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JUST Committee Meeting

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CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


NUMBER 020 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
39th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1535)  

[English]

     I'd like to call the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order--it being Wednesday, March 12, 2008--for our deliberation, as a committee, pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, March 3, 2008, on the statutory review of the proposed appointment of Mr. Brian J. Saunders as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
    I would ask that Mr. Saunders come to the head of the table.
    Thank you, Mr. Saunders.
    A point of order, Mr. Chairman. Yesterday when you evacuated the chair you had ruled out of order a motion I made, that this committee should begin hearings into allegations surrounding the attempt to bribe Mr. Cadman. You ruled that out of order.
    A colleague of ours challenged that ruling. My understanding is that at that point your obligation is to put to a vote immediately a challenge to your ruling. Instead you chose simply to abandon the chair.
    So I'm hoping that without delaying Mr. Saunders' presentation, you will immediately put to a vote the challenge to your ruling of yesterday so that we can proceed.
    Given that this is another actual part of committee business and Mr. Saunders is here to testify, I will say this: the motion, whether it's on the table now or not, is a matter of question. It was ruled out of order. I will continue to rule it out of order even if it is presented again. And on the fact that the chair was challenged on that particular ruling, so be it.
    So we have to vote.
     I will not take your vote.
     I will address Mr. Saunders and apologize to Mr. Saunders for his appearance here at the committee today. It's unfortunate. We were looking forward to listening to his testimony, but I am not prepared to take that vote and I will vacate the chair. That is an issue right now that I intend--

[Translation]

    You have no choice, you have to proceed with the vote straight away. I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman. You cannot rewrite the Standing Orders. You have to call the question on the motion straight away.

[English]

    I will--

[Translation]

    Just a moment, please, Mr. Chairman, I was making a point of order. You have to let me speak. Yesterday, I challenged your decision.

[English]

    One moment, please.

[Translation]

    Yesterday, we ended our meeting on a point of order. I asked that the committee vote on your decision. That means you must automatically call the question. You cannot rewrite the Standing Orders. You are not above the House of Commons and its Standing Orders. We are asking you to call the question immediately. It is not debatable. Check with the clerk if you are uncertain. You asked us to show decorum. If we are to do so, you must assume your responsibilities as the guardian of the Standing Orders. Our Standing Orders stipulate that we must proceed immediately to the vote and I insist that this be done.

[English]

    I have already advised this committee that I will be vacating the chair. I will not take the count. My reasons were expressed before.
    An hon. member: You can't.
    You can't do that.
    I am going to do it and I will do it now.
    Are you going to return the salary as well, Mr. Chair?

[Translation]

    You have to abide by the Standing Orders.

[English]

    Mr. Chairman, I am going to challenge your ruling in that regard right now. I'm going to challenge the chair on your refusal to take the vote on the challenge to the chair. I am asking that you take a vote on my challenge to your decision that you will not take the vote on the challenge to the chair.
    An hon. member: I have a point of order.
    It's not debatable.

[Translation]

    You must first give a ruling on our point of order. Wait a minute, please. We have Standing Orders and you have to adhere to them.

[English]

    I have a point of order.

[Translation]

    Just a minute.

[English]

    I have the floor, not you.

[Translation]

    You have to abide by the Standing Orders.

[English]

    Réal, we all need order. You have to abide by the Standing Orders too.
    You are not the chair. You are not the chair.

[Translation]

    You have to decide whether we are going to proceed to a vote.

[English]

    Réal, you're not the chair, either. Réal, you're not the chair.
    You're not the chair.
    Order, order.
    You're not the chair. Shut up.
    Order.
    Mr. Dykstra, I am going to excuse Mr. Saunders. I don't think he should be subject to this and, sir--
    This is theatrics. It's a joke. You are turning our meeting into a joke.
    My apologies, sir.
    An hon. member: Deal with it right now.
    Why don't you shut up back there?
    An hon. member: Who does he think he is?

  (1540)  

    It's called procedure.
    An hon. member: You can use it.

[Translation]

    You have to abide by the Standing Orders.

[English]

     The chair's ruling was challenged. So be it. I am not going to take the count. If you want to deal with me as a chair, that's fine, you may do so. But I am not taking the count.
    Mr. Chairman, the clerk can take the count.
    Is this your resignation?
    Est-ce que vous démissionnez, monsieur le président?
    If this is a—

[Translation]

    Nobody is asking for your resignation.

