Request for Emergency Debate – Foreign Investment

On Monday, October 29th, 2012 in Points of Order

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise to put forward a motion that the House do now adjourn under the provisions of Standing Order 52, in order to take up the pressing issue of the Canada-China investment treaty. In just my office alone, I have now received over 64,000 individual messages from Canadians asking that this matter be stopped or at least debated before Canadians find themselves bound to it.

As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, I made a similar motion on October 1. I believe the rules under Standing Order 52 are clear. This matter is an administrative responsibility of government. It is a specific matter of obvious and acute national importance and concern, and it is urgent. I hope that you do not mind but in the absence of reasons from you, and I understand that it is not traditional for the Speaker to provide reasons, I am inferring that perhaps on October 1, you recognized that there were many opportunities that might present themselves in which this matter might be debated. Under the rules the Speaker must consider the probability of the matter being brought before the House in a reasonable time by other means.

It is clear now that there will be no other opportunity. The 21 sitting days from September 26, when the treaty was first tabled, run out on November 1. We could face a ratification as soon as this Friday.

I did cite some authorities, particularly Professor Peter Hogg, on constitutional laws that even though a treaty of this nature does not require a vote in the House, it is very clear that traditionally a matter of this importance would have come before the House. I cite Peter Hogg:

Despite the absence of any constitutional obligation to obtain parliamentary approval, it has been the practice of Canadian governments to obtain parliamentary approval of the most important treaties in the interval between signing and ratification.

He goes on in that text to describe that governments in the past would place the treaty before both the House and the Senate for consideration and to vote, although there would not be a requirement for royal assent.

The current government has spoken of the fact that, since 2008, it has put in practice the tabling of a treaty for 21 sitting days. However, in the absence of any opportunity to debate or vote on the treaty, this becomes a ritualistic denial of democracy.

Given the great urgency and the fact that this treaty is clearly important, it will bind Canada until at least 2043. It has the potential to disrupt provincial, municipal and federal abilities of future governments to chart a course, to pass laws or to take steps that investors from the People’s Republic of China find to be arbitrary. The possibility of a chilling effect from this is also a threat.

I know that there are those who think this treaty is fantastic and support it fully, but they too would say it is important and if it is important, should it not come before the House? I beg of you, Mr. Speaker, with very little time left, at least allow a treaty of this importance, and in my view a dangerous document, to receive at least four hours of debate in this place tonight.

The Speaker: I thank the hon. member for raising this matter to the House again. While I have no doubt it is a very important issue and one with which she has great concerns, I still find that it does not meet the test under the Standing Orders

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  • Whitney Lee

    Thank you Elizabeth for standing up for Canadians everywhere. It’s clear that the Conservative government has no regard for what the implications of this treaty mean to Canadians, our environment and our economy. I wish that your voice, as well as the tens of thousands of Canadians that have personally written to you (and other parties) would be heard, however it is also clear that the Conservatives are doing their best to ensure that we are silenced. It is MPs like yourself that make Canadian politics somewhat tolerable, however what hope I have for this country is rapidly wearing thin. Thank you again.

  • Elaine Martin

    How exactly did Sheers become the speaker in the house of commons? Have we been sold to the highest bidder? Surely, there are Canadian citizens who can appeal to the crown on this matter. Surely our very own sovereign will not allow us to be sold as slaves to the Chinese Economy.

  • Lukefriel

    Thank you Elizabeth,,,,,to The Speaker….it may be time for you to stop speaking and start listening to the Canadian people……stuff your test and stop the proceedings until Canadians have an opportunity to review and provide input. Maybe we will want it…don’t take away our right to decide what happens in our country.

  • Gregory B. Gallagher

    As a taxpaying Canadian citizen, father, stepfather, grandfather, and son of a World War II Royal Canadian Navy officer, I thank you Elizabeth May for having the consistent courage to stand up in the boys club of the Canadian Parliament to represent the voice of so many of us in demanding debate on this Canada/China investment treaty. This, despite the smug response by the Speaker of the House, who seems the kind of personality one would have dealt with quickly in kindergarten with the back of one’s hand. The level of frustration you must feel in trying to convince those deaf ears on the other side of the isle that this treaty is simply bad judgement, must only be allayed by the sense of urgency you feel.

  • Rachel Gruhs

    i agree with the previous comment ” it’s time for the speaker to quit speaking and start listening”!

  • sean mclore

    thank you for addressing this issue, a bill of that magnitude must be discussed further before being passed

  • Susan McInnes

    Thank you, there are no words to express my gratitude for what you are doing for the Canadian people.

  • Catherine Russell

    Bravo Elizabeth!!! Thank you for speaking up so eloquently for all of us who are so very concerned about this Canada-China treaty.

  • David

    Thank you for trying your best to stop the madness, Elizabeth. Glad there is someone with guts and brains in the house.

  • True north

    Hoping election reform goes to the top of the list for policy consideration in the backrooms of the NDP, Liberal and Greens. Canada won’t survivor another Ultra-Conservative government!!!

  • westcoast

    Andrew Scheer, Stephen Harper and many other people in government should not only be fired, but put in jail for treason. How can this government continue to be in power? I just don’t understand it. What can us Canadians do about it? Nothing apparently. Look at Andrew smirking.. He knows this is a big deal and he knows we can’t do anything about it.

    • Wendy Murdoch

      Thank you for mentioning the “smirking”. He was smirking!! I looked at his face when he was speaking and I thought….wow he knew Ms. May would bring a motion forward. He was ready. And he took great pleasure in totally dismissing her motion. But in dismissing her motion he dismissed Canadians!! And he was condescending and patronizing….his response was the equivalent of patting Ms. May on the head and saying….yes dear, now run along home!! Disrespectful! Rude! Shameful!

  • Don Ooze

    In the face of such utter contempt for democracy, it seems we have no refuge left but frivolity. I therefore submit that, under the current administration, we change the name of the position from Speaker of the House to Squeaker of a Mouse.

  • wallace

    Thank you for taking a stand against the Canada-China investment treaty! No Honest Canadian Wants This! Keep the back door deals away!

  • Wendy Murdoch

    I too must THANK YOU Elizabeth, for being our voice of responsibility and reason! I have to say I am absolutely dumbfounded by the Speaker’s disrespectful and very flaccid response to your exceptionally researched, intelligent and legitimate request. Is the Speaker of the House another Harper Lacky? Is he receiving a pay-off for vetoing any LEGITIMATE requests to properly debate the Canada-China Investment Treaty? Have we actually, really, forsaken our democracy? Do Canadians no longer have a voice in our country? Has Harper (he has not earned the respect to be referred to as Prime Minister or Mr.) been worshiping Kim Jong-il and Ma Ying-jeou–is he a wannabe? Take heed Canada–Harper is about to sell Canada’s soul!! And he doesn’t give a rat’s-ass what we think, believe or feel about the atrocity he is about to commit!

  • Katie Schindell

    The speakers response is unbelievable — Elizabeth May you are a saint! Please keep up the work you are doing, in advocacy for our county, it’s envionment and the issues that concern all of us — thank you so much, you have my support 100%!

  • lisa

    yes elizabeth. you are a true patriot. thank you on behalf of my entire family.

  • Linda Babb

    Where is the “test” delineated? Elizabeth is doing what all MPs are elected to do – representing the best interests of the people of this country – definitely not what Harper and Mr Speaker are doing! I continue to be incensed by this flagrant disregard for democratic principles and tradition.

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