February 8, 2000

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The Speaker

I will now deliver my ruling on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Athabasca concerning the use of his signature in support of Bill C-206, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and to make amendments to other acts, in the name of the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington.

The bill was originally introduced during the previous session, on October 23, 1997, as Bill C-264. The member for Wentworth—Burlington gathered over 100 signatures in support of this bill, including the signature of the hon. member for Athabasca.

On June 11, 1998, by unanimous consent, a different text was substituted for the original text of Bill C-264. In the second session this bill was reinstated on October 14, 1999, in the same form as at prorogation.

In accordance with Standing Order 87(6) the bill, supported by 100 signatures, was placed on the order of precedence.

The complaint of the hon. member for Athabasca arises from the use made of his signature in helping to have his revised bill placed on the order of precedence. This support, he maintained, was limited to Bill C-264 in its original form and the use of his signature for any other purpose constituted “false representation to gain unjust advantage”.

The hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington claimed that he never intended to mislead the House by his use of the list nor did he feel that its use in support of Bill C-206 was illegitimate.

In his view, the signatures indicated only that the issue at which the bill was aimed was one deserving of debate. He further maintained that the revisions to the bill in the previous session were, for the most part, of a technical nature and that no one had indicated any difficulty concerning them in the 19 months since they were placed before the House.

I point out to all hon. members that the procedure at the heart of this issue is a relatively new one. Standing Order 87(6) came into effect on February 1, 1999, as part of a small number of changes to our standing orders designed to further increase the opportunities that private members have to present their initiatives for debate.

The first paragraph of the standing order reads as follows:

At any time after the holding of the first draw in a Session, a Member may file with the Clerk a list containing the signatures of one hundred Members, including at least ten Members each from a majority of the recognized parties in the House, who support a specific item, sponsored by the Member, eligible to be placed in the order of precedence.

An item supported in this way is then placed in the order of precedence provided that the member presenting it does not already have another item there and that only one such item at any time may be placed in the order.

As I said, this is a new procedure. The bill presented by the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington is only the second to have been placed in the order of precedence pursuant to this standing order. There are no previous rulings to which the Speaker can turn for guidance in such a case, nor were comments made in the House prior to the adoption of these new standing orders which might be of assistance.

A member signing such a list does not appear to be seconding the item, for which we have other procedures, but the exact meaning of placing a signature on the list is not clear. Does such a signature represent support for the content of the item, or simply that the item be given precedence?

If our new procedures to increase the opportunity of members to present their own initiatives are to be a success, we must ensure that we proceed on the basis of a common understanding and agreement as to how the rules governing them are to function.

While I have my own views on these matters, it is not my role as Speaker to impose them on the House. There does not, at first glance, appear to have been any actions carried out other than in good faith. However, given that important questions have been raised about how this procedure should work, I feel that it would be unfair to the House and to the hon. members concerned to simply turn our backs on this problem.

I am not disposed to give a final ruling at this time. This, in my opinion, is an issue which should be considered by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs so that the Speaker has guidance about how to proceed both with Bill C-206 and with future cases related to Standing Order 87(6). I would ask the committee to give its attention to this issue as an urgent matter.

In order to afford the committee time to examine the questions raised concerning this matter, I am ordering, pursuant to the power afforded me by Standing Order 94(1)(a), that Bill C-206 be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence. When we have had the benefit of the committee's advice I will make a further ruling if it is necessary at that time.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Athabasca, the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington, as well as the other members who contributed to the discussion of this issue which relates to the fundamental nature of our relations with one another in the House.


Subtopic:   Privilege
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LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (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

Derek Lee

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership and associate membership of some standing committees.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in this 14th report later this day.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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LIB

Lou Sekora

Liberal

Mr. Lou Sekora (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-420, an act to establish a National Organ Donor Registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada.

Mr. Speaker, today I am reintroducing a private member's bill which I tabled last fall. The purpose of this bill is to create a national organ donor registry and to co-ordinate and promote organ donations throughout Canada.

The bill is very important because it would provide the opportunity to save lives by co-ordinating organ donors and needy recipients across Canada.

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

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Organ Donation Act
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LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent for the hon. parliamentary secretary to present the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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An hon. member

No.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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NDP

Peter Stoffer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented on Wednesday, December 15, 1999, be concurred in, which would allow the standing committee to travel to the west coast to discuss the Oceans Act, the aboriginal fisheries strategy and aquaculture studies.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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Some hon. members

On division.

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today. The first is on the subject of health warning labels on the containers of alcoholic beverages.

The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause health problems and specifically that fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol related birth defects are 100% preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The petitioners therefore call upon parliament to mandate health warning labels on the containers of alcoholic beverages to caution expectant mothers and others of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition relates to child poverty.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that one in five Canadian children live in poverty, that in 1989 the House of Commons resolved to seek to achieve the end of child poverty in Canada by the year 2000 and, furthermore, that since 1989 the number of poor children in Canada has increased.

The petitioners call upon parliament to seek to include initiatives in the upcoming federal budget to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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BQ

Louis Plamondon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition. The petitioners are calling on parliament to quickly pass legislation making it mandatory to label all fully or partially genetically modified foods.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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PC

Rick Borotsik

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition to file on behalf of my constituents with respect to child poverty.

The petition says that one in five children live in poverty now in Canada. Because of the 1989 motion to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000, it is suggested that parliament use the federal budget of 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

The House is also aware that the hon. member for Shefford, a Progressive Conservative member, has been very active in the particular role on child poverty. I would love to present the petition on behalf of my constituents.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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NDP

John Solomon

New Democratic Party

Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I rise to present a petition on behalf of residents in my riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre as well as in the communities of Fort Qu'Appelle, Punnichy, Kamsack and Balcarres. These residents of Canada are asking the House of Commons to address the issue of child poverty. One in five Canadian children live in poverty.

On November 24, 1989, the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000 as a result of a motion presented by the NDP leader at that time, Ed Broadbent.

The petitioners ask parliament to address the issue of child poverty as quickly as the Liberal government attempted to address the issue of helping out millionaire hockey players. They ask parliament to use the upcoming federal budget to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children rather than the Liberal government continuing to support multimillionaires with tax breaks.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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BQ

Pierre De Savoye

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, we know that private sector postal carriers in our rural areas are denied the right to collective bargaining.

By this petition, the petitioners are calling on parliament to repeal section 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act specifically so that rural postal carriers would have this right.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to deposit a petition in support of Bill C-225.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

John Maloney

Liberal

Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition pursuant to Standing Order 36 from residents of my riding echoing some of the petitions filed here this morning bringing to the attention of the House that one in five Canadian children are living in poverty and that in November 1989 parliament unanimously passed a motion to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. In fact it has increased by 60%.

Therefore the petition calls upon parliament to use the federal budget for the year 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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February 8, 2000