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Chapter XIII — Committees

Striking Committees (Standing Orders [ 104105106 ])
Liaison Committees (Standing Order [ 107 ])
Mandate (Standing Orders [ 108109110111111.1 ])
Legislative Committees (Standing Orders [ 112113 ])
Membership (Standing Order [ 114 ])
Meetings (Standing Orders [ 115116117118119119.1 ])
Staff and Budgets (Standing Orders [ 120121 ])
Witnesses (Standing Order [ 122 ])
Historical Summary — Standing Orders 104 to 122

Introduction

The Standing Orders in this chapter govern the principal aspects of committee activities and form an integrated whole for narrative purposes. For example, the main committee types employed by the House are described as to mandate, membership, staff and budgets, priority of meeting time and rules of procedure. In addition, the particular and specialized mandates of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and of the Liaison Committee, as well as those of certain other standing committees, are explained.

Standing Orders in other chapters, such as those pertaining to the presentation of committee reports (Chapter IV) and to motions for concurrence in such reports (Chapter VIII), to the parameters of a committee preparing and bringing in a bill (Chapter IX), to the consideration of Main Estimates in a committee (Chapter X), to the consideration of private Members’ bills in committees (Chapter XI), and to committee work on delegated legislation (Chapter XIV), also impact greatly on the work carried out by committees. No attempt is made to discuss those Standing Orders in the text of this chapter which focuses solely on the current interpretation and the history of Standing Orders numbered 104 to 122 inclusive. For ease of reference, individual commentaries appear for each Standing Order while a single historical summary covers the overlapping evolution of the various Standing Orders in the chapter.

Striking of Committees

Standing Order 104(1)
Duty of Procedure and House Affairs Committee. Report. No second report during specific period.
104.
(1)
At the commencement of the first session of each Parliament, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which shall consist of twelve Members, and the membership of which shall continue from session to session, shall be appointed to act, among its other duties, as a striking committee. The said Committee shall prepare and report to the House within the first ten sitting days after its appointment, and thereafter, within the first ten sitting days after the commencement of each session and within the first ten sitting days after the second Monday following Labour Day, lists of Members to compose the standing committees of the House pursuant to Standing Order 104(2), and to act for the House on standing joint committees; provided that the Committee shall not present a second report pursuant to this Standing Order between the second Monday following Labour Day and the end of that calendar year.

Commentary — Standing Order 104(1)

Before committees can organize themselves or undertake any business, the membership of each committee must be established. Standing Order 104(1) provides that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, whose twelve members are named for the entire Parliament, is charged with the selection of Members for all standing committees. This Committee is also responsible for naming Members to legislative committees, as outlined in Standing Order 113(1), and for preparing lists of associate members, as outlined in Standing Order 104(4).

Within 10 sitting days of its appointment, the Standing Committee must submit to the House for concurrence a report setting forth the names of Members for all standing committees and the House representation for the two standing joint committees. In addition, the Standing Committee must table further reports of membership lists for concurrence by the House within 10 sitting days after the start of the fall trimester (the second Monday following Labour Day) and after the start of a new session.

The Standing Order further provides that if a new session begins any time during the second week after Labour Day through to the end of the calendar year, the requirement for a second report on the general membership of committees is suspended.

Standing Order 104(2), (3) and (4)
Membership of standing committees.
104.
(2)
The standing committees, which shall consist of twelve Members, and for which the lists of members are to be prepared, except as provided in section (1) of this Standing Order, shall be on:
(a)
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development;
(b)
Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics;
(c)
Agriculture and Agri-Food;
(d)
Canadian Heritage;
(e)
Citizenship and Immigration;
(f)
Environment and Sustainable Development;
(g)
Finance;
(h)
Fisheries and Oceans;
(i)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade;
(j)
Government Operations and Estimates;
(k)
Health;
(l)
Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
(m)
Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology;
(n)
Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness;
(o)
National Defence and Veterans Affairs;
(p)
Official Languages;
(q)
Procedure and House Affairs;
(r)
Public Accounts;
(s)
Status of Women; and
(t)
Transport.
Membership of standing joint committees.
 
(3)
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall also prepare and report lists of Members to act for the House on the Standing Joint Committees on:
(a)
the Library of Parliament;
(b)
Scrutiny of Regulations;
Provided that a sufficient number of Members shall be appointed so as to keep the same proportion therein as between the memberships of both Houses.
Associate Members.
 
(4)
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall also prepare lists of associate members for each Standing Committee and Standing Joint Committee referred to in this Standing Order, who shall be deemed to be members of that committee for the purposes of Standing Orders 108(1)(b) and 114(2)(a) and who shall be eligible to act as substitutes on that committee pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 114(2)(b).

Commentary — Standing Order 104(2), (3) and (4)

Standing Order 104(2) lists the 20 standing committees of the House for which the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs must select Members (with the exception of itself, whose membership, by practice, is established through a motion adopted in the House early in the Parliament). The Standing Order sets at 12 the number of members for each standing committee.

Section (3) lists the two standing joint committees, but does not establish the membership at a specific number. Rather, there is a qualification in that the membership on standing joint committees is to be in the same proportion as the membership of the House to the Senate, although the House can (and does) accept other proportions.

Finally, pursuant to section (4), the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is also charged with preparing lists of associate members for each standing and standing joint committee listed in this Standing Order. These associate members are eligible to be named to subcommittees established pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(b). They may act also as substitutes for regular members who are unable to attend committee meetings (see Standing Order 114).

Standing Order 105
Membership of a special committee.
105.
A special committee shall consist of not more than fifteen members.

Commentary — Standing Order 105

Special committees are appointed on an ad hoc basis by the House to study specific matters. Standing Order 105 limits the membership of each to not more than 15 members. The Standing Orders are silent with respect to the manner of naming the membership, amending the membership, and/or substituting for absent members. These matters are normally provided for in the motion establishing the special committee. [1]

Standing Order 106(1)
Clerk of the House to convene meetings.
106.
(1)
Within ten sitting days following the adoption by the House of a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs pursuant to Standing Order 104(1), the Clerk of the House shall convene a meeting of each standing committee whose membership is contained in that report for the purpose of electing a Chair, provided that forty-eight hours’ notice is given of any such meeting.

Commentary — Standing Order 106(1)

Standing Order 106(1) provides that once the report of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on the membership of a standing committee has been approved by the House, a meeting of the committee is convened within 10 sitting days by the Clerk of the House, for the principal purpose of electing a Chair. There must be at least 48-hours’ notice given prior to the actual meeting. Should the Members at such a meeting fail to elect a Chair, 48-hours’ notice of a meeting must be given again in order for the Members to meet for this purpose. [2] (Although not mentioned in this Standing Order, the procedure is different for special committees, which are organized after informal consultations among the parties and by direction of the Government Whip, and for legislative committees, which are governed by Standing Order 113(3).)

After a prorogation, the standing and standing joint committees must meet in the new session to elect a Chair (and Vice-Chairs). This meeting is also convened at the direction of the Clerk of the House, who consults with the Whips of all the parties to establish a consensus on the schedule of organization meetings.

Standing Order 106(2) and (3)
Election of Chair and Vice-Chairs.
106.
(2)
At the commencement of every session and, if necessary, during the course of a session, each standing or special committee shall elect a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, of whom the Chair shall be a Member of the government party, the first Vice-Chair shall be a Member of the Official Opposition, and the second Vice-Chair shall be a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition party. In the case of the Standing Committees on Public Accounts, on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and on Government Operations and Estimates, the Chair shall be a Member of the Official Opposition, the first Vice-Chair shall be a Member of the government party and the second Vice-Chair shall be a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition. In the case of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, the Joint-Chair acting on behalf of the House shall be a Member of the Official Opposition, the first Vice-Chair shall be a Member of the government party and the second Vice-Chair shall be a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition.
 
 
(3)
When more than one candidate is nominated for the office of Chair or Vice-Chair of a committee, the election shall be conducted by secret ballot as follows:
(a)
the clerk of the committee, who shall preside over the election, shall announce the candidates to the committee members present and provide them with ballot papers;
(b)
committee members wishing to indicate their choice for Chair or Vice-Chair of the committee shall print the first and last name of a candidate on the ballot paper;
(c)
committee members shall deposit their completed ballot papers in a box provided for that purpose;
(d)
the clerk of the committee shall count the ballots and announce the name of the candidate who has received the majority of votes;
(e)
if no candidate has received a majority of votes, a second ballot shall be taken, provided that the candidate with the least number of votes shall be dropped from the second ballot; balloting shall continue in this manner until a candidate receives a majority of votes, at which time the clerk shall destroy the ballots and in no way divulge the number of ballots cast for any candidate.

Commentary — Standing Order 106(2) and (3)

As in the House itself, proceedings of a standing or special committee are conducted through a presiding officer, the Chair. Standing Order 106(2) provides that a Chair and two Vice-Chairs shall be elected at the beginning of every session by the committee (see Commentary for Standing Order 116). Provision is also made for elections during a session whenever a vacancy occurs in the chair or vice-chair positions, or whenever the House adopts the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs conveying a new membership list pursuant to Standing Order 104.

The clerk of the committee presides over the election of the Chair and Vice-Chairs in all instances. Except for certain committees listed below, the rule specifies that the Chair shall be a member of the government party, the first Vice-Chair shall be a member of the Official Opposition and the second Vice-Chair shall be a member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition. Special provision is made in the case of three standing committees and one standing joint committee. In the case of the Standing Committees on Public Accounts, on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and on Government Operations and Estimates, section (2) of the Standing Order stipulates the Chair will be a member of the Official Opposition. With respect to these three committees, the first Vice-Chair is to be a Member of the government party, and the second Vice-Chair is to be a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition.

In the case of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, the Joint Chair (acting on behalf of the House) is to be a Member of the Official Opposition, while the first Vice-Chair is to be a Member of the government party, and the second Vice-Chair a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition.

