Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I wish we could be having the kind of conversation that would reflect the honesty of what is going on in this place, which would mean that I was not addressing my question through the Speaker to the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration but to the puppet masters in the various leaders’ offices who have decided that the House is going through the charade of late night sittings until midnight in the absence of the kind of trust and political consensus we should have been building in this place to allow us to avoid long debates on bills on which we completely agree, such as Bill C-17, to get it to committee and not take up our time in speeches, and allow us to have the kind of debate that this particular bill really requires.

If we had the kind of respect across the House that should be the job of all parliamentarians, we would not be sitting until midnight in a farcical exercise to prove we are working hard, because we are not going to be working smart by the end. I know what happened last June when we worked every night until midnight. Late night sittings do not advance the kind of parliamentary performance that our voters deserve.

I do not know if my hon. colleague would agree with me, but would it not be better if the House leaders were able to work together so we could focus our time deservedly on this bill and move up the passage of the ones on which we all agree?

Chris Alexander: Mr. Speaker, this place, this House has done some of its best work over the decades and over the centuries in these hours, the evening hours, when there is important business to do on behalf of the Canadian people.

That is why we are here. That is why we have this mandate. That is why we are prepared to work through the night. That is why we do it without complaint and with enthusiasm.

If we look back 100 years ago to the debate that really first gave us the concept of Canadian citizenship under a Conservative government in 1914, we see that long before there was a citizenship act, there was a naturalization act which talked about citizenship for the first time.

We had the Hon. R. B. Bennett and Prime Minister Borden speaking to these issues. They dealt with that bill at second reading in one day. Believe me, it was fewer hours than we will have invested here in this House today.