March 30, 1992

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

PC

Lise Bourgault

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Lise Bourgault (Argenteuil -Papineau) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of creating the Societe Immobiliere Oka-Kanesatake (SIOK) and to transfer to the Socidte the budget already allocated by Treasury Board for the purposes of negotiating the reunification of lands at Oka-Kanesatake.

She said: Mr. Speaker, when I tabled the motion to create the Societe immobiliere Oka-Kanesatake, there were and, in fact, still are many problems with the difficult negotiations on reunification of Indian lands at Kanesatake and also with the agenda now being discussed with federal negotiator Bernard Roy. Things have come a long way, but even today, the process that was designed to find a comprehensive solution to this very complex problem is terribly slow, which adds to the lack of understanding that prevails between both communities.

Perhaps I could put things into perspective and introduce the many parties that are concerned about the eventual outcome. First, the municipality of the parish of Oka, where about 50 or 60 non-aboriginal families live within the Mohawk lands of Kanesatake.

For the municipalities in the parish it is a very special problem because these families no longer wish to live on federal Indian land. These families are faced daily with the fact that, unlike other Canadians, they do not have peaceful enjoyment of their property, they constantly

feel and are often told, unfortunately, that the place is not theirs, that they are living on Indian lands and that those lands are being claimed and belong to the aboriginal people.

So these white people, these non-aboriginals would like to see this rather unusual situation cleared up as soon as possible. For the municipality, it means losing 50 ratepayers, so it is a rather unusual and in fact unique problem, both for non-aboriginal and aboriginal people in the parish.

In the municipality of the village of Oka, aboriginal people, between 50 and 55 families, live in the village surrounded by non-aboriginal lands. It is more or less a checkerboard situation. We have aboriginals living within lands owned by white people and non-aboriginals living within aboriginal lands. So there is a very real problem.

What jurisdiction applies to an aboriginal person living on federal land in the municipality of the village? Do provincial and municipal laws apply? Does the municipal building code apply? According to a recent judgment in the Jean-Roch Simon case, which is being appealed, the judge said that in the municipality, provincial and municipal laws applied, and just because it was federal land did not mean that these people could build homes that did not conform to the municipal code.

We have the Kanesatake Band Council, whose members were elected by their peers for the first time. This provisional council is supposed to set up a more permanent election procedure, based on their own by-laws, by the end of June 1992. The Band Council is responsible for day to day administration, for all land claims negotiations, for the agenda now being negotiated with the federal negotiator, land reunification, and economic development. In other words, they have a lot on then-plate.

There is the federal-provincial negotiating committee which includes the mayor of the parish, Mr. Patry, who was appointed, if you recall, during the crisis in 1990. Mr. Roy had been involved at the time, and was appointed

March 30, 1992

Private Members' Business

federal negotiator in charge of negotiations with the aboriginal people. Subsequently, of course, there were a number of problems which held up the committee's work for quite some time, and a number of meetings could not be held. Obviously, without meetings the parties cannot discuss the concerns of both communities.

Furthermore, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development maintains its fiduciary role visa-vis the aboriginal people. The department is therefore very much in the picture, because to the aboriginals, the department is their federal counterpart, since they will only negotiate from government to government. This means the entire regional office of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is still very much involved in this matter.

A number of associations and groups were formed since the events in Oka in 1990. To name only the larger ones, there is the Association of Property Owners inside Kanesatake, also known as APIK. These people represent the interests of about 60 families which live in the aboriginal checkerboard.

They did a simply outstanding job and I must take the opportunity again to congratulate the leaders of this association who with their well-prepared and articulate presentations were able to convince the government that their problems were real. I can tell those who live in this area that I am particularly concerned about their daily problems and they know that I am looking after their situation regularly.

The Oka Chamber of Commerce, through its president, Michel Bond, is very concerned about economic development in the region. Everyone is wondering what parcels of land and houses might be bought for the reunification of the natives' land holdings. People wonder if it might be their own house. For the whole business community in the area, it is a big problem and they want it settled. They have continually shown leadership. The Chamber of Commerce recently formed a coalition of local non-profit organizations including the Oka farmers' wives, the united craftswomen and the owners' association, in short, any charitable or other group in Oka.

Mr. Speaker, I have left the most important for last. Mentioning it last in no way affects its importance. The citizens of this great region live in a unique territory which is unmatched. Quite legitimately, they want to

know what will happen to them tomorrow. Will their house, street or neighborhood be considered for the land reunification? Can they enlarge their house? Can they demolish it? Can they build a swimming pool? Can they rent their house? Can they enjoy their property in peace? Those are legitimate questions that any home owner has. In that area, they raise them all the time. I say again that we must make a very big effort at communicating with those people, because the citizens of Oka want their community to be as it was before. They want to live in peace in that wonderful region, Mr. Speaker, which you should visit one day.

Now there is a last offer. The Kanesatake Mohawks always said that the Oka pine grove was sacred land and that any negotiation with the federal negotiator could succeed only if the Mohawks recovered that part of the territory adjoining the famous parcel of land bought from Mr. Rousseau, and the Jardins d'Oka. It is now a municipal park which is not used by non-natives, it must be said. I think that the Oka council is quite aware of it, and many people with whom I have spoken are well aware that the pine grove park is a wonderful spot, but is used by the natives for various ancestral reasons.

The home owners south of highway 344, who you recall were the first to be thrown out when the armed warriors took Oka on July 11, 1990, a date now famous in the minds of my constituents in that part of the riding, lived and still live in a rather unusual situation. You see, the pine grove is on the north and these home owners are on the south, so the government cannot create a reserve behind, which I think neither the native people of Oka nor the whites want to have. This is what the government has done. It asked whether the village of Oka would be interested in a transfer of property. To solve the problem of those living south of highway 344, the government would buy that land, between 12 and 15 properties, and in exchange, the village would turn over the pine grove to the negotiating committee so that the federal negotiator could see the light at the end of the tunnel and finally conclude what I would call a peace treaty, Mr. Speaker, which is what everyone wants.

What we did not know but have since learned is that the residents of Girouard Street, the owners that are neighbours at the back of the residences south of highway 344, are very concerned. They say this: "If the federal government transfers the properties south of highway 344 to the municipality, the latter could lay out a

March 30, 1992

park or do anything it wants." The owners have told me: "Madam Bourgault, we do not want someday to find ourselves, through circumstances, with a park adjacent to our backyards, a park that could eventually belong to aboriginal people." This situation presents a particular problem for those residents, a problem that the government, as well as the municipality and the federal negotiator, must take into account.

