn. It is entirely at the discretion of the independent provincial commissions.
    The chief justices in each province are responsible for appointing a chairperson for each commission. In addition, the Speaker is responsible for appointing the two other members of the commissions. The chairperson of each commission is a sitting or, on a rare occasion, a retired judge. All members set aside their normal work and business to dedicate themselves to this democratic endeavour.

  (1345)  

    I, for one, would like to thank them for their service and thank them for listening to the members of the community who will be speaking on what is important to them as it pertains to their representation in the House of Commons of Canada.
    For commissioners, the act stipulates that they must reside in the province for which they are appointed. The act is also very clear in specifying that no person is eligible to be a member of the commission while that person is a member of the Senate or House of Commons or is a member of the legislative assembly or legislative council of a province. The independence of these commissions is further reinforced through this provision. In practice, the commissioners typically have a background in academia, law or non-elected public service. This knowledge and expertise allows these individuals to undertake this complicated but very important work.
    In this 2021 decennial, as required under the act, 10 independent non-partisan electoral boundary commissions, one for each province, were established on November 1, 2021. With the release of the final census of 2021 data on February 9, 2022, the commissions began their review of the boundaries. As necessary, based on population changes and movements within each province, they will develop proposals to redraw electoral districts within each province, respecting communities of interest and taking in the very important feedback of citizens across Canada. Under the government's proposal, this work will continue uninterrupted.
    For the Quebec commission, the legislation ensures that it will have the time that it needs, as prescribed under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, to reconsider its boundary proposals and progress based on the updated grandfathered amendment.
    Over the last 10 years, Canada's population has grown by 3.5 million people, from 33 million to nearly 37 million today, so it is essential that these citizens be factored into Canada's federal electoral districts. While they will endeavour to reflect changes in population against the province's seat count, commissions must also take into consideration other factors, again respecting communities of interest and historical patterns. They must also ensure electoral districts will maintain a manageable geographic size, including those ridings that are in rural or northern regions of any province. We all know MPs who have 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 square kilometres. I personally represent a community of just over 100 square kilometres, so there is definitely a major difference in those boundaries.
    Considering all of these factors is no small feat. We have a vast country. Our communities are diverse and very rich in culture and history. From coast to coast to coast, they form the basis of our identities and our connections. That is why the act contains provisions to ensure that these communities of interest are considered when it comes to determining reasonable electoral boundaries. Respecting communities of interest is not just about preserving the differences between provinces and regions or between rural and urban; it can mean recognizing the differences from one side of a small town to the other side of a small town. That, I must reiterate, is why it is so important that the commissions listen to the members of the public who speak out about the importance of their communities of interest.
    Canada's history has shown us that redistribution is not just about balancing changes in population; it is all about balancing community, history, geography. It is a delicate balance of multiple and sometimes competing priorities. These complex considerations are precisely why these commissions are independent and, as I said before, non-partisan. It is essential that these decisions be made outside of party lines. This way, boundary lines and ridings are established to serve Canadians best, not political parties.
     Over the coming months, the commissions will hold public hearings open to the Canadian public, including members of Parliament. We are fortunate, along with all other Canadians—

  (1350)  

    The hon. member's time is up. I know he still has more to add, but I am sure it can be done through questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, why does the hon. member want to prevent this House from debating the Standing Orders on the one day per Parliament set aside for doing precisely that?
    Madam Speaker, this member speaks an awful lot in the House and I rarely enjoy what he has to say, but I have to say that the one time in every Parliament when we get a chance to speak on the Standing Orders is when that member is the most important. That is when that member speaks very intelligently and has an awful lot to say.
    During his speech earlier, he had an awful lot of suggestions that I personally would love to have been hearing in a discussion on the Standing Orders. However, we are not there, because by watching how the Conservatives do it every day, the Bloc Québécois has figured out a way to delay the business of the House.
    That member should take this up with the members of the Bloc.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think our colleague is being a bit harsh on the Conservative member, but in any case, I sense in his comments a bit of malice against the Bloc and how we operate in Parliament.
    My question is simple. In his view, is the Bloc Québécois taking a democratic position today by proposing an amendment to this motion?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I sat on a committee with the member. He is a fabulous human being, and I want to thank him for all the work he does on behalf of Quebec. I personally love Quebec. I have been to Quebec City and Montreal, and they are absolutely beautiful. It is such an integral part of Canada.
    This request has come before the House and has been agreed to. It is supposed to be before committee right now to let the process unfold as the process is meant to unfold, not in another day of delaying the business of the House of Commons.
    Madam Speaker, I notice my hon. colleague mentioned in his speech the size of some ridings, the square kilometres and the distance to get from point A to point B in his riding. Does he agree that looking at the land mass that is included, especially in rural areas, should be a part of the process as well?
    A lot of times there is only one way in and one way out, and it is often hard to get all parts of a riding. Even on a break week or a break weekend, for example, it is not very easy to get to a lot of the areas of a very geographically large riding.
    Madam Speaker, the member represents a large community. He used the terms “break week” and “break weekend”, but I do not remember a time when the member got a break week or a break weekend. I know how difficult and all-consuming it is for the member, as well as members in Newfoundland, northern Canadian regions and rural communities, to properly represent their constituents.
    I know the member does that with a smile on his face every day. When he speaks, we can hear his love for Newfoundland and Labrador and the people in that region. I know that he will go to the end of the earth for his constituents.

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, if this motion from the Bloc Québécois passes, I am wondering if my hon. colleague from Halifax would also support some of the provinces, such as Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, that are structurally under-represented in Canada's Parliament. Would he be open to supporting changes to Bill C-14 that would give us representation by population?
    I ask the member to imagine a scenario where Quebec had 1% below the average and lost three seats. That is what we live with every day, and I would love to hear the member's comments on that reality.
    Madam Speaker, my friend called me the member for Halifax. There will be opportunities, when we are all back in the House, for the member for Halifax to maybe stroll across the aisle and have this question asked of him by the member from B.C.
    This is a day where we need to be speaking about the Standing Orders, and we need to stop the delay tactics. The Bloc learned from the best, the best delay tactics party in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the government's bill that would ensure no province has fewer seats in the House of Commons than it did in 2021.
    As the great-grandson of an adopted Québécois, it is important for me personally to support Quebec maintaining its 78 seats in its representation. It was my father's grandfather who came over on a boat from Ireland, and it is a classic Canadian story that is shared so often. My great-grandfather came over on a boat with his parents, but both his parents passed away. His mother passed away on the boat and was given a burial at sea. His father then passed away as well, so he and his brother were orphaned on the boat.
    When they arrived in Canada, and after being quarantined for a number of days, it was a rural Quebec family that adopted my great-grandfather with open arms, compassion and caring, and allowed him to keep the surname we so enjoy today. That is where our family had our start in Canada, in rural Quebec.
    I am extremely pleased that following the seat allocation announcement last year, and as members of the House we were undoubtedly aware, the redistribution of federal electoral districts had begun, and that this bill would preserve the seats gained by Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia this decennial as announced by the Chief Electoral Officer last year.
    This thoughtful and measured bill would also preserve Quebec's seat count at 78 seats. I would like to point out the government's amendment would not disrupt the independent redistribution process, and the bill would direct the CEO to reallocate the number of members of the House based on the updated grandfather rule.
    We know that with this small change Quebec would not lose one seat. This updated clause would ensure all provinces could—
    I am sorry to interrupt.
    There are a lot of conversations being held in the House, and it is really not very respectful of the person who has the floor. If members wish to have side conversation, I would ask them to please take them out into the lobby.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor.
    Madam Speaker, this is a very important subject. This particular government will allow for incremental seat increases in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia due to their growing provincial populations.
    As my colleagues are aware, 10 independent provincial commissions were established in November 2021, with an exclusive role to play in the redistribution process. Under the government's proposal, this role would continue to be uninterrupted. These proposed amendments would minimize any disruption to the ongoing electoral boundary readjustment process. It is worth reviewing their work and timelines as set out in the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.
    Before the provincial commission can begin their work, as I mentioned before, the Chief Electoral Officer is required to calculate the number of seats allocated to each province using the population estimate provided by Statistics Canada from the recent census, the last of which occurred on July 1, 2021, along with the formula set out in section 51 of the Constitution Act of 1867.
    The results of the seat allocation calculation were made public on October 15, 2021, with Ontario gaining one seat, Alberta gaining three and British Columbia gaining one. With the introduction of a 2021 grandfather clause, these seat gains would not be impacted. This means that under the government's bill, which I am pleased to support, no province will have less than the number of seats they had during the 43rd Parliament, which I had the honour of serving in 2021. Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia would maintain those seat increases.
    It was a pleasure speaking on this important subject.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

    Madam Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians, today I want to congratulate our Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes who represented us at the recent summer and winter games. As we cheered from home, Team Canada delivered remarkable performances in sport excellence, bringing home 96 medals, achieving many personal bests and exemplifying fair play. The athletes represented Canada with grace, dignity and incredible focus.

[Translation]

    While their journey has not always been easy over the past two years, as they have trained and persevered through the pandemic, our athletes have done what they do best. They have shown resilience, determination and a commitment to never give up.

[English]

    These athletes are true models and inspire us all to be the best that we can be. The Government of Canada applauds their achievements and thanks them for representing our country so incredibly well. On behalf of all members of the House, I congratulate all our athletes.

Summer Events in Cariboo—Prince George

    Madam Speaker, after two long years of restrictions and lockdowns, it is great to see our country finally getting back to normal. In Cariboo—Prince George, our communities, friends and families have been through a lot, but despite the adversity, our Cariboo spirit is stronger than ever.
    Summer is just around the corner and we are looking forward to welcoming back visitors from across Canada and around the world to take in some amazing events. Billy Barker Days Festival is back. The Vanderhoof International Airshow is back. Cariboo—Prince George is back.
    This summer is going to be amazing. We are also hosting the 32nd BC Summer Games, and this year marks the first football season for the Prince George Kodiaks. Go Kodiaks.
    As members know, rodeo season is my second-favourite time of the year. After a two-year hiatus, the Quesnel Rodeo is back, and the greatest show on dirt, the Williams Lake Stampede, is back. Yee-haw.

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

    Madam Speaker, multiple sclerosis is Canada’s disease. More than 90,000 Canadians live with MS, one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Every day 12 more Canadians are diagnosed with MS.
    I recently met with the MS Society of Canada as part of MS Awareness Month and learned about the recent research breakthrough showing the strongest evidence to date of an association between the Epstein-Barr virus and the onset of MS.
     I ask that we all harness this momentum and commit to increased funding for MS research so we can answer the most fundamental questions about MS: What causes it? Who gets it? How can we stop it? Together, we can ensure that Canada maintains its position as a world leader in MS research.

[Translation]

Proposed Seniors' Residence in Mirabel

    Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House to speak for the residents and elected officials of Mirabel who are visiting Parliament Hill today. They are here for one reason only, and that is to tell the Minister of Transport that they need a seniors' residence in their community, in Sainte‑Scholastique. Of course, I am thrilled to have them here, but I cannot help but think it is not right.
    It is not right for an 80-year-old to have to travel 200 kilometres to appeal to a minister. It is not right to have to start a petition to get a minister's attention. It is not right to have to struggle for months, years even, to get a minister to listen. The right thing would be to let the seniors of Sainte‑Scholastique grow old at home, without having to leave because they lack resources. My colleagues will agree with me that at a certain age, everyone deserves a dignified, peaceful and happy ending to their life.
    On behalf of my constituents, I therefore ask the Minister of Transport to give the green light for a seniors' residence in Sainte‑Scholastique. Let us give the green light to the Synergie Mirabel project.

  (1405)  

Outaouais Film Festival

    Madam Speaker, today marks the start of the 23rd annual Outaouais Film Festival, with actor and director Mariloup Wolfe as honorary chair. Over 80 films from 23 countries will be screened, to the delight of all film lovers.
    In honour of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Canada, the festival will pay tribute to Moroccan culture with several cultural events. It will continue to feature local cinema, with 25% of the programming coming from Quebec. There will also be an exhibition of the work of artist Cedric Sequerra at Cinéma 9. I would like to congratulate the director, Didier Farré, and his entire team for their work on this excellent programming.
     The Outaouais Film Festival will run from June 2 to 10, and I invite all my colleagues to visit Cinéma 9 in the Outaouais for the festival.

