January 12, 1973

SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73


PROPRIETY OF INCLUSION OF ITEM L30a IN REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE


PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. W. Baldwin (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I sent to Your Honour today notice of my intention to raise what I consider to be an extremely important matter, a question not only of a grievance as a right of privilege but also involving the inherent jurisdiction of the House.

On Monday, January 8, the President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Drury) introduced Supplementary Estimates(A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1973. These estimates included an item of $454 million for the Department of Manpower and Immigration, headed vote L30a. This amount represented two special Governor General's warrants of $234 million and $220 million respectively which have been issued for the purpose of attempting to appropriate money during the period between the end of the last parliament and the calling of this parliament. The President of the Treasury Board subsequently moved that the supplementary estimates be referred to the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates.

At that time, Mr. Speaker, I raised a question about the legality of this particular appropriation, although I admit I was not as specific then as I can be now because I had not seen the supplementary estimates and so was not able to pursue the subject any further.

Mr. Speaker, on the order paper for today there appears in the name of the Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Mr. Andras) a bill entitled "An Act to Amend the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1971 (No. 1)", accompanied by a recommendation which gives an indication of what will be contained in the legislation. That recommendation provides, inter alia,:

that the amount authorized under Manpower and Immigration Vote L30a of Supplementary Estimates (A) 1972-73-

That is the one I referred to, Mr. Speaker,

-shall be deemed an advance under that section and not an appropriation described in paragraph 133(b) of that act.

In addition, the recommendation goes on to suggest that the measure will call for the removal of the $800 million ceiling in advances under section 137. It would therefore appear, Mr. Speaker, that I was correct in the suspicion I formed at that time and which prompted me to file the verbal caveat.

The recommendation is an indication of what will be in the legislation. I am not going to bother to read section 137 of the Unemployment Insurance Act which provides a statutory limitation of $800 million on moneys which may be lent by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) pursuant

to a certain procedure for the purpose of implementing the provisions of the act.

It would now appear from this legislative proposal standing in the name of the Minister of Manpower and Immigration that the legislative ceiling has been exceeded. It appears almost certain-that is the best way I can put it until there has been a chance for examination-that this was done by means of a Governor General's warrant and not by legislation. What is now being proposed is an attempt apparently to legalize by legislation what was illegal and improper. I suggest, therefore, that there was no right on the part of the government to have so appropriated moneys, that this could only have been done by an amendment to the act.

When one reads the statute it appears to be possible that the appropriation and the Governor General's warrant might-and I use the word "might" advisedly-have been made under section 133. But it could never be made legally under section 137. That is where the grave issue lies. This is not simply a technical issue, Mr. Speaker. The money has been spent, the money is gone, but that is not the point. The question is this: if the money was appropriated or purported to be appropriated and spent under section 133 of the Unemployment Insurance Act it is an outright grant and the burden falls upon the taxpayers of Canada. If, on the other hand, it is a loan made under section 137, the burden is assumed by the contributors, the employers and employees and will be reflected by an increase in their contributions. That is the very important issue of substance.

I recognize that I cannot make a legal argument and ask Your Honour to make a finding on it. This may have to be a judicial finding or it may be a finding the House may have to make later if the motion I intend to move is accepted.

I suggest, however, that under those conditions it was highly improper for this item in the supplementary estimates to be sent to the committee. The proper procedure was for the government to have admitted its fault, to have admitted its irregularity, to have admitted its misappropriation, and have come here with a full statement and proceeded to secure or at least ask the House for legislation. If the legislation were passed and the illegality cured, then and then only should this item be sent to the Miscellaneous Estimates Committee to be considered.

The chairman of the standing committee admitted yesterday-he let it slip out-that there is a firm aate, February 8, when the minister intends to bring the budget down. It is essential that this matter be settled. If it is an outright grant, it must be taken into consideration in the casting of the national accounts. There is an obvious difference between a grant and loan. That is the situation. I was not

January 12, 1973

Supplementary Estimates (A), 1972-73 able to attend the committee proceedings this morning but I understand the issue was raised.

