Good morning. My name is Richard Balnis. I am from the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
CUPE represents 600,000 workers across Canada, and our airline division represents 8,500 flight attendants at six airlines in Canada. In front of you are my remarks in English and French. I will deliver my remarks in English. In addition, a book of documents accompanies that presentation. Those documents are also entirely in English and French. The first part of tab 1 has the English, while after the green paper you will find the French. That document is entirely bilingual. I would like to go through my remarks now.
Since they were discussed in 1999, we have been and continue to be critics of safety management systems in aviation. Our submission and accompanying documents address the first point of your specific study into aviation safety, “Transport Canada's Implementation of Safety Management Systems for the Aviation Industry”, and “in particular the delegation of oversight and administration for business aircraft” to the CBAA. We are also prepared to comment on other issues related to flight and duty time for flight attendants, or other issues or questions the committee may have.
When the CBAA approach first became public in 2001, we said that this was industry self-regulation and it was wrong. The CBAA took over certification of business aircraft in January 2003 as a result of a ministerial exemption. We repeated our concerns about the CBAA approach when we appeared before you on May 2, 2007, during your consideration of Bill , later Bill . On December 28, 2007, we released 337 pages of documents under access to information legislation. We have since learned that at the same time that Bill was before Parliament, Transport Canada inspectors missed serious issues of regulatory non-compliance with regard to how CBAA was conducting its operations.
In tab 1 is our detailed analysis of those 337 pages. I have a set of those documents, which I can leave with the committee. They are in English only. I don't intend to create any controversy by tabling English-only documents, but I can leave it with the clerk if you wish to review it to make sure that what we say in tab 1 is accurate.
We also learned, as you can see in tab 1, that there were serious shortcomings in how CBAA was conducting its operations in other areas as well. Moreover, Transport Canada senior manager Don Sherritt overruled the inspector conducting this audit, who found that the CBAA corrective action plan would be ineffective in addressing these identified deficiencies. To our knowledge, SCOTIC has been told none of this.
As the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported on its investigation into the crash of Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce at Fox Harbour on November 11, 2007, “Transport Canada did not document its decision to close off the CBAA assessment even though the CBAA had not submitted an acceptable corrective action plan”. In tab 2 you will find, in English and French, the extracts of that report's conclusions. The TSB further found that it took another review, on March 11, 2009, for Transport Canada to conclude that the assessment it had conducted, which ended on September 21, 2007, had been “fully addressed”, nearly eighteen months later.
Fortunately, has finally agreed with us nearly a decade later. As he told media on March 16, 2010, “Right now it's self-regulation for corporate jets...”. Referring to the Fox Harbour crash, he said, “We learned from a recent report that it's simply wrong for industry to regulate itself”.
The CBAA experiment was therefore ended by . It is too bad that it took crashes for this ill-conceived policy to be abandoned. Unfortunately, one could go to the Transport Canada website as late as March 30--Tuesday of this week--and still find a 2009 “Safety Partnership Programs Framework” document, which we've included in English and French in tab 3, which allows similar adventures in delegation to industry and industry self-regulation to continue.
We ask that you recommend to that he cancel this policy approach as well. Let us learn from the lesson of the CBAA.
On the issue of government oversight in an era of SMS, which I think is the central focus of your deliberations, we told you on May 2, 2007, that Transport Canada was implementing a new diminished role for itself under its new SMS regime, contrary to established international norms. At that time, we quoted Transport Canada assistant deputy minister Marc Grégoire, who said that there will be a “shifting relationship” between airlines and Transport Canada under its new SMS regime. As he said on April 25, 2006:
||There must also be a willingness on the part of the regulator to step back from involvement in the day-to-day activities of the company in favour of allowing organizations to manage their activities and related hazards and risks themselves.
Despite the claims that things were changing when Transport Canada representatives appeared before you on March 30, 2010--and some of those changes are overdue and welcome--there will be no change in this fundamental approach. If you do not believe us, look at Transport Canada's own documents dealing with SMS and government surveillance, which we've included in our documents.