[English]

Lobster Fishery

    Madam Speaker, this past Tuesday marked the end of the six-month commercial lobster fishery for fishers in districts 33 and 34 in my beautiful riding of West Nova. I take this opportunity to sincerely thank fishers for their hard work.
    Being out on the water is certainly not an easy job and can be quite unpredictable at times, but that is what makes this profession so unique and special. More importantly, it is the reason why fishermen take great pride in what they do.
    It is with this same pride that I would like to express to them our deep admiration, and thank them for the incredible work that they do to consistently provide our community, province, country and world with the best-tasting lobster.
    Thankfully, there were no major mishaps this season, but we should never forget all those we have unfortunately lost at sea over the past years.
    Our lobstering heritage has a long and profound history, and I will always continue to proudly represent our hard-working lobster fishers here in our nation's capital.
    Congratulations on another season, and I hope they enjoy their time off.

[Translation]

ALS Awareness Month

    Mr. Speaker, June marks the beginning of a month of awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a disease that currently has no cure. Unfortunately, there is still no treatment to reverse the progression of ALS.
    As one can imagine, this is a grim reality not only for patients, but also for their loved ones. I wish to thank the researchers who continue to work together to change the course of this disease. They provide hope in this respect.

[English]

    I would also like to thank the family members, the caregivers, nurses and other individuals who care for these patients. Their services are indispensable and sincerely appreciated. If there is one lesson we can learn from COVID-19, it is that collaboration is key to combatting disease. Imagine if we applied the same strategy to combatting rare diseases and to finding treatments for rare diseases like ALS.
    We must do better. I want to thank everyone involved.

Shirley Haslam

    Mr. Speaker, with a heavy heart I rise today to recognize a remarkable member of the Erin Mills community who passed away on May 30. Shirley Haslam was a constituent, a strong member of the Mississauga Erin Mills Women's Council and she was a dear friend.
    Shirley was a teacher for 32 years and volunteered with the Arthritis Society and Scleroderma Society for many years. She leaves behind so many people whose lives she made better, mine included.
    Shirley had this knack of slipping notes into purses and writing cards to her friends to share her thoughts. These notes were full of love and affirmations. I carry one of them in my wallet and I know it will always stay there. Her compassion, her love for life, her ability to hustle and her courage to always stand up for what was right defined her life and the memories that she leaves behind.
    I share my condolences with her family, her friends and all the people who called her a hero. May she rest in peace.

Training and Development

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to thank all the folks in the North Okanagan—Shuswap supporting training and development opportunities to ensure a strong and safe Canada of tomorrow. At the Jean Minguy Memorial RCMP Youth Academy in Vernon, for over 20 years the RCMP in partnership with School District 22 has provided 16- to 18-year-old students with development opportunities in a week-long law enforcement boot camp at the academy.
    Their recent graduation ceremony celebrated 26 cadets who completed their program toward a path of public service. I also joined the B.C. fire training officers conference in the Shuswap where fire training officers from B.C. connected to share and learn firefighting and lifesaving skills.
    Aerial firefighting tactics, water rescue and fire dynamics were just some of the skills training provided. It was exciting and reassuring to see youth and adult members learning skills to better protect our neighbours and our neighbourhoods from potential risks.
    I commend and thank everyone from the students to the trainers and sponsors for making initiatives like these a reality to keep our communities more safe and secure.

  (1410)  

National Health and Fitness Day

    Mr. Speaker, Saturday is National Health and Fitness Day in Canada. I plan to swim, run and play tennis at different locations in my riding on Saturday. I will then join the Fitness Industry Council of Canada's social media challenge by posting pictures and using the hashtag #letsmovecanada.
    I hope that all members will join me in working out and joining the social media challenge on Saturday. We can help show Canadians across the country how important it is for us to exercise to improve our physical and mental health.
    As we emerge from COVID, it is vital for Canadians of all ages to get active. Sports and good health go together. The more we work out, the better we feel and the less we need to strain our health care system.
    I encourage all Canadians to find some physical activity they enjoy this year and to make time to work out. Happy National Health and Fitness Day.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, with the cost of living spiralling out of control, many Canadians are struggling, worried about their ability to provide for their family's future and the direction that our country is headed in.
    Sadly, the out-of-control spending and divisive and regressive policies of our Liberal Prime Minister have turned Canada into “Can'tada”: “Can't” afford to buy or rent a home, “can't” afford gas, “can't” afford groceries, “can't” keep a small business open, “can't” retire, “can't” protest, “can't” express dissent, “can't” get a straight answer from government, “can't” work hard to get any further ahead.
    Under the Liberals, everyday life has become unaffordable. There are limited opportunities for students, working parents, seniors, first nations communities, new Canadians, small business owners and everyone else. Canadians need relief. They need hope and confidence in the future. That is why Conservatives will continue to stand up for ordinary Canadians and will ensure to fight so that the true north remains strong and free.

Lytton Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, we are quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the wildfire that decimated the village of Lytton on June 30. While we have been so encouraged by recent progress, residents still remain displaced. Lytton residents deserve so much more.
    I want to give a shout-out to the Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet, B.C. and encourage everyone to participate in its fundraiser campaign called “Lytton Strong”, with a goal to raise $125,000 towards a new rec centre in Lytton. The fundraiser does not officially kick off until tomorrow, but $50,000 has already been raised.
     The grapes grown as part of their pinot gris label are from a small vineyard in Lytton, which was thankfully not consumed by the fire. The 2021 crop will go towards a special edition wine, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the Lytton Strong fundraiser for a community rec centre.
    Please help restore our community, and get some fantastic wine in the process. Check out fortberens.ca to participate. Come on Canada, please get behind Lytton. We need the help.

Uxbridge Storm Damage

    Mr. Speaker, on May 21, a storm ripped across Ontario and Quebec, which left people in Pickering—Uxbridge without power. We saw trees go down and property be damaged throughout our community.
    During the storm, a tornado touched down in Uxbridge and caused a devastating impact. We saw cars and trucks completely flipped over, several homes and businesses destroyed or damaged, and countless tress ripped out of the ground, which destroyed power lines. The roof of Trinity United Church collapsed, and The Second Wedge Brewing Company, which is a beloved local hub for craft beer, arts, culture and food, and is even the location of our farmers' market, was destroyed.
    Despite the heartbreaking destruction, we saw the community step up in a very big way. I would like to highlight and thank the incredible local first responders, the various crews responsible for cleanup, repairs, and restoring our electricity, and the mayor and council as well as town staff who worked around the clock to assist their neighbours in a time of need. This combined effort of everyone involved is the purest embodiment of the Canadian spirt and the bonds that hold us together.

  (1415)  

Filipino Heritage Month

    Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct pleasure to mark the beginning of Filipino Heritage Month in Canada.
    I am privileged to represent a riding that is blessed with one of the largest communities of Filipino Canadians in the nation. It is full of dynamic, creative and talented people who contribute so much to our society, culture and economy. From the health sector to the business world, from the arts to the professions, the energy and skills of the Filipino community infuse every part of our lives.
    June will be full of memorable events for Filipino Canadians and their families. These include gathering at the Filipino Plaza in Vancouver Kingsway to proudly raise the Philippine flag. We will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Filipino Seniors Club of B.C. We will mark Philippines Independence Day and announce exciting steps toward building a Filipino cultural centre. There will be pageantry, music and pride galore.
    Throughout, all of the kindness, generosity and joy that is so characteristic of the Filipino spirit will shine through and inspire us all.
     Mabuhay Filipino Canadians.

[Translation]

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

    Mr. Speaker, June is ALS Awareness Month, and since today is Lou Gehrig Day, I am calling on each of us to recognize how important it is for Health Canada to speed up its review of an Amylyx treatment for ALS.
    In the member's statement I made last year about this day, I shared my experience as a caregiver for my father, who had this disease for 20 years. I expressed hope that a treatment capable of slowing its progression would be found. We are close.
    I urge Health Canada to work even harder to get this treatment approved quickly. Time is limited.
    To all those with ALS, to their loved ones and to advocacy organizations, I say keep fighting.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are less safe today than they were when the Liberal government took office.
     The Liberals are not trying to keep communities safe, and they are not making an effort to keep dangerous criminals in jail. The Liberals' dangerous Bill C-5 eliminates mandatory jail time for violent crimes like weapons trafficking and possession of a weapon that was illegally obtained.
    The Liberals do not seem to have a clue when it comes to what to do with serious issues like gun violence. The Liberals are telling Canadians that Bill C-5 reverses Conservative policies, but this bill actually repeals laws that were established under previous Liberal governments. The government has in fact kept most Conservative laws on the books.
     The changes to the Criminal Code imposed by Bill C-5 are a radical shift away from long-standing and bipartisan values and will make communities in Canada less safe. Victims, their families and communities are asking the government to abandon Bill C-5.

Portuguese Heritage Month

    Mr. Speaker, Pedro da Silva was the first known Portuguese person to arrive in pre-Confederation Canada in 1673. He was also the first officially commissioned letter carrier. Hundreds of years later, in 1953, a group of Portuguese immigrants arrived on a boat named Saturnia, docking at Pier 21. These new immigrants started the first of many waves of Portuguese to start a new life in Canada.
    Now, almost 70 years later, Portuguese Canadians are 100 million strong, living in communities right across Canada. They are builders, musicians, athletes, business leaders, chefs, teachers and politicians, among so many other professions. Their contributions and stories have enriched Canadian society and have transformed Canada not only into a better country, but also one of the best countries in the world to live in.
    As a member of Parliament of the riding with the largest number of Portuguese Canadians, I am proud to rise in the House today to mark the beginning of Portuguese Heritage Month in Canada. Whether by listening to fado, drinking vinho verde or eating a bifana, I invite all Canadians to join me in celebrating all things Portuguese this month.
    Feliz mês de Portugal. Obrigado, Senor Presidente.

  (1420)  

    Before continuing, while I have your attention, I just want to remind everyone that Standing Order 31 statements are 60 seconds. I know we have let it go a little longer, but now it is getting to the point where it is kind of dragging on. I know they are very important, and I do not want to have to cut anyone off. Practise hard and practise to make it under 60 seconds. This is a request.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, “[g]overnment and its information must be open by default”.
    That was the big promise that the Prime Minister made to Canadians in 2015. Seven years later, that promise has melted away like snow on a sunny day. We have never seen a government as closed off, as opaque or as quick to redact as the one led by this Prime Minister. We recently learned that the government has adopted 72 secret orders in council.
    Why are the Liberals so afraid to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
    Our government has always made it a priority to be open and transparent with all Canadians while also taking care not to compromise national security. That is why, through the Investment Canada Act, we are ensuring that major investments and transactions benefit the Canadian economy, something I think all parliamentarians would agree with. Because of the confidentiality requirements of the act concerning the disclosure of certain information on specific and limited transactions, we will always protect national interests.
    Mr. Speaker, do you want me to list more Liberal secrets?
    There was SNC-Lavalin, the paid vacations, the WE Charity scandal, the Winnipeg lab documents. The Information Commissioner of Canada is receiving more complaints than ever before, and now the Prime Minister and his cabinet are keeping 72 decisions secret.
     “[I]t is time to shine more light on government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve—you.” Those were the Prime Minister's words in 2015.
    When did Canadians stop being his priority?
    Mr. Speaker, I think that all Canadians watching today understand that our government has always been transparent, but as I was explaining to my colleagues on the other side, we also have a responsibility as a government to protect national security. That is why, in certain circumstances, when it is in the national interest, we will continue to be transparent on every level. However, there are certain occasions when we must maintain confidentiality, in the national interest.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, there was another murder this week in Laval, in the middle of a restaurant, right in front of diners. People are afraid. Criminals no longer fear the police, who in turn feel abandoned by the Liberal government.
    Instead of sending a strong message to armed criminal gangs, with Bill C‑5, the Prime Minister announced that they will be able to serve their sentences at home. Even Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1976 understood the need for minimum sentences for armed criminals.
    Why do today's Liberals want to make life easier for criminals?
    Mr. Speaker, we introduced Bill C‑5 precisely to address the overrepresentation of Black and indigenous people in the justice system.
    Minimum sentences and conditional sentences are imposed by judges when public order and public safety are not at risk and incarceration is not the answer.
    We will therefore move forward with public safety reforms to improve our criminal justice system.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Montreal police suspect that organized crime was involved when suspects entered a restaurant in Laval last night and shot a man to death while he was having dinner. Criminals are becoming more brazen, yet the Liberals still want to make sure that repeat offenders of violent crime will not face mandatory jail time with their soft-on-crime Bill C-5.
    Will the Prime Minister abandon this soft-on-crime agenda and abandon Bill C-5?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member full well knows that serious offences will always be punished with serious sentences. The kinds of crimes that he is referring to will never be the subject of a minimum mandatory penalty, because they are serious in terms of their context.
    Minimum mandatory penalties in the provisions that we are addressing, as well as conditional sentence orders, are only to be used by judges when there is no danger to public security.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are urgently calling for help with rising gun crime rates, but the Liberals' Bill C-5, to be perfectly clear, will put repeat offenders of violent gun crimes back into Canadian communities.
    In light of out-of-control gun violence, will the Liberals abandon their soft-on-crime Bill C-5?
    Mr. Speaker, we are taking action to keep communities safe. We are increasing penalties for those who break the law. We are strengthening protections to prevent gender-based violence. We are fighting gun crime. We are freezing the market for handguns.
    This is about the survivors and about all Canadian communities. They are too often touched by gun violence. Canadians told us they want to see more action more quickly and we are following through on our commitment to do more.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers democratically directed their elected representatives in the National Assembly of Quebec to protect state secularism. The National Assembly did just that by passing Bill 21. That is how democracy works.
    Any federal Liberals who want to do politics in the National Assembly need only quit their job and run in the Quebec election on October 3.
    That is not what they chose to do, though. They chose to run for a seat in another Parliament and to govern Canada. Why not focus on that instead of trying to subvert Quebec's democracy?
    Mr. Speaker, I, too, am a Quebecker, and I am among those who have doubts about Bill 21. We stand with Quebeckers who are angry and disappointed that a young teacher can no longer exercise her profession because of how she chooses to observe her religion.
    Our government is deeply committed to defending the rights and freedoms protected by the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights and freedoms, and that includes freedom of religion and the right to equality.
    Mr. Speaker, he should run in Quebec. I am sure Dominique Anglade would take him.
    He and a handful of his colleagues are trying to overturn the democratic choice of the majority of Quebeckers. Ottawa is telling Quebeckers that they do not have the right to protect state secularism. Ottawa is saying no to Bill 21. Ottawa refuses to transfer immigration powers. Ottawa is going to say no to Bill 96.
    If the federal government keeps saying “no”, will that not help convince Quebeckers to say “yes”?
    Mr. Speaker, for once the Bloc Québécois is saying why they are really here. They are in Ottawa only to prepare for sovereignty. That is what they have always said. It is their entire raison d'être, while everyone else is here to try to advance society, Quebec and Canada together.
    There is something sad about putting immigration at the heart of the debate, because immigration is about men, women and children coming here for a better life. The Bloc members want to play partisan politics with this, which is sad.