If only one Member is nominated for the office of Chair or Vice-Chair of a committee, the question is put to a vote by the clerk of the committee. Section (3) of the Standing Order provides that, when more than one candidate is nominated for the office of Chair or Vice-Chair, the election is to be conducted by secret ballot. The Standing Order specifies that the clerk of the committee is to preside over the election. He or she first announces the candidates to the committee members, then provides each Member eligible to vote with a ballot paper. The members of the committee who wish to vote print the first and last name of the candidate on the ballot paper and then deposit it in the ballot box provided for that purpose. The clerk of the committee then counts the ballots and announces the name of the candidate receiving a majority of the vote. In the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, a second ballot is taken. The candidate who received the least number of votes is dropped from consideration on this second ballot. The balloting continues in this manner until a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast. The Standing Order instructs the clerk of the committee to destroy all the ballots and not divulge the number of ballots cast for any candidate. In practice, committee clerks are accompanied by a colleague for the conduct of the secret ballot process.

Standing Order 106(4)
Chair to convene meeting upon written request. Reasons to be stated in request. Forty-eight hours’ notice required.
106.
(4)
Within five days of the receipt, by the clerk of a standing committee, of a request signed by any four members of the said committee, the Chair of the said committee shall convene such a meeting provided that forty-eight hours’ notice is given of the meeting. For the purposes of this section, the reasons for convening such a meeting shall be stated in the request.

Commentary — Standing Order 106(4)

Although standing committees usually meet pursuant to a previously adopted schedule or at the call of the Chair, Standing Order 106(4) provides for a meeting to be called at the request of any four members of the committee. Such a written request, stating the purpose of the meeting, must be sent to the clerk of the committee. The Chair is then required to call a meeting of the committee to consider the written request within five calendar days of receipt of the request, having given at least 48 hours’ prior notice of the meeting.

The Chair has ruled that a meeting of a committee held pursuant to this Standing Order does not need to be held in public (it can be held in camera), and a committee can consider other matters at that particular meeting as it wishes. [3]

Liaison Committee

Standing Order 107
Membership.
107.
(1)
(a)
The Chair of each standing committee, together with the Member of the House from each standing joint committee who is the Chair of the said joint committee, shall form a Liaison Committee, which is charged with making apportionments of funds from the block of funds authorized by the Board of Internal Economy to meet the expenses of committee activities, subject to ratification by the Board.
(b)
The Whip, or his or her designate, of any recognized party not having a member on the Liaison Committee, may take part in the proceedings of the Committee, but may not vote or move any motion, nor be part of any quorum.
Election of Chair and Vice-Chair of Liaison Committee. Clerk of the House to convene meeting.
 
(2)
Within five sitting days of the meeting of the last standing committee to elect its Chair pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), but in any event no later than the twentieth sitting day after the adoption of the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented pursuant to Standing Order 104(1), the Clerk of the House shall convene a meeting of the Chairs, together with any Members of the House elected as Chair of any joint committees for which such elections have then been held, for the purpose of electing a Chair and a Vice-Chair of the Liaison Committee.
Reports.
 
(3)
The Liaison Committee shall be empowered to report from time to time to the House.
Quorum.
 
(4)
Seven members of the Liaison Committee shall constitute a quorum.
Associate Members.
 
(5)
The Vice-Chairs of each standing committee and the Members of the House from each standing joint committee who are Vice-Chairs of the said joint committee shall be associate members of the Liaison Committee, provided that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs may also prepare lists of other associate members of the Liaison Committee.
Power to create sub-committees.
 
(6)
The Liaison Committee shall be empowered to create subcommittees of which the membership may be drawn from among both the list of members of the Committee and the list of associate members provided for in section (5) of this Standing Order.

Commentary — Standing Order 107

Standing Order 107(1) provides for the formation of a Liaison Committee, composed of the Chair of each standing committee, and the House Chair from each standing joint committee. In addition, the Whip (or his or her designate) of any recognized party which does not have any of its Members as part of the Liaison Committee may take part in the proceedings of the Committee. This Member, however, may not vote, move any motions, or be counted as part of the quorum of the Committee.

A block of funds authorized by the Board of Internal Economy for the expenses of all standing and joint committees is allotted to each such committee by the Liaison Committee, subject to the Board’s approval. Special committees make their requests for funding directly to the Board. Legislative committees receive an initial grant and, if the need for additional funds arises, a request is made directly to the Board.

Standing Order 107(2) instructs the Clerk of the House to convene a meeting of the Liaison Committee for the purpose of electing a Chair and a Vice-Chair. Such a meeting is to be convened within two parameters. The meeting is to be called within five sitting days after the last standing committee of the House has elected its presiding officer, but in any event no later than twenty sitting days after the adoption of the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which named the Members to the various committees, pursuant to Standing Order 104(1). The House Chairs of standing joint committees are also eligible to attend and may be elected Chair or Vice-Chair of the Liaison Committee.

Standing Order 107(3) empowers the Liaison Committee to report to the House its decisions and views as circumstances require, [4] while section (4) establishes the quorum of the Committee at seven.

Section (5) of the Standing Order makes special provision for associate members of this Committee. Specifically, the Vice-Chairs of each standing committee and the Vice-Chairs of the standing joint committees are associate members of the Liaison Committee. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has the authority also to prepare lists of other associate members of the Liaison Committee.

Pursuant to section (6) of the Standing Order, the Liaison Committee is given the authority to create subcommittees. The membership of these subcommittees are to be drawn from the members of the Liaison Committee itself and from the list of associate members provided for in section (5) of the Standing Order.

Mandate

Standing Order 108
Powers of standing committees.
108.
(1)
(a)
Standing committees shall be severally empowered to examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House, to report from time to time and to print a brief appendix to any report, after the signature of the Chair, containing such opinions or recommendations, dissenting from the report or supplementary to it, as may be proposed by committee members, and except when the House otherwise orders, to send for persons, papers and records, to sit while the House is sitting, to sit during periods when the House stands adjourned, to sit jointly with other standing committees, to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them, and to delegate to subcommittees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the House.
Power to create sub-committees.
 
 
(b)
Standing committees shall be empowered to create subcommittees of which the membership may be drawn from among both the list of members and the list of associate members provided for in Standing Order 104, who shall be deemed to be members of that committee for the purposes of this Standing Order.

Commentary — Standing Order 108(1)

Since committees are creatures of the House, their powers and authority are as the House alone determines. Most of these powers are now incorporated into the Standing Orders. In accordance with their principal role, standing committees are authorized pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a) to investigate and study any matter referred to them by the House (through the Standing Orders or through an explicit order of reference) and to conduct their efforts as they deem appropriate. Thus, they can report to the House whenever they feel it expedient to do so.

The Standing Order permits a committee, if it so wishes, [5] to print a brief appendix to any such report which contains opinions and recommendations either dissenting from the report or supplementing it, as may be proposed by the committee members. Such appendices are attached after the signature of the Chair, [6] and do not form part of the report in a procedural sense. Standing committees have a qualified right to send for persons [7] and documents, [8] to sit at any time during the parliamentary session, to sit jointly with other standing committees, [9] to print their minutes and evidence and to delegate much of their own authority to a subcommittee, except the right to report directly to the House.

Section (b) of Standing Order 108(1) further authorizes standing committees, when creating subcommittees, to draw their membership both from the list of members and from the list of associate members of the main committee. In this instance, the associate members are deemed to be full members of that committee for this purpose.

Standing Order 108(2), (3) and (4)
Additional powers of standing committees.
108.
(2)
The standing committees, except those set out in sections (3)(a), (3)(f), 3(h) and (4) of this Standing Order, shall, in addition to the powers granted to them pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order and pursuant to Standing Order 81, be empowered to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of the department or departments of government which are assigned to them from time to time by the House. In general, the committees shall be severally empowered to review and report on:
(a)
the statute law relating to the department assigned to them;
(b)
the program and policy objectives of the department and its effectiveness in the implementation of same;
(c)
the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans and the effectiveness of implementation of same by the department;
(d)
an analysis of the relative success of the department, as measured by the results obtained as compared with its stated objectives; and
(e)
other matters, relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the department, as the committee deems fit.
Mandates of certain standing committees.
 
(3)
The mandate of the Standing Committee on:
Procedure and House Affairs.
 
 
(a)
Procedure and House Affairs shall include, in addition to the duties set forth in Standing Order 104, and among other matters:
(i)
the review of and report on, to the Speaker as well as the Board of Internal Economy, the administration of the House and the provision of services and facilities to Members provided that all matters related thereto shall be deemed to have been permanently referred to the Committee upon its membership having been established;
(ii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with the operational and expenditure plans of all operations which are under the joint administration and control of the two Houses except with regard to the Library of Parliament and other related matters as the Committee deems fit;
(iii)
the review of and report on the Standing Orders, procedure and practice in the House and its committees;
(iv)
the consideration of business related to private bills;
(v)
the review of and report on the radio and television broadcasting of the proceedings of the House and its committees;
(vi)
the review of and report on all matters relating to the election of Members to the House of Commons;
(vii)
the review of and report on the annual report of the Ethics Commissioner with respect to his or her responsibilities under the Parliament of Canada Act relating to Members of Parliament, which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after it is laid upon the Table; and
(viii)
the review of and report on all matters relating to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.
Canadian Heritage.
 
 
(b)
Canadian Heritage shall include, among other matters, the monitoring of the implementation of the principles of the federal multiculturalism policy throughout the Government of Canada in order:
(i)
to encourage the departments and agencies of the federal government to reflect the multicultural diversity of the nation; and
(ii)
to examine existing and new programs and policies of federal departments and agencies to encourage sensitivity to multicultural concerns and to preserve and enhance the multicultural reality of Canada;
Government Operations and Estimates.
 
