April 26, 1993

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT


The House resumed from Monday, March 8, consideration of the motion of Mr. Duhamel that Bill C-339, an act to eliminate the payments of bonuses in the public sector of Canada, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee in the Human Resources envelope.


PC

Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this debate though my voice does not have its normal strength. I know it will distress all members present that I will be a little more low key than usual. However, this is such an important issue my hon. friend from St. Boniface has brought before the House that I did want to have an opportunity to make a few remarks.

I do not know exactly what his intent is but in reading this proposed piece of legislation I must say I have some concerns. I know it was not his intent to suggest that members of the Public Service of Canada ought not to receive fair, adequate compensation or anything like that. What this bill proposes to do is to take away the principle of incentive in relation to performance. Some people will disagree with that of course but it certainly is my belief that people work best when they have some incentive to do so. Fair compensation for employment and reasonable, safe working conditions are very important.

The advisory group on executive compensation in the Public Service known as the Bums group was named after the current chairman, Mr. James Bums, who is deputy chairman of Power Corporation. The group expressed the opinion and strongly held view that there should be a portion of the compensation package for senior executives put at risk, to use the group's expression, so there is some incentive.

I am not suggesting for one minute that people in senior positions in the Public Service of Canada would not give 100 per cent if their salaries were 100 per cent guaranteed. However, I think the concept that people should have incentives to work hard by having a percentage of the compensation made available by way of some sort of a bonus is important.

That is obviously one with which the advisory group agrees. I might say also it is one with which Public Service executives agree. They have agreed to that basis for compensation in their own bargaining process. I am sure it is not the intent of my hon. friend opposite to interfere with the collective bargaining process.

I realize if I start talking about the sanctity of the collective bargaining process I am sure members opposite are going to remind me very quickly it was this government that interfered with that process through the imposition of the wage restraint program on the Public Service a couple of years ago. That restraint program applied not only to members of the Public Service but also to members of this House and all people paid by the government.

That action is not normal practice. Certainly it is not the normal practice of this government because this government respects that the best way for these decisions to be made is through the collective bargaining process on the basis of market demand and so forth.

I simply remind my hon. friend and others who may wish to support this legislation that there is some potential problem inherent in an arbitrary decision being taken by Parliament. Certainly that would fly in the face

April 26, 1993

Private Members' Business

of the position he and a number of his colleagues took with respect to the public sector contract that was there a year or so ago. I merely bring that to his attention.

Maybe part of the problem lies in the use of the word bonus. A bonus to me is like getting a little prize in a Cracker Jacks box. It is something extra, something one had not necessarily expected and presumably therefore is in addition to what is expected. All that is really expected inside a box of Corn Flakes or Cheerios is the cereal but a little prize might be found inside. That is a bonus because it is something extra. I suspect the root of the legislation in part may be in the use of that particular term when in fact one might prefer the term incentive.

It is important to recall the history of this particular provision. It was taken off the compensation package at the time when this process was implemented so that if there was a salary budget equal to 100 per cent a certain percentage of that was taken back. I believe it was 15 per cent. I may be wrong about my percentages but I am talking about the principle.

What has been done in effect is to not provide a bonus as an add on. The group of employees impacted by this provision is told it is guaranteed a certain amount, which is in fact lower, 85 per cent, and there is the opportunity based on performance to earn an extra amount. I think it is important to bear that in mind.

I recall when the subject of these bonuses came up in the House a year ago, there were very flamboyant speeches by some of my hon. friends about the size of those bonuses. I think that created the context in which people thought this was not an appropriate thing.

It is important for everybody to understand that these bonuses are not an add on. In fact they are a component of the salary package that is and was already there when it was brought in.

Having said that, a bonus which is paid automatically really ceases to be an incentive. It ceases to be what it was intended to be with the use of the nefarious word bonus. If there is concern about this, what would be helpful and might warrant review is some determination or clarification of the criteria by which it will or will not be paid.

It is not easy to determine or quantify progress in some Public Service jobs. These nights whether we want to or

not, when we turn on our television sets we are being treated to hockey games. It is very easy to determine whether a hockey player gets a bonus. How many goals did he get last year? How many assists did he get? How many minutes in the penalty box? How many games did the team win? However, it is much more difficult to assess a public servant. Certainly it is difficult to quantify the performance of the individual.

If one is to determine criteria and have a clear process by which decisions will be made as to whether or not people in fact qualify for an incentive, I can understand that. The point to be made is that we must have clear criteria. It must be understood that people have to earn the incentive. It is an assumption that possibly everybody is not going to automatically get it. The automatic aspect to it can also create some progress.

