House of Commons (Legislative Report)
Ouellette, Bibiane, Canadian Parliamentary Review
On May 13, 1999, during debate under Government Orders, Gilles Perron (Riviere-des-Mille-Iles, BQ) announced that he would take one minute of his allotted time to observe one minute of silence. The Member wished to protest against the government which imposed a time allocation motion on a bill. Deputy Speaker Peter Milliken reminded the House that the usual practice was that the Speaker calls for a minute of silence upon the death of someone, but not during a debate. A debate arose after which the Deputy Speaker sought unanimous consent to give the member the opportunity to observe one minute of silence. Consent was denied. Later, Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.) rose on a point of order to state that the Member for Saint-Jean (Andre Bachand, BQ) was trying to do the same thing as he was taking one minute to straighten up his notes. The Acting Speaker (Ian McClelland) said that the Member should be allowed to organize his thoughts as he sees fit.
On May 25, 1999, during the debate for third reading of Bill C-78, Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.) rose on a point of order to challenge the procedural validity of the Bill since it was not accompanied by a Ways and Means motion. The Member argued that since the Bill empowers the government to deposit pension surpluses from contributions or investments into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, it could therefore affect any Canadian citizen as a potential employee of the government, and therefore, it should be treated as a charge upon the people. After debate, Speaker Gilbert Parent ruled that the Bill would not affect the Canadian public in general but a "defined and limited group of people" and consequently a Ways and Means motion was not necessary and the Bill was properly before the House.
On June 9, 1999, at the beginning of Government Orders and the debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-55, An Act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, Mark Muise (West Nova, PC) rose on a point of order concerning the admissibility of the amendments, stating that they were beyond the scope of the Bill. The Deputy Speaker, referring to previous decisions, stated that the Speaker cannot unilaterally rule out of order amendments from the Senate, but that the House must ultimately make the decision.
Questions of Privilege
More questions of privilege were raised regarding the premature disclosure of committee reports to the media. On June 7, the Speaker returned to the question of privilege raised by Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.) regarding the disclosure by Gary Lunn (Saanich--Gulf Island, Ref.) in the Globe and Mail, of information from an in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Mr. Lunn stated that he accepted responsibility for comments which could be construed as being in the report of the Committee and apologized to the House and to the members of the Committee. The Speaker accepted the apology and closed the matter.
On June 8, the Speaker returned to the questions of privilege of Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.) and Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ) about an article in the Toronto Star in which the Member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges (Nick Discepola, Lib.) allegedly commented on the content of a sub-committee report before it was presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and to the House. The Member admitted that he gave an interview to the Toronto Star, but stated that he was expressing his personal opinion and that he had not disclosed the contents of the report. Randy White (Langley-Abbottsford, Ref.) argued that since the House in its entirety was incapable of solving the problem of leaked committee reports, he asked that the Speaker intervene directly and set measures to solve the problem. The Speaker stated that it was unusual for the Chair to give any directions to the House, that it was the decision of the House to debate the matter and that, as Speaker, he would react as soon as the House made a decision. …