On March 22, 2010, less than two weeks ago, Don Sherritt provided participants at a CARAC consultation meeting with the document found in its entirety at tab 4, in English and French. As you can see in the marked passage on page 3 in the English version and on page 1 of the French, SMS and performance-based regulations and standards will permit “each operator to manoeuvre within the designed 'playing field' based upon their targeted risk indices and safety requirements”. In our view, that is an unprecedented level of air operator autonomy from government oversight.
We were further told at that meeting that government oversight in this environment of operator manoeuvrability would be conducted in accordance with Transport Canada staff instruction SUR-001, entitled “Surveillance Procedures”, which is also reproduced in its entirety in tab 5. There are 66 pages in English and 72 pages in French. The fundamental premise of this approach is that government surveillance is designed to ensure that the operators have procedures in place to comply with regulations, not that inspectors will ensure compliance with regulations.
As an explanation of what you were told on Tuesday, if there are sufficient resources remaining, there “may” be other government surveillance activities to ensure such government regulatory compliance, such as the inflight or ramp inspections that were mentioned to you. Please, in particular, see section 5.0; that passage has been added in the last two months.
While this is an important addition to earlier editions of this document, there are still significant problems with SUR-001. First, these supplemental surveillance activities are discretionary and entirely dependent upon resources. Without adequate resources, these supplemental surveillance activities will not be done, although they are there on paper. Second, these surveillance activities are important in themselves. As you will see in tab 6, the Atlantic region of Transport Canada disagreed with the Ottawa head office approach of having only higher-level oversight activities, such as program validation inspections, enhanced monitoring, and assessments, because "they do not address day-to-day oversight of companies and do not include intelligence-gathering activities, which are important in providing data for safety monitoring". That is in tab 6 in its entirety.
Finally, in tab 7 we have prepared a case study of maintenance violations in 2007 at Southwest Airlines, a major American air operator. As that analysis shows--and if we have time in questioning, we can spend more time on it--it is only through mandatory, no-notice, and hands-on inspections, with effective whistle-blowing protection for front line inspectors who have to go against managers who may have cozy relationships with the operators they oversee, that the public's safety can be assured.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. We have other comments as well, including the lack of any flight and duty time limitations for flight attendants, something we have been seeking without success from Transport Canada since 1991.
We look forward to your questions on anything we've presented and on any other area that you would like to question us on.
My name is Ron Smith. I'm with the Canadian Auto Workers' union in Canada. The CAW has over 256,000 members. In the aviation field, we have over 14,000. We represent aviation maintenance organizations from coast to coast in Canada. We represent airline transport pilots who fly pretty much strictly at night. We also have air paramedics who, while not considered flight crew, fly throughout Ontario; you're familiar with the orange helicopters and airplanes.
While SMS is not the best thing out there, we would suggest not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. SMS definitely needs to be improved. We do not disagree with the position of Richard and CUPE on this. There have been a lot of flaws in the implementation of SMS.
What we hear from our membership, quite simply, is this: they file a report and they don't hear back. They don't hear back about what the issue was, whether it was corrected, or what has happened. We have instances where some of our flight crew members are told they're not allowed to file SMS reports.
We agree with the move on Transport Canada's part to increase oversight. We agree with CUPE's position that without oversight, and without impromptu and unannounced visits to the airlines and the people you're regulating, what you're getting back may or may not be factual and may or may not be a true representation of what's happening out there in the real world.
The other part that we see happening, especially in the aviation maintenance organization area, is that the employers do not respect the non-punitive reporting aspects of SMS. If an employee or a member reports something to the employer, it becomes punitive; the employer takes action and the employer takes reprisals.
