June 19, 2007

LIB

Colleen Beaumier

Liberal

Ms. Colleen Beaumier

With regard to the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Plans and Priorities for the Multiculturalism Program: (a) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, what is the actual and planned spending for all multiculturalism programs falling under the program activities “Promotion of Intercultural Understanding” and “Participation in Community and Civic Life”; (b) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, was any multiculturalism funding reallocated and will any multiculturalism funding be reallocated and, if so, (i) to which departments, (ii) how much funding has each department specifically received or will receive, (iii) to what purposes specifically; (c) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, was any multiculturalism funding allocated or will any multiculturalism funding be allocated and to what purpose; (d) what was the total value of multiculturalism funding authorized and released by the Minister’s Office on the last two days of the 2006-2007 fiscal year; (e) in 2006-2007, what was the total value of multiculturalism funding allocated by the Department but not released to reimburse actual expenditures occurred by the organization; (f) who specifically is the “Multiculturalism Champion” and what is his or her mandate; (g) who specifically sits on the Departmental Steering Committee on Multiculturalism and what is its mandate; and (h) once multiculturalism is mainstreamed into the day to day operations of the Department, will the Multiculturalism Program exist as an independent program or department and will it or will it not receive funding directly as an independent program?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 207
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(Return tabled)


CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, finally, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
?

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
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CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege based on a press release issued by the member for Etobicoke Centre in which he makes false statements, and accuses me of plagiarism and voting against a motion I did not vote against.

I believe this allegation by the member for Etobicoke Centre is an action taken with the intended affect of having me withdraw my private member's bill, Bill C-459, which directly affects the representation of my constituents and performance of my privileged parliamentary duties.

In order to begin to correct the public record on this issue, I want to outline the factual course of events culminating in the presentation of my private member's bill, Bill C-459, An Act to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day and to recognize the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide. All of these events can be backed up by emails sent and received by my office and those of my colleagues and legislative services.

First, as someone of Ukrainian heritage, I was in communication with other members of this House as early as last year on my interest in working on issues related to the Canadian Ukrainian community and my interest in Ukrainian issues.

In the spring of this year it was suggested to me that recognizing the Ukrainian famine as genocide with a memorial day in November would be an important issue to address this year, as it is the 75th anniversary of the famine of 1932.

I discussed this with Lisa Shymko of the Canadian Friends of Ukraine and my colleague Senator Andreychuk. I was also part of a meeting with the executive director of the Shevchenko Foundation on various issues related to the Ukrainian Canadian community in Canada and holodomor was discussed. I recently received an appreciative letter from this organization for my work on presenting this bill.

I want to give full credit to Senator Andreychuk who moved a similar motion a few years ago in the other place which was adopted unanimously. The senator shared her expertise and encouraged me to proceed with a similar motion or bill in the House, and provided assistance to me with the wording and communications strategy for my bill.

I consulted with two of my colleagues over the wording and whether it should be done as a motion or bill. I decided it should be a bill and I submitted my wording and requested legislative services on May 3, 2007 to have the bill drafted. My office received a rough draft of the bill on May 8 and it was approved on May 16. The request for final formatting and translation was made May 16, 2007. I gave notice of my bill on May 31, 2007, before the member for Etobicoke Centre gave notice of his bill, and I introduced the bill for first reading on June 13, 2007.

The member for Etobicoke Centre did not give notice of his bill until the day after I gave notice of my bill and he did not introduce it until much later. The notice paper, legislative services and my office emails can confirm all of these dates.

As is clear from this record of dates, I could not have possibly known of the content of his bill and therefore his accusations of plagiarism are truly false. I was only informed that there was a bill related to mine, but that the two bills were substantially different from each other and that there was no problem in proceeding with my bill.

I want to make it very clear that the wording of my bill was established in consultation with my colleagues in April and submitted for drafting on May 3, over a month before I heard about the member for Etobicoke Centre's bill and more than a month before his introduction of Bill C-450 only after which I would have first had the opportunity to see the text of his bill. Clearly, I could not have possibly plagiarized his bill.

