Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Fall Spent Bird Hunting In Alberta

Finally, I taste of summer has hit Alberta.  Just in time for winter.   However, the timing of this Indian Summer has been just the thing for outdoor enthusiasts and bird hunters like me in particular.  With the weather in check, Knox headed East a couple of weeks, back to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, in search of sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge.

Our first morning out was promising.  We ran into a covey of partridge right away, followed by a fairly large gang of sharp-tails just down the road.  Birds were acquired and smiles were abundant.  Thereafter, the birds were a little more spotty, but we still managed to find our share.  Great luck considering that landowners we came across told us that the hatch was affected by a cold, wet June, so they hadn't seen many birds around.  While it was far from a banner year in terms of bird numbers, we ran into enough to fill our days and our bags and to give us sufficient reason to drink good wine at sunset, while cleaning our birds.

In addition to the amazing cover, there was water in every slough and pot-hole we came across.  Grass was green and tall as I said before, which should make for a barnburner bird year next year if we have a mild winter.

Anyway, get out in the sticks and chase some birds this year.  Your efforts will be rewarded.  Make sure to bring a sufficient supply of bird-cleaning wine, a bunch of Skoal bandits (I prefer Mint) and a few ice cold Miller Genuine Drafts so that you can use one to wash down your lunch hour sausage and pepper sandwich (one of Knox's old pals roasts his own peppers and they are first rate).

Oh, the wine - 2005 Cabernet Franc from Wing Canyon in Napa Valley and 2003 Jaffurs Syrah.  Both were dynamite and were suitable rewards for some hard-walking across the bald prairie.

Posted by Knox Harrington on October 16, 2010 in Food and Drink, Gun freedom, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Better for the registry to be saved?

Is it better for the registry to survive?

Tonight, the House debated a motion from the Public Safety Committee not to proceed with Candice Hoeppner's private members' bill to abolish the long-gun registry.

It was an interesting discussion, which Kady O'Malley pleasantly liveblogged. I will only share one moment from the debate that stood out for me. This was when Maria Mourani of the Bloc Quebecois took her turn to speak and tried to pull a stunt she used in Committee last spring. The reason this moment stood out to me is because I was in the committee room at the time.

Dr. Gary Mauser, an opponent of the registry, was called as a witness. His grasp of the facts and forthright manner were blisteringly refreshing, relative to the anecdotes and fearmongering coming from witnesses supporting the registry. Like other academics I have seen called before committees, he did not seem especially impressed to be in the company of a bunch of elected officials -- though that's not to say that he was exactly disrespectful, either. He just knew his stuff.

When it was her turn to ask questions, Mourani ignored the statistics Mauser had raised and simply brought out the following picture, in large and glossy format. It's one the Liberals now feature on their own website. Perhaps the NDP as well, but I'm too contemptuous to check.


Unless I'm mistaken, Dr. Mauser's finger is not on the trigger. In many places in the United States, that's the only kind of "gun control" the Americans will tolerate.

Mourani claimed the photograph was "scary." She also asked Mauser how many guns he owned -- a question that still seems as impertinent to me as it is irrelevant.

Garry Breitkreuz is the Chair of the Public Safety Committee. From what I gather, props are generally frowned upon in committee meetings, but it's up to the Chair to object to their use. My memory may be completely failing me, but I doubt it. Breitkreuz let Mourani go on, giant photograph in hand, without the slightest hint of protest.

Not tonight. Mourani brought out the same prop and was promptly shut down. Her speech was still inane, but at least she put the damn picture away.

Prior to Mourani, Mark Holland read a long list of names, the organizations that have come out in favor of the registry. He's good at being a fulminating showboater, carefully treading the well-worn line between slimy used car salesman and creepy fratboy.

That's about all I care to say about tonight's debate. Kady covers it much more sympathetically, and likely more objectively.

I have a few thoughts about the upcoming vote, though none of them are that profound. First, no matter how the vote comes down, it's going to be something of a victory for the Conservatives. If the Liberals with the help of the NDP manage to save the registry, it will finalize the narrative of the dreaded Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition. If that happens, expect the specter of the coalition to become a key -- maybe the key -- part of Conservative rhetoric until the next election and probably beyond. The Conservative base will be solidified and Team Blue's fundraising, already fantastic compared to the opposition, will improve still further.

