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Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage


NUMBER 019 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, June 2, 2016

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0845)  

[English]

     We will call the meeting to order as it is now 8:45 a.m.
    Pursuant to the order of order of reference of Wednesday, June 1, 2016, Bill C-210, an act to amend the National Anthem Act will now be dealt with by this committee. The summary of the bill is that this enactment amends the national anthem to substitute the words “of us” for the words “thy sons” in the English version of the national anthem. This, therefore, makes the national anthem gender neutral.
    Between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., we have one witness to speak to this bill. We will deal with the witness, Mr. Champion, of The Dorchester Review.
     Welcome.
    Chair, before we begin, I have a point of order. When I was in the midst of speaking, you put the question, which as we know is contrary to the rules. I was outlining that there were a number of witnesses who wished to appear here.
     My concern was if we proceeded with the very, very unusual and compressed time frame that had been contemplated in the motion, we would not be able to accommodate some of those witnesses. That is indeed the case. I'm aware of some, and there may be many, many more in this country who aren't aware that this was coming to committee.
     Among those who were not able to be accommodated was the grandson of Stanley Weir, the composer of O Canada, who has views on this and wishes to be heard. His wife, as I understand it, is ill in hospital, and on such short notice he was not able to accommodate us, even by teleconference.
    Similarly, Rudyard Griffiths is another individual I know who wished to come and present to this committee. He is a well-known historian, founder of The Dominion Institute, and a very distinguished and respected individual on questions such as this. He was also unable to be accommodated.
    I hope at the end of hearing this witness we will have a willingness to reconsider, since first of all, the motion was put inappropriately under our rules, but also because it has effectively prevented Canadians from being able to participate. I hope we will reconsider that concept and consider opening it up to to further witnesses at future meetings.
    Thank you.
    I think the alacrity with which everyone is dealing with this bill, as you well know, Mr. Van Loan, has to do with the health of the mover of this bill. His health is indeed critical and we need to deal with this bill as soon as possible.
    Yes, and I have the greatest regard for that and the greatest concern for that. However, that is not a basis on which public policy is made, especially public policy on an institution or a symbol that belongs to all Canadians. It should be made on the questions of policy related to that particular matter. It should not be an opportunity to shorten a process and deny Canadians the opportunity to have their say and deny Canadians the opportunity to have input into it.
     That is essentially the consequence of what that motion did. The motion, I might add, once again, was put improperly under our rules because you cannot put a motion while someone is speaking on the floor, Madam Chair.
    Mr. Van Loan, I don't think we will revisit this. The committee spoke. The committee made its decision and supported the chair's ruling, so we will move on now. This was duly voted on by a majority in the House of Commons. We are now dealing with the bill, having had it decided on by a majority in the House of Commons.
     I'm going to begin. I will introduce Mr. Champion again and welcome him.
    Mr. Champion, you have 10 minutes to speak to the issue. Then there will be some questions for you by the members.
    Good morning. My name is Chris Champion. I'm a Canadian historian with a Ph.D. in Canadian history. I'm the founder and editor of the The Dorchester Review, which is an independent and relatively small circulation journal, but it's about 100 pages per issue. It's in the old style of those journals that John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier used to read in the library. It's a journal of history and also historical commentary, which is a little bit unique.
    We are dedicated to the proposition that history is not for dummies. We have about a thousand readers, just under. They are spread across every province and territory. One of our newest subscribers is the Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec, which subscribed yesterday. This, I must I say, shows the wit and wisdom of the librarians of the National Assembly.

  (0850)  

[French]

    

Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!

[English]

     These are the words, the true words, of O Canada.

[Translation]

    I am referring here to the version that begins with "Ô Canada! Terre de nos aïeux!"

[English]

    Sir George-Étienne Cartier sang another O Canada,

[Translation]

that is entitled Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours!

[English]

    It's the one he wrote in 1834, during the Confederation meetings. The story is that with fellow delegates from Montreal and Quebec, he sang the words, the song drifting across the peaceful waters of Charlottetown Bay. It is said that he sang with tears in his eyes, for it was a moment of triumph as well as tragedy, death as well as new birth. Quebec could not be a free-standing country, but it would regain its own elected assembly, which had been lost as a consequence of the Rebellion of 1837. Cartier sang with tears because Quebec, the old British province created in 1763, was to be reborn as a nation in all but name, an old country within a new country.
    You see, O Canada, both Cartier's and Routhier's later song of the same name, is their song. These are songs of the national survival of French Canadians, and they reach back to Champlain, Laval, Sister Mary the Incarnation, and Dollard des Ormeaux's Battle of Long Sault on the Ottawa River. That is where O Canada really comes from: 400 years of history.
    Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.” As well, the greatest music, John Senior wrote, is the music of words singing in our heart, that is, of poetry, literature, and history, Madam Chair.

[Translation]

    

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

[English]

    As English Canadians, we have to admit that it's not really our song. This is why historically French Canadian nationalists saw English Canadians, descendants of the old Ontario governing military and Protestant clerical elite, as more than a little crass and bumptious to be taking their song, tinkering with the words, and making it our national anthem. Didn't we have songs of our own? Couldn't we just sing The Maple Leaf Forever and leave their song alone?
    I think we should try to remember this when we are talking about the English version of O Canada. Some people have said there was something, with all due respect, a little bit spurious about it all along.
    There were many attempts to put O Canada into English, at least 18 translations before the First World War, full of patriotic and religious fervour. Many of those who tried were clergy of the Anglican or Methodist tradition, in which the country was totally steeped on the English Canadian side in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Robert Stanley Weir's was only one of these versions.
     People back then knew full well that in English literature going back to Shakespeare and the authorized Bible, in the music of Handel, in the hymns that almost all English Canadians sang for almost 200 years, the word “sons” properly understood in context commonly did not refer only to men.
    The first lines of Handel's great oratorio Joshua, for example, are these:
Ye sons of Israel, ev'ry tribe attend,

Let grateful songs and hymns to Heav'n ascend!
    This refers to all the people of Israel—mothers, fathers, daughters, sons—who Joshua led to the promised land in the story. Likewise in Malachi's prophecy that the Saviour will come, it reads, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
    “Ye sons of Jacob” refers to all the people waiting in hope, and previous generations of Canadians knew this because Canadians used to learn these stories in school. It was part of their cultural formation so they would know where our society came from; what it means to be a free people; what it means to have rights and responsibilities; what it means to be a Canadian citizen.
    When these well-formed Canadian women and girls sang O Canada, they understood what the words meant. It seems that many people today do not understand, and because they don't understand, they seek to change. But St. Francis taught, seek first to understand. Some have pointed out that Weir originally wrote the line as “thou dost in us command”. True, “thou dost in us”, dust in us, dustiness; it's no wonder he changed it. It sounds like we need a vacuum cleaner.
    Given the rich tradition that we come from, Madam Chair, the words “in us” sounded flat to Weir the poet, and they sound flat, in my view, today.
    The “in all of us” is rather banal for a national anthem. As a friend of mine says, they are changing poetry into mere doggerel. It is inferior and insipid language. In fact, a quick quotation search turns up only one example of “in all of us”, and that is in the grunge singer Kurt Cobain's suicide note. Try it.
    When Robert Weir fixed that line, being a good poet, he elevated the language and he improved the poem, and it has stood the test of time. One hundred years is not bad in modern English Canadian terms. Moreover, it is rooted in 3,000 years of tradition handed down from the Jews to our ancestors.

  (0855)  

    You have two more minutes, Mr. Champion.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    It has stood the test of time. Generations of Canadians have memorized it, and it has become part of who we are. To quote Rudyard Griffiths, heritage is sometimes compared to a rich tapestry: once you begin pulling at loose threads, you start to pick away at the image and the beauty unravels until you have eventually nothing left.
    Madam Chair, what these ladies and gentlemen are proposing is a mistake. It should be common sense that you simply don't change heritage—because it's heritage. You don't change heritage on a whim because, watch out, somebody else can come along and have another whim. You are setting a precedent for pulling out the threads. You are tearing open the cloth. I'm sure they have good intentions, but they are getting short-term satisfaction and doing long-term harm. Of course, then your motto becomes,

[Translation]

Je me souviens peu or Je ne me souviens plus.

[English]

    You are telling the world we are a superficial people, perhaps even lightweights. Once the tinkering begins, who can say we will not wake up and find there is a new national anthem every time we open our daily newspaper?
    Thank you.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Champion.
    Now we have the part of the committee hearings where you get questions from members. This is a seven-minute round.
    I shall begin with Ms. Dabrusin, for the Liberals.

[Translation]

     Good morning. Thank you for your insight.
    I am an MP and the mother of two daughters. I think it's important to talk about our national anthem and our history. I agree that we need to seriously reflect on our history and the change we are discussing today.

