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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs


NUMBER 045 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, December 8, 2016

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1105)  

[English]

    Welcome, Mr. Lukiwski. You have been on this committee for nine and a half years, so I think you bring lots of experience to the table.
    Yes. Those are good memories.
    Welcome to the 45th meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    Today we're beginning our study of the Standing Orders and procedure of the House and its committees. Members will recall that the matter was referred to the committee on October 6, 2016, pursuant to Standing Order 51 following the debate in the House.
    A briefing note summarizing the content of the debate in the House was prepared by the analyst and has been distributed twice now to members, once a long time ago, and then just yesterday or today so you would have it again.
    Today's meeting is in public. Here is a brief summary of what happened the last time. This comes up after every Parliament. It's a standing order that we have to do this. First of all, the parties distributed the report to all their caucuses and received input from their caucuses. I'm assuming, hopefully, we'll get permission from the committee to allow their caucuses to have input.
    Once they got into working on the report and stuff, it was in camera. I think Mr. Richards, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Christopherson were probably here during that procedure last time. Mr. Lukiwski went through one too.
    I don't know if those people who were in such a debate before want to add anything to what I've said. Our researcher was integrally involved in the debate last time also. At Tuesday's meeting, he could add anything we've missed.
    Tom, go ahead.
    Thanks, Larry.
    Welcome to everyone here.
    Larry was right. For nine and a half years I was a member of this committee. One of the things we did in the last Parliament was to do quite an extensive review of the Standing Orders. To give you a sense of history, as Larry has quite correctly noted, each Parliament is required within, I think, 80 or 90 days of the new Parliament being convened to do a review and report back to Parliament on any potential standing order changes.
    Many times that wasn't the case. Many times, if it gave any kind of a review at all, Parliament gave a review that was cursory in nature, but sometimes it didn't even do a review.
    In the last Parliament, I had suggested to then prime minister Harper that we do a fairly extensive review, because I felt there were many standing orders that could be revised. Many of them were very outdated and arcane, and I felt they could be dispensed with. Other changes would be perhaps more substantive, for example, if we wanted to take a look at changing the timing of question period, or if we wanted to look at substantive changes in other areas of how committees operated.
    However, the one thing I insisted upon after I formed an all-party committee to do this review—and that all-party committee was only the three recognized parties: ourselves, the Liberals, and the NDP—was that if any member of a party brought forward to our little subcommittee a proposed change to a standing order, it had to receive unanimous consent or else it was not even considered. I pointed out that the Standing Orders affect all parliamentarians, and it would be patently unfair, in my opinion, even though we were in a majority situation, to try to change the Standing Orders with the tyranny of the majority. That approach worked out very well.
    There were a number of suggestions made by all three parties that were not unanimously agreed upon. Once we found that out, they were off the table with absolutely no discussion. There was no debate. We didn't try to convince others to change their opinion. It simply was taken off the table.
    At the end, we did change a number of standing orders. We deleted many of them, primarily because they were outdated, but it was because we had unanimous consent for all of them. Still to this day I feel quite strongly about that. If any Parliament wants to change standing orders, whether they be minor changes or substantive changes, it should, at least morally, get the unanimous consent of Parliament to do so. We don't need it, but I suggest it would be the proper thing to do, once again, only because these are the rules that guide us all. They affect us all. I don't believe in one party using its majority to try to change rules that affect all parliamentarians because it might just be convenient for them or it might benefit them somewhat politically.
    That was how we approached things. It was a fascinating exercise to go through and to actually learn more about the Standing Orders. I thought I knew a little bit about procedure before I went into this exercise, but I found I knew nothing. I'm quite a bit more knowledgeable now than I was before.
    I understand this committee is looking at the standing order changes now, and that's great, but I would offer up from my experience my thoughts that if you're going to make any changes, I would strongly suggest you try to get unanimous consent before you do so.
    Thanks, Chair.

  (1110)  

     Blake, do you remember anything from the process in the last Parliament?
    I think Tom has outlined it pretty well. I don't know that there's much to add to that, to be honest with you.
    Okay, that's fine.
    I'm open to suggestions.
    Mr. Graham.
    It's interesting to hear the history of it, so thank you for that, Tom.
    An idea that I wanted to throw out there is to go through the nine pages of the report from Andre and say which ones we want to defend at committee when it comes to a debate, which ones we find interesting for each of us to do as parties or as individuals, and then take one forward, see if we can get it passed, and see if there's a consensus to go forward on it. I'm not saying we should decide everything. We just say, “These are the ones I want to be the defender of.” The thought is that everybody would go through it and say what they like. That's where it would start, and then I can defend my clause.
    An hon. member: Did you come up with lights on the camera? Is that you?
     It was Mr. Baylis.
    An hon. member: That has been suggested several times.
    An hon. member: Yes, I like that idea.
    What happened when that came up? Obviously it didn't change, so there was no consensus.
    Was there a specific reason for the objection?
    That's a good question, David. I can't remember if there was a specific reason.
    One of the things that happened with this all-party committee is that it basically just died on the vine. There were so many other issues that were coming forward that PROC had to consider and that Parliament as a whole had to consider. After we made the initial changes, we just kind of stopped.
    I certainly was in favour of the camera. I don't know what the rationale of this suggestion was.
    I suggested, particularly for new members but it would be helpful for all members, that if you had a camera with a light on, just as if you were in a television studio, you would know where to look. Sometimes it's just embarrassing if you're looking one way.... The camera should follow the speaker, but sometimes it doesn't.
    The other ancillary benefit that I thought of, not that members should need any prompting, is that for those members who may not be paying attention in question period or in legislative debate, if they see a red light kind of glaring at them, it might wake them up a little bit. They might pay more attention and not be embarrassed if they see themselves asleep on camera.
    I think it would also help the camera crew to have that interaction with the people speaking.
    We talked about it. I think we actually arrived at the point where we checked with the technocrats to see whether that was within the art of the possible, and it was. It just hasn't been fulfilled. I still think it's a good idea.
    There are nine cameras in there. It would be nice to have it.
    How many people were on your special committee?
    I think there were just three of us: me, Joe Comartin, and who was the Liberal? Kevin Lamoureux. How could I forget Kevin? Not that he wants to speak at all, but....
    Adam and I, together with a few others within our caucus and our staff, had a working group, and we went through all of the standing orders. We put out a laundry list of items we thought would be appropriate to change or amend. Every party did the same.
    As I mentioned earlier in my dissertation, we brought forward those changes, and we took a look at all of the suggestions. If any party at any time for any reason said, “No, I don't like that change; I'm not in support of it,” then it was gone. We didn't even discuss it. Those that were left, we discussed and determined whether or not it would be appropriate to make the changes.
    I would be willing to go a step further and have debates on those items. If there's one person objecting, let's at least find out why and see if we can get past it. If they still say no, that's fine, but let's have the discussion.
    Are there any further comments on David's proposal that we go through the list and see if there's....
    Is your idea to go through the list to see if there's a champion for each item, and if not, then it drops off?
    Yes, it's like the “adopt a highway” program, but instead it's the “adopt a standing order” program.