I'm not convinced the Conservatives will be able to pick up some of those rural NDP ridings. It would be a different story if Layton had whipped the vote. I know that the latest polls show a drop in NDP support, but from what I can tell those supporters aren't going to the Liberals or the Conservatives; thus, I simply expect them to come back to the NDP and for the party's numbers to recover.

Still, if the registry is saved because of the opposition parties, I can't see it hurting the Conservatives much. They just need to make sure they loudly put responsibility where it belongs, and I'm certain they'll do just that.

There are "rumours on the Internets" that some Liberals plan to call in sick tomorrow. Whether this will happen, and whether it will be enough to change the outcome is anybody's guess. If it does happen, even if it doesn't change the outcome, it will devastate the credibility of Ignatieff's already shaky leadership. Don't forget that Iggy's had this problem before, with embarrassing results. Given the Liberal Party's lackluster poll numbers, I would be shocked if Bob Rae didn't use such a failure as an opportunity to pull out the knives.

If the registry goes -- unlikely, I think -- it should provide a boost of energy to Conservatives. This may not actually be a good thing. First, that energy will have to go some where, into some policy or program. While libertarians might wish for it to be directed toward the libertarian policies we still secretly hope the Prime Minister favours, it is probably too soon to move in that direction. The Overton Window has moved enough to accomodate the abolition of the gun registry, but only just. My worry is that, in this case, success now might lead to disaster later.

Finally, here is a bit of truly crazy speculation: suppose you were a Liberal with leadership ambition and no conscience. Suppose, also, you have a great deal of influence over other members of the caucus, and can credibly promise to reward them once you gain power.

If you were such a Liberal, then you might think it would be better for the gun registry to die. And you might, being devious, encourage your colleagues to call in sick and miss the crucial vote, thereby killing the registry and irreparably damaging the credibility of a leader few in the party are all that enthusiastic about anyway.

So, saying all that, does anyone know what Bob Rae has been up to lately?


Posted by Terrence Watson on September 21, 2010 in Canadian Politics, Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another-other anniversary: Five years since gun-rights activist Bruce Montague's arrest

Writes Bruce Montague in an email to supporters:

We have now reached the 5th anniversary of my arrest (Sept. 11, 2004) while protesting Canada's draconian gun laws. A date has still not been set for our appeal in Toronto but I will keep you informed as soon as I have any info.

Cyril Doll and Matthew Stuart wrote about that arrest five years ago for The Western Standard when Bruce's long saga began:

Bruce Montague, a member of the Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association, has been challenging police to arrest him under the controversial Firearms Act for more than a year. He marched on Parliament Hill on New Year's Day 2003 with an unregistered firearm in his hand. But it was his alleged violation of the Criminal Code that finally brought the law down on him at a Dryden, Ont., gun show on Sept. 11.

Montague, of Rugby Township, near Dryden, and his 12-year-old daughter Katie were attending a gun show in town when he was arrested by six plainclothes police officers. The Ontario Provincial Police charged the gunsmith with two counts of unauthorized possession of firearms, two counts of careless storage of a firearm, failure to use reasonable care with an explosive, and unlawful possession of an explosive. Cops later laid two additional charges: tampering with a serial number of a firearm and possession of a gun for the purpose of trafficking.

After Montague's wife, Donna, hurried to the show upon receiving a call that Katie had been left alone following her father's arrest, she was confronted by OPP officer Don Cunningham, who instructed the mother to come to the station. "I assumed it was to pick up Bruce," she says. Once there, with two of her children in tow, the 44-year-old woman was charged with unauthorized possession of firearms and careless storage of firearms, and the kids were taken to a waiting room while their mother was interrogated. "It almost sounded as though they thought we were terrorists," she says.

Why is Bruce Montague challenging the Firearms Act? Why does he believe it must be opposed and overturned?  In the email, he puts it quite simply:

Canada's Firearms Act (Bill C-68) is an illegal act attempting to turn the right to “arms for their defence” into a privilege and this is specifically contrary to our constitution. These laws create criminal offences out of something that is a right and has traditionally been enjoyed without persecution by millions of Canadians since we became a nation. It also allows arbitrary confiscation of any and all guns! Even many of the “safe storage” provisions are being used to eliminate the only effective means of self-defence available to us, which again is unconstitutional.