 
(c)
Government Operations and Estimates shall include, among other matters:
(i)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with operational and expenditure plans of the central departments and agencies;
(ii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with operational and expenditure plans relating to the use of new and emerging information and communications technologies by the government;
(iii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation of specific operational and expenditure items across all departments and agencies;
(iv)
the review of and report on the Estimates of programs delivered by more than one department or agency;
(v)
with regard to items under consideration as a result of Standing Orders 108(3) (c)(i), (ii) or (iii), in coordination with any affected standing committee and in accordance with Standing Order 79, the committee shall be empowered to amend Votes that have been referred to other standing committees;
(vi)
the review of and report on reports of the Public Service Commission which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;
(vii)
the review of and report on the process for considering the estimates and supply, including the format and content of all estimates documents;
(viii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with operational and expenditure plans arising from supplementary estimates;
(ix)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with operational and expenditure plans of Crown Corporations and agencies that have not been specifically referred to another standing committee; and
(x)
in cooperation with other committees, the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with operational and expenditure plans of statutory expenditure plans of statutory programs, tax expenditures, loan guarantees, contingency funds and private foundations that derive the majority of their funding from the Government of Canada;
and any other matter which the House shall, from time to time, refer to the Standing Committee.
Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
 
 
(d)
Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities shall include, among other matters, the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives aimed at the integration and equality of disabled persons in all sectors of Canadian society;
Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
 
 
(e)
Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness shall include, among other matters, the review and report on reports of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;
Official Languages.
 
 
(f)
Official Languages shall include, among other matters, the review of and report on official languages policies and programs, including Reports of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;
Public Accounts.
 
 
(g)
Public Accounts shall include, among other matters, review of and report on the Public Accounts of Canada and all reports of the Auditor General of Canada, which shall be severally deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;
Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
 
 
(h)
Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics shall include, among other matters:
(i)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Information Commissioner;
(ii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Privacy Commissioner;
(iii)
the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Ethics Commissioner;
(iv)
the review of and report on reports of the Privacy Commissioner, the Information Commissioner and the Ethics Commissioner with respect to his or her responsibilities under the Parliament of Canada Act relating to public office holders and on reports tabled pursuant to the Lobbyists Registration Act, which shall be severally deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;
(v)
in cooperation with other committees, the review of and report on any federal legislation, regulation or Standing Order which impacts upon the access to information or privacy of Canadians or the ethical standards of public office holders;
(vi)
the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives which relate to access to information and privacy across all sectors of Canadian society and to ethical standards relating to public office holders;
and any other matter which the House shall from time to time refer to the Standing Committee.
Mandate of Standing Joint Committees.
 
(4)
So far as this House is concerned, the mandates of the Standing Joint Committee on
Library of Parliament.
 
 
(a)
the Library of Parliament shall include the review of the effectiveness, management and operation of the Library of Parliament;
Scrutiny of Regulations.
 
 
(b)
Scrutiny of Regulations shall include, among other matters, the review and scrutiny of statutory instruments which are permanently referred to the Committee pursuant to section 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act;
Provided that both Houses may, from time to time, refer any other matter to any of the aforementioned Standing Joint Committees.

Commentary — Standing Order 108(2), (3) and (4)

Standing committees receive specific orders of reference from the House from time to time, but section (2) lists those references which are permanent and incorporated into the text of the Standing Orders. Standing committees are empowered by the House to enquire into and report on all aspects of the departments assigned to them. In addition to specified areas of enquiry, such as the statute law, program and policy objectives and expenditure plans, the Standing Order includes a blanket reference permitting a standing committee to examine any matter relating to the department as it deems necessary and worthwhile.

Section (3) of the Standing Order details particular responsibilities of eight standing committees, three of which have especially substantial mandates. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, in addition to the duties enumerated in Standing Orders 91.1, 92, 104, 107(5), 113, 114, and 119.1, has a wide-ranging mandate to review the Standing Orders, procedures and administration of the House and those operations under the joint administration and control of the Senate and the House. The Committee is also responsible for the consideration of business related to private bills, the radio and television broadcasting of the House and its Committees, all matters relating to the election of Members, the review of and report on the annual report of the Ethics Commissioner (with respect to his or her responsibilities for Members under the Parliament of Canada Act [10]), and all matters relating to the Conflict of Interest Code. The Government Operations and Estimates Committee and the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee have wide-ranging mandates as well, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(c) and (h).

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is mandated, among other matters, to review and report on the Public Accounts and the Auditor General’s reports, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g). The mandate of the Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage; on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities; on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; and on Official Languages also include additional and specific responsibilities, as enumerated in Standing Orders 108(3)(b), (d), (e), and (f) respectively.

Section (4) assigns specific responsibilities to the two standing joint committees: Library of Parliament and Scrutiny of Regulations. The membership of these two joint committees is shared with the Senate. The principal focus of the Library of Parliament Joint Committee, insofar as it is expressed in the Standing Orders, is to review the effectiveness, management and operation of the Library. The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations has the authority to consider any statutory instrument which is deemed referred to the committee under the provisions of the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act. Further powers of this Committee are elaborated in Standing Orders 123 to 128. Standing Order 108(4) also empowers standing joint committees to study other matters referred to them by the other House.

Standing Order 109
Government response to committee reports.
109.
Within 120 days of the presentation of a report from a standing or special committee, the government shall, upon the request of the committee, table a comprehensive response thereto, and when such a response has been requested, no motion for the concurrence in the report may be proposed until the comprehensive response has been tabled or the expiration of the said period of 120 days.

Commentary — Standing Order 109

This Standing Order permits any standing or special committee to request the government to table a comprehensive response to its report. The Standing Order obliges the government to table its response within 120 days of the tabling of a report containing such a request, although the text is silent on the procedure to be followed if the Standing Order is breached. [11] The Chair has ruled that a request for a response can be made to all or to a part of the report [12] and that the request survives prorogation. [13] The Chair has consistently declined to rule on the “comprehensiveness” of the government response [14] and has indicated that the nature of the response must be left to the discretion of the government. [15] The Standing Order is clear that if the committee has requested a response by the government to its report, no motion for concurrence in that report can be proposed until either the response has been tabled or the period of 120 days has expired.

Standing Order 110
Tabling of Order in Council appointments. Deemed referred to committee.
110.
(1)
A Minister of the Crown shall lay upon the Table a certified copy of an Order in Council, stating that a certain individual has been appointed to a certain non-judicial post, not later than five sitting days after the Order in Council is published in the Canada Gazette. The same shall be deemed to have been referred to a standing committee specified at the time of tabling, pursuant to Standing Order 32(6), for its consideration during a period not exceeding thirty sitting days.
Tabling of certificate of nomination for appointment. Deemed referred to committee.
 
(2)
A Minister of the Crown may, from time to time, lay upon the Table a certificate stating that a specified individual has been nominated for appointment to a specified non-judicial post. The same shall be deemed to have been referred to a standing committee specified at the time of tabling, pursuant to Standing Order 32(6), for its consideration during a period not exceeding thirty sitting days.

Commentary — Standing Order 110

Section (1) of Standing Order 110 provides that whenever an Order-in-Council appointment is made to a non-judicial office, [16] a Minister must table a certified copy of that appointment in the House within five sitting days of its publication in the Canada Gazette. Once tabled in the House, the appointment is deemed referred to a designated standing committee, [17] which then has authority to examine it within a period not exceeding 30 sitting days from the date of tabling. [18]

Certain regulatory bodies such as the National Energy Board, the National Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission are involved in substantive policy-making and are generally independent of government control. Before an appointment is made to such agencies, the nomination may be referred to a committee for review. Standing Order 110(2) provides that any certificate of nomination for appointment to a non-judicial Order-in-Council position may be tabled in the House at the discretion of a Minister. Once laid upon the Table, the certificate also stands automatically referred to a designated standing committee for consideration within a period not exceeding 30 sitting days from the date of tabling.

Standing Orders 111 and 111.1
Appearance of appointee or nominee.
111.
(1)
The committee specified pursuant to Standing Orders 32(6) and 110, during the period of thirty sitting days provided pursuant to Standing Order 110, shall if it deems it appropriate, call the so named appointee or nominee to appear before it during a period not exceeding ten sitting days.
Qualification study of appointee or nominee.
 
(2)
The committee, if it should call an appointee or nominee to appear pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, shall examine the qualifications and competence of the appointee or nominee to perform the duties of the post to which he or she has been appointed or nominated.
Time limit for study.
 
(3)
The committee shall complete its examination of the appointee or nominee not later than the end of the ten sitting day period indicated in section (1) of this Standing Order.
Appointee’s curriculum vitae to be provided.
 
(4)
The office of the Minister who recommended the appointment shall provide the curriculum vitae of such an appointee or nominee to the committee upon written application from the clerk of the committee.
Officers of Parliament. Referral of the name of the proposed appointee to committee.
111.1.
(1)
Where the government intends to appoint an Officer of Parliament, the Clerk of the House, the Parliamentary Librarian or the Ethics Commissioner, the name of the proposed appointee shall be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committee, which may consider the appointment during a period of not more than thirty days following the tabling of a document concerning the proposed appointment.
Ratification motion to be decided within thirty days.
 
(2)
Not later than the expiry of the thirty-day period provided for in the present Standing Order, a notice of motion to ratify the appointment shall be put under Routine Proceedings, to be decided without debate or amendment.

Commentary — Standing Orders 111 and 111.1

Standing Order 111 sets forth terms for the examination of the appointee or nominee, named pursuant to Standing Order 110, in the designated committee. Section (1) indicates that the committee may or may not choose to examine the appointee or nominee, [19] but if the individual is called to appear, the process can extend through no more than 10 sitting days if done pursuant to this Standing Order. Section (2) provides that the committee’s work is restricted to examining the qualifications and competence of the individual for the designated post. [20] Section (3) provides a specific time limit of 10 sitting days, from the first consideration and within the overall 30-day limit, for the examination of the appointee or nominee in committee. Finally, section (4) provides that the Minister responsible for the appointment is obliged to provide a curriculum vitae of the candidate to the committee when it is requested in writing by the clerk of the committee, who is acting on behalf of the committee. [21]

When the government intends to appoint an Officer of Parliament, the Clerk of the House, the Parliamentary Librarian or the Ethics Commissioner, the name of the proposed appointee is deemed referred to the appropriate standing committee. The committee has the option of considering the appointment. [22] If it chooses to do so, Standing Order 111.1(1) authorizes the committee to consider the appointment for a period of not more than 30 days following the tabling of a document in the House concerning the proposed appointment. In any event, not later than the expiry of this 30-day period, a notice of motion to ratify the appointment is placed under “Routine Proceedings”, whether the committee has reported to the House or not. The motion, when moved, is to be decided without debate or amendment.

