May 31, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY


Mir. Speaker: Before calling the order for the day, the Chair notes that there are two orders on the Order Paper and would be prepared to hear argument before making a decision.


PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Ray Hnatyshyn (Saskatoon West):

Mr. Speaker, since we seem to go through this situation periodically, and having reviewed some of the precedents, I am prepared to argue this matter and to assure you that it has always been my intention as House Leader of this Party to ensure that the NDP is given adequate opportunity-in fact, we have bent over backwards-to have more than its share of allotted days. It must have something to do with their philosophy, which goes something like this: What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.

However, the tradition that has been established is that we possibly get some indication of Your Honour's preliminary inclination, rather than have what happened the last time. I have a presentation I would like to make which I believe substantiates very much our entitlement to proceed today on the Opposition motion filed by my colleague, the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Beatty).

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

If that is the wish of the House, the Chair is quite prepared to make some observations of a preliminary nature.

It appears that there are three supply periods which provide for 25 allotted days, six of which can end in a vote of non-confidence in the Government. In the current parliamentary calendar, the Progressive Conservative Party has used 18 allotted days, five of which have ended in a vote. The NDP have used five designated days, none of which has ended in a vote.

The preliminary inclination of the Chair would be to choose the motion in the name of the Hon. Member for Churchill (Mr. Murphy), but the Chair is prepared to hear argument.

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

Mr. Speaker, I will address myself to this matter. We have a situation where you will be required, pursuant to Standing Order 62(4)(c), to select the motion to be debated by the House today. The last time the Chair was obliged to make such a decision was on November 22, 1983.

Before you make your final ruling on the motions that are before us today, it might be useful if I review a couple of the issues that were raised at that time.

One point of view that was expressed last November was that the Chair pay some attention to the time in which the motions were filed with the Table in order to determine the order of precedence. The Acting Speaker, at page 29061, ruled that the time of filing was not the major factor in determining which motion should be put to the House. Indeed, the House Leader of the NDP argued that the time of filing should not be considered at all. His remark to that effect will be found at page 29060 of Hansard for that day.

Another interesting point that was made that day was that the NDP felt that the distribution of Opposition Days should be calculated on the basis of the calendar year. While both Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and the NDP are of the view that equity demands that Opposition Days be distributed on the basis of Party representation in the House, the Official Opposition was and is of the view that this distribution of days should be calculated on the basis of the year of supply.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the first semester of Supply takes place in the period ending June 30 each year. It is in that semester that the Main Estimates for the fiscal year are considered by Parliament. In the subsequent two semesters, Supplementary Estimates are the Business of Supply that is to be considered by this House. Therefore, it is a specious argument to suggest that Opposition Days should be distributed according to calendar years. Such an argument could only be advanced by people who are ignorant of the meaning of Supply.

Nonetheless, it seems that on November 22, 1984, you will recall that members of the NDP were successful in convincing the occupant of the chair-

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Excuse me. The Hon. Member said November 22, 1984?

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

I am sorry, I intended to say 1983. Of course, on November 22, 1984,1 will be sitting on the opposite side and not over here!

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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

Not if the decision is made wisely.

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

If the Hon. Member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Deans) is waiting for an opportunity to demonstrate his intelligence, we may have to wait for a long time.

On November 22, 1983 members of the NDP were successful in convincing the occupant of the chair that the protection

May 31, 1984

Supply

of their minority rights demanded that they be given a day in the second semester of Supply in order to ensure that an equitable distribution of Opposition Days be made in the then current calendar year. Having adopted that view and having thus altered the distribution of days in that period, the Chair must now consider the implications of that decision on the distribution of days for this year.

Both Parties on this side of the House are in agreement as to the ratio that should be used in calculating the distribution of Opposition Days. Roughly one-quarter of the members sitting on this side are members of the NDP. Thus, it follows that they should receive one-quarter of the available Opposition Days.

The Standing Orders provide for 25 days to be given over to the business of Supply in each year. Based upon the one-quarter and three-quarter ratio that I have outlined, the NDP is entitled to 6.25 days out of the total days available in each Supply year. As well, in each of the three periods of Supply two motions may be put to the House under the provisions of Standing Order 62(9). Standing Order 62(9) states that these two motions constitute motions of no confidence and provision is made for a vote to take place at the conclusion of debate on such motions.