  (1115)  

    Are there any comments on that procedure? It would mean that we would start with a list, with the report, go through it and ask, for the first one if anyone is interested in it, and if not, it would drop off the order paper and we would go on to the—
    We could come back to it later if someone else said that they wanted to do that one in retrospect. For example, David isn't here—
    Before we go any further, I would like to get approval from the committee that we share this with our caucus members and get their feedback.
    Mr. Chair, that was going to be my question. I'm sorry. I'm probably asking questions that have already been asked. Has each party, every member had a chance to take this back to the caucus? I know I did a full presentation to our caucus at one time on all of the proposed changes to try to get their reaction. Because of their reaction, some of the suggestions that we had made, we struck. Our caucus simply wasn't in favour of it. I don't know if—
     No, we haven't yet.
    It might be wise to do that, because otherwise, I can assure you, you may be thinking that you have a great idea, and once your caucus members find out—
    [Inaudible—Editor] permission from the committee.
    Mr. Davies.
    Mr. Chair, I'm not 100% sure that I'm clear on David's suggestion about identifying this and being a champion. I'm not quite sure what that means.
     You're asking—
    You become the sponsor of the item. We could have a list from the analysts, and as a way of getting rid of stuff that nobody has an interest in, we would just say, “This is the one that I will take to the committee and defend.” It's a way of getting rid of stuff from the list faster.
    This is just an amalgam of everybody's—
    Yes. Every idea that came up, every question, and every speech is here. There are a lot of ideas. Some are more interesting than others.
    The proposal is that as long as there's one person who's saying, “This is something that I could foresee supporting”, it stays on the list.
    That's right.
    If nobody does that—
    Then it's dropped.
    Then you drop it off the list. It's a way of culling.
    That's exactly right.
    I understand.
    Just to be clear on everything, this report has in it everything that came up in the debate from everyone's speeches, so there are a zillion things in here.
    Yes, as well as the questions.
    Yes, the questions too.
    It looks like we have consent on that, but before we do that, do we have consent to discuss this with our caucuses? I don't see any reason why we wouldn't, but....
    It isn't a confidential document as it is right now, or is it?
    An hon. member: We're in public—
    Mr. David de Burgh Graham: The document itself—
    I'd just feel more comfortable if we all agreed.
    I thought the document would be public given that it was a public debate.
    That's what I was going to ask. If it isn't public, can we make it public?
    Yes, I know.
    An hon. member: [Inaudible—Editor]
    In this case, it's simply a list of what happened in the debate in the House of Commons anyway.
    Let me get back to the list.
    Ginette.
    My only question is, if we have unanimous consent that there are some items here that we all agree on, why do we need to find a champion for them? If there are some items that we all agree on, can't we just say, okay, it's agreed?
    If we all champion it, that makes it really easy, doesn't it?
    The committee is the champion.
     Mr. Davies.
    Mr. Chair, I'm just here covering for Mr. Christopherson, so forgive my newness to this.
    My concern is if we haven't gone back to our caucuses yet to get their feelings on this, it almost appears to me to be putting the cart before the horse. It's hard for me to say to drop something completely or that we'll champion it when I haven't had a chance to get feedback from my caucus. I'm just wondering if anybody else has that—
    I have no problem with somebody coming back later and saying, “I'm going to champion this.”
    Mr. Chan.
    I'll do a mind-meld with David. There's nothing that commits you to a particular position. You can still come back and say.... The question is, if we think it's a stupid idea, let's just punt it, right?
    To deal with the question that Ginette raised, again, I think the key for us is that we're just trying to cull this. The only thing I would say is that even if we all champion a particular idea, there is sometimes interoperability between the standing orders that we do have to think through. Even if there's a particular idea that we all agree is a great idea, we have to make sure that we've thought through its broader implications for its impact on all the other standing orders. We could say it's good, but I think we'd still have to look at it as a total package in the end, right?
    Absolutely, yes.
    Mr. Davies, and then Mr. Graham.
    I'd say there are a couple of different ways that this could work. One way is to go through it and identify those issues that we all agree should be punted. That culls down the list.

  (1120)  

    Effectively, you look through it and ask if anybody will sponsor it. If it's no, off it goes.
    Yes.
    It's the same idea.
    As I heard Ms. Petitpas Taylor say it, the other way is we could identify those things that we all know are worthy of further consideration, of serious consideration.
     The difference between those two is that with the second, the latter, you'd end up having a far shorter list. You might end up with the actual 10 or 20 standing order proposals that are serious and that you really want to consider. The other way is that we just identify the ones that we agree should be gone.
     A lot of these, I think, will require further consideration. I'm in your hands.
     I think you made a good suggestion. We have to check with our caucuses, too, before we decide anything.
    I think we have an opportunity to make larger long-term changes, so having a discussion on each item would be helpful for the long term, I think.
    Do you want to start on the list, then?
    You mean to see how it goes and see what happens?
    We'll try a couple and see how it goes and whether we all agree or all disagree.
    Some of the changes in here don't necessarily affect the standing orders, so how do we deal with that? The very first item on the list says to make use of a standing order. You don't make a standing order to make use of a standing order. The standing order is already there. I'm not sure how to approach....
    I think anything positive for Parliament, PROC can deal with.
    We can make a recommendation on that.
    We can make recommendations.
    I'll champion that one.
    Okay.
    On number one, is there any party who rules that one out?
    Are we championing or are we ruling out?
    We're going to get it championed the first time through.
    The first time through just get a champion.
    Table 1 has to do with bills.
    Topic 1 is the committee study of bills before second reading: recommend that the government make more frequent use of Standing Order 73.
    Anita? Okay.
    Topic 2 is on omnibus legislation: examine restricting the introduction of omnibus legislation, or declaring omnibus legislation inadmissible, with the exception of budget bills, provided that matters contained in the budget bill do not fall outside of budgetary matters.
    Do we have a champion?
    Mr. Davies.
     Table 2 concerns committees.
    Topic 1 is committee bills: give committees the power to draft and introduce bills.
     Anita?
    I will.
    You want to champion everything.
    These are from my speech, actually.
    It's going to be a long report.
    I was the one who put these in on committees.
    On the second pass you might get rid of more stuff.
    We have more than one.
    You might get what?
    You might get rid of some more stuff in a second pass, but let's at least see. The worst case is that it isn't going to work.
    These came from my speech.
    Maybe we should limit the number that Anita can champion.
    What do you mean?
    We're on table 2.
    What do you mean by a second pass? I'm confused.
    We'll have a shortened list, hopefully, after this. We might get options sponsored by somebody, I don't know. Then we can get back to the study, because I don't think we're going to get this finished today—I think that's reasonable to assume—since we have to go back to caucus. It's not going to really get going until next year. We'll have a shortened list to work from, and if we want to punt more stuff, then so be it.
    Okay, back to table 2.
    Topic 2 is election of committee chairs by the House: devise a procedure to allow all members of the House to elect committee chairs.
    We wouldn't be masters of our committee anymore.
    Anita.
    This is what they do in the U.K.
    The House over the committee, eh?
    Next is committee documents.
    I was going to go double majority.
    Topic 3 is committee documents: allow non-committee members to receive documents from clerks of committees.
    We can already do that by the committee.
    Okay, I'll pass that one. We have to get rid of something.
    Topic 4 is Governor in Council appointments: allow committees to study Governor in Council appointments prior to the appointment occurring.
    Mr. Davies.
    Oh, good.
    We have someone else.
    Topic 5 is legislative committees: provide that legislation must be studied by a legislative committee. Standing committees would focus on policy matters and departmental estimates.
    This was a fairly major recommendation. You have almost two sets of committees, one that does just the legislation on the topic, and then another that does all these other things. That's a major restructuring of Parliament. Is there a champion for this?
     Okay, we'll pass that for right now.
     Topic 6 is number of standing committees: reduce the number of standing committees.
    Mr. Lukiwski.
    Topic 7 is parliamentary secretaries: prohibit parliamentary secretaries from being committee members.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 8 is seating in committee: change the seating arrangement to have members around the table alternate between government and opposition members.
    That's so we don't have this sort of adversarial—

  (1125)  