On the evening of June 13, 2007 in the House, I sought further confirmation from the table officer on duty on the determination of any substantive difference between my bill and the bill of the member for Etobicoke Centre, who I was now aware had given notice of and introduced a similar bill.

I received confirmation on Monday, June 18 that the decision on whether a bill is substantively different is made by you, Mr. Speaker, after an initial assessment by the journals branch.

I am therefore raising this point of privilege because I believe, based on the events as outlined above, that it is clear that the member for Etobicoke Centre, who knows full well that I could not have seen the text of his bill when I gave notice of my bill, Bill C-459, and yet proceeded to issue the press release in question.

Further, when I submitted my wording and asked for it to be drafted in April of this year as a private member's bill, I had no knowledge of the member for Etobicoke Centre's intention to submit a similar bill.

Further to my question of privilege, he states in his press release that I voted against his motion to adopt his bill at all stages when he knows that I did not vote against his motion. That is the normal procedure for both Conservative and past Liberal governments not to fast track private member's bills, whether it be my own bill or an opposition member's bill.

The order paper is full of worthy bills and they all follow a uniform process of debate and vote in a fair system of precedence. The member for Etobicoke Centre is trying to queue jump in front of others in the order of precedence.

I would like to point to a statement made by a previous Speaker that I think applies to this situation. Speaker Fraser said:

The unjust damaging of a Member’s good name might also be seen as constituting an obstruction. The privileges of a Member are violated by any action which might impede him or her in the fulfilment of his or her duties and functions. It is obvious that the unjust damaging of a reputation could constitute such an impediment.

I think the statement makes it clear that my privilege has been violated by the member for Etobicoke Centre's slanderous and intimidating acts.

There are further examples where items published in newspapers and actions taken outside the House have been found by Speakers to establish a prima facie question of privilege due to their intimidating and chilling effect upon a member's ability to perform parliamentary duties. I point to Speaker Bosley's ruling of May 6, 1985, where a newspaper advertisement was deemed to impact a member's privilege. He said:

Any action which impedes or tends to impede a Member in the discharge of his duties is a breach of privilege. There are ample citations and precedents to bear this out.

Further examples include Speaker Jerome's ruling of December 6, 1978, as well as a ruling on a March 9, 1998 question of privilege where a newspaper article was argued to constitute an attempt to intimidate the Speaker and collectively the House. Speaker Parent ruled that there was a prima facie case of privilege.

On March 16, 1983 Mr. Mackasey raised a question of privilege in order to denounce accusations made in a series of articles appearing in the Montreal Gazette, to the effect that he was a paid lobbyist. On March 22, 1983 on page 24027 of Hansard the Speaker ruled that he had a prima facie question of privilege. The reasons given by the Speaker from page 29 of Selected Decisions of Speaker Jeanne Sauvé state:

Not only do defamatory allegations about Members place the entire institution of Parliament under a cloud, they also prevent Members from performing their duties as long as the matter remains unresolved, since, as one authority states, such allegations bring Members into “hatred, contempt or ridicule”. Moreover, authorities and precedents agree that even though a Member can “seek a remedy in the courts, he cannot function effectively as a Member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the Member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

On page 251 of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, 3rd ed. there is a reference to members. It says:

The House of Commons is prepared to find contempt in respect of utterances within the category of libel and slander and also in respect of utterances which do not meet that standard. As put by Bourinot, “any scandalous and libellous reflection on the proceedings of the House--” and “libels upon members individually--”.

I would also refer to a Speaker's ruling from October 29, 1980 at page 4213 of Hansard. The Speaker said:

--in the context of contempt, it seems to me that to amount to contempt, representations or statements about our proceedings or of the participation of members should not only be erroneous or incorrect, but, rather, should be purposely untrue and improper and import a ring of deceit.

I also want to object to another factual error in his press release which is damaging to my reputation in the community. The member for Etobicoke Centre stated that I and the government House leader voted against his motion to pass his bill at all stages. Neither of us voted against his motion.