Those are only a few of the problems. Of course, all those people and organizations have retained the services of lawyers. There are several lawyers from various firms involved in this issue who try, as best they can, to protect the interests of their clients. There is all kinds of speculation; there is a lot of hearsay, "I heard that", "maybe that", and "possibilities that". In fact, there are so many rumors that we must absolutely establish a communication process as soon as possible.

The Hon. Monique Landty has two big responsibilities since, on the one hand, as minister of state for Indian affairs, she is responsible for aboriginal rights and, on the other hand, as a minister for the region of Laval-Rive-Nord, she is the regional responsible minister. Therefore, she finds herself in a rather difficult position, but I must say that she works very hard. She has never stopped working on this issue, and she was always available when people wanted to meet with her. She has done all that she can and I must say that she does not always get the necessaiy support, including from myself as well as from aboriginal people that do not necessarily support her efforts. This issue is so unique and so complex that we must look at it in a unique fashion. It is not easy for a government to find a unique solution to a unique problem.

It is for all those reasons, Mr. Speaker, that I propose the creation of the Societe Immobiliere Oka-Kanesa-take, of which I would like to enumerate some objectives: to transfer the reunification of lands process, as well as the budget allocated by Treasury Board for that purpose, to a local authority; to allow more open negotiations, by establishing a legitimate intermediary between the two communities; to reduce the over-all costs of the reunification of lands; to accelerate negotiations at every level by reducing to a minimum the present delays; to bring together the two communities; to ensure stability and continuity to the negotiation process;

Private Members' Business

to create a favourable climate for the economic and social development of the communities, and so on.

The government has decided to open a local public works office to accelerate the process as regards anything that can be negotiated at the table. When negotiators come to the conclusion that a piece of land is necessary for unification purposes, rather than wait until the end, and in order to solve the problem of non-aboriginal people that are like hostages in those negotiations, Public Works Canada will act immediately. The office just opened and there have been problems because aboriginal people have demonstrated to keep that office from opening. Once again, this was because of a lack of communication and because the aboriginal people did not know the role of that office. This office is there to answer legitimate questions from the people, such as: "Is my house being considered? Is it going to be bought or not?"

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the coalition and the Chamber of Commerce are still holding meetings and I think that it is not only up to the federal government or the provincial government to settle the problems of these two communities. They will have to learn to compromise in order to live together. They have no choice. Nobody is about to be deported and the federal government will not expropriate. One Mirabel was enough. We do not want to create another similar situation.

Therefore, it is a matter of mutual agreement. But again, there must be consistency. We cannot buy up all of Oka. The federal government cannot acquire the ownership of the whole area and the Mohawks from Kanesa-take must understand that white people are living there too and will continue to do so. That is the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it. The two communities must immediately start to look for local means to help one another understand their respective specific needs and interests.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that the government made the right decision when it decided to open an office there, although I have to admit that, personally, I would have preferred all matters to go through a Societe Immobiliere Oka-Kanesatake. We did resolve the sensitive issue of Mirabel expropriations with the Societe Immobiliere du Canada in Mirabel, and things went just fine. The local people dealt with the government offi-

March 30, 1992

Private Members' Business

cials in charge of buying and selling the land. This leads me to believe that, had we put one single local unit in charge of the entire process, there would have been no problem. There would not have been such a big problem due to lack of communication, misgivings about what a mandate is, the perception some may have regarding the sale or transfer of the lands known as the pines for the property south of highway 344, all legitimate questions the people have after going though the dreadful crisis they experienced.

Let us not forget that the events of the summer of 1990 have left indelible scars on these people's minds. Of course, each time a problem arises in Oka, the people who have not yet recovered from that crisis will get very insecure. It is only normal that they ask questions and want their concerns answered.

In closing, I wish we had created that agency, but the government decided otherwise and I am prepared to work with Public Works, Indian and Northern Affairs and the negotiating committee. However, I would really like to know when the negotiations will be over. When are we going to see the light at the end of the tunnel at the negotiating table. It looks so complicated to many people, but it seems to me that, with a little good will, considering the serious unemployment situation in Ka-nesatake, considering that economic concerns must be resolved without delay, it would be time to set aside all those animosities and act to restore good relations and put an end to those negotiations which are dragging on and are not conducive to bringing the two communities closer together.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CREATION OF SOCIETY IMMOBILIERE OKA-KANESATAKE
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LIB

Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew

Liberal

Ms. Ethel Blondin (Western Arctic):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak on the private member's motion put forward by the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau, my colleague from the area that is involved in this particular motion.

Her motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of creating the Society Immobiliere Oka-Kanesatake and to transfer to HueSocMU the budget already allocated by Treasury Board for the purpose of negotiating the reunification of lands at Oka-Kanesatake.

I would like to establish three important points that this House and the Canadian public need to be aware of. First, this motion is irrelevant since the member's own government has already objected to the idea in a letter which was sent to the chief of Kanesatake.

Second, the member is in conflict of a responsibility to all of her constituents and to the members of this House.

Third, the precedent set by establishing this process in Oka would be unwieldy and costly in all other regions of Canada where land claims processes are being negotiated.

This motion is an example of a waste of time and taxpayers' dollars. The government has already opposed the idea in a letter that the Minister of State for Indian Affairs wrote to Chief Jerry Peltier on March 11,1992. In that letter the federal minister gives very clear assurance that there will be no acquisition of properties by the special office proposed by the member opposite before any issues are addressed at the negotiating table.

The minister also stated that she believes in the current negotiating process. The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake already has a negotiating process in place with the federal government for the transfer of land. The federal negotiator is Bernard Roy who has developed the process in conjunction with the Mohawk Council. The negotiators are progressing. If they are to succeed, it is essential that these parties are allowed to proceed.

This motion is an attempt to undermine and destroy the negotiating process between the federal government and the Mohawk Council. You cannot look to a business deal, a real estate office, for a very complicated political problem that needs a unique solution, as she puts it. You need to deal within the realm of politics because it is not a business deal that will deal with this particular issue or that will resolve it.

In my view, the member is in conflict. She is not only proposing a motion that her own government has already rejected, she is also working against her own constituents whom she was elected to represented in this House, not work against. They are the Mohawk residents of Kanesatake. Whether she agrees or disagrees, they are also her constituents. She has shown no respect for the Mohawk government of Kanesatake.

March 30, 1992

Private Members' Business

I am a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, which held months of hearings as a result of the Oka crisis. Both the member and I worked on that committee together, at odds at times but together nevertheless. In the end we came out with a report in the summer of 1990 which makes some very specific and constructive recommendations.

The member should bear in mind one recommendation. We produced a set of recommendations to the government. The member, by way of her motion, is also conflicting with the very report which she endorsed.

