Before a committee can begin its work, its members must be appointed and a Chair elected. The election of the Chair takes place at a committee’s first meeting, called the “organization” meeting, unless the Chair has already been appointed by the House or named by the Speaker.
The notice of meeting for the purposes of electing a Chair of a standing committee is sent by the Clerk of the House in conformity with the provisions of Standing Order 106(1). This Standing Order stipulates that committees must meet within 10 sitting days of the adoption of the report establishing their memberships. Members must be given at least 48 hours’ notice of this meeting.
The authority of the Clerk in convening a meeting of a standing committee for the purposes of organization is restricted to the election of the Chair. While a committee may limit the business conducted at its organization meeting to only the election of a Chair, in practice it is common to proceed immediately to the election of the Vice-Chairs. The committee is then likely to consider a series of administrative motions, called “routine” motions, to facilitate its work over the course of the session.
Legislative committees are not required to meet for the purpose of organization since the Speaker names their chairs from the Panel of Chairs. However, they must meet to begin their work within two sitting days of the naming of the Chair and the appointment by the House of their membership or the referral of a bill to the committee. The notice for the first meeting of a legislative committee is thus sent on the Chair’s authority.
The Standing Orders do not stipulate when the first meeting of a special committee must take place, nor is it usual to include such a provision in the order of reference establishing the committee. When the Chair of a special committee is not named in the order of reference, following informal consultations among the parties, the organization meeting is convened by the Clerk of the House and the clerk of the committee sends out the notice to Members.