Standing Orders 110 and 111 give no authority to committees to force a withdrawal of an appointment or nomination and are silent as to any outcome in the event that a committee reports unfavourably on the appointee or nominee. [23] Standing Order 111.1(2), however, provides an opportunity for all Members of the House to pronounce on the proposed appointees referred to committees pursuant to Standing Order 111.1.

Legislative Committees

Standing Order 112
Chairs of legislative committees. Panel of Chairs.
112.
At the commencement of each session, the Speaker shall appoint as many as twelve Members, and from time to time additional Members as required, to act as Chairs of legislative committees, provided that a proportionate number of Members from both the government party and the opposition parties shall be so appointed. The Members appointed under the provisions of this Standing Order, together with the Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole, the Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole and the Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole, shall constitute the Panel of Chairs for the legislative committees.

Commentary — Standing Order 112

Unlike the procedure followed in standing and special committees where members elect a Chair, the Chairs of legislative committees are appointed by the Speaker. At the beginning of each session (and thereafter as required), the Speaker has the authority to name as many as 12 Members who, with the other Chair occupants (except the Speaker), will comprise the Panel of Chairs. [24] When required by the House, a Chair of a legislative committee is selected by the Speaker from among members of this Panel. The appointment is usually made soon after the commencement of debate on a motion to appoint a legislative committee or to refer a bill to a legislative committee before or after second reading. The Standing Order provides that a proportionate number of Members from both the government party and the opposition parties shall be appointed to the Panel.

Standing Order 113(1) and (2)
Striking of legislative committees.
113.
(1)
Without anticipating the decision of the House, within five sitting days after the commencement of debate on a motion to appoint a legislative committee or to refer a bill thereto, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall meet to prepare, and shall report not later than the following Thursday, a list of members of such a legislative committee, which shall consist of not more than fifteen Members. Such a committee shall be organized only in the event that the House adopts the motion for appointment or referral. Upon presentation of such a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the same shall be deemed adopted.
Appointment of Chairs.
 
(2)
Once the said report is adopted, the Speaker shall forthwith appoint the Chair of the said committee from the Panel of Chairs established pursuant to Standing Order 112.

Commentary — Standing Order 113(1) and (2)

Section (1) stipulates that the task of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to designate Members of a particular legislative committee must begin within five sitting days after the debate on a motion to appoint a legislative committee or to refer a bill to a legislative committee has started. No later than the following Thursday after its first meeting on this matter, the Standing Committee must report the names of Members assigned to the legislative committee. While the report of the Standing Committee is deemed adopted upon presentation, the legislative committee cannot be organized unless a Chair has been appointed and the motion for referral or appointment has been adopted.

Section (1) also restricts a legislative committee to not more than 15 members. Section (2) specifies that the appointment of the Chair of a legislative committee is made once the report of the Standing Committee on the membership of the applicable legislative committee is concurred in by the House. The Speaker has usually informed the House of the appointment by making an entry in the Journals.

When Chairs have for various reasons had to be replaced, the change is also printed in the Journals.

Standing Order 113(3) and (4)
When a legislative committee to meet.
113.
(3)
A legislative committee constituted pursuant to sections (1) and (2) of this Standing Order shall meet within two sitting days of the naming of the Chair and the adoption of the motion appointing or referring the bill to the committee of which the membership has been reported.
Acting Chair of legislative committee.
 
(4)
When the Chair appointed pursuant to section (2) of this Standing Order is unable to act in that capacity at or during a meeting of the legislative committee, the Chair shall designate a member of the committee to act as Chair at or during the said meeting and such an acting Chair shall be vested with all the powers of the Chair at or during the said meeting.

Commentary — Standing Order 113(3) and (4)

Once the membership of the legislative committee has been named and the Speaker has appointed a Chair, the committee must hold its first meeting within two sitting days of the adoption of the motion appointing the committee or referring the bill to it. Unlike the first meeting of standing committees, no minimum notice period is required. The final requisite action, either the adoption of the motion to appoint the committee or to refer the bill to it or the selection of the Chair by the Speaker, constitutes a form of indirect notice.

Whenever a Chair of a legislative committee is unable to preside, a member of the committee, at the request of the Chair, will preside as Acting Chair, with all the powers normally exercised by the Chair for the duration of the meeting. The Chair’s designation of a replacement is notified to the clerk of the committee in writing, who in turn informs the committee at the meeting concerned. Alternatively, having received written notice from the Chair of his or her inability to preside, the Speaker may appoint another member of the Panel. This appointment is recorded in the Journals.

Standing Order 113(5) and (6)
Powers of a legislative committee.
113.
(5)
Any legislative committee shall be empowered to examine and enquire into the bills referred to it by the House and to report the same with or without amendments, to prepare a bill pursuant to Standing Order 68 and to report thereon and, except when the House otherwise orders, to send for officials from government departments and agencies and crown corporations and for other persons whom the committee deems to be competent to appear as witnesses on technical matters, to send for papers and records, to sit when the House is sitting, to sit when the House stands adjourned, and to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it.
Subcommittee on agenda and procedure of a legislative committee.
 
(6)
Any legislative committee may delegate to a subcommittee on agenda and procedure, its power to schedule meetings of the committee and to call for officials from government departments and agencies and crown corporations and for other persons whom the committee deems competent to appear before it as witnesses on technical matters, or to send for papers and records to be presented to the committee in relation to the bill before the committee, provided that the committee shall retain the power to approve such arrangements.

Commentary — Standing Order 113(5) and (6)

Section (5) of the Standing Order provides legislative committees with the powers necessary to conduct an examination of the bills referred to them or to prepare a bill pursuant to Standing Order 68. These powers are similar to those granted to standing committees, with two notable exceptions: legislative committees have the authority to appoint a subcommittee on agenda and procedure, but do not have the power to appoint other subcommittees; and legislative committees are restricted in the type of witnesses they can call before them. Such witnesses are officials from government departments and agencies and crown corporations and others who could testify on technical matters. Standing committees have the power to send for persons, with no limitation noted in the applicable Standing Order (108(1)(a)). A legislative committee is empowered to report the bill (with or without amendment) to the House. The legislative committee ceases to exist at the time it reports the bill back to the House.

Section (6) of the Standing Order limits the authority of the subcommittee on agenda and procedure of a legislative committee to arranging a schedule of meetings or calling for government, agency and Crown Corporation officials, and other persons deemed competent to appear as witnesses on technical matters, or calling for papers, subject to the approval of the legislative committee.

Membership

Standing Order 114
Membership of standing and standing joint committees.
114.
(1)
The membership of standing and standing joint committees shall be set out in the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which shall prepare lists of Members in accordance with Standing Order 104. Once the report of the Committee is concurred in, the membership shall continue from session to session within a Parliament, subject to such changes as may be effected from time to time.
List of replacements may be filed with the clerk of the committee.
 
(2)
(a)
Within five sitting days of the organization of any standing or standing joint committee, and from time to time thereafter, any member of every such committee may file with the clerk of the committee a list of not more than fourteen Members selected from Members of his or her own party, who may substitute for him or her during a meeting of the said committee, according to the procedure set out in paragraph (b) of this section, provided that they shall not become permanent members of the committee.
Substitutions in membership of standing and standing joint committees.
 
 
(b)
Substitutions in the membership of any standing committee or, so far as the House is represented, on any standing joint committee shall be effective the day after notification thereof is forwarded, by a permanent member of the committee who has filed a list pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, to the Chief Whip of his or her party (or, in the case of independent Members, the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition) for signature who, in turn, will forward the substitution to the clerk of the committee.
Substitutions by Chief Whip when no list filed or no notice received.
 
 
(c)
At any time when no list has been filed with the clerk of the committee pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section or when no notice has been received by the clerk of the committee pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, the Chief Whip of any recognized party may effect substitutions by filing notice thereof with the clerk of the committee, having selected the substitutes from among all the Members of his or her party and/or the independent members listed as associate members of the committee pursuant to Standing Order 104(4); and such substitutions shall be effective immediately they are received by the clerk of the committee.
Member’s resignation from committee, when effective.
 
 
(d)
When a permanent member of a standing or standing joint committee gives notice in writing to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs of his or her intention to give up his or her membership, that Member’s resignation shall be effective when a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs naming a replacement for him or her has been concurred in by the House.
Changes in membership of legislative committees.
 
(3)
Changes in the membership of any legislative committee shall be effective immediately after notification thereof, signed by the Chief Whip of any recognized party, has been filed with the clerk of the committee.
Changes in membership of standing committees.
 
(4)
Changes in the membership of standing committees shall be effective when a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to that effect is concurred in by the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 114

The membership of standing and standing joint committees can continue from session to session, subject to changes made through periodic reports of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concurred in by the House (see Standing Order 104(1)).

Once the standing or standing joint committee has organized, Members are authorized by Standing Order 114(2)(a) to file (within five sitting days) with the clerk of the committee a list of not more than fourteen Members of their party who may substitute for them during a meeting. The substitute member is not considered to be a permanent member of the committee.

Subsection (2)(b) provides a mechanism for the permanent member of a standing or standing joint committee to make a substitution from his or her list. Notice must be given by the member to the appropriate Chief Whip (or, in the case of independent Members, the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition) who, in turn, signs the document and forwards the substitution to the clerk of the committee. The effective date of the substitution is one day after the Chief Whip receives the notification from the permanent member.

Subsection (2)(c) provides an alternate method of substitution on a standing or standing joint committee. Where no list has been filed with the clerk of the committee pursuant to subsection 2(a) and no notice of substitution has been filed by a member pursuant to subsection (2)(b), the Chief Whip of that member’s party may designate a substitute from among all the members of his or her party and/or the independent members listed as associate members of the committee pursuant to Standing Order 104(4). [25] Such a substitution is effective immediately after notification is given to the clerk of the committee.

