The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is a permanent committee established by the Standing Orders, the written rules under which the House of Commons regulates its proceedings. The Committee studies and reports on matters referred to it by the House of Commons or, under Standing Order 108(2), topics chosen by the Committee itself. Legislation, departmental activities and spending, and other matters related to the Committee’s subject area may be referred to it by the House.
The subject area of the Committee includes matters pertaining to:
Canadian foreign policy;
Canada's humanitarian and development assistance;
Canada's relations with other countries and regions, and its response to specific international events or crises;
International relations, international development, international security, and international human rights;
Global governance, including the role and activities of international and regional organizations.
The government department under the Committee's scrutiny is:
The Committee is also empowered to study and report on the mandate, management and operation of the following autonomous agencies and Crown Corporation which report to Parliament through the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
When examining legislation or undertaking a study, the Committee may hear from a variety of witnesses including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Development, relevant departmental personnel, academics, subject matter specialists, stakeholders, foreign representatives, and members of the public at large.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) technically began with the 39th Parliament in April 2006. However, the antecedents of a Standing Committee dealing with international relations go back many decades.
Standing Committees Responsible for Foreign Policy:
1924: Standing Committee on Industrial and International Relations;
1945: Standing Committee on External Affairs;
1968: Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence;
1986: Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade;
1994: Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade;
2006: Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
The Committee also has established subcommittees in the areas of international trade and investment (1995–2005); human rights and international development (1995–2005); and, international human rights (2006–2020).
In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committees’ Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of committees.
The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the committee. They are part of the committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED
Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, parliamentary counsel (Legislation) are available to assist members who are not in cabinet with the preparation of private members’ bills or of amendments to government bills or others.
At various stages of the legislative process, members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the committee stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the report stage, once a bill returns to the House.
Once a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides the name of the parliamentary counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the members.
The legislative clerk serves all members of the committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee with any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of report stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.
The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.
In addition to these in-depth policy studies, the Committee has considered legislation and government estimates, addressed emerging policy issues and unfolding international crises, and met with many visiting delegations.