I therefore insist that the member for Etobicoke Centre immediately issue an apology and a retraction request to the Canadian and Ukrainian press for libellous claims and false statements. Further, I ask that he apologizes in the House for making a statement so damaging to my reputation.

Finally, I am very disappointed in the member for Etobicoke Centre for not even approaching me to discuss this issue and to get his facts straight before launching his offensive and slanderous press release.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
Sub-subtopic:   Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, these matters have come before the House in the past. There are some details which have been put on the record by the hon. member. I will undertake to get the blues to him as soon as possible, so that he can consider the appropriate steps that the member has suggested.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you withhold or defer your decision until the member has had an opportunity to address them.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
Sub-subtopic:   Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
Permalink
LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

There is no need to withhold a decision. I have listened with care to what the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake has had to say.

I have stressed previously that in my view press releases issued by members are not things that are subject to questions of privilege in the House. All the examples that he cited in his argument were printed newspaper articles. He has not cited a single case where this press release has made it into print. It may be that people who saw the press release knew more about the facts than as suggested by the hon. member and did not think it was accurate, and so chose not to print part of it. I have no idea.

However, unless the hon. member has some evidence that this has been printed, and even then I may have doubts about this one, there appears to be a dispute as to facts. The hon. member has raised the issues. He has made clear what his position is in respect of allegations that were made by another colleague. It is a dispute as to facts. I do not think it is a matter of the member's privileges being breached.

The fact that somebody has suggested that because his bill is a copy of somebody's else's that this somehow constitutes a breach of privilege, to my mind, is unlikely. He has made it clear that it was not, for whatever reasons. He has given his reasons, and he has indicated the dates of filing and all that. It seems to me the matter has been cleared up by his statement and I do not think it is necessary for either the House or a committee to get involved in a discussion about the details of all these disputes.

If the hon. member wishes to go to the committee and raise the matter there, I am sure the committee can decide whether it wants to bother hearing the issue. However, from the point of view of the House and the Speaker making a ruling whether the hon. member's privileges have been breached, I am afraid I am at a loss to see a breach of privilege in the fact that some other member said something else outside the House about what somebody else did.

That is the position I have taken on these kinds of disputes for some time now, as the hon. member, I am sure, is aware and I take it again now. In my view, there is not a question of privilege raised in the issues that he has brought to the House today.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
Sub-subtopic:   Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
Permalink

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.


LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

There are 16 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-6.

Motions Nos. 1, 3 and 13 will not be selected by the Chair as they could have been presented in committee.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at the report stage.

Motions Nos. 2, 4 to 12 and 14 to 16 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 2, 4 through 12 and 14 through 16 to the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Speaker's Ruling
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CPC

Loyola Hearn

Conservative

Hon. Loyola Hearn

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-6, in Clause 8, be amended by deleting lines 1 to 25 on page 8.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-6 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-6, in Clause 12, be amended by deleting line 35 on page 11 to line 5 on page 16.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink
CPC

David Emerson

Conservative

Hon. David Emerson

moved:

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-6, in Clause 12, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 15 on page 13 with the following:

“(8) Les normes et les règles établies par”

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-6, in Clause 12, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 9 on page 18 with the following:

“à qui que ce soit des renseigne-”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
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CPC

David Emerson

Conservative

Hon. David Emerson

moved:

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-6, in Clause 12, be amended

(a) by replacing line 26 on page 21 with the following:

“(5) Information reported by an employee under the program”

(b) by replacing line 28 on page 21 with the following:

“used against the employee to take any reprisals,”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-6 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-6 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-6 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-6 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-6, in Clause 49, be amended by deleting lines 14 to 16 on page 78.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-6, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing line 14 on page 78 with the following:

“(2) Sections 5.31 to 5.393 of the Aeronautics Act, as enacted by section 12 of this Act, shall not have”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink
CPC

Loyola Hearn

Conservative

Hon. Loyola Hearn

moved:

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-6, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing lines 14 and 15 on page 78 with the following:

“(2) Despite subsection (1), sections 5.31 to 5.38 of the Aeronautics Act, as enacted by section 12 of this Act, come into force three years after the day on which this Act receives”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink
NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your ruling. However, I think it is fair to say it is difficult at report stage to debate what are essentially contradictory amendments. We have a series of amendments from the NDP where we attempt to address some of the egregious mistakes made in Bill C-6, either intentional or otherwise, that diminish air safety in our country. There is also an amendment from the government that essentially guts whatever good work the transport committee was able to do. Essentially we are debating two different series of amendments, a series from the NDP which attempts to save Canadian lives, and a series from the Conservative government which will diminish our safety even further.

It makes no sense what the government is proposing as amendments today, particularly in light of what we have seen with rail safety over the last few years. The railway companies were basically given responsibility to manage their own safety systems. The former Liberal government basically got out of the safety business.

What do we have today? We have an epidemic of derailments across the country. Many communities have been impacted, particularly in British Columbia because some companies, having been given that responsibility to manage their own safety without oversight, have been irresponsible. Lives have been lost. There has been environmental devastation.

Instead of learning from that experience of the erosion of safety that took place under the Liberals in railway transport, the Conservative government is trying to do the same thing with the airline industry. What is wrong with this picture? At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about derailments in the railway system, the Conservatives are moving forward to do the same irresponsible things to our airline industry. Nothing embodies that recklessness, that irresponsibility of the Conservative government more than the amendments the government is bringing forward.

Let us see what the Conservatives are trying to strike from the record. I am sure Canadians who are watching the parliamentary deliberations today will be very interested in learning what the Conservatives want to take out of Bill C-6. It is already a bad bill for a number of reasons. It is a bad bill because it gives a get out of jail free card to companies that violate with impunity safety in maintenance and safety generally. An airline company that does that, as long as it follows some sort of internal process, will get a get out of jail free card. Airline companies can be irresponsible. They can even cost lives. However, if they have set up some sort of internal mechanism and they say that they are following the dictates of that internal mechanism, they get a get out of jail free card. The CEOs can be as irresponsible as they want and the government is giving them a get out of jail free card.

Also, the government is not providing any sort of whistleblower protection in any real form. We were able to get some amendments in committee but it does not in any way protect a whistleblower who has raised real concerns about company irresponsibility.

In addition to all that, the Conservative government is moving forward and rather than having just two exemptions to the Access to Information Act, we will now be looking at nine areas that are cut off forever from access to information. The Canadian public will never find out what companies are being irresponsible and what companies are putting Canadians' loved ones in danger.

These government amendments that are coming forward today take out the safety management systems that any internal programs that companies set up have to have a responsible executive. The government is taking that out. There will not be a responsible executive for whatever purported safety mechanism that is set up.

The government wants to remove the appointment of an executive who has to be responsible for operations and activities authorized under a certificate issued pursuant to a regulation made under the act and accountable for the extent to which the requirements of the applicable safety management systems have been met. The government wants to take away the requirement of putting in place remedial action required to maintain the highest level of safety.

Canadians are finding out that the government presented a bad bill. The government wants to repeat the same errors we have seen occur with our railway system, the derailments, environmental devastation and death. Seeing what the Liberals did there, the Conservatives have decided to do the same thing with the airline industry. They are taking out the reference to the implementation of remedial action required to maintain the highest level of safety.

If we could have a clear picture from Conservative members, if they walked around with a sign on their foreheads, it would say “We want to make sure that we don't maintain the highest level of safety”. That is what the Conservative members are attempting to do with this bill. By bringing forward these amendments, they are gutting a section that requires a responsible executive of the company, to which they are turning over safety management, to put in place remedial action required to maintain the highest level of safety. The Conservatives are saying they do not want the highest level of safety maintained.

What else are the Conservatives taking out? They are taking out responsibility for continuous monitoring and regular assessment of the level of safety achieved. They are taking that out. What could be a clearer notice of intent of where the Conservatives want to go with this?