Subsection (2)(d) provides for the resignation of a permanent member from a standing or standing joint committee. To be effective, the resignation must fulfill two requirements. The Committee Chair must receive written confirmation of the member’s declaration of resignation and concurrence must be given to a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs designating the replacement member. Until both of these requirements are met, the member remains a permanent member of the committee.

It should be noted that although membership changes in legislative committees and substitutions in standing and standing joint committees are handled in a similar fashion, their effect is quite different. The membership changes are permanent, whereas the substitutions are temporary. The Speaker has ruled, however, that substitute members are to be considered on an equal footing with permanent members during the period of substitution. [26]

Standing Order 114(3) provides that membership changes for legislative committees are determined by the appropriate Chief Whip and take effect upon receipt of written notification by the clerk of the committee.

Permanent changes for standing and joint committees can only be carried out by the House through adoption of a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs or by motion after due notice.

The House is informed of permanent changes to the membership of standing and joint committees through the publication in the Journals of the pertinent reports of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee. Since substitutions in the membership of standing committees are not permanent changes to the membership of the committees, they are not documented in the Journals. The list of acting members for any meeting of a standing committee is printed in its minutes of proceedings.

Meetings

Standing Order 115
Sittings of committees.
115.
(1)
Notwithstanding Standing Order 108(1)(a), no standing or standing joint committee shall sit at the same time as a legislative committee on a bill emanating from or principally affecting the same department or agency.
Priority during sittings of the House.
 
(2)
During periods coinciding with the hours of sittings of the House, priority shall be given to the meetings of committees considering legislation or Estimates over meetings of committees considering other matters.
Priority during adjournments. Chief Government Whip to set schedules.
 
(3)
During periods when the House stands adjourned, priority shall be given to meetings of standing, special and joint committees, according to the schedule established from time to time by the Chief Government Whip, in consultation with representatives of the other parties.
Priority of use in committee rooms.
 
(4)
Priority of use in committee rooms shall be established from time to time by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Commentary — Standing Order 115

Despite the fact that all standing committees have the general authority to fix their schedule of sittings during the session according to Standing Order 108(1) (and legislative committees according to Standing Order 113(5) and (6)), that authority is restricted by the provisions of Standing Order 115, the purpose of which is to reduce the likelihood of conflicts between meetings of committees with common or overlapping memberships. Committees considering legislation or Estimates have priority for meetings coincident with the normal sitting hours of the House. A standing committee which has within its mandate a department or agency related to any bill before a legislative committee cannot meet when that legislative committee is sitting. Standing, special and joint committees have priority in holding meetings when the House is adjourned. The schedule of meetings of such committees is established by the Chief Government Whip and representatives of the other parties, in practice using a “block system” distributed informally. Section (4) of the Standing Order provides that priority use of committee rooms is established from time to time through report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. [27]

Standing Order 116
Standing Orders apply generally.
116.
In a standing, special or legislative committee, the Standing Orders shall apply so far as may be applicable, except the Standing Orders as to the election of a Speaker, seconding of motions, limiting the number of times of speaking and the length of speeches.

Commentary — Standing Order 116

Since committees are regarded as creatures of the House, Standing Order 116 provides that the rules of the House have force in committees so far as they are applicable. However, those respecting the election of a Speaker (Committee Chairs), [28] the seconding of motions, the number of times a Member may speak and the length of such speeches do not apply in any committee.

Committee practice provides that, in the case of standing and special committees, a Chair is elected by motion of the committee and Standing Order 106(2) outlines the procedure in cases when a secret ballot is held for this purpose. In the case of legislative committees, a Chair is appointed by the Speaker from the list of members composing the Panel of Chairs (see Standing Order 113(2)). Committee practice also provides that a mover only is required of any motion proposed in committee. A Member may speak as often as he or she likes (providing, of course, the Member is recognized by the Chair) and for as long as he or she wants, subject to committee decisions in these matters. Committees also frequently pass a variety of business motions such as motions regulating the time allotted each Member, designating the sequence of questioners (usually by party affiliation), instructing the clerk of the committee with respect to the distribution of documents to committee members, and imposing notice requirements for the submission of certain types of motions or amendments.

Standing Order 117
Decorum in committee.
117.
The Chair of a standing, special or legislative committee shall maintain order in the committee, deciding all questions of order subject to an appeal to the committee; but disorder in a committee can only be censured by the House, on receiving a report thereof.

Commentary — Standing Order 117

Standing Order 117 authorizes the Chair to maintain order and to ensure that correct procedure and practices are followed in committees. While the Chair decides questions of order, such decisions can be appealed to the full committee, where members would vote yea or nay on whether to sustain the ruling of the Chair. Should the committee be the scene of any disorder open to possible censure, the committee can only report it to the House, since the House alone has the authority to censure.

Standing Order 118
Quorum.
118.
(1)
A majority of the members of a standing, special or legislative committee shall constitute a quorum; provided that, in the case of a legislative committee, the Chair is not included in the number of members constituting a quorum. In the case of a joint committee, the number of members constituting a quorum shall be such as the House of Commons acting in consultation with the Senate may determine.
Meetings without quorum.
 
(2)
The presence of a quorum shall be required whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken by a standing, special or legislative committee, provided that any such committee, by resolution thereof, may authorize the Chair to hold meetings in order to receive evidence and may authorize its printing when a quorum is not present.

Commentary — Standing Order 118

In order to make decisions, a minimum number of members (a quorum) of any committee of the House must be present. According to Standing Order 118(1), the quorum for any standing, special or legislative committee of the House is a majority (any number over half) of the membership. The member presiding is always counted as part of the quorum for standing and special committees. For example, if a committee consists of 12 members, a quorum is set at seven and can be composed of six members with the Chair. The quorum of a legislative committee is calculated without counting the Chair. In the case of any joint committee, the quorum is determined by agreement between the House and the Senate.

Section (2) prohibits the taking of a vote, resolution or other decision without the presence of a quorum, but provides that meetings may be held for the purpose of receiving evidence and the printing of this evidence when a quorum is not present. To allow for this eventuality, the committee must have passed a resolution authorizing the Chair to hold such meetings.

Standing Order 119
Only members may vote or move motion.
119.
Any Member of the House who is not a member of a standing, special or legislative committee, may, unless the House or the committee concerned otherwise orders, take part in the public proceedings of the committee, but may not vote or move any motion, nor be part of any quorum.

Commentary — Standing Order 119

Any public committee meeting is accessible to Members of the House who are not part of the committee, unless the House orders otherwise. In addition, non-committee Members may participate, at the committee’s discretion, in debate or questioning of witnesses in the committee’s public proceedings but may not move motions, vote, or be counted as part of the committee’s quorum, unless the House orders otherwise.

Standing Order 119.1
Broadcasting of committee meetings.
119.1.
(1)
Any committee wishing to have its proceedings televised, other than by means of those facilities provided for that purpose by the House of Commons, shall first obtain the consent of the House thereto.
Report on experimental guidelines. Electronic media.
 
(2)
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall establish, by report to the House of Commons, experimental guidelines governing the broadcasting of committee meetings. After concurrence by the House in such a report, any committee may permit the presence of the electronic media at its meetings, subject to the said guidelines.

Commentary — Standing Order 119.1

Section (1) of Standing Order 119.1 instructs that if a committee wishes to have its meetings televised other than by means of the facilities which have been authorized and provided by the House (for example, if it wishes to have a meeting televised while travelling), it is required to seek and obtain permission from the House. [29]

Section (2) of Standing Order 119.1 charges the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with the responsibility for reporting experimental guidelines to the House with respect to broadcasting of committee proceedings. When the House concurs in such a report, all committees who wish to broadcast may do so within the parameters of the guidelines. [30]

Staff and Budgets

Standing Order 120
Staff of committees.
120.
Standing, special or legislative committees shall be severally empowered to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff as may be deemed necessary.

Commentary — Standing Order 120

This section gives standing, special and legislative committees the power to hire and retain such support services, including expert, technical and clerical staff, as the committee deems necessary to assist in its work. This authority is qualified by the financial limitations set by the Board of Internal Economy. The committee adopts a motion, either of a general or specific nature, to hire such staff and, other than for regularly provided Library of Parliament analysts, must seek Liaison Committee funding approval.

Standing Order 121
Interim spending authority. Budgets submitted to Board of Internal Economy.
121.
(1)
The Board of Internal Economy may give interim spending authority to standing, special and legislative committees. The committees shall be empowered to expend any amount up to the full spending authority so granted but shall not incur any further expenses until the Chair of that committee, or a member of the committee acting for the Chair, has presented to the Board a budget setting forth, in reasonable detail, estimates of its proposed expenditures for a specific period of time together with an account of its expenditures to that date, and until the said budget has been approved by the Board.
Budget and statement of expenditures to be presented as soon as practicable.
 
(2)
Notwithstanding any spending authority granted by the Board of Internal Economy pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, the Chair of each such committee, or a member of the committee acting for the Chair shall, as soon as practicable, present the budget and statement of expenditures of the committee pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order for the consideration by the Board.
Supplementary budgets.
 
(3)
When the expenditures of any such committee have reached the limits set forth in any such budget, the committee shall not incur any further expenses until a supplementary budget or budgets has or have been presented to the Board of Internal Economy pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, and until the said budgets have been approved in whole or in part by the Board.
Annual financial report on committees.
 
(4)
The Board of Internal Economy shall cause to be tabled in the House an annual comprehensive financial report, outlining the individual expenditures of every standing, special and legislative committee, provided that the Board may cause such reports to be so tabled at any time with respect to a specific committee.

Commentary — Standing Order 121

Standing Order 121(1) directs that the financial aspects of committee operations be controlled by the Board of Internal Economy, which authorizes all committee expenditures and has approved a set of financial guidelines for each type of committee. In the start-up or interim period, the Board may approve a limited spending authority to standing, special and legislative committees. The committees may not exceed that limit until the Board approves the comprehensive budget proposal submitted to it by committee chairs or others acting on their behalf. The spending proposals must indicate anticipated expenditures and those already incurred. Section (2) specifies that the budget and statement of expenditures should be submitted to the Board of Internal Economy within a reasonable time.

