June 8, 2015

NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

I think the parliamentary secretary is probably off on a bit of a tangent. I would ask him to come back to the Senate. The points that he has raised, at least on a superficial level, were still relevant, but I think he should move back to points on the Senate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate your ruling and I will certainly abide by it, the point I am trying to make is that the opposition is trying to suggest that we not fund a constitutional body of Parliament, that we starve the Senate for funds, that we break the Constitution and we kill an institution that is part of our parliamentary democracy. Opposition members want to do that unilaterally without seeking the consent of our provincial partners. They want to break the law, and the excuse they are using is the Senate expense scandal.

While I agree that what we have seen and the potential abuses that we are hearing about with respect to expenses are important to all Canadians, I can certainly tie in the fact that members of Parliament, all parliamentarians, in making a decision to hold back funding for another body, have to also be accountable for the expenses they are claiming here. It is very relevant when we look at the expenses of all parliamentarians.

The Senate is a parliamentary body and we have to look at how Parliament is spending its money. There is a very relevant connection to how the expenses of members of Parliament are operating, as well as the NDP and all of us for that matter. It is not just the NDP. It is not just a Conservative, Liberal or NDP function. It is all of us. We are sent to this place as guardians of taxpayers' dollars and when we fail that responsibility to the taxpayer, the taxpayer wants accountability for it.

Throughout this debate over the next number of hours, I am going to take every single opportunity that I can to highlight the responsibility that parliamentarians at all levels and from all parties have to the taxpayer. By the end of the debate tonight, I want to ensure that all Canadians understand that we all have a responsibility for the tax dollars they send here.

I intend to drill down and make a very important connection to the $57 million vote that we are doing for the Senate and also connect the taxpayers' $2.7 million that was redirected by the NDP caucus away from taxpayers in their own ridings into an illegal partisan office.

I intend throughout the hours here tonight to question each of these members individually and to have the opportunity to make that connection for Canadians, because in making the decision at the end of the night, we should make sure we are making the decision based on full facts and full information. I know the NDP will want to co-operate on that. After all, it was the New Democrats who brought a motion forward that suggested that answers had to be very clear and concise. By that standard tonight, I expect to question each of these individual members for many hours.

I appreciate the fact that the NDP has given me the opportunity on behalf of taxpayers to get even more information with respect to the $2.7 million it owes, as well as the appropriation for the Senate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to ask the parliamentary secretary about a bill that was passed here three years ago in the House of Commons, Bill C-290, the single sports betting bill. It would delete one sentence in the Criminal Code and would allow provinces to, if they wanted to, negotiate to have single sports betting.

The bill has been in the Senate for three years. It was passed here unanimously. It went through the House of Commons. The member actually agreed with it. Why has the bill not been passed by the Senate? It was democratically approved by the House of Commons and is now being blocked by Liberals and Conservatives in the Senate. It is costing jobs, employment and a series of things related to organized crime benefiting, as well as offshore betting, but it has not been passed. It has been three years in the Senate.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to understand and respond to us directly on Bill C-290. Why can he not get that passed in the Senate? Why has the Senate denied it? I would like to know.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, I believe, if I am not mistaken, that the bill is with respect to betting on single sporting events. As to whether I agreed with it, the member might have to look carefully at that. I do not recall actually voting on that bill.

Having said that, I know that the New Democrats might not like the fact that there is a constitutionally mandated second chamber that has to review the work we do here, but that is the Constitution of this country, and that is something we will continue to fight for and support. We have a constitutional obligation as a government to support the Constitution and to make sure that we pass laws in accordance with the Constitution.

I know the NDP's philosophy is to unilaterally eliminate it, breaking the Constitution and what the Supreme Court has said. We will not do that. We will protect the Constitution, because that is what a government must do. Until that body is reformed, we will continue—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Windsor West on a point of order.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse

Mr. Speaker, my question was simply to Bill C-290, not other things. I would like the minister to respond to that. Why has it not passed? It is as simple as that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order. It is a point of debate.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what is the Conservative plan to reform the Senate?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, our plan is this: We want to see an elected Senate. We want to see term limits in the Senate. We think Canadians have that responsibility. As members know, the Conservative Party is the only party that has actually appointed elected senators, and we would like the opportunity to continue to do that.

As I mentioned in my remarks, the Supreme Court has said that we need the unanimous consent of all our provincial and territorial partners to do that. That is something I hope the Council of the Federation will be seized with and will take a look at. These are our proposals. We certainly do not want to do what the Liberals have suggested and allow an unelected, unaccountable Senate to be appointed by unelected, unaccountable officials. We think that is completely inappropriate, and Canadians would not accept that.

Very directly, we want an elected Senate, we want term limits, and we want to continue with those types of reforms.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

David Sweet

Conservative

Mr. David Sweet (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we are speaking tonight about accountability. The parliamentary secretary mentioned that he wanted to hold to account those who spoke about the motion tonight in regard to the Senate. I would like to give him the opportunity to do just that and draw the parallel between how if one group or individual wants to hold someone else accountable, they should be responsible as well for the way they execute their behaviour in regard to funding.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale for that question, because he is right.

Tonight we are being asked to consider continuing to fund the Senate, which is, as I said, a constitutionally important, mandated part of our parliamentary democracy. One of the rationales being given by the NDP is that because there are some expenses to do with some of the members, that body should be relieved of all of its funding.

Currently we have 68 members of the NDP caucus, two-thirds of its caucus, who have spent $2.7 million, three times as much as, if we are understanding correctly, what the NDP—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre on a point of order.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Speaker, my concern is again on the issue of relevance. We are wasting valuable time that is dedicated to the deliberation on vote 1, which is an appropriation of $57 million to the Senate. I am interested in asking a question of the parliamentary secretary. He is wildly off topic. I wonder if you, Mr. Speaker, will rein him in, call him to order, or ask him to sit down so that I can ask a question of him.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

I am having some difficulty, both with, quite frankly, the question and moving into this area once again. I think I have made my ruling fairly clear that we were way off on this in terms of relevancy.

The parliamentary secretary still has the floor, but I would caution him. I will allow him to continue the question, but then I am going to say that it is final on this. It is just too far away from the issue before us this evening.

The hon. parliamentary secretary may complete his answer.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I intend throughout the evening to ensure, before a final decision is made with respect to this motion, that Canadians understand that the individuals who are bringing this forward have issues of their own, which would, I think, highlight the rationale for some of the decisions they are making. I intend to continue very specifically on that path throughout the evening, while following your rule, Mr. Speaker, and respecting your decision.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Speaker, I have a very short and specific question. The debate we are having now is on a motion in the name of the President of the Treasury Board, seconded by the member for Central Nova, or Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, which is what he does now that he has announced his retirement.

My question is, why did both of them take off like jackrabbits when it came time to speak to the motion? Why did they leave it up to the parliamentary--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre knows it is inappropriate and unparliamentary to make reference to whether people are in the House.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I understand from the answer of my hon. colleague that the plan of the Conservatives for Senate reform is still an elected Senate. The Supreme Court said that to elect the Senate, we would need a constitutional amendment, supported by seven provinces with 50% of the population.

Is it the view of the government that the constitution must be reopened, yes or no?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink
CPC

Paul Calandra

Conservative

Mr. Paul Calandra

Mr. Speaker, I am assuming that the member came into the chamber a little late, or he would know that, of course, it is absolutely not our intention to reopen the Constitution. That is not something Canadians want. They want us to focus on jobs and economic growth, which is something we will continue to do.

We have put our reforms on the table. It is something the Council of the Federation can take a look at. Will the government be involved in constitutional negotiations with our provincial and territorial partners on the Senate? No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16
Sub-subtopic:   Concurrence in Vote 1—The Senate
Permalink

June 8, 2015