[English]

    We look at the original words. In 1908 it was “true patriot love thou dost in us command”, which, as you said, I hear me in those words; they include me. But the words were changed.
     I'll get to my question, because it's important that we consider this.
     If you look at the Canadian Encyclopedia, in 1913 there was a version that was published that had “thy sons command”, and then there was a copyright in 1914 for that wording, but we don't actually have anything from the writer to tell us why he made those changes. There's nothing about a change about poetry or the need to consider any other issues. We don't know, and that's important.
    I think we need to take a look at the snapshot of what was going on in 1913 and 1914, because we're going to consider history, and I would like you to comment on that when we get there.
    At that point, the suffrage movement was becoming very active. In 1912 the Political Equality League had formed. Nellie McClung was one of its members.
     In 1914 they launched a play about women in Parliament called Mock Parliament, which was very funny because, in fact, women couldn't be in Parliament. If we were having this discussion at that time, I wouldn't be here. They were taking this play on the road to get people to think about it.
     Then women did get the right to vote. About four years after the copyrighted change, the first time some women in this country were allowed to vote federally was in 1918. Then in 1921 some women in this country were not only able to vote, but for the first time were also able to be elected. This is important to my personal history, because the first female MP elected in 1921 was Agnes Macphail. She was from East York, which is part of my riding.
    That's my history and women's history, but it's also a very important part of Canadian history. That means a lot to me when we're going to take some time to think about what we're doing here looking at the national anthem.
    Today we have parity in cabinet. That's a great change. But women make up only 26% of the House of Commons, so there is still a long way to go. Taking the snapshot from 1913 to 1914, it was a very tumultuous time when we were looking at the suffrage movement.
    You didn't quite raise it, but I've heard another argument about why we should have “thy sons command”, related to the First World War. That's an interesting piece, because in 1913 we weren't at war yet. But when we get to 1914, and we consider our involvement in the war, women were also involved in World War I. That's an important part of Canadian history. There were 3,141 Canadian nurses that served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. In fact, 46 of them gave their lives in the line of duty, so women also died serving this country during World War I.
    I have a strong respect for history and women's participation in the First World War. When we take a look at where we are now, women are actively involved in our military and in serving our country, and that's something for which I think we need to show quite a bit of respect.
     I'm looking at this and I'm taking into account this history. Where were we? We were looking at the women's suffrage movement, an active time when we were talking about including women. We were talking about a change that happened, at least in first editions, before the First World War, and then changed after.
     I look at what I'm going to tell my daughters when I go home today about what we're proposing and the discussions we're having here in Parliament today, in 2016, about our national anthem. These are two girls who every day in school sing the national anthem. They're proud Canadians.

  (0900)  

     What you're proposing is an objection to amending back to the original version, really, the wording of our national anthem to make it inclusive of all genders. I want to know, what do I tell them about the fact that a historian came to Parliament and testified today that in order to honour our history we need to exclude them? If I can add to that, because I would be interested in hearing your answer to this, how do I explain to my daughters that their true patriot love is not relevant to our country?
    Thank you.

  (0905)  

    Madam Chair, I think you would be misinforming your daughters if you told them that was the case, and so would their teachers, because as I said fairly clearly in my opening remarks, the words “thy sons” are not exclusive in the context of our tradition.
    It may be that in schools nowadays, people are not taught much about that deeper tradition, and when they see O Canada they think, “Hang on here, there's something wrong with this. This is sexist. This is not gender neutral.” That is simply a lack of well-rooted education in our culture and history. The equality of women and men is extremely important, but if this change is supposed to advance equality, it won't do much.
    How much will it accomplish? In fact, nothing, because if we look at 500 years of our literature—in English, again, because we're talking about the English version—we're talking about poetry, and the word “sons” has in this type of context never referred only to men.
    I quoted Handel's Joshua and other texts, which used to be extremely familiar to Canadians. If Canadians are not familiar with them now, that's unfortunate, and it explains why a superficial change like this could be seen to be meaningful when it isn't. It's merely making inferior poetry, lower-quality poetry.
    Thank you, Mr. Champion.
    Now I go to Mr. Van Loan from the Conservatives. You have seven minutes, Mr. Van Loan.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    In my speech in the Commons on this, I reviewed national anthems in a couple of countries, like Russia and Germany, that have undergone frequent changes. There are places where institutes, symbols, and national anthems endure for a long period of time. There are other countries in which they tend to frequently be changed and rewritten.
    Why would you characterize the difference, and how would you characterize the difference between those two kinds of countries: those that often change their symbols and totems, and those which keep and maintain them over time?
    Thanks for the question.
    Madam Chair, it represents the tradition that we come from. We in Canada have the privilege of being part of a group of countries, like Australia, the United States, India, New Zealand, and other places, many that you can count in the Commonwealth, such as Trinidad and Jamaica, where the tradition is deeply rooted. We have a stable political system. Normally these countries have retained their parliamentary institutions intact, their mode of electing members, and so on.
    I have not done the comparison, but I think if you lined them up, you would probably find those countries with a stable political system would tend to make fewer superficial changes of this nature, knowing that the tradition hangs together. It's an organic whole in a sense, and when you eliminate the phrase “in all thy sons command”, I think you're erasing a piece of our collective memory, because tradition cannot be established from above by fiat. It has to grow from the ground up in people's psyche, and it takes time for that to develop into tradition.
    George Orwell wrote that he who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future. That's why he had a ministry of truth whose job was to change history and to change the history books, the newspapers, movies, and radio. I haven't read the book in a long time, but maybe the ministry of truth even changed the national anthem.
    Our Conservative government, in a throne speech, proposed the idea of returning to the “thou dost in us command”, and there was an extraordinarily negative public reaction to that.
    You talked about the impact of changing these symbols. Why do you think we had such a negative public reaction to that proposal?
     I think it's a simple matter of people's familiarity.
     When you talk to new Canadians, they tend to like and want to attach to the traditions we have. There's a sense that new Canadians want to know who we are. They want to know what they're joining. They want to know who we are together and to integrate and attach. They want to feel proud, and they want to know why. If they see us constantly picking away at our own heritage, I think they'll find no fixed term of reference, and we start to look as if we don't know where we came from.
    It's rather like poetry. We memorize poetry by repetition, but if the words keep changing, we'll never be able to learn them.

  (0910)  

    You mentioned legitimacy, in the sense of the lack of legitimacy if politicians are making these decisions from the top down. If that is being done, particularly in a context where the rules of our democratic institutions—such as this committee on how it should operate—are broken, if the opportunity for public input is denied.... We're sitting here debating this less than 24 hours after a decision was made in Parliament to send it to us. I can tell you that probably an overwhelming majority of Canadians do not even know that this committee is occurring and that there would be any opportunity to have their say.
    When institutions are changed in that fashion, ignoring our democratic rules and ignoring our democratic institutions by politicians, top down, what does that do to the legitimacy of these symbols? How will that affect Canadians' attitudes towards them?
    Madam Chair, I really am struck by the arrogance of what members are proposing to do in this bill. They are taking something that is 100 years old, that is a classic poem by a Canadian poet—normally, we respect our poets and their work, and in fact we support them—and in place of that imposing the ephemeral present-day preoccupations and anxieties on it.
    Now, in the future, let us hope that the population is perhaps better educated in our tradition. They wouldn't have this anxiety about the national anthem. They wouldn't have this kind of psychic angst about it, because they would know what the words meant.
    I think what is happening here is quick and dirty. How many Canadians really know it's happening is, I think, a legitimate question. It's going through so precipitately that I doubt very many people are aware of or really understand the change.
    We have to note that Canadian governments historically, and I can only speak to you as a Canadian historian, have a track record of changing our heritage without consulting Canadians, without ensuring a wide consensus. When the Canadian flag was adopted in 1964, there was considerable public debate, but it was passed with a majority of English Canadians opposed and most French Canadians indifferent. You could read my book, which documents both. Even then, the government of the day used closure to impose it. Now, 50 years have passed and we all love the flag—don't get me wrong—but the way it was done was quick and dirty.
    Likewise, Dominion Day was changed to Canada Day in 1982 by a snap vote in the House of Commons when there was no quorum. There were only 13 members present. If you read the record, most people were not aware of what was happening in the House. It was a sneaky move behind closed doors, a fait accompli.
    There's a bit of a track record of this behind closed doors, these kinds of sneaky and quick and dirty changes to our heritage, which I think, maybe for good sentimental motivations, for good personal motives, is being done here, but I think that personal motives, personal affection, and regard for one member is not a good basis on which to make such a historic change to something that is so familiar and rooted in our tradition.
    Thank you, Mr. Champion.
    We now go to Mr. MacGregor for the New Democrats, please, for seven minutes.
    With respect to Dr. Champion, and I sincerely thank him for appearing as a witness today, I have no questions for the witness.
    Thank you very much, Mr. MacGregor.
    We go to the Liberals. We do not have a Liberal name here. I think we do not have any—
    Madam Chair, I have a comment to make, based on the presentation.
    Will you be the next Liberal speaker?
    I have no question, but I have a comment based on the presentation. I feel that I need to express myself.
     Yes, Mr. Samson, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Champion, for your information.
    As a historian, of course you come with a lot of history, and I respect history very much. Today's decision will be history in the future. I look at that picture on the wall and that pretty well tells me a lot of things. How could they come out with the words, instead of “sons”, with “ladies”, when none were present? That is very difficult to imagine. That also plays into what is history and tradition.
    “Quick and dirty” is a term you used in answering, and it doesn't mean that because it's quick it's not right and it's not proper and it's not the way to do business. As much as I respect all individuals who have spoken about this, when I saw that all five parties in the House of Commons yesterday, who are elected by all Canadians across this nation, have supported.... It's not just the Liberal Party. All five parties together, forming the majority—if the Bloc voted, and I believe they did—have voted in favour of this change because this change is where we are as a nation today.
    In 50 years' time we'll have other challenges, but today this is the right thing to do, and I support wholeheartedly the decision of the majority of the House of Commons who represent all Canadians. All five parties in general supported this.
    Thank you.

