Mr. Deputy Speaker:
Perhaps 1 could deal with a point of order which was raised by the Hon. Member for Mississauga South (Mr. Blenkarn) on November 17. The Hon. Member raised a point of order with regard to procedural acceptability of Vote 6b under Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1984. I was unable to deal with this matter earlier because, as Hon. Members will recall, Supplementary Estimates (B) were referred to committees on November 3, 1983 and were not before the House.
As has been noted before, however, it is helpful to the Chair that there be adequate time to study points of order on the Estimates and the Chair appreciated the courtesy of the Hon. Member in raising the matter when he did. The House will also recall that the Chair wished to extend an opportunity to Hon. Members to rebut or add to the procedural argument. The President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Gray), on November 24, did make a further contribution. I wish to express my thanks to both Hon. Members who were most helpful to the Chair when considering this important matter.
In presenting his case, the Hon. Member for Mississauga South referred to Section 29 of the Canada Post Corporation Act. He submitted that no authority is given to the Government to seek an appropriation other than "an appropriation to pay losses" and that therefore no legislative authority exists for the appropriation expressed in Vote 6b.
In support of this submission the Hon. Member quotes from the Chair's decision of June 12, 1981, at page 10546 of Debates, stating, in part:
the Government may not, by the use of an Appropriation Act, obtain authority which it does not already have under existing legislation.
I have examined both the Supplementary Estimates (B) and the relevant legislation with respect to the Hon. Member's point of order. The Canada Post Corporation Act states, in part, in Subsection 29(1):
Where at any time the available revenues of the Corporation are insufficient to pay all the operating and income charges of the Corporation as and when due... The Minister of Finance may, with the approval of the Governor in Council, place at the disposal of the Corporation such amounts as may be required ... to meet all such charges.
Subsection 29(2) provides a mechanism for reimbursement of the Treasury for such sums and Subsection 29(3) provides as follows:
Where the annual revenues ... are insufficient for the purposes of Subsection (2) the Minister shall cause the amount of the insufficiency to be included, in the form of a deficit appropriation item, in the next Appropriation Act laid before Parliament thereafter.
Hon. Members will note that the Act refers to "operating and income charges" which the annual revenues are not adequate to cover.
1 would now invite the attention of Hon. Members to Vote 6b at pages 32 and 33 of the Supplementary Estimates (B) in which the "Objects of Expenditure" is described as being for "operating" the Corporation. Such a payment was specifically envisaged under Section 29 of the Act.
The Hon. Member for Mississauga South suggested in his submission that the Act did not give the Government the authority to make such a payment because it refers to "activities that have nothing to do with losses". However, the relevant section of the enabling legislation makes no mention of losses but deals only with the insufficiency of revenues to cover operating and income charges. Furthermore, Hon. Members will find that a payment to cover similar operating expenditures was made to the Canada Post Corporation under Consumer and Corporate Affairs Vote 6c in the Appropriation Act No. 4, 1982-83.
In the opinion of the Chair, the Government is seeking to make a payment which is specifically provided for in the Act, and in presenting such an appropriation the Government is not seeking to enlarge its legislative authority. I therefore find that the point of order raised by the Hon. Member for Mississauga South is not well taken and that Consumer and Corporate Affairs Vote 6b is procedurally in order.
In closing, I again wish to express my gratitude to both Members for their valuable assistance.
Subtopic: MR. BLENKARN-SUGGESTED IRREGULARITY IN SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES (B)-RULING BY MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER