MPs begin two days of secret ballot voting in NDP bid to revive derelict vessel bill

History is being made Tuesday in the House of Commons as MPs begin two days of voting by secret ballot to decide whether or not to revive an NDP MP's bill on how to address boat and ship owners who abandon their vessels in Canadian waterways.

Vote will mark the first time secret ballot is used to decide fate of a bill

Sheila Malcolmson, the MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, has used a 14-year-old rule in the House of Commons to prompt a secret ballot vote on her derelict vessel bill which was deemed non-votable by a Commons committee. (Twitter)

History is being made Tuesday in the House of Commons as MPs begin two days of voting by secret ballot.

An NDP MP is appealing to the other sitting Members of Parliament to overturn a committee decision that is stalling her bill on derelict vessels.

The bill would help to end the practise of simply abandoning boats and ships by making it illegal, while also empowering the government to go after owners found guilty of dumping a derelict vessel. 

Sheila Malcolmson's private member's bill, C-352, was deemed non-votable by a House of Commons committee when the government introduced similar legislation.

Malcomson said the government's legislation, bill C-64, doesn't go as far as her private members bill and she used her last appeal to keep her bill alive.

That appeal required using a 14-year-old never-before-used rule allowing MPs to appeal to the entire House of Commons to overturn her bill's non-votable status. Votes under this rule are prescribed to be held by secret ballot. 

Until now, only the Speaker has been chosen by secret ballot. Votes are normally decided either by voice or by MPs standing one at a time as their names are called by the clerk.

The Speaker, Geoff Regan, told the Commons Tuesday morning that the vote will begin during member's statements just before question period.

Regan told MPs that, "Ballots will be distributed from the corridor behind the Speaker's chair and the ballot box will also be placed there so as to not disrupt proceedings."

The Kathryn Spirit, a derelict cargo ship sitting abandoned in Lac Saint-Louis on Montreal's South Shore, is now in the process of being dismantled. (Radio-Canada)

Cameras are not allowed to take images behind the Speaker's chair.

The Speaker told MPs that the clerk and his table officers who help guide the chamber through it's daily proceedings will count the ballots.

Regan told MPs that he will only receive, "The final result, not the number of members voting for or against the motion."

The Speaker will advise the Commons of the result of the vote when the chamber opens on Thursday morning.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.