Section (3) provides that if a committee requires additional funds above its approved allocation, it can seek supplementary funding from the Board (in practice, the Liaison Committee), but must avoid any additional expenditure until the Board has accepted the funding request in whole or in part. The financial accounts of each committee are a matter of record and, pursuant to section (4), are to be made available through an annual report of the Board of Internal Economy tabled in the House. [31] Additional reports detailing the expenditures of any specific committee can be tabled in a similar fashion by the Board at any time.

As described in the commentary on Standing Order 107, the Liaison Committee does in fact act as the “liaison” between the Board and the standing committees. It is responsible for distributing among the various standing committees the block of funds which has been approved by the Board for their activities. In practice, the standing and standing joint committees now submit their additional budgetary requests directly to the Liaison Committee. The agreement of the Liaison Committee to these requests is not automatic, but in any case, it is the Liaison Committee which then seeks any necessary increase in funding from the Board of Internal Economy. Special committees receive their funding directly from the Board.

Witnesses

Standing Order 122
Certificate to obtain evidence.
122.
If any Member files a certificate with the Chair of a committee of the House, stating that the evidence to be obtained from a particular person is, in his or her opinion, material and important, the Chair shall apprise the committee thereof.

Commentary — Standing Order 122

In conducting their work, committees often call upon witnesses to offer expert testimony. Standing Order 122 provides that any Members can file a certificate with the Chair of a committee stating that the testimony of a particular witness would be beneficial to the committee. Pursuant to this Standing Order, the Chair is then obliged to inform the committee of the filing of the certificate.

Historical Summary — Standing Orders 104 to 122

  1. Evolution from 1867 to 1982

    Of the original rules adopted by the House of Commons in 1867, few were directly concerned with standing or select (special) committees of the House. The rules did not list the various committees to be set up, nor did they indicate the powers of committees, the procedures to be followed in meetings or the authority of the chairs.

    From 1867 to 1906, the standing committees of the House were established by motion adopted during each session of each Parliament, usually in the first days following the Speech from the Throne. [32] During this period, the list of standing committees remained virtually unchanged and consisted of committees on Privileges and Elections; Expiring Laws; Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines; Miscellaneous Private Bills; Standing Orders; Printing; Public Accounts; Banking and Commerce; and Immigration and Colonization. [33] From 1867 to 1906 as well, the House consistently agreed, by separate motions, to a Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament and another on the Printing of Parliament [34] and, from 1876 to 1906, to a select (special) committee on the official reporting of the debates of the House. During each session of Parliament, the House also agreed to establish other joint and special committees, the number and purpose of which varied. [35]

    Although the motion appointing the nine standing committees routinely included the power to “report from time to time” and to “send for persons, papers and records”, other committees did not automatically receive this authority. [36] If during the course of a particular study such powers were desired, the committee sought them by way of report to the House, although such requests were not always granted. [37] Because of the size of the committees and the rule that a majority of the members appointed to a committee constituted a “quorum”, committees during this period required the presence of large numbers of members to meet and decide an issue. [38] Committees frequently reported to the House requesting a reduction in this quorum requirement.

    Aside from some technical amendments relating to proceedings on private bills, [39] no revisions were made to the text of the rules concerning committees until 1906. In July of that year, the House agreed to a new Standing Order specifying the responsibility of a selection committee to report names of members for 10 standing committees. This list included those committees regularly established since Confederation, with the exception of the Committee on Expiring Laws, which was dropped, and added committees on the Library of Parliament and on the Debates of the House. [40] The rule respecting the attendance and payment of witnesses before committees was also revised in 1906, requiring information from witnesses prior to a certification for payment. [41]

    The list of standing committees was revised in 1909 to include Marine and Fisheries; Mines and Minerals; and Forest, Water-ways and Water-powers. [42] In March 1924, the House agreed to a motion combining the latter two into Mines, Forests and Waters, and established a new Standing Committee on Industrial and International Relations. [43]

    Although no further changes were made to the Standing Orders concerning committees until 1927, the House did address the issue of increased responsibilities for committees in relation to the business of Supply and the study of the estimates. Members had frequently expressed their concern that the estimates did not receive proper, detailed scrutiny in the House and suggested that they could be studied by standing and select committees. [44] In April 1921, the House debated a motion to have the estimates scrutinized by a special committee before being tabled, [45] and in February 1925, debated a motion to refer the estimates to select (special) committees before study by the Committee of the Whole. [46] In March 1925, the House debated a motion suggesting a reduction in the membership of standing committees to “secure more regular attendance and promote efficiency”. [47] These matters were referred to a special committee which, in its report presented in May 1925, recommended that the membership of each standing committee be reduced to not more than 30; that for those committees not meeting regularly, the membership should not be named until a bill or other matter was referred to them; and that a rather awkward procedure for appointing the membership of a special committee, followed only three times since Confederation, be abolished. [48] The committee did not pronounce itself on the question of referring estimates to special committees. The report was never debated or concurred in.

    A special committee on the rules, established in February 1927, made several similar recommendations which, after debate in the House, were adopted. [49] The number of members on each standing committee was listed in the Standing Order and represented a reduction in the usual number. The quorum was set individually for each committee and a proviso was added that the number of members to be appointed to joint committees should be in the same proportion as the membership of the two Houses. The House agreed to abolish the complicated procedure for naming its membership in the case of special committees.

    The question of referring estimates to smaller committees, although not discussed in the 1927 report, continued to be raised in the House throughout the 1930s and 1940s. [50] Only one permanent amendment to the Standing Orders pertaining to committees was agreed to during this period. [51] In September 1945, the Standing Committee on Industrial and International Relations was divided into a Committee on Industrial Relations and a Committee on External Affairs. [52] There was no doubt, however, that committees were being used increasingly to study bills and other subject matters, and although the text of the Standing Order had changed little from 1906, the workload of committees was rising significantly. [53]

    In July 1955, the House agreed to a new rule which provided for a non-debatable routine procedure for referring estimates to standing or special committees. The rule provided that the estimates would be withdrawn from the Committee of Supply and, upon report from the standing or special committee, would again stand referred to the Committee of Supply. [54] The House also agreed to delete the notice requirement for Members to be substituted on special committees and to delete the provision excluding Members from being named to a special committee if they had declared against the principle of the bill, resolution or matter to be committed. [55]

    The next permanent amendment to the Standing Orders concerning committees occurred in 1958, with the addition of a Standing Committee on Estimates and a Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. [56] It was clear in remarks made during debate on the motion to establish these committees that Members felt committees would play an increasingly prominent role in the functioning of the House, as it was becoming evident to the various Members that the Committee of Supply could no longer responsibly examine all the estimates. [57] In the same Parliament, the first of a series of special committees on procedure was established to review in their entirety the rules of the House.

    The Special Committee on Procedure and Organization, established in 1963, indicated that the general committee structure and the use made of various committees would be specific items of its study. By adopting the Committee’s Eleventh Report in 1964, the House agreed in principle that the membership of standing committees would be named for the duration of a Parliament, rather than for a session, and that the power to appoint subcommittees should automatically be included in the terms of reference. [58] In its Fifteenth Report to the House, the Committee recommended a fundamental reorganization of the committee structure. The report recommended among other items the establishment of 15 standing committees, divided into two categories: nine described as “Standing Committees on Legislation and Estimates”, and six as “other standing committees”. The report suggested the membership vary between 15 and 30, while the membership of special committees should be no more than 15 unless otherwise ordered. The report further recommended that the necessary powers for each committee should be delegated upon its appointment. A major recommendation was that the Main Estimates be automatically referred after tabling to the appropriate standing committees. The committee also recommended a system of alternates and the establishment of a Panel of Chairs. [59] The Fifteenth Report, although debated, was not agreed to, but was returned to the Committee for further study. [60] A further report on a proposed reorganization of committees tabled just prior to the prorogation of the Second Session was neither debated nor concurred in. [61]

    In 1965, the Prime Minister introduced two resolutions suggesting wide-ranging procedural changes in the House of Commons. Among other items, the first proposed an increased use of standing committees and specified the principle that detailed examination of the estimates be undertaken by standing committees; the second resolution proposed an amendment to the Standing Order pertaining to committees. The wording suggested a Striking Committee of seven members to report lists of members to compose the 21 standing and three standing joint committees, and listed the powers to be given to each standing committee, the quorum for each standing committee and the rights granted to non-members of a committee. [62] The resolution was adopted in 1965 on a provisional basis, following some minor changes agreed to in Committee of the Whole, [63] effective until the end of the next session.