  (0915)  

    Thank you, Mr. Samson.
    For the benefit of the committee, the vote yesterday in the House was 219 to 79. Thank you.
    We now have a second round. We will begin with anyone for the Conservatives.
    Is it Mr. Maguire or Mr. Waugh?
    To pick up on Mr. Samson's point, we are a nation today. This has nothing to do with what heritage is today. Heritage comes from where we came from. As a former school board trustee, I can tell you, we'll be changing this every six months if we are a nation today.
    I'm sorry. We have not consulted Canadians on this, Dr. Champion. We may have had a quick vote yesterday and maybe some stood up from every party and accepted it, but I haven't consulted my constituents. I have done a bit of it and I can tell you, they need to be consulted and they haven't been consulted on this. This is a major issue in this country as far as heritage is concerned. Comment on the situation here because we are a nation today, and then we pick up history today. No, history dictates where we came from, and you pointed it out, 300 or 400 years ago, and getting this piece of a national anthem....
     Madam Chair, as I mentioned, there is a track record of this type of change to heritage in Canada, and it goes back many years to the middle of the 20th century. A historian's job is to explain why. I don't think that's been fully explained by Canadian historians. There are people working on that field. I've made a small contribution myself.
    There is a pattern there and the pattern is that it seems that it's better not to consult Canadians because there could be a backlash, and it's better if people here keep it to themselves and rush it through because it's too much trouble to consult people. Probably there would be a large negative reaction if people really knew what we were doing in here. I think that's the simple answer.
     Yes. I'm concerned with “native land”. I'm concerned with the word “God”. These are changes that I can see after this bill, if it passes. Those words will be under attack—“native land” and “God”—in our national anthem. I mean, we'll be changing this every Parliament. That's not what heritage is all about. I'm a little distressed about this, to be honest with you, because the Canadians I talk to....
    I used to be a sportscaster, and in sports you follow teams because of their history, not what they do today. In this country there are several Montreal Canadiens fans who will never change because of the history of that hockey club. It's the same with the Toronto Maple Leafs. No matter what you do, they will never change because of history. It's the same with this.
    We need to do a better job in our schools to explain where this came from. I am shocked, because does this mean that the works of Shakespeare and van Gogh and all these people who came before us are useless now? I mean, that's where this is going, and I'm very distressed about it.

  (0920)  

    I think it's right that this change does.... It's a little change, as your colleague Ms. Bennett pointed out. She said in the House that these two words, “of us”, are “small, yet meaningful”. I agree, but not for the same reason. If you really believe in ending exclusivity, then you should have no national anthem at all, because by definition the national anthem is exclusive of people who don't belong to the country or nation. The national anthem is about us in the sense that it's not about Americans, Ecuadorians, or Sinhalese.
    If you really believe it's exclusive to have “in all thy sons command” in our national anthem, then it might make sense to just let every Canadian sing the song of their choice. You could have a kind of national jukebox: put your coin in and pick your tune.
    Although it is a small change, this is separating us in present-day Canada. It also has the arrogance of separating future generations, who may not agree with us, from their tradition, from their literary and poetic tradition.
    Mr. Waugh, you have two minutes which you're giving to Mr. Maguire. Okay.
    Mr. Maguire, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Waugh and Madam Chair.
    Thank you, Dr. Champion, for your presentation and your clarity in regard to what those words mean in our society today—and have for, as you say, 100 years. I spoke in the House on this, and about some of the very things you said in regard to this matter. We have seen a very big rush put on this, as my colleague Mr. Van Loan indicated earlier. The bill hasn't been passed for 24 hours, yet it's appearing before us here, and is to be voted on today to make a change immediately, without Canadians being asked to have input into this. Or they've been asked, but obviously I agree with my colleagues and the comments you've made that most Canadians don't know it's being made.
    However, because of some articles that have been printed in some areas of Canada, there has been some awareness of the issue. One of them is in the home province that I come from, Manitoba, through the Winnipeg Free Press. There have been articles and some small surveys done, including surveys that have been done either on some of the radio shows or through questions. One that I've heard is that 90% of Canadians were not in favour of this change, and 90:10 is quite an unusual ruling in the society we have in Canada today. It involves virtually everyone.
    Some quotes have come back from some folks. I'd just like to put them on the record here and have you comment on them. Paula S. says, “I hate this controversy over the lyrics to Oh Canada! I feel we have a beautiful national anthem just the way it is!” Shane S. says, “What a total waste of time! People died for that anthem...you should all be ashamed!” Shelley says, “This is not about gender—Canadians are certainly accepting of all people”—
     Mr. Maguire, we are now over seven minutes and as you know, our second round is usually five. I have given leeway because of the nature of this and because we have only one witness. We're into a seven-minute round on our second round, but you're now at seven minutes and thirty seconds.

  (0925)  

    I'll just finish that quote, Madam Chair, “—no need to adjust this Historic song—beautiful as is.”
     Maybe the witness could comment on those in response to some other question.
    Thank you, Mr. Maguire.
    I have Mr. O'Regan for the Liberals.
    Madam Chair, I would just remind my colleagues that this bill was first tabled in the 41st Parliament, so there has been ample time to consult with Canadians on this. With that in mind, I'd like to move on to the clause-by-clause, please.
    Thank you.
    There is a motion on the floor to move to clause-by-clause.
    I would call the question, unless there's debate.
    Could I speak to that motion briefly?
    Madam Chair.
    Mr. Van Loan, I was about to suggest that people could speak to this motion, so maybe you will let me finish my statements. Thank you.
    Is there discussion on this motion to move to clause-by-clause?
    Go ahead, Mr. Van Loan.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    We have an agenda today that provides until 9:45 for this and then we have another hour for clause-by-clause. As we've observed, this is not a long bill.
    We've already had a process that has not followed the rules of this committee and that has effectively shortened the opportunity for input from Canadians. We now have, through a miracle of generosity, someone who has come on virtually no notice and who is extraordinarily learned and has offered a great deal of thoughtful input to us, and who, I would say, speaks for a great many Canadians. Now we have a motion to cut short that opportunity for public input even further.
    This is, to me, a staggering approach that achieves nothing except for the suppression of dissenting views. I cannot understand a motion like this. It's not going to advance the process from today. We're talking about 15 more minutes for public input and we now have a motion from the Liberal Party to suppress those who wish to have a contrary view from having their 15 minutes to say that. I find that staggering, unfortunate, sad, but entirely consistent with the handling of this by the Liberal Party.
    With the greatest of respect for the member whose bill we are dealing with and the personal considerations we are taking into account for him, the last thing he would want would be for that legacy to be tainted by what has been happening. That is what happened at our last committee meeting, where we adopted a process, in violation of our rules, to shut down public input.
    This is an individual who ran for Speaker, who held the totems of our democracy as important, and yet in an effort to rush his bill through, we are disgracing his respect for Parliament. It's the height of irony, but to me it says a lot about the way the Liberal Party is approaching things, whether it be on this, or in the approach to democratic reform whereby we're going to change our electoral system but will not give Canadians a say. There's a broader pattern taking place here.
    I think this motion is unfortunate. I think we should vote against it. I urge you to vote against it and to allow us to have a few more minutes to hear from this very capable and very high-quality witness.
    Thank you, Mr. Van Loan, speaking against the motion.
    Does anyone wish to discuss this motion?
    Then I shall call the question.
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: We will now move to clause-by-clause.
    We will suspend for a minute to get a legislative clerk.
    Does that mean the witness has no closing statement?
    Mr. Champion, witnesses are not allowed closing statements.
    Thank you.