    I'm not going to defend that. I was just going to say that how we sit isn't defined in the Standing Orders. We sit the way we feel like it. I could go sit between Jamie and Don right now if I wanted to.
    We can still recommend this.
     Well, you could.
    Did you say no to something, Anita? Oh, it was Ruby Sahota.
    Topic 9 is track committee recommendations: create a mechanism for committees to track the recommendations they make in reports.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 10 is witnesses: create a prohibition against members moving motions or raising points of order during committee proceedings when witnesses are testifying.
    Mr. Chan.
    We're all passing, Mr. Chair.
    It will be discussed later.
    Topic 22 is written request to convene a meeting: reduce the number of members who must sign the request to convene a meeting from four members to two, but the two members must be from different parties.
    Okay, we'll pass that one.
     Now we're on table 3 where the subject is debates.
    Topic 1 is on curtailing debate: study the rules and usage of closure and time allocation.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 2 is the duration of speaking times for “controversial” and “non-controversial” bills: provide for longer debate periods on controversial bills, and shorter debate periods for non-controversial bills.
     If nobody gets up, it's not controversial and it ends, so we don't need to change the Standing Orders.
    An hon. member: That's right, exactly.
    Ruby.
    Let's not let anything pass without....
    Pass.
    Yes, pass, Ruby, yes.
    Topic 3 is duration of speaking times (general): study both the length of speaking times—
     I'll comment on that one.
    —and the time provided for questions and comments. Suggestions for changes included making all speaking times five minutes, making all speaking times 15 minutes, with 10 minutes for speech and five minutes for questions and comments; and blending a member's speaking times with the time provided for questions and comments. Further, prohibit whips from splitting speaking times.
    There are a whole bunch of different things in there. Does anyone want to discuss any of that?
    Topic 4 is list for recognizing speakers: limit or cease the practice of using a list provided to the Speaker by the parties to determine who speaks next, provided the Speaker recognizes members in an equitable rotation.
    Right now, when you have a debate on a topic, your whips line up who's speaking. Do you want to discuss this?
    Mr. Lukiwski.
    This is just a question, not a point or order or a point of clarification. Will these be the only suggested changes, or is there still opportunity for members to suggest other changes to the Standing Orders?
    I'd be open to ideas.
    Let me answer that. This committee is master of its own destiny. We're charged with the Standing Orders, and if anyone wants to raise anything at any time, and we have consensus, then I don't see why we can't bring that forward. This is just the mandated opportunity under the Standing Orders.
    No, that's great. I didn't know how you were operating, but—
     We have a mandate to review the Standing Orders, so you can add stuff if your caucuses want to add things to this.
    I would certainly add one, but I don't think I would even get support from my caucus—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    So we have to apply your own rules.
    No, no, I mean the rules would be....
    I'd love to see a system enacted, as other parliaments have done throughout the world, where notes are not allowed. If you want to get up and make a speech, you don't have any notes.
    Okay, except we're not doing the new suggestions right now.
    Oh, it's in here.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1130)  

    But you do recognize that invariably means that both Garnet and Kevin will basically dominate.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    An hon. member: Garnet uses notes now?
    Mr. Arnold Chan: Garnet does use notes.
    My only objective right now is to do a bit of trash collection, so one thing at a time.
    No, that's fine.
    We can add new trash later.
    I think it's in there.
    Yes, you can sponsor it now.
    Let's get back to the meeting.
    Topic 5 is questions following speeches: limit who can be recognized by the Speaker to ask questions following a speech to members from parties other than the member giving the speech.
    Actually, the Speaker has already implemented that.
    But if nobody else's party gets up, he'll still come back from the same party. That would get rid of that. I won't defend that.
    I think it's a bad suggestion.
    Yes, me too.
    Okay, it's something we're not doing.
    Topic 6 is to eliminate sharing or splitting of speaking times.
     No one's championing that, good.
    I'm neutral, sorry.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    That's fine.
     Topic 7 is take-note debates held at the call of the opposition: allow the official opposition to call two take-note debates in each session and allow the third party to call one take-note debate in each session.
    Is no one championing it?
    Mr. Davies.
    I'll champion that.
    Topic 8 is take-note debates, decision to hold a debate: allow take-note debates to be held if a certain number of government and opposition members assent to the decision.
    Mr. Davies approves, champions.
    Now we're on table 4 on deletions (Standing Orders, Practices).
    Topic 1 is debate on concurrence motion for a report from the joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations: delete Standing Order 128, which schedules a debate in the House, at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday following a notice of motion, to consider a report from the joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations.
    Mr. Graham.
    That's from my speech. I'm happy to defend it.
    Topic 2 is first reading of a bill: cease the practice whereby the Speaker asks the House, “When shall this bill be read a second time?”
    Is anyone championing that?
    I will. It was in my speech.
    Mr. Graham.
    Topic 3 is the prayer: end the practice of reading the prayer to begin each sitting of the House. Alternately, it was suggested the word “amen” in the prayer could be changed to “thank you”.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 4 is private bills: delete chapter 15 in the Standing Orders, dealing with private bills (Standing Orders 129 to 147).
    That was in my speech. I'll take it.
    You're defending that.
     I don't see a reason....
    That's not private members' bills.
    No, it's not private members' bills.
    No, it's not private members' bills. This is the C-1000s, which we haven't used for years. We still have it on the Senate side, so everybody goes to the Senate to do it anyway. We used it to build railways and canals. We don't do that much anymore.
    Okay.
    It also allows you to—
    We also used it to get divorces. That's how it used to work.
    Topic 5 is strangers detained by the Sergeant-at-Arms: delete Standing Order 158, which permits the Sergeant-at-Arms to detain strangers who misconduct themselves in the House or gallery, and who may not be discharged without a Special Order from the House.
    In the old days, they would put them in the jail in the basement. If it was just before the summer recess, they were stuck there all summer because the House had to let them go.
    Did that happen?
    This came from my speech, but I didn't say to delete it. I said I wanted to understand how it worked. If we want to explore it, I'm happy to do it.
    Okay, we'll help David.
     I will bring it up, and we can shoot it down later.
    We'll discuss it.
    We can put something—
    Table 5 is on financial procedures. There's only one item here: ensure consistency between the estimates and the public accounts.
    Mr. Davies.
    On table 6 with respect to members, there are three topics.
    Topic 1 is bribery (process).
    There's a process to...?
    So much for honourable members.
    That came from my speech too, because there's a standing order that said that bribery is a crime, but there's no process to deal with it. I thought, why do we have this if there's no process? I want to understand that.
    The explanation says to develop a process for the House to deal with a charge of bribery levelled against a member.
    The standing order is also possible.
    Are you championing that?
     I'll leave it alone.
    We're letting that one go. There's no champion.
    Yes, I'll let it go.
    It's a criminal matter.
    I know, but that's the point. Why is it in the Standing Orders if it's a criminal matter?
    Order. We've passed that. It's gone. It's dropped.
    Topic 2 is rising to be recognized: allow party leadership to speak from any seat in the Chamber belonging to their party.