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, half the people who use food banks and half the people who are homeless in Canada are persons with disabilities.
    A year ago, the Liberals introduced a bill on benefits, but did nothing with it. They had a year to hold consultations and today they are introducing the exact same bogus bill. Worse yet, the minister says that it will take another three years before people receive anything.
    Why do the Liberals always pretend to be concerned about persons with disabilities? Why not bring in these benefits immediately?

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Canada disability benefit has the potential to lift hundreds of thousands of working-age Canadians with disabilities out of poverty. Since we committed to creating this benefit, we have worked non-stop with the disability community and with the provinces and territories. We are a lot closer now than where we were to getting this done.
    We need to be absolutely sure that provinces and territories do not claw back existing benefits. We need to be sure that the needs and desires of the disability community are reflected in this benefit. That is why we are working with all of these partners to make sure people are better off.
    Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians with disabilities are living in poverty. The government did not prioritize them after its unnecessary election, and now we have lost a year. This morning, the minister said it could take up to three years before the first person receives the Canada disability benefit. The Liberals started promising this support in 2015. With these timelines, the Liberals will take 10 years to get people the support they need.
    Why did the government turn its back on Canadians living with disabilities by wasting a year?
    Mr. Speaker, the Canada disability benefit is about lifting people out of poverty. It is about addressing the financial insecurity faced by far too many working-aged Canadians with disabilities in our country. I was so excited weeks ago when we passed a unanimous consent motion in the House and all parties agreed this should be a priority. If we want to make this happen quickly, let us do that again and get this done.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, while the Liberals claim to care about the safety of Canadians, the fact is that since the government was elected, gun crimes have gone up steadily every year. They talk a big game, but the fact is that they have ignored gun safety and put politics first at every opportunity. Now they want to allow violent offenders to avoid jail and serve their sentences in their communities with their victims.
    Why is the government so committed to putting criminals ahead of victims?
    Mr. Speaker, we have introduced Bill C-5 to attack the systemic overrepresentation of Black and indigenous people in our criminal justice system. It would attack mandatory minimum penalties and allow conditional sentence orders where public safety is not in danger and where incarceration is not best for the community, the victim or the perpetrator.
    With respect to violent crime, we have increased penalties with respect to gun trafficking and guns. As has been pointed out, we have also introduced bold legislation capping handguns in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, Conservative MPs would welcome an honest discussion about how gun crime has gone up every year since the government was elected. The fact is that its legislation, Bill C-5, would eliminate mandatory jail time for violent gun crime and allow criminals to serve their sentences in the comfort of their own homes, something their victims can no longer do.
    Why is the government so committed to putting criminals ahead of victims?
    Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. Let us have an honest discussion.
    Serious offences will always have serious consequences in our system. The kinds of penalties we would be attacking by eliminating certain mandatory minimum penalties and allowing conditional sentence orders are precisely the kinds of sentences where a person, the community and victims are not served and where the problem is something else, like a health problem or a problematic addiction, for example.
    We are moving ahead with these reforms to address the systemic overrepresentation of Black and indigenous people in the system to make the system more just.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadian research shows that when the extreme intoxication defence is available, it is successful in 30% of cases. Some 71% of these cases involved male violence against women. Yesterday we heard from the Minister of Justice that this defence would only be used in a small minority of cases, but I want to remind the minister that even one is too many.
    The lack of an immediate response from the government is dangerous. When will the Liberal government take the direction of the Supreme Court and close this loophole?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said to the hon. member, and to reassure Canadians first and foremost, this defence is in fact available in only a very small fraction of cases. Nevertheless, we are looking at the Supreme Court decision. We understand the seriousness of the situation, and I can ensure all parliamentarians in the House, and indeed all Canadians, that we are looking at ways to address the situation.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister likes to make fine speeches about the safety of Canadians, but he clearly has a rather lax attitude about it.
    For example, as a result of the changes he made to the parole board, a violent criminal was released, which led to the murder of Marylène Levesque.
    Federal inmates now have access to syringes, and drug trafficking in penitentiaries is on the rise. Bill C‑5 will allow dangerous criminals to serve their sentence at home instead of in a penitentiary. The Prime Minister rolled out the red carpet to criminals.
    What has he done lately for victims?
    Mr. Speaker, our hearts go out to the victims, and we are working on improving the justice system to help victims and Canadian society.
    With Bill C-5, we are tackling the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and Blacks in the system, in cases where it does not put public safety at risk. Conditional sentences and the elimination of certain minimum sentences will help us to attack the real problems by helping victims and society.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, since the government wants to tackle real problems, let us talk about illegal arms trafficking, which is a scourge in Canada. Instead of attacking the source of the problem, the Prime Minister is attacking law-abiding citizens.
    Police forces have repeatedly said that the guilty parties are street gangs and organized crime, which operate in different parts of Canada and use transit points such as the Akwesasne Reserve. It is no secret that this spot on the Canada-U.S. border is the busiest in Canada.
    Why has the Prime Minister not yet met with the chief of the Akwesasne reserve to discuss the problem of illegal firearms on our streets and work with him to find solutions?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that the chief from Akwesasne actually appeared at the public safety committee and was able to present their concerns about the border.
    Last year, CBSA seized a record number of illegal firearms. We realize we have to do more, which is why we invested over $350 million in law enforcement to stop the flow of illegal gun trafficking. What did the Conservatives do? They opposed these investments.
    When it comes to protecting our borders from illegal gun trafficking, the Conservatives are all talk and no action.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' soft stance on crime only helps criminals. They are too tolerant of lawbreakers.
    The poor victims in all of this are our children, who are not even protected. This government has no regard for law-abiding Canadians and their safety. A responsible government would make Canadians safer.
    Why does this government put criminals ahead of victims?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we do have a plan when it comes to public safety. I am always curious why the Conservatives say they are the party that supports victims, unless those victims are the victims of gun crimes and then they are demonized and the Conservatives support the gun lobby in attacking them. We put in place stronger background checks. The Conservatives opposed them. We invested over $350 million in law enforcement to prosecute gangs and stop trafficking at the border. The Conservatives opposed it.
    When it comes to keeping Canadians safe and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, the Conservatives have no plan, and we do.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, former Italian prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato, who spent his life going after the Mafia, said last week that Canada is a paradise for the mafia.
    When an Italian prosecutor says that Canada is extremely attractive to the Mafia because it offers the best opportunities to get rich, it is time to do something. Canada is a paradise for all organized crime groups, which is why we need an organized crime registry to identify these groups and make it easier for police to do their job.
    This morning I introduced Bill C‑279 to create such a registry. Does the government plan to support this bill?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are working closely with the Quebec government to reduce gun violence. The Minister of Public Safety recently attended a forum in Montreal. We have directed $40 million under our guns and gangs funds to the Legault government. We are finalizing a transfer under our building safer communities fund to prevent gun crimes specifically for Quebec, and the minister continues to engage directly with his counterparts in Quebec.

  (1440)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are doing such a good job that last night in Laval, a close associate of the Mafia was shot in the middle of a restaurant in front of children. Bill C‑21 is clearly not curbing conflict between crime groups.
    Organized crime is behind the wave of shootings in Montreal. These groups are importing illegal weapons and using them freely on our streets. The government needs to open its eyes and help police stop this scourge.
    Do the government members understand how important and urgent it is to create an organized crime registry?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we do take the issue of gun safety very seriously. That is why we introduced a bill this week that is going to bring in the strongest measures that we have seen in a generation, including a freeze on handguns, the number one gun that is used in crime. We are taking the issue seriously. We are working with stakeholders across the country, including the police, to make sure that we keep Canadians safe.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately that is nonsense.
    What we are proposing is nothing new. It is the same principle as the list of terrorist entities. Right now, being a member of a recognized terrorist entity is illegal and an arrestable offence.
    We must remember that just last year the government added 13 groups to that list, including the notorious Proud Boys. That is a good thing, but why is the government softer on outlaw bikers, the mafia and street gangs?
    If the minister believes that having a list of entities helps fight terrorism, does he not think it would be equally useful in fighting organized crime?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to thank the hon. member for his passion on this issue and his advocacy on the issue. It is important. That is why we have brought forward legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals. We also put in place background checks when we introduced Bill C-71. We are investing in law enforcement to prosecute gangs and stop trafficking at the border.
    When it comes to the issue of gun violence, this government is taking action, and I am proud to stand on the record that we have.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, when urban millennials read the Youthful Cities index, it is clear the Minister of Housing has failed. The average young person's budget takes a $750-a-month hit just for living in a city. A new, shiny savings account for a home will not help these millennials, as inflation outpaces their wages. There are no savings to be had. The only thing this minister has delivered to them in seven years is a doubling of housing prices.
    Does the minister comprehend that all of his empty talk on housing affordability has made a whole generation of Canadian millennials cynical about politics and about the current government?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of hot air to cover 10 years of inaction on housing. We are the government that brought back national leadership on housing. We are investing more than ever before to help Canadians access their dream of home ownership. Every time in this House when we have brought measures to help Canadians access—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am going to have to ask the minister just to pause for a moment. I understand the minister is rather far from the Speaker's chair, so I want to make sure that I can hear everything and I want everyone else to hear the answer.
    The minister can start right from the top.
    Mr. Speaker, the reason they cannot handle my answer is that I am exposing their bankrupt policies and their fake rhetoric in this House. For 10 years, they had a chance to invest in affordable housing and provide national leadership on an important issue for Canadians. What did they do? They downloaded housing to provinces and municipalities. One would think that they would learn from their time in opposition. Even today, the members of their caucus always talk about how we should withdraw from our affordable housing investments. Shame on them.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1445)  

    Order. I just want to remind the hon. members that if they are going to heckle and the person next to them has a question, or an answer for that matter, it is not good to shout because they are within reach of the microphone. That is just a little pointer for members.
    The hon. member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, in Fort Nelson, B.C., the rising cost of gas and tax increases are having a huge impact on small businesses already struggling to survive. Dave Milner and Bev Vandersteen of the Fort Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce warned that if urgent action is not taken by the Prime Minister, more businesses will fail, leaving people unemployed and families in crisis. According to RBC, there is not a single city in Canada that is affordable for young people. These businesses, the people who run them and young Canadians are the backbone of our communities. Why does the government continue to punish them?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that small businesses are the backbone of all of our communities across Canada. It is why, throughout the pandemic, we were there for them, supporting them every single step of the way. I am so pleased that we continue to work with small businesses, and I would encourage us all to work together to support our businesses and the wonderful workers they employ, so that they can get on the economic road to recovery, because they very much are a part of our economic future.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the fuel crisis, the tone-deaf response from the government is that it has Canadians’ backs. It cites the carbon tax rebate and, of course, the misinformation on cutting taxes for the middle class. My constituents are struggling. They are fearful. They are angry. The challenge is paying for fuel at the expense of feeding and clothing their kids.
    The government should start listening to Canadians. Instead of blaming external factors, the government has the power to do the right thing. Will it immediately cut the crippling carbon and excise taxes on gasoline?
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to kids and families, our government has been there every step of the way. In 2015, we introduced the Canada child benefit, lifting 300,000 Canadians families out of poverty. In fact, in the member's riding of Brantford—Brant, families that have children in child care will soon be receiving a 25% reduction in fees, and by the end of this year, that fee will be reduced by 50%. That might be up to $400 or $500 a month in people's pockets. That is real money helping Canadian families, helping Canadian kids, meet the high cost of living.