  (0925)  


  (0930)  

    We shall begin.
    Madam Chair, on a point of order, I have a couple of questions for the clerk of the committee.
    On May 3, this committee adopted the following order to govern all of our business:
That, in relation to Orders of Reference from the House respecting Bills,
the Clerk of the Committee shall, upon the Committee receiving such an Order of Reference, write to each Member who is not a member of a caucus represented on the Committee to invite those Members to file with the Clerk of the Committee, in both official languages, any amendments to the Bill, which is the subject of the said Order, which they would suggest that the Committee consider.
    Has that rule of our process been followed? Have all those members been written to?
    The clerk is answering, but I will allow him to answer himself.
    Mr. Van Loan, it was done for independent members and members of the committee on Tuesday.
    Madam Chair, the rules indicate that this should be done upon the committee receiving such an order of reference. Was it done upon the committee receiving the order of reference, which would have been last night?
    It was done before that, so there was a lot more time for people to respond.
    Yes, but it must be done upon the committee receiving the order of reference. That is the rule that we have adopted here.
    Obviously, when this was done the day before, given what was passed by this committee in terms of a motion that we had passed, not unanimously but by a majority, that in fact if this were to be referred to the committee that there should be.... The clerk acted on what the will of the committee was at that meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Van Loan.
    However, that does not change this rule. Can you tell me which independent members were written to?
    All of them.
    Who were all of them?
    Mr. Van Loan, I think we all know who the members of Parliament are in this House. If the clerk says he wrote to all of them, then he did.
    I'll be more specific.
    I don't think you could have him—
    Did you write to the member from Nunavut?
    All members were sent—
    Including the member for Nunavut?
    I gather he is a member of Parliament, Mr. Van Loan. Therefore, if the clerk says he wrote to all—
    I'm asking the clerk to please answer. Did you write to the member for Nunavut?
    Mr. Van Loan, I don't think that one should badger the clerk. He has said that all members of the House of Commons, including independent members, were written to. It is my understanding that the member for Nunavut
    I received nothing.
    You were at the meeting, Mr. Van Loan.
    I understand you sent a list of witnesses to the clerk. Therefore, you were well aware that this was coming to the House and you were well aware of what the House decided on Tuesday. So all of the members of the House were written to, and that would include the member for Nunavut.
    Did that include the member for Nunavut? Could I have the clerk—
    It would include all members. Are we going to—
    I'm asking the clerk, not you, Madam Chair.
    The clerk did answer. He said he wrote to all members, including independent members.
    I don't know how else he can answer it but reiterate his answer over and over.
    Could he please say that? I didn't hear it.
    Would you say that please, Mr. Clerk, that you wrote to all members.
    Yes, to my knowledge everybody was aware of—
    Every member of Parliament, not just independents.
    Not every member of Parliament per se, every member of the committee.
    You wrote to every independent member—
    Yes.
    Including the member for Nunavut.
    I don't know what shrugging your shoulders means.
    Yes.
    You did write to the member for Nunavut.
    Yes.
    Okay. I would like you to provide that in the future.
    I would point out that that correspondence was not to go until we had received the order of reference, and then there was to be a 48-hour period for amendments to be filed.
    We have not had 48 hours since the order of reference. As such, I put it to you that we cannot proceed to clause-by-clause study at this time, which offers us an opportunity to hear from some of the witnesses we know would like to appear but are not here today, and were not able to appear here today, including the grandson of Robert Stanley Weir, the actual composer who might have been able to answer some of the questions that people had today.

  (0935)  

    Mr. Van Loan, the clerk is indicating that 48 hours in the House is two sleeps.
    It has not been 48 hours since we received an order of reference. Under the House rules, it has been 24 hours since we received an order of reference.
    I will seek the advice of the legislative clerk with regard to this.
    I'll point out that this was a special rule that was adopted by this committee at the request of the government.
    I'm sorry, Mr. Van Loan. You may wish to proceed as saying it was orders of the government, but this committee made this decision on Tuesday, that in fact we would study the bill on this day. If you recall at the end of the meeting, I suggested that if you said you had witnesses on Tuesday that you would send them along, and you did. Obviously, this decision of this committee was observed. Therefore, we had said that if this is referred, we will deal with it on this day, and the committee agreed to this. We have followed the will of the committee in this instance, including you, Mr. Van Loan, who prior to the bill being referred to this committee, did send your list of witnesses. It showed that you understood that this committee had ruled on this issue.
     I understood that we had ruled that we would hear witnesses. However, it is quite clear that we need 48 hours' time from reference for individuals, independent members, to have an opportunity to submit amendments. That 48 hours has not been respected.
    I'll point out that we have already had an occasion where the consideration that took place today was done in violation of the rules, the vote having been put while I was still speaking on the floor, without giving committee members here the opportunity to hear why I felt that members of the public would be denied the opportunity to appear. We now know that several members of the public who wanted to appear did not have the opportunity to appear. We've had that violation of the rules. We've had this witness's period of time to discuss this, that was on our agenda, cut short. Now we are proceeding with yet another violation of the rules that I'm hearing proposed, that we proceed to clause-by-clause study notwithstanding that we aren't respecting the rules that this very committee has adopted.
    How many ways do we have to break the rules to jam this thing through? As I think I said quite clearly, when we think of the member who is sponsoring this bill, the very last thing he would have wanted was that we trample all over the rules of Parliament and this institution and what it means in order that this bill pass. That's a heck of a way to taint his legacy. I do not think it's what he had in mind.
    Mr. Van Loan, I do not accept that you have the authority to speak on behalf of the member who moved this, so therefore don't.
    I don't.
    The Chair: You are speaking on behalf—
    Hon. Peter Van Loan: Nor does anybody who says that's why we have to move quickly.
    Mr. Van Loan, do you agree that a duly passed motion by this committee, that passes a committee, is allowed to stand? This is what happened. The motion was passed. You actually did have an opportunity to make your points, Mr. Van Loan. You made them during that meeting. You repeated yourself, and one of the members said that this was repetitive and called for the question. Therefore, the majority on this committee agreed that the question be called. The question was called.
    You, Mr. Van Loan, decided that you were not going to accept the will of the committee, and you continued to speak. Therefore, the chair's ruling, having been agreed on by the majority of the committee, was allowed to stand. Therefore, you, Mr. Van Loan, did not accept the will of this committee.
    We now have a question on the floor to move to clause-by-clause—
    Madam Chair, with the greatest of respect, on a point of order—
    Mr. Van Loan, I am sorry, on a point of order—
    Hon. Peter Van Loan: You cannot—
    The Chair: I am finishing my sentence.
    Hon. Peter Van Loan: Okay.
    The Chair: I am finishing my sentence, Mr. Van Loan, whether you like it or not. So show some respect for the chair, please.
     I will finish my sentence.
    What we had here was an agreement. The will of this committee was accepted. We had a motion to go to clause-by-clause. This was accepted by the majority of the committee. The majority of the committee is now moving to clause-by-clause.
    Mr. Van Loan, I think you are going to have to start respecting the will of this committee as its majority rules. Therefore, by a vote of seven to three—
    If I may speak, Madam Chair, I would have appreciated the same respect from you when I was attempting to complete my sentence and you put the question at our last committee meeting. That is what Standing Order 116 provides.
    With the greatest of respect, the will of the committee does not override the rules of Parliament, the Standing Orders of the House, the standing orders of this committee, nor the other rules that we have adopted here. Under your chairmanship, you are making a mockery of all our rules. This is simply a process where the majority gets to say what they want and throw every rule out the window.
    We did not adopt a motion to suspend the rules of the committee. No such motion has been adopted, but that is effectively what your chairmanship is doing.
    I am sorry, but if you are challenging the chair once again, I will put the question to the committee that the chair's ruling stand.

