June 17, 2010

?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates--Speaker's Ruling
Permalink
LIB

Yasmin Ratansi

Liberal

Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates in relation to its study of the financing of renewable energy projects by the government.

By this report, the committee wants to draw the attention of the House to a potential breach of its privilege and/or a possible case of contempt of Parliament and recommends that it take the measures it deems appropriate.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Government Operations and Estimates
Permalink

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.


LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

When the matter was last before the House, the hon. member for York West had the floor and there are three minutes remaining in the time allotted for her remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for York West.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to get on with the work of the day.

When the minister emerged from his caucus meeting yesterday, brows furrowed and fists clenched, his language indicated a need for a crisis. My approach, which I think is the Liberal approach, would have been one of thoughtful consideration rather than a crisis triage.

While it seems as though the government enjoys a crisis, I fear that passing legislation without thinking about the real consequences is irresponsible, dangerous and ill-advised. The worst part is that it is totally unnecessary.

We could have used those extra 63 days that the government stripped away. We could have looked at the bill and there would have been no need to split anything. We could have passed a comprehensive bill dealing with the issue once and for all. Instead, we are solving problems piecemeal, one piece at a time. That is the result of a government that practices short-term politics without considering the larger issues and consequences of its actions, as clearly we have seen with regard to the G8 and G20 summits. That is the difference between the Conservative government and its Liberal predecessor.

I will stand today and vote in favour of the motion because I have no alternative. Every time a new scandal befalls the government, we face the threat of another period of prorogation.

Most recently, the current Minister of Veterans Affairs was accused by the former minister of veterans affairs of political interference and of using the public purse for partisan gains in New Brunswick. As this issue continues to develop, can we expect that the Prime Minister will pull the plug and hide the truth? I will bet he is very glad that today the House is adjourning.

The Prime Minister's abuses of power must be curtailed. The government cannot be permitted to continue to disregard the long-term consequences of its actions. The Liberal motion would do just that, while still permitting the leader of the government to use certain traditional management measures.

In essence, the Prime Minister has shown by his actions that he is not capable of acting in a responsible manner. The House, not unlike the parent of a difficult child, now must take corrective action to ensure that the inappropriate behaviour stops once and for all.

I will be voting to support this motion and I would encourage all responsible parliamentarians to do the very same thing.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
CPC

Harold Albrecht

Conservative

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC)

Madam Speaker, my colleague said that she supports this motion which calls for the formation of another special committee to study prorogation.

She should be aware that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has been studying this issue for the last number of months. It has already heard from many witnesses, experts and constitutional scholars who have warned us to be cautious in making any changes. In fact, they are urging us not to make changes. Many of them have spoken out against imposing new rules.

The real question for me is why my colleague would not trust the work of her colleagues who serve on the procedure and House affairs committee. The deputy whip, the whip and the deputy House leader all serve on that committee. Is she indicating that she does not trust the work of the procedure and House affairs committee, which is already studying this issue, and particularly the three members from her own caucus who serve on that committee?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy Sgro

Madam Speaker, I am certainly not second-guessing the hon. member's intent or the work that is being done on that important committee.

We need to look at it in the broader sense. We are functioning under rules that have been in place for a very long time. Up until now they have worked quite well. Broadening the debate on other issues, such as shutting down committees, the issue of who appears before committees, whether it is a minister or his or her staff, maybe it is time to look at a few of those rules. All people are accountable no matter who they are, whether they are the ministers' staff or PMO staff. Their having to run around trying to avoid being served summonses does not do well for Parliament as a whole.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I will go further than my colleague did a minute ago.

We just heard an answer that suggests amending today's motion again. Earlier this morning the Liberals had to scramble around and amend their motion so that it might fit something they are trying to do, because how it was originally written did not work. Now the member wants to expand it further to include an examination of how committees can call witnesses.

As my colleague has already said, we have had up to 16 witnesses at the procedure and House affairs committee, many of them scholars on constitutional law and prorogation.