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, workers and communities across Canada are deeply concerned about the government's hands-off approach to rail safety. At the transport committee, we heard witness after witness call for government action to keep workers safe. Among the committee's recommendations is ensuring that private rail police are not the ones to investigate workplace incidents.
    Will the minister please tell us why, in 2022, multi-billion-dollar rail corporations are still allowed to investigate themselves when workers are killed on the job?
    Mr. Speaker, rail safety is a priority for our government. We have been working closely with stakeholders and rail companies to ensure that we have the highest standard of safety in Canada. We have implemented programs to support communities so they can enhance safety at crossings. We are following up on recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board.
    We will stop at nothing to ensure that we have the highest safety in Canada.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, people in Alberta are devastated by the toxic drug crisis. A record number of Albertans lost their lives to the poisoned drug supply last year. We are in the same situation as B.C. This is a national public health crisis and the federal government has an obligation to protect lives. Yesterday, the Liberals had an opportunity to follow the evidence-based advice of their own experts. Instead, they voted with the Conservatives and let Canadians die.
    Why does the government think that the lives of people in British Columbia are more important than those of Albertans?

  (1450)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the French interpretation was not available.
    The member did not hear the question.

[English]

    It is working now.
    I will ask the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona to repeat her question, please.
    Mr. Speaker, people in Alberta are devastated by the toxic drug crisis. A record number of Albertans lost their lives to the poisoned drug supply last year. Our situation is the same as in B.C. This is a national public health crisis and the federal government has an obligation to act. Yesterday, the Liberals voted with the Conservatives, against the advice of their own experts, to let Canadians die.
    I would like to know why the lives of Albertans are not seen to be as important as those in B.C.
    Mr. Speaker, our government is totally committed to ending the overdose crisis nationally. Bill C-216 would have immediately decriminalized possession of illegal drugs without addressing the complex issues of implementation.
    Our government is moving forward on decriminalization through a responsible framework and in partnership with a jurisdiction that has a comprehensive plan that includes health and social supports, public engagement, law enforcement training, oversight and evaluation. Successful implementation of the exemption in B.C. will inform the approach of other jurisdictions, as well as a future national approach.

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, we know that working-age persons with disabilities in Canada are twice as likely to live in poverty as those without disabilities. This is unacceptable. That is why this government is taking historic measures to build a disability inclusive Canada.
    This morning, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion tabled legislation for the Canada disability benefit. Can the minister please share with us how this will help lift Canadians with disabilities out of poverty?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Newmarket—Aurora for his tireless work and advocacy for persons with disabilities.
    On this sixth annual National AccessAbility Week, I was proud to reintroduce legislation for the Canada disability benefit, an income supplement for working-age persons with disabilities. The CDB has the potential to significantly reduce poverty, to improve financial security and to help hundreds of thousands of people.
    This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to correct the long-standing social and economic exclusion that has hurt far too many Canadians.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure I have this right. First, the Liberals impose a tariff on fertilizer that only punishes Canadian farmers. Second, they ignore any plea for an exemption on the fertilizer purchased before March 2. Third, they are offering no compensation, meaning that higher taxes and input costs are crushing Canadian farm families.
    How many other G7 countries are enforcing a fertilizer tariff and putting their farmers at a competitive disadvantage?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives keep proposing policies that they have not really fully thought through. Rising gas prices are a global phenomenon, as we all know, due in part to the war that Putin started in Ukraine. If we implement a tax holiday, as the Conservatives have been proposing for a number of weeks now, energy companies could actually pocket—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am sorry, but I have to interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary.
    I am having a hard time hearing her answer and I am sure the hon. member for Foothills wants to hear her answer as well. I am going to ask everyone to calm down and take a deep breath. The chatter is starting to build again.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary, from the top, please.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, it seems that my answer is garnering a lot of interest on the other side of the House. The gist of my response is that the Conservatives have been proposing a number of economic measures that they have not thought through, whether they are with respect to the gas tax or fertilizer. What they are proposing is simply a tax holiday, which in no way guarantees that the consumer or our farmers will benefit at the end of the day.
    Mr. Speaker, please allow me to actually answer the question for the parliamentary secretary. The answer is zero.
    Canada is the only country punishing its farmers with a tariff on fertilizer. Our G7 allies are doing everything they possibly can to ensure that their farmers can increase their yields in a time of global food insecurity. Here, the Liberals are beating our farmers down with increased taxes, red tape and, without any consultation with stakeholders, a mandate to reduce fertilizer use by 30%.
    Knowing this, is the fertilizer tariff just another way for the Liberals to impose their activist agenda and force our farmers to use less fertilizer?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, our goal is to reduce emissions caused by fertilizers. This is not the same as using less fertilizer.
    We fully understand that fertilizers are important for our agricultural producers and for our food security.
    We are working closely with the industry, with Fertilizer Canada and with many sectors that support us, that want to do more and that appreciate our subsidies, including those for clean technologies and best practices.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government is doing nothing for food security. Day after day, the Liberals claim that Saskatchewan farm families are actually making money from their carbon tax. That is hogwash. In fact, a producer told me his rebates would not even cover two weeks' worth of fuel since the Liberals last unfair carbon tax increase. My friend's cost to run his equipment is now $90,000 a week.
    As other G7 countries around the world provide tax relief, and with the world's third-largest producer of wheat in a war zone right now, what is the government doing to not punish our farmers and allow them to produce the food the world needs?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I assure my colleagues that we are here to support our farmers and increase production.
    At the moment, there is an illegal war happening in Ukraine. We know that Ukraine is a major producer. Canadian farmers want to do more. Our government is there to support them in various ways.
    We had an historic budget for agriculture last year. This shows that we are there for the agricultural sector and we are supporting them in various ways.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, no farms, no food. Fertilizer prices are up 50% this year, plus 20% more since the Liberals put the tariff on. That is a 70% increase since last year. They say not to bite the hand that feeds us, but the Liberal government has bitten the hand right off. Its poor decisions are pricing farmers out of business.
    Without farmers, Canadians do not have food. Without farmers, where will our food come from?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, our government has provided unprecedented support to agricultural producers. A total of $4 billion—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Is everyone ready to continue?
    The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
    Mr. Speaker, I repeat, our government has done more than any other to help our agricultural producers. We invested $4 billion to support them last year. That is unprecedented.
    Recently, $1.5 billion was invested in all our agri-environmental initiatives. I can assure the House that our agricultural producers know they are part of the solution in the fight against climate change because they are the first to feel the impact.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government literally just stole $342 million from Quebec. It promised to give Quebec leftover money from the public transit infrastructure fund and the clean water and wastewater fund. It is right there in black and white in the Canada-Quebec infrastructure agreement the feds signed in 2018.
    On Monday, however, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities plainly stated he has no intention of honouring the agreement.
    Will he backtrack immediately and announce his intention to give Quebec the $342 million he owes us?

  (1500)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, our government and our minister are committed to getting funds out for transit and infrastructure right across this country, including in Quebec. However, the minister has been clear that Quebec needs to put forward the project, which we can then support.
    We are committed to our agreements and ensuring that Quebec has the amounts that have been promised, but they need to step up and identify those projects. We will ensure that transit and infrastructure continue to be built right across this country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, an agreement is something to be honoured. Not only is Ottawa taking away $342 million from Quebec, but it is threatening to take away another $4 billion by unilaterally changing the deadline for infrastructure projects.
    The signed agreement gave Quebec until 2025 to submit projects. Ottawa is shortening that to 2023. This means that if Quebec does not submit all of its projects in the next 10 months, when it should have three years to do so, Ottawa could deprive us of $4 billion. This shows a total lack of respect for Quebeckers. It is our money.
    Will the government keep its promises and give this money to Quebec?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we have not cut a single cent for transit or infrastructure in Quebec. These projects need to be identified. The Quebec government should tell us what its priorities are. Then we will happily move forward on these agreements.
    This is about Canadian taxpayers' investments in transit and infrastructure right across this country. We want to ensure that those projects are identified and this money can roll out across Quebec to ensure that it has the transit and infrastructure it needs.

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, we have seen democratic decline in Canada under the Liberals, and this is no more true than with the Winnipeg lab documents. NDP members have completely betrayed themselves and the promises they made in the last election. It turns out that this coalition is serving up the worst of both parties: The Liberals are adopting NDP economics and the NDP is adopting the Liberals' culture of secrecy.
    Why is the NDP-Liberal government blocking Parliament’s access to these documents?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a different definition of “blocking”. The truth is that the opposition Conservatives asked to look at these documents and were given the opportunity at NSICOP, but they did not want to take the opportunity, which is fine. We provided another mechanism that was based on the same mechanism they used for Afghan detainees. It was a system Mr. Harper and many of those in his caucus then, who are here today, thought was a good system. We agreed; we offered it.
    I would ask the member opposite why he is refusing to look at these documents. It is a very bizarre thing to stand up and demand to look at something we are trying to show him.
    Mr. Speaker, it is not just these documents. That is just one of many actions being taken by the NDP-Liberal coalition government.
    Let me give other examples. Ministers can now end democratic debate without notice, just at will. In addition to that, of course, documents are being refused to be granted with regard to the study of the Emergencies Act. In addition to that, the members opposite are now moving Bill C-11, which would shut down our ability to use the Internet with freedom. It would control what we can see, what we can hear and what we can post online.
    Why is the government so determined to kill democracy?
    Mr. Speaker, I was in the opposition when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. I recall an over 200-page handbook on how to frustrate committees, shut down the House and obstruct process. I find it—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am sure everybody wants to hear the answer to that question.
    I will ask the hon. government House to start from the top, please.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the question of these documents. Again, not only can they see the documents, but we said that if they want to challenge the redactions, they can do so to an independent panel of jurists, who will make a decision on what can be made public. Yes, they can look at them. Yes, they can challenge the redactions if they want them to be public. Excuse me for being confused as to why they are getting upset when I am saying yes, they can.
    Come and look at the documents; they are available. There is a process they can participate in. Other parliamentarians are participating in it. I think they are confusing themselves with the previous government.

Government Policies

    Mr. Speaker, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm is the global authority on evaluating the performance of democracies. It provides objective analysis on the health of democracies. In the key category of checks on government, Canada’s score has dropped precipitously since 2015. We are now lower than the United States and every single country in western Europe. Weakening checks on government power is weakening Canadian democracy, and international experts are noticing.
    When will the government face up to the problem it is causing and commit to reversing democratic decline in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about some of the things we do not do. What we do not do is use parliamentary secretaries in committee to control committees and not allow members to ask questions. That is what the members on the opposite side did. They frustrated committees and used parliamentary secretaries to shut down debate and not allow democratic processes to work. It was command and control all the time, 24-7.
    Instead, what we have said, and again this line of questioning confuses me, is that if they want to look at documents, we have offered not only one but two separate processes. They have an opportunity to challenge redactions to make them public.
    They do not get to decide what goes public. We do not get to decide what goes public. National security needs to be independently protected.

[Translation]

Aerospace Industry

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's aerospace industry is a world leader and a major asset to the entire Quebec and Canadian economy. The government continues to support the aerospace industry with concrete action because we know that it is the right thing to do.
    Can the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry provide us with an update on the impact that our support is having on the industry, the supply chain, and, most importantly, the aerospace workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent question and for the hard work that he does every day for the entire region.
    I was pleased for all aerospace workers to announce that our government has awarded an $800 million contract to Bell Textron in Mirabel, Quebec, to extend the life of the Royal Canadian Air Force's fleet of 85 Griffon helicopters until 2030.
    This is great news for Mirabel workers, great news for Quebec, and great news for Canada's aerospace industry as a whole.