At the same time however, an unattainable incentive is not really an incentive at all. When a compensation system is set up that is targeted at rewarding a person's performance, then that particular criteria should be one that if a legitimate bona fide effort is made by the individual the intent is that he or she will obtain that. In other words, the intent of the process is to encourage high performance by rewarding individual employees for the work they have done.

Administered automatically, it is a very successful system. I think it can be a beneficial system, both for the public servants impacted and Canadian taxpayers. To change that system right now would create quite a disruption. I think that a kind of political mischief was played with the system in this House a year or so ago. Except when that goes on the system works well. It serves Canadians and it serves public servants.

At the same time it provides an opportunity and a recognition for the government to be aware of the fact that Canada does have a high quality of public servants. I think all members of this House will agree that although sometimes when issues get flowing back and forth, people sometimes forget that Canadians are very well served by their public servants. We have some extraordinarily capable people.

In the case of our senior people, the compensation is often not competitive with what might be earned in the private sector. But they are just like members of Parlia-

April 26, 1993

Private Members' Business

ment. We know when we take the job what the salary and the compensation will be. That is the deal and if one does not like it then do not run for office.

I conclude with those remarks. I commend my hon. friend for bringing forward his initiative. However I cannot support it and I urge fellow members of the House to turn down this proposal also.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Louise Feltham

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Louise Feltham (Wild Rose):

Mr. Speaker, I have given much consideration to Bill C-339. My constituents are continually expressing concern about our national debt and deficit each year. Therefore, I am always looking for ways to reduce spending. But I also want to take into consideration the effect that any changes we make will have on the efficiency of government and also on the people affected.

I would like to remind everyone that the present situation has the salaries of federal civil servants frozen for three years. This means last year, this year and next year there will be no bonuses paid.

Bill C-339 proposes to eliminate the payment of bonuses in the public sector of Canada. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the performance bonus system in place for senior public servants.

I would like to briefly go into the history. In 1981 when a management category was created, it was decided to allocate a portion of the senior level's compensation package to annual re-eamable performance awards-or lump sum payments-rather than having these sums permanently built into the base salary.

The advisory group on executive compensation in the Public Service, a private sector group made up of senior executives from the Canadian business community, has been providing advice and recommendations to successive governments over the past 24 years.

The advisory group first recommended and still supports the performance bonus approach to pay. The principle that a certain portion of the compensation package for executives should be put at risk, that is individual rewards determined on the basis of their contribution to the organization, is very widespread in the private sector. Performance lump sum awards were introduced for public servants by reducing the salary range maximum to compensate for lump sum performance payments.

Therefore the replacement of the base salary adjustments with bonuses represents a cost saving because the lump sums are not compounded from one year to the next. Performance lump sums do not represent an extra payment but rather an alternative, a more cost efficient and effective method of distributing the same compensation envelope. We are talking about the same compensation envelope.

I would also like to point out that the elimination of performance bonuses would mean moving to a system which provides permanent base salary adjustments equal for all regardless of their level of performance or their contribution to the organization. Not only would this be counterproductive but also unfair and most of all, my greatest concern, more costly.

I would like to add that the passage of this bill would be going against the current trend in the private sector. Many of my constituents have advocated that we go this way. This was reported by the Conference Board of Canada and other consulting firms on the increasing portion of the compensation package that is variable or performance related.

Finally, the proposed act would have the effect of reducing the flexibility of the compensation system in favour of a rigid and more costly method of compensation. The government has the responsibility to ensure that public servants' compensation is fair and equitable compared to compensation paid in other sectors of the Canadian economy while being attentive to the interest of the Canadian taxpayers.

To date, the advice of bodies such as the advisory group on executive compensation in the Public Service has been determinant in establishing the current compensation system for executives which is recognized as one of the best systems by many other countries. We should continue to rely on those with the necessary expertise to make compensation recommendations.

I would like to do a synopsis of what this means. The advisory group on executive compensation in the Public Service expressed the opinion that a certain portion of the compensation package for senior executives should be put at risk, in line with the private sector thinking. That is what a number of my constituents are asking for and have continued to ask for.

Private Members' Business

Directly linked to performance it is misleading to suggest to Canadian taxpayers that the current system is overly generous. It is not. Performance pay does not represent additional compensation. The system of performance pay is looked at in many countries as one of the best systems in the world.