  (0940)  

    Madam Chair.
    Mr. Maguire, there is a motion on the table that the chair's ruling stand.
    Shall I call this question?
    Mr. Larry Maguire: Madam Chair, with all due respect—
    The Chair: Mr. Van Loan is challenging the chair. He has said so in no uncertain terms.
    Hon. Peter Van Loan: We cannot proceed.
    The Chair: Do I get it that you're challenging the chair's ruling?
    Yes. My view is that we cannot proceed at this time.
    You did this at the last meeting. The committee ruled to have the chair's ruling sustained. We are now having you challenge the chair again. Is that true, Mr. Van Loan?
    Yes. I believe we cannot proceed at this time with clause-by-clause under our rules.
    To the committee, is the chair's ruling sustained?
     (Ruling of the chair sustained)
    The Chair: The chair's ruling is sustained, so we will now continue with clause 1.
    (On clause 1)
    Madam Chair.
    Yes, Mr. Maguire. You are speaking to clause 1, because that is the order of business now.
    Well, I have a new point of order, then.
    What is your point of order, Mr. Maguire?
    It is to the point, tried to be made earlier, about something our committee agreed to earlier in May in regard to that whole process of notifications. I'd like to put in a request for those notifications.
    If I may remind you, Mr. Maguire, with 48 hours' notice Mr. Van Loan tabled the list of witnesses. He tabled those on Tuesday evening, and it is my understanding that this constitutes 48 hours.
    Now we will move to clause 1—
     Madam Chair, am I to believe I will not get the copies of the points that were sent out to the members of Parliament, including independents?
    Yes, you are.
    I think this committee has ruled that we move on to the business of this meeting.
    I'm just going back to what we had agreed to in early May.
    On Tuesday there was an agreement by this committee to move in a particular manner. As a result, Mr. Van Loan tabled his witnesses' names 48 hours before this meeting. The 48 hours of tabling witnesses' names has been duly complied with. Those witnesses were duly contacted. We now have a witness here as a result of that.
    I will move to the first clause.
The schedule to the National Anthem Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to this Act.
    Madam Chair, I have a point of clarification. I'm sure what I'm seeking will not change the outcome of the votes in regard to going through clause-by-clause consideration of this bill. I would just like to have clarification and notification that the rules we had agreed to in early May were properly followed.
    Thank you.
     Indeed, I said that 48 hours’ notice for witnesses was given on Tuesday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; I think that was 48 hours. The clerk immediately contacted the witnesses when he got Mr. Van Loan's tabling of the list of witnesses. Of all the members of this committee, Mr. Van Loan was the only person who tabled any witness names, and they were duly contacted 48 hours before today, Thursday.
    Thank you, Mr. Maguire.
    I know we've clarified that many of them couldn't get here on short notice. I'm only following the rule that it hasn't been 24 hours yet since the bill was reported. That's all I was wanting to reference. That's all I was pointing out in regard to making sure our committee has followed all the proper rules, which it has not.
    The committee decided on Tuesday that it would move to a different set of agreements, and that for various reasons, this would be discussed today. A majority agreed to this. As chair, I go with what the majority of my committee tells me to do, and that is what we are doing right now.
    Madam Chair, if I could, I would also like to express that we didn't have the 48 hours. It's been less than 24 hours since we voted on this.
    I'm also very disappointed that we had a slate this morning from 8:45 to 9:45 and we got cut off, for the only witness we brought here today.

  (0945)  

    Mr. Waugh, I would remind you that in the first round, after Mr. Van Loan had spoken for the Conservatives, the next member on the order was from the New Democratic Party. Mr. MacGregor decided he had no questions. I then moved to—
    The first time you did. You never asked him about the second time, though.
    Obviously, Mr. MacGregor can speak for himself, but as Mr. MacGregor said he had no questions, I assumed that being the only member of his party at this table, he still did not have any questions.
    You don't know that for sure, Madam Chair.
    Mr. MacGregor, did I cut you off? Did you have a question?
    With respect, Mr. Waugh, I didn't have any follow-up questions.
    Thank you very much.
     I then turned to the next on that list, and that was meant to be the Liberals. Mr. O'Regan was the person who said he wanted to say something. He moved a motion. This committee voted by a majority to move to clause-by-clause consideration, because he had no other questions. Mr. Samson had no questions.
    I think we are following what I am hearing from the members of the committee with regard to questions. Therefore, we will now—
    Madam Chair, just to that—
    In fact, after the Liberals had no questions, we moved to you, Mr. Maguire and Mr. Waugh. On a five-minute round, I actually gave you seven minutes and thirty seconds. You were given due time in that order to at least have your questions answered. Then the next person, Mr. MacGregor, did not have any questions, so we moved through what this committee agreed was going to be the questioning order. That is what happened.
    Madam Chair, if I could speak to that same issue, I have no problem with that. The fact that you gave us seven and a half minutes is fine. Then we were done that round of questions. Even if no one else had any other questions, obviously, I wasn't finished. I never got an answer to the question I asked because we were cut off in that time frame. I could have had another 20 minutes. There were 20 minutes left of this committee's work. If no one else had 20 minutes of questions, I certainly did. We were cut off. I appreciate that.
    Mr. Maguire, you are on this committee. You know the committee has agreed that for every witness we have two rounds, a seven-minute round and a five-minute round.
    We did have a seven-minute round, and we then had a five-minute round. As I said before, I allowed you and Mr. Waugh to have seven minutes instead of five. You were given an extra two minutes and thirty seconds. Those are the two rounds.
     There are no further rounds when we have witnesses. There was no discussion as to whether we should have further rounds. It was always two rounds. This is what we agreed to on the very first day this committee was constituted.
    Being that there were no other witnesses, we then moved on.
     By the way, I want to suggest that we have a clause-by-clause consideration on the floor, and—
     Madam Chair.
    Yes, Mr. Van Loan.
    It has come to my attention that some information provided to the committee previously by the clerk was not accurate. The clerk has let us know that the member for Nunavut was not provided with notice. At the time he was provided with notice, he was not an independent; however, at the time of the order of reference, he was indeed an independent. As such, we cannot proceed at this time until 48 hours have passed.
    Mr. Vandal.
     Is that your ruling, Mr. Van Loan?
    I'm informing you of the rules of Parliament. I know for the Liberals on that side, it's rather casual. The rules of what we've adopted and so on seem to be things just to be trampled if we wanted to get something through. However, Madam Dabrusin moved such a rule. We adopted it. We are bound by it.
    That's your ruling?
     I come from a tradition where we follow the rules.
    That's your ruling.
     I come from a tradition where the rules are what makes democracy work. They are what protects the rights of minorities. They are what allows people to be heard. We have been trampling them at every instance here, and now we have another example where that's being proposed to happen.
    Madam Chair, can we do clause-by-clause consideration, please?
    Excuse me. I would like to respond to the question on the honourable member for Nunavut.
    As you well know, the honourable member for Nunavut became an independent only a short time ago. He still has an opportunity before report stage to submit in writing anything he wishes to say.
    That is not what the rules of this committee provide, however.
    He has the opportunity to produce—
    That is not what the rules of this committee provide. The rules of this committee provide that he must be given 48 hours' notice, an opportunity to present his views. In fact, for all members, I would submit, it's 48 hours after the notice of reference.
    You can make an argument about the others. You can make no argument whatsoever in this case, and to say that we can break our rules because someone has a remedy that we're ignoring them, and they have another remedy for when the House is not following our rules and—
    Madam Chair, the honourable member for Nunavut is grateful for the member's concern. Can we move on to clause-by-clause study, please?
    Thank you.
    There is a vote by this committee to move on to clause-by-clause consideration.

  (0950)  

    Madam Chair, I would like to have that matter—
    I would like to point out to the committee that—
    In view of the new information, I would like to have that matter reconsidered.
    Mr. Van Loan, you could speak to this issue on the clause-by-clause consideration.
    Could we hear from the legal clerk on it in view of the new facts?
    The verdict is that, indeed, the committee had decided this would be dealt with on Thursday. As I have reiterated, this was decided on Tuesday. That was the 48 hours, and everyone was aware of the 48 hours.
    The point is that we now have the committee again asking as a majority to proceed with clause-by-clause consideration. They voted duly on this, and we are going to have to obey the will of this committee on how we proceed.
    The committee has decided to proceed with clause-by-clause consideration, notwithstanding your objections, Mr. Van Loan.
    Madam Chair, we have a new piece of information, and I think—
    I would like us to deal with the first clause.
    —that your ruling in the context of the new piece of information should be revisited. I would challenge it in the context of the new information received by this committee.
    First clause, Madam Chair.
    It's a clear breach of the rules, and if we break all our rules, this is a very dangerous precedent.
    Mr. Van Loan, the committee can decide how it proceeds and the committee has decided how it will proceed. You may not agree.
    The committee can decide how it proceeds—
    The majority of the committee has decided on this procedure, and we will now move to the first clause.
    Are we on clause 1, Madam Chair?
     Is anyone speaking to the first clause?
    Madam Chair, with the greatest of respect, the majority rules. It doesn't make the rules over the rules unless it makes the rules. The rules bind. To suspend the rules requires unanimous consent. To suspend the rules in the House of Commons requires unanimous consent. To suspend the rules here at committee requires unanimous consent.
    We now have clear evidence that the rules are not being followed, yet you are saying a mere majority can suspend those rules.
    If the mere majority can suspend all the rules, what is happening is exactly what I have said, that this is a question where the majority's rule—
     Madam Chair, the member is repeating himself. The majority rules. Can we move on to the first clause?
    We have a new ruling on the floor—
    Can we move on to the first clause?
    [Inaudible—Editor] that notwithstanding that the notice was not [Inaudible—Editor] to one of the members—
    The member is repeating himself. Can we move on to the first clause?
    Before, we were told that one of the members had received notice. Now we know that one of the members had not received notice—
    As we've heard before—
    We have a clear violation of the rules.
    Can we move on to the first clause?
    The schedule to the national anthem was voted on by this committee....
    I will go to clause 1 which says:
The schedule to the National Anthem Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to this Act.
    Madam Chair, just on my point, which has nothing to do with the one you were talking about, Madam Chair—
    Are there any amendments?
    —I have never seen a committee.... I've been on many committees over the years. I am vice-chair of this committee, and your ruling in regard to what I was talking about in having 20 minutes of questions left for the witness who came....
     Madam Chair, when a time frame is set out for an hour of questions in a committee like that, I have never seen it cut off at two rounds.
    We weren't asking questions.
     Most of them go to three and four, if there are no other questions. I just want it on the record to make sure we know that we still had more questions. Obviously, we didn't even get an answer to the one that was asked—
    Mr. Maguire—
    —so I just think it needs to be on the floor here.
     We're dealing with something before this committee right now that isn't legislatively allowed under parliamentary rules, and that should be clear, and I—
    The committee makes decisions—
    With all the best wishes of my colleagues across the way—
    Ms. Dabrusin—
    I would like to actually look at schedule 1, because I'm quite interested in it. I believe that is where we were—
    They have not been referenced, Madam Chair.
    —and it is important. Also, as a woman—
    The member for Nunavut did not get it, and it's come up since—
    —I would appreciate not being spoken over again.
    Order.
     Mr. Maguire—

  (0955)  

    It's come up since, and that has changed since we made our ruling the other day.
    Order.
     Mr. Maguire, you've put forward a question to the chair, and I am responding once again, as I am going to be responding for the third time.
    We went into the second round. In the first round, no Liberal wanted to ask a question. The NDP did not wish to ask a question. We went into the second round, which is normally a five-minute round. I allowed that second round to be a seven-minute round. The first order was the Conservatives. You got seven minutes and thirty seconds.
     When we moved to the next Liberal, that Liberal used his time to place a motion on the floor. We dealt with the motion. The motion was duly voted on. The New Democratic Party member, who should have been the next after the Liberal, said that he did not have a question.
     Therefore, we are now moving to the orders of the day, which is a motion that was duly passed by the majority of this committee to move to clause-by-clause consideration. Now I will do so.
    Madam Chair, I will respond to that.
    Without the proper information—
    Order. If you are challenging the chair today, say so, and we will put it to a vote.
    I am challenging the chair's ruling because we had new information. I indicated that to you, that we had new information that we did not have at the previous time.
    And we—
    We now have a clear case of that rule of this committee not being followed.
    Mr. Larry Maguire: We have.
    What information do you have? You have none.
    We now have the information that the member for Nunavut was not informed.
    Mr. Dan Vandal: You have absolutely no information.
    Mr. Vandal, please speak through the chair.
    The clerk has now provided us with information that the member for Nunavut was not given notice after the order of reference from the House of Commons. That is required. That means we cannot proceed. Our rules are not being followed. I am challenging the chair on her view that we should proceed with it notwithstanding that violation of the rules.
    You are challenging the chair. Mr. Van Loan, I think you have brought forward—and everyone around this table has heard you suggest—that you reject the ruling of the chair because of the fact that the member for Nunavut was not contacted 48 hours before.
     I call the question—
    Mr. Samson....
     Everyone around this table has agreed that they will proceed anyway, so if you wish, I will call.... The question is already called.
    Mr. Larry Maguire: Madam Chair, there is one thing that needs to be clarified—
    The Chair: We are now moving to the orders of the day:
The schedule to the National Anthem Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to this Act.
    —and I have a question for the clerk to do that.
    Are there any amendments?
    Ms. Dabrusin.
    I have no amendments to propose.
    Madam Chair, I have a question for the clerk. This goes very much to the rules of the committee and that new point of view, totally—
    Yes, Mr. Maguire, you may ask the clerk a question, and then I am proceeding to the orders of the day.
    Thank you.
    You have challenged the chair—
    How can you do that, Madam Chair, when you don't know what my question is?
    —and I will call the question to say, is the chair's ruling sustained?
    Go ahead, Mr. Maguire. I will allow you—
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    —to ask the clerk a question.
    I'd just like to ask the clerk if he can inform us as to whether this committee has to have unanimous consent to suspend the committee rules.
    I will allow the clerk to answer.
    If I may comment, there's a presumption in there that there has been a suspension of the rules when in fact there had been a motion passed at the last meeting with an agreement.
    I think I have repeated that over and over. What we have are members who do not wish to accept the ruling of this committee and proceed to decide that they will make the rules themselves and ignore the committee. The committee has the authority to decide how we will proceed.
    [Inaudible—Editor]
     Mr. Van Loan, you continue to speak over the chair, and I will not allow that to happen any further.
    Now, as a chair, I am saying that this committee decided by majority last Tuesday that we would proceed in this manner. That was 48 hours ago.
     You brought up the question of the member for Nunavut. The committee heard it. The committee continues to agree that we should proceed to the orders of the day, which is to deal with clause-by-clause consideration.
    Now, you asked the clerk a question. The clerk will answer your question. I will then move to orders of the day.
     Just before he does that—
    You have asked a question, Mr. Maguire. Will you allow the clerk to answer?
    Sure.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Maguire, for the question.
    We have a motion stating what is required and how to proceed in terms of dealing with a clause-by-clause study when we have a bill. Although all of this motion has been adopted, as Mr. Van Loan rightly said, if you go to the end of the motion on point (b), we say as well at the very last sentence “provided that the Committee may, by motion, vary this deadline in respect of a given Bill...” and it goes on. We've adopted to go to the clause-by-clause study on Thursday, which makes a difference in this case.

  (1000)  

    Madam Chair, I have no problem with the ruling we made the other day. We did, with our objection, pass that motion, and I have no question about that.
    Yes.
    That does not mean we forgo the rules of Parliament. All I'm asking here is whether the clerk can tell us clearly if this committee needs unanimous support to suspend the rules of Parliament.
    This committee is actually working on a bill that is dealing with the rules of the committee. The rules of the committee are based on the decisions made by the committee, and there was a majority decision on Tuesday, 48 hours ago, to deal with this bill today.
    We know that Mr. Van Loan, although he disagreed with the ruling, did give his list of witnesses with 48 hours' notice to the committee. The clerk responded. Currently the clerk has told you that we should proceed with the decision of this committee now.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Maguire.
    To absolutely clarify the situation about the member for Nunavut, at the time I was not aware of his official independent situation. I have in front of me information from Journals branch, which is the official management of all the decisions and all the information from Parliament. I have the email now that at 1:16 p.m. yesterday it had been confirmed that Mr. Tootoo was now an independent member. The email regarding all the information for potential amendments to be sent was sent prior to that.
    At the time that it was sent I didn't have that information. I'm sorry if it led to—
    But of course I do not fault you for that. It's just that the rules state “upon...receiving...an Order of Reference”. That is the trigger point for determining who independents are, and that of course was well after 1:16 p.m. yesterday.
    Is this on a point of order, Ms. Dabrusin?
    No, I'd like to speak to the clause-by-clause. We have gone around this several times. We have amended by motion at our last meeting....
    Ms. Dabrusin, we are actually going to be guided by what the clerk of the committee is telling us the rules are. The clerk of the committee said that he was aware yesterday at 1:30 p.m. that the status of the honourable member for Nunavut had changed. However, when the clerk informed everyone, the honourable member for Nunavut was still a member of a political party and therefore received the notices as all members did.
    What is happening here is that this is really not something to be considered. He received it at the time that everyone else did. We know that the honourable member for Nunavut, at that time, was still a member of a political party.
    That's not what the rules say, Madam Chair.
    So now I shall move to clause-by-clause—
    Madam Chair, just for clarification—
    We will now go—
    For clarification, I want it noted—
    Mr. Maguire.
    —that Mr. Tootoo did not receive the proper notification after he became an independent.
    But he also was a member of a political party when the chair sent out the notices.
    He was a member.
    One of the members of this committee was fully aware on Tuesday and sent in his list of witnesses as required under the rules.
    Madam Chair, I think the key word there is “was”, and he has not received...since the reference.
    At that time Mr. Tootoo was still a member of a political party.
    Madam Chair, this is the best role of repetition I've ever heard. I think I'd call the question. It's been there. Let's deal with this, please.
     I am calling the clause-by-clause—
    Madam Chair, just to Mr. Samson's comment.
    This committee has agreed to proceed to the clause-by-clause—
    Just on Mr. Samson's comment.
    I will now call the—
    It's very good that we've done this, because it has made it very clear, even more so because of our insistence on following the rules, that Mr. Tootoo was not notified after he became an independent, which is in the rules of Parliament. Notwithstanding what we passed the other day, he was a member of Parliament with the Liberal Party at that time. He is not anymore, so therefore, I'm simply clarifying the fact that he did not receive a notice after 1:16 p.m. yesterday when he was notified by the government that he was an independent member of the House. That's all I'm saying.
    I will make a ruling as the Chair that I think in all good faith at the time that the clerk sent out information to all members, that the honourable member for Nunavut was a member of a political party at the time, so I believe that the clerk and this committee did what it was supposed to do in all good faith.
     I will now move to clause-by-clause.

  (1005)  

    I'm only concerned, Madam Chair, as vice-chair of the committee, that we're breaking the rules and precedents of Parliament, which could be used in any other committee in the future.
    Mr. Maguire, I think you are now out of order. You have heard the ruling of the chair. If you are challenging the ruling of the chair, do so, and I will put to this committee whether the chair's ruling is sustained or not. Are you challenging the chair?
    Yes, Madam Chair.
    Thank you.
    I challenge the Chair in regard to the fact that Mr. Tootoo was not notified after he became an independent member, according to the rules of the House of Commons.
    The chair is ruling that the chair believes that all due process was followed and that we move to the orders of the day, which is to deal with clause-by-clause consideration. I will put this question.
    That wasn't my challenge, Madam Chair.
    The motion on the floor, therefore, is that the chair's ruling be sustained. Do I have a vote on this motion?
    (Ruling of the chair sustained)
    The Chair: I will now move to the first clause, which reads:
    
The schedule to the National Anthem Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to this act.
    Are there any amendments? Is there any discussion or amendments to be placed on this clause?
    Madam Chair, I'd just like—
    All right, I hear none. Shall clause 1 carry?
    Madam Chair, can I get clarity in regard to future committees of this Parliament in regard to the unanimity, my original question? I'd like clarification from the clerk that we have met all the rules of this committee—
    There's a motion on the floor, Mr. Maguire. I think the clerk has clarified, and I have clarified. The committee has agreed to sustain the chair's ruling, and we will now call the vote on clause 1.
     Shall clause 1 carry?
    You are moving forward without clarity.
    Shall clause 1 carry?
    Can I speak to the motion, please?
    Those in favour that clause 1 be carried.
    Could I speak to the clause, please?
    Yes. Mr. Van Loan should speak to the clause. He's following the order of the day, which is that shall clause 1 carry.
     I was not speaking because my friend was seeking to have the floor and you were ignoring him.
    This clause is of course the essence of what we're doing. It replaces the national anthem with the attached. I think it is tragic that this is being done in a fashion where Canadians are being shut out. Their national anthem is being changed. Millions of Canadians have been singing it for decades. It belongs to them. It is not a plaything of ours, nor is this committee a plaything of ours.
    I think it sends an alarming signal to Canadians that in dealing with our most significant national symbols, we're willing to breach our rules, three times now, and to do it twice in a fashion that suppresses any dissent whatsoever.
    Our national symbols in a free and democratic country are being changed by a vote of the majority, but more importantly on the process side of things, a vote of the majority that has suppressed dissenting or contrary views, a vote of the majority that we should proceed with virtually no notice to Canadians of committee hearings. There would be only one opportunity to be a witness, and no Canadians knew of this because it happened so quickly, notwithstanding that when we were in contact with people who wanted to appear as witnesses, when those witness lists were provided, because we were dealing with 36 hours' notice if you will, less than that for some of them, of when they were to appear, they were obviously not able to rearrange their affairs in such a fashion as to come here.
    We do that on nothing else. We do that on no other bills. Here we are doing it on something that is symbolic, that belongs to all Canadians, that is supposed to be a celebration of our democracy, of our freedom, of our traditions, of what it means to be Canadians. What are we showing them? We're showing them that if I have more votes than you, if I'm a bigger bully, if I have 39% of the vote, I can impose my will and suppress all dissent on the things that belong to you, Canadians.
    People have different views. I was part of a government that proposed changing these words. The reason this matters to me so much is that we had a process. We floated it to Canadians in a throne speech. We signalled to them that this is where we wish to go. We did it in a high-profile fashion that allowed them the opportunity to hear about it, to be fully aware of it, and to respond, and the response was strong and clear.
    While I was persuaded at the time of the merits of “thou dost in us command” as a return to our histories and traditions, Canadians didn't share that view, for better or worse. I was big enough to accept that. I was big enough to listen to Canadians. I was big enough to understand that notwithstanding we had a majority, and we could indeed have imposed our will had we wished to, perhaps Canadians were telling us something very important. Perhaps they were saying, “Let's not change these symbols lightly. Let's not impose it in a top-down way.”
    Yet, that is exactly what we are doing here. In this free and democratic country, we're telling Canadians, “Guess what? You don't have a say in your national anthem. It belongs to us as politicians. It belongs to us to deliver our world view to you and impose it upon you.”
    Whatever the merits of that—and as I said, I was sold on the merits of that some time ago—what persuaded me was consultation, listening, hearing from Canadians that they had a different view, and valuing that different view.
    What I have seen here is a display that does not value the views of others: “We think we are right. Not only will we rush things through so others cannot tell us something different, but when they do come to this table to tell us something different, we will move a motion to shut down their ability to tell us that for another 15 minutes.”
    It won't change the outcome today, but it is a very powerful symbol of how this is being done and what that means. When that powerful symbol of the erosion of the legitimacy of people's dissenting views is being held up—and that's happening at the same time as we're dealing with the national anthem and our freedom—I can understand why every single member of the opposition on that side is holding their head down. Because it is shameful.

  (1010)  

     It is shameful to do it in such a fashion that Canadians can't have their say. We have an obligation, I think, to give them that opportunity to consult, to hear, to let them have their say, and not to break the rules three times over as we have now done, to ignore the rules three times over as we have now done, in a rush to achieve what we want.
    I've said what I've said about the member who is sponsoring this bill. He ran for Speaker of the House, not because he wanted the ability to sit in that chair and break the rules to get his way, but because he valued the institution. I've served here now many more years than I ever expected to when I was first elected in 2004, but in that time, I've appreciated that the rules in our democratic institutions, however stodgy and however frustrating they may be for those who want to get things done—and I was one of those who wanted to get things done for quite some time—exist for a reason. They exist for a reason, and that is, the democratic process sometimes requires reflection. When we first proposed this change, and I supported it at that time, we allowed that process to unfold and we listened to Canadians. My views were changed, not because of my own personal views being changed, but because I feel that when I'm here representing my constituents and representing Canadians, what they say and what they feel matters.
    We are a doing a double disservice to them, I believe, first with the change in substance, which I believe it is not in accord with what changes are wanted, and second, in the way and the fashion in which we are doing so, short-circuiting and suppressing dissent at every turn. This is sad. To do so in the case of our national anthem, which is what we are proposing to do right here, is unfortunate. It is a sad day and I regret it.
    Thank you, Mr. Van Loan.
    Is there any further discussion on amendments to the first clause?
    Hearing none, I will now ask whether clause 1 shall carry.
     Shall clause 1 carry?
    Can we have a recorded vote?
    Yes.
    (Clause 1 agreed to: yeas 6; nays 3)
    The Chair: Shall the schedule carry?
    Do you wish a recorded vote on this one?