Let me read the recommendation which the members of that committee agreed to: "Recommendation No. 6: The land views conflict resolution at Kanesatake. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs recommends that the government approach the parties regarding the advisability of putting in place a process to deal with conflicts between municipalities and Mohawk authorities over land use issues affecting both communities without prejudice to the land claims. The committee recommends the appointment of a mediator, upon the joint approval of the parties concerned, to facilitate discussions over land use matters such as zoning and other municipal concerns. The committee also recommends that the appointment of an arbitrator jointly agreed upon to make binding decisions where negotiations and mediation do not resolve the conflict".

I also want to point out to the members of this House that by supporting this motion, a precedent would be established whereby such an office could be established in every municipality in Canada where land claims were being negotiated, where there are difficulties and complexities that do take time, that do take consideration and extra work, that do take the expertise that is being put forward by the mediator and the Mohawk Council at this time, and also by the federal government.

For instance, does this House believe that the town of Inuvik should receive funding from the federal government to establish an office because of the negotiations of the Gwichin regional claim? Will the government be establishing such an office in Iqaluit because of the TFN plan it proposed to create in Nunavut. How much would these offices cost and what would be their purpose other than to undermine the land claims process agreed upon by the federal government.

All Canadians remember the tragic summer of 1990.1 agree with the member opposite that we have to come together and look for a resolution. This motion is clearly provocative in light of what has occurred over the last couple of years. The conflict between the government and the people of the pines provokes emotional and psychological trauma for all involved. It is beyond me why anyone in Canada, much less the member of Parliament for the region, would want to jeopardize the system which has been established by the people since that tragic event to deal with land transfer processes.

I beg members of this House not to put our country into this volatile situation again and to not support this motion.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CREATION OF SOCIETY IMMOBILIERE OKA-KANESATAKE
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PC

Geoff Wilson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Geoff Wilson (Swift Current-Maple Creek-As-siniboia):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words on the motion that has been put by my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau.

Members on all sides of the House know what a delicate issue land unification is for Kanesatake. Despite what the newspapers are reporting, negotiations are continuing among representatives from the province of Quebec, the federal government, municipalities in Oka and the band council. Indeed Grand Chief Peltier has already let it be known that he is unequivocally opposed to the proposal. He proposes instead a return to vigorous discussions at the negotiating table in order to make progress.

The efforts of the hon. member who put this motion to resolve the issue are well known and she deserves the support of all members of this House. However, certain important aspects of her proposal are unacceptable to the Government of Canada because unanimity has not been achieved among the principal parties involved.

The federal government and the residents of the two communities do not want a repeat of the events of 1990. We must enable the two communities to work together at re-establishing harmony.

March 30, 1992

Private Members' Business

I want to recap quickly a few facts to demonstrate for members on all sides of the House the progress that has been made since that time. Indeed during the summer of 1990 the government purchased, in two stages, the entire 106 acres of land necessary to launch the lands unification project at Kanesatake. The government acquired the land to put an end to the crisis and to demonstrate its good-will with respect to the principal claims of the Mohawks of Kanesatake.

In October 1990 the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development held a series of talks with representatives from Kanesatake to discuss ways of settling the issues that remain unresolved in their community.

In November 1990 the minister announced the start of negotiations with the Kanesatake negotiating committee, negotiations that were aimed at establishing a unified territory for the community of Kanesatake, solving long-standing grievances concerning the seig-neury of Lac de Deux Montagnes; ensuring housing, the necessary community infrastructures and economic development and formulating an agreement concerning self-government.

In February 1991 the Government of Canada and the Coalition of Mohawks of Kanesatake agreed to the schedule for land negotiations. The following April, in view of the growing dispute over whether the Mohawk Coalition of Kanesatake represented the community, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development announced that a plebiscite would be held to determine the type of government the community wanted. After the plebiscite an election was held and Jerry Peltier was declared the Grand Chief. Upon being elected, he was given the task of developing an elections code that would serve as the foundation for electing a permanent council for Kanesatake.

The Minister of State then asked the federal negotiator to meet with members of the new council as soon as possible to discuss the procedure for resolving grievances concerning land.

In October the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tabled in the House the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs called The Summer of 1990.

In April 1991 the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a royal commission on aboriginal peoples. At the same time he announced new initiatives on specific land claims shortly before the publication of the report. With respect to the policy on land claims, significant changes have occurred aimed at accelerating the process of settling both specific and comprehensive claims.

The specific claims commission was established as part of the initiatives announced by the Prime Minister and will provide an independent mechanism for resolving conflicts. The commission was also given the mandate to handle arbitration at the request of the parties concerned.

Specific land claims whose origins predate Confederation have now been approved for review and a process for expediting the settlement of small claims has been set up. With regard to comprehensive claims, the government has lifted the limit of six for the number of claims that could be negotiated simultaneously.

These are some of the measures taken by the government to clearly demonstrate that aboriginal issues are at the forefront of governmental concerns.

Colleagues will also recall that the committee recommended that the Government of Canada ensure that the Six Nations Confederacy be involved and consulted in seeking a solution of the issue of administration at Kanesatake. The committee indicated, and rightly so, that it was primarily up to the citizens of Kanesatake to resolve this issue.

The Government of Canada is promoting mechanisms through which residents of the community can make their own choices concerning the type of political representation they want.

The committee also recommended that the government consult with the parties about the creation of a process for resolving conflicts between municipalities and Mohawk authorities over land use issues. It recommended the appointment of a mediator to facilitate discussions on land use, and among other things, zoning, and the appointment of an arbitrator to make binding decisions where mediation and negotiation have failed.

At the end of the 1990 conflict, the federal government appointed a negotiator to resume negotiations with the community on land issues. The negotiating table

March 30, 1992

remains the forum where the Canadian government will negotiate with the band council in order to consider and resolve the community's other concerns.

Colleagues will recall that one of the main causes of the dispute in the summer of 1990 was the Mohawk claim to land known as the pines. The land was part of a municipal park and was adjacent to a municipal golf course which the municipality was planning to expand. This land was not for sale and up to that point the municipality had no intention of parting with it. In order to address the issue we have sought innovative solutions.

Last month the Minister of State announced details of the federal proposal aimed at resolving certain concerns of the residents of Oka and Kanesatake regarding lands. Under the proposal, the government is recommending the purchase of property south of highway 344 which will be exchanged with the municipality of the village of Oka for wooded land belonging to the municipality located west of the existing golf course and which was at the heart of the 1990 conflict.

