Robert Lloyd WENMAN

WENMAN, Robert Lloyd

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
Birth Date
June 19, 1940
Deceased Date
June 14, 1995
businessman, investment counsellor, teacher

Parliamentary Career

July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (November 1, 1984 - October 14, 1986)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 158)

December 2, 1992

Mr. Wenman:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for those comments very sincerely. I sense that the minister heard what I said.

I know that the Government of British Columbia is very anxious to talk about their needs on infrastructure. They are not mentioned here in particular, but remember that you said they should be focused on something that relates to making us more competitive.

I am an advocate for parks and tourism and so forth. It is very important, but really we might look at the airport system in Vancouver. That is going to increase our competitiveness. The bridge in P.E.I. is important politically and I am sure it is economical. I am not sure how it will improve our competitiveness, but I can think of three or four other bridges in three major cities of Canada with which we might improve competitiveness.

I certainly want to be for the maritimes and for all of Canada, so wherever we are spending this money on infrastructure, I am in favour of it. I am just saying that we have to watch the priorities.

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September 9, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations came forth with a quality of life index this year.

That quality of life index said that of the five billion people in the world, of the many countries of the world, the best country to live in in the whole world is Canada. That felt good.

It feels good that you and I, all of us listening tonight and all of Canada, have somehow put something together that has produced the highest quality of life for our citizens in the world. I am proud to be part of that Canada. British Columbians are proud to be part of that Canada and particularly those of us in the lower mainland of British Columbia think that we live not only in the best country in the world but in the best province and in the best part of that province.

Our first feelings are feelings of appreciation to our nation, to our province, to our community. We are appreciative of the quality of life that we have come to know. I would also like to say on behalf of the people I represent that they are also getting tired of the wrangling about the Constitution. They want to get on with the strengthening and the building of our country.

It is not quite that simple. I think we need to have this debate. We need to have this discussion and we have to bring it to a conclusion through a referendum. I think this is all correct procedurally. I wish I could stand tonight, though, and say that British Columbians are now satisfied, we are ready to support this package wholly. I am not really sure I can say that without issuing some qualifications or expressing some of my traditional concerns that I have expressed in this House over many years.

Even with this package, the alienation that is felt in British Columbia is still there and it is very real. It has some basis. I have always wondered about equalization grants, transfers of payments from some supposed have province to have not provinces.

I was in the maritime provinces last week in the have not provinces. I kept looking for the have nots and all I

could see was new road construction, buildings being restored or new construction. I did go to a fish plant and saw a lot of people being laid off but I could not see the have nots when I compared it to my province of British Columbia.

I can go around my province and see have nots everywhere, in city after city or town after town.

The constitutionalization of equalization grants, a trend that started many years ago, I do not like that idea. I do not think we should be subsidizing poor provinces. We should be subsidizing poor people wherever they are found in Canada. That is a traditional argument that I cannot seem to win or we cannot seem to win and so we concede. British Columbians give that to the rest of Canada because we say we are Canadians. We are proud and we are strong so I guess we will have to accept the constitutionalization of equalization grants as a way of life for Canada for the foreseeable future. However, that does not mean we necessarily approve of them or think that they are necessarily the right way to go in Canada. It just means we are perhaps willing to put that aside for another day because it seems to be the consensus of the nation that we should have equalization grants.

I grew up in Saskatchewan and like so many young people, when the jobs were not there, I left for a different lifestyle and economic advantages in British Columbia. I have a very special empathy when we take the funds of Canada and we transfer them back to the farming communities of my birth. I feel good that as a Canadian I am able to share that with them.

The question of representation is a little more difficult for me to explain because I do not really understand how it is easier to represent in British Columbia than it is in Saskatchewan or P.E.I.. I do not quite understand how I somehow should be able to represent 100,000 constituents more or three or four times as many constituents as another in a smaller geographic area. I do not quite understand the fairness of that, but I am willing to accept that and I am willing to say that I am strong, I am proud of Canada and I can represent those extra 100,000 or

200,000 people here for you and I will do it if I need to do it for Canada. I am not complaining about it, I just bring it to your attention. It is another thing that we give from British Columbia to try to make this new Constitution work. It is an attitude of giving and compromising that has come and is coming from our province.