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, budget 2022 allocates $25 million to the continued mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app, yet it failed to extend important tourism recovery programs for businesses that still needed the help. The government has been warned that the ArriveCAN app is impacting travel to Canada.
    What is more important to the Liberal-NDP government: funding ArriveCAN, which clogs up our borders and deters visits, or scraping this app to help achieve tourism recovery in Niagara and throughout Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government's focus has been the health and safety of Canadians. The most recent data indicates that the omicron wave has passed its peak, allowing us to move toward a longer-term approach to managing COVID.
    As we have said since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada's border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the affordability crisis increasingly means that there are two kinds of families in Canada: families who own homes and families who never will. Gimmicks such as the first-time homebuyer incentive have failed to improve access to home ownership, while taxes, red tape and ridiculously long development timelines chase private capital out of construction, limit supply and lead to ever-increasing prices.
    When will the minister admit that cheap gimmicks and talking points do not build houses?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. One of the key tools to making sure that there is more supply for Canadians is to actually invest in housing supply. That is exactly what the housing accelerator fund is about. We will invest $4 billion in municipal governments to make sure that we invest in their systems so they can build more supply and they can build more supply faster.
    We also banned foreign ownership of Canadian residential real estate for two years so we can free up more houses for Canadians to purchase. We are also putting together different programs to enable first-time homebuyers to access their dreams of home ownership. That is what federal leadership looks like. It is one thing to talk about doing something. It is another thing to actually get the job done.

Financial Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, last year, Canadian banks made record-breaking profits and paid out massive bonuses to their executives, but they then raised fees for Canadians already struggling to get by. Big banks are now shutting local branches in smaller communities all across the country, including CIBC branches in Pefferlaw and Brechin, the Scotiabank in Cannington, and many others. With these closures, rural residents, especially seniors, are left with no suitable options to do their banking.
    Is this just another example of Liberals leaving rural Canadians behind in small towns?
    Mr. Speaker, here, on this side of the House, we take our responsibility seriously. That is why when we saw that our large banks were making record profits during the pandemic, we decided to propose a tax measure so as to ensure that banks would pay a one-time tax into the Canadian economy so that we can give that money back to Canadians in the form of reduced child care costs, in the form of reduced dental care costs and in the form of one-time payments for vulnerable Canadians. That is what we intend to do.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, I have seen our main street businesses find new ways to stay open and battle throughout the pandemic. Our government has been there for small businesses.
    Can the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario inform the House about what our government is doing for main street businesses across southern Ontario?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kitchener South—Hespeler for her steadfast advocacy for small businesses in her community.
    Our government recognizes the importance of keeping our main streets vibrant and supporting our small businesses. That is why we created the My Main Street program, which is providing over $23 million in support for small businesses and communities across southern Ontario to help our amazing main streets and support our communities. We will continue to make investments that improve the lives of Canadians and help our communities and our economy.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, welcome back.
    Establishing the Ojibway national urban park has been a decade in the making and is the work of Bill C-248. The City of Windsor and Caldwell first nation have written all members of Parliament, urging them to support this specific legislation. During yesterday's debate, all parties made their support known loud and clear, except for the Liberals, who are opposed. It is unbelievable.
    The people of Windsor and Essex County are in favour of this. Indigenous communities are in favour of this. Environmentalists, unions and businesses are all in favour of Bill C-248. Why is the government attempting to create problems on a project that is good for climate change, the economy and tourism? It should unite Parliament, not tear it apart.
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member and all members that our government is committed to conserving and protecting Canada's biodiversity, wildlife and habitat in urban and more rural settings, and that Canada is home to extraordinary wildlife and natural landscapes. We know this is something Canadians care very deeply about. I am very happy to talk more with the hon. member about his particular initiative.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, I met with Afghan refugees who have been stranded in Poland since August of 2021. These people put their trust in Canada to give them a safe haven. Poland has done all it can. These refugees will soon be penniless and homeless. Some analysts suggest that the Afghan refugee program has been de facto shut down and that Canada has abandoned them.
    What does this failure tell the world about Canada's commitment to those who stood shoulder to shoulder with us? Their lives are not those of pawns. Will they be brought to Canada now, or will the minister admit that people were mislead?

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government remains very firm in our commitment to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees. Despite all the challenges, there are now more than 14,500 Afghan refugees who have started their new life here in Canada. We continue to process applications for Afghan refugees day and night. We have mobilized our entire global network to process visas and issue them on an urgent basis. We will not stop until we achieve our goal of resettling at least 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan—
    I am afraid that is all the time we have for questions today.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue on a point of order.

Hockey Canada

     Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
     That the House call Hockey Canada before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to shed light on its involvement in a case of alleged sexual assaults committed in 2018.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I would like something to be clarified by the member from the Bloc Québécois on a question, during question period, with regards to organized crime. The Italian-Canadian community has been a pillar of Canada for over 100 years, and there are individuals, including myself, who would like those comments made by the hon. member to be clarified. If an apology has to be issued, I would wish the member to apologize to the Italian-Canadian community, with June being Italian Heritage Month and today being La Festa della Repubblica.

[Translation]

    Would the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord like to respond to that allegation?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but I did not understand what my colleague said. Why does he want me to apologize?
    Could the hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge repeat his question?

[English]

    Could the member be a little more concise and clarify, please?
    Mr. Speaker, I understand from the hon. member's question that he seeks clarification.
    The hon. member mentioned the word “Mafia” and the words “Italian prosecutor” in the same sentence, linking the two as the Mafia being an Italian organization and organized crime as being only an Italian organization. Italians have suffered from this broad stereotyping for too many years, and I wish for an apology.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand my colleague's objection. I was quoting Italian prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato. I cannot say that this is about a German prosecutor because he is Italian. There is nothing bad in that. This prosecutor fought the Mafia his entire life, and that information can be found on Wikipedia. I do not understand what is so offensive about what I said. I simply reported the facts.
    My wife, who passed away not so long ago, was Italian. I have the utmost respect for the Italian community. I feel at home in Italy and I love the Italian people. I did not mean to insult them. However, I certainly cannot say that Mr. Scarpinato, the prosecutor, is of any nationality other than Italian.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my point of order relates to Standing Order 16 and Standing Order 18, and we will, at some point today, be discussing them. However, it grieved me to see a whole class of kids, probably grades 3 and 4, from Oakville, Ontario, be subjected to the violations of those standing orders in a very raucous, rude, I suppose we would have to say on all sides, heckling and yelling back and forth.
    I ask members to please, now that we are back in person in this place, consider the examples we set for school children who visit this place.

  (1520)  

    I want to thank the hon. member for her intervention. However I will remind hon. members of three things.
    First, I received some concerns yesterday about something that was said, and sometimes it is not intentional, but members should try to think it through, even when heckling or shouting across. Even though we do not want members to heckle, members should try to think through how that will affect someone else's feelings.
    Second, heckling is something we want to keep to a minimum in the chamber. However, although it was a little raucous, it was not so much the heckling as members talking among themselves, which is nice, because they are talking, but if they are talking while somebody else is trying to ask or answer a question, it makes it difficult for everyone else.
    Third, please do not refer to anybody in the gallery. Members are not allowed to do that. It is not allowed in the Standing Orders.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report on COVID‑19 rapid test procurement and distribution.

[English]

Presence in Gallery  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    In light of your statement as you were referencing not referencing people in the gallery, I may have at that moment been waving to my six-year-old in the gallery, so I do apologize for waving to my son Matthew, who has joined us here today.
    I want to remind the hon. members that we cannot do indirectly what we cannot do directly.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point order.
    On my point of order, I do seek clarification. As I understand the rules, it is completely forbidden for a member to say what only the Speaker has the right to say, such as “We recognize in the gallery so-and-so, the premier of such-and-such,” but I want clarification that when I reference the school group, I am not recognizing people in the gallery in any way that violates our rules, as I understand the rules.
    If I am incorrect, I would like to know.
    Once again, we are back to square one, talking about how members cannot do indirectly what they cannot directly, and referencing someone, as far as I can tell, is doing that.
    I do not want to start having an argument here, but I think we will go to the hon. member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, and then if there is still an argument afterward, we will come back.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I just wanted to stand up and say I respect you as the Chair and expect you to maintain the rules of this place and to make rulings when people are out of line.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    I merely want to understand the rules. I have read the rules, I know the rules and I am not challenging your ruling. I am asking for clarity. That is all.
    That is a fair question. I will go back, review them and make sure I come back with an answer for the hon. member.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Public Safety and National Security  

    The House resumed from June 1 the consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:25, pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 31, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

  (1535)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 119)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Allison
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arya
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Bragdon
Brassard
Brière
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carr
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chambers
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Chong
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Ferreri
Fillmore
Findlay
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Fry
Gaheer
Gallant
Garneau
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Hajdu
Hallan
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Jeneroux
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Kelly
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lantsman
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Maloney
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Muys
Naqvi
Nater
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Perkins
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Qualtrough
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schmale
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Sorbara
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
St-Onge
Strahl
Stubbs
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Thompson
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williams
Williamson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 323


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, let me just start by saying, on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal opposition—
    I want everyone to hear the question. Order, order.
    The hon. opposition House leader, please.
    Mr. Speaker, let me again start by saying, on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal opposition and our leader, the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar, just how happy we are to have you back in the seat. We are thankful for the great doctors in northern Ontario for looking after you so well.
    Unfortunately, we did not have a House leaders' meeting on Tuesday, so that brings up the importance of today's Thursday question about the calendar for the next week. I wonder if the hon. government House leader could advise the House and all Canadians what the business of the House will be over the next week.
    Mr. Speaker, let me join my colleague opposite in welcoming you in your return to the role of Speaker. It is wonderful to see you there. I almost cannot see you because of the monument. I guess it is a homage to Fenway Park. It is our own green monster that has been constructed in this chamber. I can kind of see your head over it. It is wonderful to see you back in this place and in such fine form and good health. Welcome back.
    Tomorrow morning, we will begin debate on Bill C-19, the budget legislation, which was reported back to the House from the finance committee yesterday. I want to take the opportunity to thank all members for their hard work on getting it back so quickly. Tomorrow afternoon, we will commence second reading debate of Bill C-21, the firearms legislation. Our priorities for next week will be report stage and third reading of the budget bill, and Bill C-5 regarding mandatory minimum sentences. Finally, I would like to inform the House that Tuesday, June 7 shall be an allotted day.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Standing Orders and Procedure of the House and Its Committees

    That this House take note of the Standing Orders and the procedure of the House and its committees.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 51(1), a motion that this House take note of the Standing Orders and the procedure of the House and its committees is now deemed to have been moved.

[English]

    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, Government Orders will be extended by 11 minutes.
    Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say that when I first came in this morning, this is what I had anticipated talking about. Every election cycle, members are afforded the opportunity to express some of their thoughts on what would make this chamber more functional. Ultimately, from my perspective as a parliamentarian first and foremost, I am very interested in the rules of the chamber and what takes place in our standing committees. Even toward the tail end of the debate we had prior to question period, it was noticed that a couple of members were already starting to talk about standing order changes, and I was quite pleased.
    A couple of the Conservative members talked about unanimous consent motions, and UC motions are a good place for me to start. What we have seen over the years is a growing attitude of acceptance in the sense that we bring something after question period and ask for unanimous consent. It was not that long ago, maybe a week or so, when I was provided a list of UC motion requests. There were five or six or seven UC motions that were going to be proposed. As a parliamentarian, I think it takes away from the process.
    We have to appreciate that a number of members, for example, will have the good fortune of having their names drawn to bring forward resolutions, bills or motions during the hour for Private Members' Business. We will often see heritage day designations or other important issues brought forward by a particular member. In many ways, I think unanimous consent motions can undermine the importance of Private Members' Business. In many cases, UC motions will ultimately be used at the last minute or because something occurred that morning: possibly a member saw something on a news flash that is brought to the chamber, with the thinking that no one could vote against it, and a UC motion is brought forward.
    For many members, it is somewhat of a disadvantage because they are not made aware of the content and no caucus discussions take place. When I have talked to members from different political entities in the chamber, there seems to be a general feeling that we need to change that standing order to better reflect what would be acceptable. I appreciated the statements earlier. The question that I had for members and that we have seen in recent weeks is to give a clear indication, whether that rule ultimately changes or not, to elevate or amplify the important role that speakers have with respect to unanimous consent motions.
    They have the authority to look at what is being proposed. In essence, if there is a feeling that it is not going to happen, that it is a last-minute thing or there have not been any real consultations, they can refer it back to the House indirectly or directly as opposed to entertaining the motion. I really believe it is one of the things that takes away from the individual member. Individual members have a responsibility to have at least a basic understanding of what is being asked of them. How can they have that understanding if it is brought up at the end of question period and they are expected to be quiet on it?
    I say that knowing that many members feel the same way I do on the issue. I see a thumbs-up and I appreciate that. When I think of rule changes and standing orders, I know a number of members who will follow me will share a personal feeling or thought in terms of how a rule could be changed that would be to the betterment of the chamber.