This is a fundamental cornerstone of the SMS program. The whistle-blowing capabilities or abilities of our members to report confidentially to the Transportation Safety Board through SECURITAS is greatly diminished by the inability of anybody to fully monitor that system. Transport Canada did at one point look at trying to make a different type of whistle-blower legislation and program, but that has all died by the wayside.
As far as the CBAA issue is concerned, while we have no membership directly involved with the Canadian Business Aircraft Association's private operating certificate operations, we would have to agree with CUPE's position that it is an experiment gone awry.
That concludes my remarks. Thank you.
No, sir. I think there are three levels that you have to look at. I was there at the testimony on Tuesday and I heard you say that you were a skeptical MP. I think there are three levels: what a government official says; what a government official has written down; and what the bureaucracy actually does.
On Tuesday you heard what they said they will do. Today we're bringing you information on what they have written that they've said they'll do. I think your investigation has to go further to see what is happening right at the point of contact, where the rubber hits the road.
I would suggest to you that when Monsieur Grégoire said, yes, we're going to be increasing inspections, you need to look at tab 5 very carefully to make sure he has the resources to deliver on that promise. I'm hopeful that he will be able to do so. I am believing that he will, but if you look at section 5.0, I don't think they have accepted the philosophy of no notice inspections yet. They are talking about such inspections, but they have not accepted that philosophy, because in section 3.0 on that same page, they're saying that it's hands off.
So I think that document needs to be reviewed. It's been revised three times. I think this committee can play an important role in making sure that document works and is understood by inspectors. The inspectors I've talked to, say, “Oh God, they've changed it again?” You read those 66 pages and I'm not sure you're going to understand what is expected of an inspector.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I do not agree with Mr. Volpe. When the Liberals were in power, they defended everything Transport Canada said. Now, with the Conservative government, they again seem to be questioning what Transport Canada is saying. It is starting to get interesting. We must remember that, under the Liberal government, the safety management systems were shoved down our throats. I have always been critical of safety management systems. In fact, when they were proposed, we felt that it meant industry self-regulation. For business aircraft, it was a disaster. I see that the minister intends to bring some order to the organization, which is good.
I took the time to read your recommendations, even though we only got them this morning. The fifth paragraph says:
|| Where surveillance resources are still available after the annual surveillance planning is completed in accordance with CAD SUR-008, other surveillance activities may be planned, as described in Section 6.0 of SI SUR-009.
That worries me. Once again, it shows that the speech that Mr. Grégoire gave us is very different from what they say when they meet with the employees. Of course, it is good that you are providing us with this and that the Conservative members understand that, at Transport Canada, even if they do not necessarily have a political message, they are still protecting the same old polemic. I heard Mr. Grégoire brag about Canada being the pioneer of safety management systems. Unfortunately, lives have been lost because of them. It is scary being first, just watching and cutting back the number of inspections.
That is what happened. We cut back. Of course, the government wants to bring the inspectors back to work and carry out surprise inspections again. That process must continue. The problem is that we raised this question in November.
Why have the inspectors not been hired? That is my question for you, Mr. Balnis. Has Transport Canada made an effort to hire the inspectors? Or are they trying to uphold the policy, continuing to think that they were right in 2001 and 2003 under the Liberals, although they were wrong? Why have the inspectors not been hired? Do you think that there is a strategy to not hire them? I would like to hear what you have to say, Mr. Balnis.
I would take Monsieur Grégoire at his word that he's hiring for those positions. I suspect the arrival of the new deputy minister, whom we have not yet met.... We have asked to meet with her, but we have not yet formally been able to meet with her. I suspect that is a factor in ensuring those positions would be filled. I think Director General Martin Eley is also a factor. He has replaced the previous director general. I think they have recognized that these positions be filled...
So I believe them when they say they are hiring. I think he said that by the end of August we should have all 96 positions filled. I don't know if they're having problems recruiting people. I don't know. I don't represent those people. You should speak to the unions who represent those people, the CFPA or the UCTE. Maybe they can tell you whether there are problems.
