Northern Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-47)


Elizabeth May : Mr. Speaker, my comment for the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is in absolute support of what he has just said.

I had the pleasure, and it was a pleasure, of working for the then Minister of the Environment from 1986 to 1988 and putting legislation forward as part of a majority government, putting forward legislation to committees where we welcomed changes. As an example, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was put forward without a priority substances list. The idea of a priority substances list came from an opposition member of Parliament on a parliamentary committee for environment. My boss, the Minister of the Environment, Tom McMillan, saw that it would be a benefit and would improve the act. This was a normal occurrence.

Parliamentary committees studying legislation used to be essentially non-politicized zones. We went in there, set our partisanship at the door and worked to make a better bill. I mourn that this is lost now. The comments that the member is making on this specific bill apply to every piece of legislation we have seen go through this House. Every piece of legislation in this place is treated as though accepting a single amendment to any government bill is a political defeat that the administration today will not tolerate. That is an offence to democracy, and I appreciate the member’s mentioning it.

John Rafferty: Speaker, I appreciate the member’s comments. She is absolutely right. That is the feeling that we in the opposition get in committee. We know that these are worthwhile amendments and we wonder why the Conservatives consider that it would be some sort of defeat if they were to accept any of them. Perhaps the Ottawa bubble syndrome causes them to think that for some reason they would lose votes.

I do not know what they are thinking, but the thinking should be that we go through all of the controls to make sure that we come forward with the best legislation possible.