Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Legislative Reports: House of Commons

Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Legislative Reports: House of Commons

Article excerpt

Prior to adjourning for the summer on June 13, 2001, the House of Commons considered pay raises for Members, rule changes for Employment Insurance, reforms for the financial services sector, and more power for police to fight organized crime. Legislation that is expected to return in the fall includes an omnibus justice bill and a bill to protect species at risk.

Procedure

On May 1, Bill C-16 became the first bill in this Parliament to be referred to committee prior to second reading. The Bill, An Act respecting the registration of charities and security information and to amend the Income Tax Act, was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance by a motion carried on recorded division. Later that week, a second bill was referred prior to second reading. Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act, was referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology by a motion agreed to on division.

On May 31, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government, Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River,Lib.) presented the 22nd Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the deletion of S.O. 87(6). The Report was concurred in on June 13, 2001. On June 12, Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton--Melville, PC) moved an opposition day motion that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to draft, and report to the House no later than November 1, 2001, changes to the Standing Orders improving procedures for the consideration of Private Members' Business, including a workable proposal allowing for all items to be votable.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs also recommended an adjustment to the parliamentary calendar. On May 15, Mr. Lee presented the 16th Report of the Committee recommending a new calendar designed to allow more Members to spend time with their families over the school break that falls between Christmas and Easter. The timing of the break will vary, and will be at the discretion of the Speaker. The total number of sitting weeks does not change, as adjustments will be made elsewhere in the calendar to compensate. The recommendation amends Standing Order 28(2) and was adopted by the House on May 15, 2001.

Following the introduction on May 30 of Bill S-15 (An Act to enable and assist the Canadian tobacco industry in attaining its objective of preventing the use of tobacco products by young persons in Canada) the House Leader Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.) rose on a point of order regarding the admissibility of the Bill. Bill S-15 was a private member's bill from Senator Colin Kenny (Lib.) and would create a Canadian Tobacco Youth Protection Foundation. The organization would be funded by a levy on each cigarette sold, to be collected by the tobacco companies on behalf of the Foundation. The Bill received widespread support from the public, health organizations, and the tobacco industry. Mr. Boudria argued that the purpose of the Bill was to impose a new tax and as such, a ways and means motion was necessary and only a Minister of the Crown may present one. Further, he stated that the Bill was essentially the same as Bill S-13 tabled in the First Session of the 36th Parliament.

At that time Speaker Gilbert Parent was asked to rule on the admissibility of the Bill, and he concluded that it constituted a tax bill and as such, constitutionally and procedurally could be initiated only in the House. After the interventions of several Members, Speaker Peter Milliken delivered a ruling on June 12, concerning the procedural acceptability of Bill S-15. He began his statement by establishing the primacy of the House of Commons in taxation matters, which was central to his ruling on this point of order. The Speaker then commented on the arguments raised by both the supporters and opponents of Bill S-15, such as the distinction between a levy and a tax, and the Bill's purposes in relation to the public interest and the benefits to the industry. …

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