November 16, 1994

NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby-Kingsway, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa.

Last week the Prime Minister announced in China his support for the Three Gorges dam and the sale of Candu reactors to China. In view of the strong opposition by this minister and other Liberals to Canadian involvement in Three Gorges, described as an economic, social and environmental disaster, and in view of China's continued nuclear testing and dumping of waste in Tibet, how can the secretary of state justify this massive betrayal of the Liberal government's earlier promises on Three Gorges and Candu reactor sales?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   China
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LIB

Christine Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Christine Stewart (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister was in China and did speak of the Three Gorges dam project with the president of China. China has decided to go ahead with the development of the Three Gorges dam project despite what any of our views were with regard to environmental and human rights issues. We will remain concerned about those issues whether they are in China or anywhere else we are involved.

However, the Chinese government is asking for Canadian co-operation in the development and we hope that in providing our management and technical expertise we can have an influence on those potential negative impacts.

I think it is also important to recognize that the Yangtze River is a very important resource to China and it poses both a threat and an opportunity. The river has caused thousands of deaths but there is great potential in that river for electrical energy formation and the possibility of navigating, allowing ships to get to interior cities, which is important.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   China
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, this point of order follows the tabling in the House yesterday of two documents by one of the co-chairmen of the Special Joint Committee reviewing Canada's foreign policy, the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier.

The first document includes the report of the committee and is signed by the two co-chairmen. The second document includes the dissenting opinions and the appendices to the report. For several reasons, we feel that to include dissenting opinions in a document separate from the report signed by the co-chairmen of the committee goes against the parliamentary rules governing the committee and this House.

First, we want to point out that Standing Order 108.(1)( a ) allows committees to report on issues submitted to them. That provision, which is on page 63 of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, also authorizes committees, and I quote:

-to print a brief appendix to any report, after the signature of the Chairman, containing such opinions or recommendations, dissenting from the report or supplementary to it, as may be proposed by committee members.

The decision to annex such a statement must be made by way of a motion concurred in by committee members. As confirmed in the minutes of the committee included in the second document tabled yesterday, such a motion was agreed to at the hearing which took place on the evening of November 2, 1994.

The text of the motion, which is found on page 102 of the second document, reads as follows: "On motion of Bill Graham, it was agreed,- That the Bloc Quebecois, the Reform Party and other members of the Committee, be authorized to append to the report their dissenting or supplementary opinions or recommendations, such opinions or recommendations shall be in the discretion of the dissenting members themselves relevant and proportionate to the length of the report".

Mr. Speaker, we respectfully submit that the documents tabled yesterday do not comply with the terms of Standing Order 108(1)( a ), since the dissenting opinions are not presented after the signatures of the joint chairs, which are found at the end of the report in the first document. On the contrary, this statement is in the second document, separate from the first, which contains the report of the committee signed by the joint chairs.

The dissenting opinions are in no case appended to the report as required by Standing Order 108(1)( a ) and the motion adopted by the committee on November 2, 1994. Some might be inclined to say that the dissenting opinions follow the joint chairs' signatures in the second document, which is part of the committee's report.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot support such a claim because we think that such a procedure is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of Standing Order 108(1)( a ). Indeed, what is the point of appending the dissenting opinions of certain members to the committee report, if not to let readers of the report judge the validity of the opinions and recommendations that it contains by comparing them with those of the dissenting members?

The most basic logic requires that these dissenting opinions follow in the same document. At no time should someone be able to refer to this report without immediately having the recommendations of the minority report included therein. That is why Standing Order 108(1)( a ) requires appending the dissenting opinions to the report, following the signature of the two joint chairs; otherwise such a statement is quite useless.

Economic or practical reasons cannot be invoked to justify tabling two separate documents in the House, since this was not founded on a committee decision. The committee must adopt a motion consistent with parliamentary rules for the committee

report and the statement of dissident opinions to be divided into two documents.

According to citation 552 in Beauchesne, every matter is determined in the House of Commons upon a question put by the Speaker on a proposition submitted by a member. Since Standing Order 116 provides that a committee must obey House procedural rules, the committee should, in accordance with parliamentary rules, adopt a motion to publish the dissident report as a separate document, if it decides to do so for economic or practical reasons.

