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Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage


NUMBER 001 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, February 4, 2016

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0855)  

[Translation]

    Good morning, honourable members of the committee.
    I see a quorum.

[English]

     I must inform members that the clerk of the committee can only receive motions for the election of the chair. The clerk cannot receive other types of motions and cannot entertain points of order or participate in debate.
    We can now proceed to the election of chair, pursuant to standing order 106(2). The chair must be a member of the government party. I am now ready to receive motions for chair, please.
    Mr. Maguire.
    Thank you, Mr. Clerk. I'm prepared to make a motion. I nominate Ms. Fry as the chair of the committee.
    Thank you.
    It has been moved by Mr. Maguire that Ms. Fry be elected as chair of the committee. Are there any further motions?
    Seeing none, is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Clerk: I declare the motion carried and Ms. Fry duly elected chair of the committee. Congratulations.
    I invite Ms. Fry to take the chair, please.
     Thank you very much, everyone, for unanimously agreeing to make me chair. I hope I don't let you down, and I hope that this is going to be a committee in which we all work together in a collegial manner to try to achieve the best for Canadians.
     I would like to move now to election of the vice-chairs.
    Does the committee agree to proceed to that?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Are there any nominations for vice-chair? The vice-chair must be from the official opposition.
    I would like to nominate Larry Maguire as vice-chair.
    Larry Maguire is nominated.
    Larry Maguire has been nominated to be elected first vice-chair of the committee. I'd like to remind you that the first vice-chair has to be a member of the official opposition.
    Ms. Dabrusin moved that Mr. Maguire be elected first vice-chair of the committee. Are there any further motions?
    Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Clerk: I declare the motion carried and Mr. Maguire duly elected first vice-chair of the committee.
    As agreed earlier, we can move to the election of the second vice-chair.
    Pursuant to standing order 106(2), the second vice-chair must be a member of an opposition party other than the official opposition. I am now ready to receive nominations.

[Translation]

    I would like to nominate Pierre Nantel for the position of second vice-chair.

[English]

    Thank you.
    It has been moved by Mr. Van Loan that Mr. Nantel be elected as the second vice-chair of the committee.
    Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Clerk: I declare the motion carried and Mr. Nantel duly elected second vice-chair of the committee.
     Now I'm hoping that the committee will agree to go to routine motions. Is that okay with the committee?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Ms. Dabrusin.
     I was going to bring in the first routine motion. Are we on that?

  (0900)  

     The first motion is going to be with regard to the services of the analysts from the Library of Parliament. Go ahead, Ms. Dabrusin.
    I would like to move:
That the Committee retain, as needed and at the discretion of the Chair, the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist in its work.
     There's a motion with regard to employing one or more analysts to assist the committee.
    Does anyone want to discuss that? Is everyone in agreement? Yes, obviously.
    (Motion agreed to)
    We're now going to move to a motion on the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. You should know that the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure is composed of five members—the chair, the two vice-chairs, and two government members—and the quorum for the subcommittee is to be three members, including one member of the government and one member of the opposition. That's basically what happens when we decide on this.
    Is there anyone who wishes to move this motion?
    Mr. Nantel.

[Translation]

    Thank, you, Madam Chair.
    First of all, congratulations on your election. I am very pleased to be working with you again.
    I imagine that everyone received this information booklet.

[English]

    I'll speak slowly to make sure that you have time to put on your earpiece.
    In this information piece, it has been evoked that in the 41st Parliament all parties were represented on the subcommittee and, of course, the chair was there too. If there was any big event, the government still had the torque to make the changes it wished.
     I would see it as symbolically preferable to have one government member and one representative of both opposition parties. I don't see the need to have two government members on the subcommittee.
    Are there any opinions about this?
     This is traditional and it is what other committees have agreed to. It would seem to balance out the decision-making process. I would suggest that we stay with this model.
    Is there any discussion? Is it agreed or not?
    Mr. Van Loan.
    I personally have no objection to Monsieur Nantel's suggestion. Obviously it would have to be made in the form of a motion. I think we could live with that, or the proposed one here. From the Conservative side, I think either one is probably fine.
     Mr. Vandal.
    I'm not supportive of that. I think it's important that this committee be reflective of Parliament as a whole and as it was elected several months ago.
    I'm not supportive of

[Translation]

    Mr. Nantel's motion. In fact, I should call it a suggestion, since it's not even a motion yet.

[English]

     Mr. Nantel.

