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Results: 1 - 15 of 44
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
I will try to be cautious.
You say that all bills go to the secondary debating chamber to be looked at. Is each bill looked at clause by clause in that chamber, and do they go through each line of the bill, or is that another process altogether?
If we have 24 committees' worth of bills going as one committee, that seems impractical.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
How much time would a typical bill spend in the Federation Chamber?
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Dion is now part of the government.
Were the most recent proposals in his bill effective and appropriate?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
One final question before I pass over to Ms. Sahota.
You're suggesting that we reduce second reading debate to a much shorter period of time. If we do that, do you still see a need to have more sitting days? It seems like you're getting it from both ends.
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
The proposed motion would significantly change how the House operates and I think it will certainly have an impact on the rights of MPs. If I may, I will quote from O'Brien and Bosc, which is rather clear. On page 1019, it states:
It is the House, and the House alone, that appoints the members and associate members of its committees, as well as the Members who will represent it on joint committees. The Speaker has ruled that this is a fundamental right of the House. The committees themselves have no powers at all in this regard.
Furthermore, on page 1018, it states: “The Standing Orders specifically exclude a non-member from voting, moving motions or being counted for purposes of a quorum.” In other words, the committee does not have the power to make this type of procedural change by itself. This power belongs to the House and the Speaker.
In my view, that would completely change the legislative procedures in our Parliament. Those changes are too significant to be made in committee. We should deal with this issue in the House. That is partly why we are very much opposed to this motion, Mr. Chair.
View Élaine Michaud Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to echo the comments made by my colleague. Yes, the motion we have before us contains some major changes. This motion deals with the rights of independent MPs. Yet they cannot even sit here to debate the motion with us. This motion has also been introduced in a number of other committees that have no authority at all to make those types of decisions. That is another breach of democracy.
The suggestion has been made that the rights of independent MPs are not trampled. They are allowed to introduce amendments, but they are not allowed to participate in the study at hand and to vote on the amendments they propose.
Finally, our dear government has introduced omnibus bills in the House. Independent MPs have introduced a number of amendments to those bills, which has forced us to sit very late in the House. I understand that it is an inconvenience, but that is how our system works. Independent members of Parliament are not allowed to be active participants in committee studies. Now, they are asked to proceed in a new way, which, honestly, is rather a way to violate their rights and the rights of the opposition. In order for an independent member to introduce amendments, one of the members of the opposition must agree to give them their seat. In addition to limiting the rights granted to independent members through the usual House procedures, we would be restricting the rights of the members of the opposition by partially excluding them from debate in order to avoid any House procedures that the government might find unpleasant.
That is not really the way to go. We think this amendment is completely unacceptable and it shouldn't be discussed in the various committees as is currently the case. Our committee does not have the authority to make decisions that have such an impact on our system. The other committees that have dealt with this issue so far do not have that power either. I do not understand why we are debating this motion today, unless the goal is to further limit the rights of MPs.
I cannot understand how someone can be in favour of this motion. I would have liked to hear more convincing arguments because, so far, I have not heard one good reason to convince me to support a motion like that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View François Pilon Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Since almost everything has been said, I will be rather brief. I would still like to go back to the fact that the Conservatives rejected our amendment. In their view, using the word “only” would deny the rights of parliamentarians. They are now proposing a motion that takes away the rights of independent members of Parliament. In my view, they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
I would also like to quickly respond to the statement that a third opposition party is not allowed to participate. I don't know if that has happened in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but in the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, we invited a third opposition party that wanted to propose amendments. That is democratic.
I think this motion is completely useless.
Thank you.
View Jean Rousseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
It would be nice to know the true intentions behind this, even if it has to do only with the time those people will have when they come to introduce and discuss the amendments. We will be spending a lot of energy on those issues when they should be referred to the House, where this debate should take place.
I personally love sitting until the wee hours of the morning. This room is filled with great energy. It is also unbelievable to see the synergy and friendships that develop sometimes despite the heated debates.
In addition to all that—and this is what I am trying to get at—they are asking that the document be submitted in both official languages when that is a challenge for us here. We were often not able to have access to documents because they were not available in both official languages. Yet those people will have to introduce amendments in both official languages. That is a lot of work for independent members. In addition, it is a loophole. They will be able to hold up the work of a number of committees by introducing all sorts of amendments. They will be left on the agenda and, after a while, someone will ask to go in camera. At the end of the day, we will be spinning our wheels once again.
Debating bills in this way is not democratic, especially when we are constantly dealing with omnibus bills and secrecy. We have no way of debating those issues properly for Canadians across the country to see. That is not how we are supposed to represent the people. We were elected by the people in our ridings to get the job done in the House of Commons. Our leader and our team have appointed us to sit on committees because they trusted us and believed we were capable of addressing the concerns of all our colleagues, even independent members of Parliament sometimes, so that we could talk about our concerns with respect to bills.
Once again, the government is trying to hide things from us, and this way of doing things is undemocratic. It is insulting to see that democracy is once again being thwarted by the Conservatives.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
View Élaine Michaud Profile
NDP (QC)
Could I have some clarifications?