  (1015)  

    This is your chance to get your words in.
     Madam Chair, I would like to speak to this as well, to take a moment to reflect on what has been done here.
    As I said earlier, this will not change the outcome of the vote today on this bill. However, I am most concerned, not just because I'm vice-chair of the committee but also as a regular parliamentarian, that we have circumvented the rules of the House with regard to the whole process. This is about process.
    As I said in my speech in the House, I have the greatest respect for the member who moved this forward. Mr. Bélanger is a very credible member of Parliament. If he wants to put this type of thing forward, he's quite willing to do that. However, I would suggest as well that because of the circumstances he has faced, which are very unfortunate, Madam Chair, that even his own colleagues have not taken his respect for Parliament into consideration. I believe that because of the precedent that's been set here now with the member for Nunavut not receiving the proper notice since he became an independent member—and that's been clarified—I think he would have been the last one to have wanted to see this.
     It makes the difference between now and Tuesday when a few more witnesses would have been able to come. You know, Madam Chair, they weren't able to come because of the quickness of this committee.
    We didn't get the opportunity to finish the questions. We do agree to agendas in this committee. The committee agenda before us states 8:45 to 9:45 for witnesses today. We had one witness. We were cut off 20 minutes early. We still had the second hour, and virtually every committee is two hours long unless we finalize our business early.
    Madam Chair, there was a full outline on the clause-by-clause consideration here. It's very clear that it's on the agenda from 9:45 to 10:45, and as I said, had we waited that extra 20 minutes to get to the second portion of our meeting, it would not have changed the outcome of the whole process.
    However, because of our insistence on clarity, Madam Chair, and it has now been clarified that Mr. Tootoo, the member for Nunavut, hadn't received proper notification under the rules of Parliament, and because we did not have unanimous consent to suspend the rules of this committee to agree with the rules of Parliament....
     Madam Chair, the member who put this forward wanted to be the Speaker. All parties unanimously agreed in the House to allow him to be an honorary Speaker. That has never happened before, Madam Chair. We all respect him as an individual.
    I want it on the record, Madam Chair, that I believe we are proceeding without proper process with regard to this meeting being held today, and as much as another 20 minutes of questions may not have changed the outcome, I think it's really unfair. I don't know whether the next four days will make any difference or not. We could have come back on Tuesday and heard more witnesses, Madam Chair, and this would have still been the outcome of the bill. It would have been the same with regard to how the government votes on it.
    That's their right. I have no problem with the democratic process of their voting for it as they wish, Madam Chair. I just have a real concern that we've set a precedent for all future committees of Parliament, and I'm very concerned about that. I think that the member putting the bill forward would have been concerned about it as well.
     I'll leave it that, Madam Chair. I had many other comments, quotes from people in Canada. As I indicated, the vast majority of the people in my riding and in many others are against the change in this bill. In the city of Winnipeg it was 90 to 10 on one survey, Madam Chair.

  (1020)  

     I would imagine on issues of national significance like this, many committees would have travelled across the country and held public hearings to get feedback. That wasn't even an offer on the table from the committee, Madam Chair, and notwithstanding the situation, I think it would have been probably a wise move to have an opportunity to educate Canadians that this was taking place. Many of them, as was pointed out by our witness today, wouldn't even know this is taking place, Madam Chair, unless they follow the daily goings-on in committees or in Parliament.
    We had a historian before us today in committee who made some extremely valid comments in regard to the arguments of the government in moving forward the way they have. Even one of my colleagues from across the way indicated that today's decision will be future history, Madam Chair. That's very true.
    It was also pointed out that this is a precedent that was done in some other areas as well. Dominion Day was changed to Canada Day with 13 members in the House. I think “sneaky process” were the words that were used. And there's the anxiety that this may cause. “Quick and dirty” were the comments that came from our witness today. He was only saying that because Canadians don't know about the process. I think that's a grave nature of why this has been forced upon us in such a very short time, Madam Speaker.
    I will leave it at that.
    Thank you, Mr. Maguire.
    Mr. Waugh, you wished to speak to this.
     Yes, I do. Thank you, Madam Chair.
    A number of us around this table are first-time parliamentarians. A lot of us don't really understand a lot of the rules in the House. We're learning as we go. I think that's a fair assessment when I look around.
    I was one of those. I received a phone call from the honourable member who is moving this bill. I received one in November.
     I just want to share, Madam Chair, that I wasn't home at the time. I was flying back from Ottawa to Saskatoon, my home riding.
    The honourable member, Mr. Bélanger, phoned my house. He was trying to get votes to become Speaker of this House. My wife answered. My wife just retired as a school teacher and really isn't up on parliamentary procedures at all. Anyway, it was, “Who are you? What are you trying to do? Explain to me.”
    Mr. Bélanger, who was trying to reach out to 337 more parliamentarians to get the vote to become Speaker of this House, took over an hour on the phone with my wife, explaining who he is, where he has come from, and the procedure of Parliament.
    We had a non-partisan vote. There were many who were phoning our house. He happened to be the first, and he spent over an hour with my wife on the phone explaining the procedures, and as he was talking to my wife, his voice became weaker and weaker. When I eventually came home that night, as I arrived at the Saskatoon airport at 11:30 at night, I had a message to phone him, here's the number, here's the cell number. I didn't think at 1:30 in the morning I should phone Mr. Bélanger, but I did phone him the next morning very early, about five o'clock my time, which would have been six down here, and lo and behold he answered the phone and we had another hour conversation about the process.
    As many of you know, we just went through the longest—historical really—campaign in the history of this country, in modern-day history, and a lot of us don't know the procedures when you first step into the House.
    Then we've seen this here today and in the last couple of days and we're all going to go back to our offices and ask some questions. I know I am. I have some very experienced staff and I'm sure many of you are going to go back to your offices after this meeting and ask what the hell happened. This is because Parliament, it has become clear to me...and as a broadcaster for 40 years you think you know it all and then you become a school board trustee and you know a little bit of governance, and I know many of you have been trustees or administrators and you've moved on to municipal elections, but this is a higher calling and we've seen that in this House.
    Madam Chair, you try to consult and, you know what, you've echoed those statements for the last seven months. You want to consult with Canadians. We didn't have the chance to consult properly on this bill.
    I just wanted to share with my colleagues those two phone calls that the mover of this bill, maybe one of the biggest bills that we'll have to deal with in some of our parliamentarian history, made, one to my wife and then the next day, Saturday, when I talked to Mr. Bélanger. He wanted to be the Speaker of the House. He talked with me at great length about how Parliament is a higher calling.
    I think this meeting was televised today. I just hope that coast to coast to coast people have seen that their democracy hasn't been heard on this bill and it's too bad, because whether this proceeds or not.... We understand that yesterday it was voted on at second reading, which is fine, but at the same time when you sit across and you hear you want to consult on this, you want to consult on that, I think it's fair to say that we did not consult on this one very much.
    As we each head back to our ridings, I think you're going to hear this from Canadians. We're coming up to Canada Day on July 1. All of us will be back in our ridings, hopefully, giving the word to our constituents on Canada Day and we're going to hear a lot from constituents, what happened? Why was this rushed through three to four weeks ago?

  (1025)  

     I simply want to share my experience with the mover of this bill and the procedure of Parliament, because most Canadians don't understand the procedures. As new parliamentarians here, and there are many first-time parliamentarians six or seven months in, we have broken some of the rules here today in Parliament. I hope we all go back to our offices and have a deep consultation with our experienced staff members, and make sure this never happens again.
     This is a procedure where we have one of the top historians in the country, whether you agreed with his views or not...it was a great insight, what Mr. Champion had to say here today. Unfortunately, he had 45 minutes but was called for an hour; hearing from him for another 15 minutes wouldn't have hurt this committee. Whether we agreed with his views or not, as I said, he talked about history and where this national anthem came from.
    Madam Chair, I want on the record, as a first-time parliamentarian six or seven months in, I'm really disappointed in this process. I was disappointed more than once, because I thought this heritage committee when I first came here was about working together, and I think we have on the media. I think we all sat down and agreed that we were going to work on what is happening in the media. Then all of a sudden, we got derailed on a simple procedure like this, and now it's not right.
    This committee has been hailed by many parliamentarians here as the one that has been working together more than any other. Now it has been derailed by what has happened this past week. It's shameful, Madam Chair. Whether it's Mr. Nantel or others, we've enjoyed one another. Many of my Liberal colleagues meet at heritage events and we have all agreed that we've really enjoyed this.
    Why did we rush this? Now we've derailed, you know, consenting views. We didn't have to do this. Only another consultation is all we needed, because this heritage committee deserves that.
     We started off very well in the fall, as I mentioned, but I'm fearful where this committee is going following this private member's bill that we presented here. I feel for the independent member from Nunavut. It's interesting because we've all heard his issues. One of our colleagues has gone through that issue. Maybe some of us know others who have gone through those issues. To leave him out of this process, to me, indicates we're not thinking of the 338 parliamentarians who we bring together in the House.
    That's all I'll say on this matter.

  (1030)  

    Thank you, Mr. Waugh.
    I will now call the question.
    Shall the schedule carry?
    Do you wish to have a recorded vote?
    Yes, please.
    (Schedule agreed to: yeas 6; nays 3)
     Shall the title carry?
    Mr. Van Loan.
    A recorded vote, please.
    (Title agreed to: yeas 6; nays 3)
     Shall the bill carry?
    A recorded vote, please.
    (Bill C-210 agreed to: yeas 6; nays 3)
     Shall the chair report the bill to the House?
     A recorded vote, please.
    (Bill to be reported to the House: yeas 6; nays 3)
    Thank you very much to the committee. I shall be reporting this bill to the House as requested by the committee.
    Thank you very much, everyone.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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