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


Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, may I say, first of all, that some of the arguments used by the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council may have merit. There is one he used, however, which can surely be disposed of quickly. In his opening remarks, he suggested that the amendment would involve the expenditure of money and was out of order on that ground. I would draw to his attention, and to yours, Mr. Speaker, that the whole of the amendment is governed by the phrase "in the opinion of this House the government should give consideration to the introduction of a measure-". It is an understanding as old as this Parliament, Mr. Speaker, that when a member asks the government to give consideration to something, it is not an instruction. Therefore, acceptance by the Chair of this amendment, or its passing, would not be an instruction calling for the expenditure of money; it would only be an expression of opinion that consideration be given to the proposal set out in the resolution. I put it to you, therefore, that the argument that the amendment proposed by my hon. friend is one involving the expenditure of money does not carry any weight at all.
The parliamentary secretary had a good deal to say about the fact that because the amendment suggests things which go beyond the present bill it should not be put forward now. He invited us to wait until we get into committee, or to the report stage, or to third reading. I suggest to him, since he is fast becoming No. 1 or No. 2 in the procedural efforts from that side of the House, that if we sought to do these things at the committee stage or the report stage he would be the first to get up and say we could not do them because they went beyond the provisions of the bill.
I have dealt with these matters first because I do not believe them to be serious, as is the basic point which arises with increasing frequency as we try to move reasoned amendments. Although there are a hundred years of precedents in this area, it strikes me we have developed some restrictive jurisprudence in the last few years. For example, it now seems to be established by the Chair that the mover of a reasoned amendment must not only be in direct opposition to the bill, but that he must be opposed to the principle of that bill. If that is his position, the mover of such an amendment is then entitled under the terms of Citation 382 of Beauchesne, Fourth Edition, to move an amendment setting out the reasons he is opposed to the principle of the bill and suggesting other ways of dealing with the matter. My hon. friend, the member for Waterloo (Mr. Saltsman) has made it clear that he is opposed to this bill. He even went so far as to say that it is not a case of its being better than nothing-it is worse than nothing.
Foreign Takeovers Review Act
However, I am prepared to admit to Your Honour that you sometimes say it is not enough for us to express opposition to the bill; we must be opposed to its principle. Well, one of the things which is sometimes a little difficult to sort out is the principle of a bill. What is the principle of the bill before us? One might easily say that it does not have any, but that is hardly a procedural point. The principle of this bill is the provision of an arrangement under which a Minister of the Crown may review takeovers of Canadian companies already established in Canada. That is all it does. We are opposed to that principle. We think that in its place Parliament has the right to ask the government to bring in a bill to provide for foreign investment, foreign takeovers, and the extension of foreign ownership or foreign influence in Canada, to be reviewed by an independent body-not just by a minister-that is answerable to Parliament.
It is because we think that that alternative, while it is in the field of foreign investment and foreign ownership, is so distinctly opposed to the principle of this bill that we contend it is the type of reasoned amendment that Your Honour ought to consider very seriously, even in the light of the dicta that have been laid down by the Chair in recent weeks. There is no question about our stand on the bill. We think it is worthless and we intend to vote against it. We think that, in principle, it is wrong to handle this matter by putting this namby-pamby power in the hands of a minister. We think it is wrong in principle to confine activities under legislation of this kind to one area only.
Having stated our opposition to the principle of the bill and to what it tries to do, we have proposed, as we think is our right under citation 382, an alternative; and our motion asks the House to call upon the government to give consideration to that alternative. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, because this is an alternative and is presented by members who want to see this bill proceed no further; we contend that the amendment meets the terms of a reasoned amendment and should be put to the House.

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