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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Health


NUMBER 033 
l
1st SESSION 
l
43rd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, July 13, 2020

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1500)  

[English]

    Welcome, everyone, to meeting number 33 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health. Pursuant to the order of reference of May 26, 2020, the committee is resuming its briefing on the Canadian response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
    We are meeting today for the purpose of debating the notices of motion in Mr. Jeneroux's name.
    If a member wishes to intervene in debate, they should use the “raise hand” function. This will signal to the chair your interest in speaking. To do so, you should click on “participants” at the bottom of the screen. When the list pops up, you will see, next to your name, that you can click “raise hand”.
    I have reviewed the blues, and members had agreed to withdraw the motions currently under debate in order to reconsider them at a later date. I will therefore revert to what had been agreed to by the committee, as a starting point for our debate today.
    The committee had agreed to amend Mr. Jeneroux's first motion, which is related to Dr. Tam's appearance on May 19, 2020 and the emergency stockpiles, by deleting “emails” from the list of documents required. The debate is therefore now back on the main motion as amended.
    We will now open up debate on the main motion as amended, which means the main motion with “emails” removed.
    I see Mr. Jeneroux's hand is up.
    Please go ahead, Mr. Jeneroux.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I was under the impression that we were going to withdraw the motion in its entirety. If it's your opinion that we are starting from scratch, it seems a little sneaky. Nonetheless, I guess that's your opinion.
    I'll begin my comments with the first motion. I won't bother reading it into the record, but for the committee's reference, the motions we're looking at are with regard to the wearing of masks and the advice that Dr. Theresa Tam had received.
    This is our 33rd committee meeting, as the chair referenced in the opening remarks. We were one of the first committees to start, and we're still going. We've heard a lot of testimony that I think really lays out the groundwork that this particular government was not prepared, lacked a sense of urgency, and even, quite honestly, was boasting about how prepared they were.
    These four motions are important, because they highlight the fact that we need to make sure, as a committee—and remember, Mr. Chair, we're separate from the government—that we get as much information as possible so that we're able to put forward a full and comprehensive report, with advice for any other future governments on any other potential pandemics in the future. That being the case, we want to make sure that we have all the information available before us. I hope that members of this committee will recognize this in these four motions, because it's imperative, I think, for the protection of Canadians, that we're as transparent as possible.
    You may be friends with the Minister of Health. You may be friends with certain members of the government. However, at the end of the day, we as a committee have been tasked with finding as much information as possible in preparation for any other potential pandemics, for the safety of all Canadians. I implore the committee to consider this in our consideration of these motions as we move forward so that we're as transparent and accountable as possible.

  (1505)  

    Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    Mrs. Jansen, I see your hand is up. Please go ahead.
    Sorry, but Ms. Sidhu had her hand up first. She can go first.
    Very well. Go ahead, Ms. Sidhu.
    Mr. Chair, I would like to add the following language, regarding vetting by the department, to all of MP Jeneroux's motions: “provided that the department does its assessment and vetting in gathering and releasing the documents as it would be done through the access to information process.”
    On a point of order, we can only amend the motion that's on the floor at this moment.
     Should I go ahead, Mr. Chair?
    Propose your amendment as you wish it to be for this motion only.
    We are proposing to amend this motion to apply ATIP rules, Mr. Chair.
    Do you have specific language, please?
    Yes, we do. It's “provided that the government does its assessment and vetting in gathering and releasing the documents as it would be done through the access to information process”.
    The amendment is in order. Is there any debate on the amendment?
    We are following the same procedure, Mr. Chair, as prior health committee requests for the production of documents. This is the same amendment that was passed with both production of document motions by the committee on June 15.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Is there any discussion on the amendment?
    Mr. Jeneroux, please go ahead.
    I certainly don't support this particular amendment, Mr. Chair.
    If you recall, the last time we had documents provided to us, they were blacked out substantially. A bunch of information that would have been helpful, I think, in the preparation of the government and, quite frankly, for Canadians to understand in the lead-up to this pandemic is likely in that blacked-out information. By attempting to apply the ATIP rules.... We're separate from government. We're a committee. This is a committee made up of parliamentarians. It's actually quite shocking that this is the attempt by the government to hide this information even more.
    We simply want, as a committee, to get to the bottom of this and to fully understand what advice was being given on some of this information. To simply black out.... I question why Ms. Sidhu would not want this type of information available for her constituents, for her own information, frankly, because at the end of the day, this is information that we need to prepare any report that we want to provide to future governments for future potential pandemics. We want to make sure that we have [Technical difficulty—Editor].
    Mr. Chair, may I?
    Hold on. Mr. Jeneroux still has the floor.
    I'll wrap up, Mr. Chair.
    Again, it's shocking that this is the attempt. In light of everything that has happened in the last week, I would implore this particular member to withdraw this amendment, because transparency is obviously what Canadians are looking for these days and this is just another attempt to hide that.

  (1510)  

    Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    Mrs. Jansen, I apologize. You were actually next.
    Please, go ahead now.
    That's all right. Thank you.
    I'm extremely concerned. I've really found this committee work fascinating, and I thought that the idea was that we would be able to give Canadians a truly good picture of what happened and the types of reactions that were done. I think it's so important.
    Canadians are scared. If we want Canadians not to be afraid, we need to ensure that we provide them with a really wholesome amount of information, and if we black stuff out, which happened with some of the documents we received via ATIPs, it's very concerning to Canadians because then it looks like there's something to hide. We need to make sure that it doesn't even appear that we're trying to hide something.
    I would also urge and beg Ms. Sidhu to remove that change, because Canadians are scared. We owe it to them to be completely open and transparent so that they understand exactly what happened and why it happened, and so that they can once again feel confidence in the process.
    Thank you, Mrs. Jansen.
    Dr. Jaczek, please go ahead.
    Thank you so much, Chair.
    I'm going to be supporting Ms. Sidhu. Whenever we request information, it's really important to balance it with the natural privacy concerns of those involved in providing the information.
     I think this committee already has approved similar language. It was not the subject of much dispute previously, and I fail to understand why, at this particular moment, the privacy aspects are apparently to be ignored by a couple of members from the committee who have spoken so far. We also need to be cognizant that this material will require information, access to information, potentially from other levels of government. Certainly, in terms of privacy issues for those other levels of governments' personnel who were involved in gathering this sort of information and providing this information, their privacy rights need to be respected.
    I am definitely going to be supporting Ms. Sidhu in her proposed amendment.
     Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
     Ms. Kwan, please go ahead.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'm subbing in for MP Don Davies.
    Thank you for the opportunity for me to speak to the issue here.
    With respect to the amendment, it is my understanding that through the last round of requests, when a similar request was made through the committee, much of the information did come back redacted. I think that is of concern if we are trying to access information and share information with the public.
    On the issue of privacy in terms of names, phone numbers, emails and so on, it is certainly the case with other committees, in my experience, that the privacy component can address those issues in terms of ensuring that people's privacy is respected. I'm wondering whether it is the department officials who should be doing that work or whether it should be done elsewhere, with respect to the privacy component.
    The other two aspects that I know other committees look at, in terms of the sharing of information, deal with national security and cabinet confidentiality. Those are the only two other aspects that would apply, so I'm not quite sure if the language of this amendment is referring to that normal process in that regard or if we are talking about something greater. Since this language was used before, with previous requests for information, and much material came back redacted, it would be hard to imagine that all of that stuff has to do with people's privacy in terms of the name and contact information.
    I want to highlight that and urge Ms. Sidhu to reconsider this aspect, because if this amendment proceeds in the way it has previously, then I think it defeats the purpose of ensuring that information is made public and accountable to the public.

  (1515)  

    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    The privacy and things that should be redacted because of this proposed amendment.... Imagine conversations with a province or a territory. Imagine names of ministers and public figures. I think it's important that we consider privacy.
    I get what MP Kwan is saying. It's important to ensure that the proper people are vetting this, but the language that is used by MP Sidhu is the exact language that was put forward by.... I read this and Matt got a great chuckle out of it last time, but this wording comes from Conservative motions.
     John Barlow moved:
That, given the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food’s written response to M.P. Philip Lawrence’s question on the cost of the carbon tax to the agriculture industry, in which their analysis and estimates do not reflect the federal backstop, the committee send for a copy of all reports, briefing notes, memorandums, emails and documents related to the federal carbon tax and its cost, directly or indirectly, to the agriculture industry, to be provided in both official languages by Saturday, August 1, 2020, provided that the department does its assessment and vetting in gathering and releasing the documents as it would be done through the access to information process.
    We hear this angst about keeping things from the public. This is strictly about privacy, relationships and discussions.
    Kelly Block moved:
That, in the context of its study of the government’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), the committee send for the following documents to be provided by the government by Monday, August 3, 2020 and that the documents be published publicly on the committee’s website by Monday, August 10, 2020 and that departments tasked with gathering and releasing the following documents do their assessment and vetting as would be done through the access to information process[.]
    There are more. There are many of these, and they all appear to be Conservative motions, so I'm not sure why folks are up in arms about this.
    I will agree with Jenny that it's important that any vetting that is done be the proper vetting for the real reason of privacy. I share her concern about making sure that not too much is redacted and that the right people do the redacting.
    Thank you for that, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    We go now to Dr. Kitchen. Please go ahead.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, everyone, for your input.
    With all due respect to Mr. Fisher, what was proposed back at that time was a number of months ago. We've since seen what has come out of that and the information that's been provided or has not been provided. The redacting of that information basically left in the “thes”, the “tos” and the “ins” but took everything else out, and that's challenging.
    When we turn around—and we made adjustments to the motions by taking out emails or by taking out texting—we find out that Minister Champagne said in an article in The Star on April 3, “You know, basically, I had to negotiate the landing slots for our planes to land in Peru, I did that by text message, to be honest”. Then the minister, at our meeting, meeting number 30 on June 23, 2020, basically said, “We did diplomacy by text message. I managed to get people out of Peru by texting my counterpart there and negotiating landing rights. We got people out of Morocco by texting the minister and saying we needed one more flight.”
    This is information that has been put out there that we hear after the fact, after it's all been redacted and taken out. So I truly—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    I'm sorry to interrupt, Dr. Kitchen.
    Those motions I just read, which were moved by Conservatives, were for documents that have not even been produced yet. Those are for August production of documents, so they're not old. That's not in relation to the one you're talking about that came back already previously redacted.
    Correct. The reality is that it was redacted. Why? It was because of ATIPs. For you to suggest that this is not the case—and then we have to wait to see what the ultimate response is—I think is a little misleading.
    Please direct your comments through the chair.
    Ultimately, I would ask Madame Sidhu to reconsider this motion.
    Thank you, Dr. Kitchen.
    We will go now to Mr. Kelloway.

