Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Kelowna Bound?

Posted by JJ in Brass Tacks (Thursday October 19, 2006 at 3:43 am)

Once again, a Liberal private member’s bill stands to embarrass the federal government. What’s not clear is how it would actually compel the government to implement the Kelowna Accord.

Since the Accord required government expenditure of $624 Million in the first year alone, a private member’s bill which compels it would involve the expenditure of public funds; and as Parliamentary rules have it:

In developing their legislative proposals, Members should bear in mind that bills containing specific provisions or clauses involving the expenditure of public funds will require a Royal Recommendation from the Government before they can be passed by the House.

A Royal Recommendation is an approval only provided by the government:

For the first hundred years following Confederation, any bill or clause appropriating money had to be preceded by a House resolution, whose wording defined precisely the amount and purpose of any appropriations sought. The resolution was moved by a Minister of the Crown and was recommended by the Governor General. . .

. . .the House eliminated the resolution stage in 1968. [59] The Crown’s recommendation would now be conveyed to the House as a printed notice which would appear in the Notice Paper and again in the Journals when the bill was introduced, and be printed in or appended to the text of the bill. . .

. . .In 1994, the Standing Orders were again amended to remove the requirement that a royal recommendation had to be provided to the House before a bill could be introduced. [61] The royal recommendation can now be provided after the bill has been introduced in the House, as long as it is done before the bill is read a third time and passed. . .

These rules apply to private member’s bills:

The rules regarding the royal recommendation also apply to a bill sponsored by a private Member. [70] In the past, when such a bill infringed on the financial initiative of the Crown, the Speaker has not allowed it to go forward. [71] However, since the rule change of 1994, private Members’ bills involving the spending of public money have been allowed to be introduced and to proceed through the legislative process, on the assumption that a royal recommendation would be submitted by a Minister of the Crown before the bill was to be read a third time and passed. [72] If a royal recommendation were not produced by the time the House was ready to decide on the motion for third reading of the bill, the Speaker would have to stop the proceedings and rule the bill out of order. The Speaker has the duty and responsibility to ensure that the Standing Orders on the royal recommendation as well as the constitutional requirements are upheld. There is no provision under the rules of financial procedure which would permit the Speaker to leave it to the House to decide or to allow the House to do so by unanimous consent.

So explain this: how can a private member’s bill compel the government to spend money simply by referencing a separate document? Does that conceivably satisfy rule 79(1) of the standing procedures of the House of Commons:

79. (1) This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

And why, when printing the story, doesn’t the Toronto Star deign to deal with this complication?

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