House of Commons.
On June 14, 2017, the final supply day in the period ending June 23, 2017, the House considered motions to concur in the Main Estimates and the Supplementary Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. The House Leader of the Official Opposition, Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar), had advised the Speaker by letter before the consideration of the estimates that she was withdrawing the 242 notices of opposition she had put on notice on June 12, 2017. Accordingly, the House did not consider her notices of opposition. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops--Thompson--Cariboo), Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette) and Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) had put on notices of opposition to Vote 1, under Privy Council Office--Program expenditures, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada--Program expenditures and Senate--Program expenditures and contributions. The House voted on the motion to concur in Vote 1, which was carried. Following this, as per the usual practice, the House adopted two supply bills for the Main and Supplementary Estimates.
Points of Order and Questions of Privilege
Points of Order
On May 17, 2017, Murray Rankin (Victoria) rose on a point of order concerning the nomination process for the Commissioner of Official Languages. Mr. Rankin argued that, as required by the Official Languages Act, substantive consultation was required before the appointment of the Commissioner, which he claimed, did not occur. Both Mr. Rankin and Ms. Bergen contended that the nomination process should be halted until such time as true consultations had been undertaken. On May 29, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling, reminding the House that the role of the Chair is strictly limited to determining procedural admissibility of the motion for the nomination of the Commissioner of Official Languages and that the Speaker cannot adjudicate on the legality of matters. As such, the Speaker indicated that he was satisfied that the procedural requirements were met.
On June 19, 2017, John Nater (Perth-Wellington) rose on a point of order regarding the appointment of the Clerk of the House of Commons. Mr. Nater contended that the Government's motion to appoint the new Clerk of the House of Commons should be ruled out of order since the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs had not yet studied and reported back to the House on the matter. The Speaker ruled immediately, explaining that a report from the committee is not required in order to proceed with the nomination of the Clerk, and as such, he allowed the motion of nomination to proceed.
Questions of Privilege
On April 6, 2017, following the Speaker's prima facie finding on a question of privilege raised by Lisa Raitt (Milton) regarding access to the parliamentary precinct, Ms. Raitt moved a motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. During the debate on the motion, Alexandra Mendes (Brossard-Saint-Lambert), moved a motion that the House do now proceed to Orders of the Day, which was later adopted. The adoption of this motion had the effect of having the privilege motion superseded and dropped from the Order Paper. The next day, Mr. Nater raised a question of privilege, in which he asked that the matter of privilege under debate on April 6, 2017, be revived. Mr. Nater alleged that the adoption of a motion to proceed to Orders of the Day when debating a privilege motion prevented the House from pronouncing itself on the merits of the question of privilege raised by Ms. Raitt. On April 11, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling in which he determined that it was procedurally in order to revive a matter of privilege that has been superseded. Acknowledging that the situation in which the House found itself was unprecedented, he indicated that the method proposed by Mr. Nater was a procedurally acceptable manner to revive the matter of the original question of privilege, drawing a comparison to instances where Members who wish to revive a motion to concur in a committee report, can again give the required 48 hours' notice of the same motion and move it again in the House. The Speaker found a prima facie question of privilege and invited Mr. Nater to move the appropriate motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This motion was later adopted and the matter was referred to the Committee. On June 19, 2017, the Committee presented to the House its 34th report entitled "Question of Privilege Regarding the Free Movement of Members of Parliament within the Parliamentary Precinct".
On April 11, 2017, the Speaker ruled on a question of privilege raised by Ms. Bergen on March 23, 2017, regarding an alleged intimidation by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett (Toronto--St. Paul's) during a recorded division. The Speaker noted that a review of the events did not show any indication that Ms. Bergen had been impeded in the performance of her duties, and accordingly, the Speaker did not find that there had been a breach of privilege.
On May 18, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling on the question of privilege raised by James Bezan (Selkirk--Interlake--Eastman) concerning the alleged discrepancies in comments made by the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), in the House concerning the tax credits for members of the Canadian Armed Forces stationed in Kuwait and Iraq on Operation Impact. The Speaker indicated that while Mr. Bezan may be in disagreement with the statements made by the Minister of National Defence, there was no evidence presented that would suggest that the three necessary conditions for finding that a Member misled the House existed in this case. Accordingly, the Speaker concluded that no prima facie case of privilege exists in this case.