Misconceptions abound about how and why these bonuses are being paid. Performance pay is not a bonus but rather one part of a total compensation scheme for Public Service executives. Five per cent of the total package for Public Service executives is normally set aside for performance pay. I said normally because for three years it has been discontinued temporarily.

Performance pay encourages high performance by rewarding individual employees. It is an effective and economical way of encouraging high performance and is a system recognized as being cost effective.

Bill C-339 would necessarily entail changes to the salary administration plan. Automatic salary increments that are permanently added to a base salary would be a major disruption to a system that has been working well.

I will conclude by saying that I do not see any immediate or prospective gain to be achieved, at this time, by passing Bill C-339.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Mark Joseph Assad

Liberal

Mr. Mark Assad (Gatineau-La Lievre):

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from St. Boniface has introduced a private member's bill dealing with a pay item that has been the cause of much frustration. Lump sum payments commonly referred to as bonuses, be they bilingual bonuses, performance bonuses or what not, have been criticized for many years.

Generally, bonuses are paid in respect of performance, which sounds reasonable to me, and in respect of bilingual capabilities, which was a commendable initiative. But over the years we have come to that conclusion. That is why the hon. member for St. Boniface saw fit, and rightly so, to deal with this problem which should have been dealt with a long time ago. Should we pay bonuses to a few supposedly qualified people, Public Service managers, or look at the system as a whole instead and tell all those who are working to make it

better, especially by making it more effective and efficient, that they deserve a lump sum payment or bonus?

My colleague made a few points and I agree with him that we should have a fair and equitable system under which all Public Service employees who have helped improve efficiency should get a bonus.

Other organizations that have been overlooked in this analysis would indeed deserve the same deal. My colleague from St. Boniface pointed out to me that some organizations are missing from the list and others, such as the NRC and all other departmental agencies, should be included. In the end, no one should be excluded.

The nearly $66 million paid in bonuses is quite a lot of money. Many people are realizing that big money is spent on bonuses, and many of those who are not getting a bonus do believe they have contributed to improved efficiency. So this is becoming a source of frustration for them, and that is understandable. Over 375,000 people work for the central government throughout the public and parapublic sector in Canada. That is a lot of people. It is essential that we have a system in which the people feel they are all working together and where bonuses are not just for a few managers according to the standards.

The question of course is that these bonuses in relation to individual compensation are disproportionate; the bonuses are very high compared to the salary. So that raises questions. My colleague from St. Boniface wonders if the time has not come to refer this issue to committee where it can be thoroughly examined, because we are not just dealing with a few thousand dollars here, but tens of millions of dollars paid in bonuses. Like my colleague, I believe it is essential to discuss this problem in committee, and in good faith of course, because these are our employees and they deserve that we take a look at the rules and criteria governing the payment of bonuses. I am convinced that the situation can be improved.

Right now there is a perception that this system is not fair. If you stop and think about it, a lot of questions come to mind. Therefore it is important that in a system like ours perception match reality. Right now it does not fit reality and the perception that people have clearly demonstrates that the system is not fair.

April 26, 1993

One wonders if the system is objective. Of course, in the face of so much criticism, we are led to believe that there is certainly a flaw somewhere. It is therefore very important that in people's minds this system be objective and fair.

As the representative of a constituency located in the national capital region, on the Quebec side where a lot of civil servants reside, I have had the opportunity to hear this issue debated on numerous occasions. I do not claim to know all the elements that should be taken into consideration to solve the problem, because I noticed that there are people who can talk about this issue for hours on end. My colleague from St. Boniface tabled a motion regarding this issue and I do not think it is a partisan initiative. It is absolutely clear that only in committee, with the co-operation of all the parties in this House, will we be able to review this issue thoroughly. Several people have worked on this issue and we must examine the different criteria in order to make this system fair. I am convinced there are ways to achieve this objective.

Moreover, we must ensure that the perception, not only on the federal government's employees' part, but also among the general public, is that the system is fair and objective.

These are essentially the comments I wanted to make altough a lot more could probably be said about this issue. I simply want to mention, for the benefit of all those who get these bonuses as well as for the many who do not, that we want this system to undergo a review. I am convinced that with good faith this can be done, thereby making the system fair for all federal public and quasi-public employees.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
NDP

David Stupich

New Democratic Party

Mr. David D. Stupich (Nanaimo -Cowichan):

Mr. Speaker, there is a question to be asked: Where does fairness begin and where does it end?

