Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Minister, I join my colleagues in welcoming you back to the Senate. My question to you today relates to your responsibilities as Government House Leader in the other place.
As you will recall, just before the summer break the Senate amended Bill C-44, the first budget implementation bill for the 2017 Budget.
On Wednesday, June 21, with unanimous consent in the other place, you introduced a six-part motion — in essence, an omnibus motion — dealing with four different bills.
The fourth clause of this motion rejected the amendments we made, saying that “these amendments infringe on the rights and privileges of this house.” This house being the other place.
The omnibus motion then passed without a word of debate or explanation as to why our amendments were being rejected.
My question has two parts to it.
First, what rights and privileges did the Senate infringe with the amendments to the bill?
Second, the Senate conducted a thorough examination of that bill and proposed a carefully thought out amendment on the tax escalator clause. Colleagues will remember this. To the best of my knowledge, never before has the House of Commons rejected a Senate amendment without some explanation being provided by a minister. Why, then, was that practice abandoned in this particular case? Is this how your government is going to deal with any other work that we do in this chamber?
Hon. Bardish Chagger, P.C., M.P., Minister of Small Business and Tourism: Thank you. Senator, I appreciate the welcome that you provided me as well. I recall our last time interacting was not too long ago. I’m glad to see you have arrived safely to this place.
I would like to stress, senator, that we have the utmost respect for this place. We know the important work that you do. I know that both the House of Commons and the Senate do essential work in the best interests of Canadians, and that will always be the case. We know that members of Parliament as well as senators play a key role in the legislative process, and this is part of the work that we will continue to do. I really do appreciate any constructive feedback, constructive amendments that are provided. We have seen on numerous occasions where amendments were provided from this place and very well received by the other place.
I will also continue to encourage members of Parliament, as well as ministers, to make sure that we are providing important information that senators are requesting, to ensure that we have good legislation that is advancing.
When it comes to the conversation, the discussion in the other place, members of Parliament have certain views. They are able to share them and I believe that is always going to be the case. We are here to share our views and to have, I would say, a diverse, respectful debate. That’s what we will continue to do. I personally will always say that I appreciate your work and I look forward to continuing to work with yourself, as well as all senators.
Senator Day: I have a short supplementary question. We’re interested in knowing what rights and privileges we might have infringed. There was no debate whatsoever, so we have no understanding as to why our amendment was rejected.
Ms. Chagger: I would say, senator, that the Government Representative shared your views, both in this place as well as the other place. We will continue to ensure that those views are heard and shared.