Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):
Mr. Speaker, it would seem that the debate is starting to turn and transform itself into a general debate on our Standing Orders, the procedure, the rights of the members to speak about democracy, and finally all our institutions. To my mind, those who are endeavouring to steer the debate in that direction are merely trying to create a smokescreen to hide the real issue. And that is, that 47 speakers have already spoken for 19 hours on a two-clause bill. Which brings up this question: Is it not enough that 47 hon. members spent 19 hours speaking on two clauses? My answer is this: That is quite enough. And that is the first reason that led the government to have recourse, for the first time, I believe, to Standing Order 75C.
The other reason is that no other agreement was reached between the parties of the opposition and the government. A while ago we heard the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) say that we could have come to an agreement. But that is crying over spilt milk. Although it has been impossible to come to an agreement for at least two weeks, we know that House leaders are meeting to discuss this topic after systematically refusing to give at least summary indications to the government House leader as to whether or not it would be possible to come to an agreement.
Having precluded all possibility to come to an understanding, they now come to the House to say: "If only the government were not so rigid and did not demand the implementation of Standing Order 75C! They even go so far as to say: If the government had not been so stupid, we could have reached an agreement. If this could have been done, it would have been before, but that did not come to pass. Now clause Standing Order 75C is being implemented and it seems to me that it is very useful. I contend that hon. members of the opposition who are against it and who are trying to put democracy on trial should conduct opinion polls in their constituencies just as we do on the government side of the House, they would then realize that the people have had debates which drag on and on in the House of Commons, and that they, the taxpayers deem inefficient.
November 13, 1975
I have been told so in the course of the seven years that I have been a member. Never has a week gone by without a voter telling me, especially now that we are a majority government: I wonder how you, the majority government, cannot pass such and such measures? Then, Mr. Speaker, we have to spend minutes and hours explaining the Standing Orders of the House of Commons to these persons, trying to convince them that the government does not control Parliament, but that in fact the members do, and that the opposition often decides when such measure will be passed, because of the number of members it wishes to have heard. The truth is that we use Standing Order 75C because it is about time, because enough is enough and because we have to reach a decision.
Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts, I wanted to be heard, because I wished to give some details. Canadians are looking forward to see this bill go further and I am in a good position to know it, as chairman of the committee.
And I can tell you that there are 22 witnesses, I have the list here, who are waiting to appear before the committee and who have been calling me for months every week to ask what is happening in this House or how come we cannot stop those interminable palavers. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we will indeed do it through Standing Order 75C. I should like all members to note that those who rose on the other side against the motion are not members of the opposition who sit on the Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts because these members are also asking me when the bill will be referred to the committee.
And yet hon, members of the opposition who sit on the Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts are certainly most interested to see that this bill receive fair treatment but they are the first to understand that after 47 speakers and 19 hours of debate it is time to refer the bill to the committee. They are eager to see the witnesses appear before them. The people who are most interested, those who are affected by this bill and who wish to appear before the committee, the members of the opposition, the members of the Committee on Broadcasting, Film4 and Assistance to the Arts ask me if they will have the opportunity to meet those people and talk to them in person. Let us stop making this seem like a debate on democracy, let us be honest and realize that some filibusters must stop and that time has come to put an end to this one.
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE