Government Orders – Extension of Sitting Hours

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to put a question for my hon. colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

I have to share with the rest of the House that last year when the motion was put forward for sitting until midnight, I did not see the problem. I am not immune to hard work. I work very hard. However, I was pretty much the only person who was here every night until midnight, and no aspersions on others in larger caucuses because I know people get different assignments.

One of the things I noted was the lack of utility in the whole exercise. We spent hours discussing bills on which everyone agreed, whereas there had been short shrift given to things like FATCA, on which both my hon. colleague and I want to run back to the finance committee to try to get a proper result there, an omnibus bill on which we know there was not adequate time for debate or study.

These are not small points. The security guards, the translators and the staff of this place go through weeks and weeks for something that is extremely gruelling and I fail to see a single benefit to democracy in this place, of mandatory sittings until midnight. We went through it last year and I did not see that it improved the quality of the work. By the end of the time, the Conservatives were pushing through bills that really were not urgent and on which, if they had done unanimous consent, they could have saved the House hours of debate, late hours for translators and late hours for security guards.

It certainly is offensive, as the hon. member has pointed out, to have the only motions that are allowed during these late sittings to be from members of the Conservative cabinet.

Does my hon. colleague have a single explanation, with much more experience in the House than I have, of what benefit anyone sees, other than a sort of game of chicken, “We’ll work harder than they do. What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you ready to go for the summer?” It seems like an exercise in sadism more than anything else.