The two members on the government side of the House, the member for South Shore and the member for Wild Rose, both said that we must be fairer in dealing with civil servants. I can agree with that. I think we should be fairer, but does fairness begin with the 4,750 managers in the Public Service and stop there? Does it not apply at all to the more than 200,000 who are not managers, who are not affected by this bonus program

Private Members' Business

and who do not benefit from it? They get no bonuses regardless of their performance, but the managers are entitled to bonuses.

The member for South Shore in particular said that it was based strictly on merit and performance and that if it were any other way it would not be proper. I can also agree with that. However I would like to ask the member for South Shore how many of the managers did not get a bonus? How many of the people entitled to participate in this program did not get a bonus? It would be interesting to see what the figures were and also to get some idea of what the ranges were. We know that no one outside the top 4,750 received a bonus, but how many within the group did not get one?

Both members on the government side said that it was not an add-on, that there was a deduction from the pay package and this was made available to them so they could make up what they had lost. They did not deny the possibility that they might come out ahead as well. Again, I would be very interested in seeing the figures to see how much of a deduction there was in anyone's salary before this bonus system came into effect.

I would like to make a small wager with my friend from South Shore, if we could talk about this later. I will bet there was no reduction in salaries put into effect and that people had to prove by their performance before the amount of pay they had been getting for the same work in the same position could be re-established. That is another way in which the program we have now is not fair. It is just not fair to be treating people that way.

The people in managerial positions are the ones who are getting top pay now. They average much in excess of what the people in the bargaining units are getting. Yet the bonus is available only to those in the top brackets, not to those in the lower brackets.

The freeze on salaries for those in the bargaining units will be in effect according to legislation for a period of four years now. For four years they are frozen with no movement at all. Is that fair in light of the fact that it is gradually being eaten away by what is certainly a reduced increase in the cost of living but is still a gradual increase? They are steadily losing some of their salary. Over a period of four years there will be a substantial reduction.

April 26, 1993

Private Members' Business

These other people in managerial positions have an opportunity to make that up, and perhaps even a little more, with their performance bonuses. However the people below them are taking all the heat. They are the ones on the firing line, who are dealing with line-ups of people applying for unemployment insurance, who are really stressed out, who are having problems and who are getting paid the least. Many of them are women, women who are the heads of single families. They know their salaries are frozen for a period of four years. Is it fair to them?

If we are talking about being fair to 4,750 managers how could we totally leave out of the discussion the concept of fairness with respect to the more than 200,000 who are doing the work, some of which the managers may be getting credit for when their performance bonuses are calculated? I agree we should be fair, but it is not fair to do what we are doing to the people in the bargaining unit. That is to say to them that they shall do without but those who are in charge of them and who are responsible for them are going to get performance bonuses.

It is not just performance bonuses. Reclassifications are available to people. From what we have heard through problems in our ridings and in our critic areas we know that the people in the upper ranks are being reclassified into higher and higher salary positions while people who are actually on the firing line, sometimes literally, are not.

For example, I am thinking of fisheries officers who are armed in some cases because of the hazards of their occupation. They have been trying for years before this freeze ever came into effect to get reclassification in line with their training and that take into account the hazards of the job, which is hazardous to the extent that in some cases they must carry arms. They cannot get reclassification yet the people who are supervising them, the people who are in the managerial positions, do get reclassifications as well as performance bonuses. Is that fair? I submit it is not. The government's arguments about fairness are falling on deaf ears when it is talking to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 220,000 public servants.

This program, this freeze, was initiated because of the financial condition of the government of the country,

because of the amount of money that we owe, particularly internationally. It is not making much difference there but nevertheless it is supposed to make them feel they are part of the campaign to fight the deficit, and eventually to fight the debt one would hope.

Is it fair to freeze the ones at the very bottom of the pay level and say that there will be no adjustment in their pay but the government is going to reward the ones at the top for having suggested that one way of not spending so much within the department was to freeze salaries for the ones at the bottom and to give performance bonuses to the ones at the top?

People will sacrifice. They will do their share to fight the deficit. People will do without. However if they see that this program is being applied unfairly, if the people at the top are continuing to get rewards and the people at the bottom are being denied even the possibility of maintaining their status then they are not going to feel so enthusiastic about fighting the deficit, not if the weight of fighting that deficit is placed on the shoulders of the ones who have no possible way of fighting it and no possible way of maintaining their position.