What's all the fuss about? Why should we care? Pierre Lemieux in his October 2004 Western Standard column:

Bruce Montague's basic crime was to refuse to humbly ask for a gun owner licence, which implies answering questions like: "During the past five years, have you threatened or attempted suicide, or have you been diagnosed or treated by a medical practitioner for: depression; alcohol, drug or substance abuse; behavioural problems; or emotional problems?" and "During the past two years, have you experienced a divorce, a separation, a breakdown of a significant relationship, job loss or bankruptcy?" These obscene questions have been on the application forms since the 1990s, and a positive answer will lead to further interrogations.

If anybody had told us just a few decades ago that peaceful Canadians would have to answer these sorts of questions from the state every five years just to keep their firearms-and this is only one of the liberticidal aspects of the gun-control legislations imposed in 1991 and in 1995-most of us would not have believed it. Some would probably have boasted that "there will be a revolution. "There has been no revolution thus far, but at least a few hundred thousand Canadians have not complied and have thus been turned into peaceful criminals.

[T]he victimless "crimes" that Bruce Montague and his wife have been charged with are peaceful activities, in which Canadians were at liberty to engage for more than a hundred years after Confederation and for a few centuries of the French and English colonial periods. By resisting laws that violate our traditional liberties, Bruce Montague was rendering a service to all Canadians. George Orwell, the prescient author of Nineteen Eighty-four, wrote, "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on September 11, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (13)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Garry Breitkreuz, Candice Hoeppner, and Scott Reid discuss opposition attempt to kill Bill C-391 in secret

Last week saw some behind-the-scenes political machinations on Parliament Hill surrounding Bill C-391, an Act to Repeal the Long-Gun Registry.

On Monday, June 15, the Sub-Committee on Private Members Business met. The meeting was public, but Christiane Gagnon from the Bloc, Marlene Jennings from the Liberals, and Chris Charleton from the NDP seemed surprised when Conservative Scott Reid reminded them that their vote on C-391 would be part of the public record. They quickly voted to move the meeting "in camera" -- that's fancy parliamentarian lingo for "in private" (it's from the latin for "in chambers" according to Wikipedia).

But it was already too late. The public portion of the meeting made it clear that there were no procedural hurdles for Bill C-391, and that the bill had nothing standing in its way except a formal vote to allow it to go on the order paper for a debate in the House of Commons. In spite of this, the Bloc, NDP, and Liberal members indicated that they planned to vote against the bill anyways. Reid then promptly started to filibuster the meeting to prevent that vote.

Associate Editor Jesse Kline covered this story here and here.

We wouldn't know about any of this if it wasn't for the fact that the subcommittee was public. We posted a three-part YouTube series of the public portion of the meeting as soon as we could. You really should take a listen.

On Thursday of last week, three Conservative MPs held a press conference about Bill C-391, and the shenanigans being pulled during the subcommittee meeting. Along with Scott Reid, the press conference also had Garry Breitkreuz, who was responsible for Bill C-301, the one that preceded C-391, and Candice Hoeppner, who is responsible for Bill C-391. Here is the video of that conference:

Part 1: The press conference

Part 2: Questions

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 22, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The subcommittee meeting they don't want you to hear

Liberal, NDP, and Bloc members of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Private Member's Business have been trying to prevent parliament from voting on Bill C-391, a bill to abolish the federal long-gun registry. We put together a series of YouTube videos of the Subcommittee meeting from Monday, June 15:

Part 1: No procedural hurdles for Bill C-391:

Part 2: Opposition MPs realize they are in a public meeting:

Part 3: MP Scott Reid begins to filibuster:

Associate Editor Jesse Kline covered the story here and here. The Western Standard will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 19, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Scott Reid blasts opposition move to kill gun registry bill


Conservative MP Scott Reid is blasting opposition members of a commons subcommittee after Monday morning's disgraceful attempt to secretly stop a bill to abolish the federal long-gun registry (Bill C-391) from coming to a vote in the House of Commons.

Reid's office issued the following statement:

On the morning of June 15th, at the subcommittee on Private Members' Business, the Liberals, Bloc and NDP revealed that they have a strategy to jointly and secretly kill efforts to repeal the firearms registry. Their strategy is to declare Bill C-391, the PMB that repeals the long-gun registry, non-votable.

The three parties were well aware that all government MPs support this bill, and that enough opposition members do as well, to allow it to pass the House of Commons.