  (1520)  

    I'll certainly be supporting the amendment being posed here by MP Sidhu.
     We talk about the importance of transparency, and I think everyone would agree with that. Every Canadian would agree with that. Everyone on this panel and every staff member would, but I also think there are two other elements that go with transparency, and they are efficiency and consistency. I look at MP Barlow or MP Block, and, if it's good for those folks, I think it should be good for us, in this case.
    I think you can have all three elements: transparency, efficiency and consistency. I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
     We will go now to Mr. Jeneroux.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Through you to MP Fisher, on the comment about imagining that the names of public figures were to be released, quite honestly, that's why we are public figures, for that purpose. The Minister of Health has a tremendous responsibility in making sure she is accountable to Canadians and, quite frankly, to the opposition in this case, and that's what we're trying to get to the bottom of.
    The motions that Mr. Fisher references apparently were agreements made off-line. I certainly wasn't privy to any of those being asked of us here at HESA. It means we don't have to do that. Nobody has approached me to make any of these sorts of deals off-line either, so, Mr. Fisher, they do not necessarily pertain to here.
    I simply implore the committee.... We've worked extremely well together. We've heard lots of very important testimony. In light of everything we've heard and the consistent lack of preparedness and readiness for this pandemic, I think Canadians certainly would appreciate the ability to know that the government has, perhaps, learned lessons and is looking forward to implementing certain things that maybe weren't in place before, and that's fine. We want to make sure we have those as part of our report so that it can then become lessons learned for the next government in any other potential pandemics.
     There's no need, most times, for these government members to defend the government. Particularly in light of the WE scandal that we saw, there really isn't any reason to stand and try to protect the government. There is every reason that transparency should be even more important today.
     I'll leave my comments there, Mr. Chair, but I implore the members to reconsider, thinking that there's an opportunity in front of them to stand tall and really promote transparency here at this committee, where we can all do that together in a non-partisan way, but certainly that would begin with the withdrawal of this type of motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    We go now to Mr. Van Bynen.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm supporting the comments that were made earlier by Dr. Jaczek on the information we need to be cognizant of. There is a significant amount of personal information. The legislation is on access to information and privacy, and I think we need to respect the privacy component. This is legislation that's been adopted by the House, and it's been adopted for a reason.
    Some of the materials involved could be discussions with other orders of government, which are likely to be caught up. It's important that they need to be consulted with as we go forward. I think there's some degree of privacy in the discussions between different levels of government, and some degree of privacy for personal information.
    Again, I want to emphasize that this legislation was put into place to protect people's right to privacy, and the format and the judgment that's being exercised will be exercised in accordance with the rules. Why is it that we would object to exercising and living by the rules that the government has established? Why do we have access to information and privacy legislation when we don't intend to respect it?
    There's a real need to respect what has been adopted by this government, so I will be supporting Ms. Sidhu's motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Van Bynen.
    We go now to Mrs. Jansen.

  (1525)  

    I'm a bit mind-boggled by the constant talk about privacy, when we need to understand that Canadians are scared. Canadians are looking to their public officials for good leadership based on good science. How can we get the good science if we're going to be told that there's a lot of privacy that has to be upheld? If someone has made a mistake, we definitely need to know. How are we going to know if we're all of a sudden talking about privacy being more important?
    If there's information, we need to put it on the table. For instance, if Canadians aren't wearing masks—and let's face it, when you go out into town they aren't—we need to understand what information she got. Lay it all out on the table so Canadians can really see why suddenly now masks work. It's so important. To suggest that privacy is suddenly a top priority.... Canadians are scared and they aren't wearing masks. Privacy needs to take second place right now, and we need to look at the numbers.
    If we actually want people to consider her new advice, we are going to have to lay out the information so that nothing is hidden. It's very important. I think if we're going to look at this from a non-partisan perspective, Canadians will respect what this committee is doing. If we can't lay the information out on the line, Canadians are going to continue to not wear masks and not do what they're being asked to do, which will, as we know, have its regular effect, which is that more people will get sick.
     I'm begging you. We need to make sure that we have all the information, that we are completely transparent with Canadians. Otherwise this looks just like some kind of political theatre yet again, and Canadians' lives are on the line.
    Thank you, Mrs. Jansen.
    Mr. Fisher, go ahead.
    Matt talked about this committee working very well together, and he's right. This committee has worked well together. In fact, I think if you look back on most of the motions that have come up through this committee, you will see they have been, for the most part, unanimous.
    We also have, for the first time ever, a really good relationship among the provinces and territories and the federal government because of the importance of this pandemic and the importance of working together. I'm quite proud of the way the provinces, territories and the federal government have worked together, just like, within the House of Commons, I'm quite proud that the opposition parties and the government have all worked well together. Parties have come up with great suggestions, and the government has enacted those great suggestions. I don't want to see what we're talking about here today interfere with that.
    We want to make sure that we get all the information we are seeking as a committee, but also that we protect the privacy of Canadians. That's what's important. MP Kwan said it very well. I can't even imagine the examples, but let's think about someone in Quebec being part of a briefing note or being part of documentation, and being named. That person does not deserve to have his or her name.... Matt's right about public figures. Public figures sign up for this stuff; a lot of people don't sign up for this stuff.
    I just think that if we have the ability to provide the level of privacy that Canadians deserve and expect from government, we should put this language in there. Again, going back to MP Kwan's points, making sure that this is done in the proper way so that it protects the privacy of Canadians is the outcome that we want. But, as Mrs. Jansen said, it's also about coming up with all of the information that answers all the questions of the people on this committee.
     I will continue. I have not yet heard any reason not to support Ms. Sidhu's amendment to ensure the privacy of Canadians.
     Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    We go now to Dr. Jaczek.
    Please go ahead.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I've been looking at this wording very, very carefully, in terms of what Ms. Sidhu has presented as an amendment. I just don't understand where the fear is coming from that we will not get good information. Essentially, we're asking the department to do “its assessment and vetting in gathering and releasing the documents as it would be done through the access to information process”. That is a process that has been approved. It has become almost standard language. It obviously does protect individuals in terms of their personal information—many people are very concerned about the privacy of their personal information—but in no way does it preclude the gathering of important information that we all would like to get through the gist of this motion. It simply puts in a layer of protection.
    Dr. Kitchen's motion, which we all passed on June 15, had exactly the same language in it. We have yet to see the results of that particular motion, because the date was amended. I just fail to understand how we're going to be denied the type of important information, substantive information that led to decision-making, by ensuring that personal privacy is protected.
    Thank you, Chair.

  (1530)  

    Thank you, Doctor.
    We'll go now to Ms. Sidhu.
     Ms. Sidhu, go ahead, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Chair, I just want to remind all members what we are here to talk about. We're not here to try to score political points. We are here to help Canadians. As was the case in February, the same language was used to respect the privacy of Canadians. Just keep that in mind. I think my motion is absolutely what we want from them. The main thrust is that we want information. That information is what we should focus on.
    Again, I want to remind everyone that this is the 33rd meeting. We work together. Let's focus on Canadians, not on scoring political points.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Mr. Jeneroux, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to address a few points that were raised about why we think this particular language will withhold information. I would simply point back to the motion that was adopted at the February 26, 2020 meeting of the Standing Committee on Health, at which we indicated that we wanted text messages and emails. The government was really nervous about the text messages piece. Then it was sent to the parliamentary counsel and law clerk's office. During their review of that information, they essentially determined that it's not a government's role to redact information that comes to committee. The committee determines whether or not to make that information public.
    I'll read just a quick excerpt from that letter, which was sent to the clerk of the committee at the time, Mr. Jacques. It says:
[W]e reminded the government officials that the House's and its committees' powers to order the production of records is absolute and unfettered as it constitutes a constitutional parliamentary privilege that supersedes statutory obligations. We added that the House and its committees are the appropriate authority to determine whether any reasons for withholding the documents should be accepted or not; and that it was for the Committee to determine whether it was prepared to accept any proposed measures that would prevent the disclosure of sensitive information for any reason.
    Essentially, it says that these committees supersede the order of precedence in terms of the House, and that making this particular motion is an overreach on the ATIP side. Quite honestly, at this time and day we want more information.
    I would again request that Ms. Sidhu withdraw her motion. It was the non-partisan law clerk and parliamentary counsel who made that ruling, not the Conservative Party, or the NDP or the Bloc Québécois. Again, I implore Ms. Sidhu to consider withdrawing her motion.
     Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    Ms. Kwan, go ahead.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I think perhaps we can find a compromise approach here. This is what I would like to suggest and the points that I would like to make.
    On the issue of privacy, I think everybody is generally in agreement that privacy issues like names and emails should be protected. To that end, I think we should note, too, that in privacy versus access to information, the scope of issues is different. In access to information, the scope is far broader than that of privacy. Maybe we can land on saying that for privacy purposes, such as names and emails, we can look to apply the protection of privacy with these documents, and that instead of having the government or the department officials do the vetting of these documents, this should actually be done through the law clerk's office so that we can in fact achieve both. I'm hoping that all of the parties can come to an agreement on this.
     Previously, HESA passed a motion on February 26, as I understand...that they might be on board to request the law clerk for vetting privacy. I think that actually achieves what we want to achieve here. I'd like to see whether or not Ms. Sidhu would withdraw her amendment and then table a different one—I'd be happy to table a different one—to have the law clerk do the vetting for privacy purposes.
    Finally, just to refresh everybody's memory with regard to the February 26 motion I talked about—it was possibly my colleague Don Davies who moved this motion—the issue was to have the law clerk vet for privacy, cabinet confidence and national security. Those were the central themes that were applied to access to information.

  (1535)  

    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    For clarity, I'd like to point out that it's really not up to Ms. Sidhu to withdraw her motion. We have two options. We can vote on it or we can arguably do something by unanimous consent. It's before the committee at this point. We have to deal with it as it is.
    Mr. Chair, can I ask a question related to that? Can there be an amendment to an amendment, or do we have to defeat this and then move another amendment?
    There can be a single subamendment on the floor for a given amendment.
    Let me try this on for size, then. As a subamendment to the amendment, instead of the language where we said it would be the department officials who would vet the documents, the law clerk would vet the documents for privacy, cabinet confidence and national security.
    Can that be deemed as one subamendment, Mr. Chair?
    You're moving a subamendment. That is in order.
    The debate at this point is on the subamendment, as Ms. Kwan has proposed.
    We go now to Mrs. Jansen.
    Do you wish to speak on the subamendment?
    No. I wanted to speak on the previous one.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Fisher, would you like to go ahead, please?
    I was going to speak on the main one, but I would like to get the wording of the subamendment so that I can write it down and see how it fits in with the amendment. I wonder if MP Kwan would reiterate her subamendment. I wasn't fast enough to write it down.
    I'll keep my hand up for the main motion as well.
    Go ahead, Ms. Kwan, if you wouldn't mind.
    Okay.
     My subamendment would be that instead of the language that departmental officials would do the vetting, the vetting will be done by the law clerk, and the language of the vetting would be “privacy, cabinet confidence and national security”.
     On a point of order, Mr. Chair—and I see Jenny has frozen for a second—could we get the clerk to tell us what that looks like, in its entirety? Sorry, Jenny.
    Sorry, my computer glitched for a second. I think I'm back on now.
    Yes, could we have the clerk read out the subamendment in its entirety?

  (1540)  

    Please go ahead, Madam Clerk.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    This is my understanding of the subamendment. We would delete the words after “provided that the” and replace them with “Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel vet the documents for matters of cabinet confidence and national security as well as personal information.”
    I wasn't sure about the last part.
    I think we can use the word “privacy”.
    Do you mean “as well as privacy”?
    Yes, it would be “privacy pertaining to names and personal information.”
    Okay, so what I have, in its entirety, is “provided that the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel vet the documents for matters of cabinet confidence and national security as well as privacy pertaining to names and personal information.”
    Thank you, Madam Clerk.
    Mr. Fisher, does that answer your question?
    It does, although I think it gets us to where MP Jeneroux didn't want us to go. I think it's more like the old motion and is not quite as good as the wording we had in using the Access to Information Act. I will defer to the folks who have been here longer than I have, but I think what we proposed would get us to the place that MP Jansen and MP Jeneroux were trying to get to. I'm going to continue to think about this.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    Ms. Sidhu, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     I want to echo what my colleague Darren said. I still prefer our subamendment, because it protects Canadians' rights, so I want to go with ours.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    We'll go to Mr. Kelloway.
    Thanks, Mr. Chair.
    I was going through two trains of thought here. I was listening to Darren talking about the original amendment and perhaps positioning where I thought my original points would be. To go back to MP Kwan for just a second, I'd like to build on what she was talking about, but in any event, I think I'll leave it at that. I think I need some time to think about Darren's point regarding the original amendment, as opposed to the subamendment, and what its original intent was.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    We'll go to Dr. Jaczek.
    Thank you, Chair.
     I'd like to thank MP Kwan for introducing what we're saying is a subamendment, because I think her concerns around personal information and privacy are very similar to my own.
    The only thing is that I don't feel that it's a subamendment. It's really a different amendment. I believe you have ruled on that, but in a sense it changes Ms. Sidhu's amendment to the extent that I think it's preferable for us to vote on Ms. Sidhu's amendment and then perhaps see if Ms. Kwan would like to introduce her subamendment as an amendment.
    This is shaping up to be a little puzzling. I offer that because, just like Mr. Kelloway, I'm getting a little confused as to exactly what we're voting on.

  (1545)  

     Ms. Kwan's subamendment is on the table, and it is the one we're dealing with. We need to deal with that before we get to the original amendment as it may or may not be amended by this motion.
    The debate on the subamendment continues.
    Ms. Kwan, please go ahead.
    Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
    To wrap up my comments, I think my subamendment is one that bridges the sides. The amendment that was moved by Ms. Sidhu is much broader in its scope, which raises the concern that important information may be redacted, and then seeking these documents would become meaningless. This is a process the committee embarked on before, and the documents that came back were effectively meaningless because much of the information was redacted.
    If the concern truly is to ensure that people's privacy is dealt with, then we can do that with my subamendment, to ensure that privacy issues are protected, which is to say that people's names and personal information would be redacted from the documents.
    To the other point, on February 26, the health committee did pass such a motion on a different matter, requesting documents, briefing notes and so on, and the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons had undertaken the work to vet the documents for these three reasons: privacy, cabinet confidence and national security.
    I'm hoping my subamendment will get support so we can move on to dealing with the many other issues that are before us today at committee.
    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    Mr. Fisher, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     Ms. Kwan's argument is exactly why I think we want to use our language, because the language that was very close to what is in the subamendment is perhaps what caused a lot of the redactions last time.
    I totally appreciate what you're trying to get at, MP Kwan. I still think ours allows for more information that the committee is seeking to come back.
    Mr. Chair, I'm not sure exactly how we proceed on this. I guess we have to—
    We proceed until there's no more debate, and then we vote.
    Okay. Can we go back to a question that Dr. Jaczek asked?
    This seems to be significantly different, not just a tweak. You did rule that it could be a subamendment, but it seems it's significantly different from what was proposed by Ms. Sidhu. I'm by no means second-guessing your decision, Mr. Chair, but I do think this takes us in a different direction, so I'm wondering how we proceed here.
     Is there a way of finding out if this subamendment does represent the integrity of Ms. Sidhu's amendment?
    I don't believe there's a requirement that it does, but I will ask the clerk to give us an opinion.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Madam Clerk, would you like to advise here?
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    My understanding of this subamendment would be that it narrows the scope of what Ms. Sidhu was asking for, and it clarifies or modifies the proposed amendment. So, in this case, my understanding of this subamendment would be that the documents would arrive from the government unredacted, and the OLCPC would be in charge of redacting the documents in the manner proposed in the subamendment.

  (1550)  

    Thank you, Madam Clerk.
    Ms. Kwan, please go ahead.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I just want to put this on the record, addressing MP Fisher's point of view, and say that the documents that came back were over-redacted. This is the reality.
     The law clerk's office never had a chance to do the redaction. In fact, the information they got was already redacted, and given that they did not have a chance to see the original, unredacted documents, they were unable to provide the information. That's why it was over-redacted, exactly to the point that MP Fisher is raising. This motion before us, I believe, would result in a situation where the information that the committee is seeking would be over-redacted.
    Let me just put on the public record what the law clerk's office had provided related to this issue. The government actually didn't allow the law clerk to do the redaction in response to the February 26 motion. That is why it's over-redacted, so I want to be clear about that. In the letter from the law clerk's office on this subject, they said this:
Upon reception of the documents on March 15, 2020, you provided them to my Office so that we could make the necessary redactions to protect the privacy of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and public servants as contemplated by the production order. However, as mentioned above, the documents had already been redacted by the respective departments.
As my Office has not been given the opportunity to see the unredacted information, we are not able to confirm or adopt those redactions. My Office did make one additional redaction to the documents regarding a public servant.
At a meeting with my Office on March 10, 2020, representatives of the departments had expressed concerns about providing to the Committee or to my Office, unredacted information that would, in their view, fall under statutory disclosure exemptions.
During that meeting, we reminded the government officials that the House's and its committees' powers to order the production of records is absolute and unfettered as it constitutes a constitutional parliamentary privilege that supersedes statutory obligations. We added that the House and its committees are the appropriate authority to determine whether any reasons for withholding the documents should be accepted or not; and that it was for the Committee to determine whether it was prepared to accept any proposed measures that would prevent the disclosure of sensitive information for any reason. One such measure was the Committee's decision to have my Office make the necessary redactions to protect personal information.
In the circumstances, it is for the Committee to determine whether it is satisfied with the documents as redacted by the departments.
My Office is at the disposal of the Committee should it wish to be provided with more information or require further assistance on this matter.
    From this quote from the law clerk's office, it is clear that they never actually had access to the original documents to make a determination on what information should be redacted.
     If MP Fisher has already indicated his concern, his stance, then he would want to accept my amendment as proposed and let the law clerk's office do this work, not the department officials. That's how I think we can prevent over-redaction. The over-redaction came from the departments. That's what happened last time. If we're going to learn from that, then I think we can try a different route, which, by the way, is what was proposed on February 26 and accepted by the committee.
    To the point that this is somehow a different amendment, I don't think so. I think this is a subamendment to go through the redaction process, or the access of the vetting process, if you will.
    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    Mr. Van Bynen, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    The language that we're using relates to access to information and privacy. Those are principles and processes that have been adopted by the government. Those are principles and processes that would apply to all parties, be it Conservative, NDP or the Liberal government. I just don't understand why people are reluctant to apply the principles that this government has established as appropriate: one, to provide the information that is necessary and relevant, and two, to protect the privacy of individuals.
    What I'm looking at here is that materials that do not contain either the privacy...or issues that are raised by other orders of government can be publicly shared, as is requested, but we need to be mindful of the privacy issues. Again, why is it that people are turning their backs to the processes that have been established? Why is it that people don't think that the access to information and privacy regulations are sufficient? Isn't that really what we're looking for? Isn't that what's been established?
    So, what is it? I simply don't understand why we're ignoring something that has clearly been established to benefit the Canadian people, to benefit committees, to benefit the government and to benefit all parties. Why aren't we applying this on a consistent basis for everyone in government?

  (1555)  

     Thank you, Mr. Van Bynen.
    We go now to Mr. Fisher.
    Go ahead, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm wondering about the vetting process and whether a public servant can take the documents and vet them. I'm just thinking about the legal ramifications.
    Ms. Kwan, you took out the access to information process, which is what Parliament uses to vet documents. Did you take that out on purpose because you like the other possibility more?
    Given that it was a direct question to you, Ms. Kwan, I will invite you to respond, if you wish.
    Thank you very much. I'm not quite sure what MP Fisher's point is.
    The point, from my perspective, is this: We're talking about who should be doing the vetting of the documents. I think that there is an office that can be set up to do it outside of the department. Perhaps then, in terms of ensuring that the documents are vetted in a non-partisan way, without any undue influence of any sort, or the perception of it, the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons is well suited for this. That is the purpose here.
    I will remind the committee members that on February 26, the language about using the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House to do this work was, in fact, adopted by this committee. This is what I'm proposing to go forward with.
    It's already been admitted by MP Fisher that the last set of documents that came back was overly redacted. We already know that. We already acknowledged that. I think it would be important to go through this different process.
    The other thing is that, to somehow suggest that going through the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons would be deficient, with all due respect, I disagree with any such suggestions. In fact, I would argue that they are well placed to do this work and can address the concerns of privacy protection. Having them do the work does not eliminate the privacy protection, as has been suggested by a member. It does not eliminate that at all.
    At the same time, it can ensure that the information the committee is seeking can be made available, with the privacy protections intact, and it can ensure that the public gets the necessary information about what's happened with respect to this issue around masking.
    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    We'll go to Dr. Jaczek now, please.
     Thank you, Chair.
    I'll follow up a little bit on what Mr. Fisher was saying. This language was used in February. According to some members of the committee, documents came back excessively redacted. I'm wondering what would be different this time. Departmental officials surely have their rules within the department to apply access to information through an established process. Surely they're not going to send documents that they haven't vetted through that process to the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. Surely they have their own rules that apply to the information in their possession.
    I'm just puzzled to see how this would really result in a different outcome this time.

  (1600)  

    Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
    We go to Mr. Kelloway, please.
    Thanks, Mr. Chair.
    It may be my small-town mindset here, but it seems like we tried what's being proposed here in February, and it didn't work. Now we're proposing something in the original amendment that we think will. If it didn't work the first time, why would we expect a different result?
    The other aspect that I want an answer to—maybe here or at another time—is about the law clerk. Would they have the same training or ability to vet that an ATIP official would have? That's a question as well.
     Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    Ms. Sidhu, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    As the clerk said, MP Kwan's motion would allow the information to be provided. However, I think my motion is broader, and I echo my colleagues. If the last time it didn't work, why would we take the chance again? We tried this in February. It didn't work, so we should go with what I proposed.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    Thank you.
    I'll just ask a question of the clerk, if I may. Is the law clerk able to vet cabinet confidence?
    Mr. Chair, I'm not sure about that. I wouldn't think so.
    I can't imagine that the law clerk would want to determine what is cabinet confidence as well. Have we thought about asking?
    I know MP Kwan gave an awful lot of information there that I was trying to follow. Was there something in what you read there, Jenny, that spoke to the fact that the law clerk would do this on behalf of the committee?
    Ms. Kwan, feel free to respond to Mr. Fisher's question.

  (1605)  

    Thank you very much.
    A number of points have been made. First off, on the question of why we would go through the same process again when it was already done for February 26, just so every single committee member is clear on this point, the motion that was passed on February 26 did not get followed. Why? The law clerk's office did not get the unredacted documents to go through to determine what should be redacted. In fact, they got documents from department officials that were already redacted.
    That's why it was over-redacted. They never got to do that work. The motion that was passed by the health committee on February 26 was never followed through on, which I believe is probably contempt for the committee's work by the government side, so that's why.
    To the committee members who are asking why, if the February 26 motion didn't work, we are embarking on that process, you are arguing on exactly that point. The amendment that was moved by MP Sidhu is for exactly the process that produced the documents that were useless. We're embarking on exactly the same process again if we pass that amendment instead of my suggested amendment.
    On the second point, with respect to the issue around the work of the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, the language that I used was exactly the language adopted from the February 26 motion. The committee actually adopted that and accepted it at that point. The only problem is that they never actually followed through with that work. The government stopped the law clerk's office from doing that work.
    I would suggest that we pass my subamendment, follow through with that process and see what the end result is going to be.
    The long passage that I read was from a document that I believe has been shared with all committee members, and that is what they indicated, that the office would be prepared to assist. I can read the passage again if the committee members would be so inclined.
    Would you like me to read that passage again, Mr. Chair, the long paragraph that I quoted from the letter?
     Use your best judgment.
    All right, for clarity, I will read the passage again so that all committee members can hear it. This is a direct quote from the letter from the law clerk's office on this subject:
Upon reception of the documents on March 15, 2020, you provided them to my Office so that we could make the necessary redactions to protect the privacy of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and public servants as contemplated by the production order. However, as mentioned above, the documents had already been redacted by the respective departments.
As my Office has not been given the opportunity to see the unredacted information, we are not able to confirm or adopt those redactions. My Office did make one additional redaction to the documents regarding a public servant.
At a meeting with my Office on March 10, 2020, representatives of the departments had expressed concerns about providing to the Committee or to my Office, unredacted information that would, in their view, fall under statutory disclosure exemptions.
During that meeting, we reminded the government officials that the House's and its committees' powers to order the production of records is absolute and unfettered as it constitutes a constitutional parliamentary privilege that supersedes statutory obligations. We added that the House and its committees are the appropriate authority to determine whether any reasons for withholding the documents should be accepted or not; and that it was for the Committee to determine whether it was prepared to accept any proposed measures that would prevent the disclosure of sensitive information for any reason. One such measure was the Committee's decision to have my Office make the necessary redactions to protect personal information.
In the circumstances, it is for the Committee to determine whether it is satisfied with the documents as redacted by the departments.
My Office is at the disposal of the Committee should it wish to be provided with more information or require further assistance on this matter.
    This is the entire quote that I read out earlier, from a letter from the clerk's office.
    Again, to summarize this whole point, the process that was followed on the motion of February 26 was never followed through with the law clerk's office. They received already redacted documents and, because they had not been able to see the original unredacted documents, they could not comment on whether or not the information redacted was valid. What we do know is this: It's clear that the information that came from that redacted document was overly redacted.
    If we want to get a different outcome, as MP Kelloway and others have suggested, then we should not do what we have already done, and that is to have the department vet these documents. If we pass the amendment as proposed by MP Sidhu, then we're going through exactly the same process. If we want to get a different outcome for the purposes of accountability and transparency, I would suggest that we go through the law clerk's office.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (1610)  

    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    Mr. Fisher, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I guess I've done as much thinking and talking about this as I possibly can. I still don't believe that law clerks can handle the cabinet confidence portion, maybe not even the national security portion. Ms. Kwan has talked about the clerk's office and the law clerk's office. I understand they're two different offices.
    I think I will continue to support MP Sidhu on this. I guess we vote on the subamendment and then, if that doesn't go through, we go back and vote on Ms. Sidhu's amendment.
    Mr. Chair, I have a quick point of order on Mr. Fisher's comments.
    I believe that the government can withhold the cabinet confidence anyway. Nowhere do I note that this is referencing cabinet confidence. If I'm mistaken, then that's on me, but I believe that's not part of this ask, so essentially his comments are moot when it comes to cabinet confidences.
     Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    We'll go to Mr. Kelloway.
    This is a question for the clerk or my fellow parliamentarians who have been here longer than I have. Does the law clerk have the security clearance to view the original document, or is security clearance not a factor in this?
    I believe that is a question for the clerk.
    Madam Clerk, if you are able to, could you respond?
    Mr. Chair, I don't have a definitive response for what the law clerk's security clearance is. I would imagine that it's quite high.
    Thank you.
    Is there any further debate? I'm seeing none, so we will call a vote on Ms. Kwan's subamendment.
    (Subamendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: We are now moving on to the amendment to the motion as amended, with the email changes. The amendment proposes to enable vetting according to the language proposed by Ms. Kwan.
    Is there any further debate on this? The debate is on the amendment now on the floor.
    Mr. Kelloway, please go ahead.
    I'd like to make an amendment to the date, but I'm not sure that's what you're asking.

  (1615)  

    No, we're not at that point yet. We're voting on the amendment that is now on the floor.
    Okay. Thanks.
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    Could you tell me that again? Sorry, the committee just voted for the subamendment.
    The amendment to the motion, as previously amended, is that the vetting process be now done according to the language proposed by Ms. Kwan. That is the amendment now before this committee. It is the amendment we are now debating and will eventually vote on.
    Is there any further debate on this?
    Dr. Jaczek, please go ahead.
    I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, but I'm really confused. Could we read what we are debating now, please?
    Yes. Madam Clerk, could you read it, please?
    You're currently debating the amendment, which reads, “provided that the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel vet the documents for matters of cabinet confidence and national security as well as privacy pertaining to names and personal information.”
    I have a quick point of order, Mr. Chair. What did we just vote on, then? That's what I voted on.
    We voted on a subamendment that changed Ms. Sidhu's amendment into what you just heard.
    Mr. Van Bynen, please go ahead.
     Thank you.
    I would like to get some clarification. I know that the intent here was to gain the benefit and to respect the rights of all people with respect to the ATIP legislation. Can somebody tell me how this alters the process from the ATIP legislation and what that process is? Who would be undertaking that review, and how is what's being proposed any different from simply relying on the ATIP legislation?
    Is there someone who can give me that advice?
    I'm seeing no one's hand go up.
    Mr. Fisher, your hand was up already. I believe you wished to speak on—
    That was a leftover, sorry.
    Okay. No worries.
    The ATIP language is no longer on the table. We are voting on the amendment to vet the documents according to the language proposed by Ms. Kwan, which is to have the law clerk do the redactions as necessary.
    Is there any further debate? Seeing none, we will conduct the vote on the amendment.
    (Amendment as amended agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: We are now on the main motion, Mr. Jeneroux's motion, as twice amended now.
    Is there any further debate?
    Mr. Kelloway, I see that you have your hand up. Please go ahead.
    I talked about this before, in terms of the original amendment. I'm looking at the two dates in question, August 3 and August 10, that are in the original motion. Given that summer is going by so quickly and August is just around the corner, I'd like to make a friendly amendment in terms of the dates being changed respectively to August 31 and August 31.

  (1620)  

    Is that an amendment?
    That would be an amendment to what's in the motion, yes.
    Very well.
    We now have an amendment on the table to amend the dates.
    Could we clarify what the dates are?
    Sure. The documents would be provided by the government by Monday, August 31, 2020, and the documents would be published publicly on the committee's website by Monday, August 31, 2020.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    Mr. Fisher, please.
    I think that's reasonable. Hopefully, a lot of our wonderful public servants will be getting a little bit of time off during the summer. I think we can all agree that they've been tasked with Herculean work and effort in the last 110 to 115 days. August 3 is not very far away. I think it's a good compromise to move it up to August 31.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    Is there any further debate?
    Ms. Sidhu, please go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, I would like to speak in favour of MP Kelloway's amendment.
     A notice of this motion was given, and the motion was moved on July 7, so pushing the date of production to August 31 would provide approximately the same timeline. It's worth noting that given that most people are working from home, locating these documents is more of a challenge. I'm in favour of Mr. Kelloway's motion. This is a reasonable ask, as public servants have been working very hard recently due to COVID-19.
     Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Is there any further discussion?
    Mr. Van Bynen, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    We're looking at a considerable number of documents. Frankly, the amount of time that it has taken for us to.... We're not even finished with this motion yet. I think the staff genuinely want to meet the timelines. Requesting them to meet timelines that are unmanageable, I think, is unfair to them. This is a particularly busy time of year. As mentioned by Ms. Sidhu, a lot of people are working from home, so these are not the normal processes. Now that we've added additional steps, I think that the consideration of additional time is quite appropriate.
    I will be supporting that amendment.
    I have a note from the clerk to please verify the dates. There's a comment here that to receive the unredacted documents and to post them on the website on the same day doesn't allow time for vetting them. Perhaps you could clarify the dates again, Mr. Kelloway.
    Sure. Given what you just said, we'd be looking at the changing the first date, so that documents be provided by the government by Monday, August 31.
    What I'm hearing is that it obviously can't be done the same day. I think it's reasonable to look at a week later—September 7, perhaps.
    Would that be the unredacted documents by August 31?
    I believe so.
    That's essentially a change to what was moved. Do we have unanimous consent to adopt these changes, or do we need a subamendment?
    Can I get some indication of whether we are prepared to accept Mr. Kelloway's clarification?
    Seeing no dissent, we shall deem it was moved—
    Mr. Chair, I had my hand up.
     I apologize.
    Go ahead.
    I was going to offer a friendly amendment. I'm not sure if you've ruled them out of order before, but I'd certainly be willing to accept Mr. Kelloway's amendment if he so chooses.

  (1625)  

    Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    As a matter of process there is no such thing as a friendly amendment, but if we can agree to do things unanimously we can do all manner of wonderful things. I am seeing no dissent to Mr. Kelloway's clarification, let's say, so I will take that as unanimous consent.
    I see no further discussion. Is there any more debate?
    Let's clarify the amendment at this point from the clerk, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It is to change the first date to August 31 and the second, so that the dates Monday, August 3, 2020, and Monday, August 10, 2020, be replaced by the dates Monday, August 31, 2020, and Monday, September 7, 2020, respectively.
    Also, a quick note that September 7 is Labour Day.
     Would that be unredacted documents by August 31?
    Mr. Chair, the motion does not specify that. Someone would have to make that amendment.
    Very well. The amendment that's before us is just to change the dates. Seeing no further debate, no further discussion, Madam Clerk, would you please conduct the vote on that amendment?
    (Amendment agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Thank you, Madam Clerk.
     Is there any discussion on the motion as amended?
    Mr. Kelloway, please go ahead.
     Sorry about this, Mr. Chair. Maybe I'm slow on the uptake, but can you explain to me what we're talking about right now? I have some additional changes that I'd like to make; I just don't want to overshoot.
    Of course.
    Madam Clerk, would you please read the motion as it stands, if you're able?
    Basically, we have Mr. Jeneroux's motion that was modified to remove the references to emails; it was subsequently modified by the motion to add a vetting process, as per Ms. Kwan's proposal; and now, the dates have been changed per Mr. Kelloway's proposal. That is now the motion we are debating and will be voting on when the time comes.
    Is there any further discussion on the motion?
    Mr. Kelloway, I see that your hand is up still.
    It's not coming off, Mr. Chair.
    Very well.
    Seeing as there is no discussion at this point and no hands in the air, we shall call the vote on the motion, as amended.
    Mr. Chair, sorry but is this the whole, entire amendment? No more amendments can be made to this motion?
    If it is the will of the committee to amend it further, they may—
    It is.
    Okay.
    Mr. Kelloway, please—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair. I think you just called the question, though. Is that not binding? Do we not move forward, then, if you have called the question?

  (1630)  

    I think it's important to properly deal with these matters so that everyone has a chance to speak appropriately. With certain confusion on the floor, I was looking for people to put their hands up and there was a delay, so I'm going to allow the debate to continue.
    Mr. Kelloway, please go ahead.
    Sure, and thanks for that. That's what I was looking to do, so perhaps the confusion was on my part.
    In the original motion, I'm looking to have removed the references to the Minister of Health's office and the Prime Minister's Office respectively.
    Okay, would you please clarify your amendment?
    Sure. Do you want me to read it?
    Yes, please.
    In the following—
All documents, briefing notes and memorandums...regarding the emerging evidence that altered the government's advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, at her appearance before the Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, including...documents, briefing notes...to/from/between Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Minister of Health's office, The Privy Council and the Prime Minister's office....
    —I'm looking to strike “the Minister of Health's Office...and the Prime Ministers office”.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    So the amendment on the table at the moment is to strike from the motion as amended, “the Minister of Health's Office...and the Prime Minister's office”.
    I see Ms. Sidhu.
    Ms. Sidhu, please go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, first, just on a point of order again, I want to at least allow Mr. Kelloway the opportunity to try to explain himself, but he has essentially presented another amendment. You did call the question. If you're prepared to go back on your own word at this time, I think that calls into question the chair, quite frankly, if you've called this question, and we were about to vote on the question and then suddenly you allow another amendment from yet again another government member who was slow in the response on certain things....
    So I think this should be ruled completely out of order. The vote has been called on this motion and we should be proceeding to that vote, not looking for other amendments at this point in time that would appeal to the government members.
     I have a point of order, Mr. Chair. I think it was clearly evident that I was trying to get my points across, and there was some confusion there.
    Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux and Mr. Kelloway, on your points of order.
     The objective here is to have these matters fully and frankly debated. I was looking for indications of an interest in discussion, and there was a delay on Mr. Kelloway's part. We had not begun the vote, so I'm going to rule that carrying on the debate is in order.
    Mr. Chair, sorry to interrupt, but also as a point of order, Mr. Kelloway asked if it was an appropriate time for him to move...as he had another amendment. You said that we were still on the previous thing, so he held back.
    Mr. Chair, this meeting has been going on for two and a half hours. I think he's had ample time to debate his particular amendment, so I don't see that logic.
    Mr. Kelloway, perhaps, dropped the ball and wasn't able to bring his motion forward, but that's the way things go. There are three other motions. I would welcome his bringing forward some other sort of—
    We're getting into debate on an important—
    I have a point of order. I assure you that no balls were dropped, and I think—
    Let's all maintain some decorum here. We're not going to debate the point of order. The ruling has been made.
    We are now debating the amendment proposed by Mr. Kelloway.
    Ms. Sidhu, you have the floor.
    Mr. Chair, I support Mr. Kelloway's motion. Why? We are finding, from other committees, that it is essential to narrow the scope of what we are trying to get at. That is why I'm supporting this amendment; it will help to narrow the scope.

  (1635)  

    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I'm not hearing her at all. I'm hearing a lot of static. Is anybody else hearing that static? It's not coming through very clearly here for me.
    I'm hearing that your audio feed is broken up, so I suspect that there's a problem on your end. I would suggest, perhaps, that you deny us your face and try without video to see if it works better. That will cut down the bandwidth a little bit.
    I'm sorry, Ms. Sidhu. Please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I support Mr. Kelloway's motion. Why? We are finding, from other committees, that it is essential that we narrow the scope of what we are trying to get at. I think that, with this motion, we are aiming at that. I think it's a good amendment; that is why I'm supporting it.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    We will go now to Mr. Fisher.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    When you have a memo going from one place to another, having that memo and having that memo are exactly the same. I think this is just a little bit of redundancy. You have your Public Health Agency in there. You have all the other groups in there. I think it makes sense that you don't necessarily have to have the “to” and the “from”.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    We will go now to Ms. Jaczek.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Yes, I'm also concerned about a lot of duplication. I think the memo is pretty inclusive, including, as it does, all the documents, briefing notes and memorandums between Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Privy Council. Between these three, it's hard to imagine there would be any further documents that could be of interest from the Ministry of Health or from the Prime Minister's Office. I would expect that they would be the duplicates forwarded to them.
    We're very mindful of the time taken by staff in preparing all of these documents, which takes them away from other tasks they're responsible for.
     I think the amendment proposed by Mr. Kelloway is sensible and will result in getting documents that are interesting. We obviously want to see those documents. I think that what we have is quite sufficient.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
    We will now go to Ms. Jansen.
    Please go ahead.
     I'm absolutely gobsmacked at the suggestion that we at the health committee decide not to have any documents from the PMO or the Minister of Health. If we want to dispel the fear that Canadians have right now about these issues, we need to show them that we have turned over every rock to ensure that we have done our utmost to protect them.
    Any obfuscation on the part of the committee further harms the levels of trust that Canadians have in our institutions. I do not understand why we would want the motion to not include the Prime Minister's Office and the health minister's office. It makes no sense. Gain their trust, open up, be transparent.
    Thank you, Ms. Jansen.
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    When you talk about transparency and opening up, that's what we've done in this committee. On every motion that has come forward, this committee has worked very well together to come out with an outcome, so I take a little offence to this “open up and be transparent” thing when there's no lack of transparency here.
    There's no need to have the "to" and the “from” in the same memos and briefing notes, to have it all and to put these public servants to this level of work and effort to get a carbon copy of what we're getting from another group. Also, a lot of these things are going to other committees as well.
    I think it's relatively reasonable to think that we.... We just voted. The Liberal side didn't vote to support MP Kwan's motion. However, the rest of you voted to support MP Kwan's motion to narrow the scope, while we are trying to open it up to actually get to where people were wanting us to go. I think that what you'll see when things come out is that narrow motion is going to get you maybe less than you thought, but I could be wrong. We'll see when that comes forward.

  (1640)  

    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    We go to Ms. Sidhu.
    That is what we are proposing, to remove transactional communications between these two offices, along with other minor amendments, while maintaining the advice prepared by officials. It is a priority for a government department to respond to these production orders as quickly as possible. That is why I am supporting the amendment.
    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Is there any further discussion?
     I see Ms. Kwan. Please go ahead.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    On this amendment I would argue that it would be important in fact to get the documents to the Minister of Health and to the Prime Minister's Office. At the end of the day, ultimately those are the two political masters, if you will, to whom things are put.
    Therefore, I think we should be accessing that information. This really follows the government's perspective as well. In 2015, the Prime Minister wrote an open letter that said, “Government and its information must be open by default. Simply put, it is time to shine more light on the government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve—you."
    “You” was the word used by the Prime Minister.
    I think in that spirit we should apply the motion we are speaking about to the Minister of Health as well as the PMO. We are the health committee here, and these decisions are ones that are before the Minister of Health, and perhaps in some cases before the Prime Minister's Office as well.
    I would not support the amendment proposed by MP Kelloway.
    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    We go now to Mr. Van Bynen.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm leaning on my experience as a municipal official when we had an opportunity to look separately at each of these issues.
    I think that it would be good value if we did the following with a subamendment I am proposing that we delete the “Prime Minister's office” in order for us to deal with the question of whether or not the Minister of Health's office should be included.
    During my municipal experience, we divided the question. I don't know what the process is here. If that requires a subamendment, I would certainly propose it, but I think we should consider each one of those offices individually because each of them has different roles in this.
     Mr. Van Bynen, are you moving such a subamendment?
     Yes. The subamendment that I'm moving is that we delete, for the time being, “the Minister of Health's office” from the amendment.
    What I'm trying to accomplish is that we first vote to leave “the Minister of Health's office" in there and delete “the Prime Ministers Office”. I'd like to first deal with deleting “the Prime Ministers office”, so the amendment would only include the Minister of Health's office.
    Just to clarify, if the amendment includes the Minister of Health, what you are doing is removing the Minister of Health from the original amendment. Is that right?
    Sorry, I meant it the other way around. Initially, I'd like the discussion to be around excluding the Prime Minister's Office, and then have the subsequent discussion dealing with each one of those offices separately.
    Now, I don't know how we would do that officially, and perhaps the clerk can be of some help to us, but it seems a straightforward request that we deal with each one of those offices individually, because people may have different reasons for supporting each one of those with respect to the amendment.

  (1645)  

     Mr. Kelloway's amendment was to remove both the PMO and the Ministry of Health from Mr. Jeneroux's motion. The upshot of your amendment would be to only remove the PMO from this.
    The PMO, yes. I think it's going back to the point that was made by Ms. Kwan, which is that this is the health committee, and so, for very different reasons, people might want to consider that ministry separately from the PMO. I think that should be a discussion that we have, and, as I said, I'm not as familiar with the federal protocols, but that's the intent or the upshot of what I'd like to accomplish.
    The subamendment, then, is that you're moving to remove from Mr. Kelloway's amendment the mention of the Minister of Health's office. Correct?
    Right.
    Very well, the subamendment is so moved.
    Is there any discussion on the subamendment?
    Seeing no discussion on the subamendment, we'll go for a vote on the subamendment.
    Please clarify for me, Mr. Chair, what the outcome of voting in favour or against this subamendment is. I know what the intent is, but I just want to be sure that's what is accomplished.
    Of course.
    Madam Clerk, would you please clarify for Mr. Van Bynen.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    If I follow this correctly, what Mr. Van Bynen is proposing is that the words “the Prime Ministers Office” be considered as a separate amendment. That would be your subamendment. In this case, you're further clarifying this. So, if you voted in favour that the words “the Prime Ministers Office” be considered as a separate amendment, then you would deal with the first amendment, which is “the Minister of Health's office”. After you completed that, you would move then to your separate amendment, which is “the Prime Ministers Office”.
    Okay. Actually, my understanding was different.
    Mr. Kelloway moved to remove “the Prime Ministers Office” and “the Minister of Health's office” from Mr. Jeneroux's motion. Mr. Van Bynen, I believe, has just moved to remove from Mr. Kelloway's amendment the mention of the....
    The minister's office.
    I think you removed the health minister's office from Mr. Kelloway's amendment. By doing so, if Mr. Kelloway's motion passes, as amended, it would simply remove “the Prime Ministers Office” from the original motion.
    Are we as clear as mud at this point?
    Just to clarify one more time, Mr. Kelloway moved to remove from Mr. Jeneroux's motion, as amended, “the Prime Ministers Office” and “the Minister of Health's office”. Mr. Van Bynen's subamendment removes from Kelloway's motion mention of the Minister of Health's office.
     Mr. Chair, the subamendment is that the words “Prime Minister's office” be removed from the amendment.
    I think not. I think the subamendment is that “the Minister of Health's office” be removed from Mr. Kelloway's amendment. If that subamendment passes, then Mr. Kelloway's amendment would be simply to remove “the Prime Minister's office” from the original motion.
    Well, that's really the issue. It's about whether or not we're dealing with the Prime Minister's Office. I just want to deal with them separately, Mr. Chair. As I said, I have yet to develop a better understanding of the procedural gymnastics.
    Mr. Van Bynen, your subamendment, if it passes, would make Mr. Kelloway's amendment simply that “the Prime Minister's office” be removed from the original motion.
    Okay.

  (1650)  

    All right. I hope we're clear now.
    Is there any discussion at this point? I'm seeing none, so let us vote on Mr. Van Bynen's subamendment.
    (Subamendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Mr. Kelloway's amendment, as amended, is now that “the Prime Minister's office” be dropped from the original motion, as previously amended.
    Is there any discussion on Mr. Kelloway's amendment as amended by Mr. Van Bynen? I'm seeing none, so we'll call the question on Mr. Kelloway's amendment as amended.
    (Amendment as amended agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    Discussion now goes to Mr. Jeneroux's motion as amended. Is there any further discussion on Mr. Jeneroux's motion as amended?
     Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    Can we read the amended motion that we are getting ready to support? My understanding is that “the health minister's office” and “the Prime Minister's office” are now removed.
     That's not correct. It is to remove the Prime Minister's office only, and the dates were changed, according to Mr. Kelloway's amendment. The language for vetting, according to Ms. Kwan, has been added. Previously, we removed the references to emails.
    Do you still require the motion to be read?
    Yes, please. I'd like to hear what the motion says. Mine is all scratched up.
    Okay.
    Madam Clerk, would you please accommodate us? Thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It reads:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), the committee send for the following documents to be provided by the government by Monday, August 31, 2020 and that the documents be published publicly on the committee’s website by Monday, September 7, 2020:
All documents, briefing notes and memorandums, regarding the emerging evidence that altered the government’s advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, at her appearance before the Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and that all documents, briefing notes and memorandums to/from/between Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Minister of Health’s Office and the Privy Council regarding the management of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile from 2005 to 2020 be provided by the government by Wednesday, September 30, 2020 and that the documents be published publicly on the committee’s website by Wednesday, October 7, 2020, including supply inventory broken down by number and all updates sent to the government and the Government of Canada’s contracts for personal protective equipment since January 2020, provided that the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel vet the documents for matters of cabinet confidence and national security as well as privacy related to names and personal information.

  (1655)  

    Got it.
    Mr. Kelloway, you have the floor.
    In the spirit of MP Van Bynen's amendment, my understanding is that we should move to amend to exclude “Min O” in a separate amendment, if I'm not mistaken. I defer to my colleague on that, MP Van Bynen.
    That's really a matter that's up to you, whether you wish to move an amendment to the motion as just presented. Do you wish to move that amendment?
    I wish to move that amendment, yes.
    Okay. Mr. Kelloway's amendment, then, is to remove.... I'm sorry, was it the PMO or the Privy Council Office?
    No, it was the Minister of health's office.
    It was the health “Min O”.
    The health minister has already been removed. No, sorry. Now I'm getting confused.
    Mr. Kelloway's amendment is to remove the health ministry from Mr. Jeneroux's motion.
    That's correct.
    All right. Thank you.
    The discussion now is on Mr. Kelloway's amendment.
    I see that Ms. Jansen has her hand up.
    Please go ahead.
    I'd like to get this straight now.
    We have now been in this meeting for two full hours. We are trying to get clarity and transparency with regard to these issues of mask use and what Dr. Tam knew, what the PMO knew, and what Health, PHAC knew. We've spent two full hours trying to make sure that we don't get information from the health minister and the PMO. It is absolutely mind-boggling. If we want Canadians to trust the process, then we need to make sure that we actually have all the information and that nobody gets left out.
     When we look at where we're at right now with the PMO on a number of other issues on which it has tried not to be transparent, we can see that Canadians have a reason to be concerned about this. It absolutely blows my mind that we have spent two hours trying our very best to make sure that the PMO and the health ministry give us no information.
    I'm begging you: We need to make sure that Canadians know exactly what happened so they will trust the institutions they are being asked to follow. I'm begging you.
     Thank you, Mrs. Jansen.
    We go now to Dr. Jaczek.
    Thank you, Chair.
    Certainly I think this debate is a very important one, and two hours is not necessarily enough to ensure that democracy...and all views are being heard. The previous member who spoke may not necessarily like what the rest of us duly elected representatives are saying, but we have the right to do so.
     I am going to be supporting MP Kelloway's motion because, as I said before, I do believe that this will simply be a duplication. We have sufficient information, surely, from the very important offices that are included in the motion, namely Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Privy Council.
    This is not to belabour the point, but I feel strongly that each of us should have every opportunity to speak to each one of these subamendments, amendments and the motion itself.

  (1700)  

    Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    The motion asks for all the “emerging evidence that altered the government’s advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam”. You're going to get that. You're going to get that from the chief public health officer, and you're going to get that from the Public Health Agency of Canada. You're going to get that from Health Canada; you're going to get that from the Privy Council. Again, a lot of the rest of it will be redundancy.
    The emerging evidence, the science that has directed COVID-19 since the start, the fact that we've said at this committee before that politics did not enter into the response to COVID-19 in Canada.... Probably the reason we've done so well in this pandemic is that we've used science to provide outcomes on how we proceed each and every day, and we have not allowed politics to get involved in this.
    So that's what you're looking for, that's what the committee is looking for: “emerging evidence that altered the government’s advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, at her appearance before the Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday, May 19, 2020”. That's exactly what this motion will bring us.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    Ms. Kwan, we'll go over to you.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I think, precisely as members are arguing, that we want to make sure that the confidence of the public is reassured, that decisions are made in a non-partisan way and that the public health officials' information and advice to the ministers is consistent. Precisely for those reasons, if nothing else, for us to receive this information from the Minister of Health and, I would argue, the PMO, although that amendment didn't pass.... I would argue that, at the very minimum, we should be getting this information from the Minister of Health's office. If nothing else, all that it would do is reassure the public that, in fact, the decisions made and the information that has been shared with the Minister of Health are made available to the public for all to see.
     I think that, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, this amendment should not be passed. I think it is absolutely critical for the committee to access this information, and I think it is critical for the public to access this information, so I would really urge the committee members who have been thinking of excluding this information from being obtained from the Minister of Health's office to reconsider that.
    The other point I want to make is this. It's been repeated over and over again by government MPs that somehow this would be duplication of information, as though somehow they already know. Well, I don't know at this point in time; we don't know at this point in time, so let's be sure that we go through the process here. We're going to do this work anyway. The officials are doing this work anyway. Let's just be sure and clear the air, so that the information is shared with the committee members and with the public for transparency and accountability.
    Thank you, Ms. Kwan.
    We go now to Mrs. Jansen.
    I think it's incorrect when Mr. Fisher says that we did really well. What we did was mediocre. Since it was mediocre, we need to be able to show Canadians why we didn't get as good an outcome as other nations did.
    I had many seniors die in a seniors home close to my home. We need answers. Let's show the redundancy. I'm happy to show redundancy. Canadians need to know why things happened, and the only way we're going to do that is if we turn over the rocks, and that's from all levels of government.
    The suggestion that we've done well because.... We have to think about the fact that provinces did their own thing because they probably didn't have confidence—I'm guessing—in some of the things that were coming out of the federal government. Let's look at it. Let's see, so we can help Canadians know that we can be trusted and that we make good decisions based on good science. Let's not cover stuff up or even have the appearance of covering stuff up.
     Thank you, Mrs. Jansen.
    Now we go to Ms. Sidhu, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I just want to let members know that important information is being included in the documents. I just want to say that we are here.... Mrs. Jansen said it's two hours, but even in these two hours we are working for Canadians. This is the 33rd meeting. We are all working hard. Even before that.... Yes, we work together. Let's work together now.
    You are getting what you want; it would just be excluding the health minister's office. Again, we are duplicating that. What information we want, we all can get.
    Thank you.

  (1705)  

    Thank you, Ms. Sidhu.
    Mr. Van Bynen, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I couldn't agree more with Mr. Fisher. The information we're looking for will be provided precisely by the Public Health Agency. I don't think we're helping ourselves, and I don't think our credibility is going to be improved, by taking a scattergun approach and shooting at everybody who might have information. Let's decide on what it is we're trying to understand.
    This motion, as I understand it, is dealing with two things, and two things only: the wearing of masks and the national emergency stockpile. So why are we turning over rocks, so to speak, everywhere else on Parliament Hill? I think we should be focused on the question, and the question is, again, about “emerging evidence that altered the government's advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam”, and the national emergency strategic stockpile from 2015 to 2020, including supply inventory.
    Why don't we focus on those things and make sure that the information we're seeking specifically comes to us and addresses that from the people who are most knowledgeable about all that?
     I think there's enough on the hands of the government and the people who are delivering the health care that we need now. This situation isn't over yet. I think we should focus on the issue and the question, and that's what we should be doing. To me, the information we're seeking can be achieved without involving all the other groups of government.
    As I say, a scattergun approach is not helpful. It confuses the issue. It undermines people's confidence, because we're looking for something but we don't know what we're looking for. Why don't we focus on the areas where the information is available? Why don't we focus on the people who are providing that information?
    I will be supporting the amendment.
    Thank you, Mr. Van Bynen.
    Dr. Kitchen, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    We hear a lot of talk about science. Science is multifactorial. Information is provided by multiple scientists around the world. The Public Health Agency has received information. The health minister has received information. Ultimately, the health minister has received that information from multiple facets, not just the Public Health Agency of Canada. One would assume the minister has received information from the provinces and their scientists, and the great work their public health doctors have been doing.
    For us to turn around and say that, purely, we're going to get the answers we want because this is what we're asking for...is not there. We need to hear all the science. We need to know the information. Canadians need to know the conversations that the health minister and her office had, besides just listening to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
     We have heard from multiple people, throughout this committee, on how the communication has broken down, that it never got out and was never put out by the doctors and the scientists. For us to turn around and say we're not going to hear from the health minister is, to me, demeaning to Canadians. I think we need to listen to that and hear that information.
    I will be voting against this.
    Thank you, Dr. Kitchen.
    Mrs. Jansen, please go ahead.
    Again, I think it's very important that we let Canadians know that we have done our utmost to ensure that all the information is out there. I am willing to be here four hours, eight hours, 12 hours—you name it, I'm here. I'm very concerned about my constituents.
     I think it's very important that all the information comes out. At our last meeting, we had witnesses suggest there was no reason, no new science for Dr. Tam to use to switch. She flip-flopped. The suggestion was made that she flip-flopped because we did not have enough personal protective gear.
    We need to make sure there was no interference politically at all. How are we going to do that? We are only going to do that by providing all the information from all the different actors. To suggest that that's scattergun is ridiculous.

  (1710)  

     Thank you, Mrs. Jansen.
    Is there any further discussion on this amendment?
    Seeing none, I will call the question. Madam Clerk, please conduct the vote.

[Translation]

    Madam Clerk, can you please read the amendment again?

[English]

    Please, Madam Clerk, would you mind?
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    The amendment is that the words “Minister of Health's office” be removed from the motion.
    Does that clarify it for you, Monsieur Desilets?

[Translation]

    Yes, it certainly does. That's what I thought, but I wanted to be sure.
    Thank you.

[English]

    Thank you.
    Madam Clerk, please go ahead with the vote.
    (Amendment negatived: nays 6; yeas 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: We will go now to Mr. Jeneroux's motion as previously amended. The discussion is now on Mr. Jeneroux's motion as previously amended.
    Mr. Fisher, I see your hand up.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    With all these amendments, I'd like to move my own amendment. I would like to change the date of “2015” to “2010” in the middle of the motion, where it says, “regarding the management of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile from 2015-2020, including supply inventory broken down by number and all updates sent to the government”.
    The reason I do so is that, tragically, when we came to government we saw that we had a stockpile that had, essentially, expired. It had expired equipment. The previous government somehow allowed that equipment to sit there and did not rotate it. Of course, we had a lot of feedback from members of this committee about how atrocious that was, and how this government inherited a very out-of-date and expired stockpile.
    I suggest that if we move back to 2010, we could, perhaps, get some information and data as to why that sat there gathering dust in the strategic stockpile.
    Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    You are amending the motion to reference 2010 instead of 2015. Is that correct?
    Yes, it's where it speaks specifically to “the management of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile”, not in the other parts of the motion.
    Thank you.
    The debate now is on Mr. Fisher's amendment.
    Mr. Jeneroux, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    In the [Technical difficulty—Editor] of transparency, certainly I don't agree with the member's assessment of its being poorly managed in the past. This government has had five years to essentially do something about whatever was put forward.
     At the very beginning of this committee, I preached that it was important for all members to look at where we're going. If certain things had happened, we would want to make sure we correct those for future generations and any other potential pandemics.
     I'll certainly be supporting that motion. If he'd like to go back as far as 2000, I'd be happy to support that particular motion. However, on the motion on the table, again, in the spirit of transparency, I think it's important for Canadians that we see the changes that have happened or that haven't happened in these past five years.

  (1715)  

     Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
    Dr. Jaczek, go ahead, please.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I'll be supporting this motion. I think that going back to 2010 is actually quite useful. We know that we had H1N1 around 2011, I believe, so it would be useful to understand how the national stockpile was replenished, if it was. On the details, we did get some information on that topic through our deliberations as the health committee, but I think it would be useful to explore that again. In the interest of transparency, as has been quoted so many times this afternoon, I think this would really help in analyzing exactly the status of the stockpile over a longer period of time, so I will be supporting the amendment.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
    Mr. Van Bynen, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I wholeheartedly agree with the amendment that Mr. Fisher has put forward, and I believe that Dr. Jaczek adds a great dynamic to it.
    This is not a short-term thing. This is something that has happened over a very long period of time. In the interest of understanding and making sure that what we are doing is better, and that we will be implementing long-term plans coming out of what we've learned now, I think we need to have a better understanding of our history as well, so extending the history to include 2010 makes an awful lot of sense to me, and I will be supporting that.
    Thank you, Mr. Van Bynen.
    Dr. Kitchen, go ahead, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm comfortable with that. I think, though, that we should go right back to 2003, when the NESS, as well as the agency, was first established, to see exactly how it was established and how it was monitored. Having that information.... I wonder if the mover would be okay to make that adjustment and make it as of 2003, or whether he needs another subamendment to a subamendment to an amendment to an amendment.
    Mr. Chair, I'll speak to that briefly.
    You suggested that there were no friendly amendments earlier. Of course, Dr. Kitchen has every ability to move a subamendment. I chose 2010 because the purchase of the equipment that was out of date and had to be disposed of was around the 2010 era. It wasn't in 2003 or 2004.
    I wouldn't mind clarity as well. I don't know exactly when the NESS started. I believe Dr. Jaczek would know that for sure, but I stuck with 2010 because that's when the products, the masks and the PPE, were considered to be new.
    This is just a comment on friendly amendments. Friendly amendments are not strictly part of the regular process, but we can generally do things by unanimous consent, which is kind of where that fits in. So it's really up to Dr. Kitchen, I guess, as to whether he wishes to proceed with an amendment to change that date to 2003.
    Dr. Kitchen, would you care to step in?
    Certainly, Mr. Chair.
     I don't want to prolong it. We've definitely been rehashing and rehashing, and that's why I made my amendment to the amendment to the subamendment to the subamendment.
    The bottom line is that when NESS started.... I agree with Mr. Fisher. I don't know exactly whether it started in 2003 or 2004, but I think if we established the purchase of masks, etc., back at that point in time, it would be interesting to see and worthwhile to know whether that equipment was actually found to be obsolete and whether it was replenished, etc. I'm comfortable with....
    Why don't we go back to 2005, go back 10 years? If I need to make a subamendment to that, I will, but I'm hoping Mr. Fisher might say, “Hey, maybe I can make that change” and we can agree unanimously on that.

  (1720)  

    Well, let's make the offer.
    Mr. Fisher, are you comfortable with moving the date to 2005?
    Again, knowing full well that Dr. Kitchen can move a subamendment, I will stick with 2010.
     I've used the argument—and I believe in that argument—about putting our public servants to too much effort. I've questioned numerous times whether I would actually do the 2010 date, but I do think that when it comes to the national emergency stockpile, going back to when that product was considered new is what I would like to do.
     Again, Dr. Kitchen has the ability to move a subamendment, but I'll support the 2010 date.
    Thank you.
     Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
    There will not be unanimous consent here.
    Dr. Kitchen, if you wish to move the motion, please feel free to do so at this time.
    I'd like to move a subamendment to change the date to 2005, please.
    All right. We have a subamendment to Mr. Fisher's amendment. Mr. Fisher's amendment was to move the date in relation to the national stockpile to 2010, and Mr. Kitchen has modified that to 2005.
    Is there any debate on Dr. Kitchen's subamendment?
    I'm not seeing anybody's hand go up. Seeing none, I'll call the vote on that.
    (Subamendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    Mr. Fisher's amendment as further amended is that we take a look at 2005 as a start date for examining the documents from the national stockpile.
    Are we clear on the amendment? The motion before us at this point is Mr. Fisher's amendment as amended by Dr. Kitchen.
    I see Mr. Kelloway has his hand up.
    Mr. Kelloway, please go ahead.
    Thanks, Mr. Chair.
    In relation to the dates that we passed here, September 8 or September 7, if we do this, I think we're going to have to push the date back a bit in terms of the ability of staff to pull the information together.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    That amendment, if that's an amendment, would not be in order at this moment. We're dealing with a different matter entirely. I'll have to ask the clerk if it would be in order later, since we've already dealt with the dates and times.
    Continuing debate on Mr. Fisher's amendment as amended by Dr. Kitchen, I see we have Ms. Sidhu.
    Go ahead.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I wanted to raise my hand about the date, so I'll pass. Thank you.

  (1725)  

    Okay, thank you.
    Is there any further debate on Mr. Fisher's amendment as further amended by Dr. Kitchen?
    Seeing none, I will call the question.
    (Amendment as amended agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0 [ See Minutes of Proceedings])
     We're back on the main question, the motion of Mr. Jeneroux, as subsequently amended several times. Is there any debate on this main motion?
    Dr. Jaczek, please go ahead.
    As a number of my colleagues have mentioned, given the very large number of documents, no doubt, that will be generated by the amendment we just voted on, taking us back to 2003, I would like to propose another amendment to the date of the production of the documents. Now I believe the documents are to be provided by August 31, and to be published on the committee's website by September 7. I'm wondering if we could add a little more time. I'd like to amend the motion to have the documents provided by September 30, and published a week later, which I presume would be sometime like October 7.
    Thank you, Dr. Jaczek.
    I have a note from the clerk. It says that because we changed the scope of the motion, it would be appropriate to revisit the date. Therefore, Dr. Jaczek, your motion to amend is in order.
    We have Mr. Kelloway. Please go ahead.
    MP Jaczek took the words right out of my mouth. I believe that 15 years of documents and whatnot will require the amount of time MP Jaczek has put forward, so I'll be supporting that.
    Thank you, Mr. Kelloway.
    Mr. Jeneroux, please go ahead.
    I believe you set a precedent for accepting a friendly amendment just moments ago, Mr. Chair. If you're still in the mood to accept these types of amendments, I would certainly be open to amending that to account for the large scope of time.
    Mr. Jeneroux, are you proposing that we vote by unanimous consent to change the dates as Dr. Jaczek has proposed?
    I don't know if that's my call, Mr. Chair, but if it is, then sure, I'll propose it.
     If we can do it by unanimous consent, I'm happy to do so.
    Is there any dissent from accepting Dr. Jaczek's proposal to change the dates?
    Mr. Chair, I wonder if I may speak to that.
    Certainly, Ms. Kwan. Go ahead.
    Thank you.
    I'm just wondering if this would make sense. I'd like to try this on for size. We've already moved our original date to the end of August. Now we're talking about the end of September. I understand that the scope of the information has been broadened.
    How about if we do this? For the latter part of the information that's being sought, the scope of the information that's been broadened, we extend the date for that information to be made available with a timeline of September. For the original part of the information that was being sought by the committee, we still abide by the August 31 timeline. We're applying two timelines to the information: the original information that's being sought, and for that to be made available by August 31, and September 7 or 8, I think, for it to be published; and then for this second part, where the scope of the information being sought has been expanded, for that information to be made available by the end of September.
    Mr. Chair, can I try this on for size, so we can maybe get the documents in batches?

  (1730)  

     Sure, let us take the temperature of the room here and see if there's any will to proceed in this manner.
    Is the committee prepared to accept Ms. Kwan's proposal to amend the motion to provide the documents in two stages, the second one being for the national stockpile to correspond to Dr. Jaczek's dates and the other documents to be, as previously decided, August 31 and September 7?
    Can I have some indication from anybody if they oppose such a perspective?
    Mr. Chair, could I just clarify if you're referring to the documents that relate to the period of 2005 to 2020? What I wouldn't want to see is the information relative to the national emergency strategic stockpile first arrive in a bundle for 2015 to 2020. I think all of the documents that relate to that subject should arrive at the same time. Could I just get that clarified?
    I believe that is Ms. Kwan's suggestion.
    I just wanted to confirm that all of the documents, not just a portion of the documents, for the national emergency strategic stockpile would be published early, that all of them would be reviewed and that our recommendations will be based on all of the information and not partial information.
    Yes.
    Dr. Jaczek, your motion was moved and it is in order. This is a substantial change to that. We can attempt to do this by unanimous consent. Would you be agreeable to doing so?
    I think I need some further clarification, as Mr. Van Bynen has suggested.
    Is Ms. Kwan saying that the mask information, just to put it simply, would be required by August 31 and then the entirety of the NESS information, the stockpile information, for 2003 to 2020, the piece I was suggesting, be by September 30? But you're saying to divide the mask piece with the original dates that we had suggested—that passed in fact—and then have the stockpile piece in its entirety, from 2003 to 2020, be available September 30. Is that what you're proposing?
    Just for clarity, the date was not 2003; it was 2005, but other than that, I think that's exactly what Ms. Kwan is suggesting.
    Mr. Chair, on point of order, I'm really concerned about the translators. I know that we've talked many times about their health when they have to translate, so I just want all of us to keep in mind that this is an issue. I don't know if we have another team behind them that can switch off with them, but it's a concern.
    Thank you, Ms. Jansen, I appreciate your concern.
    My information is that the translation team basically gives us a hard cap at the top of the hour coming up. I'm not sure if there's another team on deck, but we should probably consider that it's a hard cap for this meeting and should probably plan on having another meeting, perhaps next Monday, to carry on and finish what we've started here. I think we will, in any case, postpone the in camera portion for another week.
    Getting back to Dr. Jaczek's motion, it may be that it's too complicated to do this by unanimous consent, but let's give it a shot.

  (1735)  

    Sorry, Mr. Chair, if I can just interject to answer the question that was asked, that is correct; that is what I'm asking. This is for the committee members who were asking that question.
    The proposal here is that we deem Dr. Jaczek's motion to amend to be as Ms. Kwan has proposed, which is that the delivery time for the entire subset of documents relating to the national emergency strategic stockpile, because of the change in scope in relation to those documents, be moved to the dates Dr. Jaczek proposed.
    Is that your suggestion, Ms. Kwan?
     No, sorry.
    My suggestion was to separate out the two requests with the two separate timelines that were proposed. So the timeline of the mask request would be in keeping with the August 31 timeline that was previously established, but because the scope of the stockpile has been extended by that timeline, that information then would abide by the suggestion that it be made available in September.
    Understood. I thought that's what was said, but it's good to have it clarified.
    Dr. Jaczek, are you comfortable with that?
    Yes, Mr. Chair. I think that's logical.
    I see Mr. Kelloway has his hand up.
     Let us just see, before we go on any further, whether we have unanimous consent to deem Ms. Jaczek's motion to be—
    On a point of order, I think Matt got kicked out.
    Okay.
    I don't see him on here anywhere.
    All right. I guess we can wait a couple of minutes to ask him and give him time to reconnect.
    Oh, there he is.
    There he is. Okay.
    Welcome back, Mr. Jeneroux,
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. It was a good attempt, but I'm back.
    I'm trying to ascertain whether we have unanimous consent to deem Ms. Jaczek's motion to be as Ms. Kwan has proposed.
    Is there any dissent to that approach?
    Mr. Fisher, please go ahead.
    I don't know if it's dissent or not, but none of us really knows exactly what's involved in pulling all of this stuff together and how easy that is to do. I think it simplifies things to keep it as September 30. If Dr. Jaczek says that she's okay with her motion being amended, I'm happy to support her, but I do have some concern about that time frame and then complicating things by splitting it up.
    Well, that sounds to me like it's not consent.
    We are faced with dealing with Ms. Jaczek's motion to be subsequently modified by Ms. Kwan, and dealing with that in the normal course of events where we short-circuit the process and do it by unanimous consent.
    So, Mr. Fisher, would you be amenable to doing this by unanimous consent or shall we go forward with the full process?
    Well, again, my feeling is that September 30 is a better time frame for this.
    Again, I will go with Ms. Jaczek's motion. If she says that she's okay with MP Kwan's subamendment, then, I guess, who am I to disagree?

  (1740)  

    Okay.
    Ms. Kwan did not actually move a subamendment. We were trying to do this by unanimous consent.
    Ms. Kwan, would you like to move that as a subamendment?
    Sure, I'll move it as a subamendment.
    I think we all heard MP Jaczek say that she accepted that as a friendly amendment. I think we heard MP Fisher say “who am I to oppose?”. I think if we really go with that language spoken by both members, then we actually do have unanimous consent. If that's not the case, I'm happy to move my subamendment.
    I can't argue with Jenny's logic there, Mr. Chair.
    I'm almost dying here.
    I hear you.
    All right, I'm going to have to take a vote on the unanimous consent, because I'm not sure that we have unanimous consent.
    Would the clerk take a vote on whether we have, in fact, unanimous consent to proceed as we have described?
    Please, go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, it would appear that we have 11 yeas.
     Hallelujah.
    Dr. Jaczek's motion is deemed to have been moved, as we've now decided to basically split off the two sets of documents, with documents related to the national stockpile to arrive at Dr. Jaczek's later date.
    Is there any further discussion on the effective motion by Dr. Jaczek?
    Dr. Jaczek, please go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, I am lowering my hand as we speak.
    Thank you.
    Is there any further debate on this amendment?
    Mr. Van Bynen, do you have a question?
    You just referenced an amendment. I thought we were back to the motion as amended.
    No. Dr. Jaczek moved to change the dates in the motion for the delivery of the documents. Ms. Kwan proposed a friendly subamendment to change only the dates for the documents pertaining to the national stockpile and that they be delivered in one fell swoop at a later date. The decision to deal with Dr. Jaczek's amendment in that fashion was passed by unanimous consent, but we still have Dr. Jaczek's amendment on the floor, as we have unanimously agreed that it should be deemed to have been moved.
    We're still on Dr. Jaczek's amendment. I suspect we're probably all in agreement with it, but we should, if there is no debate, take a vote on it. If there is debate, we will continue to debate that item.
    The debate is on Dr. Jaczek's amendment, as subsequently modified by unanimous consent.
    Is there any discussion on Dr. Jaczek's amendment? I'm seeing none, so we will call a vote.
    Madam Clerk, could you please call the vote on Dr. Jaczek's amendment, as amended by unanimous consent?
    Mr. Chair, may I please reread the original motion as I understand it, just to be clear that I'm capturing everything completely?
    That's a desperately good idea. Thank you.
     Thank you.
    I do have the dates in two different places in the motion. Here it is:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), the committee send for the following documents to be provided by the government by Monday, August 31, 2020 and that the documents be published publicly on the committee’s website by Monday, September 7 2020:
All documents, briefing notes and memorandums, regarding the emerging evidence that altered the government’s advice on the wearing of masks referenced by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, at her appearance before the Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and that all documents, briefing notes and memorandums to/from/between Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Minister of Health’s Office and the Privy Council regarding the management of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile from 2005 to 2020 be provided by the government by Wednesday, September 30, 2020 and that the documents be published publicly on the committee’s website by Wednesday, October 7, 2020, including supply inventory broken down by number and all updates sent to the government and the Government of Canada’s contracts for personal protective equipment since January 2020, provided that the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel vet the documents for matters of cabinet confidence and national security as well as privacy related to names and personal information.

  (1745)  

    Thank you. I think that is the motion. Does anybody have any problem with that clarification? That is the motion before us.
    On that basis we will conduct a vote on Dr. Jaczek's amendment.
    (Amendment agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Now we're back to the main motion, as amended many times.
    Is there any further debate or discussion on the motion by Mr. Jeneroux as amended?
    Ms. Jansen, please go ahead.
     A quick question. I thought the other guys were going to put in a new amendment that had the PMO as a separate amendment. Was that not actually the case? They wanted it completely separate for some reason.
    There was no such amendment. I think the intent had been to deal with whether or not to include those particular offices in Mr. Jeneroux's amendment as separate items. They didn't. There was no such amendment.
    Ah, so they said they were going to do it, and then they didn't. I just want to be clear.
    An hon. member: No, that's not true.
    Well, there was a subsequent amendment to deal with removing the health department from the main motion, and that was not passed.
    Is there any further discussion on Mr. Jeneroux's main motion as amended?
    Seeing none, Madam Clerk, would you please call the vote on Mr. Jeneroux's motion as so vigorously amended. Thank you.
    (Motion as amended agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    Thank you, Madam Clerk. The motion has passed.
    We are 10 minutes, I believe, to an effective hard cap on the translators' time. I propose that we resume the discussion on the remaining three motions of Mr. Jeneroux, say, next Monday. I'll ask the clerk if we can get the time slot. I think the current week is pretty full, at least for me. I'm hoping we can agree on an early time next week to finish this off.
    I will also postpone the drafting instructions, which had been planned to follow this public portion, until the end of that meeting.
    I'm sorry, someone wants to interject?

  (1750)  

    Yes, Mr. Chair. Before we adjourn this meeting, I just want to make sure that the information being sought will go unredacted to the law clerk's office. I ask because the last time, that didn't actually happen with regard to the motion that was passed on February 26. It was the redacted information that went to the law clerk's office. I want to make sure that we follow the rules in the motion as passed by committee. If we can ensure that happens, that would be great. Thank you so much.
    Well, thank you.
    From this committee, we can do no more, really, than to pass the motion as we did. We will have to rely on the departments to act accordingly.
    Are there any more comments?
    Just to follow up on that, then, I'd be curious to know what option the committee has in the event that the departments do not follow through on the committee's motion as passed. I wonder if that's something the clerk's office can endeavour to find out and report back to the committee on at our next meeting.
    Thank you. I will ask the clerk to do so.
    Is there agreement that we shall resume this meeting as soon as possible, say, next week? Seeing no dissent, I shall take that as a—
    Mr. Jeneroux, I see your hand is up. Sorry.
    Mr. Chair, yes, my hand's up. It's all right. It's been a long meeting.
    Obviously, we want to get through these next three important motions, I think, on the scope of our study. Yes, next week would be ideal. If not Monday, at least some day next week would be great.
    I do just want to take the last few minutes here and wish Karin a happy birthday. I imagine this was probably an opportunity for her, as we were going to go in camera, to really take over the meeting. However, it didn't happen today. Again, happy birthday to you, Karin.
    Indeed, happy birthday to Karen.
    Part of your gift is that we will not sing to you.
    Come on, Kelloway.
    Anyway, all being said and done, we will call it a day. We will schedule another meeting to carry on as soon as possible next week.
    Thank you, all.
    The meeting is now adjourned.
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