Using the same ratio that applies to the general distribution of Opposition Days, it follows that the NDP is entitled to 1.5 of the six voting days that occur each year. Because it is impossible to divide these votes in this manner, the distribution of these motions must be worked out on a two-year basis whereby members of the NDP are entitled to put three votable motions before the House over a two-year period.

In order to be able to discuss in a rational manner the problem which confronts you today, Mr. Speaker, I took the time to review the distribution of Opposition Days over the life of this Parliament. I am in a position to provide you with some statistics which may be of use to you in reaching a decision on this matter.

In 1980, the Supply year was disrupted by the fact that Parliament was called into session after the date on which the first semester of Supply would normally commence. For that reason, the Parties agreed that the second semester would be expanded and that all of the Opposition Days that would ordinarily take place during the first semester would instead be allocated to the fall semester.

Even under the terms of this arrangement, only 18 out of the normal 25 days of Supply were allotted in 1980. Of those 18 days, the NDP was given four days, one of which terminated in a vote. That year, members of the NDP did not complain because they did not receive their normal allocation of days. At that time members of the NDP understood that the distribution of days related not to the calendar year but to the Supply year. Not surprisingly, the records indicate that the NDP received an additional two days in the final Supply period of the 1980-81 fiscal year.

In the next Supply year, the NDP received seven Opposition days, two of which terminated in votes. In the 1982-83 Supply

year, the NDP received six Opposition days, two of which again terminated in votes. In the 1983-84 Supply year, the NDP received seven Opposition Days and two of those motions came to a vote. Thus, over the past four years of Supply, the NDP have received 26 of the 100 Opposition Days and have had seven of those motions come to a vote. In other words, although members of the NDP constitute only 25 per cent of all Opposition Members, they have received 26 per cent of the Opposition Days and over 29 per cent of the motions filed under Standing Order 62(9).

U5)

However, the Chair for some reason determined last November that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition would not be entitled to receive the day which they asked for at that time on the basis of a calculation of the distribution of Opposition Days. The Chair decided that the NDP argument concerning distribution of Opposition Days by calendar year was valid.

Therefore, we have gone out of our way to ensure that we are meeting our obligations by both standards. Not only did we provide the NDP with more than the number of days which constituted their minimum entitlement in last year of supply, but we have already given five days to the NDP in this calendar year. No matter how they slice it, the NDP has been receiving the days to which they are entitled.

Furthermore, we have been prepared to be even more generous in our distribution of Opposition Days. My predecessor offered the NDP four Opposition Days in a row in the last semester, all of which were refused. Since I have been House Leader I have offered the NDP another Opposition Day in this semester, which was refused. Still they complain that somehow we are being unfair in not allowing them an adequate opportunity with respect to Opposition Days. That is completely contrary to the facts. My Party and I have bent over backwards to offer the NDP ample opportunity to have Opposition Days, more than they are entitled to by the numbers.

Apparently today the NDP will stand before you, Mr. Speaker, and argue that they should be allowed to place their motion before the House. This would be the sixth time in this calendar year that the NDP would have had the opportunity to take over the debate on an Opposition Day. Based upon the NDP calculation with respect to the distribution of Opposition Days, they will have exhausted their full entitlement for the year before June 1. Therefore, if the Chair decides in their favour, it would demonstrate, in my estimation, that a minority of Opposition Members are able to exercise a disproportionate claim to precedence on Opposition Days, in that they want to have all their Opposition Days before June 1 of the calendar year, and on their own argument that they are entitled to only so many in a full calendar year.

The NDP cannot have their cake and eat it too. They should either! calculate their entitlement on'the basis of calendar years or on the basis of fiscal years. Equity demands that not only the rights of the minority be defended, but that the rights of the majority not be subverted by the actions of a few.

May 31, 1984

On November 22 of last year, the Acting Speaker ruled that the rights of the minority required protection, and that because the NDP had not been given an Opposition Day in that supply period, he would select their motion for debate. However, today we face an entirely different set of circumstances. As I have pointed out, the NDP won their argument the last time around. The occupant of the Chair agreed to disregard our understanding of the appropriate means of calculating the annual distribution of Opposition Days. Moreover-and this appears to be the critical point in the decision rendered that day-the Acting Speaker was of the opinion that because the NDP had not been given the opportunity to debate a motion of their choosing during a Supply period, he would give them that opportunity.