So their solution was to kill the bill, behind closed doors, at an in camera meeting of the subcommittee, making it non-votable.

But, the committee met in open session. The Liberal, Bloc and NDP members did not read the notice of meeting and assumed that the meeting was in camera, and therefore, stated openly that they have no basis, under the Standing Orders, to deem the bill non-votable.

When it was revealed that the vote was taking place publicly, they halted in mid-vote to force the meeting to close its doors to the public.

Their goal? To kill the bill in secret, thereby getting their backbenchers—who have promised to vote against Bill C-391—off the hook.

"It is shameful that the Opposition would attempt such underhanded tactics to circumvent the will of the majority of Members of Parliament," said Scott Reid, MP.

Reid then made this statement in the House on Tuesday:

Reid, along with MPs Garry Breitkreuz and Candice Hoeppner are also set to hold a press conference on the matter this morning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern. An audio transcript of Monday's subcommittee meeting can be heard via the player below.

(Photo courtesy Tigresblanco / nicole. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license)

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 17, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (28)

Opposition attempt to kill Bill C-391, a bill seeking to abolish the long-gun registry, in secret

Despite a 2006 campaign promise to scrap the federal long-gun registry, the realities of a minority parliament have prevented the federal Conservatives from making any real headway on this issue. Today, opposition members tried to quietly kill a private members bill that attempts to repeal the controversial registry, which has seen billions of dollars worth of cost overruns.

The registry was enacted by the previous Liberals government and a number of bills have been introduced to try and dismantle it. Bill C-391 was before the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Private Members Business on Monday, while a second bill (S-5) is being debated in the Senate. The subcommittee is responsible for determining which private members bills will be voted on by the House of Commons and, on Monday, opposition members attempted to use parliamentary procedures to kill the bill.

During the subcommittee meeting, the opposition members tried to ensure bill C-391 could not be voted on by arguing that it was similar to bills C-301 and S-5 and that the same bill cannot be voted on more than once by the same parliament. Both these arguments were rejected because C-301 was dropped from the order paper earlier on Monday, and bills in the Senate cannot prevent a similar bill from being voted upon by the House of Commons. The members then moved to make it non-voteable, despite conceding that there were no procedural objections to it.

Conservative member Scott Reid then reminded the opposition that the meeting was in public and there were no procedural objections. Once the opposition members realized they were on record, they forced a motion to make the meeting private.

Reid's office claims this was an attempt by opposition members to kill the bill in secret, thereby getting backbenchers—many of whom are in rural ridings that do not support the registry—off the hook from having to vote against the bill.

"It is shameful that the Opposition would attempt such underhanded tactics to circumvent the will of the majority of Members of Parliament," said Reid.

Reid later summarized his disapproval of the opposition's underhanded tactics in a statement to the House of Commons:

The federal long-gun registry has been a complete failure. Not only does the program specifically target law-abiding gun owners while doing little to prevent criminals from gaining access to firearms, it has also cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The Conservatives seem to believe they have the support of enough MPs to finally repeal this failed policy. The voters gave them the mandate to do it and if it has the support of parliament, we should not allow a few opposition members to quietly kill this bill behind closed doors.

More information can be found here and here. A transcript of the public portion of Monday's Parliamentary Subcommittee on Private Member's Business can be found below.

UPDATE: Click here to listen to the sub-committee meeting (scroll down) transcribed below.

Transcript of Parliamentary Subcommittee on Private Member's Business, June 15, 2009:

Chair: Okay, I'd like to call the meeting of the private member's subcommittee to order. At our last meeting the subcommittee dealt with six items on the order of replacement and our first item of business today will be Ms. Hoeppner's bill, C-391. You're probably all aware that the Speaker has ordered that bill C-301, which was Garry Breitkreuz's bill, is to be dropped from the order paper and removed from the order of precedence, so according to the criteria by which we are able to deem items non-voteable some members argued that based on perceived similarities between bill 301 and bill 391 – since that impediment has now been removed and is no longer at issue I'm going to rule that bill C-391 is voteable and will move on to the subject 1 items. So we'll move on to M-386.

Mme. Charlton: Can I just ask a question?

Chair: Madam Charlton?