  (1540)  

    I would really encourage members, not as a partisan but as someone who cares about how this chamber functions and how we can improve upon our rules. One of the things, for example, that I have always been an advocate for is the idea of a dual chamber, but my attitudes toward a dual chamber somewhat changed when I heard other members ask if we really wanted to have a second chamber. There is a main chamber and then a secondary chamber. All the good stuff happens in the main chamber and the other stuff happens in the new chamber: the other stuff as opposed to bad stuff.
    The point is that we would have a secondary chamber. Another idea came out of it. The idea was instead of having a dual chamber, why not designate Friday as a debate day? In that, members could take any item that they wanted that was in second reading, whether it was a private member's bill or a government piece of legislation, and notify the Speaker on the Wednesday prior to say they would like to speak to such-and-such a bill. That initiates Friday as being a debate day. There would be no need to have a dual chamber. There is only one chamber.
    We can talk about major changes to rules such as that, or we can talk about what I believe is a fairly straightforward rule change. How many inside this chamber would oppose the House looking at dress codes? I, for one, believe that a member should be able to wear anything he or she wants when making a member's statement, S. O. 31. If I want to come all dressed up in my Winnipeg Jets or my favourite football team uniform, without a jacket and without a tie, and be boastful so I can clip it and post it on Facebook as a big fan of my home team, I want to be able to do that. Some members are able to do that, but males cannot do that. There are some inequities within our dress code. Having it modernized or updated would be good. The real judges are the constituents we represent. I would like to think the prestige of the chamber would dictate that people would dress appropriately. That is one of the rules that is fairly widely accepted.
    Then we might have some Standing Order rules that are pretty much straightforward. Every day I stand and say, “Madam Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand”. If I do not get to reporting my questions in time, because of let us say a concurrence motion or some sort of delay, then a minister will have to stand. What about if it were closer to the top of the Order Paper, like tabling of documents? It is a pretty straightforward request. It does not take anything away from government or opposition. It just allows for something to get done.
    As to the idea of the Prime Minister's question period, I think there is a great deal of merit in it. Whether it is the Prime Minister or a premier, when I was sitting for many years in opposition, it was nice to know that there was a day designated when there was an opportunity we members were afforded. Today, I am in government. Who knows where I will be 10 years from now? I might not even be a parliamentarian.
    There is something to be said about asking a question directly to the premier or directly to the Prime Minister. I make reference to premiers because when I was in the Manitoba Legislature, when we did a major overhaul, we looked at what Ottawa was doing. Ottawa has an important role that goes beyond the rules of this chamber. I know that first-hand: Provinces will look at it. Maybe in a question, I will give a specific example of that. We have an important role, and hopefully we will be able to take advantage of it.

  (1545)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to perhaps suggest this to the member in talking about Private Members' Business. It is unfortunate that some members who have served in this House for perhaps a decade never get an opportunity to table a private member's bill and take it through the entire process. I will bring up the experience of the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, former minister Rona Ambrose, who was able to have her private member's bill passed by this House only at the very end of the last 18 months in her term.
    I wonder if the member will consider this idea. Would he approve of having twice the number of hours devoted to Private Members' Business and of changing Private Members' Business so that it is dealt with in the same manner as Government Orders, which means that a member will make a speech and then have a question-and-comment period every single time?
    It has happened in the past that deputy chairs while they are in the chair confuse what is going on, sometimes because the hours change very quickly. It would be a consistent way of always dealing with it. Right now, Private Members' Business is kind of dealt with as a very long 10-minute S. O. 31.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, I think the member has raised an excellent point. The whole concept of debate on Fridays or of having Friday as a debate day would mean that I could choose any bill, whether government or Private Members' Business, and I could say to the Speaker on the Wednesday, “I would like to talk about private member's bill XYZ.” Then I can stand up in the same process, either with the 10-minute speech or the five-minute question-and-answer period.
    The real issue for me, more than anything else, if I could leave a lasting impression, is that we have gone through this on a number of occasions, yet we have never really seen the rule change. What does it take for us to actually change the rules of the House of Commons?
    I want to keep a very open mind to this. I do not approach it from a government perspective; I want us to treat it from a parliamentarian perspective—
    We have to give opportunities for other questions.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think we have a number of rules to review today. I would like to ask my colleague from Winnipeg North about prorogation, a topic we have often talked about together, and about this amendment that could help prevent this tool from being misused.
    The 2020 prorogation had huge consequences. Some committees, which had been urgently recalled in the middle of a pandemic, were studying reports that ended up being wiped from the agenda when Parliament was prorogued. I experienced this at the Standing Committee on Status of Women. Petitions can also get lost, since the slate is wiped clean.
    Does my colleague think it is important to limit prorogation powers and to prevent governments, in particular minority ones, from abusing this power?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think the most important thing I can see is that, as I indicated before, I am approaching this whole idea of changes to standing rules as a parliamentarian, first and foremost, as someone who has been in opposition for over 20 years and now as a member of the government.
    For me personally, I would like to say that everything is on the table. The idea is that we need to be able to come up with thoughts and ideas that will modernize our rules so that we can actually share them with other jurisdictions. I cannot emphasize how much potential Canada has, not only within our provinces but, I would suggest, around the world in terms of the leadership role that we can play in ensuring a better and healthier democracy. That is why I am committed to doing it, not as a Liberal member of Parliament but as a parliamentarian, first and foremost.
    Madam Speaker, I think it is incredibly important to always have these opportunities to talk about the Standing Orders, because they are the rules on how we guide ourselves in this place and how we are transparent in the process to Canadians.
    In my riding, I have definitely heard from a lot of Canadians who are feeling a lot of cynicism about our democratic process. They see these discussions and they do not feel it is meaningful debate.
    I am just wondering if the member could reflect on something I have reflected on. At the beginning of COVID, of course, we had a basic question period time in which a member had five minutes to have that debate back and forth. I found that under that system, there was actually meaningful discussion between the questioner and the minister. I am wondering if that is something we should explore instead of continuing with of the current process of question period, which is very adversarial.
    Madam Speaker, I think that idea has a great deal of merit. I witnessed it first-hand, as all of us did. It proved to be fairly effective. The key thing there was a quick five-minute question that would entail, let us say, a two-minute answer.
    There are some things that we have to try to overcome, but absolutely, it has merit. The issue for me is, quite simply, how do we make it happen? We can talk about it, but we have to somehow try to make these changes happen.
    Madam Speaker, as part of the debate on the Standing Orders, which takes place once in every Parliament pursuant to Standing Order 51(1), I will today be making a suggestion as to how to address the growing misuse of unanimous consent motions, or, more accurately, the growing number of disingenuous requests to seek the unanimous consent of the House by members who know that no such assent will actually be happening.
    I will give an outline of the problem momentarily, but first I want to state that it is my view that the solution to the problem lies not in changing the Standing Orders but rather in the Speaker taking the initiative to determine more precisely what the will of the House is with regard to any particular request for unanimous consent prior to, rather than after, permitting the member who is requesting the consent to present to the House the content of the motion for which unanimous consent is being sought.
    Let me start with a caveat. The process of seeking and frequently of granting the unanimous consent of all members is an important mechanism that is applied quite literally on a daily basis, and sometimes hourly, in order to bypass the time-consuming formalities of debate and voting on matters when we are all in agreement.
    To select a few examples from a very long list of useful applications, unanimous consent is a useful tool in such things as allowing a member to request a correction to Hansard; allowing the House to see the clock, as we like to say, at a later time than it truly is in order to advance the time at which we can adjourn for the evening; making changes to the membership of the procedure and House affairs committee, for which the consent of the House is required; and concurring in committee reports when these are supported by a broad consensus.
    The seeking and granting of unanimous consent is also beneficial when one member believes there may be universal consent to a substantive or policy-related motion and, before rising in the House, has first sought out behind the scenes the support of the House leaders of the various parties, and only then presents the agreed-to motion in the House. When prior consent has been sought, the reading of the motion in the House is a final step confirming that the motion has the support of every single MP then in attendance, including every independent MP and also any MPs who might on that occasion be choosing to act independently of their own party's House leader.
    Much good can be done via policy-oriented motions that are approved in such a manner. I am, for example, particularly proud of the motion that I proposed, which was, following behind-the-scenes negotiations, adopted by unanimous consent on October 24, 2002. This motion, which called on the prime minister to request the release by China of a dozen Falun Gong practitioners, enabled Jean Chrétien to make this request more effectively than he could have done, and in the end, all of the prisoners were eventually released and came to Canada, where they have been model citizens.
    Now let me turn to the misuse of requests for unanimous consent. Members will frequently rise in this place, particularly in the hour just after question period, when the media are most likely to be present in the gallery, and will request the unanimous consent of the House for motions that have not been consented to in advance by the House leaders of the recognized parties. Sometimes this has happened after a failed attempt to win this support and sometimes it happens when no meaningful attempt at all has been made at consultation, and certainly with too little time for the House leaders to consult with the members of the caucuses on whose behalf they speak.
    Here is how this works. A member will rise and typically, although not universally, give a preamble that without quite passing the point at which the member would be regarded as misleading the House—which is of course a severe offence, with real consequences—gives the false impression that the right kind of consultation has taken place. The preamble typically goes like this: “Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion.”
    Because the Speaker cannot be sure that the member is stretching the truth, the whole House therefore is compelled to listen to the member giving a policy statement at a time when other business was scheduled for discussion. As the text of the motion becomes clear to the whole House, other members will sometimes call out their opposition to the motion, and only at that point is the Speaker empowered to interrupt and silence the MP who moved the motion.
    The various chair occupants are clearly frustrated by this. Here is what the Deputy Speaker said two weeks ago on May 16. As some members called out “no”, the Deputy Speaker rose and said, “I am already hearing some nays”, and there was no consent. Then later the Deputy Speaker added:
    I want to make one comment on this....
    Unanimous consent motions are being abused in the House of Commons. ... I urge each and every member of the House of Commons to use Statements by Members to get their points across rather than using unanimous consent motions as they are being used today.

  (1555)  

    If the Speaker was frustrated on that day, I can only imagine what he must have felt on May 3, when, starting at 3:15 in the afternoon, a series of 11 requests for unanimous consent were presented and rejected by various MPs, which wasted a considerable amount of time. Finally, on that day, the Deputy Speaker rose and expressed his frustration at the fact that prior consent was being implied when none had actually been achieved and encouraged the respective House leaders to discuss the subject at their weekly in camera meeting later that afternoon.
    Based on what we have seen since May 3, it seems safe to assume that the House leaders have not been able to resolve the matter internally, so now let me suggest a solution that could be implemented unilaterally by the Speaker, a solution that would augment the Speaker’s ability to carry out his or her vital role of serving as the most immediate or proximate vehicle by which the House can express its will.
    It would work like this. Number one, a member rises and begins the usual formulaic statement of “Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion.”
    Number two, rather than allowing the member to proceed further, the Speaker would at this point interrupt and say, “Is it the case that the hon. member has gained the consent of the House leaders of all recognized parties to the exact wording that the member is about to propose?”
    Number three, at that point, any member who has actually won this support could truthfully say yes and simply carry on, as at present. However, number four, any member who has not yet won the support of all House leaders would need to say no, at which point the Speaker would state, “In that case, I encourage the member to seek the consent and to return to the House when the support of the House leaders has been achieved.” The Speaker would then simply move on to other business.
    Number five, of course, is that in theory the member could lie and claim the consent of the House leaders had been achieved, but this would be an unambiguous attempt to mislead the House, and the penalties for so doing are so severe and so immediate that no sane member would attempt this tactic. Even an insane member would do it only once.
    Members could also, I suppose, attempt to dodge the Speaker’s question by waffling and not quite saying yes or no, but this too will fail as long as the Speaker stops them sooner or later by stating, “It is not the practice in this House for requests for unanimous consent on substantive motions to proceed unless the mover first clearly states that he or she has received the prior consent of the House leaders of all recognized parties.”
    The key point here is to prevent the member from reading out the substance of the motion unless the member has truthfully stated that the triggering condition has been met.
    Once it is clear that the ability to read out an out-of-order policy statement has been lost, I predict two things will happen. One is that most such attempts will simply stop. The second is that in order to avoid being interrupted by the inevitable question from the Speaker, members who actually do have the required level of support from the House leaders will learn to say something along these lines: “Madam Speaker, I rise to seek the unanimous consent of the House to the following motion, which has been agreed to, in the following words, and in both official languages, by the House leaders of all recognized parties”, or something like that.
    Let me now state an important caveat. For this process to work, and also to not hinder the appropriate use of motions to seek unanimous consent, it would need to remain possible for any member to continue to rise, as at present, to seek the unanimous consent of the House on a purely procedural matter, such as seeing the clock, correcting a factual error in Hansard and so on. Such interventions are easily distinguished from attempts to gain the consent of the House to a policy statement, so there is no need to make any change to how the Speaker responds when a procedural matter is raised by a member. It is also impossible, in practice, to start by pretending to raise a procedural matter and then switch over to a request for unanimous consent on a motion regarding a substantive policy issue without triggering the formula I proposed.
    I look forward to answering questions on this proposal.