  (1135)  

    How do you define “leadership”?
    That's from my speech. I said anybody from the House leadership teams.
    So would that be House leaders, whips, party leaders?
    House leaders, whips, deputy House leaders, deputy whips, because they're often moving around in the chamber, all parties. It's to allow them to speak from any spot. It's too complicated to have everybody do that, but if they're at the other end of the room and they need to speak, they need to be able to get up to speak. That would apply for every party.
    Are you talking to the House teams?
    The House teams, the House leaders, and deputy leaders.
    The designated officers of the House.
    The House officers, yes.
    If you want to champion it, then champion it.
    Yes, I'll champion it.
    What would be so important that they have to rise to speak?
    If something happens and one of the House leaders is at the other end of the room, and they have to rise on a point of order, right now they can't. They have to run back to their seat to do it. Why not allow that small group of people, who are the people managing the House, to get up from wherever they are?
    That's a selling point for the parliamentary running team, then.
    I'm not a member of that, that's for sure.
    Great, so let's get you joined and you won't have to worry about that.
     That's Standing Order 17. I'll defend it.
    Fine.
    Okay.
    Topic 3 is sexual harassment-free workplace: review the measures in place to ensure they are sufficient to provide for a workplace free of sexual harassment for members and staff.
    Ginette.
    Yes, I'll do that.
    We're on table 7 now, dealing with private member's business. There are nine suggestions here.
    Topic 1 is amendments during second reading.
    Wasn't it meant to be “second hour”?
    That belongs to my speech; I had a long speech.
    The idea was that between the first and second hour of debate, a sponsor of a motion could move changes to his bill based on the first hour of debate. Because of some controversial bills we've had around the time of this debate, it's just an idea to discuss.
    I'll take that one, unless somebody else wants it.
    First let me read the whole thing for the record so that it's in the minutes.
    The one we just did was to permit the sponsor of a bill to move amendments to his or her bill during second reading debate.
    During second hour....
    Do you want to change that to “hour”?
    Between the two hours of debate, between the first and second hour of second reading debate.
    Topic 2 under private members' business is designation as non-votable: strengthen or add to the criteria by which items of private members' business are judged votable or non-votable.
    Was that in your speech, too, David?
    No, not that one. The next one is, though.
    Is there no champion for that? Okay.
     Topic 3 is dissolution: permit private members' items on the Order Paper to survive and retain their place following a dissolution.
     Provided members are on the list....
    Yes, and the item here was.... Well, you could be like me. Until now, after 11 years, it's the first time I actually have a private member's slot. So this means at dissolution, if it's almost your turn, you stay there, and everyone would eventually get a chance.
    I have a question. Does that go through successive parliaments, or within a particular sitting of parliament?
    Dissolution means the end of a parliament, so it would be from one parliament to the other.
    I think you're thinking of the prorogation issue, which is different.
    It's not dissolution; it's prorogation.
    It's prorogation.
    There's something similar to this, as I said in my speech, but it's not exactly this. It might be what it's from. The idea that I was proposing in my speech was this: Let's say a bill passes the House and goes to the Senate, and then there's dissolution. Why couldn't the Senate finish dealing with that? The Senate is not changing. That was my point. It wasn't to come back to the House; it was that the Senate finish it.
    Private members' items.
    Yes, exactly. On a private member's bill that goes to the Senate, and hasn't finished being dealt with in the Senate when the House dissolves, why shouldn't they be allowed to finish that, instead of having it go all the way back to the beginning?
    An hon. member: Do you want to champion that one?
    Mr. David de Burgh Graham: I will, on the understanding that's what I meant, not exactly what it says here.
    And it is after dissolution, because right now it has stayed for the five years—
    It's after dissolution. That's correct.
    —or the four years, or however long the parliament lasts.
    If you want to shoot it down later, that's fine.
    Okay.
    Topic 4 is guiding principle or goal of private members' business: allow each member to have one item of private members' business debated each parliament.
    Mr. Davies.
    I'll champion that.
    Topic 5 is on hours per week for private members' business: increase the number of hours per week dedicated to private members’ business. It was suggested that a parallel chamber could be used to increase the time available for private members business.
    Anita.
    Yes.
    Topic 6 is on the deadline for motions for the production of papers: establish a deadline of 180 days for papers to be tabled in the House.
    Is there not a deadline now?

  (1140)  

    Isn't it 120?
    Is it 120?
    Is there no champion for this?
    I won't take that one.
    Okay, we'll pass on that.
    Topic 7 is on random draw—
    [Inaudible—Editor]
    Oh, Anita is doing topic 6. We're going back to six. Anita is championing it.
     A slight problem with this process is that we all gave our speeches and we're going to choose the things that we spoke on, but the people in our caucuses who spoke we're eliminating their items.
     We're still going to take it back to caucus.
    Okay.
    Topic 7 in table 7 is on a random draw held for returning members: devise a mechanism to give returning members priority over newly elected members on the list for consideration of private members’ business. It was suggested two random draws could be held: one for returning members and one for new members.
    That's also mine. It's not exactly what I said.
    It's returning members who haven't had a bill. Is that right?
    Returning members would retain their current spot on the list if they return, assuming they get re-elected, followed by people who have been added to the list, such as people who left cabinet between elections, followed by new members on a new random draw. Once you have your spot, you have it until you get your bill, however long it takes. Right now, we have members who have been here for five terms who have never had a PMB, and other members come in and the first week out they'll have one. I don't think that's right. I think everybody should get an equal shot at this.
     That's why I'll defend that one. Number seven is mine.
     Okay, topic 8 is on a random draw held for members who have a bill or motion ready.
    Chair, on a point of order, what happened with number six? Was it deleted?
    Anita.
    Just to keep it alive.
    You can assume that by default, if there is nothing.
    Topic 8 is regarding a random draw held for members who have a bill or motion ready: when the list for consideration of private members' business is first established, give priority on the order of precedence to members who have introduced a bill or have a motion on notice.
    There is no champion for that.
    Topic 9, trading on the list: allow for trading between members on the list for consideration of private members' business.
    Are you championing this, Arnold?
    Okay.
    We're on table 8 now regarding question period and statements by members. There are 14 items that came up in debate here.
    Topic 1 is on applause: prohibit applause by members during question period.
    Everyone's going to hate me, but I'm taking this one.
    Anita.
    Topic 2 is regarding answers: give the Speaker the power to judge the quality and substance of an answer, e.g., an answer must relate to the question.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 3 is on Deputy Speaker: position a second chair occupant at the opposite end of the chamber during question period.
    Like the NHL, with two referees.
    Mr. Davies, are you championing that? Okay.
    Topic 4 is on government members: only permit questions from government members that pertain to their constituents.
    If anything pertains to his constituents.
    Yes.
    No one's championing that? Okay.
    Topic 5 is on reading text.
    Mr. Lukiwski.
    Topic 5 is on reading text: prohibit members from reading answers or questions.
    I've never done it in twelve and a half years, and I firmly believe that this would be a great change in Parliament, a very positive change, so I would gladly champion that.
    Well, it used to be like that, from what—
    We used to have note cards, and not whole sheets, and podiums for Hansard.
    Topic 6 is on the length of questions and answers: extend the length of time provided for both questions and answers, and also extend the time period for question period.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 7 is on the list for recognizing speakers: limit or cease the practice of using a list provided to the Speaker by parties to determine who speaks next, provided the Speaker recognizes members in an equitable rotation.
    I'll take it.
    Anita.
    Topic 8 is on non-partisan statements by members: restrict the use of statements by members to non-partisan statements and statements of interest and concern to constituents.
    Is there no champion?
    Topic 9 is on notice of questions.
    May I ask a question on that?
    Yes.
    That's relating to Standing Order 31, I think. Isn't there already some loose rule about the usage of them?
    If there is, it's not working.
    Yes, that's true.