On May 4, 2017, Luc Theriault (Montcalm) rose on a question of privilege regarding the right to freedom of speech for Members from unrecognized parties. Mr. Theriault argued that the rights of independent Members had been violated as a result of the government's approach to proposed parliamentary reforms. Mr. Theriault pointed to several factors, namely the government's intention to increase the use of time allocation, that independent Members were made aware of the government's intentions later than other parties, and that independent Members of Parliament are not able to sit as permanent members on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The Speaker ruled on the matter on June 6, 2017, explaining that the Chair has no authority to judge the adequacy of time limits agreed upon by the House, nor decide when and if an issue has received sufficient debate. The Speaker stated that ultimately, the Standing Orders can be amended only by way of a decision of the House. The Speaker concluded by indicating that he had not found a prima facie question of privilege.
On May 10, 2017, Mr. Rankin rose on a question of privilege alleging that a breach of privilege had occurred due to the government's decision to advertise the appointment process for the board of directors of the new Canada Infrastructure Bank, before Parliament passed the enabling legislation. Mr. Rankin contended that the government was undermining Parliament's authority by advertising for positions that had not yet been formally created. On May 12, 2017, Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) provided comments, drawing to the attention of Members the news release published on Infrastructure Canada's website on May 8, 2017, where it indicated that the selection processes were subject to Parliamentary approval. On May 29, 2017, the Speaker presented his ruling and concluded that, in applying the strict procedural confines of contempt, he found that the matter raised did not constitute a prima facie contempt of the House, and accordingly, no prima facie case existed given that there was no evidence that members were obstructed in the fulfillment of their parliamentary duties nor that the House was obstructed in its legislative authority.
On May 17, 2017, Kelly Block (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek) raised a question of privilege concerning the alleged leak and premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. Ms. Block stated that confidential information from the bill was provided to journalists before the tabling of the bill in the House on May 16, 2017. Ms. Block referenced news reports from May 15, 2017, which, in her view, indicated that journalists were granted access to parts of the bill before parliamentarians. She argued that the details contained in the media coverage demonstrate that a leak had occurred and that the government had thus breached the privileges of the House. On May 31, 2017, Mr. Lamoureux argued that while extensive consultations were held prior to the finalization of the bill, the government took great care in ensuring that the details of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, were not prematurely divulged prior to its introduction. The Speaker gave his ruling on June 8, 2017, noting that there was no acknowledgement that the government had prematurely disclosed the contents of the bill and that the government assured the House that it did not share the bill with the media before it was introduced. The Speaker concluded by indicating that there was an absence of evidence that Members had been impeded in the conduct of their parliamentary functions and that he could not find that a prima facie case of privilege existed.
On June 2, 2017, Monique Pauze (Repentigny) raised a question of privilege concerning an amendment moved in committee in relation to Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017, and other measures. Ms. Pauze argued that the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance wrongly ruled that her amendment was inadmissible, stating that it required a royal recommendation and, having given notice of the same amendment at report stage, was asking the Speaker to select it at this stage. On June 5, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling in which he upheld the view that a royal recommendation was required for her proposed amendment. Responding to Ms. Pauze's argument that her status as a Member from an unrecognized party prevented her from appealing the decision of the chair in committee, the Speaker indicated that while she may not have been able to participate in precisely the same way as other Members, the process did afford her the ability to participate. The Speaker indicated that Ms. Pauze was granted the opportunity at report stage to present her arguments as to why her amendment should have been admissible. In conclusion, the Speaker stated that that he could not find that Ms. Pauze had been impeded in the performance of her duties and that therefore no prima facie case existed.
On June 8, 2017, Robert-Falcon Ouellette (Winnipeg Centre) raised a question of privilege on the right of Members to use indigenous languages in proceedings in the House of Commons. Mr. Ouellette stated that his privileges had been violated when simultaneous translation was not provided for a statement he made on May 4, 2017, in Nehiyo, the Cree language. He argued that the lack of simultaneous translation effectively silenced him and asked for resources to be allocated to allow for translation of indigenous languages. In a decision delivered on June 20, 2017, the Speaker stated that given the House's current limited technical and physical capacity for interpretation, Members wishing to ensure that their comments made in a language other than French or English are understood are encouraged to repeat their comments in one of the two official languages so that the interpreters are able to provide the appropriate interpretation. The Speaker noted that the decision to change the current system in terms of interpretation services ultimately belongs to the House itself. The Speaker concluded by saying that while the current offering of interpretation may not be seen as ideal to some Members, he could not find that Mr. Ouellette had been prevented from conducting his parliamentary functions, and therefore could not find that a prima facie case of privilege existed in that instance. He also noted that Members could raise the issue with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
The filibuster that began in March 2017 in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, as a result of a government proposal to study proposed reforms to modernize the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, continued during the month of April. Debate continued for numerous days during which the meeting was suspended overnight, during weekends and during constituency weeks, but not formally adjourned. On April 30, 2017, in a letter sent to the House leaders of the opposition parties, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Bardish Chagger (Waterloo), announced that the government would abandon certain proposals towards this modernization, but would move forward with proposals related to omnibus bills, the role of ministers and parliamentary secretaries on committees, prorogation, the financial cycle, as well as a Prime Minister's Question Period. Soon after Ms. Chagger's letter was sent, on May 2, 2017, the meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was adjourned, putting an end to the filibuster.