  (1600)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to ask our colleague across the way his thoughts on some of the comments that were shared earlier in regard to increasing the amount of debate, whether it be in the way of a dual chamber or of having Fridays as debate days, to ensure more members can share the diversity of the perspectives of their constituents, considering this is the House of Commons. I would love to hear his thoughts on that.
    Madam Speaker, I do think more debate is helpful. The great struggle we have here is between the desire to have fuller debates with more potential for meaningful exchange and the fact that this takes time. We are constantly time-starved here.
    There are a number of different possibilities. I am not sure I want to recommend one or even suggest that only one is the right thing. The issue of a dual chamber, a second debating chamber, as they have in the U.K. and Australia, might make sense if the House thinks so, but let us say we went down that avenue. I would still say that having longer sitting hours is a reasonable thing to consider.
    One thing that the member did not suggest but that I think is reasonable is sitting more weeks a year. We sit 26 weeks a year. There are 52 weeks in a year, which means that there are 26 additional weeks. If we look back at our history, we will see that we regularly sat in the summer, and as recently as the first year of the pandemic, we did so again. It is not the end of the world, especially now that hybrid sittings exist. This is another option that could add something substantial, and it is probably the easiest of the various options to fit into the system we now have.

  (1605)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I really liked my colleague's last point about requests for unanimous consent.
    Would it not be less complicated to simply tell the Chair, “I hope to get unanimous consent for the following motion”, and then proceed with the motion?
    I do not think so, Madam Speaker. The difference between our proposals is that mine would give the Speaker the power to stop the member before they share an opinion and move a motion. If the proposed motion does not have the consent of the House leaders, it will have no chance of being unanimously adopted in the House.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I so enjoy my hon. colleague from Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston. He is a true champion of democracy in this place.
    To look further at this question of unanimous consent motions, which are not just used to waste time in this place, I find they have been constructed carefully by some parties, and then immediately there is a set of emails asking for funds to be donated because these awful people in Parliament refuse to accept this wonderful unanimous consent motion.
    I want to ask the member to consider the role of an MP such as me in a party that is not one of the recognized parties. It is unanimous consent and we have the right to say no. Some parties in this place fail to ask ahead of time, and then I am forced to say that I did not even hear what it was and that I cannot agree to it unless I see it.
    Another unanimous consent situation, which is now regularly denied, is with regard to routine tributes and non-controversial matters. As the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and on behalf of the Green Party, I ask for, and for 11 years got, unanimous consent to speak to things like the death of my friend Alexa McDonough, and then I am denied. I have not been allowed unanimous consent once since the last election to speak in this place on the ritualized, non-controversial issues.
    How would the member propose to handle those?
    Madam Speaker, first of all, I did not know that the hon. member was denied the ability to speak on the passing of Alexa McDonough. That is a real shame, in and of itself. Alexa McDonough was a great Canadian.
    I think the answer to this would be something like this. On the issue of what constitutes a recognized party, the number is settled at 12. I know that my colleague would say it should be set at a different level, and that is a reasonable item to discuss.
    I think the idea of simply trying to deal with things behind the scenes in advance makes sense. Then we do not waste the House's time. We also do not facilitate the production of a motion that is intended to fail, for fundraising purposes. However, I have to tell members that the mysteries of online fundraising and how to resolve the issues involved with that are well beyond my pay grade, rest assured.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, wherever life has led me, there have been times when we have had to get together to discuss approaches, rules, things we wanted to change about the operations of an organization or business. It is healthy to do so. However, there are certain phrases I have heard and had difficulty understanding, with the most frequent being the excuse that “it has always been done this way”.
    If this had been the standard response of human beings over the course of millennia, we would still be living in caves and wearing animal skins, if anything at all. Asking questions about how things are working, looking for potential improvements, suggesting improvements and implementing them are stages in a healthy process. I am therefore pleased that Standing Order 51 lets the House start that process. I used the word “start” quite deliberately. I will come back to that in the third part of my speech.
    During the Bloc Québécois's opposition day on May 10, several members of the House criticized us for using an opposition day to discuss the prayer. Some of them said it was frivolous. However, when a subject provokes heated debate in the House, it signals that this subject is important to the members. How can a subject that is so important to people be considered frivolous? I wonder about that.
    These same individuals suggested that we bring up the matter of the prayer on the day dedicated to discussing Standing Order 51. That is what I am doing. My first suggestion is to amend Standing Orders 30(1) and 30(2) in chapter IV. My suggestion for Standing Order 30(1) is that the Speaker set aside a moment of silence for personal reflection, respecting each member's beliefs, every day at the meeting of the House before any business is entered upon. Since Standing Order 30(2) provides that the business of the House shall commence after the prayer, it would instead say that it shall commence after a moment of reflection.
     This is a minor change. Each member will be able to follow their conscience, beliefs and faith. I am talking about respecting everyone present by not imposing a prayer that may not be consistent with their faith or convictions. It is also a way of demonstrating to the public that, regardless of one's faith and beliefs, the House and its representatives work for everyone, not just those who feel comfortable with a particular religion. As it stands now, the prayer clearly refers to a Christian God and suggests Anglicanism in particular.
    During this moment of reflection, members may speak silently to whichever god or spiritual leader they wish, or to themselves, for that matter. Do the concepts of omnipotence and omniscience shared by many religions not imply that expressions of faith can be heard even if they are not spoken aloud?
    The second item I would like to draw to my colleagues' attention is Standing Order 32(7). This section concerns the tabling of a document outlining the reasons for a prorogation. The problem with this section is that the government has to explain the prorogation after it has been applied, no more than 20 sitting days after the return of the House. In my opinion, that makes no sense and it encourages political abuse. It is political abuse to use prorogation when debates are getting longer and the government is in hot water over certain issues. The government has a responsibility to find common ground with the other parties and reach a consensus that represents the will of all Canadians, not just the ideologies of a single party.
    Has anyone ever calculated the costs associated with prorogation? What is the cost of the bills that die on the Order Paper?
    It is enormous. Taxpayers have to pay for that. Important bills often get delayed year after year, election after election, prorogation after prorogation. If we could avoid the delays caused by prorogation, that would be a big step forward.

  (1610)  

    How many hours did we spend in the House and in committee debating issues like WE Charity and COVID-19 spending? Prorogation killed off all those debates. As a result, despite the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars spent on salaries for MPs, technicians, interpreters, clerks, officials and others, we did not get an answer or any follow‑up on these issues.
    I propose that at least three days, although the exact number of days can be determined later, before the prorogation of the House is announced, a minister of the Crown be required to table a document listing the reasons for the prorogation, explaining those reasons and demonstrating the efforts made by the government to avoid prorogation, and that no more than five hours of debate be allotted for discussing said document.
    My last suggestion is about Standing Order 51 itself. I would like to make this suggestion because, as I said in my introduction, Standing Order 51 gives us an opportunity to come together to reflect and discuss changes and improvements we would like to see to the Standing Orders.
    As it stands, I see a flaw. We spend a whole day or thereabouts discussing something, but we do not really get any feedback on the decisions made by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the suggestions we make. In short, we get excited about the possibility of improving the procedures and making them more efficient. We prepare speeches to express our thoughts so that they are well understood by our colleagues, but there is no feedback on our suggestions.
    This aspect of the process makes no sense. Ask any worker, in any environment, what frustrates them most about their workplace, and they may very well say that it is when they make a suggestion that goes unheeded or when they are turned away without any explanation. They are told no, because that is the way it is, that is the way it has always been done, and that is the way it will stay. It is frustrating.
    That is exactly what is happening in the House with our proposals for Standing Order 51. That is why, in my introduction, I referred to a process being started, but not completed. We start the process without finishing it, without concluding it, without closing the loop. Discussions on the Standing Orders are essential for improving and advancing the practices of the House and its committees, but they are very expensive. If we just add up the annual salaries of the 20 or so members who will be speaking or asking questions, the total comes to over $700,000. That figure does not include the salaries of the clerks and all the staff, such as the interpreters and information technicians, or the pay that members get for any additional responsibilities they may have.
    If we do not get any feedback on our suggestions, how can the costs of this critical debate on the procedures be justified?
    Here is my suggestion. A fourth section should be added as follows: not more than 45 sitting days after the day designated for the House to take note of the Standing Orders and procedure of the House and its committees, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall report to the House the decisions made, including justifications as to the suggestions made by members on said designated day.
    Let us ensure our actions are meaningful, logical and effective. That is why I am proposing this amendment.
    I would like to conclude my speech with this thought. Opposition for opposition's sake is pointless. Parliamentary obstruction is rarely justified. These two practices are costly and a real waste of time, money and talent, the talents and skills of everyone in the House and in committee.
    The opposition's role is not to oppose for the sake of opposing but to make constructive suggestions that ensure tax dollars are used wisely. That is where I am coming from with today's proposals, and I hope that everyone will take them into consideration and that we can all see the results of this consultation.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, the member for Beauport—Limoilou offered lots of suggestions for changes to the Standing Orders that could be codified in the House. I think we should not be too quick to change the rules of the House. It is very difficult to go back to a previous version that may have been better. Sometimes people try to change things without knowing for sure that it will make the work of the House easier.
    I would like to ask my colleague what she thinks of making it so that any change to the Standing Orders must be done by unanimous consent of the members of Parliament, because these are the ground rules that all members and all parties will have to live with.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, members must know that every suggestion we make today will or should be considered by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    I am counting on that committee to make responsible decisions and consider each of these proposals carefully. Unanimous consent at committee would be appropriate, in my humble opinion.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the suggestions being made. Part of my concern is that, and I have sat on PROC before and have gone through this process, at times it can be somewhat discouraging. It tends to always want to go for the low fruit and so forth, yet there seems to be a strong desire from members of all sides of the House to try to see rules actually pass.
     I would like to get the member's thoughts with respect to this. If we were to pass a rule or make major changes to the Standing Orders, would she agree with the principle of a sunset clause, or if they were to take effect after the next election? Does she see any way in which we can ease the minds of members with respect to how we could ultimately implement significant rule changes?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, do we have to wait until the next election or would it be better if these changes happened sooner? If the changes will make the House work better and possibly save money, why not implement them as soon as possible? That is what I think, and there is also a question of efficiency. This will also have an impact on the taxes paid by taxpayers, whom we represent.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to first acknowledge that I agree with the efforts to re-evaluate the morning prayer and instead replace it with a moment of silence. I voted in favour of that motion, and I agree that we need to make that space safe and available for everybody in whatever way they would like to use it.

[Translation]

    I want to ask my colleague this question in French. Emergency and take note debates are important tools. Should there be a permanent mechanism to make it easier for members to request them?
    Madam Speaker, sometimes there are debates that need to be held urgently when we hear in the news or in some other way of a problem that needs to be resolved quickly. Is the procedure too difficult or too long? I think that is an excellent question.
    As I said at the beginning of my remarks, when it is time to change something, the worst thing we can say, even us as parliamentarians, is that it has always worked that way and has worked well. We have to keep questioning our own practices and ways of thinking in order to improve them.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou.
    I would just like to ask her if she is aware of the suggestions made by Hugo Cyr, a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal's department of legal sciences, on the issues of prorogation.
    He made the suggestion, which I support, of holding a mandatory vote in the House of Commons before a Prime Minister requests a prorogation.
    Madam Speaker, I am not aware of that proposal, but I find it very interesting. The Prime Minister and the government represent not just their party, but also all the options that are presented in their ridings and in ours. The proposal is interesting and should be considered.