That is not the case today. The NDP have already received two Opposition Days in the current period. Based on their own calculations, this would exhaust their entitlement for the year if it were given on this day. We would then face the problem of having to decide whether or not the NDP would be entitled to an additional day in order to provide them with some opportunity to hold a debate of their choice in the fall semester. If that request were to be granted by the Speaker, not only would the NDP have been permitted to pre-empt Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition today, but the NDP would be permitted to appropriate an Opposition Day which would legitimately belong to our members.

The NDP may stand in the House and argue that there is some rule of thumb which would lead to their being given three Opposition Days in the spring semester. Presumably this argument is based on the proposition that the Parties are entitled to a proportional distribution of Opposition Days in each Supply period. The flaw in that argument is that based upon the ratio that I have referred to and that we have employed, the NDP would be entitled to precisely 3.25 days in the first semester, 1.25 days in the second semester and 1.75 days in the third semester. It is quite simply impossible to distribute days in that way.

For that reason, the allocation of Opposition Days in any given semester has varied over the life of this Parliament. Thus the average allocation in the first semester has been 2.75 days rather than the 3.25 days dictated by simple mathematics. In the second semester the average has been two days rather than the 1.25 days obtained through the proportional model. In the third semester the New Democratic Party has averaged 2.25 days rather than the 1.75 days which result from proportional distribution. Thus it can be demonstrated that the NDP have always been under-allocated days in the first semester; overallocated days-50 per cent of the time, at least-in the second semester, and always over-allocated days in the final semester.

With regard to the distribution of voting days, Mr. Speaker, I can only ask how a distribution of three votes over a two-year period can be evenly spread across three semesters of Supply which occur in any given year. Furthermore, if the New

Supply

Democratic Party chooses to argue that it has not received its entitlement of voting days for this year, I suggest it refer to the Votes and Proceedings for February 14, where it will find that the House divided on a motion by the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis).

If you were to look back over the past four calendar years, Mr. Speaker, you would find an interesting pattern. In 1980 the New Democratic Party had one motion which terminated in a vote. The next year it had two motions. In 1982 it had one motion and in 1983 it had two motions. By extension one can see that 1984 is a year in which the NDP is entitled to only one motion pursuant to Standing Order 62(9), and it already has had one such motion put before the House in this calendar year.

Hon. Members of the New Democratic Party are certainly adept at complaining that no one takes them seriously and that their rights are continually being denied them. The reason for that is that so often their complaints are not founded in reality. What it comes down to today, Mr. Speaker, is that the New Democratic Party is afraid that the Government may decide to call an election prior to the end of the year and that it will, ostensibly, lose out on some fraction of the Opposition Days to which it would normally be entitled this year.

Our Party has not been restricting Hon. Members of the New Democratic Party from the opportunity to be heard in this place. In fact, the New Democratic Party has taken almost 30 per cent of the Opposition Days which have been held to date this year. The New Democratic Party does not want to debate the issue of the Government's mismanagement of Revenue Canada; that is clear. It does not want to allow our Members of Parliament to have a fair share of the Opposition Days. It does not even want to be consistent in its calculation of the way in which days should be allocated. Instead, Mr. Speaker, members of the New Democratic Party are going to stand here and anticipate the future life of this House, this parliamentary session, by attempting to get their Opposition Days in before some projected election call, and they are not even prepared to wait and see whether the final Opposition Day in the current period would be allocated to them. And as you know, Mr. Speaker, there is another Opposition Day which will be held at some time before the end of next month.

The New Democratic Party is also engaging in a more direct form of anticipation, Mr. Speaker. The motion which it proposes to move today condemns the Government for failing to introduce amendments to the Canada Labour Code. Quite apart from the fact that the motion contains the false accusation that the Conservative Party stands in the way of labour reforms, it also neglects to mention the fact that a Bill with respect to that legislation has been introduced before the House, that is, Bill C-34, which does purport to amend the provisions of the Canada Labour Code. The NDP by its motion proposes to anticipate the debate which will take place on this legislation in the coming days. The motion of the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe does not offend the rule of anticipation.

May 31, 1984

Supply

Under Standing Order 62(4)(c), you have the responsibility, Mr. Speaker, of selecting which Opposition Members' motion will be put to the House for debate. I would ask you to call the motion standing in the name of my colleague, the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe. I would ask that you do that, if not for the reasons I have just outlined, then because the Hon. Member had a similar motion standing in his name on the Order Paper which was not selected by the Acting Speaker last November. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the New Democratic Party should not be permitted to hijack an Opposition Day out from under the Hon. Member for Well-ington-Dufferin-Simcoe twice in a row.

If equity is to be the determining factor in the selection of today's Opposition Day motion, and if the protection of the rights of individual Members is central to your decision, I believe the motion of my hon. colleague should be the one to be selected for debate today.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Did the Chair understand the Hon. Member to say there had been one motion voted by the NDP this year?

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

On February 14.

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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Deans (Hamilton Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, I want first of all to say I regret very much that you have been put in the position of having to make a choice. I know the Chair does not enjoy having to make decisions such as this and I would have hoped that we could have worked it out in advance by agreement. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I want to acknowledge at the outset the fine working arrangement that has developed between myself and the House Leader for the Conservative Party. He is, under normal circumstances, a person of impeccable honour and he works diligently at his job. I was therefore surprised to hear his submission. He knows full well, Sir, that in fact, even on the basis of mathematical calculation, what he has submitted is inaccurate. That, I think, is where we begin.

The Conservatives, as the Official Opposition, have consistently operated on the basis of the NDP being one-quarter, 25 per cent, of the Opposition. However, Sir, if you were to make a calculation you would find that there are three Conservatives to every one New Democrat. That would leave any thinking individual with the impression that there should therefore be three Opposition motions assigned to the Official Opposition and one to the NDP. That is all we are asking for. For every three motions that the Official Opposition puts forward, we in this Party, as the minority, should be entitled to one.

Having said that, we also contend that-

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PC

J. Michael Forrestall (Deputy Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forrestall:

How can you say that without tongue in cheek?

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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

I can say it without tongue in cheek because it is factual. We also contend that we are entitled to a votable motion. However the Hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition puts it, there can be no argument over the statistics. If you do it in this trimester, Mr. Speaker, in 1984 there would be 13 days allotted. Of those, two would be votable days. We contend, on the basis of three to one, that if the Conservatives get ten of those days, which is what they would get if we were given this day, we would be satisfied. Out of 13, the Conservatives get ten and we get three. That is all we are asking for; that is all we expect in the interest of fairness.

You will have noted, I am sure, that the Conservatives have put down for today a votable motion. If we are not allocated this day, that means there is no votable motion available after the vote is taken today at six o'clock. Therefore, it would not be possible, even if we were to be allotted the next allotted day, for us to be given a vote during this trimester. I contend that in fairness, which is all we ask for, we are entitled to one voting day.

I will now go back three trimesters. In the last trimester there were seven days, five taken by the Conservatives. They asked us to take two and we did, but we got no vote. In the previous trimester, the third trimester of last year, there were five allotted days. Four were taken by the Conservatives; one was offered to us, which we accepted, without a vote.

Looking at the third trimester of last year, the first trimester of this year, and this trimester which ends at the end of June, there have been 25 allotted days, or will have been. If you were to decide today that we were entitled to the day, then 19 of them would have been allotted to the Conservative Party and six of them to the NDP. That is as close as a three-to-one ratio could ever be. That is in keeping with the numbers within the House of Commons.

In addition to that, if you were to decide, as you have indicated you might in your preliminary judgment, that we were entitled to this day and that it is a voting day, it will be the first voting day that we have been granted in the last three trimesters. Taking that into account, it would seem that we would be entitled to have this particular-

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The Chair must interrupt the Hon. Member because there is a factual argument. Was February 14 a votable motion in the name of the New Democratic Party or not?

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NDP
LIB
NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

I will have it checked.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

It appears that it was. If so, the Hon. Member will have to take note of it.

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May 31, 1984