I would need to understand a bit more something about the Standing Orders, because I don't understand exactly how this motion can actually be in order in this committee.
I will once again read the quote from O'Brien and Bosc that my colleague read. On page 1018, it says: “The Standing Orders specifically exclude a non-member from voting, moving motions or being counted for purposes of a quorum.” My understanding is that it is up to the House of Commons and the Speaker to amend the Standing Orders. It is not our committee's responsibility. I don't see how our committee could pass a motion that violates the already established Standing Orders. Could someone tell me?
I really don't understand how this is in order if you read the Standing Orders right now. I would need clarification on that before we vote, because if you read the Standing Orders correctly, I don't think we should be voting on this.
View Élaine Michaud Profile
NDP (QC)
On that same point, before we decide to vote on this motion, could we have a clarification from the chair before we put this to a vote? I'm not comfortable voting if you yourself admit that you're not sure if it's in order or not. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable voting on it.
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In fact, I would like to echo the comments made by a number of colleagues in the debate on this issue. My colleague Ms. Michaud has raised a major point. I agree with her. I am also more or less comfortable with the idea of voting on a motion that should not perhaps be voted on in our committee.
My colleague's question is very relevant. The quote from O'Brien and Bosc's reference work on procedure is very relevant in this case. I don't think it is necessary to rely on what the other committees did or didn't do, decided or didn't decide. Every committee is master of its own decisions. For some motions, I think it is very important to give full consideration to the laws that govern our parliamentary system and to rely on them. That is the duty of parliamentarians.
I would also like to echo the remarks made by my colleague Mr. Norlock, who is on the government side. We had a number of good discussions and heard from various witnesses in this committee. The clash of ideas is extremely interesting. I think it is important to go back to what my colleague said about partisanship. This is the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. So it is perfectly normal for parties like ours with differences of opinion to hold discussions and not always agree. In our election platforms based on which Canadian voters elected us, we must not lose sight of why we were elected.
I would not call it partisanship. This has to do with doing a good job representing our communities and our values. In this committee, we have always done so with great respect. Since my colleague has sat with us on this committee since the first session of the 41st Parliament, he knows we have a very interesting clash of ideas and it is normal for us to disagree on some issues. This is a democracy and we are here to express our views. We do so with respect and we sort of set our partisanship aside in our debates. We defend our viewpoints while respecting each other's. That is what I really like about this committee.
I just wanted to reiterate the point raised by my colleague Ms. Michaud. I would like us to look at the rules on that. Once this point is clarified, we will be happy to vote on the motion.
I appreciate all the comments on this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Élaine Michaud Profile
NDP (QC)
I am looking for the same clarifications as Mr. Easter. For the time being, we cannot have an answer on the real impact of this motion, including the time allocated to independent members of Parliament for debating a motion.
Given the non-answer from government officials, am I to understand that it would be up to the members of this committee to decide together on the time to be allocated to independent MPs? Are we going to vote on that the way we voted on the routine motions passed today? Will that be done in the same way? It is also possible that the time allocated to those members has already been determined and we will not have all the information we need to cast an informed vote.
Thank you.
View Élaine Michaud Profile
NDP (QC)
It is not a comment, but a question and I would like an answer from the government through you, Mr. Chair.
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
(QC)
Thank you very much.
I would like to add to the comments of my colleague, Ms. May. In fact, this motion deprives us of a fundamental right, the right to submit amendments to the House of Commons. We understand the decision of the Speaker of the House to ask the committees to find a way so that we can play our role there. However, we think the wording of the motion prevents us from attaining the objectives the Speaker had in mind when he made his decision.
Like Ms. May, I do not think it is urgent that we pass this motion today; rather, it would be more appropriate for the committee to consider it in an organized way. What I mean by that is that we should introduce a process to conduct a study on the rights of independent members of Parliament and on the role we must give members of non-recognized parties; in other words, parties that do not meet the criteria, for example, having at least 12 members. The same goes for the members who have been expelled from caucus or who have been elected as independent MPs. So it would be appropriate to set up a process to study the rights of independent members and draw from other Westminster-style Parliaments that, like us, have thought about the role that MPs who are not caucus members or who are not considered independent must play.
For example, other places in the world with the same political system and the same parliamentary process as us, as well as legislative assemblies across Canada, have managed to make a place for independent members. We can look to the Quebec National Assembly, for example, which gave members the right to sit in a parliamentary committee. Not only does that include the right to suggest amendments, but also the right to explain them, argue and put questions to witnesses, whose answers may have some bearing on the proposed amendments.
This motion quickly rushes out the back door the prerogative of MPs to properly represent their constituents, not only in the House of Commons, but also using all the existing mechanisms in committees. We must be given the chance to fully represent our constituents.
The motion as worded proposes, among other things, that we make brief observations to support our amendments. It does not allow us to conclude that the rights of independent members or members from non-recognized parties would be preserved. According to the Bloc Québécois, serious harm will occur if this motion is passed as worded today.
I invite you to take the time to think about it. You have the means to put in place a thought process that is much more comprehensive and goes much further for society and for the Canadians we represent.
Thank you.
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