Could she tell us how she disagrees with Professor Russell, Professor Pelletier, Professor Mendes or Professor Franks and all the information that they have shared with the procedure and House affairs committee on how to deal with prorogation? Could she tell us why she disagrees with her own whip, deputy whip and deputy House leader and the hard work they have been doing on that committee?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy Sgro

Madam Speaker, what I disagree with is the abuse of prorogation. Prorogation was supposed to be used for when a government's agenda had run out. Clearly, the Prime Minister has used prorogation as an opportunity to run away from the difficult issues that he was facing.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond (Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, BQ)

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the Liberal Party for its motion today on this opposition day. However, with praise comes criticism. I am in complete agreement with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Furthermore, as the deputy chair of that same committee, when I read this motion I wondered what difference another special committee would make to the whole issue of prorogation.

At the Liberals' suggestion, we have been studying this issue in committee for a number of weeks. We have heard 16 witnesses: academics, select and well-known people. We are in the last hours of this parliamentary session, but I am convinced, if it is the will of the committee—committees are masters of their own proceedings—that a report on prorogation will be prepared by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The subject is interesting but the suggestion of establishing a special committee does not strike me as being the right approach. Once again, the Liberals are masters of their own proceedings and they must make their own decisions.

As for prorogation, I would point out that the Conservatives have indeed used this parliamentary tool excessively, specifically, twice in the past two years, once at the end of 2008 and again at the end of 2009. Furthermore, it is becoming clear that the Conservative Prime Minister uses prorogation as soon as things heat up or get out of hand, as soon as he thinks his minority could be overturned.

Two events in particular have convinced me. I would remind the House of the coalition talks that were taking place at the end of 2008. It would have been a coalition between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, supported by the Bloc. Incidentally, I want to set the record straight: the Bloc was not part of the coalition; it merely supported the Liberal-NDP coalition.

What was the Prime Minister's reaction? Instead of facing a vote of confidence on his lack of leadership, he suddenly decided to use prorogation. That was the first event. A year later, almost to the day, this government felt caught in a ever-tightening vise, and did not want to face the consequences of the fact that it knew about the allegations of torture in Afghan prisons and that it had clearly violated various international conventions, including the Geneva convention. This government refused to hand over documents and once again refused to face the music, so it decided to use prorogation again on December 30, 2009. What is interesting is that it announced prorogation the very next day on all the television and radio stations, and in all the newspapers.

As we all know, December 30 is the day before New Year's Eve and all of its festivities in Quebec and Canada. Let us look at what the Conservative government did on December 30, when the public was busy preparing for their New Year's Eve parties, doing their shopping or calling family members to make sure everyone would be there to ring in the New Year. On December 30, like hypocrites, the Conservatives prorogued Parliament yet again.

Who was the spokesperson we saw all over the news? Dimitri Soudas. He was a press secretary at the time; his work had not yet gotten him promoted to the Prime Minister's communications director. This is the same Dimitri Soudas who is literally hiding and refuses to account for his decisions before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, where my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant does an excellent job on behalf of the Bloc Québécois. All of the committee members do a good job, except the Conservatives.

Dimitri Soudas is hiding and refuses to face the music. A bailiff has tried to serve him with an order to appear—a subpoena—before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, but he is nowhere to be found. He is somewhere in the Langevin Building, on the other side of Wellington. The bailiff knows he is there, but he is well hidden. They make calls to see if he is there, and he is, but he refuses to come out for his subpoena. In Ontario, subpoenas must be delivered by hand, but that is not the case in Quebec, where an adult can sign the acknowledgment of receipt for the subpoena.

This same Dimitri Soudas was not hiding on December 30. He was proud to announce prorogation on behalf of the Prime Minister. We must not forget the real reason for the prorogation. The Conservatives did not want to face the music and release the secret Afghan detainee documents. The Speaker had to issue a ruling to force the parties to negotiate an agreement, which was reached after seven weeks of negotiations. The process was difficult, but three parties came to an agreement. The NDP decided not to participate, and too bad for them. They will not have access to any documents and will not see any documents.