    These provisional changes were continued in force by motion in the First and Second Sessions of the Twenty-Seventh Parliament, [64] but the Parliament ended without any permanent decisions being made. In 1968, the House moved quickly to set up a special procedure committee to decide on the advisability of making permanent the provisional changes of the previous Parliament. [65] In the interval before the presentation of its report, the standing committees of the House functioned on a provisional Standing Order adopted in September 1968. [66]

    In its Third, Fourth and Fifth Reports to the House in 1968, the Special Committee on Procedure recommended what was in essence a total permanent restructuring and reorientation of the committee system. Among the permanent changes brought about by the adoption of the Fourth and Fifth Reports was the reference before March 1 of each year of all estimates to standing committees for detailed scrutiny and their report by May 31; the reference of all bills, other than those based on Supply and Ways and Means, to standing committees for consideration in detail; and a new text which consolidated the rules relating to standing, special and joint committees and which introduced new provisions relating to the quorum of a committee, the duration and terms of reference of standing committees and a simplified procedure for effecting changes in the membership of committees. [67]

    The new Standing Orders provided for 18 standing committees and two standing joint committees. This list of committees remained unchanged until 1971, when the Standing Orders were amended to add a new Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and other Statutory Instruments. [68] In 1975, by the adoption of the Third Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, a Standing Committee on Management and Members’ Services was established, with its specific mandate included in the text of the Standing Order. [69] A section of the Standing Order pertaining to the Public Accounts Committee was added to in June and October 1977 [70] and in 1978, a Standing Committee on Northern Pipelines was created, with a limited timeframe as to its existence. [71] In November 1979, the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts was renamed Communications and Culture, leaving a Standing Committee solely devoted to Transport. [72]

    Aside from these additions, the text of the Standing Orders pertaining to standing and special committees remained unchanged from 1968 to 1982. The committee system itself, however, had come under the scrutiny of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, by way of a study delegated to a subcommittee in 1976. Although the subcommittee’s report was not tabled in the House, the text indicates the members agreed upon the value of a “Panel of Chairs”, of a reduction in the number of standing committees and of a reduction in the number of members assigned to each committee. [73]

    While the text of the Standing Orders changed little from 1867 to 1965 and from 1968 to 1982, the practices and procedures governing the conduct of meetings of both standing and special committees, the duties and responsibilities of the Chairs and the manner of proceeding in the study of estimates and the legislation referred to them were in a constant state of evolution. These internal procedures are not governed by Standing Orders except for general principles, such as the timeframe in which estimates were referred to and reported back from the various committees, the method of presenting reports in the House, the sequence in which the various components of a bill are studied, the election of a Chair, the manner of effecting membership substitutions, the seconding of motions and, in general, the applicability of certain Standing Orders including specific rules of debate. While these practices evolved between 1867 and 1982, committees were guided in certain proceedings by texts other than the Standing Orders. [74]

    Although the Speaker consistently declined to interfere with the internal proceedings of the committees during this period, [75] a number of rulings touched on committee issues. The Speaker has ruled that when a matter is under consideration by a committee and it has not reported it to the House, no allusion or reference to its proceedings should be made. [76] The Speaker has also ruled on the procedural acceptability of a number of committee reports [77] and on motions to concur in such reports and amendments thereto. [78] The Speaker has further ruled on the availability of committee evidence, [79] the drafting and format of committee reports [80] and the televising of committee proceedings. [81] The reform of the committee system begun in 1982 and continuing to the present has involved the Speaker in a new series of decisions reflected in the “Commentary” section of the relevant Standing Orders.

  2. The 1982 to 1988 Reforms

    (a) 1982

    Following the bell-ringing incident of March 1982, the House appointed a special committee (the Lefebvre Committee) to look into all aspects of the rules, including those relating to committees. It made a number of substantive reports to the House during the Thirty-Second Parliament, only one of which was agreed to. By adopting portions of the Third Report in 1982, the House agreed, among other items, that on a provisional basis the membership of standing committees would be reduced to between 10 and 15 members; that the Striking Committee would report within 10 sitting days of its appointment and within 10 sitting days after January 1; that a system of alternate membership would be established; that standing committees would be empowered to initiate enquiries through the automatic referral of annual departmental reports; and that committees could request the tabling of a comprehensive response to their reports. [82] Other recommendations (not adopted at that time) included the establishment of legislative committees and a Panel of Chairs; a mechanism for the convening of meetings for organization purposes and during the session; a proposal to establish various financial accountability committees and a Liaison Committee; and improved resources and facilities for all committees. [83] In March 1984, the House did agree, however, by separate motion to establish a Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages. [84]

    (b) 1985

    Early in the Thirty-Third Parliament, another special committee (the McGrath Committee) was charged with studying all aspects of the procedure and administration of the House. [85] The House also moved quickly to agree to continue in force until otherwise ordered all the then current and provisional Standing Orders [86] and changed the name of one of the standing committees in the Standing Orders. [87]

    In June 1985, the House adopted several new Standing Orders and amended others, all on a provisional basis. [88] Among the changes pertaining to committees was the establishment of legislative committees and a Panel of Chairs; a mechanism for ensuring the convening of organization and other meetings of standing committees; the authority to committees to retain the services of expert staff; and a requirement for committees to submit a proposed budget to the Board of Internal Economy for approval. The new rules also established that Ways and Means bills would be referred to legislative committees as opposed to Committee of the Whole. On the day following the adoption of the new provisional Standing Orders, the House agreed to establish a Standing Committee on Multiculturalism. [89]

    (c) 1986

    In February 1986, the House agreed to further provisional and major changes to the Standing Orders affecting committees. The list of committees in the Standing Orders was revised to take into account the new committees, [90] those which had been divided in two [91] and those which had been renamed. [92] Standing committees were given increased authority and mandates to study all aspects of the departments referred to them. The provisional Standing Orders also provided for a Liaison Committee consisting of all Chairs of standing committees and appropriate Chairs or Vice-Chairs of joint committees, which was charged with apportioning the funds allotted by the Board of Internal Economy for committee activities. The membership of standing committees was established to vary between 7 and 15 members and the system of alternate membership was abolished. Standing committees were given the authority to review Order-in-Council appointments referred to them. A further amendment precluded Parliamentary Secretaries from serving on committees studying the department to which they were attached.

    These changes were adopted provisionally, effective until the last sitting day in December 1986. [93] In November 1986, however, the House amended the provisional Standing Order relating to the method of replacing members on standing and standing joint committees. [94] In December 1986, the House agreed that the quorum on the Liaison Committee would be reduced to 10 from 15, adopted a series of motions to govern the proceedings in the scheduling of the various committees and extended the effect of the provisional Standing Orders into April 1987. [95]

    (d) 1987 to 1988

    The Standing Orders were further extended provisionally through motions adopted in April and May 1987. [96] In June 1987, the House debated and adopted amendments to the Standing Orders and then confirmed their status as permanent. [97] The specific changes affecting committees dealt with the number, membership and mandate of standing joint committees; the priority for and times of sitting of standing, special, joint and legislative committees; the continuity of the annual membership lists; the method of effecting membership changes in special committees; the time given to the government to respond to a committee report; and the striking of legislative committees and the right to designate Acting Chairs of such committees.

    On June 30, 1987, the House agreed to a new Standing Committee on the Disabled and Handicapped. On November 4, 1987, the House agreed to rename this committee Status of Disabled Persons and also specified a permanent mandate for it. [98] On December 18, 1987, the House agreed to rename the Standing Joint Committee on Regulations and other Statutory Instruments as the Standing Joint Committee for Regulatory Scrutiny. The Committee was again renamed in June 1988. [99]

    During the period of reform from 1982 to 1988, the Chair followed the example of earlier Speakers in declining to deal with the internal proceedings of the various committees. [100] The Chair, however, continued to rule on issues touching upon committees such as the procedural acceptability of committee reports, [101] the presentation of committee reports and responses thereto [102] and the televising of committee proceedings. [103]

  3. The 1989 to 2005 Reforms

    (a) 1989 to 1993

    The Thirty-Fourth Parliament would see many changes to the written rules on committees, some of a technical or consequential nature and others of long-lasting significance. Early in the Second Session, in April 1989, the House agreed by unanimous consent and without debate to change the number of standing committees, the names of certain of the standing committees and, by extension, some mandates. [104]

    In particular, the overall number of standing committees was decreased from 26 to 19. [105] In one instance, three committees were combined into one committee; [106] in five instances, two committees were combined into one. [107] In five instances, the name of the committee itself was changed. [108] Consequent upon the changes to the names of the committees which in some cases were in response to the reorganization of government departments, but even more so by specific agreement to amend the relevant Standing Order (108(3)), the mandates of certain committees were revised. [109] In September 1989, the House made a further change by dividing one of the then standing committees into two separate committees, increasing the number of standing committees to 20. [110] In February 1990, the name of one particular standing committee was amended. [111]

    No further permanent changes to the Standing Orders respecting committees occurred until April 1991, when the House considered and adopted wide-ranging amendments to the rules governing both standing and legislative committees. [112] In particular, the changes effected a revised structure for standing committees, specifically to create a subject-matter or policy area envelope system, and, with one exception, having legislative committees within each envelope. Thus, standing committees were divided into five separate groupings: Management (for which there were no legislative committees); Human Resources; Natural Resources; Economics; and Departmental. Among the stated purposes of this initiative was to permit more government consultation on policy development and to improve consultation prior to the drafting of legislation. [113] The prohibition against Parliamentary Secretaries having membership in standing committees relating to their departments was removed.

    The amended rules also provided for: the creation of a new standing committee from what was formerly a standing joint committee; [114] the combination of two standing committees into one; [115] a provision for two Vice-Chairs, rather than one, per committee; [116] a new provision with respect to the timing of the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Liaison Committee; [117] a new provision with respect to printing an appendix to a committee report; [118] changes to the make-up of the Panel of Chairs (pursuant to the new envelope system) with respect to legislative committees; [119] changes to the number and permanency of members [120] and to the powers [121] of legislative committees; changes to priority of legislative and standing committees to meet; [122] and, finally, changes with respect to broadcasting of committee proceedings. [123]

    The most significant of these amendments was the wide powers and range of responsibilities assigned to the new Standing Committee on House Management, whose membership of 14 was made permanent from session to session. Its mandate was that of the former Privileges and Elections Committee combined with that of the former Management and Members Services Committee, including: the review of and report to both the Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy on the administration of the House, and the joint services provided to both Houses; the review of and report on the Standing Orders, procedure and practice of both the House and its committees; the selection of items of Private Members’ Business; and business related to private bills. In addition, it had new responsibilities as a striking committee to prepare lists of members of standing and legislative committees, to designate priority of use of committee rooms, and to establish experimental guidelines governing the broadcasting of committees. [124]

    In the weeks that followed, the House agreed to some further amendments to the Standing Orders pertaining to committees. The first change empowered standing committees to sit jointly with another standing committee; [125] other changes authorized the new Standing Committee on House Management to prepare lists of “Members at Large” for each of the committees in each of the envelopes who could act on subcommittees and as substitutes, allowed the Whips to select substitutes from independent Members listed as “Members at Large”, and provided that standing committees in four of the five envelopes could create subcommittees and draw the membership from members of committees in the same envelope. [126] Another amendment added the review of and report on the radio and television broadcasting of the House and its committees to the mandate of the Standing Committee on House Management. [127]

    Barely a year into operating under the new rules adopted in April 1991, the House reversed some of its earlier decisions, most particularly with respect to legislative committees. In April 1992, the House removed the requirement for permanent lists of members for legislative committees, and revived the role of a striking committee for this purpose, now to be fulfilled by the House Management Committee. Members on legislative committees would no longer provide a list of substitutes, and the authority to change membership on legislative committees by notifying the clerk of the committee was returned to the party Whip. In addition, rather than two committee rooms being assigned permanently to each envelope, the Standing Orders were revised to grant the House Management Committee the authority to establish priorities for all committee rooms. [128]

    The final change agreed to in the Thirty-Fourth Parliament was a technical amendment to the name of a standing committee. [129]

    (b) 1994 to 2000

    In the two subsequent Parliaments, the House continued to grapple with the issues of detailed scrutiny and independence of committees to carry out their expanded mandates and the enhanced role of private Members versus an efficient method of studying and reporting on legislative initiatives.