This constitutes a fair and equitable solution likely to satisfy all parties involved. On the one hand, Mohawks will obtain land situated in the pines which are of great cultural importance; on the other hand, the municipality of the village of Oka will take possession of land which it could use to benefit the community. The initiative is one which is very likely to advance the issue of land unification at Kanesatake.

It is essential that the land at Kanesatake be continuous and not contain any enclaves. Only a few examples exist of aboriginal land that is so spread out. This type of land configuration makes both community living and economic development difficult. Joining the pines to the land already acquired by this federal government is in step with unification of this land.

Among the key elements of the proposal of the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau is the creation of a body that would be responsible for informing the entire population, native and non-native, of the federal government's plans on all issues of interest to the two communities, principally that of land acquisitions.

I would join colleagues on both sides of the House in applauding the recent announcement by the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau concerning the establishment of the federal information office in Oka-Ka-

Private Members' Business

nesatake. The presence of an office such as this in the community will contribute significantly to improving relations between the region's native and non-native communities.

The office will fulfil two objectives of the federal government. First, Public Works Canada officers need a location to conduct business when they are discussing purchases with land owners. Second, a liaison officer will be on site to inform all parties concerned of the advances being made by the government in the land unification project.

This information will be provided once a decision has been made at the negotiating table. Certain segments of the population of Kanesatake have called for the office to be closed. Following discussions the band council agrees that the government should act openly and promptly with the residents of both communities on the land issue. We believe that this office can play an important role in this regard. It must therefore remain open and proceed with its mandate.

In conclusion, after hearing this brief overview, I am sure colleagues will agree that significant progress has been made on the Oka-Kanesatake issue. But negotiations currently under way must continue. There must be no new delays; the entire population is calling for action. People in the area are anxious for the land unification project to be completed, as this will end the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the community.

The government has made a commitment to move ahead while taking into consideration the interests of aboriginal peoples and non-aboriginals in the region. We must continue in the direction in which we started. The future of an entire region of Quebec and Canada is at stake.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CREATION OF SOCIETY IMMOBILIERE OKA-KANESATAKE
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PC

Charles-Eugène Marin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charles-Eugene Marin (Gaspe):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to the proposal presented by the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau, especially since I was astonished when I heard the hon. member for Western Arctic accuse my colleague of having a conflict of interest. That is the kind of comment which since 1990 and shortly before has led to the endless wrangling that has been going on in the area. I would have expected the hon. member for Western

March 30, 1992

Private Members' Business

Arctic to be more diplomatic and more aware of what is going on in this part of Quebec.

The motion presented by the hon. member for Argen-teuil-Papineau reads as follows:

- the government should consider the advisability of creating the Societe immobiMre Oka-Kanesatake (SIOK) and to transfer to the Societe the budget already allocated by Treasury Board for the purposes of negotiating there unification of lands at Oka-Kanesatake.

As a member of this House, I feel I must congratulate the hon. member on her efforts since 1990 to find a solution to the problem of land reunification in Oka-Kanesatake. Her proposal includes a number of very interesting aspects which deserve further study. For instance, I welcome her suggestion to create a unit that will be responsible for informing the people of Oka-Kanesatake about the federal government's plans.

In fact, since the end of the crisis, the people in these two communities have had no mechanism for getting information on what is happening and how their interests are being defended. As a result, there is a lot of misunderstanding and disagreement which is certainly not conducive to restoring good relations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities in the region.

In fact, I was delighted when the hon. member announced a few weeks ago that an information office, staffed by Public Works Canada, would open its doors. I think this office will be extremely helpful in disseminating information to both communities. In this way, any false rumours that might upset the normal negotiating process for the reunification of Kanesatake lands could be defused immediately.

By opening this office, the government has made it clear it is concerned about the well-being of the aboriginal and non-aboriginal population. Last year the health minister announced several initiatives that would be helpful to the local economy. Funds were allocated to stimulate the region's tourism industry.

The proposal by the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau to create a unit consisting of representatives of all parties concerned to manage the land acquisition process would nevertheless cause serious problems. It would also cause additional delay in settling the land claims issue.

The lands reunification and acquisition process is starting to show some interesting results. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has asked Public Works Canada to start negotiations with non-aboriginal property owners who want to sell their property. A number of purchase offers have already been made and others will be made very shortly.

Incidentally, the entire process is based on mutual agreement, and no property owner will be expropriated by the federal government.

Members on both sides of the House are aware that the piece of land referred to as the pines is very important to the Mohawks. It is important to them both culturally and as part of their heritage.

For the village of Oka, however, this happens to be a park next to the municipal golf club.

We know that ownership of this land was the focus of the various events of the 1990 crisis. The Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development recently made a very important and innovative announcement concerning these lands.

Under this proposal, the village of Oka will acquire certain properties south of highway 344 in exchange for the pine grove. This is a fair and reasonable solution that would enable the municipality to acquire land to use as it sees fit. At the same time, it will allow the Kanesatake Mohawks to obtain the pine grove that they say they want so much. That is another important step in resolving the grievances related to land unification in Kanesatake.

As I said before, more progress is being made at the negotiating table. It is up to the parties involved to inform the public about it. That is why I believe that the proposal from my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau, is unacceptable in its present form. Furthermore, it implies that the municipality and village of Oka would have their say in managing the land that the Kanesatake Mohawks consider their own.

I am convinced that this proposal is completely unacceptable for the native people concerned. Everyone yearns for the land unification issue to be settled quickly. We must all ensure that this matter is resolved as soon as possible. We cannot afford more delay in unifying the land at Kanesatake, and the negotiating process begun by Public Works Canada must not be impeded. We must

March 30, 1992

not encourage real estate speculation in Oka, nor can the negotiating process be dragged out because property values for the present owners would go down even more.

The federal government is committed to offering purchase prices that would reflect the circumstances that these property owners had to face. They will receive fair and reasonable offers.

Mr. Speaker, we owe it to our constituents to work to restore harmony between the two communities. Let us therefore give the present process time to take its course.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CREATION OF SOCIETY IMMOBILIERE OKA-KANESATAKE
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Since no more members wish to speak, the time provided for Private Members' Business has now expired.

Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1), the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CREATION OF SOCIETY IMMOBILIERE OKA-KANESATAKE
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POINT OF ORDER

LIB

David Charles Dingwall (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. David Dingwall (Cape Breton-East Richmond):

rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have given verbal notice to my colleagues in the respective parties with regard to a point of order concerning Bill C-63.

It was given first reading on March 10, 1992.1 believe that this bill is out of order, and as the Chair hears my submission I think it will become obvious why I am making this particular point.