[English]

    That's up to the committee to decide. I am not taking the count.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chairman, nobody is asking for your resignation. We are simply asking that you abide by the Standing Orders. Check with the clerk.

[English]

    The motion was ruled on yesterday.

[Translation]

    We are entitled to vote on this.

[English]

    It was out of order.

[Translation]

    We challenged your decision.

[English]

    I will not let this committee turn into a circus. I will not take the count. As far as I'm concerned, the matter is finished, and I will not take the count.

[Translation]

    That is what the Standing Orders say.

[English]

    Art, do you want to pull a fire alarm as well?
    At this point, colleagues, we do not have a chair. I believe the chair has resigned or left his position.
    That being the case, unless members have other views, I would ask the clerk to preside over the election of a new chair.
    If a reference is needed, I'll refer you to page 833 of Marleau and Montpetit, which deals with the circumstance of the resignation or absence of the chair.
    I nominate Mr. Dykstra as chair of the justice committee.
    I would move that Mr. Dykstra be elected chair of the committee, and I would ask the clerk to preside over an election in that regard.
    An hon. member: There's a vice-chair in the room. Mr. Ménard is a vice-chair.

[Translation]

    I am not going to take the Chair.

[English]

    We don't have a chair. We have a chair who refuses to preside over the proceedings. This is a Conservative chair of the committee.

[Translation]

    I have a point of order.

[English]

    Why don't you honour what you said and take the chair?

[Translation]

    I am not going to take the Chair until the chairman...

[English]

    Honour what you said and take the chair.
    I am not going to take the chair until Mr. Hanger explains why he has resigned, or not, and why he refuses to apply the rules.
    He's not resigning. He said he won't take the vote. He said he will not take the vote, Réal. That's what he said.
    As a point of order, may I ask the clerk whether there are any options that are clearly available to the committee at this point, in the absence of the chair.

  (1545)  

    If we're going to read from the rules, it's pretty clear that in the absence of the chair and the vice-chairs of a committee, an acting chair must be chosen. We have a vice-chair here who can take over when the chair isn't here.
    It's right on page 829. There is a vice-chair here. According to the rules, the vice-chair has to take the chair.

[Translation]

    He has been making points of order since we started.
    Madam clerk, I am not going to take the Chair until somebody explains why Mr. Hangar refused to abide by the Standing Orders. I cannot imagine that there are two different rules on this.

[English]

    Madam Clerk, my understanding is that it is the option of the vice-chair to decline to take the chair. The committee is chaired by the Conservative Party. We have one vice-chair here who has declined to chair the committee, and therefore we need to determine an acting chair.
    I appreciate--
    I would ask the clerk for a determination of that.
    I appreciate Mr. Holland's interpretation, but if I read the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it actually doesn't say what he says.
    A voice: Mr. Holland, perhaps we can--
    It says the vice-chair, in the absence of the chair, has to take it. In the absence of the vice-chair and the chair, an acting chair has to be nominated; until that point, the vice-chair has to take it.
    The vice-chair refuses.
    It says absence, not refusal. It doesn't say anything about refusal. It says absence.
    Madam Clerk, I am actually going to give verbal notice now of my intention to move non-confidence in the chair--this is going on the record--and also notice of my intention to nominate Mr. Rick Dykstra as chair for purposes of electing a new chair. I'm giving that verbally now for the record.
    [Inaudible--Editor].... If the vice-chair would take the chair, then perhaps your motion could be considered. In the absence of a chair, there's no....
    The abandonment of the chair is a serious disorder.

[Translation]

    You are keeping us waiting, Mr. Ménard. Go ahead, everybody loves you. We do not normally need to plead with you like this.

[English]

    Well--
    An hon. member: You know what, Derek? That's why we have vice-chairs, and we have a vice-chair.
    Mr. Réal Ménard: Art Hanger is a young offender.

    


    

     I have a point of order.

[Translation]

    One moment please, Mr. Dykstra. Given the circumstances...

[English]

    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    Are you not going to recognize a point of order, Mr. Chair? You have to recognize a point of order.

[Translation]

    Just a moment, please, Mr. Dykstra.

[English]

    You have to recognize a point of order.

[Translation]

    Given the current situation, I am going to adjourn until 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.
    The meeting is adjourned.