What does the Conservative government do when it feels threatened, when it feels that it could lose power or that the opposition agrees on certain principles? The opposition parties have different view, and that is the beauty of democracy. We have different opinions, but we can agree on principles. Democracy, openness and transparency are principles the opposition parties share, despite their differences. I do not expect the Liberals to like me as a parliamentarian, but I do expect them to respect me. That is the difference. These are matters of principle on which we have agreed.

When the Conservatives were in opposition in the days of the Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien governments, they used to brag. I have been a member of the House since 1993. The Reformers, who became Alliance members, then Conservatives, used to say they were the champions of transparency, the Mr. Cleans of transparency. But the Conservative government excels at hiding things and being hypocritical.

That is why we think this is a good topic, even though the motion was the wrong vehicle for raising it. The rules on prorogation need to be tightened so that prorogation is not used willy-nilly, for every possible reason. The only way to do that is to develop mechanisms that would prevent the Prime Minister from doing whatever he wants. We have to set guidelines. That is all I have to say for the time being.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
CPC

Harold Albrecht

Conservative

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague. I could not help but observe his energy, his passion and his enthusiasm. I only wish he would show that same kind of passion, energy and enthusiasm for our great country of Canada.

It would have been good if he could have focused, at least for 10% of his speech, on the actual motion. He started talking about prorogation, and he used the word once or twice during his speech.

However, does he agree with the motion that is before us? The motion asks that a special committee of the House be established to study the issue of prorogation? The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has studied this motion for months and has heard from 16 witnesses.

Does he agree that we need another committee, possibly chaired by a Liberal, if the Liberals get their way, to study this issue again?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Madam Speaker, my colleague just talked about my passion for Quebec and said that I should show the same kind of passion and love for Canada. I know I am going to disappoint him. My loyalty is to Quebec, Quebeckers and the regions of Quebec. I want to tell my colleagues in the House that regardless of their party or region, they were elected democratically. People have no choice but to accept the democratic results of an election.

I feel that every member of every party here was legitimately elected. I know that my colleague did not question my legitimacy, but he said I should show the same kind of passion for Canada as for Quebec. I do not know whether my colleague realizes it, but I am a sovereignist; I want out of Canada. When Quebeckers say yes to sovereignty, we will form a country. We have nothing against the rest of Canada; we will always be neighbours. I want to tell my colleague that being a sovereignist does not mean being anti-Canada; it means being pro-Quebec.

That was my response to my colleague's opening comments. As for the Liberal motion, it is not worded the way I would have liked it to be. It could result in the creation of another special committee. If the motion is adopted and implemented by the government, we could compare what we did at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

It seems clear to me that the members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs spent a lot of meetings talking about this issue and heard from a lot of witnesses. If this motion is passed, and if the government agrees to form a special committee, the documents and witness statements will be transferred. I hope that the committee will not have to hear from the witnesses again.

That being said, the Bloc Québécois members support our Liberal colleagues' motion as amended.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Scott Simms

Liberal

Mr. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I would like my colleague to comment on two things. First, let us take a look at the prorogation in this sense and what has been complained about in the past. Would the member reiterate what he said? It seems somewhat opportunistic on the surface to delay the functioning of Parliament for the sake of the government getting out of a tight squeeze. However, in doing so, 37 pieces of legislation were dropped from the order paper, legislation the Conservatives felt were sacrosanct to their philosophy and their ideology to proceed within the House of Commons.

The Conservatives seemed to have wrapped themselves in a catch-22. They have wrapped themselves in this political pretzel. Could the hon. member comment on that? The element of this separate committee raises the bar by which we can deal with the situation of prorogation, which the majority in the House feels has been abused by the government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Newfoundland for refreshing my memory because that is something I wanted to mention.