I believe there is an effort to hire. My issue is if they will still have sufficient resources to do in their policies no notice inspections. That is the question I'm putting to you. They said they will do that. I'm putting their policy papers in front of you to say that they say they will do that. The reality is, will they do that on the ground?
I would ask you to participate. We will assist you as best we can. Obviously we didn't assist you quickly enough, but we will assist you as best we can to ensure that happens, because I think that is an essential component that has been missing in this experiment.
The ship has changed. I heard the DM on Tuesday very clearly send a new message. She is a former deputy minister from the department that dealt with the listeriosis deaths, so I think she knows that when you have inspectors who are unhappy and when you are not conducting effective surveillance, you need, in her view, to turn things around. I was encouraged.
In fact, I am struck by her leadership qualities. For her to turn around and create an advisory group of inspectors, so she doesn't listen to Monsieur Grégoire or Monsieur Eley or Monsieur Sherritt, who will say things to her... She is going to go to the front line inspector and say, “Come on, guys, tell me that.” That is unprecedented. I believe she is a deputy minister with a mission to achieve things, and I would ask you to help her achieve those things, because I think it is essential.
They are listening to their inspectors. I have spoken with both inspectors' unions and it is true that these meetings are happening.
We met with Monsieur Grégoire in December and he promised that he would sit down with us because he feels we are spreading misinformation on SMS. He said that he wanted to convince us within a year's time that Transport Canada SMS is the best thing in the world and CUPE fully supports it. We have yet to meet with him. I think we told him that “SMS”, for our members, means “selling out my safety”.
He has not met with us since then to convince us, but he has been listening to the inspectors, and I am heartened by the deputy minister's words. She said that she has an advisory committee and she has made her managers go to the front line. I think that is a refreshing approach to making sure you're in touch with the front line. She's only been there eight months and she has a large department to deal with. We wish her the best of luck and we wish Mr. Eley the best of luck to ensure that they deliver on what they said.
But I'm just saying that in their policy document, in tab 5, there appear to be contradictions. What they say they do and what they have written appears to be in contradiction. As long as we get to the front line correctly...
I would urge you in the strongest possible terms to focus your attention on those areas in your subsequent deliberations, and when the department returns. As Mr. Volpe says, I'll be sitting in the audience. I'd like to sit with them because Don Sherritt says I don't understand tab 5. Tell me I'm wrong--I can read. I hope I will be back.
I appreciate that. We're getting to a difference of opinion here at the table. This committee, of course, as you well know, took up Bill some time back. Three parties, certainly, were working to make some of the improvements you were suggesting with respect to whistle-blower protection or that kind of non-punitive reporting.
I will remind everyone, for the record, and for those who are watching, that of course it was the NDP that scuttled that legislation. I think that's an important consideration, because we were close to something that I think is very important in this particular area.
Mr. Dennis Bevington: [Inaudible--Editor]...we didn't give up on it.
Mr. Jeff Watson: Mr. Smith, I have a question. What level of inspection is satisfactory to the union? I'm going to presume that you don't support 100% inspection of all classes of aircraft at all times. Some decision has to be made about the level.
Are we fighting to restore the additional union jobs that were lost? Is that the level at which you're going to be able to conclude that we have enough safety in the system? There's a decision at some point that has to be made about resource allocation and the appropriate level of safety. What is that appropriate level of safety, in your mind?
We will start with you, Mr. Smith. Then Mr. Balnis can weigh in on that.
If you don't mind, I'd like to pursue that line of questioning a bit further.
Maybe, Mr. Balnis, you might come back into this.
It strikes me that the discussion we've had over the last several years on this is all about changing a culture, and a culture that's in a business, that involves trust. You've heard other witnesses who have come forward and have said, well, the SMS system is a great system. They've said that it fits another layer on top of the mandatory inspections and the sufficient number of inspectors. I think everybody was agreeing on that, but nobody can agree as to what the number is.
Transport Canada actually eliminated some of those inspector positions. They've admitted that they're going to reinstitute them. I had the same problems as Monsieur Laframboise and Monsieur Bevington and others about just where this fits in.
We've had Transport Canada come before us now, and this is where I'd like your comments. They have said, pursuant to what the minister's observations were a couple of weeks ago, that you have small aircraft, some of it owner-operated, and business aircraft. In this area, his impression was--I'm paraphrasing now, so I hope the government members don't get upset--that the trust factor, i.e., the culture of this self-imposed responsibility, hadn't penetrated sufficiently, and so we need to re-regulate, because on the risk assessment and risk management side, people don't know what's good for them.
On the commercial carrier side, the question of trust is a little more difficult. Here, the government has not completely walked away from the on-site inspections, the impromptu inspections, unless I'm wrong, Mr. Balnis. So the culture of whistle-blower legislation, which was another fact that we needed to bring in with SMS, that would get people to report what needed to be done, was essentially beginning to penetrate. So we've had fewer incidences of breach of trust, of examples of a broken sense of responsibility, in the larger commercial carrier business.
Is that a wrong assessment of what's been happening? Ms. Dias or Mr. Smith might want to respond to this, for the mechanics and the maintenance people who actually are supposed to have that first line of defence, and then Mr. Balnis, please.
The SMS concept was first raised in 1999 at a CARAC technical meeting. There was a series of meetings. We proposed amendments to improve the process to have greater involvement from workers. All of those proposals were rejected.
In fact, in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in 2005, when the CARs 705--the aviation regulations--were gazetted, an amendment that we thought would ensure effective worker involvement in the development of SMS was stripped out at the last minute. So we believe that SMS has been imposed without key amendments to include worker involvement.
I want to add to what Ron said in response to Mr. Volpe's question about the issue of how employees buy in. Employees are expected to give reports and the employees expect feedback. They now get acknowledgments only that say thank you very much, we've risk-managed it, we've done a risk assessment, we believe that six injuries in a particular jump seat on an aircraft is an acceptable risk, and thank you for your concern. I don't know if I would put in a report again.
Buy-in from the bargaining agents is one thing. We have participated vigorously throughout the CARAC and Canada Gazette processes, and this process in front of this committee. But when our members on the line put in a report and get an acknowledgement saying thank you, but the injuries will continue, I think that's the problem. That is because there is no worker involvement within the SMS.
So we tried, sir, but we were rejected in 2001, 2003, and 2005. We tried, sir. Now we think the process is out there, and because of that management-only risk management where they decide, “You're right, we cannot eliminate hazards, but were the bars being set too high?”, our members look at that and say this system is not working for them.
So it's on the front line that we're having problems with the buy-in, because they're responding by saying thank you, but we're doing nothing. People say they cannot live with that. That's the problem, and we're reflecting it. If SMS had been constructed better, perhaps it would be different for us, but it was not constructed in a way that included worker involvement, as part II of the Canada Labour Code did. We tried to propose amendments to ensure there was worker involvement, but there was not.
Frankly, I wasn't going to ask any questions today, but a couple of things you've said were actually a bit alarming to me, to be very blunt. First, you suggested that you were users of the system. I certainly hope, for my sake as an actual user of the system, that you'd be more partners of the airlines and partners of the other sectors of the airline industry, the aviation sector, in Canada. Because what constitutes a partnership is that you're going to work together to get things done and keep Canadians safe, and I would like to think that you're more partners than users. I just want to tell you that your terminology alarmed me, quite frankly.
The other thing that bothered me quite a bit was when you were asked by Mr. Watson--and Mr. Mayes, and it was pursued by Mr. Volpe--how many inspectors we needed, you couldn't come up with it. You said it wasn't your job to decide how many inspectors were needed, but at the same time, you were criticizing and saying there weren't enough inspectors. You said you have no input on how many there should be, except that you would be satisfied if the levels were brought up to where they were before, because there are some unfilled positions.