  (1145)  

    I think what you're referring to is the rule that you can't use it to attack another member of the House. I think that was done in the last Parliament, right?
    Yes, there was some sort of rule around it, I think.
    I'm going to read Standing Order 31, which simply says,
A Member may be recognized, under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5), to make a statement of not more than one minute. The Speaker may order a Member to resume his or her seat if, in the opinion of the Speaker, improper use is made of this Standing Order.
    An hon. member: Without ever defining what proper use is.
    Mr. Arnold Chan: Without ever defining what that means.
    That's why they have a Speaker.
    It's really at the discretion of the Speaker.
    I don't agree with this proposal, because I don't think you could define “non-partisan statements”.
    That's too suggestive.
    You're at number 9 after this.
    You're talking about number 8, the definition of it, if we wanted to do that.
    Everything that happens in Parliament is theoretically of interest and concern to constituents, so I don't...it's such a subjective thing that it's pointless.
    We were at number 8, and now you're about to start number 9.
    The Speaker in the last Parliament did remind people occasionally when people were using their S. O. 31 statements to attack.... I can't remember.
    Yes, he was dressing people down for that. He got up and made a ruling that he wouldn't allow it anymore, and if it happened, then the member would be shut off.
    Well, if you're attacking a specific member, yes.
    Yes, I think it was maybe even a bit more broad than just a specific member. It's attacking a member or using a...“partisan” isn't quite the word I'm looking for, but if you were using them as attack statements, even on the other parties or whatever.
    It sounds like this is worth further discussion, so just to keep the discussion going, I'll sponsor it.
     Get your name on the list.
    Number nine.
    So that's championed?
    Yes.
    Topic 9 is on notice of questions: add a requirement for notice of a question to be submitted before it can be asked.
    Not a requirement.
    Is there no champion?
    It's good practice if you want an answer, but it's not a requirement.
    Topic 10 is a Prime Minister questions day: designate a question period for questions to the Prime Minister.
    I'm not arguing for it, but he does only come one day a week now.
    Topic 11 is on repetition: restrict number of times the same question can be posed and prohibit repetition of answers.
    Mr. Chan, are you championing that?
    No.
    Then he'd have to start coming more than one day a week.
    Question period is only 15 minutes.
    We're on number 11 now.
    What I'm saying is, if no one championed it, then he'll actually have to start coming more than one day a week.
    Are you asking about number 10, Blake?
    Well, I was just asking if anyone had championed it.
    Okay.
    I'm not championing it because I think he does that now and he should be coming more often.
    Can we just champion number 11?
    Topic 12 is on the respondent: allow the questioner to designate which minister or parliamentary secretary will respond to the question.
    I want to address that very quickly. You can't do that because then you'd be referring to who is present or not present in the House, which is against the rules and I think it should stay that way.
    Mr. Davies.
    I'll champion that. I don't think it means that.
    Okay, that was championed.
    Topic 13, timing of statements by members: move statements by members to the time for adjournment proceedings (late show). Hold adjournment proceedings immediately after question period, rename it, and have ministers respond to questions instead of parliamentary secretaries.
    Is there no champion?
    Topic 14, urgency of questions: examine utility of Standing Order 37(1), which provides that non-urgent questions can be directed by the Speaker to be placed on the Order Paper.
    That came from my speech, but I won't defend it at this point. My question in the speech was, it's there and why aren't we using it? It's just too political, so forget it.
    It's not defended.
    Now we're on table 9 regarding recorded divisions. There are three recommendations here.
    Topic 1, electronic voting or status quo: study electronic voting systems with a view of implementing a process for electronic voting, e.g., members vote using secure iPads. Other members expressed their preference for the status quo.
    I'll put down electronic voting. It'll be fun.
    If you hadn't, I would have.
    Can the chair take it on? I guess so.
    Given where he's from, of course.
    Topic 2, proxy voting: devise a system to allow members to vote by proxy, e.g. allow members caring for an infant to vote from the lobby.
    Family friendly.
    I'll champion that.
    Okay.
    Topic 3, timing of recorded divisions: suggestions regarding the timing of recorded divisions included: prohibit recorded divisions after noon on Friday; prohibit votes on Monday, Thursday and Friday; hold recorded divisions on specific days of the week, e.g. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, like in Sweden; and hold recorded divisions immediately following question period.
    Is there a champion?

  (1150)  

    Yes, sure.
    Some of those things we're trying to do already, but we need to get it in the Standing Orders. I think we agreed to that at a previous meeting.
    Table 10 is on routine proceedings. There are seven items of potential discussion.
    Topic 1, answers to written questions: give the Speaker the power to judge the quality and substance of answers to Order Paper questions, e.g. answer must relate to the question.
     Mr. Davies.
    Topic 2, reorder rubrics under routine proceedings: move the place of motions in the current order of rubrics to place it at the end of routine proceedings. Move the place of questions on the Order Paper to precede tabling of documents.
     Is there no champion?
    I think the purpose of that item might have been to get some of that business done without being interrupted by a dilatory motion, like we did today. We were debating for three hours on something and then those other things didn't get done. However, there is no champion.
    Topic 3, tabling of documents by opposition members: permit the tabling of any document by members of the opposition.
     Mr. Davies.
    Topic 4, tabling of uncertified petitions: allow members to table uncertified petitions in the House.
     What is that?
     Twenty-five signatures are required. Give me a break.
    You will champion it? Okay.
    Topic 5, written questions (allowing questions to stand): remove the requirement that the government ask that all questions be allowed to stand each day.
    Is there a champion?
    It's one of these absurd things where Kevin asks that they be allowed to stand and they have to agree. What happens if they don't agree? I don't even know.
    The Speaker wouldn't allow it, though.
    It happened very early on. Somebody said no on that one, and it caused chaos at the table as they tried to figure out what to do.
    If the Speaker knew what he was doing, he wouldn't allow it.
    It's sort of an auto-pilot thing.
    So would you champion that, David?
    Yes, I don't see requiring it to still be there.
    We'll turn to topic 6, in table 10.
    What happened to 5?
    David championed it.
     Topic 6, written questions (questions transferred to notice of motion): delete Standing Order 39(6), which allows the Speaker upon request of government to allow lengthy Order Paper questions to stand on the Order Paper as a notice of motion.
    Is there no champion at this time? We can come back to that.
    Topic 7, written questions (question made order for return): delete Standing Order 39(7), which allows the House to allow the reply to a complex question to take the form of a return.
    Is there no champion?
    [Inaudible—Editor] response.
    We're on table 11, sitting schedule. There are seven potential topics for discussion here.
    Topic 1, eliminate Friday sittings or continue to sit five days per week: eliminate Friday sittings of the House. Extend the rest of the sitting week in order to accomplish the Parliamentary business conducted on Friday, e.g. sit extra days during the year, sit on certain weekends, add an extra hour per day. Other members gave their views as to why a five-day sitting week should be maintained.
    I'll do this one.
    Anita will champion it.
    Topic 2, parliamentary calendar (adjustment): begin sitting weeks earlier in the fall and adjourn earlier in the late spring. Increase the number of sitting weeks in January, decrease the sitting weeks in June.
    Oh, this is mine.
    Arnold.
    I've got your back.
    Thank you.
    Topic 3, parliamentary calendar (sitting blocks): schedule sitting in blocks where the House sits for two weeks, then adjourns for two weeks. Avoid long blocks of consecutive sitting weeks.
    I'll take on the second half of that.
    We can amend it, maybe.
    Why don't we amend that and just have a discussion on the second half?
    Yes, that is just to avoid five-week and six-week chunks when things get really fun around here.
    Is that okay with everyone?
    Do you want to take it, David [Inaudible—Editor] consideration of sitting for two?