  (1625)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to start by recognizing what a privilege it is to serve as a member of Parliament in this place. It is an honour I have had since 2015. To the constituents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford who are watching today's debate, I know it can seem a lot like inside baseball. We are talking about the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. It is not always the most riveting of subject material, but I will say to them is that this debate is important because the Standing Orders allow us as their elected representations to do our job effectively.
     I want to approach today's debate from the perspective as a member of the opposition, because I think that for members on this side of the House, the Standing Orders sometimes take on supreme importance, especially in the context of a majority government, as I experienced during my first four years here, but also in the context of a minority Parliament. It is what gives us a structure, some semblance of reliability on what our day would be like and the tools that we could use to try to push different agendas.
    I think many members would agree with me that in this place time is our most valuable currency, and once it is spent, we do not get it back. Essentially, a lot of the House's business is the management of time. There is a constant battle between the government's priorities and what the opposition wants, and sometimes that can lead to some pretty epic clashes. I have been witness to that over the years.
    I can remember my first experience coming into the original House of Commons chamber in Centre Block in December 2015. I had just had my orientation session, and I was walking down the hallway on a lunch break. The security guard saw me wandering around aimlessly. She asked if I wanted to go inside the chamber, and I asked if I could. She said, “Yes, you are a member of Parliament. Just tell me when you are finished, and I will lock the door.”
    My very first experience of not being in the gallery, but actually being in the chamber, in Centre Block, was to have that entire chamber to myself, to just sort of feel the weight of history. One could almost re-enact the famous debates that had happened in that place, the great moments of Canadian democracy.
    Then, of course, I received my gigantic green book, House of Commons Procedure and Practice. A lot of my parliamentary colleagues would acknowledge that I am a little bit of a geek on procedure and practice. I have not had as much time as I would have liked in recent days to devote to that because my critic duties are keeping me quite busy, but I have always been interested in the mechanics of how this place works. I want to take this opportunity to both draw on the experience that I have had over the last six and a half years to maybe suggest ways that the procedure and House affairs committee could maybe take some of the substance of today's debate and make some improvements to how we operate in this place.
    I just want to start off with a nice quote from the great Stanley Knowles, when he gave a speech to the Empire Club in 1957. He said:
     It is the opposition's right to insist at all times on the full protection of the rules of debate. The government is entitled to that same protection, but in addition it has its majority with which to establish its will. The opposition has only the rules for its protection, hence the authorities on parliamentary procedure emphasize the greater importance to the opposition of the only protection it has, the protection of the rules.
    That sets the context of why, from this side of the House, this debate probably takes on a little more importance, especially when we do have those majority governments. Speaking on the time as a currency aspect, we all have great ideas for legislation. The government absolutely does monopolize most of the time with Government Orders, but we have had some tremendously good ideas coming not only from members of the back bench on the government side but also from the opposition side in the form of Private Members' Business.
    It is to our great loss that we do not spend more time discussing Private Members' Business. One thing I think the procedure and House affairs committee should take a look at is trying to carve out more time in a sitting week to debate Private Members' Business so we can get a full spectrum of ideas, get them their airing, and really encourage those ideas to come forward and have that substantive debate.

  (1630)  

    In the 42nd Parliament, I drew position 159, so it took me four years just to get to the first hour of debate. I was substantially more lucky in the 43rd Parliament being in the top 30, and I think in this one I am in position No. 94. It is all luck of the draw, but if we had more time each week, more members would have that opportunity to put forward their ideas.
    I have heard in previous speeches the need for more importance to be attached to PMBs for when they go to the other place, and I know we do not have control over the rules of the Senate, but at the end of the 42nd Parliament we did see a lot of very good private member's bills from the House unnecessarily held up. I think that was shameful to the democratic process.
    I would also like to see giving members of Parliament the opportunity to launch take-note debates based on their petitions. We know that petitioning the Crown is one of the oldest practices in our system of Parliament. In fact, if we go back to the days of the 13th century monarch Edward I, this was a way for the commoners to petition the Crown their grievances, and the substance is still very much the same. We as members have the opportunity to stand in this place, make a short introduction on the nature of the petition and what people are asking for, but it would be great, after we get a government response to that petition, because sometimes they are quite unsatisfactory responses, to have the opportunity to pursue the government's response in a more fulsome way and make sure that we can debate it.
    With question period, I often joke with my constituents that question period is an hour of my life I will never get back each day I am here. It is a fact. The 35 seconds we have to pose a question and the 35 seconds the government has to answer does not lend itself to credible debate in this place. We had a unique time in the early days of the pandemic in 2020 when we had the COVID-19 committee of which all members of the House were members with basically a super committee of the whole, and we set up a system like at committee, where members could have five minutes with a minister of their choice. If our question was not actually answered by the minister, they could not just go back to the same old rote talking points or they would look quite foolish. It actually forced both minister and questioner to have a fulsome debate, to have backup questions and to stick on point.
    I know we might have to figure out how the timing works out in the five minutes, but the rules are in committee of the whole are basically that the minister gets approximately the same amount of time as the questioner used to pose the question. We could adopt the same rules there. I know that question period is when most Canadians tune in, but I always tell my constituents please, please do not judge our work based on that one hour alone. I know the rest of the work that we do is not as interesting, it does not have the same kind of fireworks, but is far more substantive, and there is a real opportunity for reform.
    On the other side, we do have the ability during adjournment proceedings debate to follow up on questions where we felt the answer was not satisfactory, so either we reform question period to give a little more exchange or we give more time to adjournment proceedings so we are not limited to just three per day. I know time is a valuable thing in this place, but we could find opportunities to schedule that.
    I will end on this: We need to have a serious conversation about how we make this place more family friendly. We have found through the pandemic that we can operate in a hybrid fashion. Speaking for myself, I do enjoy being back here in person. I love seeing my colleagues in person, but I also want to recognize that we are trying to encourage more people from different backgrounds to come to elected politics. The way to do that is to make it more family friendly.
    We need to show young women and young men, those with families, those with different life circumstances, that they can come here and serve, whether it is in person or online. That is a healthy thing for our democracy, to try to make sure that we build a legislature that is reflective of what Canadian society looks like.

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, I can understand why we look at question period, but I will just raise a quick point, and that is on the suggestion of five minutes. We would probably get 10 questions versus 40 questions, and the demand for the number of questions is quite high. I think maybe it is the adjournment proceedings that we could possibly further explore, or other ways in which we could do it.
    Interestingly enough, in Manitoba we actually copied the idea of the shorter questions and answers from here in Ottawa, because we had five minutes. I think it was kind of unlimited. We would get a question that would go four or five minutes long and then the answer would be four or five minutes long, and people would say that question period had already come to an end but only a few people had asked questions, so it was that trade-off. I like the adjournment motion.
    I have a question to the member in regard to this. I raised an idea. If the member had a choice and wanted to increase debate, would the member choose, and he can think about it, to go from 8 o'clock in the morning until whatever time, like 8 o'clock in the evening, on a Friday? All I would have to do is notify the Speaker on a Wednesday that I want to speak on private member's bill x or I want to speak on a government bill. As long as it is at second reading or even possibly third reading, then we would have a full day in which we could speak to the bills and the legislation that we want for a full 10-minute speech with five-minute answers.
    I ask, just to get the member's thoughts on that, versus having a dual chamber.
    Madam Speaker, absolutely, I am open to all ideas on this. As we all know, on Fridays we sit from 10 until 2:30. For people like me, their riding is about as far away from Ottawa as we can get, so that is valuable time for me to be able to get back to my riding and spend time with my family and my constituents.
    However, there are Fridays when I am staying here in Ottawa, and if I was able to give a signal to the Chair and other members of this place that I wanted to debate a certain private member's bill, we could find a way to schedule that, and we could probably make up the time past 2:30 to maybe schedule two, three or four private members' bills.
    For any opportunity, I am flexible, just as long as we agree on the premise that more Private Members' Business does need to find time to have debate in this place.
    Madam Speaker, I like the member's idea on adjournment proceedings, but I think it should be moved to earlier in the day. It should actually follow question period and it should be shorter. Perhaps the system could be either a random draw done by the Speaker right away through the clerks, or a first-come, first-served system. Whatever it is, could the member comment on that part?
    It would be like a continuation of question period, perhaps, just in a longer format. That way, members do not have to stay until the very end of the night and parliamentary secretaries would not have to spend the entire day hoping for the member to show up.
    The second part is about making this place a family-friendly environment. I wonder if the member could comment on pairing, because I know everybody seems to sometimes like the voting app, until it does not work in someone's case because he has grown out facial hair and the app does not recognize him, and then he has to call in just to make sure his vote is counted.
    That is more of a problem for the men in this place. There is a specific one I am thinking of who continuously has problems with the voting app because he has let his beard grow out, but we already have a tool that has existed for hundreds of years and that was used extensively during World War II to ensure members would be able to vote. Since 1992, it has been connected to the whips. There is a binder on the desk for the table officers where a member can pair their vote and it is signed off on by the whip.
    Could the member perhaps speak to that use of pairing, instead of continuing with the voting app?
    Madam Speaker, on the first part, I will share a rare moment of sympathy for parliamentary secretaries who have to stay, because we know that, especially at this time of year in June, otherwise known as “silly season”, sometimes the House is sitting until midnight, so parliamentary secretaries have to be there and ready, possibly, to stay until 12:30.
    On his question, I like his ideas about adjournment proceedings. If we could find a way to schedule it after QP, that would be great. We are all here during the middle of the day.
    On the voting question, I am not sure if I am going to land on one side or the other, but as long as we agree to the premise that we are going to try to make this a more family-friendly and inclusive environment, I am open to a more in-depth discussion at the procedure and House affairs committee on what that would look like.
    I think we should approach that debate with an understanding that we need to find a way to get more people to participate, because right now I think they look at what the House of Commons schedule is like, and they just do not see how they could manage that with their family responsibilities. That is something I think we, hopefully, can all agree needs to change in this country.

  (1640)  

    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 Edmonton Strathcona, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, Seniors; the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, Taxation.
    Madam Speaker, given what we have seen today, we may need a new standing order addition to Standing Order 51 to say that a minimum amount of debate is needed so we all have a chance to contribute to a discussion on standing orders when another more important issue intervenes, as some party takes the time of the House on something else. That is a new thought because we really only have this one chance in every parliamentary session to talk about our Standing Orders, and they are so important. I am limited to 10 minutes, but I could easily talk on this matter for some considerably longer time.
    I want to start with some ideas that came to us on the parliamentary Special Committee on Electoral Reform. We had some of the country's best and most thoughtful political scientists speak to us, and I am going to take some presentations that are not on the matter of our voting system, although clearly parliamentary democracy would be improved if we had a more co-operative consensus-based approach, such as occurred in New Zealand when it got rid of first past the post and moved to mixed member proportional. I know from colleagues who are members of Parliament in New Zealand that consensus and co-operation became much more the rule of the day, with much less hyperpartisanship, and Parliament works better.
    I want to point to some recommendations that came from professor Hugo Cyr with the Université du Québec à Montréal and professor emeritus Peter Russell from the University of Toronto. One was from Professor Cyr. It may strike people as an unnecessary change to our standing orders, but it is important. We are a parliamentary democracy in the Westminster tradition, which means we do not elect a prime minister. A lot of people get confused on this point, including some people running to lead another party.
    It is important to think about Professor Cyr's recommendation, which is that after an election, between electing the Speaker and the Speech from the Throne, this Parliament would elect the prime minister, because all of us elected to this place are, in theory, equal. The prime minister is first among equals. It is a foregone conclusion who becomes prime minister once the seat count of the parties is known, but that does not mean it is not worthwhile to educate all of us on this point every now and then by electing a prime minister from among our own number.
    The second point that Professor Cyr made, which is more substantive, is that there should be no prorogation by any prime minister, and the way that Professor Cyr put it was, “To amend the Standing Orders so that asking for Parliament to be prorogued or dissolved would not be possible without first obtaining the approval of the House of Commons. If a prime minister were to do so, that would result automatically in a loss of confidence and the Governor General would not be bound by the prime minister's advice requesting an early dissolution or prorogation without first obtaining the approval of the House of Commons.”
    There was another proposal that I think is very important. This is one of the only parliaments in the world where there is no time limit for when we must convene following an election. Professor Peter Russell suggested, as well as Professor Cyr, that right now, in theory, a prime minister, after an election, could wait a year or two and not convene parliament. There is no rule. Almost every other democracy in the world puts in a time limit, whether it is eight weeks or whatever. That is a change to the Standing Orders that would be welcome.
    There is also a suggestion that is quite significant, and I know that the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona is an advocate for this one as well. It is that we go forward with constructive non-confidence votes. This is described by Professor Russell in his testimony. Some parliaments, such as in Germany, Spain and Sweden, permit only a constructive non-confidence vote. He goes on