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Results: 1 - 15 of 94
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, people want to keep me from speaking. They will be no more successful today than in the past. I intend on exercising my right to speak.
My colleagues have said some kind things, and I would like to thank them. It reminds me of a very popular Loto-Québec ad, in which they say that it is important to always be nice to people who play Lotto 6/49. I have a feeling that here, in this House, the advice would be to always be nice to the person who is leaving to host a daily public affairs show.
I would like to take this final opportunity to thank you personally, Mr. Speaker. As luck would have it, our paths have crossed throughout my career in the federal Parliament, when you were parliamentary assistant to the government House leader. You and all the employees here have always worked to allow us to express ourselves, to say what our constituents want us to say. What a wonderful profession it is to uphold the rights of democracy. That is your profession, Mr. Speaker, and that of so many people working behind the scenes, such as the clerks—whom I salute—and everyone else who works in the House to make our job here easier. I would also like to thank the pages who have served us so loyally, year in and year out. I would like to say a few words about the pages. I learned to take them seriously in a rather interesting manner. In 2004, during a debate at the time of my sixth election, I was up against a House of Commons page from the previous year who was running for the NDP—he was running for the riding next to mine—and it was a difficult debate. In going up against him, I learned that a person's worth is not measured in years. I encourage my hon. colleagues to take our pages very seriously. That was my most difficult debate. He was very kind, however, and made no comments about our past experiences together in this House. He acted as if he knew nothing of it and focused on the content.
I would simply like to express to my leader, to my colleagues and to all those present in this House, the esteem in which I hold them and the pleasure I have derived from working with individuals who are so well versed in various areas of the life of our society. It is a great privilege to associate with individuals of such high calibre as the men and women seated in this House.
It is true that in our discussions we have said some things to one another. It is true that we have had some heated exchanges. The House leader of the official opposition referred to that earlier. It is true that we have had some good discussions—some very good ones for us and less so for them. In the end, we have lent our voices to democracy. As long as the citizens who elect us view us as individuals capable of expressing their views, the way they would if they had the opportunity to find themselves here, and to give their opinions, as long as we do this, we will be good parliamentarians and we will continue to maintain the image of what a true representative of the people should be.
I would like to thank my family and my staff, who have supported me throughout my lengthy career. In particular, I would like to thank Sylvie and Fabienne, my two assistants, who have been at my side for almost 14 years and who were always up to the task.
We would not be members of this Parliament without our organizers, our workers, those who look after us, and those who generously support us in defending our ideas during election campaigns.
At this point, I have a less agreeable message for my adversaries. I know that some are happy that I am leaving and are saying, “After this election, he has decided to leave. Perhaps now we can win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean”. Well, I have some bad news for you: you will not win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. I am sorry to have to say that. I know that members of each political party will work to get out the message in the next election campaign. I know that the Bloc Québécois will try. Unfortunately for my adversaries, I do not believe that my leaving will change anything. Having said that, the citizens will decide and we shall see what their verdict is.
Naturally, I wish to thank the voters for being so patient with me. Today, I have a great deal of affection for the people in my riding, where my children and grandchildren still live. This region needed representation and still needs the support of the various levels of government. There are many economic problems. The difficulties resulting from the softwood lumber crisis predominate. Farmers are experiencing many difficulties and the unemployed, who are excluded from the employment insurance program, face many difficulties. However, I know that there will always be individuals in this House who are attuned to these difficulties and who know that we are all duty bound to find solutions for our less fortunate fellow citizens.
The last thing I would like to say to all of you is that I wish you much happiness and all the best in the future. I hope that you make the best possible decisions for your electors and that what happens in future turns out for the best for each and every one of you. I have truly liked all of you and I am leaving with the lasting memory of all the colleagues I have been fortunate to associate with from all political parties. I wish to thank you very much, it has been a pleasure.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, the easiest approach to the gas issue is to do what previous governments did and what the present government is doing, which is nothing. It is simple. There is competition in the gas sector. Six big companies are constantly getting richer, and the prices rise at the same time, at the same intersection, in the same way, quite by chance. In Montreal, there are four companies at the same intersection. It is curious. Between 10 o’clock and 10:15, the prices all go up at the same time by the same amount. And they tell us there is competition. When certain products are on special at Provigo, they are not necessarily on special at Métro, because there is real competition. At a given time, the price of other items falls. That is how it works.