The motion adopted by the committee on November 2, 1994, which authorizes Bloc members on the committee to append their dissident opinions to the report, does not provide in any way for the report to be split into two documents. In fact, the committee minutes reproduced in the second document do not reflect such a decision.

Therefore, it cannot be argued that the committee had full discretion to include dissident opinions in a second document. Again, such a decision should have been the subject of a motion duly adopted by the committee, but the minutes do not contain such a motion.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, for these reasons, we respectfully submit to you that tabling the report and the statement of dissident opinions in two separate documents, as was done yesterday, goes against the rules of parliamentary procedure governing the House of Commons and the committee.

Parliamentary jurisprudence clearly establishes that the Chair is free to rule on a report's admissibility at any time after the report is tabled. Indeed, citation 893 in Beauchesne, on page 244, says this: "A committee report may be ruled out of order even though it has been received by the House, and a motion to concur therein cannot then be entertained".

On January 28, 1991, the Chair ruled, on page 2824 of Hansard , that part of a report previously tabled in the House was inadmissible and even null and void. Therefore, we urge you, Mr. Speaker, to exercise the powers invested in you and rule out of order the reports tabled yesterday in the House by one of the committee joint chairmen, to order that the report of the Special Joint Committee Reviewing Canada's Foreign Policy be reprinted so that the dissident opinions appear after the joint chairmen's signatures within a single document, in accordance with the parliamentary rules governing the House and the committee, and finally to order that the reprinted report be tabled as soon as possible.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as a co-chairman of the committee which has now been dissolved-still, I feel a responsibility-I would like to explain why the co-chairman from the Senate and myself decided to produce the report in two separate volumes. This was one single report which was tabled only in this House and the other place, and not two separate reports.

The committee report, dissenting opinions, appendices, position papers, documents and summaries added up to a total of 1,126 pages. This was rather bulky. So, some thinking was required. We sought advice and gave the matter some thought and, finally, decided to publish the report in two volumes, both of which were put in a white folder marked "Committee Report". This is how it was tabled in this House and distributed to the media.

We would have liked the printer to tie them together with something like this to make things easier, but time was short and it would have been too costly. The point is taken, but it is not really fair to say that there are two reports. There is only one report. It was decided to produce the report in two volumes. The first volume is 181 pages long and contains the majority report, while the second volume, with 202 pages, contains the dissenting opinions of the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party as well as the appendices.

In addition, we have put together in another volume the 250 pages of position papers prepared by experts, experts recognized by the committee that is. A 483-page summary was also made available in loose-leaf format to limit costs. It can be obtained on request. Since it was impossible to tie the volumes with a plastic or paper tape because the printing deadlines were too short, the two volumes that make up the report were distributed yesterday, as I indicated earlier, in a specially designed folder marked "Report of the Special Joint Committee Reviewing Canadian Foreign Policy".

Positions papers and summaries on the other hand are distributed on request. The index of Volume I indicates very clearly that the report has two volumes and lists the contents of Volume II. This is clear proof that the dissention opinions are part and parcel of the committee report. The Bloc should see in this format nothing more that an effort on the part of both co-chairmen to provide the readers with practical and easy to handle documents.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that none of the parties in this House have tried to do anything to offend members who today, apparently, feel they have been treated unfairly. That was not the case, it was not our purpose, and that is not what happened.

Furthermore, without wishing to get into a debate with hon. members opposite, it is obvious that both volumes are part of one and the same report.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, it is perfectly clear from the Standing Orders that if there was only one tabling, of course there was only one report.

Reading from page two of volume one it says: "Volume two contains dissenting opinions, appendices, minutes of proceedings". In other words, Mr. Speaker, when you read the first volume there is reference to the second volume, both of them being part of one report as the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier has described.

On behalf of my colleagues I have offered, and I wish to state this to Mr. Speaker, that in the event there is a reprint or printing of additional copies should members require additional copies for the House, the committee, or indeed for anyone for distribution purposes, I would not object to having both reports joined in one volume, if that is manageable for those who print these kinds of documents.