Mme. Charlton: And I suppose it's a question for the analysts but bill S-5 is still before parliament, it's in the Senate, it's identical to C-391, and it's my understanding that one of the criteria is about bill that are identical before parliament. S-5 is before parliament and I wonder if the analysts might be able to comment on that.

Clerk: That would be a question for the analyst and the clerk as well. It is a principle of parliamentary procedure that this house and the house of Commons should not know what is taking place in the other place, so even though it is acknowledged that bill S-5 is before the Senate, we should not take into consideration S-5 when we are examining the private member's bill and the criteria.

Mme. Charlton: Is that the case even when it's a current government bill, because that is one of the criteria that's before us, and S-5 is a government bill.

Clerk: My understanding is that it will also apply to S-5 a government bill.

Chair: Okay, unless we hear differently and that's pretty clear our analyst has indicated – Okay, we'll move on…

Mme. Charlton: Chair, I would like a ruling from the Speaker if possible on this very issue whether or not, or a ruling from you, given that you are the chair, given that the government has an item of business which is identical to that which Ms. Hoeppner has put forward in bill C-391, whether or not in fact that can be taken into consideration…

Chair: With all due respect, I think we have the four criteria outlined clearly before us upon which bills are voteable or non-voteable, and I think it’s up to this committee to decide their voteability and not the Speaker, but I'll…Mr. Reid, you wanted to comment?

Mr. Reid: Yeah, just the list of criteria as decided by the committee of procedure and house affairs under the standing orders the criteria made by this procedure and house affairs committee are in fact part of the standing orders, although not contained therein, and the four criteria include items 3 and 4–I'll read them both: item 3 is the item on the basis of which opposition members opposed allowing bill C-391 to go forward while bill C-301 was on the order paper. The argument there on the criteria is, and I quote, "bills and motions must not concern questions that are substantively essentially the same as ones already voted on by the house of commons in the current session of parliament or as ones preceding them in the order of precedence." That criteria is no longer met. Item 4, which I assume that criteria number 4 is I assume what is being referred to here, and I'm quoting again is, "bills and motions must not concern questions that are currently on the order paper or notice paper as items of government business." Now, order paper and notice paper are instruments of the house of commons, the bill S-5 is in the Senate and therefore is neither on the order paper or the notice paper and so there's no need to fear that bill C-391 would in any way be out of order on the basis of where bill S-5 is. It would be different if bill S-5 would have been passed by the Senate and is now before the House on the notice paper/order paper but it isn't.

Chair: And then checking with the clerk as well, it is clear that it is referring to items that are in the house of commons. So, Ms. Charlton?

Mme. Charlton: Chair, I appreciate that guidance and I heard you say that it is not a matter for the Speaker but that we vote on the bill so I wonder if we could have a vote on bill C-391 then.

Chair: Sure? Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I'm just curious if the intention here–I should advise members–I'm sure that everybody is going to vote based on the criteria if the intention is to vote with no actual criteria against the bill in order to stop it from going forward, I would just remind the opposition members of two things, one is that we are now meeting in a public session, so their vote is now on the record, and number 2 that it simply would be impermissible for us to allow this to go forward as a negative item and I would be in a position of having to prevent this from being reported back to the main committee, I would just make that observation, Mr. Chairman.

Chair: Any further comments? Okay, I remind the committee…Madame Gagnon?

Mme. Gagnon: (Trans.) S-5 doesn't interfere whether it's voteable or not if I understood well, I want to be sure that there is no interference because of the fact that S-5 is in the Senate is quite identical it doesn't interfere whether we decide whether it's voteable or not.

Chair: The fact is that there is no interference and that the bill is not before the House in any form, therefore the criteria that we've looked at, the four criteria, certainly do not impede this bill in any way. Ms. Charlton?

Mme. Charlton: I just wondered if you could remind me–in the House when Mr. Breitkreuz's bill was before the house this morning, I know that he wasn’t in the House to move the motion on the bill and therefore it wasn't debated but was it—and I know it was dropped in the order of precedence–was it actually withdrawn?

Chair: My understanding is that there were multiple attempts to have the bill withdrawn and because it was not debated this morning it was automatically ruled by the Speaker that it's no longer—but I look to my clerk.

Clerk: The bill was dropped from the order paper so it's no longer in front of the House.

Mme. Charlton: So when does that take effect—tomorrow when the order paper comes in, or immediately?

Clerk: This morning when the Speaker gave his ruling.

Mme. Charlton: Thank you.

Chair: So we're clear, there is no bill currently before the House that is the same as bill C-391, and I'm going to ask for a motion then to agree to allow this one to stand. All in favour? Opposed? Can I have that again? All in favour of allowing 391 to stand?

Mr. Reid: Let's go to a recorded vote, Mr. Chairman, and then I'll have some comments to follow that.

Chair: After the vote? Okay, we'll have a recorded vote, and if the clerk will–I’m sure that the–Pardon?

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) On what do we vote?

Chair: Bill 391 as to whether or not it is voteable as a private member's bill.

Mme. Charlton: (inaudible) …Order, chair?

Chair: I will have to ask for a motion…

Mr. Reid: Motion to negative, is that how it works?

Chair: Someone's going to have to make a motion.

Mr. Reid: I see, Okay, thank you.

Mme. Jennings: I've participated in house committee meetings in closed, in camera, and is there a recorded vote normal? I have no problem but is that, is it normal practice, that you have a recorded vote, that you're in camera?

Chair: Mme. Jennings, I wish to clarify, we are not in camera and this is a public session.

Mme. Jennings: O, then let's go for a recorded vote, thank you.

Chair: Okay? Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid: Somebody has to make a motion.

Chair: Were you prepared to make a motion?

Mr. Reid: Well, it's automatically acceptable unless someone makes the motion that it not be acceptable.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) Why isn't it in camera? We were told it was in camera.

Chair: We indicated that it was a public meeting, and checking with the clerk there are no rulings indicating that the private member's subcommittee needs to meet in camera, and on that basis we call the meetings a public meeting.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) Who decided? You, Mr. Chairman?

Chair: On advice, after discussing with the clerk whether it was procedurally possible. Correct.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) I'm new at this committee but generally that kind of decision is taken in a collegial way with the members sitting on the committee and decide together whether it's in camera or public.

Chair: He is the master of its own fate and unless this committee chooses to meet in camera that's certainly…

Mme. Jennings: I propose that the meeting move in camera, in conformity with the practices of subcommittees when discussing this kind of issue. My understanding is that this subcommittee has sat in camera every single time it's met and this is my understanding and you can correct me if I'm wrong, the very first time that this committee is not in camera. As you can see from the reaction from some of the members, they assume including myself that the meeting was in camera, so I move that the meeting go in camera.

Chair: I will accept that motion, I just want to clarify with the clerk, you want to make some comments on that? That the motion is non-debateable or non-amendable?

Mr. Reid: I believe that there was a motion on the floor to the effect that we would be voting on bill C-391, up or down, that you can't go back after having had a vote, we had a show of hands, and then we were moving to an actual recorded vote, we can't stop in the middle of the vote and have a discussion of whether we are going to go on camera. The fact was that as I saw it the three opposite members were all indicating that they wanted bill C-391 killed, voting it down, and I was voting in favour and I realized what had happened and I said that I would like to make this vote on division, you can't stop in the middle of a vote and go in camera or do any other procedural item, so in fact we are in the stage now of debating, I gather that we are moving in to a vote period, and the vote is on whether bill c-391 is voteable under the four criteria before us—there's not been any other subject and it's certainly not something to be stopped whenever Mme. Jennings feels like throwing the rules aside in order to…

Mme. Jennings: Point of order…

Mr. Reid: I'm in the middle of a point of order, you can't interrupt one point of order with another…

Mme. Jennings: I thought you were trying to debate, you did not begin by "point of order…"

Chair: Mme. Jennings, with all due respect, I'll let Mr. Reid…

Mr. Reid: No, she's right, I actually didn't call "point of order," I don't know if there is some kind of rule that if you forgot to say it you're out of order, but anyway, this is a point of order very clearly because the orders require that votes be completed. All three members were in the process of voting against this, that should be recorded. Then in fact the discussion arose when they learned that it wasn't in camera and were asking for information.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) Point of order, I don't want to politicize the debate and I think the things are being politicized right now and becoming partisan, I wanted to be very precise on the vote. We are being asked whether it's voteable or not, and I wanted to be sure, that's why I asked for some clarification.

Chair: We're in the middle of a discussion as to whether or not we would agree to proceed with bill 391, three members indicated they were opposed to that, we did not have a formal motion to that effect, so my understanding is that there is not a motion on the floor. We normally work by consensus here and so we have not had a formal motion on the floor. So based on that the only motion that I'm aware of that is on the floor currently is Mme. Jennings' motion to move in camera.

