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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security


NUMBER 001 
l
1st SESSION 
l
43rd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, February 20, 2020

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0850)  

[English]

    Honourable members of the committee, I see a quorum.
    I must inform members that the clerk of the committee can only receive motions for the election of a chair. The clerk cannot receive other types of motions, cannot entertain points of order nor participate in debate.

[Translation]

     We can now proceed to the election of the chair.
     Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), the chair must be a member of the government party.

[English]

    I am ready to receive motions for the chair.
    I would like to nominate John McKay as chair.
    It has been moved by Ms. Damoff that Mr. McKay be elected chair of the committee.
    Are there any further motions?
    Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
     I declare the motion carried, and Mr. John McKay duly elected chair of the committee.
     Thank you for that inspiring speech, Pam. I appreciate it. I think it was the robocalls that did it.
    Before we get into routine motions, I just want to say that the work of the committee in the last Parliament was really quite excellent. There was a lot of consensus and important work was done. I'm hoping that we can continue that.
    In a minority government there's always a temptation to chase every political rabbit down every political rabbit hole and at the end of the day, you wonder what you actually did here. This is an important committee. It's important work that we can do, and I'm rather hoping that we can work collaboratively to achieve all of those ends.
    If I may introduce the best clerk on the Hill, Jean-Marie is a tremendously able individual and we were very blessed last time with great analysts as well.
    Apparently, we have to elect vice-chairs.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), the first vice-chair must be a member of the official opposition.

[Translation]

    I'm now ready to receive motions for the election of the first vice-chair.

[English]

    I'd like to nominate Pierre Paul-Hus.
    It's been moved by Mr. Morrison that Mr. Paul-Hus be elected as first vice-chair of the committee.
    Are there any further motions?
    Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
    (Motion agreed to)
     I declare the motion carried, and Mr. Paul-Hus duly elected first vice-chair of the committee.

[Translation]

    Congratulations!

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), the second vice-chair must be a member of an opposition party other than the official opposition.

[Translation]

    I'm now ready to receive motions for the election of the second vice-chair.

[English]

    I'd like to nominate Jack Harris. I am replacing him just for today.
    It has been moved by Mr. MacGregor that Jack Harris be elected as second vice-chair.
    Are there any further motions?
    Mr. Paul-Hus.

[Translation]

    I would like to nominate, as second vice-chair of the committee, Kristina Michaud, from the Bloc Québécois, the second opposition party.
    Since more than one candidate has been nominated, pursuant to Standing Order 106(3), I'm required to preside over the election of the vice-chair by secret ballot.

[English]

     We will be passing ballots around.

  (0850)  


  (0855)  

[Translation]

    I declare Ms. Michaud to have received a majority of the votes. She's therefore elected second vice-chair of the committee.

[English]

     We are ready to proceed to routine motions.
    Everyone has a package of routine motions. Do we want to go through them one by one?
    The first is that the committee retain the services of more analysts from the Library of Parliament as needed to assist the committee in its work.
    Is that acceptable?
    I saw Madam Damoff nod her head. She is the mover.
    The second motion—
    Hold on a second. I want to check something. I don't have a good one here, because they changed the time.

[Translation]

    The time limit for the parties to ask questions has been changed. It was seven minutes, as stated here, but it's now six minutes.

[English]

     Where?
    They changed the time we have for questioning witnesses. Instead of seven minutes, actually we have six minutes for the first round.
    We're going one by one.
    Pierre, we're on a different page here.
    Okay?
    Okay.
     The second motion is on the subcommittee on agenda and procedure.
    We're having Madam Damoff move these motions.
     Do you want to move it?
     Sure. We're doing each clause on the subcommittee on agenda and procedure.
    Shall I read it?
    Yes.
    The motion reads:
That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be established and be composed of five (5) members; the Chair, one Member from each Party; and that the subcommittee work in the spirit of collaboration.

  (0900)  

    Are you happy with that?
    It's one from each party.
    Yes.
    Plus the chair.
    Yes. Good.
    Are you fine with that?
    (Motion agreed to)
    I will move the next one.

[Translation]

     Regarding reduced quorum, the motion is as follows:
That the chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government, but when travelling outside the parliamentary precinct, that the meeting begin after 15 minutes, regardless of members present.

[English]

    We're not having the same written motion given to us as what has been presented here. I don't know if the sheets have been distributed or not, but otherwise it's up for debate.
    Yes. It is a bit confusing.
    Do we have sheets?

[Translation]

    It's the list from the previous Parliament, and here are the changes.

[English]

    Yes.

[Translation]

    Yes, it's from the previous Parliament.

[English]

    It's a new one. Is it from the former Parliament? There are some changes.
    To minimize confusion, Angelo, do you want to resubmit that?

[Translation]

    Yes. The motion is as follows:
That the chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government, but when travelling outside the parliamentary precinct, that the meeting begin after 15 minutes, regardless of members present.

