December 5, 1979

NDP

Mark Willson Rose

New Democratic Party

Mr. Mark Rose (Mission-Port Moody):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in order to set the record straight. At page 1823 of Hansard for November 29, in a discussion with the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) about untendered government contracts, I put the following question:

-whether he would now investigate, as well, the awarding last summer of a $30 million contract to Media Buying Services Limited, headed by one Peter Swain who directed the Progressive Conservative advertising campaign during the recent federal election.

Those are the words I used, Mr. Speaker. What I should have said is as follows:

-whether the Prime Minister would now investigate, as well, the $1.8 million untendered contract last summer to Media Buying Services Limited as placement agents for potentially $30 million in government advertising. Media Buying Services, incidentally, being headed by one Peter Swain, media adviser to the Progressive Conservative campaign during the recent federal election.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   MR. ROSE-ALLEGED PATRONAGE CONTRACTS-CORRECTION OF QUESTION TO PRIME MINISTER
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the correction of the record. I think it might be useful, knowing his interest in this matter, to indicate to the hon. member and the House that we acquired the very good idea of going to an agency of management for advertising from the successful practice of the Schreyer government in Manitoba.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   MR. ROSE-ALLEGED PATRONAGE CONTRACTS-CORRECTION OF QUESTION TO PRIME MINISTER
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MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED

NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Waddell (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege which mainly concerns the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton) and myself, but which also affects other members of Parliament and all Canadians who believe in democracy.

During the question period, the hon. member for Skeena and 1 wished to put some questions to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. Since we could not do that in this House, we went to the Senate to try to put the questions. We were barred at the door, assaulted and thrown out on our ears.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

I understand that this is the job of the guards and I sympathize with them, but for us it is an unbearable situation. We cannot put questions in this House to this minister who is dealing with very important matters and that is very unfair. The hon. member for Skeena and I would ask you to use your good offices to persuade the Sergeant-at-Arms

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December 5, 1979

Point of Order-Mr. Peters

to permit us to go into the Senate and ask these questions, or in the alternative-

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
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PC

Walter David Baker (Minister of National Revenue; President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Walter Baker (President of the Privy Council and Minister of National Revenue):

On that question of privilege raised by my hon. friend, Mr. Speaker, 1 want him to know that if he would consent, we would be very pleased to appoint the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) to the Senate so that he would have a voice there.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Never!

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. WADDELL-ENTRY TO THE SENATE BARRED
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MR. GUAY PRIME MINISTER'S ATTITUDE REGARDING ORAL QUESTION ASKED IN HOUSE

LIB

Raynald Joseph Albert Guay

Liberal

Mr. Raynald Guay (Levis):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. A while ago, during the oral question period, my personal rights were encroached upon. I rose on behalf of several thousand unemployed, shipyard workers, not only from the province of Quebec but from the whole of Canada. 1 thought I had put a very important question to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) and I see that, even now, he does not deign to listen to me because he is talking with the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Miss MacDonald). That is indicative of the importance he attaches to the unemployed. There are more than 5,000 unemployed in our Canadian shipbuilding industry. I merely want to say, Mr. Speaker, that since the right hon. Prime Minister did not deign to give me a reply, 1 shall see to it that the shipyard workers unions and the workers throughout Canada are advised of the scorn he showed for the importance of the question 1 put to him just a few minutes ago.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. GUAY PRIME MINISTER'S ATTITUDE REGARDING ORAL QUESTION ASKED IN HOUSE
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. The House understands full well, 1 am sure, that it was the Speaker, and not the Prime Minister, who decided to turn down the question put this afternoon by the hon. member for Levis. Despite the importance and urgency of the matters being brought up, it is absolutely imperative that the questions always be put according to our practice and precedents.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MR. GUAY PRIME MINISTER'S ATTITUDE REGARDING ORAL QUESTION ASKED IN HOUSE
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POINT OF ORDER

NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Arnold Peters (Timiskaming):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order partly in relation to the question period today and partly following some comments Your Honour made during the question period. Many members of this House are denied the opportunity of asking questions. 1 was one of those who was here when question period went on as long as members wanted to ask questions. I have seen question period

go on until eight or nine o'clock at night under previous governments. We reformed the rules to eliminate that so as to make question period more meaningful and allow most members to ask whatever questions they wished.

The question period is structured and it is being structured by the parties, but there does not seem to be any control, advice or instructions being given to individual members or ministers as to how question period would be most advantageous for members of Parliament as well as for the viewers who now watch question period. I can raise this without much difficulty because I am not one who has participated unduly in question period over the last few years.

I have spoken to many members who I find are totally dissatisfied that they cannot ask questions. 1 agree that many of the questions are not properly asked. Some questions have too long a preamble and in some cases Your Honour has to ask if the member has a question. After two or three minutes it is not always obvious whether a question has been asked.

I would like to see you, Mr. Speaker, enforce a set of rules that would be designed in such a way as to allow the elicitation of the largest number of questions possible. I would like to see you charged with making the decision autocratically as to when there is too much preamble and not enough question. This would allow as many members of Parliament who wished to ask questions.

