October 14, 1983 (32nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)


Mr. Pinard:

I do not believe that shouting or interrupting me can add anything significant to the debate. I am simply
Report of Special Committee
asking a question. Following your comments, Mr. Speaker, I did not interrupt the previous speaker and I would like the opportunitty to express my views because I am very much in favour of parliamentary reform and I would not want what happened yesterday and today to jeopardize in any way sooner or later the improvement of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons and the rules of the Canadian Parliament. On the contrary I believe that, these last few years, Members on this side, as well as across the way admittedly, have showed their willingness to bring about certain changes. We have made some in the past. We are now making some more and we shall continue to do so.
Where some might disagree is as to the way to proceed, and this is important. The third report deals with the changes we are now putting to the test. This report suggests a whole series of important changes to our rules. If it was felt necessary to have an experiment of at least one year before considering a permanent implementation of these changes, why should seven other reports be suddenly implemented at once as was suggested yesterday and earlier today? Should they be implemented without any preliminary experience, without waiting for the results of the experiment now being made even though many of the changes proposed in these seven reports are even more complex and would have more serious consequences than those we are now trying? 1 ask the question sincerely and honestly. If an experience of at least twelve months was required for a single important report, which was also the result of a consensus and which had received the unanimous agreement of the Committee, why, suddenly at this time, near the end of the debate on the Crow rate, are some members attempting to have us implement at once seven reports, without the benefit of experience?
I believe that this question should be answered. I should like to know the reasons for such a rush. I respectfully point out that these reports do not necessarily result from our present experience. One of them, the fourth, deals with the appointment of the Speaker of the House. The fifth would force the Government to establish the committees without delay. As for me, I have nothing against it but it must be considered in the larger context. In the other reports provision is made for the appointment of special legislative committees made up of 20 members in addition to the 20 or so existing committees, to deal specifically with bills following the second reading stage. Another report proposes the establishment of four additional committees to examine the fiscal framework, the spending habits of the Government and the use of Crown corporations. Another report provides for a change in the accountability of those in charge of administering public funds. We know that this is the Government's responsibility. It is proposed that Members of the Opposition attend the meetings of the Commissioners of Internal Economy and share in the administration of over $100 million a year of taxpayers' money and that,

Report of Special Committee
in case of a disagreement, the Chairman would have the deciding vote and thus lose his objectivity.
These are matters which can be considered and should be examined. They are matters on which about 20 Members of Parliament have agreed, but they must be analyzed in the larger context. First of all our experience is not yet completed. Should we agree permanently upon the principle of 25 committees, each made up of 10 members? Would it not be desirable, in view of the number of additional committees proposed by the Committee on Parliamentary Reform, to consider reducing the number of committees?

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