The Liberals and Bloc members voted in favor of a time allocation motion on Monday that will force the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to complete the study of some 30 amendments to the bill in less than five hours. The Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens voted against this very rare form of gag, which has not been used since the Chrétien years.
The motion was carried with 181 votes to 147.
How is it that we have used this technique only three times in the entire history of the country? Even Stephen Harper’s Conservatives never dared to gag parliamentarians like that, indignant NDP deputy leader Alexandre Boulerice, during deliberations to this effect before the vote.
We want to muzzle parliamentarians’ speaking time. But opposition parties who agree with that, it is beyond comprehension, was surprised the parliamentary leader of the Conservatives, Gérard Deltell, pointing the finger at the Bloc.
The parliamentary leader of the Bloc Québécois, Alain Therrien, replied that his party could not let the Conservatives block this bill awaited by the cultural community in Quebec and across the country.
Time allocation to speed up the work, […] it must remain extremely rare. But in the case of Bill C-10, we can say that it was necessary to proceed like that. […] Millions of dollars are lost every week we have to discuss this. The cultural community demands it, Quebecers demand it; the bill must be adopted before the end of the session, he said.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, said he was convinced that in five hours, the members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage would have ample time to debate C-10.
The fact remains that the bill will have to be voted on in the Commons, before being sent to the Senate. In view of the short deadlines, it is unlikely, if not impossible, that it will be adopted before the adjournment of parliamentary work for the summer period, at the end of June. And if an election campaign were to take place in late summer or this fall, C-10 would die on the soap opera.
Reprimands from the president
The government announced its intention to impose the gag order to speed up the study of this bill last week. However, the Conservatives created so much heckling during Friday’s sitting that the Liberals were forced to postpone the vote until Monday.
The hybrid nature of the House meeting allowed Tories to scream, in very audible voices, from behind their screens, questioning the authority of Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès, who chaired the debates. And they multiplied the calls for order and feigned technical problems in order to delay the pre-established agenda.
On Monday, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, set the record straight in a speech of about twenty minutes.
Mr. Rota wished to recall that the authority of the presidency is final and, citing a rule book, that it is
unacceptable that the integrity and impartiality of a presiding officer be called into question. Furthermore,
Members do not have the absolute right to invoke the rules as many times as they wish for as long as they wish, he added.
The tone of the debates deteriorated. In the past week, on both sides of the House, the Speaker’s rulings have been openly questioned and derogatory remarks have been heard., he lamented.
I recognize that there are times when the tension is heightened and disagreements are intense. However, disregard for our rules and established practices is not only disrespectful to those entrusted with maintaining order and decorum, it is also disrespectful of the House in his outfit.
MP Harder apologizes
An elected Conservative from Alberta, who said that artists, especially those from Quebec, who want the implementation of C-10 are
overwhelmed and cannot make a living from their art, apologized. Rachael Harder made the remarks in a recent interview with the
Lethbridge Herald , a local newspaper in his constituency.
Last week, I chose my words wrong when talking about some artists from Quebec. Here in Canada, all artists enrich our country and the Conservatives will always advocate for a level playing field. I apologize for my comments, wrote Ms. Harder, a unilingual Anglophone, in a tweet in French only.
This short statement was deemed insufficient by the Bloc Québécois and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who both returned to it during question period.
Timid apologies on Twitter when we insulted thousands of artists in Quebec and across Canada, that’s not enough, criticized the Bloc Québécois Martin Champoux.
The comments of the member for Lethbridge are unacceptable, she must apologize in this House and the leader of the official opposition must also apologize, added Minister Guilbeault.
The Conservative Party declined to comment further on this subject, insisting instead on the fact that the Bloc and the Liberals joined forces on Monday to impose a gag order.