I would not of course advocate that we destroy the copies that have been printed. As I said previously, nothing wrong was intended and nothing wrong was committed. Therefore there would be no reason to redo the present copies. However, if it would please members across the way I would certainly have no objection should further printings of the report be necessary to join both volumes together.

Some say it may be too late. No, it is not too late, although there is nothing wrong with the reports we have here. All I want to say to hon. members opposite is, that if it makes them feel better, if that would satisfy them, we are prepared to co-operate in the event additional copies are needed. It is not too late. There was no malicious intent, and there was no harm done.

Actually, if I am not mistaken, according to informal discussions held yesterday, two of the three parties in this House agreed to keep the report as is.

Finally, in the unlikely event there would still be someone who mistakenly believed these two volumes constituted two reports, the committee chair went out of his way over the weekend to have a special jacket printed. Both volumes are contained inside the one jacket so that no one could possibly even inadvertently consider these two volumes as being two reports.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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REF

Elwin Hermanson

Reform

Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, speaking to this point of order I concur with my colleague from the Bloc that this report was not handled or distributed properly.

There are two volumes but there is nothing on the outside of either of the volumes to indicate which is number one and which is number two. You have to look into the contents to find that there is a second volume. Even at that you would have a difficult time knowing whether it was volume one or volume two.

Being concerned about the cost of a complete reprinting of this I would suggest that those copies that have not yet been distributed should be clearly labelled with a stamp or a sticker indicating volume one and that volume two is available with the dissenting reports in it.

It is important to make it very clear to all readers of the report who happen to get volume one that there were two dissenting reports, one by the Bloc Quebecois and one by the Reform Party. If it is not handled properly, the Canadian public and those who receive volume one may never know other options were put on the table.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gauthier (Roberval)

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order. Perhaps I may provide some additional clarification. It is clear that the procedure was somewhat less than satisfactory. Considering the size of the report, the committee could have put everything together in a document of about 400 pages, which is common practice, or it could have published a complete report in French and complete English version. That would have been fair to everyone.

It seems to me that the reasons invoked by the government party were entirely unacceptable and the government also failed to prove that the Standing Orders had been observed in this case.

I was able to demonstrate, however, that the Standing Orders had been totally ignored, that the report did not meet the requirements of the Standing Orders and that, if the chairman of the committee had wanted to show he was acting in good faith, he could have called a meeting of his committee and put to a vote the requisite proposals for proceeding the way he did.

Consequently, I would ask you to hand down a ruling on the matter as requested earlier.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think the remarks made by the chief government whip and by the member for Ottawa-Vanier ought to be more than sufficient to put this matter to rest.

They indicate very clearly that while there may be a complaint there is not any basis for a point of order or indeed a question of privilege arising out of the publication of a report in two volumes. I think it is commonplace that reports are published in more than one volume. Here we have a report that with the appendices comes to five volumes as I count them. That is what is available from distribution if members ask.

There is one further technical point I invite Your Honour to consider in reviewing this matter. Standing Order 108(1) which permits dissenting opinions and which was a change in the standing orders made during the last Parliament largely at the behest of members of this party applies only to standing committees.

This is the report of a special joint committee. The fact there was a dissenting opinion was thanks to the good graces of the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier and the members of the committee who agreed to apply this rule to the special joint committee because it would not otherwise apply.

The changes to the standing orders were made in respect only of standing committees. It has never been applied beyond that. This was a special benefit, if you like, conferred by the generous hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier and his co-chair of the special joint committee.

I am surprised there would be complaints today when we have very lengthy dissenting opinions. I may say that the dissenting opinions as I see it are almost as long as the report. Here we have a second volume that is thicker than the report itself.

I am not surprised that the report has been divided into two volumes. I think a satisfactory explanation as to why that was done has been given both by the chief government whip in his very able argument and by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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?

The Speaker

I wish to thank the hon. member for Roberval for raising this matter.