The gas companies tell us —and this is what my question will be about— that if the price of gas goes up, it is because things are not going well in the world. It is strange that things never go well around the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday, just before Christmas holidays and just before the start of summer vacation, the construction holidays.
If there is no need for closer monitoring of the gas companies in terms of competition, how does he explain that when the world price of crude increases and the price of a litre of gas should go up by 2¢, 3¢ or 4¢, it goes up by 20¢, 25¢ or 30¢? Why do events in the Middle East influence the profit margins of Shell, Exxon, Imperial, etc., here in Canada? The fact is that the world price of crude is only a pretext. We need a monitoring agency. I ask the member why he does not see the need for one.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister made another blunder. In response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, he criticized the opposition leader for being concerned about the safety of Taliban prisoners and suggested that he should be more concerned about the safety of Canadian soldiers, as though the two were mutually exclusive.
Instead of adopting a George Bush attitude and suggesting that those who do not agree with him are his enemies—that is how the Prime Minister is behaving—should he not be showing his disagreement with the one person really responsible for the government's problems, namely, the Minister of National Defence?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could enter into an agreement with the Prime Minister.
Rather than wanting to choose the Quebec premier—which is none of his business—should the Prime Minister not choose another Minister of National Defence, because that is his job, his responsibility?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of order, page 724 of Marleau and Montpetit reads as follows:
The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on Supply days and, unless the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (e.g., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Chair does not intervene.
Therefore, for all opposition motions, unless there is a clear irregularity, the Chair does not intervene. However, there have been precedents, and I would like to review them. On November 5, 2002, a motion adopted on an opposition day amended the Standing Orders of the House of Commons with respect to the election of committee chairs and vice-chairs. A motion presented on a supply day amended the Standing Orders of the House with respect to the election of chairs and vice-chairs.
On April 18, 2005, the current Chief Government Whip gave notice in the order paper of a motion to set opposition days for the rest of the supply period ending June 23, 2005. It turned out that this motion was never debated because the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons decided at the last minute to withdraw opposition days.
My argument is this: as per the November 2002 precedent, which amended the Standing Orders, it is possible during an opposition day to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Furthermore, when they were in opposition, the Conservatives thought—and I agree—that it was possible to introduce a motion on an opposition day to change the Standing Orders of the House, as evidenced by the April 18 notice of motion by the Conservatives themselves.
It is therefore possible to amend the Standing Orders, and it is also possible to change the Standing Orders by means of a motion introduced during a supply day. The motion before us today proposes a change to the Standing Orders of the House in order to accelerate consideration of certain bills. In light of the precedents, I see nothing unusual about the official opposition's proposal.
The issue here is not whether or not the Bloc Québécois will support the motion of the official opposition. The issue here is the latitude that the opposition parties have to present motions on supply days. I am among those who will always defend the extraordinary freedoms and privileges the opposition parties have in the House of Commons, which enable them to bring any subject before the House that they think is important, interesting or that needs to be debated. Under no circumstances do we object to the government's power to bring up any subject they would like to debate here in the House. But the counterpart to this great power are the 22 little supply days, 22 opportunities during a session here in the House, when the opposition decides on the debate.
The precedents are very clear, and unless there is something very wrong with the motion, unless it is absolutely out of order, it must be agreed to.
We can amend the Standing Orders and we can depart from them. The motion we are discussing today proposes to depart from the Standing Orders, but there is absolutely no reason to doubt that it is in order.
I think it is perfectly in order. Ruling it out of order would strike a great blow to the privileges of the opposition in this House.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
hMr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments. However, I would like to point something out. We can do whatever we want on an opposition day, a supply day. We can abolish programs, create others and make recommendations to the government. We can even bring a government down. We can do anything during an opposition day. The opposition party can choose the subject and the content of the debate it proposes.
Mr. Speaker, in 1994, you were the House leader of the New Democrat Party when the hon. Herb Gray, who was the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, decided to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. He did not modify the need for unanimous consent. He modified a whole series of sections to change the legislative process, short-circuit some stages, make some things simpler and others more complex. In short, using its majority in the House, the government proposed some amendments to the rules of the House of Commons. This rule could have been changed at the same time, but it was not.