  (1155)  

    Yes, it's just the second half, avoiding long blocks of consecutive sitting weeks. I make no promise that I can do it, but let's try to avoid it.
    I wouldn't mind looking at the two and two.
    It's all still in there. We're not amending that at all.
    That sounds good.
    David is the champion.
    Topic 4, parliamentary calendar (tabling): require the Speaker to table the sitting calendar in June prior to the summer adjournment.
    Right now it comes in the fall.
    Ginette will champion that.
    I think the committee was quite favourable to it. We discussed this once, and we were quite favourable to that.
    We asked for it in our report.
    Yes, it was so people could plan things.
    Topic 5, private members' business (Fridays): increase the amount of time set aside for private members' business on Fridays.
    Mr. Davies will champion that.
    Topic 6, prorogation: study the rules and usage of prorogation.
    Mr. Davies...we have about three people to champion that.
     Topic 7, sitting week schedule (a proposal): the following was proposed during the take-note debate as a schedule for the sitting week: set aside Monday and Wednesday for committee work; on Tuesday and Thursday, the House sits from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; hold all recorded divisions following question period on Tuesdays; set aside Thursdays for consideration of private members' business and opposition days; question period would be held each day, Monday to Friday.
    Is that even the days the House isn't sitting?
    I'm not going to take this one.
    Are there no champions for this?
    Okay.
    We're into table 12, which is on the election of the speaker. There are three items.
    Topic 1, acclamation: amend Standing Order 4 to include a provision for instances when only one candidate seeks election as Speaker.
     I'll take that one. The reason is that when Peter Milliken was re-elected as Speaker, he was acclaimed. I remember watching on TV and seeing Bill Blaikie getting up as the dean of the House to say that there was no process to deal with it so he hoped there would be unanimous consent. But what if somebody had said no? Let's fix that.
    Topic 2, election of Deputy Speaker and Assistant Deputy Speakers: provide a formal process or guidelines for electing the Deputy Speaker and Assistant Deputy Speakers; ensure each party has a chair occupant.
    An hon. member: Right now, we operate by convention.
    [Inaudible—Editor]
    An hon. member: It's not that now; it's just convention.
    It's only by convention right now.
     Mr. Davies is the champion.
    Topic 3, wording issues: clarify or reword Standing Order 7(1.1) regarding putting the question forthwith on a motion to elect the Deputy Speaker, 7(2) regarding the language knowledge of the Deputy Speaker, and 7(3) regarding the term of office of the Deputy Speaker and the provision for a vacancy in that office.
    I'll take that one. That's from my speech also. I read Standing Order 7 and found it utterly convoluted. I wouldn't mind making it a little bit more English.
    Okay.
    We're going on to table 13, the Speaker's role, powers and duties. This has 10 items.
     Topic 1, dress code: Include in the Standing Orders a dress code for members.
    It's already in House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
    That's a dress code for men.
    The dress code for members is that you wear contemporary business attire. That is the dress code.
    Okay. So there's no champion for that.
    For men, it's a jacket and tie, but for women included, it's contemporary business attire.
    Or historical costume consistent with your ethnocultural background.
    Mr. Don Davies: That's there right now.
    An hon. member: Yes.
    Do we delete that one?
     No one championed that one, right?
    No.
    Okay.
    Topic 2, infants on the floor: permit infants accompanied by members to be on the floor of the chamber while the House is sitting.
    I'll champion it because if I don't get the proxy one in the lobby, then—
    Topic 3, interruptions, heckling: prohibit any member from speaking while another member has the floor, except during question period.
    Give it to Don. He can do it.
    I'm with you on this.
    Don. Okay.
     Topic 4, list for recognizing speakers: limit or cease the practice of using a list provided to the Speaker by the parties to determine who speaks next, provided the Speaker recognizes members in an equitable rotation. Penalize disruptive members by not recognizing them.
    I'll take that one.
    Okay, Anita.
    Topic 5, official languages: disallow members from referring to another member's ability to speak an official language.
    David.
    That one's mine. I didn't say the “ability to speak”. I was referring to the language somebody spoke in the past. I don't think it's appropriate. Both languages are of equal weight in the House, and you shouldn't be deriding someone for which language they spoke, which has happened.

  (1200)  

    Okay. You're championing that.
    That's mine, yes.
    Topic 6, order and decorum: expand the Speaker's powers to maintain order and decorum. Encourage the Speaker to employ current disciplinary measures with greater frequency, e.g. disallow reading of text, repetition and relevance; cease to recognize disruptive members.
    I'll do that one.
    Anita will champion that one.
    Mr. Chair, are those measures like contemporary corporal punishment?
    Topic 7, questions of privilege: give the Speaker the power to decide questions of privilege rather than having the member who raised the question of privilege move a motion to give the matter further study.
    Is there any champion for that? No.
    Topic 8, reports on members' behaviour: mandate the Speaker to produce a written report grading each member's behaviour, to be made public on a quarterly basis.
    Who got that one? I missed that one.
    Is there no champion for that?
    House of Commons report cards.... That's interesting.
    Anita, I can't believe you didn't champion that.
    I won't go that far.
    Topic 9, time allocation and closure: give the Speaker, along with the Board of Internal Economy, the power or discretion to determine use of time allocation.
    That was yours, Anita.
    Yes, that one is from my speech.
    Topic 10, video replay: provide video replay to the Speaker in order to review alleged instances of misbehaviour.
    Sportscaster, too?
    We have two referees and now video replays.
    Was that Frank's?
    That's Frank's.
    Can we decline the first downs? I'm sorry—soccer rules.
    We're now on table 14, on technical amendments.
    This must have been quite a productive day in the House.
    Topic 1, amend Standing Order 28(1): in the Standing Order dealing with the days when the House does not sit, replace “Dominion Day” with “Canada Day.”
     I'll take it.
    David's the champion.
    It's part of bringing it up to at least the end of the 20th century.
    Topic 2, correct Standing Order 68(3): in the section of the Standing Orders that deal with introduction and readings of public bills, in English, the standing order reads that bills may not be tabled in “imperfect” form, while in French it reads that bills may not be tabled in “incomplete” form.
     I'll take it.
    David's the champion.
    Topic 3, correct Standing Order 71: in the section of the Standing Orders that deal with introduction and readings of public bills, in English, the standing order reads that every bill shall receive “three several readings.” In French it reads that every bill shall receive “three readings.” It was suggested “several” could be replaced with “separate.”
    This one was dropped altogether. That's also from my speech. I'll take it.
    Okay, David's the champion.
    Table 15 is on technology, and there are two items here.
    Topic 1, desk call buttons: install desk call buttons to call pages over and catch the eye of the Speaker.
    That's from my speech.
    David is—
    There could be 100 buttons going off at once.
    We could discuss it at more length if and when we get to that, but I have things to say about it.
    Okay.
    Topic 2, remote voting and tabling of documents: allow members who are temporarily incapacitated, pregnant or giving palliative care to vote and table documents remotely.
    Does anyone want to discuss it?
    We have one more page, and then maybe we'll have a short break for five minutes.
    Then should I take it back to caucus? I don't know what we can do once we get past the end of this.
    We're on the last page, table 16, miscellaneous topics, administrative, internal, legal, procedural. There are 20 topics here.
    Topic 1, Board of Internal Economy: hold all meetings of the board in public.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 2, broadcasting committees: broadcast as many committee meetings as possible.
    Mr. Davies.
    Topic 3, broadcasting hecklers: record and broadcast members who engage in heckling.
    I think that will have the opposite effect that they intended it to.
    An hon. member: Yes.
    Okay, there are no champions.
    Topic 4, child care facility: increase playground equipment.
    This is mine.
    Is that for us or for the kids?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    We have enough tools.
    It's for the kids.
    Is no one championing it?
    Okay, thanks, Ginette.
    I think there should be a playground outside, because people bring their kids here in the summer.
    I still want a zip line out there.
    Okay, topic 5 is my hill to die on.
    The zip line should be to the Chateau Laurier or 1 Wellington.
    Maybe move on to number 5. Number 5 is David's. Next.