[Translation]

    I can present my suggestion as a motion, if you prefer, Mr. Vandal. But goodness knows how much the Conservative government enjoyed asserting its power and majority last year. We were all well aware of that. We dealt with the situation and we did what we had to to get work done, despite it.
    I'm just a bit surprised by that choice. No matter what, you're not at all at risk of losing an important decision, since the clerk can swing the vote in your party's favour if there's ever a panic. If that's how you see it, fine. I can bring forward a motion but I don't think that will change anything. I won't waste the committee's time. We have important business to tend to. The media are moving around us, and we need to work quickly.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Nantel.
     Everyone, if you understand and you've read the new guidelines for what other committees have been doing, there is a parliamentary secretary on the steering committee. How does everyone feel about that?
    As you know, parliamentary secretaries are not going to be voting on any of these committees.
    Mr. Vandal.

  (0905)  

[Translation]

    I'd like to move a motion.

[English]

     I move:
That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be composed of five (5) members, including the Chair, the two Vice-Chairs, two Government Members and; that the quorum of the Subcommittee consist of at least three (3) members, including one (1) member of the government and one member of the opposition; that each member of the Subcommittee be permitted to have one assistant attend any meeting of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure; and that, in addition, each party be permitted to have one staff member of a House Officer attend any meeting.
    That is my motion, Madam Chair.
    Do we have a copy of that? It's not the same as right here.
     I think different copies are being circulated, yes.
    In this new document, there is no mention of parliamentary secretaries. That was in the older document. We're dealing with this new document now.

[Translation]

    We are in favour of the proposed motion.

[English]

    Sorry, Mr. Van Loan, but Mr. Nantel was in line, and then it will be you.
    Mr. Van Loan, I would be happy if you considered that it would be nice to make sure that the quorum includes both opposition parties.

[Translation]

    I think it's a reasonable idea. But, if it becomes difficult to obtain a quorum, we don't want one party having veto power. That's a problem.

[English]

    I suppose we could always return to the rules if that became a persistent problem, but I don't have a problem with that if you wanted to propose it as an amendment. I would support it.
    Madam Chair?
    Yes, Mr. Vandal.
    I think it's important. A quorum is usually the majority, and the majority of five is three. There may be instances when things have to occur very quickly because of travel and the fact that there's only one member of the third party. We need to be nimble. The other two members need to be represented, so I think I'm speaking against this suggestion in order to keep things going very quickly. As I read it, that would be the preferred option.

  (0910)  

    Is there any further discussion?
    Mr. Van Loan.
    I think there is merit in the notion that in setting an agenda, there be an ability.... There's certainly the ability of the third party to be there. I think I'd be prepared to try including them in the quorum, provided it didn't demonstrate a desire to shut down the work of the committee.
    In terms of an opportunity to protect the rights of the minority, I don't think it's a bad idea.
     May I clarify, Mr. Nantel? Does that mean, then, that you're suggesting the quorum be four members?
    Exactly.
    All right. Is there any further discussion?
    Shall we put the vote?
    It hasn't been presented in the form of a motion yet.
     Would you like to amend the motion as it stands?

[Translation]

    Yes. So I will move a motion so that—

[English]

     Right now it's for three members. He's moving for four members.

[Translation]

    Would you like me to present it in the form of a motion?

[English]

     Yes.

[Translation]

    Very well.
    I move that we adopt a quorum consisting of four members.

[English]

    Can we perhaps just vote on this motion that's been put forward by Mr. Vandal? We've had some discussion, but I'd suggest that we move toward the vote.
    It's entirely appropriate that it be voted on, but if there is an amendment proposed to that motion, which is what we have heard from Mr. Nantel, the amendment should be dealt with first.
     Monsieur Nantel.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I think Mr. Van Loan is quite familiar with the procedures.
    Thank you.

[English]

     Mr. Nantel, you're suggesting that there be four members to constitute a quorum.
    All right, that is the amendment on the floor. May I call the vote?
    (Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    Now we will move on to the next motion, which is about the reduced quorum.
    I would like to bring that motion on reduced quorum, please.

[Translation]

    I would like to move the following motion:
That the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four (4) members are present, including one (1) member of the opposition and one (1) member of the government; and that, in the case of previously scheduled meetings taking place outside the Parliamentary precinct, the Committee members in attendance shall only be required to wait for 15 minutes following the designated start of the meeting before they may proceed to hear witnesses and receive evidence, as long as a member of the government and the opposition are present.

[English]

     Shall I call the question?
    I was going to say that it was adopted in the last Parliament.
     Yes, but we are now in this session, so we need to make this a new motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
    We now entertain the next motion, which has to do with time limits for witnesses, statements, and questioning.
    Is there anyone who wishes to move this motion?
    Mr. Vandal.
    I will move on the time limits for witness statements and questioning:
That the witnesses from any one organization shall be allowed ten (10) minutes to make their opening statement. During the questioning of witnesses, there shall be six (6) minutes allocated for the first round. The order of questions for the first round of questioning shall be as follows: Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Liberal. For the questioning during the second round, six (6) minutes shall be allocated to each questioner and shall be as follows: Liberal, Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, to the exception of the NDP questioning after for three minutes.
    There would therefore be a total of 50 minutes of question time.
    That is my motion, Madam Chair.
     Yes, Mr. Nantel.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Frankly, I find that attitude pretty harsh. I'm very surprised. This is quite a turnaround from the sunny ways promised. Everyone's familiar with the schedule and knows that my time to speak is at the very end. Everyone also knows that the last questions very often aren't asked. As an NDP member, not only am I the last committee member to speak, but I'm also being given just three minutes. That's a complete joke. I refuse to believe that you can't do better than that. Honestly! That's terrible.