I do so before the bill is introduced for second reading, Mr. Speaker. I will allude to remarks made by one of your predecessors who indicated quite clearly that perhaps when making an intervention of this nature it ought to be done shortly after the first reading but certainly before second reading of the substantive part of the bill.

Standing Order 68(3) states:

No bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect

shape.

I suggest that Bill C-63 is in breach of that particular standing order.

Point of Order

In the budget the Government of Canada announced that for reasons of economy it planned to close a number of government agencies. A number of these are merely of an administrative nature and lend themselves to being folded into other agencies doing similar work. Others, however, are distinctive agencies performing distinctive public functions.

Bill C-63 is intended to give legislative authority to the government's announcement with regard to six agencies performing, in my view, distinctive functions.

Bill C-63's long title, an act to dissolve or to terminate certain corporations or other bodies, is intended to mask the real complexities of the bill. It puts forward the fiction that the bill is merely a cost cutting measure eliminating a bunch of redundant or archaic agencies while in fact, when one examines the bill, it reveals that while it does wind up some agencies thereby saving some money, it also makes major substantive changes to public policy with regard to the role of government.

Very briefly I think it should be noted that one of the agencies in Bill C-63 that I referred to is the Canadian Employment and Immigration Advisory Council, and obviously the minister responsible therein would be the Minister of Employment and Immigration. It has consequential effects with regard to the Unemployment Insurance Act. The statutes would be amended there.

The second agency which has been referred to is the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security. The minister responsible would be the Secretary of State for External Affairs. Again that particular section would have consequential effects on the Access to Information Act, the Financial Administration Act, the Privacy Act, and the Public Service Superannuation Act.

Another agency is the Economic Council of Canada. The minister responsible there would be the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. It too has a number of acts which would be affected in consequence thereof: access to information, schedule II to the Financial Administration Act, schedule III of the Municipal Grants Act, and the schedule to the Privacy Act is amended.

March 30, 1992

Point of Order

The fourth agency is the International Centre for Ocean Development. Again the minister in this particular instance is the Minister for External Relations, which is different from the previous one.

The fifth agency is the Law Reform Commission of Canada. I might add that under the International Centre for Ocean Development, when one reads that statute, the consequential effects are to the Financial Administration Act, particularly part 1 of schedule III, as well as the International Centre for Ocean Development, the act itself.

Under the Law Reform Commission of Canada there are a number of statutes, some of which I have already referred to, that would be duly affected as a result. The minister in this particular instance would be the Minister of Justice.

The final one is the Science Council of Canada. The minister responsible would be the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. Again a number of statutes would be affected, namely schedule I of the Access to Information Act, schedule II of the Financial Administration Act, schedule III of the Municipal Grants Act, the schedule of the Privacy Act, part 2 of schedule I of the Public Service Staff Relations Act, and part 1 of schedule I of the Public Service Superannuation Act.

The bill amends or repeals statutes affecting six agencies. If properly drafted, the long title would indicate its purpose of terminating specific agencies by name. This would of course uncover the real purpose of the bill: in the guise of cutting costs and eliminating some redundant bodies, to eliminate a number of government agencies that in the course of effectively carrying out their responsibilities have become thorns in the government's side.

I refer to your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Lucien Lamoureux, who was reported at page 284 of the House Debates on January 26, 1971. We were talking about an omnibus bill, and this clearly is an omnibus bill affecting six different agencies. I quote:

However, where do we stop? Where is the point of no return? The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I believe the hon. member for Edmonton West, said that we might reach the point where we would have only one bill, a bill at the start of the session

for the improvement of the quality of life in Canada which would include every single proposed piece of legislation for the session. That would be an omnibus bill with a capital "O" and a capital "B". But would it be acceptable legislation? There must be a point where we go beyond what is acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint.

As I alluded to at the outset of my remarks, Mr. Lamoureux said that the most appropriate time in which to raise a point of order of this nature was after first reading but certainly before second reading. I believe in that same judgment you would hear him say the following words:

-it is much easier for the government to go back to the legislative mill, to the judicial luminaries of the Department of Justice where the bills are prepared, for the consideration of Parliament. If I may say so, I think that even those very learned gentlemen should take into account the fact that this aspect of legislation is of interest to all hon. members, of interest I am sure to the government, and certainly of interest to the Chair, namely, that there must be a point where an omnibus bill becomes more than an omnibus bill and is not acceptable from a procedural standpoint.

Superficially the principle of the bill, as the government purports, is to reduce the cost of government. In reality, however, it raises the principle-and I want to underline this-of maintaining the Economic Council as an independent advisory body on economy planning, the Science Council on scientific planning, the Law Reform Commission on the administration of justice, the Employment and Immigration Council, the Peace and Security Institute, and the International Centre for Ocean Development within their own areas of specialization.

It raises the question of the role of government in developing independent points of view to assist in long-term policy development. These are principles, I suggest, which are far different from that of the economic operation of the Government of Canada. Furthermore, each agency differs in its scope from the next, which means that the considerations involved are certainly far different.

Thus, in effect Bill C-63 raises not one but at least in my view six different principles. The umbrella of cost cutting may well apply to a number of agencies involved, but there are at least six agencies that raise such independent issues of public policy that they ought to be considered in separate bills.

March 30, 1992

The objection to the omnibus bills is based on the fact that it is repugnant, confusing and unparliamentary to ask the House to declare itself in one division on a motion that in effect embraces many principles.

Beauchesne's fifth edition, citation 703, which is now citation 626 of the sixth edition, talks about the form of a bill. It reads:

Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of the bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.

I suggest that these are sue separate, and I use the word with great respect, distinctive mandates. How anyone could think that there is a realm of relevancy when one reads the long title of the statute is beyond the comprehension of this particular reader.

On May 6, 1971, as reported in the Journals at page 532, the Chair went on to say: "It follows of course there should be a theme of relevancy between the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to the subject of the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title. It is of course a matter of judgment", and I underline that for the Chair, "in each case as to when a bill offends to the point that it should be ruled as unacceptable because it contains disparate matters in the same bill".

My colleague, the distinguished member from Calgary, the government House leader, on a previous occasion in March 1982 rose on a point of order on a similar matter. I wish to quote him from Hansard at page 15481 where he rose on a point of order with regard to the omnibus bill, Bill C-94, which was introduced by the government of the day. He objected to it and rose on a point of order. I wish to quote some of the things he said, as reported on that particular page at March 1, 1982:

The government might argue, Madam Speaker, that this bill flows from the National Energy Program and that provides the necessary relevancy. To begin with, that would not strictly be true. While most of the items were mentioned in the National Energy Program, there are parts of this bill which do not flow from the National Energy Program. They are separate.

