The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security reviews the legislation, policies, programs and expenditure plans of government departments and agencies responsible for public safety and national security, policing and law enforcement, corrections and conditional release of federal offenders, emergency management, crime prevention and the protection of Canada's borders.
Standing Order 108 sets out the mandate of standing committees. These committees are empowered to examine and enquire into all matters referred to them by the House of Commons and to report to the House. They are authorized to send for persons, papers and records, and to delegate all or any of their powers to subcommittees. Members may meet while the House of Commons is in session and during adjournment periods. They also have the power to sit jointly with other standing committees.
Each committee has a general mandate to study and inquire into matters as it considers necessary and that fall within its area of responsibility. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security may accordingly examine the policies, programs and statutes relating to the following departments and agencies:
- Public Safety Canada (PS)
- Parole Board of Canada (PBC)
- Legislation proposed by the government or Members of Parliament;
- Immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans, and the effectiveness of their implementation by the department;
- An analysis of the relative success of the relevant department, as measured by the results obtained as compared with its stated objectives; and
- Other matters relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the department in question, as the Committee deems fit.
Further information regarding the powers and roles of House of Commons standing committees is available in Our Procedure and in Chapter XIII of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.
Issues involving public safety and national security were historically referred to the House of Commons justice committee or the sub-committees it created. On April 5, 2006, at the start of the 39th Parliament, the House of Commons passed a motion that amended its Standing Orders to establish the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which would subsequently deal with these issues. The Committee is responsible for one of the largest departmental portfolios, including close to 140 statutes administered by the Department of Public Safety and its agencies.
Under the direction of its Chairs, the Committee has considered a number of socio-legal studies and bills pertaining to criminal law, corrections and conditional release of federal offenders, national security, border security, policing and law enforcement, crime prevention and emergency management.
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 committee’s Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the committee.
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.
Further information on the PBO may be found at: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/
43rd Parliament, 2nd Session (September 23, 2020- August 15, 2021)
43rd Parliament, 2nd Session (September 23, 2020 - August 15, 2021)
- Concurrence in the Findings and Recommendations of the Final Report on the Implementation of the Merlo Davidson Settlement Agreement by the Hon. Michel Bastarache