At that time, Minister Herb Gray proposed a series of about ten amendments to the Standing Orders. Later, with the support of the Conservatives, who were in opposition while the Liberals were in power, we proposed changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. We voted on these changes and they came into effect.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you a question. Why is it possible for the government to use its majority and propose any necessary or imagined amendments to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons but it is not possible for a member of the opposition to initiate the same process?
To rule in favour of the government's arguments would mean establishing here, today, that there are two kinds of members in this House: those who can amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party and those who cannot amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party.
Why can the government, with the majority of the House, amend the Standing Orders as it pleases, whereas the opposition, with the majority of the House, cannot amend the Standing Orders as it wishes? I am one of those who claims that there is only one type of member in this House. All members are equal and have access to the same procedures. One of these procedures was used by the hon. Herb Gray and by many other House leaders prior to today. It may also be used by the House leader of the official opposition.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, tabling a federal budget at the very end of an election campaign is already a touchy matter, to say the least, but if information was leaked to one of the leaders of the parties in the race, then we should be talking about unacceptable interference.
How can the Prime Minister justify giving information in advance to Jean Charest when he is in the middle of an election campaign?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to believe the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the government as a whole, but while people in this House were in lock-up, and knew nothing about the nature of the budget and could therefore not talk to anyone about it, Jean Charest was posting placards and using graphs with federal budget figures one hour before the minister started reading his speech.
I would like to know why the Prime Minister allowed such a leak of information if not to benefit his friend Jean Charest.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, the opposition has been worried ever since we had the debate on Afghanistan. The opposition parties expressed their concerns regarding the treatment of Afghan prisoners.
How can the Minister of National Defence rise in the House today and not resign when, in fact, he misled us at least ten times, and not just once, with regard to our concerns?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence told us in this House that everything was going very well and that was not true. He told us that there was an agreement with the Red Cross, and that is not the case. He told us that he knew the location of the prisoners, and that is false.
Does the minister realize that, if he were still in the army, he could be court-martialled for such behaviour?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday, I have more information to add to the arguments that I presented on Bill C-257 and the admissibility of the amendments that affect this bill.
During the meeting of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, February 15, the chair ruled on the admissibility of two amendments, and despite contrary opinions from the witnesses and the committee clerk, he nonetheless ruled the proposed amendment inadmissible because it was beyond the scope of the bill.
The purpose of the amendments is essentially to include in the anti-scab legislation the concept of essential services for the maintenance of activities in labour disputes in clauses 2.3 and 2.4 of the bill to amend section 94 of the Canada Labour Code.
The committee chair's ruling was overturned since three of the opposition parties, forming the majority in committee, felt that this concept was not beyond the scope of the bill.
Yesterday, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons brought this up again in a point of order and went a step further in his argument than the chair of the committee did. He said that the three amendments proposed in committee were inadmissible.
Our current situation is rather unusual. Precedents concerning the admissibility of amendments proposed in committee are rare in this House. However, we note that, in 1992, Mr. Speaker Fraser faced a similar situation. The context was this: during a committee review of Bill C-54 concerning farm products marketing agencies, the committee chair ruled that three amendments were inadmissible, because two of them sought to amend the incorporating act, and the third amendment went beyond the scope of the bill. As in the current situation, the committee chair's ruling was reversed. Regarding the constraints imposed on the amendment process in committee, Mr. Speaker Fraser said:
It cannot infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown, it cannot go beyond the scope of the bill as passed at second reading, and it cannot reach back to the parent act to make further amendments not contemplated in the bill no matter how tempting this may be.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker Fraser gave a clear example:
In some cases, this last cardinal rule is graphically clear. For instance, if a committee is examining a Criminal Code bill dealing with lotteries, a member cannot reach back to the parent act to propose amendments to those sections dealing with firearms. In certain other cases, this principle is more difficult to explain.
Based on this ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser, it is quite simple to demonstrate to the House that the amendments proposed to Bill C-257 concerning the provision of essential services in the event of a labour dispute do not go beyond the scope of Bill C-257.