I also thank my hon. friend from Ottawa-Vanier, the government whip and of course the parliamentary secretary, as well as the House leader for the Reform Party. I am sure that you will all agree to give your Speaker some time to review everything that has been put in front of me. If it is deemed necessary I will come back to the House with a decision.

I will review all of the information that has been supplied to me. I will inform myself also of the rules. With your permission I will get back to the House if it is necessary as soon as possible.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Point Of Order
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments which were made by the government.

Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 110(1), these are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees, a list of which is attached.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Order In Council Appointments
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Government Response To Petitions
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LIB

Bob Speller

Liberal

Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand-Norfolk, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, to the House a report concerning the 40th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which was held in Banff, Alberta, October 4 to 18, 1994.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   40Th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), your committee has considered the documents entitled: "Draft Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Customs Tariff, Crime Cards and Board Games" and your committee has agreed to report it with three recommendations.

The study was prompted by concerns about the glorification of violence through the format of a board game and trading cards depicting serial killers. Many petitions were received in the House.

The committee studied draft legislation. The committee now recommends a broader scope dealing with the glorification or exploitation of horror, cruelty and violence through expanded obscenity provisions of the Criminal Code as a more inclusive legislative effort. Also suggested were the utilization of a preamble together with appropriate safeguards and special defences.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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BQ

Pierrette Venne

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in a dissenting opinion to the report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, the Bloc Quebecois points out that the exploitation of violence cannot fail to be of concern to all of us. There is no doubt that trade cards and board games (black series) fly in the face of our fundamental values and shamefully defile the memory of the battered and murdered victims.

Witnesses indicated that they had been unable to have a look at these board games and serial killer cards until the committee gave them samples. The same was true of most MPs who opposed importing and manufacturing serial killer cards. They acknowledged they had never seen any.

Therefore, one must wonder how such a marginal issue could keep committee members occupied for several months. Obviously, this is not very responsible.

We firmly believe that this committee should deal more with issues related to real violence rather than hypothetical violence due to the action of some shady publishers.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-288, an Act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel.

Mr. Speaker, 109 years ago today, Louis David Riel was hanged. On November 22, 1885, in reaction to his execution, a crowd of close to 50,000 people gathered on the Champ-de-Mars in Montreal and heard Honoré Mercier speak his now famous words of tribute.

Today, I am tabling a bill entitled "An Act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel". Some facts are worth recalling. In order to ensure a unanimous verdict, Prime Minister Macdonald had Riel tried in Regina rather than in Winnipeg. The jury was composed exclusively of English-speaking Protestants. In order to justify its actions, the Cabinet, in a report to the House, went so far as to falsify Dr. Valade's report, which stated that Riel was not responsible, by reason of insanity.

The trial was marred by irregularities and Riel was sacrificed by Macdonald to the powerful Ontario lobby. Riel was hanged because he was a Métis, because he was a francophone, and because he went to the defence of a distinct society.

It is important to remember-

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel
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The Deputy Speaker

I hope that the hon. member and indeed all hon. members will respect the Standing Orders and keep it brief. Otherwise, we will be here all afternoon. One more sentence.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata)

A refusal to acknowledge it is a refusal to understand the present and a refusal to build a future.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel
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LIB

Rex Crawford

Liberal

Mr. Rex Crawford (Kent, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today. The first petition pursuant to Standing Order 36 is on behalf of my constituents who call on our government to say the same thing in power that we said while in opposition, namely that we support a world class domestic ethanol industry that is renewable, sustainable and environmentally friendly, creating jobs and helping our rural areas.

A $200 million dollar ethanol plant in Chatham awaits a federal decision of support. It would be 20 times larger than any other plant now in Canada.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Rex Crawford

Liberal

Mr. Rex Crawford (Kent, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition from my constituents states that human life at the preborn stage is not protected in Canadian society. Your petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

My last petition from the constituents of Kent states that whereas human life at the preborn stage is not protected in Canadian society, your petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human human beings to unborn human beings.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Joe McGuire

Liberal

Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to be presented under Standing Order 36 from my constituents in Egmont.

The first one is on sexual orientation and the petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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November 16, 1994