It would seem to me that if a member on behalf of his constituents wished to ask a question, he should be able to do that at least within a week, but if he cannot do that within a week, then obviously the question is out of date and there is really no point in asking that question. It seems to me that we have given you that responsibility by shortening the question period, making it only three-quarters of an hour rather than an unlimited question period, and if members are to be satisfied we better extend the length of question period or, as members of Parliament collectively, we should make a decision that there will be less preamble and more question.

If a snappy question is asked of a minister, he is going to be in difficulty if he does not give a snappy answer. Sometimes a member goes all over the waterfront in asking a question. Certainly the first two questions that were asked today were fairly good speeches and probably would do the members credit in having asked them in the way they did if they were making a speech, but questions they were not.

I know Your Honour has a great deal of other responsibilities and the job is not a cinch anyway, but the House has really given you the responsibility for meeting the requirements of allowing as many questions as possible in that very limited three-quarters of an hour that we have allocated for this purpose.

Question period is really now the window of Parliament as far as the public is concerned. I think they must be as disgusted as 1 am sitting here listening to many questions and answers knowing full well that there are many other members who would be able to ask questions on behalf of their constituents if they were given the opportunity. 1 have no objection to

December 5, 1979

the maiden speech that was made by the new member today. That was his first opportunity to rise in this House, and I appreciate your not having done anything about it.

However, I would ask you if you could discuss this matter with the House leaders or any other interested group, whether a committee or not, to ascertain whether there is some way of being able to put more questions in the question period. As well, perhaps you could have more control over the type of questions that you allow so that the end result will be that all members of Parliament will be in a better position to ask questions given the limited time in which that can be accomplished.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member raises a point which is of concern to all members of the House. I think he has seen the efforts that I have made from here to try to admonish members, particularly at the beginning of question period, as I did again today. The primary difficulty in this seems to be those who lead off the question period. The putting of a long question, as was the case today and has been the case in many days, at the beginning of question period invites a long answer. In fairness, it is very difficult for the Chair to move in immediately with the first question of the day and try to be very severe and cut short that question. When that question is allowed by the Chair to be a moment or two long, it invites at least an equal answer. Today, for example, the first question and answer of equal length absorbed five full minutes. At that rate, by the time the leader of the New Democratic Party had finished his questions, the question period would have been over if we had continued at that pace.

It is a very difficult chore. 1 try to admonish members, and here we are dealing with experienced members of the House. The hon. member raises the point that we are dealing with members who are inexperienced and are new but the difficulty is that it is the experienced members who at the head of the question period consistently feel, for whatever reasons-and they are valid reasons-that their question at that point is quite important. It is indeed important; it should be and perhaps it deserves extra treatment. But it does not seem to me to contribute to the importance of the question or the answer by making them overlong. What it does do is contribute immensely and immediately to the frustration of many members. I now have a list running for several days of many members who have simply been denied access to the question period. It is very difficult for them to continue to suffer this denial at the price of an extended performance at the beginning of question period.

I have asked several times for the co-operation of members and I plead with members again to examine this matter to see why it is that members at the end of the question period have to be expected continually to put questions and get answers in a minute or two. They seem to put effective questions and get effective answers. 1 am wondering why the same thing cannot be done at the beginning of the question period as this would multiply immensely the opportunity for distribution of time and participation throughout the question period. I ask that again, and I ask for co-operation from members on both sides

Point of Order-Mr. Peters

of the House in putting shorter questions and shorter answers, as I think this would go a very long way towards solving the very legitimate matter raised by the hon. member.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
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NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lome Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville):

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could take just a minute or two on the same point. 1 want you to know on behalf, I am sure, of most members of the House that if members do not respond to your plea for co-operation most of us in this House would be fully supportive of you if you were to get really tough and just cut them off. It seems to me that if that happened once or twice to a member, even an experienced one, members would start co-operating with you and that would be better for all of us.

1 suggest the same thing goes in respect of answers by the government. If they tend to be windy and drag the answers out, and if they do not respond to your plea for co-operation, you should just get really tough and cut them off, and I am sure you would have the overwhelming support of members of the House.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Allan J. MacEachen (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso):

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to participate in this debate, but 1 do want to make a point. We have witnessed a very considerable change in the question period over the last while, not beginning in the present Parliament. The question period evolved quite directly and quite obviously into almost a self-disciplining situation during the last Parliament. When I sat on the government side I thought that development was very much to the advantage of the opposition. When this Parliament opened, Your Honour, and when my leader extolled your virtues, one of the points he made was that we hoped the same rights that had been accorded to the opposition in the last Parliament would prevail in this Parliament.

We are prepared to look at changes in the question period, but we will resist very vigorously any attempt to deny to the opposition the rights which were so advantageously and effectively employed by the present members of the government against us when we were in the government.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I am sure this House could be tempted to discuss this at great length. I think the point that has to be made is that it must be understood that the Chair is not going to lose during the question period. I have nothing to lose during the question period. I do not put questions. I have to try to preside, not on my behalf, but on behalf of hon. members, and the victims of disorder during the question period are not those who have the responsibility to preside, but those who are trying to participate. They are the ones who pay the price, and that is the concern I am attempting to express.

Therefore, I hope all of these interventions will be examined in the light, not of reducing participation during the question period or of access during that time, but, instead, of increasing it.

December 5, 1979

Order Paper Questions

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. PETERS-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ASK QUESTIONS
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December 5, 1979