  (1205)  

    Okay, topic 5, clocks in the chamber: install synchronized digital clocks in the chamber that can be controlled by the Table. Install a clock that counts down on speaking times.
    This is my pet project. Yes, I'll take it.
    You get a lot of words in your speech, don't you?
    I managed to do a 20-minute speech in 10 minutes. This is the results.
    David is the champion.
    Topic 6, committee budgets: provide each standing committee with its own operating budget, and ensure the allocations are equitable across all committees.
    Don't we have that?
    The liaison committee already does that, right?
    I think that's out of our mandate, personally.
    Yes.
    Okay, there's no champion.
    Topic 7, gallery and visitors: permit visitors to remain in the gallery following the end of question period.
    Are they kicked out?
    Let me address it. This is from my speech.
    What happened is the day before I gave that speech, I had visitors in the group gallery, which is the one above the Speaker. At 3 o'clock the security went through and told them all to get out, and I thought that wasn't right. In the other galleries people are left there, but in the group gallery, where the big groups go, like the school groups, they're only there from two until three. They're not used the rest of the time.
    They're escorted out.
    They're escorted out. If you watch that gallery—
    Usually they're going at the end of question period.
    —at the end of question period, just watch from about five to three, if there's a big group there, and you'll see security quietly going through and kicking everybody out—
    I agree.
     —and I think that should not happen. I haven't received a good answer on that.
    It's only at the end of question period that they're usually—
    Yes. So I want that addressed.
    Okay, we have lots of champions for that, and we'll discuss it. We'll get Ruby in there. She doesn't have her name in yet.
    Topic 8, independent senators on interparliamentary associations: review procedures to allow independent senators to participate in interparliamentary associations.
    Is that up to us?
    An hon. member: No.
    I don't think that would be up to us, but....
    They're masters of their own....
    They're masters of their own destiny. I think it's outside of our mandate.
    It is.
    Okay, so we have no champions because we don't have any authority.
    Topic 9, in table 16, indigenous peoples: study functioning of indigenous societies/governments.
     That was a standing order.
    That was mine.
    It's a really big standing order.
    It wasn't like a standing order change; it was a suggestion, but that's okay.
    Not to bring it on anymore, but the United States constitution is largely based on the Six Nations Confederacy. They got a lot of items from there. In our area, we have traditional first nations modes of governance that we have approved in modern treaties, and I was just suggesting that it's something we could look at in governing of Parliament, but we don't have to discuss it.
    We can, if you want to.
    It's something else. It was just a notice for people to think about.
    Topic 10 is joint meal room: create a place where members from all parties can eat meals together.
    It's called a cafeteria.
    No, but while you are in the House....
    An hon. member: Is there a dining room there?
    I'm actually not the sponsor, but I'll just explain where it comes from.
    This is [Inaudible—Editor].
    Yes, the idea is that.... It used to be the case that, instead of having our lunches in our own lobbies, there was a lunch room for the two sides to get together, and it created a more collaborative atmosphere. Now it has changed, not that long ago—
    Where would we meet?
    I have no idea, probably 237-C or something. You would go there to eat, instead of in your own lobbies.
    Yes, that's the restaurant in the cafeteria, I think.
    Well, there is a new one—
    Anyway, I'm not sponsoring it. I'm just telling you that's what—
    Okay, that's where it came from.
     [Inaudible—Editor]
    Isn't that supposed to be the function of the parliamentary restaurant, though?
    There, you pay. The food in the lobby is just the food that's available.
    Oh, I see.
    Instead of having food in your own lobby, the lobby food is joint, that's all. That's the way it used to be.
    So you're saying, in the West Block, the restaurant that's right beside the....
    It's not a bad idea.
    It's not a bad idea [Inaudible—Editor]
    When we toured the West Block, wasn't the restaurant...?
    Okay, there is no champion for that.
    The next one is members’ expenses: provide greater disclosure of members’ expenses.
    I'm not sure that is us, either.
    No, that's not.... I think we do pretty well already.
    Okay, there is no champion.
    The next one is members’ offices: increase the member’s office budget, e.g. sufficient funds for members to hire four staff.
    If you can't hire four staff, you're paying an awful lot.
    That's not us either, is it? It's the Board of Internal Economy.
    The next one is ministers (split role): put in place a system whereby ministers would not sit in the House; instead, their parliamentary duties are carried out by a “replacement” member.
    This was in my speech. That's what they do in Sweden. When you're a minister, you are not allowed to sit in the House. They give you another member of Parliament for your constituency. You are so busy as a minister that you can't really do the two jobs well, so they give you another member and you don't sit in the House. You come one day a week, I think.
    Who is “they”?
    The minister—

  (1210)  

    Yes, but who is “they”? Does the minister pick whoever they want?
    I'm not sure how they select the person who represents their constituency.
    That would remove democracy from the equation a bit, wouldn't it?
    Couldn't you just ask a neighbouring MP to...?
     Do you want to defend this one?
    [Inaudible—Editor] really a problem now.
     In Sweden, there is a PR system, though, so it's easier to swap the list, but here you wouldn't go to cabinet until after the government is elected—
    Correct.
    I would be willing to discuss it, if someone champions it. I'm not sure I want to, as the chair.
    I can champion it insofar as it gets sealed. It would be better to defend it, but I won't defend that one myself.
    Okay, I'll defend it and get out of the chair at that time. I'll get Blake to chair.
    Number 14 is on motion seeking to circumvent the provisions of existing standing orders: disallow or restrict motions that seek to circumvent a rule or practice unless they meet a threshold higher than 50% plus one, e.g. require unanimous consent.
     [Inaudible—Editor]
    I think this arose from.... We have some things that require unanimous consent that can really shut down Parliament. If at the beginning here the Bloc wasn't giving unanimous...just appointing committee chairs and people on committees and stuff.
    I know what it's getting at, and I am not going to defend it.
    Okay, there is no champion for this.
    The next one is officers of Parliament: examine the funding and operation of the offices of officers of Parliament, including the parliamentary budget officer.
    That's not in our mandate, as far as I can see.
    This would be the Board of Internal Economy.
    The next one is one-stop shop: reopen the one-stop shop on the parliamentary precinct.
    What is that?
    That came from me. I call that a different kind of standing order.
    Until three years ago, we had a one-stop shop where the post offices are now, where you could also get all of your supplies, instead of having to use eway.ca. If you wanted pens, paper, or binders, you went down there. I was a long-time staffer, and it was so much more convenient. When we lost that, it really made the day-to-day operations of offices more difficult, so I was hoping to bring it back. It is outside the mandate of this study, but I would like to see it back
     Can we change the wording of this to “the one-stop shop for office supplies”? That's what you were referring to, right?
    Yes, but it was everything, whatever we needed.
    Office-type supplies?
    Yes, but again, at most that would be a recommendation to BOIE.
    Right, but we can recommend it to BOIE.
    Ask experienced staff.
    Do constituency staff still have the flexibility to get supplies at Staples, or somewhere like that?
    Yes, I've done it.
    Okay.
    Are you championing that?
    Yes, I'll champion that.
    Okay. That was topic 16, David.
    Topic 17, physical layout of seating in the chamber: consider alternatives to the current adversarial seating arrangement.
    In places like Sweden, and the House of Representatives in the United States, the seating is in a semi-circle, so you're all facing the Speaker. You're all attacking the same problem for your country together, as opposed to ours, which is confrontational across the floor.
    That's what this topic is about.
    [Inaudible—Editor] because sometimes a party sits on the government side, whereas when it's in the minority, it's the other way around.
    [Inaudible—Editor] when the new Centre Block is done?
    The new Centre Block is already....
    [Technical difficulty—Editor]
    Mr. Davies. Okay, good.
    Remind me, Anita, to make a comment on the new Centre Block when we finish the end of this list.
    Okay.
    Topic 18, recognized parties in the House: allow parties with fewer than 12 members to be recognized; increase their resources and allocate them committee seats.
    I wonder where that came from.
    Eleven guesses.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Who's doing 19?
    No one did that one yet.
    Topic 19 is seats in the chamber: change the design of the seats in the chamber, e.g. the seats in the chamber have the tendency of ripping suit pockets.
    Having ripped six pockets since the last election, I will defend this.
    Are you talking about your suit pockets or your pants pocket?
    The pants.
    It has not happened since I gave the speech, so I clearly learned my lesson.
    It may be a causation correlation.
    Okay, David's championing that.
    I will champion that.
    I'll back you up.
    Thank you, Don.
    Everybody except Scott Reid has had it happen once.
    Topic 20 is Senate during dissolution.
    That's what I was talking about earlier.
     Allow Senate to continue to study the bills before it during a dissolution.
    Are you saying after the election, when there's an election?