[English]

    Alistair.
    Chair, I have a slight amendment to this part.
    Given the fact that in this Parliament when we're referring to the opposition, we have three recognized parties now. If we're only going to have this particular wording mention one member of the opposition, which member could it be?
    I have a slight amendment that was passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture. It refers to two members of the government and two members of the opposition. I can read that into the record, if you wish.
    For procedural purposes, you're moving an amendment to the motion, so we will debate the amendment before we debate the main motion.
    I can read the amendment into the record.
    The new wording of the reduced quorum section would read as follows: “That the chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive and publish evidence when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including two members from the opposition and two members from the government, and that in the case of previously scheduled meetings taking place outside of the parliamentary precinct, the committee members in attendance be required to wait for 15 minutes following the designated start of the meeting before they may proceed to hear witnesses and receive evidence regardless of whether the opposition or government members are present.”
     First of all, does everybody understand what Alistair just read?
    Is there debate on it?
    Pam.
    It's more than just adding the “two” and “two”. You've changed some wording around the means of.... I didn't get it all.
    I apologize. I only have the copy from the agriculture committee. The spirit is the same. I just want to ensure that the motion refers to the fact that, for this reduced quorum, we have two members from the opposition and two members from the government, given the changing nature of the minority Parliament we're in.
    The wording for when travelling changed quite a bit. Is it still the same, that the meeting starts after 15 minutes?
    We can keep the wording the same as what this committee has. I just want to ensure that two members of the opposition and two members of the government are specifically referred to. That's the crux of the matter.

  (0905)  

     For the purposes of clarification, we're not doing anything with respect to meetings outside the precinct. All that you're changing is the wording with respect to who has to be present for the purposes of starting a meeting within the precinct.
    He added the words “receive and publish evidence”. Does that cause any problems?
    No, it's normal.
    Okay.
     Is there debate?
    Seeing no call for debate, let me state that the motion is to receive and publish evidence and to have two members of the opposition and two members of the government present prior to the chair's being able to start a meeting.
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     The amendment carries and we have to vote on the motion as amended.
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     The next motion concerns questioning of witnesses.
    I'll move it, Chair, but I have a question after I've done so.
    This motion is regarding questioning of witnesses:
That witnesses be given 10 minutes for their opening statements; that, at the discretion of the chair, during the questioning of witnesses there be allocated six minutes for the first questioner of each party as follows: Round 1: Conservative Party, Liberal Party, Bloc Québécois New Democratic Party;
For the second and subsequent rounds, the order and time for questioning be as follows: Conservative Party, five minutes, Liberal Party, five minutes, Conservative Party, five minutes, Liberal Party, five minutes, Bloc Québécois, two and a half minutes, New Democratic Party, two and a half (2.5) minutes.
     Is there any debate?
    Pam, you have a question.
    It's just a question to put out there about the witness statements being 10 minutes each. Given the number of political parties we have here, if we pass this, is it cast in stone? I know that sometimes, if we have, for example, three or four witnesses and they all get 10 minutes each, that means there's very little time for questioning.
    Is there discretion, perhaps at the subcommittee or for the chair to say that if we have four witnesses, we could go to five or six minutes. We used to do that at the status of women committee. We would reduce it to five or seven minutes, if there were more than two witnesses.
    Do you want to frame it so that it reads that at the discretion of the chair, witnesses be given 10 minutes?
    Actually it says “at the discretion of the chair”, so I think you have the power anyway, Chair.
    No, but just reframing it.... The framing, as I read it, is that the discretion of the chair be on the six minutes rather than 10 minutes.
    I don't know how....
    That's how I read it initially.
    I'm all in favour of chair discretion, by the way.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Should we be put “at the discretion of the chair” at the beginning?
    Yes, that's my suggestion, only because if you have two witnesses, 10 minutes each is good, but if you have four witnesses, you've used up 40 minutes. Basically that means nobody else gets any questions after the first round.

[Translation]

     I agree. You need the opportunity to reduce the time allotted for the witnesses' appearances.

[English]

     We'll reframe this to say “at the discretion of the chair, witnesses be given 10 minutes”.
    Is that fine? There's also a further discretion of the chair to reduce members' time.
    I like this.
    Angelo, do you want to move the amendment?
    I so do.
    Does everyone understand the amendment to the motion?
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     We move to the main motion, as amended.
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     The next motion is on the distribution of documents.
    Mr. Iacono.

  (0910)  

[Translation]

    I move:
That the clerk of the committee be authorized to distribute documents to members of the committee only when the documents are available in both official languages and that witnesses be advised accordingly.
    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

     Working meals are next.
    Are you going to move this one, Angelo?
    I'll do it.

[Translation]

    I move:
That the clerk of the committee be authorized to make the necessary arrangements to provide working meals for the committee and its subcommittees.

[English]

     Is there any discussion?
    We'll vote on the motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
     Who wants to move the motion on witness expenses?
     I'll move it.

[Translation]

    I move:
That, if requested, reasonable travel, accommodation and living expenses be reimbursed to witnesses not exceeding two representatives per organization; provided that, in exceptional circumstances, payment for more representatives be made at the discretion of the chair.

[English]

    Is there debate? