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QUESTION PERIOD — Prime Minister’s Office

Debate on Bill C-13

June 8, 2022

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, my question is again for the leader, Senator Gold.

Senator Gold, during the debate just a few days ago and the motions to pre-study Bill C-11 and Bill C-13, you and Senator Gagné assured the Senate that we would have all the necessary time to study these bills, that there was no rush for the government to adopt these two bills.

On Monday, the Standing Committee on Official Languages of the House of Commons held its first meeting on Bill C-13. The very first MP who had the floor, Liberal Francis Drouin, tabled a time allocation motion to limit debate on the bill. Debate had not even started. No witnesses had been heard, and the government moved closure before any debate started. Thankfully, the left arm of the government didn’t agree with the right arm of the government, so the NDP voted against this time allocation. Two left arms, two left feet.

Senator Gold, if Bill C-13 does not have to be rushed, why did your government try to close the debate in the House committee before the debate even started?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question. First of all, what I’ve said in this chamber on many occasions — and I’ll say it again — is not that these bills are not important, but that the Senate will and that the government respects that the Senate will take the time that it chooses to properly study bills.

Why the government may have moved time allocation in the other place might have something to do with the degree of obstruction that has characterized this Parliament for some time, and I think the best answer is the short one in this regard.

Of course, no obstruction had started. We’re going to get to that obstruction, but the government moved their motion.

Senator Gold, as I said yesterday, you are the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and, as such, you are privy to the government’s parliamentary strategy. You even have a parliamentary secretary. You knew very well that the government’s plan was to make sure that the Senate would receive Bill C-13 before the House rises on June 23. You made no secret that this bill is a government priority.

It is time for the government to be up front and clear. Senator Gold, do you expect Bill C-13 to clear the Senate before we rise for the summer, yes or no?

Senator Gold [ + ]

The leadership in this place and the Senate has made it clear that they demand — and properly so — proper time to study bills. I have no control over the will of the Senate, but I respect that.

I wish the same respect would be shown to the words that I have pronounced publicly and in private on an ongoing basis. What knowledge I may or may not have of parliamentary strategy or government’s intentions are things that no responsible parliamentarian would inquire of as those with experience — and indeed those who have more recently arrived — would understand it would be an inappropriate breach of confidence.

Not likely.

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