This is what has come across to me in this discussion. I feel like I'm listening to Chicken Little telling me the sky is falling because he can't get a $2 sweeper broom. Quite frankly, after being here for five years and seeing a lot of evidence before me, that is not what I take from the aviation sector. I think it's a very safe sector, and Transport Canada does a good job, for the most part, in relation to that. They came forward and said there might be some problems with the implementation of SMS in some sectors of the airline industry. I would think you would embrace that after your submissions on SMS in the last few years.
The final thing that alarmed me was that you suggested--in my mind--that the Labour Code is tossed out the window when it comes to SMS; that the Labour Code takes second priority to the SMS system in relation to somebody stubbing their toe, I think it was, and stepping on somebody else who cracked a rib, or whatever.
I don't really have a question for the witnesses, but when Chicken Little runs around and around, sooner or later he loses credibility. I just want to be very clear on that. If you have some positive suggestions to make to this committee on the level of inspectors, we would certainly encourage you to come forward with that information--not just to criticize. Those are my comments.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This is in relation to a breach of privilege. I want to get on the record specifically what took place. I have to be careful about what I put on the record because the breach has to do with an in camera meeting this committee had.
I'm first of all going to give some background. Hopefully, I don't run out of time, but if I do, I know that Mr. will cut me off--with respect, Mr. Volpe.
A breach of privilege, according to page 82 of O'Brien and Bosc, is as follows, and I will quote:
||Any disregard of or attack on the rights, powers and immunities of the House and its Members, either by an outside person or body, or by a Member of the House, is referred to as a “breach of privilege”....
Page 1,077 in O'Brien and Bosc reads, at the bottom, and I will quote:
||Divulging any part of the proceedings of an in camera committee meeting has been ruled by the Speaker to constitute a prima facie matter of privilege.
It goes on to talk about the case in question. In this particular case, it involved the divulging of information by a member of Parliament of the results of a recorded vote held at an in camera meeting, in that case, of the Standing Committee of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
It should be noted that, and I quote:
||Members should be aware that utterances which are absolutely privileged when made within a parliamentary proceeding may not be when repeated in another context, such as in a press release, a householder mailing, on an Internet site, in a television or radio interview, at a public meeting or in the constituency office.
I will end that quote from page 96 of O'Brien and Bosc.
Finally, and I quote again from page 88 of O'Brien and Bosc:
||...the individual Member’s rights are subordinate to those of the House as a whole in order to protect the collectivity against any abuses by individual Members.
First of all, only the House can decide whether or not a breach of parliamentary privilege occurred or there has been contempt, but committees must report this to the House. The role of the chair is to determine whether the matter does in fact touch on privilege.
In this particular case, I have put together a motion based on what took place. I have the evidence before us. First of all, I would like to pass this out, if I may. I have the minutes of our in camera meeting, in French and English, as well as a letter that was sent by Mr. , who was a substitute member of this committee at the time, to colleagues in his own caucus, I understand--that is in French and English as well--and then an attached letter to mayors and to other municipal councillors across the country, in French and English, and a questionnaire that was attached to it.
This all has to do with a motion that was made in this committee in camera. In fact, if you remember, Mr. asked for us to go outside of in camera, and we disagreed. We agreed as a committee that we would remain in camera, because we had dealt with some of Mr. 's motions in camera and thought it was fair to deal with all the motions in camera, especially considering what the motion was.
Notwithstanding that, Mr. wrote this letter, which you will receive copies of as well. What it did was it actually.... That letter designated that he made the motion, first of all.
I'm sorry, Mr. Laframboise. We'll make sure that gets to you.
His letter clearly indicated that it was his motion, which of course, it wasn't. It was Mr. 's motion. He indicated in the letter he put forward that it received all-party support, which again is against the rules; he is not allowed to do that.
Here are the rest of these copies. There is one for each member. They're in both French and English.