Secondly, and more importantly, if that argument is to be given any weight then one clearly would have to accept the principle that a single bill could be brought in covering all intended legislation for a

Point of Order

session, rationalized on the basis that all its component parts flow from the throne speech which commenced the session.

That was the government House leader on March 1, 1982. Then he goes on to say:

Presumably the government will also argue that the component parts have to do with energy and thus that provides the theme of relevancy to the bill. Well, Madam Speaker, to begin with, all the component parts do not deal with energy. However, if that argument were put I would only say that to accept it would be to accept that would be satisfactory to bring in a single bill covering income tax, excise tax, appropriations, borrowing authority, and for that matter unemployment insurance, since all of these deal with money. If that is the theme, then we could have that kind of grouping.

So you see, the government House leader in a previous incarnation rose in this House and stated some very important aspects of the omnibus bill in terms of its being acceptable to the House.

Just because some of these agencies have been cut as the government says for monetary reasons-and I do not necessarily concur-you can clearly see that it certainly interferes greatly with the public policy process. It interferes with how government interfaces with different agencies and how government obtains its information in order to make the decisions which it believes to be important.

Another aspect that I want to raise with you is that if this Bill C-63 is going to be accepted at second reading, one has to remember that in paragraph 659 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne, it says:

The second reading is the most important stage through which the bill is required to pass; for its whole principle is then at issue and is affirmed or denied by a vote of the House. It is not regular on this occasion, however, to discuss in detail the clauses of the bill.

So you see, we are going to be dealing with a bill covering six substantive agencies, all of which are very, very different. They are different in their mandate and different in terms of the ministers they report to. We will have a debate on second reading on six different principles. I suggest that amendments would be very difficult to put in place in terms of making them acceptable at the report stage thereafter. So I bring that to the attention of the Chair as well.

I want to conclude by quoting the government House leader again, this from page 15482 of Hansard on March 1, 1982.1 might add this is the very distinguished member from Calgary. He is the government House leader and the individual who many of us, particularly on the government side, look to for leadership in terms of the

March 30, 1992

Point of Order

legislative agenda. But this is what the hon. member said on that particular day:

The fact that the principle of the bill is established and concurred in at second reading very seriously proscribes the types of amendments which might further be put to the House. Hence, we have the double dilemma of the impossibility of having a second reading vote on a bill which contains so many disparate principles, as well as the very serious difficulty in which the Chair would be placed in trying to ascertain what types of amendments are acceptable or not during further stages of a bill's consideration.

I think the hon. member opposite when he made that intervention in March of 1982 was not thinking of what would happen on March 30, 1992 in terms of this particular bill.

In summary, and I hope others will make interventions, I would argue that Bill C-63 has six different agencies, substantive agencies, all of which provide information to the government through different ministers, whose role and mandate is to interface with the Government of Canada, to provide it with information and, at times, opposing information to the views that the government may be pursuing. I suggest that it would be very difficult under the auspices of relevancy to be able to carry on a substantive debate at second reading. I suggest that it would be very difficult, if not next to impossible, to implement or put forward amendments which would be acceptable to the Chair.

Finally, I think it is time, if I may be permitted to use some personal language here, that the Chair recognize what is going on here. The government is holding Parliament, not up to ransom, but certainly holding us in somewhat of a disrepute in the sense that it just thinks it can come in any old time, slap a bill before the House for first reading, whether it covers four, five or sue different agencies, and expect those of us in the opposition to merely nod our heads and proceed as usual. I do not think that is fair and I do not think that is appropriate. I would say to the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, who has tried to carve out a reputation and, in some instances, he has been successful as a reformist within Parliament and as a procedural person, that it is not fair or appropriate for the government to proceed with Bill C-63.

I want to thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity to make this intervention. I hope the Chair will reflect upon what I have said and perhaps will give due consideration, as the Chair always does, to colleagues on the other side as well as my distinguished colleague from Kamloops who no doubt will be making a reasoned, thoughtful, persuasive argument as he normally does.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

I will listen to the hon. member for Kamloops on his persuasive argument.

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Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say right from the outset that I think this is a most critical issue that my hon. colleague has raised this morning. For many of us it is a bit of deja vu because, as my colleague has indicated, I remember back in 1982 when our friend from Calgary was in the opposition and led a very, very tough debate and discussion around this issue dealing with the National Energy Program. As a matter of fact, it was the infamous 16 days of bell ringing and so on. It was one one of those special debates on these special issues.

Here we are once again attempting to make the point with the Chair, which at that time was made in the end successfully, to suggest that Bill C-63 is a bill that is very difficult to deal with as we would normally deal with a bill today at second reading because, as my hon. friend has indicated, second reading is the time when we discuss the principle of the bill.

When I saw this, I asked myself what is the principle of this bill. Is it dealing with employment and immigration matters because when you abandon the Canada Employment and Immigration Advisory Council of course that is a major policy shift on the government in terms of changing that. Or is it to deal with Science Council issues? Again, when you wind up the Science Council of Canada you are making a major policy decision in the science area. Is the principle of the bill dealing with international peace and security which of course it does deal with. Does it deal with a whole variety of economic issues that the Economic Council of Canada has dealt with over the years?

It is perplexing because, as a responsible member of Parliament, one wants to debate the bill at second reading. One wants to debate the principle of the bill. I cannot determine what the principle of this bill is because it deals with a whole pot-pourri of different areas.

March 30, 1992

Point of Order

This poses a dilemma. This, obviously, is an omnibus bill. It deals with employment and immigration, international peace and security, economic issues. It deals with ocean development. It refers to the Law Reform Commission and all of the work that that commission does, as well as the Science Council of Canada.

To proceed at this point, at second reading, obviously poses a serious dilemma. My hon. colleague has referred back. I will not refer to the references that he has quoted. I do not think it is necessary. I want to cast our minds back to that very critical debate in 1982 regarding energy policy.

There the position was made very clearly that unless we break up an omnibus bill of this nature and deal with the component parts independently and properly, this will set a very, very important precedent. If we are simply saying that in one bill you can deal with immigration issues, employment issues, ocean issues, science issues, economic issues and so on and so forth, are we not getting perilously close to the day when we simply say: "Here is the omnibus bill of the session of Parliament dealing with taxation, agriculture, forestry and a whole variety of areas. We will debate this one bill, and that will be it".

In other words, Parliament might last then for a whole session for a matter of hours or days, depending on the interest of the government in using closure.