  (0915)  

[English]

     Does anyone wish to continue with that discussion?
    Mr. Van Loan.
    I would observe that this issue did arise at the procedure and House affairs committee earlier, and they, having discussed it, came to an agreement on an approach they thought was essentially equivalent. They arranged for each part of round one to be seven minutes, so that two Liberals would get one more minute, the Conservative would get one more minute, and a New Democrat would get one more minute.
    That all would get shaved off the second round so that the first three in the second round—Liberal, Conservative, Liberal—were five minutes instead of six minutes. The fourth Conservative was five minutes and stayed there, and for the New Democrat, the minute that was shaved off from there went up front, so they were reduced to two minutes.
    That's what was agreed to at procedure and House affairs. Seeing that as balanced, we would be prepared to agree either to that or to the motion that's been made. It could be either one of those.
     Mr. Vandal.
    I'm wondering if the honourable member would be comfortable with adding an extra minute for the New Democratic Party in the second round.
    The idea of what was done at procedure and House affairs was basically to keep the balance identical, which meant shifting some time from the back end to the front end and not actually allocating additional time to any particular party, thus keeping the numerically fair balance.
    Monsieur Nantel.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. Fry.
    I'd like to draw your attention to the decision the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs came to. Witnesses are given 10 minutes for their opening statements. A moment ago, Mr. Van Loan mentioned the 7 minutes, which are entirely appropriate.
    I'm going to read what was decided in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs:
…in round one, all slots would be seven-minute slots, with the order being Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Liberal; in round two, the first four slots would all be five-minute slots, and the order would be Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal; the fifth slot would remain a three-minute slot, and it would be [a poor] NDP slot.
    That method has an advantage. If it's a member of the government party who speaks first during the second round of questioning, they could run out of steam. You may not realize this, but asking witnesses relevant questions is quite demanding. Very often, you're almost out of breath when you're trying to wrap up your questions. If, at the very least, we were to alternate with the other side by giving the Conservatives the first opportunity to speak, that would help. As things already stand, the NDP carries little sway when it comes to votes, and I can only lament that fact. But you will see that we have much to contribute to discussions on Canadian heritage issues.
    I'd like to suggest something to you, Mr. Van Loan, or you, Mr. Vandal.
    I see a problem with the Liberals still going first in the second round. A witness appears before the committee and spends 10 minutes telling their story. Then they are questioned by members in the following order: Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Liberal. And then it starts over again with a member of the government party. That doesn't strike me as a constructive exchange.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Nantel.
    There is a suggestion by Mr. Vandal that he agrees with Mr. Van Loan's suggestion that we follow what the procedure and House affairs committee did, but that we add one extra minute for the NDP, which would give the NDP three minutes. Let us consider that amendment or that idea first and see how that goes.
    Just as a matter of clarification, it's our understanding that in fact three minutes was accorded at PROC to the NDP in the last round, not two.
    Yes.
    Shall we entertain a vote on this?
    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Now we move to the distribution of documents, if someone wishes to move this motion.
    Yes, Mr. Nantel.

  (0920)  

[Translation]

    My apologies for interrupting. Would it be possible for the clerk to tell us the outcome of this conversation? It's a bit confusing and I'm having a hard time following.

[English]

    If you like, I could clarify, Mr. Nantel.
    It will be 10 minutes for witnesses to make their opening statement. Then the round would be Conservative, seven minutes; Liberal, seven minutes; NDP, seven minutes; Liberal, seven minutes. Then the second round would be Liberal, five minutes; Conservative, five minutes; Liberal, five minutes; Conservative, five minutes; and NDP, three minutes.
    That is what we have passed right now.
    We're moving to the distribution of documents. Is there a motion?
    Madame Chair, I'd like to move the next motion on the distribution of documents.
    I want to correct this.
    At the procedure and House affairs committee, there was a change in the rotation, as Mr. Nantel had suggested, and that is what I thought I was voting for. At the procedure and House affairs committee, the second round went Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal, NDP.
    I see.
    I thought we were voting for what procedure and House affairs did.
    Just to clarify, the rotation that was adopted by PROC, as I understand it, was that the first round was Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Liberal, and the second round was Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal, NDP.
    Correct.
    Yes, I think that's what Mr. Van Loan said.
    Is it agreed that's what we voted on?
     No, I don't think that was what we voted on. We did not vote on the change in the second round. We only voted on the second round moving to five minutes and the NDP having three minutes.
    We believed we were voting on the full PROC package.
    All right, but that was not the motion that was put out there. We weren't voting on the full PROC package.
     It is my understanding now that the Conservatives thought that they were voting on the full PROC package, so let us now go back and vote on the full PROC package.
    That was our understanding as well.
    All right. Shall we agree, then to rescind the earlier motion and then to vote on the full PROC package?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: The motion reads:
That witnesses be given ten (10) minutes to make their opening statement; and that during the questioning of witnesses the time allocated to each questioner be as follows: for the first round of questioning, seven (7) minutes to a representative of each party in the following order: Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Liberal; for the second round, five (5) minutes be allocated in the following order: Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal; followed by NDP, three (3) minutes.
    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Next is distribution of documents.