Before the last prorogation, the House was supposed to resume business on January 25. Because of the prorogation, we did not get back to work until March 5. At that time, we were in the middle of an economic crisis with job losses and cuts.

I believe that my colleague is from the Grand Falls region. I worked for Abitibi-Price. There was a plant in Grand Falls that I visited several times. It closed its doors. There were unbelievable cuts in Canada's pulp and paper industry, but especially in Quebec, and Parliament was not sitting.

We were supposed to come back to work on January 25. We were ready to work, to do our jobs, but the Prime Minister decided on a lock-out. We were locked out. The boss closed up shop on December 30 even though we were ready to work. We could have been productive, passed bills, dealt with the economic crisis and the job losses affecting individuals and families. Women and children are still suffering from the effect of this crisis because the government did not want to do the responsible thing and resume Parliament on January 25.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
BQ

Nicolas Dufour

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Nicolas Dufour (Repentigny, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question along the same lines. As usual, he delivered an extraordinary speech. He even managed to remind us—it may not have been necessary because we already know how he feels—of his faith in sovereignty.

As I was saying, my question is along the same lines. With regard to the economy, the government told us that it had to prorogue Parliament so that it could recalibrate its economic recovery plan. However, prorogation delayed passage of the budget. Every bill that could have helped employees and employers, businesses or the unemployed died on the order paper. We had to start the entire legislative process all over again.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the Conservatives' argument that prorogation was for the good of economic recovery.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my young colleague from Repentigny—the youngest member of this House, who fulfills his duties admirably—on his earnestness and credibility.

He is quite right on one point: a government speaks through its laws and motions, just as a municipal council speaks through its resolutions and bylaws.

The main purpose of a Parliament is to pass legislation. It is the democratic legislative entity par excellence. The government says it has worked very hard, but its work consisted of putting up a smoke screen. I do not know if it is because I am party whip, but I received a rather thick tome showing all the travels of ministers during prorogation. Maybe all members received this document, which would have us believe that while they were not in Parliament, the Conservatives were on the ground and working hard, making all their partisan announcements. They refuse to invite opposition members when they make such announcements, because they are afraid of seeing them.

I encourage all members of this House, when the Conservatives make announcements in their ridings, to attend those events—through their connections to journalists—and to crash their party, given that they refuse to invite us democratically.

I have several complaints to make about the Liberals. I have been a member of this House since 1993, and as I recall, Liberal ministers usually invited us when they were making announcements, and I hope they will continue to do so if they return to power. At the time, at an event at the Quebec City airport, David Collenette even invited me to speak first. Now that is democracy. We knew that the Conservatives had problems, but now we have proof that they have problems with democracy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Ken Dryden

Liberal

Hon. Ken Dryden (York Centre, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I am dividing my time with the member for Vancouver Centre.

Prorogation can be mostly for benign reasons but in this case it was not. Done arbitrarily and out of the government's own convenience, it was done to shut down voices that the government did not want to hear. That may be very human, but for a democratic society, for Canada, it is a big problem.

The Prime Minister does not like a lot of different voices, not in his caucus, not in his cabinet, not in committees, not in the bureaucracy, not in media, not anywhere.

During his now more than four years in office, think of any big public discussion his government has generated on the transforming issues of today and of the future, on the changing national and international economy, on global security, on climate change, on energy, on anything. Nothing. The Prime Minister does not like other voices. Other voices might be critical, embarrassing or inconvenient. They may simply be different from his own. He knows where he wants to go. He thinks he is right. So why do these voices matter?

Prorogation was just part of it. In his more than four years as Prime Minister, he has used and misused the power of his position, its rewards and punishments to entice an intimidate, to play on human weakness, to prop up voices he wants to hear and to shut down those he does not want to hear. All this may be very human, but for democratic society, for Canada, it is a big problem.

This past Monday we brought together about 20 community groups from across the country, some national and international and some small and local, that after years and sometimes decades of receiving federal government money to do important community services and to give voice to those who are less advantaged, to help them to live the way all Canadians should live, they had their funding cut. These were aboriginal groups, health groups, women's groups, learning and child care, international aid groups and others. However, this round table was not really about their funding cuts. It was about what the loss of the services and the voice they provided means to their communities and to Canada.

