June 5, 1972 (28th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Alexander Jerome (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)


Mr. Jerome:

Mr. Speaker, as might befit the occasion, the amendment is an ingenious attempt at orderliness, but I submit that it is procedurally unacceptable for two or three reasons. First, if the amendment is accepted, it would raise a most obvious difficulty in that it proposes the establishment of an independent review body which is answerable to Parliament. This body would have the power to limit and control, not only the subject matter that is envisaged in the bill, but a wide range of subject matters.
I think it is accepted as a matter of course that if such a body is to have any function and power, it would have to be supported by a staff and secretariat in order to be competent and operate as would be envisaged by the motion. The body would have to be staffed by talented, capable economists and experienced persons who would command a substantial salary and require staff to support them. Obviously, there would be a considerable expense to the public treasury which is not envisaged in the recommendation from his Excellency. It cannot be seriously argued that if such a body were set up it would not create, or require, that sort of expenditure; the hon. member would not suggest that it would act on a voluntary basis and that its support staff would do the same. So, there is a fundamental difficulty.
In addition, I would submit two further considerations. First, the question immediately arises whether the amendment is really opposed to the principle of the bill, as an amendment on second reading must be. I am sure the hon. member and his colleagues do, in fact, accept the principle that control should be exercised over takeovers by foreign investors of undertakings in Canada. So what they are really saying is that they agree with the basic principle of the bill calling for control, but require, or suggest, that control be exercised by a different body in a different way and that it be exercised over a wider range of transactions than presently contemplated. In short, they are saying that the principle of the bill is acceptable but that its provisions do not go far enough.
The precedents are so clear as to scarcely need citation. In this situation, amendments of the kind the hon. member has in mind are not in order, for the obvious reason that if the principle of a bill is accepted, specific proposals can be examined in detail during the clause by clause study in committee at which time amendments can be put forward. In addition, amendments of this sort can be introduced at the report stage to flesh out the skeleton of ideas now before us-amendments to clauses or the addition of further clauses to the bill to accomplish the objective the hon. member wishes to pursue. In other words, an attempt is being made here to propose amendments to the bill by the device, not of moving such amendments now, which would be clearly out of order, but by seeking to amend the motion for second reading and thus having the government consider the introduction of a totally different kind of measure. The device of referring this back to the government is, therefore, a means of getting around difficulties which would arise in making
June 5, 1972

specific amendments to the bill itself; it is an attempt to do indirectly what cannot be done directly.
I submit, therefore, that the proposed amendment is clearly out of order. It is obviously irregular to go into the merits of the provisions of a bill at this stage, yet this is what the amendment would envisage. A third difficulty is that it goes totally beyond the scope of the bill itself. It goes beyond the scope of the recommendation, as I have said. For all these reasons, I submit that the amendment is out of order.

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