Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert
Mr. Adrien Lambert (Bellechasse):
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to commend whole-heartedly the mover of the motion which is now before us, as it is a very important motion dealing with procedure in this House. It aims at determining the best way to proceed to administer this country as well as possible. I listened with great interest to the mover's words and I am convinced that they will pave the way for a review of the Standing Orders of the House.
Like hon. members who spoke before me, I believe we should be able to go through more legislation in a shorter time therefore I am not opposed to-and I have even said before that I would support-a modification of Standing Orders to cut the time limits for speeches. I agree with the mover that the modern languages we know lend themselves to a more succinct expression. All we have to do is investigate the matter deeply; in this way we would enact legislation which would be clearer and the voters would have a better opportunity to judge the efficiency of Parliament.
Another point which has caught my attention and about which I have already personally introduced motions to try to
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Changes in Standing Orders
correct situations I sometimes consider as something farcical, dealt with Standing Order 43. We have witnessed one of those situations last week when a very important motion was introduced which seemed to meet with general acceptance in the House. But unfortunately the Chair, with much hesitancy, did not accept the fact that there was unanimous consent. I have discussed this fact with Mr. Speaker who told me that a "no" had been heard. Everybody from every corner of the House was wondering whether someone had actually said "no".
The mover of the motion said earlier that on the unanimous consent requirement, the Standing Orders should be amended so that it would take five members to have a motion rejected when unanimous consent is required. And I would add that those five members should be identified and their names printed in Hansard. Some Canadians and people specially interested in the work of the House have asked me time and again how is it that when someone moves a motion one member alone can stand up against 200 others and we do not know who he is or what is his name? 1 think that if we would bring forward such an amendment to the rules, it would be a significant improvement.
We are now talking about televising the debates. Obviously it is a matter of a very high importance. It might prove very effective to shed more light on the Canadian Parliament but it could give rise to some disadvantages like those mentioned earlier by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) when he spoke of seats which are so often empty and of the numerous questions that Canadians would ask themselves when viewing that on the screen.
Mr. Speaker, this leads me to make a suggestion about how to attain this goal and I think we are capable of doing it. Given the considerable number of House committees and since their work terminates in this very place, we can conclude that they play a leading role.
Well, I feel that days should be designated for committees to sit, and others for the House to sit, but on one condition: that hon. members must be very punctual, both in committees and in the House. However, hon. members should not think: This is not the week when my committee is sitting, or neither the committee nor the House is sitting on Monday, Tuesday and Friday of this week, which means that there will be only two working days this week. I think this would be an abuse of our Standing Orders I agree that more hon. members should be freed from their personal duties to devote more time to the good operation of Parliament and the good administration of our country.
I hope therefore that the Committee on Procedure and Organization has already looked into this, but it should intensify its study and not let this issue drag on. If this is something which will be good in two or five years, it ought to be good also this year, and it should be possible to adopt this regulation without delay.
Before the proceedings of the House can be televised, I have a suggestion to make. I think it could interest the public. Each day the House is sitting-10.30 p. m. would probably be the best time-one member of each party who took part in the
debate, as the one on Bill C-16, would be requested to go on the air to inform the Canadian people about the position of his or her party. Thus the public would be informed of the legislator's intent, without the help of the commentators who are well intentioned but who do not always respect the legislator's true intent.
If a member is requested to go on television each evening at 10.30 or 10.45 p.m. to repeat before the whole Canadian population what he said on such or such bill and why he said so, he will think twice in the House because he will have to "report immediately, on the same day, what he said and what was his position on a very important matter. All issues are important, but more so Bill C-16 because it concerns all comsumers.
I make that suggestion and trust that, in the not too distant future, a way will be found to give the people more information. I have always noticed, Mr. Speaker, that a well informed people is a people who cooperates and is easier to govern.
For many years I worked for a municipality. Though the law did not oblige me to do so, through news releases I informed the public of the decisions made by the members of the council, so that they might know about the administration. In the light of that experience, I found out that we could get far more cooperation. The work of the mayor, the councillors and the secretary treasurer was made that much easier. People did not disturb them uselessly because they had received the news releases.
T should like to deal very briefly with the calendar of the business lined up for a given session. On that motion last week, everyone seemed to agree that the government should have to draw up the work program for the various sessions. This is the second session of this Parliament. When the session opens, we should be advised of its duration, keeping in mind, as much as possible, the breaks for Christmas, for Easter, and for the summer holiday at the end of the school year, to allow parliamentarians to have some family life while the children are on holidays. Parliamentarians should also have some holidays, and know ahead of time when these will come. It is always annoying not to know what is coming up.
At Christmas time, we wonder whether the House will adjourn on December 20, 22, 23, 24 or 25; nobody knows and everybody is nervous; our wives are nervous and our children say: Daddy will not be here. This situation becomes depressing and if we are unable to adjust ourselves and work as everybody else, we do not prove to be very intelligent.
We should also insist so that this change be final. When I know beforehand how many days I have to do a given work, I take the necessary arrangements to be able to complete that work. I am convinced that our proposals, whatever they may be, would match those of the government so that our legislation is not passed in a hurry but rather in an intelligent manner, in order to give our country a healthy administration but within a specific time limit. We might get used to work in such a spirit and I am convinced we would manage to do
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something wonderful. We would really safeguard the function of this institution which is called Parliament, the highest authority in this country. At the same time, we would show the people that we are serious, aware of our responsibilities, and we would show them an example of good management rather than looking like people who are hesitating, who do not know where they are heading to.
These are, Mr. Speaker, the few comments I wanted to make and before concluding my remarks, I would like to say the following: In the House, some ideas are communicated through members of Parliament who represent many people. One day I heard the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) say something which I liked and I enjoy repeating it to the people. He said it during the debate on an election funds bill. At that time, of course, everybody thought the same thing: what difference could it make, how could we help make electoral funds more democratic? And the Prime Minister said that all political parties have the same obligation to communicate the views of the people they represent.
Even though everybody does not share the government's view, whether they are Liberal or Progressive Conservative, people with different opinions are nevertheless as good Canadians as others; but they do not share the same view. At that time, it was said that the people are entitled to be well represented and to have their views communicated to the House. We tried to make electoral funds more democratic to give equal opportunity to all these opinions. This is democracy. This is how I understand it and I am pleased that this is the way it was accepted.
If it has been possible to reform that matter, it should also be possible to do so in the area of procedure, a reform that would receive the approval of all members and of those who will follow us. Such a reform would allow the House to be more efficient, to pass better legislation, because there would be improved drafting; instead of being tiring for members, it would take the best of them and give them the opportunity to do something better. I apologize for taking more than five minutes, but in any event I assure you that if the House does modify its Standing Orders, regardless of the time limits for speeches, I shall abide by it.
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Sub-subtopic: SUGGESTED MODIFICATION OF STANDING ORDERS