For those Canadians, quite rightfully, particularly in British Columbia, who are concerned about what they have seen in the railway system, now the Conservatives are doing the same thing with the airline system. They are taking out references to continuous monitoring and taking out the requirement for remedial action to maintain the highest level of safety.

Finally, the government amendment is also taking out the involvement of employees in the development, implementation and ongoing operation of the applicable safety management system. The transport committee heard testimony which was conclusive, clear and constant that for any safety management system to work, the employees have to be involved.

Reference to a responsible executive is being taken out. Implementation of a remedial action required to maintain the highest level of safety is being taken out. Continuous monitoring and regular assessment of the level of safety achieved is being taken out. The involvement of employees and their bargaining agents in the development, implementation and ongoing operation of the applicable safety management system is being taken out. Let us gut whatever minor protection existed in the bill. Let us just go to the wild, wild west of air safety.

We heard testimony from witnesses saying that this was exactly the wrong way to go. The Conservatives are saying, “No, that is fine. We do not care about Canadians' safety. We do not care about ensuring that there are high standards. We do not care about all of that”. What the Conservatives want to do is just get out of the safety business, just turn it over to the companies and in addition, if they break the law, there will be not be any punishment or consequences. As long as a company is incorporated, it would seem to be able to do anything in Conservative land. For individuals, the full breadth of the law will be brought down on their heads, but as long as a company is incorporated and has wealthy corporate lawyers protecting it, it can do anything it wants in this new, strange, bizarre world that the Conservatives seem to want to bring forward.

The Conservative amendment is absolutely outrageous. It is gutting what components might have existed in Bill C-6 which is already a pretty reckless and irresponsible piece of legislation. Now the Conservatives have brought forward an amendment to gut what provisions may have existed to actually require companies to maintain a high level of safety, to take remedial action when there were problems, to ensure that employees were involved, employees who are at the front line.

If anything was revealed by that terrific series on air safety done by The Hamilton Spectator journalists who basically went in and saw the various levels of safety violations that occur even now with Transport Canada oversight within the Canadian aviation system, it was the importance of having employees involved. Now we have a so-called safety system, we call it self-serve safety, where corporate CEOs can take whatever they want and leave whatever they want behind.

By gutting these amendments that were put in place by the transport committee, essentially to assure at least some measure of safety, what the government is doing is revealing its agenda, and that agenda is not to protect the loved ones of Canadians. The agenda is not to increase the confidence that Canadians may have in the airline system after what we saw happening to the railway system. No, the agenda seems to be purely ideological: to simply gut those safety systems and hand them over to the companies and see if it all works out.

We oppose that. We oppose this amendment. We had hoped to have discussion on the NDP amendment separately from these irresponsible government amendments.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink
NDP

Denise Savoie

New Democratic Party

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech. He made an excellent comparison between what is currently going on with the railway system and what is going to happen with the airline industry. Everyone knows that there are a growing number of accidents in Canada's railway system because of decisions made by the Liberal government in past years and because of the refusal to take employee recommendations into account.

I would like my colleague to speak more about the ideology that underlies the amendments he spoke about, an ideology that would leave the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink
NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Victoria for her question.

What the Conservatives want to do makes no sense and should concern people across the country. We have already seen the consequences of all these rail accidents, in Quebec and elsewhere. The companies were given responsibility, and the result was many more derailments in cities such as Montmagny.

Now, the Conservatives want to do exactly the same thing with the air transportation system. This amendment, which is clearly and completely irresponsible, seeks to eliminate continuous monitoring and regular safety assessments and prevent the appointment of an executive responsible for all the operations of the safety system. The government also wants to do away with the involvement of employees and their bargaining agents in the development, implementation and ongoing operation of the system.

The Conservatives are removing the whole aspect of responsibility that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities put in place. The only possible reason that I can imagine is that this is an ideological choice.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Aeronautics Act
Sub-subtopic:   Motions in Amendment
Permalink

June 19, 2007