Moreover, during this session, you yourself ruled on the admissibility of committee amendments to Bill C-14. These amendments sought to include an appeal process in the Citizenship Act (adoption). At that time, you reversed the decision of the committee chair. Your ruling was completely justified, because including an appeal process in a bill designed to allow for a grant of citizenship to foreign adopted children without first requiring that they be permanent residents was quite logical and, as in the case before us today, did not go beyond the scope of the bill. I want to quote your decision, which was very wise:
Having reviewed the bill as reported to the House, I cannot conclude that an amendment which provides for an appeal of a decision by the minister is contrary to the principle of the bill. As I see it, such an amendment places a condition on how decisions of the minister are exercised, but the principle of the bill remains intact. In the view of the Chair then, the amendment is admissible in that respect.
The purpose of Bill C-257 is to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.
The bill also provides for the imposition of a fine for an offence. In this particular case and in the original version of clause 2.3, which set out some exceptions for protection of property, specifically in cases of labour disputes, I do not see how stipulating situations where the new conditions should be relaxed could be considered going beyond the scope of the bill. These are additional clarifications, exactly as you ruled in the case I mentioned previously.
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons initially said that we could not amend Bill C-257 by making reference to section 87.4, claiming that this section was not in the original bill. This is not true. In the original bill, we referred to section 87.4 in clause 2.1. I suggest that he reread the original bill. The argument by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons therefore simply does not hold up, because it is based on a falsehood.
In fact, this first amendment clarifies how section 87.4 is affected. Since the initial bill mentions subsection 94(2.1) and section 87.4 of the Code, this amendment merely clarifies how these two provisions relate to one another. It is very easy to understand.
Let us now move on to the clauses that posed problems in committee.
Bill C-257 amends certain sections of the Canada Labour Code, including section 87.6, subsection 94(2) and section 100. A reference to section 87.4 also appears in clause 2.1, as I was saying earlier.
Bill C-257 amends subsection 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code to include additional prohibitions against employers using replacement workers during labour disputes.
By adding a reference to section 87.4 of the Code—the section that covers the maintenance of activities during a strike or lockout—we are specifying that maintaining certain activities is sometimes essential to public health and safety, even during serious labour conflicts.
Section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code is known as the essential services section. Integrating this concept illustrates that we recognize the risks a labour conflict may entail.
In fact, as I was saying yesterday, the amendments introduced in committee do not go beyond the scope of the bill. On the contrary, they reduce its impact and have the same effect on the replacement workers bill as the board of referees has on the Immigration Act, a situation you considered acceptable.
This provides further clarification. To say that it is impossible to introduce amendments that limit the application of a bill, that define and clarify it, would be to say that all committee work is totally useless because it cannot change the application of any bill being studied anyway.
The main argument is, I repeat: how can anyone claim that these amendments go beyond the scope of a bill when the purpose of these amendments is, in fact, to limit its scope? These amendments fall within the framework of the bill; they do not allow the boundaries of the bill to be overstepped. All these amendments do is limit the application of this law.
In my opinion, given these additional arguments and the wisdom you showed in the decision I quoted earlier, Bill C-14, if you apply the same principles and the same logic, which is always unshakeable in your case, Mr. Speaker, you will find you must tell the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to redo his homework.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, the problem is that Jean Charest is engaging the Prime Minister of Canada. Yesterday, he said that the things the federal government put in the budget with respect to equalization would disappear the day the Parti Québécois holds a referendum.
Does the Prime Minister not have the duty today to counter his friend Jean Charest's outrageous statements by reminding him that the federal government intends to do exactly what the two preceding federal governments did?
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, I realize they are ashamed of what Jean Charest said and that they have no desire to set the record straight. Nevertheless, they may soon get up on that same soapbox to defend the same cause. It is therefore important to be clear on this starting now. As Jean Charest said yesterday, we must be clear about this; we must state the facts.
I would ask the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to rein in their friend Jean Charest and remind him that if there is a referendum, federal transfer payments to Quebec will no more be suspended than they were in 1980 or 1995.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is being vague. I am simply asking him to tell us, here in this House, whether he can correct the comments made by Jean Charest, who is using blackmail in the middle of an election campaign.
Can the Prime Minister simply confirm to us that as long as Quebeckers are paying taxes to the federal government they will in turn be entitled to payments from Ottawa? We are simply asking him to confirm that.
View Michel Gauthier Profile
Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Finance is responding, I have another question for him. It is important to know what he thinks exactly.
There is a budget coming up on March 19. Does he have two scenarios in mind: in other words, does he have one scenario if the Liberals win in Quebec, and another if everything points to a PQ win in Quebec? Does he have two scenarios, or just one? This will answer the question.
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