I look across the aisle and I see the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader who I know, on balance, is a reasonable individual. I am sure he will participate in this debate. When the government introduced in the budget the fact that it was going to close these agencies-it is the right of the government to do that-we thought it was wrong-headed at the time and we still do. Again, this government has done a number of things. Most of the things it has done are wrong-headed in our estimation, but it has the right to do them. It indicated that it was going to close these government agencies.

Little did we ever anticipate that it would do this in one fell swoop. It minimized the debate. This is where I appeal to my hon. friend across the way, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader who knows how important it is that we debate issues thoroughly and properly in this House and that to do the job under the normal time allocations we have to debate issues. We know that his hon. friend, the House leader

for the government, is going to suggest that we deal with this within a day or two.

We are winding up some very critical agencies. If we are going to do that, the government ought to at least have the courage to debate openly the wisdom of winding up the Science Council of Canada. Scientists and others who are knowledgeable about the way the economy is going in the 1990s and toward the year 2000 tell us that science and science policy will play a critical role.

Is this the time to wrap up the Science Council of Canada? Is it the time to close down the Economic Council of Canada? The government says "yes". I suspect that unanimously, the opposition will say "no". That then, should be the basis of a thorough, open and complete debate.

We all know that this will not take place. If this omnibus bill is allowed to proceed as it is presently composed, that debate will not be forthcoming. It will be muzzled. There will not be adequate opportunity for people to participate in sharing their views on these critical areas.

I join with my friend, the House leader for the Official Opposition in saying that we too would support the notion of dividing up Bill C-63 to allow open, proper and complete debate on the winding up of these critical government agencies which we think is a serious departure in terms of past government policy. We feel that it deserves that type of open debate.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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NDP

Raymond John Skelly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ray Skelly (North Island -Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to basically add a few remarks in support of the point of order by the previous speakers. The budget, by way of an example that is useful, proposes to amalgamate two agencies called the External Review Committee of the RCMP and the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. To do that by way of an omnibus bill would really be a detrimental situation. The RCMP Public Complaints Commissions is an agency that has just commenced. It is an extremely busy agency. In the area I represent, it has had a large number of complaints put forward against a very small number of individuals. Yet those complaints are occurring across Canada. We have the situations of David Marshall, Wilson Nepoose and David Milgaard. We have had numerous examples of where the public must have access to the complaint system. There must be a mechanism to debate any of those changes in the RCMP Act in the House of Commons.

March 30, 1992

Point of Order

The commission has asked for 41 changes to the legislation to strengthen and improve the national police force in Canada. It would be a serious error to jam this through without debate by way of an omnibus bill.

Hopefully the government will reconsider this position and allow these issues to be debated individually because of their importance to Canadians.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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PC

Albert Glen Cooper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Albert Cooper (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons):

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to respond to the interventions of my friends opposite. They have made some interesting, not particularly new arguments but arguments that I think are worth spending a little time on.

I am advised from across the aisle that these were arguments that were used by the government House leader on a previous occasion. I am sure he would be very much flattered by the fact that his arguments were once again presented in this House and people quoted them with great authority and great enthusiasm.

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Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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LIB

David Charles Dingwall (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Dingwall:

But in a much more coherent fashion.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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PC

Albert Glen Cooper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cooper:

It is certainly arguable as to whether or not the original argument was better put than the references made to them today. I leave that in your hands, Mr. Speaker.

However, the intriguing thing is, no matter how good those arguments were that my colleague the government House leader made several years ago, they were not good enough. Mr. Speaker, you will recall that what happened was that the Speaker of the day ruled that in spite of the compelling arguments that he made, he did not win the day.

We are in a similar circumstance today. There is nothing precedent setting about the discussion here today. In fact, one of the Speakers said in the past, Madam Sauve, I believe it was, in a very brief one paragraph ruling: "There is no point in me going through all the precedents we have here. The bottom line is that the tradition on a bill if it is called an omnibus bill is that

the House has been able to proceed with that particular piece of legislation".

Therefore, there is nothing new here today. There is nothing new at all. What I need to do, just to make sure the record is set straight, is to spend a few moments refuting some of those arguments.

First of all, this is the particular bill we are talking about, Bill C-63. My friends have described it as an omnibus bill. It is not a great big thick document. It is eight pages long.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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?

An hon. member:

Short and sweet.

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Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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PC

Albert Glen Cooper (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cooper:

Short and sweet. It accomplishes a veiy simple task. If we look at Beauchesne's sixth edition, page 192, citation 626, and I quote:

(1) Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.

The umbrella of this particular legislation was made very clear in the budget. It indicated very clearly that the government planned to dissolve or terminate a number of corporations and other bodies for a central theme, being the ability to cut government expenditures and, therefore, as much as possible relieve the burden on the Canadian taxpayers and to reduce the stress and pressure of the very difficult debt situation we are facing in this country. That is the umbrella.

What is the title of the bill? What does the title say? It is very simple: an act to dissolve or terminate certain corporations and other bodies. Citation 627 of Beauchesne's sixth edition states:

A bill may have two titles, one long and one short. Both the long title and the short title may be amended, if amendments to the bill make it necessary.

(1) Long title-The long title sets out in general terms the purposes of the bill. It should cover everything in the bill.

I think it is very clear that the title of this particular bill does just that. It says very clearly, "an act to dissolve or terminate certain corporations and other bodies". The title is consistent with Beauchesne and with our practices in the past and I would argue so is the bill.

March 30, 1992

I want to refer again to Beauchesne's sixth edition, the most recent edition of our procedural bible, if I can call it that, citation 634, page 194:

Nevertheless, the practice of using one bill to demand one decision on a number of quite different, although related subjects, while a matter of concern -

As has been generated by arguments that we have heard today and other arguments in the past, and this is the operative part:

- is an issue on which the Speaker will not intervene to divide the

bill.

Mr. Speaker, there is a long tradition, there is a long history, and the Speaker's position has consistently been the same; the Speaker will not intervene.

I do not think we are dealing with an omnibus bill here. We are dealing with an eight-page document that is designed to terminate certain corporations and other bodies.

Even if it were an omnibus bill, Mr. Speaker, and as I say, I am not prepared to concede that it is, I want to refer you to the Lamoureux decisions, page 434. The question before Speaker Lamoureux that day was: can an omnibus bill be considered by the House or should the Speaker order that it be divided? The decision was veiy clear. The bill can receive second reading in its existing form. In other words, Mr. Speaker, even if it were an omnibus bill, it could proceed.

I want to refer to the reasons given by Mr. Speaker Lamoureux because I think they are very important. I quote:

The government has followed a practice that has been accepted, rightly or wrongly, in the past.