[Translation]

    Yes, Madam Chair. I move—
That only the Clerk of the Committee be authorized to distribute documents to members of the Committee and only when the documents are available in both official languages and that witnesses be advised accordingly.

[English]

    Is there any further discussion on this issue?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: Now we move to working meals. Would someone like to move that?
    Ms. Dabrusin.
    I'd like to bring a motion for working meals. I move:
That the Clerk of the Committee be authorized to make the necessary arrangements to provide working meals for the Committee and its subcommittees.
    Is there any discussion on that motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: Now we move to witnesses' expenses. Would anyone like to move that motion?
That, if requested, reasonable travel, accommodation and living expenses be reimbursed to witnesses, not exceeding two (2) representatives per organization; and that, in exceptional circumstances, payment for more representatives be made at the discretion of the Chair.
    Is there any further discussion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: Would someone entertain the next motion and move it forward?
    I'll bring it.
    It is about staff at in camera meetings.
    I would like to move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, each committee member be allowed to have one staff member present from their office and from their party at in camera meetings.
    Is there any discussion?
    Mr. Van Loan.
    I have a question, not having been on one of these committees for a while.
    What does it actually mean when you say “one staff member present from their office and from their party”? Does that mean one staff member per member, or does that mean two staff members per member? To me, the wording is ambiguous.
    It is ambiguous, indeed, Mr. Van Loan.
    It would be one staff member per MP, plus a representative from the whip's office.
    It's “plus”. Okay. Perhaps we could make that clearer.
    Yes. Could you try to make that clearer in your motion, please?

  (0925)  

    The motion would be that unless otherwise ordered, each committee member would be allowed to have one staff member present from their office and that a representative from the whip's office would also be present.
    Why don't we say, “...and that each party be authorized one additional representative from the whip's office”?
    Yes. Is everyone clear? The motion, as amended, reads:
That, unless otherwise ordered, each committee member be allowed to have one staff member present from their office and a representative from the whip's office at in camera meetings.
    I'm going to call the vote.
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: The next motion is on transcripts of in camera meetings. Does anyone wish to move this?

[Translation]

That one copy of the transcript of each in camera meeting be kept in the Committee Clerk's office for consultation by members of the Committee or by their staff.

[English]

    Is there any discussion on this?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: Finally, there's the notice of motion. I'll entertain a motion to that effect.
    Mr. O'Regan.
    I move:
That forty-eight (48) hours' notice be required for any substantive motion to be considered by the Committee unless the substantive motion relates directly to business then under consideration; that the notice of motion be filed and distributed to members by the Clerk in both official languages; and that completed motions that are received by 4:00 p.m. be distributed to members the same day.
    Is there any discussion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: That ends the routine motions.
    I would like to thank the committee for getting that done with dispatch and for being very collegial about it.
    Before I entertain a motion to adjourn, I would like to suggest that this committee meet again when we come back from the break holiday, and that we sit down and make it our first order of business to discuss where the whole committee—not just the special steering committee—wants to go, how we see ourselves mapping out the next set of meetings, and what our priorities are. I think that might be a good idea, so perhaps you can be ready to do that.
    Is everyone in agreement with this proposal?

[Translation]

    Madam Chair, would you like us to nominate two members of the government party for the subcommittee? We would be ready to do so now.

[English]

    Yes, Mr. Samson.

[Translation]

    I'll nominate one person and someone else can nominate the other.
    I nominate Seamus O'Regan, from the Liberal Party, as a member of the subcommittee.

[English]

     Is everyone in agreement with that? That's from the government.
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: What about the other person?
    Madam Chair, I propose Mr. Darrell Samson to represent the government on the steering committee.
     Is there any discussion?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: Then these are the two members from the government side: Mr. Darrell Sampson and Mr. Seamus O'Regan.
    Thank you.
     Now I will entertain a motion to adjourn.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Thank you very much.
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: The meeting is adjourned.
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