Mme. Jennings: And may I make a point, and this is not on my motion, it's on the issue of taking a vote on committee business. Committee business, we have an obligation to file a report with the committee as a whole; the committee as a whole then files a report with the House of Commons, and procedures are that our reports are confidential until they're…until…I have never been part of a committee where it's discussing a report in public, the rule, and I think you can check with the clerk, and therefore simply suggesting that this meeting be, and calling this meeting as a public meeting, I think was a violation of the rules one, and secondly, to request a vote in public and as you see the members of this committee of the three opposition parties only became aware that the meeting was in fact in public. When I raised the issue of a report I commented on the issue of a recorded vote that you don't have a recorded vote in camera and then you informed the committee that, "O, in fact I made the decision," the notice is there that this does not say that this is an in-camera.

Chair: Actually, Mme. Jennings, if you read carefully it says clearly on the orders of the day "public meeting," and I don't take it upon myself to call each…

Mme. Jennings: It said, the members did not.

Chair: We have a motion before us is non-debateable, non-amendable…

Mr. Reid: Mr. Chair, just to be clear on this, there was a notice sent out, I received it in my office, stating that the meeting was in public, and that was received by my office last week, so just to be clear, while we are on the record and in public, that notice was sent out, and any suggestion that the chair or the clerk has acted improperly as Mme. Jennings seemed to be at least insinuating by having a public meeting is incorrect, factually incorrect. I want to also on the same point of order here I want to point out that she's also incorrect when she says that these meetings occur under our rules in camera. The fact is that our rules say nothing about meeting in camera, the rules regarding private member's business are under standing order number 91.1, and what they say is that the meetings may occur but that they make no statement about the meetings occurring in camera. I'm just in the midst of finding the relevant order so I can read it to all members so that they can be disabused of the incorrect notion that this is not something that happens.

Mme. Jennings: Are you going to call the vote on the motion?

Chair: I'm going to call the vote as soon as the point of order is first completed.

Mr. Reid: Thank you Mr. Chair. The rules were changed…

Mme. Jennings: I'm speaking to the clerk to whether or not a motion that is non-debateable has been tabled, whether or not you can even accept a point of order and that seems in fact whether or not you can even accept a point of order and do you not have to call the vote immediately.

Chair: I can allow a point of order. Go ahead, Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid: Yes…

Mme. Jennings: Which section, please? Which section that stipulates that a motion that is non-debateable that a point of order can be raised that has nothing to do with that motion which is voteable and not debateable.

Chair: Well Mme. Jennings, this point of order clearly has something to do with the motion because we're debating whether it's allowable for a subcommittee to meet in public, and that's I think the point that Mr. Reid's making.

Mme. Jennings: It's not debateable it's either voteable so if Mr….I think it should be…

Mr. Reid: Sorry, I'm just a bit confused here, procedurally I think madam, it's not my place, but I think Mme. Jennings is out of order in that I was in the middle of a point of order and she interrupted it with something, I guess it's a point of extra-privilege order because it's coming from Mme. Jennings, that seems to be her normal belief system, that allows her to supersede anything else, her normal course of action is now to invite you to make a ruling, then get a vote against your ruling in order to shut down debate, which is really what she's trying to do here. I just want to draw your attention to Section 91.1 sub 1, is where we are covered. "At the beginning of the first session of a parliament and thereafter as required the standing committee on procedure and house affairs shall name one member from each of the parties recognized in the house and a chair from the government party to constitute the subcommittee on private member's business which shall be empowered to meet forthwith, after the establishment or replenishment of the order of precedence to determine whether any of the items placed in the order of precedence are non-voteable according to the criteria adopted by the standing committee on procedure and house affairs, provided that no item shall be considered by the house unless the conditions set out in section 2 of the standing order or under the conditions in standing order 92.1b has been satisfied," all of which are the four criteria we discussed. Now, it then goes on "in the report of the subcommittee, after it has met pursuant to section 1 of the standing order," which I just read, "the subcommittee on private member's business shall forthwith deposit with the clerk of the standing committee on procedure and house affairs a report recommending that the items listed therein should not be designated non-voteable shall be considered by the house and that report, which shall be deemed to have been adopted by the standing committee on procedure and house affairs shall be presented to the house at the next earliest opportunity as a report of that committee and shall be deemed concurred in as soon as it is presented." You'll notice that basically completes the discussion of our subcommittee; nothing in there says we shall meet in camera; the meeting in camera has been a practice, it is not a requirement, and when I consult […], chairman, I notice that it does make reference to our subcommittee meeting in camera, but it makes so in an edition of […], which came out in the year 2000, in the year 2000 I believe it was 2002 or 2003 the procedure and house affairs committee changed the criteria under which private member's bills are dealt with and among the changes was the fact that we went from saying there are ten items allowed to be voteable in each parliamentary session of parliament to saying that all items are voteable unless they are not voteable for one of the following reasons, the criteria change to such a read […] you see that it is referring to such a completely different world in which you have essentially members bidding against each other coming before the committee, the subcommittee, and making their pitch to the subcommittee, right, so it says, it talks about, if you'll forgive me, here we are, "as soon as practicable after the order of precedence has been established at the beginning of each session by not less than 10 days, sitting days after that date the standing committee on procedures and house affairs must meet to select from the items placed on the order of precedence as a result of the draw. Up to ten items shall be designated as voteable items," so up to ten items in a Parliament. This is […], when they're saying that meetings should occur in camera, so this is a very different world they're referring to. Now listen what happens next: "being selected as voteable should not be construed as a guarantee that the house will adopt the bill or motion. Certain items which may be selected as voteable are nonetheless not to be included as part of the list of ten voteable items since they were not placed in the order of precedence as a result of the draw," and they go on to list off some of the criteria that are going on. But the expectation here is at that time was that the committee would consult, that the subcommittee would consult with the sponsors of each bill, and I'll just quote from […] again, it says on page 909, "it has been the practice since 1986 for the committee to consult with the sponsors of each bill or motion placed on the order of precedence before making its selection of voteable items. Each member sponsoring an item in the order of precedence is invited to appear before the committee in a public meeting to make a short presentation explaining why his or her item warrants additional debate and to be put to a vote in the house. Each presentation may be followed by a brief question and answer period. The committee has traditionally selected voteable items by consensus rather than on the basis of votes. A member may ask the committee not to select his or her item as voteable by notifying the committee. This item will remain on the order of precedence and be debated as a non-voteable item." So this is a very, very world in which members are making special pleas for this subcommittee as to whether or not their items should be designated voteable; sometimes they'd have to speak as to why their item should be put on the list as opposed to another person's item; frequently they were of a similar nature, it was often the case that you'd have more than one member presenting on the same day or even at the same time in order to work out which of a number of items should be designated voteable, so it would have been conceivable under those rules that Ms. Hoeppner, bill c-391 and Mr. Breitkreuz's bill c-301 would have come before this committee together. They would have made their case as to which of the two should be made voteable and in the end the committee said we choose one over the other. I suppose we could have said that we choose neither, but the point is what you didn't have is a situation in which items were dealt with in a court of star chamber with a person not having the right to be there to see how their item was dealt with no record of what happens with it, and indeed with the sanction of contempt of parliament against anybody who indicates what's going on, including action that was taken by members to kill something on the basis of completely unparliamentary criteria, on the basis of just rewriting the rules as they see fit or their interpretation of the rules as they see fit…

Chair: We'll wrap up your point of order, I want to get on with the motion.

Mr. Reid: Yes, absolutely. What is going on is a reference to a rule that does not exist in terms of a requirement that we be meeting in camera, an effort to ensure that bill c-391 can be killed quietly by the parties, by the other opposition parties, in order to ensure that they don't have to suffer the embarrassment of revealing that they in fact…

Chair: I'm going to call the motion, we're going beyond the point of order, so we're going to call the, uh, someone has to make a motion that we move in camera. Ms. Jennings?

Mme. Jennings: I move that this subcommittee move in camera.

Chair: Okay, that's a non-debateable non-amendable, all agreed that we move in camera? Recorded vote? Okay?

Clerk: Mme. Jennings?

Mme. Jennings: Yea.

Clerk: Mme. Gagnon?

Mme. Gagnon: Oui.

Clerk: Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid: No.

Chair: Okay, that motion is carried, we move into camera. We're suspended for five minutes.

(Committee Suspended)

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 17, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (12)