September 9, 1992

It is kind of hard to explain that others have a fixed percentage of the population of proportional representation. Our province is growing the fastest of any in Canada and we are never, ever going to reach our proportions in a fixed formula the way it is being established now. It is hard to explain, but we say in British Columbia that we will accept that and work for those changes later because we are Canadians and we want Canada to work as it does work. Therefore, we will give again.

When B.C.'s share of national procurement stagnates at 4 per cent, 5 per cent or 6 per cent or even falls, we say we will give that to eastern and central Canada as well. We will take the government procurement and we will try not to complain. We will stick with the free market system and we will throw that in for Canada.

As we compromise and give to our nation, I have to say that the alienation would disappear if somehow it were recognized that we are giving from British Columbia.

We are reaching out with compromise to save and support our nation. It does not hurt to recognize the contribution of my province. It does not hurt to recognize the contributions of every province in Canada.

We get tired of the minority situation in Canada all the time in British Columbia because every one of us out there is a part of some minority or vested interest group. They keep rearing their heads and demanding and demanding, instead of asking what they can contribute. We really need to stop demanding and start saying this is our list of what we have to give. This is what we are giving, we are giving this, we are giving this and we are giving this because we love Canada.

If every province listed all the benefits that they receive from the Government of Canada and if they felt good about their contribution, we would not be having any problems here at all.

I think that everybody should make a list of the advantages of being a Canadian. You list all the advantages. Over here you list the disadvantages. I tell you that disadvantage list is pretty short, not only in Canadian terms but in global terms. No matter where you come from, this is a great nation. I love the parts of it. I am ready to contribute to the parts of it. If I have a little more, I am willing to share that. Let us all have that idea. Let us all have that attitude so that next year and the

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year after the world will look at Canada and see it as number one.

I will support this referendum, not because I agree with it entirely, but it establishes a framework that I can work within and try and change some of the things over time that I am not satisfied with. Almost every British Columbian says to me in the final analysis, "I do not want to lose my country. I want to build it and keep it strong". That is why I am here at a quarter after one in the morning. That is why you are here at a quarter after one in the morning, Mr Speaker, and I thank you for being here, and I thank Canadians and ask them to be generous and tolerant in the spirit that built our nation and will build it for generations to come.

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June 22, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important bill because it signals the reality of Canada in the global context.

There are not too many things we can be sure of in this day and at this time. We can be sure of one thing and that is that the population of the world is growing. We are now talking about five billion people. These are five billion people who are crowding the borders of almost every nation in the world.

They are crowding the cities of the world. As they crowd they seek what we have and that is open space, the number one place, the best country in the world according to the United Nations. Naturally there is a strong demand in the world for Canada, a strong demand that cannot possibly be met by Canada alone.

This is complicated by the situation that the world used to move freely among itself. The world no longer moves freely among itself. It used to be that in the world there were many countries that should you or I or anyone else choose to move to, you could do so easily. It used to be that if there were a political or a natural catastrophe here, you could move across the border in the next place and it would welcome you.

Those welcome mats have disappeared everywhere in the world. Every country has said it has closed its borders. Canada was the last country to come to this closing process through a target or quota system, a quota system that was put in place by every nation in the world in a very stringent way.

The world borders have been closing and as the world's borders close, it creates the 10 or 15 million refugees in the world; displaced people who cannot find another country for their home.

There are a lot coming as the hon. member knows. We were both in those refugee camps. Bud Cullen was the Liberal minister at the time and I said to him when we set that target level back why not take some as refugees. They would make the best citizens in the world we could find; people fleeing for their safety and their security from their own country. I asked: "Why not set a target of 5,000?" He said to me, and it is in the proceedings of the committee: "Good idea. If you think you have the Conservatives", the opposition at that time, "to go

June 22, 1992

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along, then let us have a look at it". Six weeks later he announced 5,000, the first target of refugees.

Then in 1978-79, we had the boat people and our minister in government at that time said it would take 60,000.

What we were doing in that process was responding to a world that was tightening down and opening our doors to a very worthwhile group of people who have made fine citizens for Canada. Really we only opened the door a little crack because what is 60,000 out of 15 million? Anyone in a refugee camp would choose to come to Canada given that opportunity.

Canada as an oasis of hope and opportunity is facing the pressures of a world that wishes to come here. What a change from 40, 60 years ago when Canada went out and advertised for immigrants: please come to Canada. It had to give all kinds of incentives to come to Canada. That is not the situation today and our Immigration Act needs to reflect that. Canada is under the pressure of a massive number of applications. Our program now is to choose from among those applications, both in the interest of the person wishing to come and in the interest of our country.

The interest of our country changes from time to time. Right now there is a very strong interest and need in our country for young people with skills to come and help us build our country. There is a need for business men and business immigration and our act addresses this issue. It says we should welcome the entrepreneurs and business men of the world because this is now a global economy. Any part of the world that says it is going to be an isolated island is doomed to failure, poverty and a reduced quality of life.

We have to respond to choice. We have made the most generous choice of any nation in the world by saying we will set a target of 250,000. Who will these 250,000 be? As I said, they need to be young people, skilled people and business people. Of course we must have a very special place for immediate family and true and legitimate refugees. That is what this act says.

I do not think there is a Canadian sitting there listening to us tonight or reading in Hansard tomorrow who would disagree with those priorities. That is what

this legislation is doing. It is saying we will create stream one and we will not put a limit on it. In that stream we will look to the priority of Canada's needs: immediate family, refugees and business immigration.

Of course that is not to say I agree with everything in the report. My immigration committee will report back to the House soon I hope. We are getting near the end and we are going to support business immigration. We are recognizing business immigration is more than just investors who will not become actively involved and just invest money in Canada. It is also entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

Therefore we suggest the government give us an idea of how the system might work. It is not fixed in stone at this stage. The government will look at the report of our committee and at the Ernst & Whinney report that is coming in later. It will take the Ferguson task force report, its own internal report and we will create the regulations that look to these kinds of examples as outlined here.

Obviously we want to take control of Canada. What kind of a government would not take control of Canada? That means we shall select the millions of people who want to come here in the interest of Canada, our country. That is 250,000 now for the next three years and perhaps some adjustment to that target over the intervening years. Perhaps that target will even grow because as we become stronger perhaps this country should not be just 30 million. Maybe it should be 50 million. Maybe 50 million is a viable population, a small not very dense population for the second largest country in the world that can deliver a high quality of life and place for many more people in the world. The old days have gone. Looking at our land as a vast empty unused land just waiting to be filled is an entirely wrong concept in this day and age.

Let us modernize our act. Let us gain control of those who are coming into Canada illegally and let us sort them out. Let us keep those who are legitimate refugees and let us send the rest home and tell them to come and pick through the regular process. I know this is what my constituents want. They want the government to take control of immigration. They want the government to use immigration to build Canada. They want to show our compassionate side through conventional refugees. They want to show our human side through recognizing

immediate family and they want to build our economy through recognizing business immigration.

All of us here have a responsibility to participate in this act, in its process, to get it to committee, to travel across the country and hear the views of Canada. As we hear the views of Canada, and I know that the opposition knows in their heart their job is to oppose, but they know that this act is the right place and the right time.

I have been working on this committee for many years.

I remember 1975 changes, 1976 and 1977 in the committee. I think this is the right time, this is the right act and I support it most energetically and enthusiastically.

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May 7, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Madam Speaker, we are hearing a lot of debate in the world today about who will go to Rio, who will not go to Rio, what they will say in Rio, or more important I suppose, what they will not say.

As we look at the emergence of the conference, when all the posturing is done, when all the rhetoric is finished, when all the trees are chopped down and the papers are piled on desks and faxed around the world, what will be left?

How will we measure the results of Rio? We hope that it will be more than a debate, an argument, between developed and developing countries. We hope that it will not break down over the differences of developed and developing countries, but rather results can be found by bringing developed and developing countries together through issues of common concern.

Those are the scientific issues of global warming, the ozone layer. These important big science and technological kinds of issues are facing the very survival of our globe. These are the major elements of discussion at Rio.

The real measure of the success or lack of success of Rio will be the quality of the air we are able to breath a few months or a few years later. Will it be better or worse? If the quality of air continues to deteriorate and we can no longer breathe, we have failed.

If the water that we drink continues to deteriorate in quality, we will have failed.

If we cannot find a solution to waste management programs, if we cannot find any place to put our garbage or to reduce the amount of garbage that we are piling up until we sit on piles of garbage that leach out into our rivers, we will have failed.

If we cannot find answers to waste management control and if whatever over and wonderful structure that we place does not provide green open spaces left in the world so that not just human beings can breathe, but those in the bio-diversity chains of life can continue to exist, one related to the other, we will have failed.

Those are the true measures. Can we save and sustain a minimal quality of life? Can we move beyond the doomsday, the sky is falling in, and say we can accommodate a world that not only can survive but maybe can survive and make our quality of life even better, be it that quality of life is in the least developed country and simply means the quality of moving from no food to basic food? Can we develop in the world a sense of upward mobility and production and at the same time containing our consumption?

There are only two things we can count on in the world today and be sure of. We can lament them and say we wish they were not going to happen, but as the previous member just said, the population will double from 5 billion to 10 billion. We might want it otherwise but it seems inevitable.

With that doubling of population and the acceptance of market systems, pluralistic democracies and these other trends of today, can we sustain the growth, can we sustain even a minimal quality of life, can we make life better?

I would like to accept that the task is difficult, maybe improbable, but that if mankind chooses to come together in Rio and come together in that way in the world with commitment at least, there is hope and we can live in the new world.

The Environment

Let us recognize what the new world is. The new world is a world of cities. It is a world of urbanization. For years we have focused in the United Nations on the important issues of basic potable water, or rural development, of response to emergency relief and these kinds of things in an effective way.

That is not where the next century is. The next century is going to place the people of the world from those rural areas into cities. That is where the consumption will be, that is where the degradation will be and that is where your lifestyle and my lifestyle will be, even though we might desire that it should be otherwise.

In 1980 there were 1.8 billion people living in cities. By 2010 that will increase to about 3.4 billion and by 2025 it is suggested it will be around 5.5 billion. What kind of cities? Will they be the massive megacities with the rotten homeless in the central core, with the shantytown surroundings, with people drinking undrinkable water, breathing unbreathable air and sitting bumper to bumper in rotting cars on freeways for three and four hours to and from work? Need it be that way in this kind of mega-city that is evolving? Not necessarily if we can recognize this trend toward urbanization and we can begin to manage urbanization in a realistic way to improve and sustain the quality of life and to sustain cities.

One factor that really illustrates this for me is I saw a picture from space. This picture was taken of the lights of North America. My first reaction was that it was a terrible waste of energy, the lights of North America at night. Then I started to realize what it really was. It was showing us this trend, the reality that the most developed nation in the world is really a nation of growing cities that are linked by jet streams of C02, that are linked by ribbons of asphalt, ribbons of wires carrying light and electricity, ships across our oceans, submarines underneath our oceans, ocean dumping. I thought this is real. We better look to that future.

While the scientific issues of global warming are extremely critical, the one element that developed and developing countries have in common is that they are all facing the issues of urbanization. Where will people work? How will they work? What jobs will they do? How will they travel to and from those jobs?

The Environment

That is what the people in my riding care about. I live 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Five years ago it was 35 minutes. Now it is 40 minutes or 45 minutes or one hour. The road did not stretch any longer. We put twice as many cars on it. I wonder how we are going to feel on those same roads when the city of Vancouver grows from 1.7 million to 3 million by 2010 and there is twice as many cars.

I wonder how we are going to breathe in my valley any more than we breathe in Los Angeles in the San Bernadino. Now when we drive into work in our cars in Vancouver in the morning by eleven o'clock in the afternoon it is all blown back up the valley. We cannot see our mountains anymore. That is what it is really about.

Can we sustain the quality of air that I, you and our children are trying to breathe? Our children and your children will move to the cities and they will be in those cars. Can we create liveable regional urban areas?

I looked at this map and I used to think I came from greater Vancouver. All of a sudden I look at the map and I find out that it is not greater Vancouver I come from but a new megacity, a new urbanization area running all the way from Seattle to Vancouver.

Unfortunately, in the United States the polls show that most Americans no longer think that the most desirable place in the United States to live is Los Angeles. That is an easy one, is it not? It is another failure of urbanization. We did not build our cities so that they were liveable, so that people could find identity and place in those communities, in those megalopolises.

We must learn from that if we are to sustain the quality of life that makes everyone in the United States want to migrate to the Seattle area and everybody in Canada want to migrate to Vancouver and Victoria, that is what the polls show. However, they are going to destroy everything that we all want to move and live there for unless we have the vision to see the whole city that goes from Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma all the way up to Vancouver as the one city that it is and to treat it as such.

We have some promising signs. One of those promising signs came from the premier of the new government. He suggested a few years ago a great idea called the Georgia Basin. He said: "We should not think that

the city of Vancouver is just Vancouver. It really is the water in between all the way over to Victoria, and it is that whole strait, and even moving down toward the United States".

I am pleased to say that I spoke with him this week. I know that he is meeting with Booth Gardner, the governor of the state of Washington. They are signing accords and starting to move toward the recognition of this greater unit in probably the most wonderful place to live in the world. Can we preserve it? Can we sustain it?

If in North America, in two of the wealthiest countries of the world with the highest quality of life, we cannot demonstrate that we can preserve that quality of life there is no point in going to Rio. If we cannot do it how can a developed country that cannot even provide basic food, shelter and health care to its people provide, sustain and hope for any future or quality of life?

It is because of these concerns that all levels of government must work together-the municipal governments that plan, the regional governments that plan, the provincial governments and the state governments that provide planning and energy and the national governments with their green plans. How can we tie those green plans into the sustainable cities programs of human settlements at the United Nations of the UNDP programs, with the World Bank Development Program?

I think we can if we can work together, if we can see the objective of desirable quality lifestyles within rural urbanized areas. With that in mind I am pleased to say that we have developed what we call the Vancouver charter.

Fifty-four nations of the world gathered in March in Vancouver and said: "Yes, we see the problem of urbanization. We want the United Nations to turn its focus that way and address the problem of sustainable cities". That was the first good recommendation that came out of the Vancouver declaration.

The second good recommendation that came out of it was one that said: "Let us show the way. Let us do three major world demonstration projects. One demonstration project would be our own right at home. Let us show that we can do a world demonstration project pulling all of the jurisdictions together in the Peugot and Georgia Basins and show not only that we can sustain the quality of life but improve that quality of life".

If we can do that then let us find another city in the rapid industrialization area that has to turn the factories off at two o'clock in the afternoon and send the kids home from school to let people breathe. Let us find another one of those rapid industrializations and see if we can take contemporary technology and turn it into a renewed industrialized city that provides both quality of jobs and work and quality of life.

Let us look over at eastern Europe at the terrible gloom and doom that still remains after the Second World War, at those poor once glorious cities. Can we rehabilitate them? Can we restore them? Let us do another world demonstration project.

In Rio let us take our focus, choose a few demonstration projects and show what all this science, technology, political will and human concern can do. Global parliamentarians on habitat, human settlements, development and the environment struck that tone in the Vancouver conference.

They addressed many other urbanization issues that they have mentioned in that charter: human settlements, management, effective land use, land resource management, adequate shelter for all, integrated provision of environmental infrastructure, sustainable transport and energy systems, human resource development and capacity building, promoting human settlements, planning and management in disaster prone areas, promoting sustainable construction, and industry activities, as well as another one that was added by a far-thinking Canadian.

That far-thinking Canadian is sitting in the House tonight, the member for Ottawa West. She came to our conference of 54 parliaments, one of the largest parliamentary conferences in Canada's history, and asked: "What about the role of women in urbanization?" She wrote a special paragraph on that into the charter, into the declaration.

I commend her tonight. I thank her for her role there, and for her continuing role in that international organization that was created there.

There are many other issues that we wish to speak about with respect to human settlements. As we pushed the science in Brazil we have forgotten what we have in common, which is urbanization.

The Environment

I hope that urbanization can grow in its strength and its central theme. It was recognized in New York at the prep-com that we have not done enough to deal with how people live together, one with the other. How do we survive within that quality of environment? As I speak tonight on sustainable cities and urbanization I know I am speaking about a subject of yesterday and a subject of today, but I am talking about the subject of the future.

Canada has shown world leadership through Monique Landry, Jean Charest and others who helped us form one of the largest parliamentary non-governmental organizations of the United Nations. We are going to bring the issue of urbanization to the forefront of the United Nations.

I am very pleased as chairman of the organization to join Senator Nakanichi of Japan, the international chairman, to take these ideas to Brazil. We have a ten-minute slide show that is now being shown all over the world that illustrates these ideas. We have received support from all of the congressmen in the state of Washington for the idea of a demonstration project.

We have received support from the Government of British Columbia, from many people within the Government of Canada, from Mayor Gordon Campbell and the regional district, Mayor Bose and all of the planners on both sides of the border. Congressman John Miller has struck a parallel committee in the United States.

We are working together to show the world that we can do it, that we can double our population, that we can double our consumption within a rationalized, urbanized setting. Cities can be wonderful places to live if we have the foresight to look to their future.

I am enthusiastic about Rio. I am hopeful for Rio. I am hopeful because of the very fact that we are having this debate tonight. I hope that many members of Parliament will join our Prime Minister in a Canadian delegation, on their own or in their international NGOs. Another great Canadian parliamentary NGO, Parliamentarians for Global Action, will be there. Our environment committee chairman, the member for Rosedale, is doing such great things. There is good work from Canada.

The Environment

We have a leadership role to play there and we have a responsibility to carry out there. I look forward to being part of that team to carry these messages to the world for a better place for you, myself and our children.

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February 26, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, since this is my particular private members' bill, not only have the privileges of all members been breached by the committee not returning the bill to the House to have it considered by the entire House, but it certainly breaches mine as the author of the private members' bill.

In the spirit of the reforms of 1978-79 and 1984, the members are breaching the intent of the House of Commons, that in fact the public should have access to the House of Commons through private members and through the private members' process. This will in fact bring members' bills through to a final vote in the House of Commons.

I too would like to quote on page 600 of the 21st edition of Erskine May which states:

For a committee to endeavour to dispose of a bill which has been committed to it by adjourning sine die, or to some distant day, would be inconsistent with the duty imposed on the committee by the order of the House committing the bill to the committee. Nor can a committee relieve itself from the obligation of considering the bills allotted to it and reporting them to the House by adjourning further proceedings on a particular bill sine die, or to some distant day-

Further, page 607 of Erskine May states that:

It is the duty of a standing committee, as of all committees, to give the matters referred to it due and sufficient consideration. The chairman of a standing committee will not therefore normally accept motions in pursuance of which the committee would conclude its deliberations before it has gone through the bill committed to it.

This bill passed unanimously through the House of Commons. There was not one dissenting vote against it and that seldom happens in itself. Surely the House has the right to have the bill considered and returned.

I know you have no knowledge of committees as such, but this particular committee in fact heard 25 submissions from groups across Canada, and they did not even have an opportunity to discuss it. They did not even start the discussion let alone go through the bill clause by clause, or go through amendments-excellent amendments-suggested by many of those who appeared before the committee.

This is a cost of thousands of dollars to us in the House of Commons and to the taxpayers of Canada. We make a farce of our whole process and of the whole presence of private members in this House of Commons when the whole of our country is calling for a concern that private members' votes should be put in a non-partisan way. Issues of controversy like this should in fact be put for private members to vote according to their conscience.

That kind of reform is called for and it seems a shame that some members do not understand this. I know the chairman did not do this through any direct intention. Perhaps he did not recognize his responsibilities to you and the House of Commons according to the traditions of the House of Commons as outlined by myself today.

So I would urge you to consider this matter. Then perhaps a motion could be presented to have the matter considered forthwith that the committee should report back to you according to the intention of this House of Commons.

February 26, 1992

Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
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