These cuts, this different understanding of the importance of public voice, represent a great change from previous governments, from the Liberal governments of 1970s and early 1980s, from the Progressive Conservative governments of the late 1980s and early 1990s and from the Liberal governments again until 2006.

When I was minister of social development, my responsibilities included those for seniors, people with disabilities, the volunteer sector as a whole and child care. People who worked for advocacy groups on these issues did so because they believed in these issues and knew that so much more needed to be done. These groups pushed hard. We got to know each other, maybe even trust each other a little, but these groups were intensely politically no-partisan and intensely issue partisan.

They had to deal with whoever was the government. At times they drove me crazy. Sometimes they were too right, uncomfortably right when it was not sure that I could deliver that right. Sometimes I thought they were completely wrong, that to meet their own goals and mine they wanted to go down the wrong path.

However, I knew what every party for decades had known, which is that these voices are part of the essential mix of voices necessary for a properly functioning healthy society.

Then in 2006 the Conservatives won. During the first three or four months there were signs of trouble for these groups but to them they hoped it was just a matter of getting used to a new government and a new government getting used to them. They had seen it before, whether a Liberal or Progressive Conservative government, and eventually they knew they would get through to that government and everything would end up roughly as it was. However, not this time.

There were cuts to the court challenges program, women's groups, literacy and child care, and aboriginal groups. The first groups in these areas thought they were the only ones affected. They kept waiting for the train to arrive at the station but I would tell them that the train was not coming.

The Conservative government thinks differently. It does not know why it should give money to these groups. It thinks it is its job to reflect the different voices in the country. It believes that if these issues had any real public support, people would give to these groups themselves. It believes that if any money does go to these groups, it should go directly to the people in need, to feet on the ground, not to mouths in corner offices. It cannot understand why any government in its right mind would support someone who just criticizes it anyway.

All this might be very human, but for a democratic country, for Canada, it is a big problem.

We all knew and the government knew what would happen next. For these groups, their effectiveness, their voices and their existences threatened, they would go nuts. Instead, most have gone quiet.

I think this even surprised the government at first, then it realized the power it had. Essentially it said to these groups, “You thought you were strong. You are not. You need our money and now you have a choice. You can go quiet and maybe get some money, but not likely and certainly a lot less, and by going quiet, you become powerless, or you can go loud and certainly not get any money and become powerless. What do you want, to be powerless or powerless?”

For the government it meant that it could keep its money and keep these groups quiet. Life does not get much better.

On Monday, together some of these groups told their story. Many others are still not willing to. There was also someone who took part but who decided to do so only by phone because a government contract was pending for a group she would like to work for and she did not feel that she could put herself or this group at risk by being identified. This is a person who has a reputation for fighting every fight, loudly, publicly and never taking a backward step. It is all about shutting down voices.

Another group, whose funding has not been cut, had intended to be there to show solidarity with the other groups because this group knows that but for the grace of one cabinet minister who has a personal interest in the issue that is its focus, its funding might be cut too. In the end, however, the group decided that it could not risk being there. In one way or another, again, it is shutting down voices.

The round table was not about groups losing their funding. It was about what the loss of funding means, what the loss of services and the voices that they provide means to local communities and the national community, and what it means to all of us.

Here is what some of them said. One said, “I am acutely aware that--today--there may be consequences associated with speaking publicly about social and political issues of importance to Canadians. ...few would deny that the "chill" is real and that this is a new development in Canadian democracy”.

Another person talked about organizations that are now afraid to be visible in a press conference and about groups that historically have had too few resources to act alone. The person said that they were divided by fear, divided by a race to survive financially. The person said that the result was distrust, fear and a lack of cohesiveness.

Another person said, “We are witnessing some of the most prominent organizations in this country being silenced, reduced. ...ensuring that the government will have little or no opposition to their actions and policy.“We are witnessing some of the most prominent organizations in this country being silenced, reduced, ensuring that the government will have little or no opposition to their actions and policy. It seems that NGOs have been given two choices--stay quiet and don't represent the challenges facing vulnerable Canadians or voice those issues and quietly disappear”.

Those words do not convey their full stories nor the tone of their voices. Their tone was one of sadness, anger, disappointment in themselves for being so weak in the face of their organization's survival, for turning against other groups, for turning selfish and greedy, for being so unlike what they ever thought they were. More than that, their tone was that of disbelief and denial. They could not believe this was happening. They could not believe it was possible to stop themselves before they could say what needed to be said. This was not Canada.

These groups knew their own stories and knew the stories of those in their own sectors but they were stunned by the other voices they heard and by how broad and how deep the problem went. I think it took so long for these groups to speak out because of this disbelief, because of a feeling that surely they were the only ones, that no one else would understand, and because to say something about losing their funding would sound to others like sour grapes and would sound self-serving, as if they really did not have the right to say something.

It is the same story for all the opposition political parties and for the media. We are losing our voice, but what right do we have to say something? It is called sour grapes and self-serving.

This is not, first of all, most of all, about us. It is about the public, about Canadians, and about how this country works. That gives us a right. That gives us an obligation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his very passionate speech. He went on at length and was very passionate about his subject matter. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with the motion we are here debating today.

I do not know if prorogation was mentioned in the beginning of it, but he really did go on. Certainly, as an opposition member will, he criticized the government for things we stand for and for things we have done. We will even forgive him that. It is his prerogative to not speak to his own party's motion, because that certainly proves to us how important it truly is to the Liberals.

However, I will ask him about the importance of the hard work of members of the House and the hard work of members of the committee on procedure and House affairs. I will ask why he believes that a further study or a different study from the months-long study the committee has undertaken is necessary.

Members of his own party, his own whip, his own deputy whip, and his own deputy House leader sit on that committee. I happen to chair it. We have worked reasonably hard toward an answer, and in a very collegial way. At any time, at any place, members can certainly bring forward changes to our direction, what we are looking at, and what rules we are following. We are very free on the time allotment, whether for opposition or government members. I try to make friends rather than enemies. I would much rather hug than present a fist.

I would like to ask him why he thinks the work of those members, including the members from his party, has so little value.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
LIB

Ken Dryden

Liberal

Hon. Ken Dryden

Madam Speaker, as I said in my initial remarks, the prorogation was a shutting down of voices. That is what it fundamentally was.

Prorogation can be used for lots of different purposes, but one of its purposes, surely, is not just for the convenience of the government to decide to shut down voices. It is too much of a central theme, a central attitude, and a central way of doing things by the government. It shuts down voices that it does not want to hear. Whenever it does not want to hear them, it just shuts them down. Prorogation is just part of the same thing.

In terms of the hon. member's question about the work of the committee, I am sure that the committee has worked hard. The fact is that prorogation as it now exists allows for the possibility of the shutting down of Parliament and the shutting down of voices at absolutely inappropriate and unworthy times. Unless and until we get prorogation right, we open ourselves to these kinds of abuses in the future.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink
NDP

Jim Maloway

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for his presentation today on the motion.

The fact of the matter, trying to be charitable and nice here, is that the Liberals went to bed last night thinking that their opposition day motion was going to be about MS, on which they did a very good job two or three days ago in the House during a take note debate. Some time this morning, at 8:30, somebody and their management changed the agenda and brought in the prorogation motion, which they had to amend.

It has put them on the defensive. I can appreciate the difficulties they have trying to defend this actual motion, which they do not even really want to talk about, so they talk around the issue. It has caused them a lot of problems.

I agree with the hon. member's point about how the government has acted and how it should not be proceeding. It should not be bringing in prorogation every time it needs a way out.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Prorogation
Permalink

June 17, 2010