    Early in the Thirty-Fifth Parliament, in January 1994, the House again agreed, by unanimous consent, to amend the Standing Orders pertaining to committees, [130] in essence continuing to reverse a number of the changes originally adopted in April 1991. The changes also reflected the proportions of the parties as returned following the general election.

    First, the envelope system was disbanded. The number of standing committees was set at 19 (with some name [131] and mandate [132] changes), and the number of standing joint committees was set at three. [133] The maximum number of members on a standing committee was increased from 14 to 15, and the number of members on the standing joint committees were no longer specified in the Standing Orders. The House changed the name of the House Management Committee to that of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The rules now provided for the preparation of lists of Associate Members of standing and standing joint committees by the Procedure and House Affairs Committee. With respect to substitutions on standing and standing joint committees, the maximum number of substitutes on the lists provided by Members to the clerk of a committee was raised from seven to 14. Since the envelope system had been discontinued, the House returned to a single Panel of Chairs, with the Speaker authorized to appoint up to 12 members to the Panel. Priority of committee rooms was now given to standing committees studying bills and Estimates, rather than to legislative committees, when the House was sitting. All standing committees (but not the Liaison Committee) were now empowered to create subcommittees. [134]

    One of the biggest impacts on committees came, however, through amendment to Standing Orders found in a chapter other than the Committees chapter. In January 1994, Standing Order 73 was revised to reflect that bills could henceforth be referred to standing, special or legislative committees. [135] This foreshadowed a more sporadic use of legislative committees and, in fact, no bills were referred to legislative committees during the period 1994 to 1999. In February 1994, consequent upon additional revisions to Standing Orders 68, 73 and 76, which set in place new procedures for committees drafting bills and for referral of bills to committee before second reading, one of the Standing Orders in the Committees chapter (Standing Order 113) was accordingly revised. [136] In March 1994, the name of a standing committee was amended. [137]

    Other amendments occurred in June 1994. First, on June 3, as part of a series of changes adopted with respect to the publications produced by the Journals Branch, Standing Order 121 (concerning the annual and individual financial reports on committees) was amended to provide for tabling in the House alone, rather than filing with the Clerk and subsequent publication as appendices in the Journals of the House. [138] A week later, on June 10, the Standing Orders concerning committees were amended in the following respects: Vice-Chairs of standing and standing joint committees were removed from membership on the Liaison Committee; responsibility for matters relating to the election of Members to the House was added to the mandate of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs; Chairs of legislative committees were no longer to be considered part of the quorum of such committees; committees seeking to have their proceedings broadcast using facilities other than those provided by the House were to first obtain the consent of the House; reference to payment of witness expenses was deleted from the Standing Orders; and a proviso was added that if a Member filed a certificate with the Chair of a committee, stating that evidence to be obtained from a particular person was “material and important”, the Chair of the committee was to apprise the members of that particular committee. [139]

    Three other amendments to the Standing Orders were adopted in the Thirty-Fifth Parliament. With respect to the Liaison Committee, in November 1995, provision was made for associate members and the Committee was given the authority to appoint subcommittees. [140] In December 1995, a technical amendment was made to the name of a standing committee. [141] In October 1996, the quorum of the Liaison Committee was reduced from 10 to seven members. [142]

    During the Thirty-Sixth Parliament, the House made minor adjustments to the Standing Orders respecting committees by reducing the overall number of committees, by amending the names of certain standing committees and consequently amending their mandates, and by establishing (and then further amending in certain cases) the number of members per committee, again partly in response to the proportion of party membership returned in the general election. Specifically, in September 1997, the House agreed that each of the standing committees would have a fixed membership of 16, with the exception of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts which was given a membership of 17. Two committees were combined into already-existing committees, leaving the overall number of standing committees at 17. The mandates of those new committees were revised in consequence. [143] In October 1997, the membership of two of the standing committees was raised from 16 to 18 members. [144]

    (c) 2001 to 2004

    Early in the First Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, in February 2001, three changes were effected to the Standing Orders respecting committees. First, the Natural Resources and Government Operations committee ceased to exist, [145] reducing the total number of standing committees to 16. Second, the membership of the Finance Committee and of the Justice and Human Rights Committee was increased from 16 to 18 members. [146] Finally, the Industry Committee was re-named “Industry, Science and Technology”. [147]

    These would remain the only changes until October 2001, when the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House, established earlier in the year, recommended a new Standing Order respecting the appointment of Officers of Parliament, of the Clerk of the House, and of the Parliamentary Librarian. The Special Committee proposed, and the House agreed, that the name of such an appointee would be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committee for consideration during a finite period of time (30 days), after which a notice of motion to ratify the appointment would be placed on the Order Paper and decided without debate or amendment. [148]

    As well, the Special Committee noted that it was important for the annual reports of the Privacy Commissioner, of the Access to Information Commissioner and of the Ethics Commissioner (with respect to responsibilities under the Lobbyists Registration Act) to be given careful and timely consideration. The Committee thus proposed amendments to provide that such annual reports be deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, when the committee to which they were originally referred reported that it did not intend to study them. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could then consider the report, if it wished, within a 30-sitting day period. The House agreed to this proposal, and the Standing Orders were amended accordingly. [149]

    No further changes occurred until May 2002. First, the House agreed that the Vice-Chairs of standing and standing joint committees could be associate members of the Liaison Committee. [150] The House then agreed to revise its list of standing committees, dividing the Transport and Government Operations Committee into separate committees. The newly-formed Government Operations and Estimates committee would have a distinct and wide-ranging mandate, which included ten separate responsibilities. [151]

    In the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, in November 2002, a major change in the manner of electing the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of standing committees was adopted by the House. Their election by secret ballot, and a process for conducting such an election, was the subject of a report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled in October 2002. In that same report, the Committee proposed to codify the long-standing practice that the Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Joint-Chair of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations be from the Official Opposition and, further, that the Vice-Chairs of both of those Committees be members of the government party. The report also recommended that, with respect to standing and special committees, with the exceptions noted above, the text of the Standing Orders be amended to provide that the Chair and one Vice-Chair would be from the government party and the other Vice-Chair from the opposition. [152] Although the report was debated, it was not adopted. [153] Rather, later that same day, an opposition supply motion, containing text almost identical to that found in the Committee report, was debated and subsequently adopted on November 5, 2002, and the Standing Orders amended accordingly. [154]

    Two additional amendments to the Standing Orders respecting committees were adopted before the end of the session, to provide for a Standing (as opposed to Joint Standing) Committee on Official Languages and a consequent mandate, [155] and, as a result of changes to Private Members’ Business, to provide for a slight modification of the mandate of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. [156]

    Changes adopted in the Third Session of this Parliament would first see the names of two standing committees modified in February 2004. [157] Amendments adopted in April 2004 provided for the review of the Conflict of Interest Code to be added to the mandate of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, and provided that an appointee for the position of Ethics Commissioner would be subject to scrutiny by the appropriate committee and ratification by the House. [158]

    (d) 2004 to 2005

    With the opening of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament in October 2004, a number of changes respecting committees were adopted, in part to reflect the new party standings following the general election. [159] First, two new standing committees were created on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and on Status of Women, bringing the total number of standing committees to 20. Natural Resources was removed from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to become part of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. The number of members on all standing committees was reduced to 12. A member of the Official Opposition was to chair the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and provision was made for a Vice-Chair from the government party and a Vice-Chair from an opposition party other than the Official Opposition on each of these two committees. On all other standing committees, there was to be one Vice-Chair from the Official Opposition and one Vice-Chair from another opposition party. Finally, with respect to the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, there was to be one Vice-Chair from the government party and one from an opposition party other than the Official Opposition.

    Further changes to the mandates of three committees were agreed to in December 2004. [160] Three more amendments to the Standing Orders affecting committees were agreed to in February 2005. The first provided that the Whip (or his or her designate) of any recognized party which did not have a member of that party on the Liaison Committee could attend meetings of the Liaison Committee, although they were unable to vote, move a motion or be part of any quorum. The second provided that the time-frame for a Chair to convene a meeting of a standing committee at the request of four members of the committee was shortened from 10 sitting days to five calendar days. Third, the number of days provided for a government response to a committee report was decreased from 150 to 120; the applicable standing order now prohibited concurrence in such a report being moved until either the government responded or the 120-day period had passed. [161] Finally, in March 2005, an editorial correction was made to the mandate of one of the standing committees. [162]

    From April 1989 to June 2005, three separate Speakers presided over the House during a period of considerable change to both the written rules and to the practices and procedures respecting standing, special and legislative committees. Each Speaker was clear in declining to interfere with the internal proceedings of the various committees, in those cases where they felt the issues should be resolved either by the committee itself, through report of a committee, or through negotiation among the political parties. [163]

    The Speakers did rule, however, on the interpretation of new Standing Orders adopted by the House or new practices affecting committees, [164] the procedural acceptability of committee reports, [165] the publication of committee evidence, [166] the premature disclosure of contents of committee reports, [167] the intimidation of committee witnesses, [168] the rights of substitute members, [169] and the disclosure of in camera proceedings. [170]

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