I suppose one of the things that bothered a lot of them, and we get headlines for this and sometimes perhaps there should not be, was that the Governor of the Bank of Canada had his pay scale increased by something like 25 per cent at the very time at which he was taking credit for having destroyed the economy of southern Ontario and with that eventually the economy of Canada as a whole. He wrestled inflation to the ground, regardless of the cost to Canada, regardless of the increased unemployment, regardless of the fact that the Conference Board of Canada said at the time that it was the first time in history that we were in a made-in-Canada recession. Since then it has become much worse. A performance bonus perhaps, but it was certainly a reclassification to a much higher level of salary.

How can they talk about fairness when they are leaving out of the equation any concept of treating employees fairly in the face of giving managers something extra, when they are allowing certain individuals, heads of Crown corporations for example, to move upward within their ranges and then when they reach the top of the range they increase the range higher so those individuals

April 26, 1993

are able to get regular increases? When the employees see that going on they know it is not fair.

Bill C-339 is an attempt to convince people that there will again be some kind of fairness applied. I am not saying I agree with Bill C-339, after all it is imposing something. It is doing something by handing it down, by giving a reward to somebody on the basis that they have earned a reward. That is not the way of negotiation and we do believe in negotiation.

The government's program is wrong, there is no question about that. This bill might make it look a little better for the time being, but it is not the answer in the long run. The answer in the long run is to deal fairly with everyone. That means everyone, not just the ones at the top or the ones at the bottom but all public servants. That is what this legislation should be trying to accomplish.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles A. Langlois (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence; Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charles A. Langlois (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and to Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party must be going through a period of profound reflection and rethinking its philosophy.

A few moments ago we heard the NDP member for Nanaimo-Cowichan talk about deficit reduction and expenditure control. This is a new departure for NDP members because so far spending and borrowing money has been uppermost in their minds. That is why I was astonished, to say the least, to hear the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan of the New Democratic Party talk the way he did. This is a fundamental change in policy.

To get back to Bill C-339 introduced by the hon. member for St. Boniface, I had a chance to hear the hon. member's arguments when he presented his bill before the subcommittee on private members business. I listened to his arguments very carefully, and I must say, after giving a lot of thought to the purpose of the bill, that the hon. member for St. Boniface failed to convince me it was a good bill. There are a number of reasons for this, which I will try to explain as clearly as possible for the benefit of the members of this House, who will be asked to vote on the bill either later today or later this week.

Private Members' Business

The purpose of Bill C-339 is basically and specifically to eliminate the payment of performance bonuses in the federal Public Service. First of all, I want to say that as the bill is worded, if it were approved by this House, the government would have to eliminate all bonuses now offered in the federal Public Service, including bilingualism bonuses, isolation allowances or any kind of bonus paid by the federal government to its employees for specific reasons, in addition to performance bonuses.

My hon. colleague's bill would eliminate or abolish these bonuses. There is a whole series of them. I mentioned some just now, like bilingual bonuses, the bonuses for on-the-job training or for working in remote regions of Canada and the bonuses given to those who provide special education, for example.

Of course I am not prepared to approve this bill. I cannot approve it or vote for it because had it just concerned performance and efficiency bonuses I might have given it another look, but eliminating all the other bonuses is reason enough for me not to support it.

Furthermore, the other fundamental point on which the bill causes serious problems is that it goes against agreements reached between the federal government and its employees in collective agreements and collective bargaining. Bonuses are paid which are an integral part of the collective agreements and salary agreements that the federal government has concluded with its employees. For the government, going back on these agreements would simply mean that the employer has decided not to respect that part of the collective agreements and this would be quite unacceptable.

I listened to the argument of the member for Gatineau-La Lievre who spoke of $66 million paid in bonuses. For the benefit of those listening to us today, Canadian taxpayers, I must say that this money is already in the Public Service salary budget of the managers for whom it is intended. This is not new money that the federal government has to pay. These are not additional amounts that the federal government must provide in its budgets. They are already in the payroll package.

When the bonus system was implement 5 per cent of the Public Service payroll of those for whom these

April 26, 1993

Government Orders

bonuses were meant, the managers who met the program criteria, was set aside to pay the bonuses. This is not new or extra money.

I have thus submitted three reasons for which I must vote against the bill presented by my colleague from St. Boniface. I hope that the other members of this House will recognize that it is important for the federal government to reward its managers who do their jobs well, who look for ways to reduce spending and cut needless expenditures in the Public Service. I therefore trust that hon. members, when they recognize how effective Public Service managers are, will vote against the bill of my colleague from St. Boniface.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Robert Alfred Corbett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bob Corbett (Fundy-Royal):

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to be able to take a few moments to speak on Bill C-339 this morning.