This ruling was given on January 26,1971, 21 years ago, Mr. Speaker. It is already saying very clearly the government has followed a practice that has been accepted from our past:

The bill will be allowed to proceed despite the possible difficulties presented by omnibus legislation. Although a legitimate complaint or grievance can be raised with respect to omnibus bills, it is not clear that a legitimate procedural argument can be made.

It states:

The House should note, however, that there is a third reading stage -

And it goes on and on. The bottom line is very clear. Speaker Lamoureux and other Speakers before and after him have made it very clear that they cannot or will not intervene to stop a bill or to divide a bill because there is in this House a long tradition of accepting those bills.

Point of Order

I want to read into the record a ruling by Speaker Fraser on June 8, 1988 on an omnibus question when he was faced with a similar argument and I quote:

In conclusion, the Canadian practice regarding the authority of the Chair to divide questions has been reserved solely for substantive motions which contain more than one proposition, where members object to their being taken together, and the Chair has determined it is possible to divide the motion into more than one distinct proposition.

He then goes on to refer to Speaker Sauve's ruling. This is her ruling:

For my part, in the present circumstances, there seems little point in offering yet another opinion on a question so well addressed by my distinguished predecessors. The matter is there for all to see. It may be that the House should accept rules or guidelines as to the form and content of omnibus bills but in that case the House, not the Speaker, must make those rules.

In other words, she gave a short, one paragraph argument saying no. There is ample precedent for omnibus bills in this House and the Speaker has never ever intervened to split them.

He then goes on to say:

The Chair therefore must rule that Bill C-130 is an omnibus bill. It has the single purpose of enacting an international agreement amending several statutes. As such it conforms to our practice and should be allowed to proceed.

Until the House adopts specific rules relating to omnibus bills, the Chair's role is very limited and the Speaker should remain on the sidelines as debate proceeds and the House resolves the issue.

We have taken a fair amount of time from the House today, not to hear a new argument but to hear an old one. Mr. Speaker, I argue before you that the conclusion should be the same as it has always been. First of all I do not accept that this is an omnibus bill, but that is almost irrelevant because in fact even if it were an omnibus bill, it is a bill that is totally within the guidelines of the House of Commons and we have every right as a House to deal with that issue.

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Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

Mr. Speaker, I would not have expected the government to use such clumsy arguments to defend a proposed bill, Bill C-63, an act to dissolve or terminate certain corporations and other bodies, namely the Canada Employment and Immigration Advisory Council, the Economic Council of Canada, the Science Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security, the International Centre for Ocean Development, and many agencies and commissions which we feel, Mr. COMMONS DEBATES

March 30, 1992

Point of Order

Speaker, all fill different needs. There is nothing in common between the work of the Employment and Immigration Advisory Council and that of the Economic Council or the Science Council.

But now the government is putting forward a bill to simply eliminate these institutions, which is a rather broad and indefinite principle. This initiative leaves a lot to be desired because, if we refer to the parliamentary rules of procedure, we can see that on second reading only the principle of the bill can be debated. In this case, the principle defined by speakers from the government side to date remains rather blurred and unclear.

I would like to refer, Mr. Speaker, to Speaker Lamou-reux's rulings, on page 107.

I go to Mr. Lamoureux's statement in regard to the principle of a bill at second reading and I read "the issue at second reading can by particular provisions in a bill be debated and if a decision is no, the principle of a bill can be debated but not particular provisions".

The reasons given by the Speaker is that when a motion for second reading is before the House, the House may debate in a general way the principle of the bill but not the clauses in detail. They and the schedules should be debated at another stage.

Mr. Speaker, it is going to be quite difficult to debate the principle of this bill which is strictly to terminate certain corporations and other bodies.

In debate will we be able to give our viewpoint on the Economic Council of Canada and try to make the case that the principle of abolishing, disbanding that council is wrong? Mr. Speaker, you will have to make up an imaginative debate to try and prevent some of us on this side of the House at least from doing that. Otherwise it will for nought.

The parliamentary secretary said that this is not an omnibus bill. I do not know what the heck an omnibus bill is if this is not an omnibus bill. It covers a whole series of things. It has an approach which is common to a series of uncommon and unrelated agencies. The only common thread to the whole bill is that they are abolishing them, they are closing them down, they are, in

their own words, terminating certain corporations. So the termination is the principle of the bill. The others, whether they are important or not, are not to be discussed.

When the parliamentary secretary for the government House leader spoke, he read from page 194 of Beau-chesne, citation 634. He did not read the first phrase, he missed it. He read the last phrase. I want to put into the record all of the citation:

Speakers have expressed deep concern about the use of omnibus bills, and have suggested that there must be "a point where we go beyond what is acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint". (Debates, January 26, 1971, p. 2768.)

There is a point beyond which this House must not be taken for granted in debating bills at second reading. I was here when the Tories objected to the energy bill. I was here when they rang the bell for two weeks in protest. I was here when they contested, opposed and protested the decision of the government and of the Speaker to deal with the bill in 1982.1 did not think the opposition was making a very convincing argument at the time. They opposed at that time something which today they are doing. They are not being very consistent.

I do not want to prolong the debate, but let me say that there are certain things in our rules and procedures that need to be looked at. Whether this is called an omnibus bill or not I do not think is relevant. This is a bill touching on a variety of agencies and institutions of Parliament. The only purpose of the bill flows from a budget announcement some months ago where the government announced that it would abandon or close or terminate the existence of these corporations, these bodies.

I take exception to that. I do not think this bill is appropriate in its present form. I do think that every one of those agencies, whether it is Economic Council of Canada, the Science Council, the Public Service Staff Relations Board, or the agency that collects facts and figures for the government so that it can negotiate decently with the other agencies, the Pay Research Bureau has merit. The Pay Research Bureau is something which, in my view, we need. How can I argue for the maintenance of the Pay Research Bureau-

March 30, 1992

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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?

An hon. member:

How can you make amendments?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier:

How can I make amendments to that, short of proposing that the Pay Research Bureau be deleted from the bill? That is the only thing I can do. I cannot talk about the merits of the Pay Research Bureau although I think the government needs a Pay Research Bureau to give it up-to-date negotiating information in terms of compensation packages that are paid in the private sector. So it is going to be very difficult. How do I amend, for example, the fact that I believe that the Economic Council of Canada was doing a good job? I cannot amend that because all it says in here is that we are passing a bill to terminate certain corporations and other bodies.

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the point to be made is that it restricts the opposition, it restricts parliamentarians' rights to really go into the substance, the principle at hand and to go into debating rationally and logically the principle before us.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will take this under advisement and come back to us with a ruling at some time and that you will rule in our favour.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   BILL C-63
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March 30, 1992