In these circumstances I wish to move a motion. I will read it so that Your Honour may determine whether I am entitled to put it. I would move:

That this House do recall from the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates the item in the Supplementary Estimate (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 1973 listed under Manpower and Immigration as vote L30a in the sum of $454,000,000 and that the Auditor General be directed to examine the accounts of the unemployment insurance fund for 1972-73 and in particular Governor General's Warrants purporting to appropriate the said sum of $454,000,000 and to report his findings to the Standing Committee of Miscellaneous Estimates, and said committee to report back to this House on this matter no later than March 20th, 1973.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Peace River has raised a very interesting point. He kindly gave me notice but his notice did not refer to a question of privilege. I have some doubts whether the matter should have been raised at this stage in view of the precedents on privilege, since the hon. member himself, either in his notice or in his presentation to the House, failed to refer to privilege.

He suggests that there is some impropriety or illegality in the procedure being proposed by the government. That may be so, but I do not think it is the responsibility of the Chair to rule on such questions. I respectfully suggest to the hon. member, and I am quite sure he will agree with me, that the motion which he proposes is a substantive motion. It is clearly that, and I fail to see how a substantive motion can be raised by the hon. member at this stage. There are provisions in the Standing Orders for motions of substance to be moved in certain circumstances by following certain procedures with notice. I suggest to the hon. member that perhaps he might look into this matter further and find some other way of having the matter debated in the House.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Erik Nielsen (Yukon):

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, in view of the very serious nature of the matter raised by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin) and in view of the validity of his observations, I wonder whether the House would be prone to give its consent to having that particular item in the supplementary estimates recalled from the committee and reconsidered by the government. If the hon. member for Peace River is found to be right in the eyes of the government, then it can be dealt with properly; if not, it can be returned to the committee.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Allan J. MacEachen (President of the Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, as to the point of order that has been raised by the hon. member, there is no foundation whatever to the allegation of any impropriety or illegality in the-

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I suggest to the President of the Privy Council that if he wanted to discuss the matter raised by the hon. member for Peace River he should have presented earlier the arguments he is attempting to make now. According to my understanding, what we have before us now is, essentially, a motion under Standing Order 43 by the hon. member for Yukon suggesting that if there is unanimous consent the item could be recalled from the miscellaneous estimates committee. That is the

only basis on which there can be discussion now. If the minister would direct his remarks to that point, it might be helpful.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Speaker, of course, I accept your ruling. I was not certain when the hon. member was making his submission whether it was on the basis of privilege. If we are to consider the hon. member's suggestion as a request for unanimous consent to withdraw the estimates-

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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PC
LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

-or any item from the committee, we cannot accept that because we have proceeded properly under the rules of the House.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. This again is debate. The hon. member is asking that under the terms of Standing Order 43 the motion be put to the House. I have to inquire whether there is unanimous consent. The minister has indicated there is not unanimous consent. Presenting reports-

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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NDP
NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. Before we get to that item I will call presentation of reports. Motions.

Topic:   SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (A). 1972-73
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

THE CANADIAN ECONOMY

PC

Allan Frederick Lawrence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Allan Lawrence (Northumberland-Durham):

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 43 I seek leave to move a motion in view of the urgent need for legislation to respond to the increases in the cost of living and in the high levels of unemployment. I propose to move with the unanimous consent of the House, seconded by the hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gillies):

That this House call on the government to present to the House as its first and immediate priority its legislative and regulatory program on the current economic, inflationary and unemployment crisis of the country, instead of those items now appearing on the order paper, in response to the increased costs in the food, clothing, housing and transport sectors of our economy and the recordbreaking level of unemployment.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND UNEMPLOYMENT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND UNEMPLOYMENT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Northumberland-Durham proposes this motion under the terms of Standing Order 43 which requires the unanimous consent cf the House. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND UNEMPLOYMENT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND UNEMPLOYMENT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND UNEMPLOYMENT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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January 12, 1973