STATEMENT BY THE CHAIR
Before we proceed to take up this bill at clause-by-clause, I would like to share some information with members of the committee.
As you know, there have been several situations in recent meetings where divisions on motions have resulted in tied votes and I have delivered a casting vote.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice explains the casting vote on pages 268 to 269 in this manner:
“The Speaker does not participate in debate and votes only in cases of an equality of voices; in such an eventuality, the Speaker is responsible for breaking the tie by casting a vote.
In theory, the Speaker has the same freedom as any other Member to vote in accordance with his or her conscience; however, the exercise of this responsibility could involve the Speaker in partisan debate, which would adversely affect the confidence of the House in the Speaker’s impartiality.
Therefore, certain conventions have developed as a guide to Speakers … in the infrequent exercise of the casting vote. Concisely put, the Speaker would normally vote to maintain the status quo.
This entails voting in the following fashion:
- whenever possible, leaving the matter open for future consideration and allowing for further discussion by the House;
- whenever no further discussion is possible, taking into account that the matter could somehow be brought back in the future and be decided by a majority of the House;
- leaving a bill in its existing form rather than having it amended.
Therefore, without anticipating any results in clause-by-clause, I want to inform members that if there are tied votes on clauses of the bill, I will vote in the affirmative to leave the bill in its existing form.
If there are tied votes on amendments or subamendments, the Chair will vote in the negative in order to maintain the status quo and to keep the question open to further amendment either here in committee or in the House at report stage.
Finally, I intend to notify the Speaker of any casting votes delivered on amendments.
Normally, the Speaker will not select at report stage any motions which were defeated in committee.
However, the Speaker does exercise a discretionary power of selection and I intend to provide him with as much information as possible so that he may base his selection decisions for report stage in the House.
I trust that this information will assist the committee in its decision-making process on this bill.