Also, he talked about when the hearings would take place. Again, it is against parliamentary privilege of an in camera meeting to divulge any of that information.
That is the dilemma we have today. I do believe, prima facie, that there has been--no question--a breach of privilege by Mr. of this committee's rights, and certainly of information that was confidential and was not to be shared with anyone else.
If we remember that meeting, after all of the meeting was conducted in camera, Mr. again asked to go out, so he was fully aware that this meeting was to be in camera and he was not to divulge that information. But immediately thereafter, he went and drafted some letters, along with some questionnaires and some additional correspondence to members of Parliament outside of this committee, and to mayors, divulging this information.
He stated, again... And my understanding is that it's going to every municipality and town in the country, and I'm not sure if it has already been done or not. But he even had the information itself incorrect in relation to its being his motion rather than Mr. 's.
Now, if we look at it, the motion itself clearly indicates the original motion, and the only thing that he's allowed to divulge from that in camera meeting is this. I'm not quoting. The public minutes did not include whose motion it was—Mr. 's, not Mr. 's—and that it received all-party support, which could be seen as misleading—
||That the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities present a report to the House of Commons regarding a possible breach of privilege and/or action of contempt on the part of the MP for Parkdale-High Park in divulging privileged information from an in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on March 25, 2010, against the will of the committee and with the intention of sharing this information with the public, and that the Committee ask the House to take whatever action it deems necessary.
Also, this report should include the following: an explanation that the meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on March 25 was an in camera meeting, including a notice of motion put forth by Mr. Dhaliwal--I think that's on the public record--to study the government's deadline. Actually, it's to study certain information; I'm going to have to clarify that, but I don't think I can actually put forward... Can I put forward, Mr. Chair, in relation to that? Okay.
Also: an explanation that the committee explicitly ruled that this and all other motions of the day be debated in camera, and an explanation that, subsequent to this in camera meeting, Mr. Kennedy sent an e-mail to all members of the Liberal caucus with an attached letter stating that his motion had passed and that it had received all-party support. He also advised in this letter that the committee would be scheduling hearings shortly and suggested in his e-mail to the Liberal caucus that they send it to municipal contacts in their ridings.
Also: an explanation that the only portion of our meeting on March 25, 2010, that was published in the official minutes was the body of a motion that had the public meetings and did not mention whose motion it was and that it received all-party support, a fact that could be seen as misleading without the context of the debate that occurred on March 25; an explanation that the public minutes did not mention when the committee would be scheduled or hearing testimony, and that, in fact, there was consensus among the members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities that this motion would not take precedence over the other committee business already discussed; and, a statement that this breach of privilege and/or that a contempt may have occurred in this instance, and a request that action be taken by the House.
That is the context of the motion.
My point is this: that if we cannot, as a committee, have discussions in camera and not in camera and obviously have the difference be significant, then my privileges as a member are obviously...it has absolutely no consequence to be in an in camera meeting, and it has no power and authority.
I did mention this. But to be clear, it's not our job, nor is it the chair's, to decide whether there has been a breach of privilege. That's the Speaker's job. We are required to report it if we believe there has been a breach of privilege. It is our job to report that to the House and Speaker. It's for the Speaker to make that determination.
So you've already suggested, Mr. Bevington, with respect, that there has been a breach, and possibly two others--but at least one. It's our job just to decide that, to pass that on to the Speaker, and let the Speaker decide. Whether the Speaker decides yea or nay is up to him based upon precedent.
Secondly, on the same point of order, on the timing that Mr. was suggesting was short, we are under an obligation as well, in my understanding, from reading O'Brien last night, to report this as soon as possible. That's why I brought it forward as soon as possible.
Mr. is not a consistent member of this committee. Even when he was a member of this committee, he wasn't consistent. So the difficulty is, of course... I'm sure he'll show up if he's either in front of a camera or responding to this breach of privilege accusation, but it's not our job to decide that. It's the Speaker's job. It's simply the chair's job to report it to the House.