  (1215)  

    What I said was strictly to PMBs. If the House passes a PMB and sends it to the Senate, I don't think the Senate should kill it just because the House stops sitting, because the Senate doesn't change in the election. I'm saying we should allow the Senate to finish its work on that PMB, if it has received it and is dealing with it.
    Are you championing this?
    I'll champion that one.
    What it says, David, is “bills”. It doesn't restrict it to private bills, so would that be the same with government bills?
    I'm referring only to private members' bills.
    Okay, it should say that, then.
    Yes, it should say that.
    Okay. We're going to amend number 20. We'll amend it to say “private members' bills”.
    Before we go any further, and this is a little off topic, Anita brought up the Centre Block, and it reminded me of whether people think that as MPs they have enough say in giving suggestions on redesign.
    For instance, our committee did a tour of the West Block, but it was already designed and half built. I don't know if any of us here...I've been here 11 years.
    Tom, you've been here a long time, as has Blake. Do you feel we've had a sufficient chance to have input into this new design of buildings? Someone just goes ahead and does it. I'm not saying they're bad, but MPs have—
    I don't think we've had any input, but I don't know if it's....
    Appropriate?
    I don't know if it would be helpful, frankly. You know, too many chefs spoil the broth. They contract professional designers who take a look at other parliaments and take into account a whole bunch of factors before they come up with a final design.
    I've taken a look at West Block. I saw West Block in its very early days, and I've seen it two or three times since. I think it's going to be magnificent. I really do. I love the design, particularly the House of Commons. We'll never want to go back to Centre Block again.
    In terms of having us included in the design, I think very few of us in this Parliament are architectural designers to begin with, so I don't know what benefit.... I don't know what we would add to it. Maybe some general comments as to the size of offices or the facilities required by members would be helpful, but for the actual design elements, I just don't see where this would be—
    I wasn't thinking of the technical design so much as the things that we run into, like David ripping his pants.
     I think it would be useful if any major changes went through a committee, whether it's a special committee or PROC, to at least be looked at: here's what we want to do, so is this acceptable to MPs? If it's not, we need to study it, and if it is, fine, let's carry on. We don't need to have 338 MPs providing their opinions. Have a committee that says, “This makes sense and this doesn't make sense.”
    Otherwise, little issues.... Designers don't sit in those chairs. They don't know about the pockets, right? That's not their issue. It's like software from companies that engineers design and not the users. At the end of the day—
    We would never know, until after having used the place, and having sat in the chairs, and going through the doors. It's hard to look at a plan and say, “I can spot the problems here, here, here,” unless you are an architect or a designer. A normal person would have to live in the place for a little while and then discover the flaws.
    I take your point, but there needs to be some kind of.... Things like the pocket issue; I'll use it just as my example, because it's an easy one. The shape of the chairs has three ridges. It's very decorative, very pretty, and because we have it, we can't change it, because that's the tradition.
    You could sand off the inner point and nobody would have a pocket torn again. It would be a very minor change. How do we get to that kind of thing?
    As a bigger example, what if in the new Centre Block, they decide we're not going to have any committee rooms because they want to do something else? A lot of us think this is a good place to have committee meetings, in Centre Block.
    I think the Board of Internal Economy has a kick at this can. I think they decide these things. I don't remember ever being consulted as a backbencher MP on these things, not to have any veto or anything, but at least to put in comments. It is our workplace.
    Mr. Davies.
    I think there should be a process. It's one of those things where you buy the whole cow, and you probably get...even in this process you can see three, four, or five substantive proposals that may have influenced the design. For instance, the....
    The chamber.
    Yes, the form of the chamber, whether it's circular or not, or whether it's two chambers, or whether there's a common room.
    I know one thing that has affected us in the NDP is not being able to have a caucus meeting in Centre Block. After the two main rooms are taken, there's really no other room. We meet over in the Promenade building.
    As long as there would be a way that you could separate the substantive, meaningful suggestions from the 5,000 suggestions you're going to get about the colour of the paint in the bathrooms....
    Maybe you just have to take it all in and allow the designers and the deciders to sift through them. I don't think it's a bad idea to have that suggestion.

  (1220)  

    Can we just add that as—
    A specific suggestion in our report on this is that we have the power to make recommendations to the Board of Internal Economy. We can make the recommendations to the Board of Internal Economy that when the plans are being drafted to return to Centre Block 10 years down the road, the plans should be made a lot sooner so that we at least have the opportunity to see it before it is approved. That was a request for a comments period.
    Why don't we add that as number 21 on the very last page?
    Sure. Who has number 22?
    There's 20 there now.
    That's my point.
    This would be number 21, and we'll discuss that. Don, you be the champion because you suggested that.
    Maybe you can come up with the wording that reflects what you just said, when we get to discuss it.
    I'm trying to make the point that I don't think we should limit ourselves to what we found here.
    Right.
    If we go back to the caucuses and come up with new ideas, then by all means let's have a discussion about them. I think our idea is to fix the rules. Let's fix them properly.
    Some of the ideas that got kicked out, the person—
    Might want it back.
    —might want it back. If they weren't here.
    That said, I don't see any reason to continue on this until we've had a chance to go to our caucuses.
    Right.
    I don't know if you guys agree with that.
    David is suggesting we don't have much more work to do today, until we've gone back to our caucuses. We're not going to really be able to get to our caucuses by next meeting, which is when we're supposed to discuss this, on Tuesday.
    We can wait until next week on this. I don't see a reason to proceed with that. If we can go straight to the minister at noon next Tuesday, I think we'll be fine with that.
    Blake.
    I'm not sure I heard everything you said. I would argue that since we don't really have.... We should be seeking the minister, and seeing if there's a possibility of two hours with the minister. As we pointed out the other day, there isn't really enough time to deal with and address the concerns and questions we have. I'm afraid we wouldn't move forward without it.
    I think Arnold answered that last meeting.
    I said the minister's in cabinet right?
    Of course she is. So be it. I guess we won't get our answers then. We likely wouldn't anyway, so it's irrelevant.
     The proposal is this. We're almost finished right now. Because we have to go back to caucuses, and caucuses don't meet before next Tuesday, the one hour to continue this on Tuesday we wouldn't do.
    Unless you have a great objection, I don't....
    Could I make a suggestion? This will probably require the break. Maybe the analyst could look through it, and if there are some that have obvious content about another parliament doing it a certain way or it having been studied before in this committee, perhaps she could find some of that, so that we would have a bit more background when we come back to some of these points.
    A lot of it comes from [Inaudible—Editor].
    Yes, the [Inaudible—Editor].
    Are you talking about Tuesday?
    No. I don't think you could do that for Tuesday.
    No, we could do it after.
    It could probably be done over the break.
    The other thing we could do Tuesday is another hour on our security report.
    Mr. Davies.
    I'm sorry, but I may have misunderstood you, Mr. Chair. When the minister comes, I don't know if you used the words “in camera”, but we're talking about this being a public meeting.
    Yes.
     Would it be televised?
    Yes.
    It would be surprising to have a minister without it being televised.
    Yes.
    Were there any specific witnesses people had thought about for the security study that we're—
    If we're discussing that, I'd want to do it in camera.
    No, but are there any witnesses you can think of, if we do an hour on Tuesday?
    Do you mean for the PPS study?
    Yes.
    That's all been done in camera. I think we should discuss that in camera.
    Oh, because we're not in camera.
    Right. We're public right now.
    Could we break for a quick minute and then go in camera?
    People, while we're in camera, think about whether in the first hour of Tuesday we should continue our security study, and which witnesses we would invite.
     We'll take a two-minute break before we go in camera.
    [Proceedings continue in camera]
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