Changes to the Standing Orders
On June 19, 2017, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Ms. Chagger, moved a motion concerning proposed changes to the Standing Orders. The changes included changes to prorogation, omnibus bills, the financial cycle and the roles played by parliamentary secretaries in committees. The motion was adopted by the House on June 20, 2017, by a vote of 168 to 128, with the changes coming into force on September 18, 2017. These changes will be permanent, with the exception of the changes to the Financial Cycle, which will only stay in effect for the duration of the current Parliament.
Address to Parliament
On April 12, 2017, Malaia Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, co-founder of the Malaia Fund and a girls' education activist, delivered an Address to Parliament in the House of Commons. Ms. Yousafzai was welcomed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau) and thanked by the Speakers of both Houses. Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest person to ever address Parliament and the sixth person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship.
On May 3, 2017, the Speaker informed the House that the Acting Clerk had received from the Chief Electoral Officer certificates of the election of five new Members. Bob Benzen (Calgary Heritage), Mona Fortier (Ottawa--Vanier), Stephanie Kusie (Calgary Midnapore), Emmanuella Lambropoulos (SaintLaurent) and Mary Ng (Markham--Thornhill) were introduced and took their respective seats in the House.
On May 16, 2017, Ms. Bergen, Prime Minister Trudeau, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, Thomas Mulcair (Outremont), Xavier Barsalou-Duval (Pierre-Boucher--Les Patriotes--Vercheres) and Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, GP), made statements in tribute to the Interim Leader of the Official Opposition, Rona Ambrose (Sturgeon River--Parkland, CPC). Ms. Ambrose, who had recently announced her plan to resign as a Member of Parliament, made a farewell speech.
Denis Lebel (Lac-Saint-Jean) announced his departure from federal politics with a speech in the House on June 20, 2017. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Scheer (Regina--Qu'Appelle), the Government Whip, Pablo Rodriguez (Honore-Mercier), Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga), Mr. Barsalou-Duval, Ms. May and the Speaker also made statements to pay tribute to Mr. Lebel.
New Clerk of the House of Commons
On June 20, 2017, the House adopted a motion designating Charles Robert as Clerk of the House of Commons. Mr. Robert previously served as Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments since March 2015. His career on Parliament Hill began more than 35 years ago, with service at the Library of Parliament and House of Commons before he joined the Senate in 1991. He replaces Marc Bosc, Acting Clerk of the House since 2014.
Moment of Silence
On June 5, 2017, the House observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the attack in London and to commemorate Christine Archibald, from Castlegar, British Columbia.
Table Research Branch
A Message To My Younger Self
MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin
Recognize and honour the history and sacrifices that came before you and be proud of building a better community through your service. Always know why you are doing what you are doing and for whom.
Exceed your own standards in everything you do. Others may be more popular, but stay true to yourself and your standards.
Listen to your instinct and voice your perspective --it is unique and valuable. Be professional, reliable and accessible, and allow yourself to be unpredictable and use new methods when you really need to.
A Message To My Younger Self
Former MNA for Masson
A surprise awaited me at the end of two very busy careers and after I had raised my family: to my great surprise, I was elected to the National Assembly in 2007. It was a wonderful experience, but ended too quickly.
If I had known when I was younger that political life would be so rewarding, I would have gone into it much sooner.
If you're an ambitious young woman, don't hesitate to jump into politics. It is rewarding and demanding, but it is worth the effort.
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|Title Annotation:||Legislative Reports|
|Publication:||Canadian Parliamentary Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2017|
|Next Article:||Newfoundland and Labrador.|