There is a perception in the public mind's eye that we are talking today about something that has become part of a system that somehow or another is abusive.

It behoves all of us to speak in defence of senior public servants who have been the recipients of performance pay since 1981, if indeed their performance warranted, to clear up the notion that what we are talking about is not just another Christmas bonus a government has decided to reward its senior managers with.

We have a system whereby senior executives are rewarded much the same as they would be if they were involved in the private sector. It is important that we have the opportunity to attract people who are competent and capable of performing jobs which are vital to the country. We need those who are as interested in becoming public servants as they would be interested in the private sector.

I have hardly begun and my time is already up. I am sorry that I do not have more time to deal with this very important topic, but suffice to say in closing we are fortunate indeed to have senior public servants in place who are professional at their jobs. It is the compensation package in place that in part attracts them to the jobs.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has

now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the item is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SECTOR BONUSES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

CRIMINAL CODE


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-109, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act and the Radiocommunication Act, as reported (without amendment) from the legislative committee.


SPEAKER'S RULING

PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

There are seven motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-109, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act and the Radiocommunication Act, all in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal.

Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 will be grouped for the purposes of debate and the vote on Motion No. 1 will apply to Motions Nos. 2 and 3.

Motions Nos. 4 and 7 will be grouped for debate and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 5 and 6 go beyond the scope of Bill C-109 since they attempt to introduce new concepts into the bill. The Chair must rule them out of order in accordance with citation No. 698(1) of Beauchesne's sixth edition. They will not be selected.

I will now submit Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
Permalink
LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Finestone:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Before we proceed with the debate on Motions Nos. 1 through 7,1 have read and listened very carefully to Your Honour's decision on the grouping of amendments at report stage.

April 26, 1993

I do accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker, however I must express my disappointment. I was wondering whether the Chair could assist in satisfying my concerns by indicating to me whether the Chair and the Thble took into consideration that the intent of this particular bill, Bill C-109, in part is to protect cellular privacy, to protect people from the snooping and eavesdropping that occurs out there.

I would like an explanation, if you would not mind, on how Motion No. 4 which deals with the use of scanners was acceptable whereas Motions Nos. 5 and 6 which you have ruled out of order deal with the availability of scanners. In my view they both address scanners and their availability. The one talks about preventing the import, distribution and sale as has been done in the United States in order to control access to the information that is being exchanged on a cellular telephone.

I wonder if the Chair could assist me and perhaps might even reconsider the debate around Motion No. 5.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I understand the hon. member's disappointment, but I want to reassure her that before making its decision, the Chair followed the rules and tradition in this kind of situation, where the Speaker seeks to group together motions that have the same theme.

On this point, without wanting to get into a discussion with the hon. member, I am not a procedural expert but I know that in their recommendations, the Table carefully considered the scope and substance of the amendments submitted by the hon. member. I wish to reassure her that the decision was made in accordance with the tradition and rules of this Elouse.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
Permalink
NDP

Philip Edmonston

New Democratic Party

Mr. Edmonston:

Mr. Speaker, I had a similar question to that of my hon. colleague because we are going to be discussing the purchasing and possession of scanners.

It certainly would be helpful for us if before getting into this discussion we would be able to make ourselves privy of the information that perhaps was discussed and

Government Orders

decided by the Clerk so that we would see the exact mindset on the particular question of scanners.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
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LIB

Russell Gregoire MacLellan

Liberal

Mr. MacLellan:

Mr. Speaker, in that same vein I too have a concern. My concern is that when we are looking at the whole question of scanners we are looking at cellular phones not being telephones, so to speak, but more or less being radios and having the phones' conversations picked up by scanners.

If we are allowed to sell scanners, manufacture scanners and import scanners it goes directly to the absolute use of the scanners. With the experience in the United States and other countries there is an inter-relationship where the whole picture has to be looked at. I too am rather confused as to how the differentiation was made and why the distinction not to allow Motions Nos. 5 and 6 was determined.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

The Chair's decisions cannot be appealed. I am somewhat embarrassed to have to discuss this ruling. I am quite prepared to review it in the light of the arguments hon. members have just presented. I submit that we could at least begin the debate on the first few motions and I could check again. But, once more, I would not like us to debate the Chair's decision, which cannot be appealed in this kind of case, let us not forget. This is what I suggest: let us begin right away and the Chair could review the decision in light of the facts that were just presented.

Therefore I submit Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
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April 26, 1993