George BAKER

BAKER, The Hon. George, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Website
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f6e5da54-c9c9-4020-9356-e92606d6b6c4&Language=E&Section=ALL
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f6e5da54-c9c9-4020-9356-e92606d6b6c4&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
assistant clerk, chief clerk, chief law clerk, chief legislative librarian, editor of hansard, radio & tv announcer & producer, title searcher

Parliamentary Career

July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
LIB
  Gander--Twillingate (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment (October 10, 1975 - September 30, 1976)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue (October 1, 1976 - September 30, 1977)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
LIB
  Gander--Twillingate (Newfoundland and Labrador)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
LIB
  Gander--Twillingate (Newfoundland and Labrador)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
LIB
  Gander--Twillingate (Newfoundland and Labrador)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
LIB
  Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)
October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
LIB
  Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
LIB
  Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (August 3, 1999 - October 16, 2000)
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs (August 3, 1999 - October 16, 2000)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)
November 27, 2000 - March 25, 2002
LIB
  Gander--Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 380)


March 19, 2002

Hon. George Baker (Gander--Grand Falls, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will say a few words concerning the motion. You will have noticed that the hon. member from the official opposition mentioned the word ethics a moment ago. He asked, how else can we as a committee examine the word ethics? Then he gave a definition of the word ethics. Mr. Speaker, you know full well that the word ethics does not appear in the outline of any examination of any witness who appears before a standing committee that is to judge the person's qualifications as an ambassador, or of anybody else.

Where does the word ethics come from? It comes from the direction to the U.S. senate. The senate in the United States, under the U.S. constitution, examines the qualifications of every ambassador, by law.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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March 19, 2002

Hon. George Baker

If the hon. member would listen he might learn something.

It was just after the charter was brought in. Members of the House of Commons, if the hon. member will remember correctly, brought in a unanimous report. In that unanimous report, which Mr. Blaikie cannot remember, although I am not supposed to mention the name of the hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona, he cannot seem to remember very clearly, he took part in it and he should remember it. He should remember what is in the committee, but anyway--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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March 19, 2002

Hon. George Baker

Mr. Speaker, the first committee that examined this question was held in 1976. Members of that committee included the hon. Stanley Knowles and also the hon. Walter Baker and James Jerome, and also myself in 1976, so I predate the hon. member by about 10 years.

The hon. member has raised an interesting question: What was in that report? What was in that report is exactly this: that the power of veto would be used for regulatory bodies such as the CRTC. Does the hon. member remember that? He recommended a veto power by committees for appointees to the CRTC, to the Canadian Transport Commission, to regulatory bodies, to positions of the House of Commons. Just imagine that, but this was a very good recommendation.

The final recommendation the committee made on veto, which all members of the House agreed to, concerned not only regulatory bodies, but also the privacy commissioners, commissioners that are appointed by cabinet.

The point is this: that what the committee recommended unanimously was that there would not be a veto for positions that included ambassadors or anybody else and that is what is in our standing orders. That is what the opposition agreed to and that is now what it is disagreeing with.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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March 19, 2002

Hon. George Baker

That is right and that is the point. That is exactly right and that is why members from the opposition should get it straight. This is Canada. This is not the United States.

Not only in the U.S. under the constitution are the ambassadors examined, but also members of the cabinet and also members of the supreme court in the United States. That is in the constitution of the United States. Now what is in the constitution of Canada? We know that it is the Prime Minister, the executive branch of government, that appoints those three groups of people: the ambassadors, the cabinet and the supreme court.

So the word ethics is in the U.S. senate direction under the constitution that determines what the senate committee will report to the senate and to the government. They have an ultimate veto. In other words, the president of the United States has to go back after the senate determines that someone is not appropriate and the president of the United States has to delay it and go back to it the next year.

What is in the Canadian act? What is in Standing Order 111 in the House of Commons? What are the words found there? I do not hear anybody from the opposition mentioning what the words are. The words were determined by a standing committee headed by a member of the official opposition, supported by the NDP, and were voted on by every party in the House wholeheartedly and passed. What were those words? The words were “qualifications and competence”. That is from Standing Order 111 of our standing orders. It gives the committee 30 days after the tabling of the name of the nominee or the appointee to a position by order in council.

Here is the point. Under our rules, Beauchesne for the Canadian House and Erskine May for the British house, if we look at citation 863, there is a famous paragraph. What it states is that any witness who appears before a standing committee cannot claim not to answer because his answer might incriminate him. He cannot say that. A witness cannot refuse to answer on the basis that he or she took an oath in a cabinet. No, our rules are very clear, as are the rules in the British house, as are the rules in the Australian house. It is in citation 863. Members can look it up. It says a person cannot claim as an excuse a contract or solicitor-client privilege. It also states, in one clear sentence, that in regard to the excuses used for witnesses not to answer in a court of law, because in a court of law there are certain things that a witness can say and refuse to answer, that is not the case before a standing committee of the House of Commons.

That famous Newfoundlander James McGrath, who was a PC but pretty straightforward and a good thinker, chaired the committee in 1986, just after--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Privilege
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October 6, 2000

Hon. George S. Baker (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think we have an understanding in the House with all the political parties that this bill should pass. The official opposition and the official opposition critic agrees with this bill. The Bloc, the NDP, the Progressive Conservative Party and the hon. member for Saint John and the government all agree with what is in this bill.

I want to thank the political parties. This is the third reading. These are the final moments. When this is proclaimed, a great many people in Canada will be able to receive the full benefits of our veterans pensions and disability pensions that we have in Canada, and a great many Canadians are awaiting the passage of the bill.

In conclusion, I want to thank publicly the Royal Canadian Legion for the effort that it has put into this; the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans In Canada; Mr. Cliff Chadderton of the National Council of Veterans Organizations who spent so much time on this and other legislation on behalf of all veterans; Mr. Lloyd Thompson of Botwood, Newfoundland, who represented the Newfoundland Foresters; Mr. Lang of the Ferry Command of Montreal; and everybody else who spent a lot of time and who have been at this now for years.

Finally, I want to thank the House of Commons which is about to pass the legislation with unanimous consent. On behalf of all veterans we say thank you.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
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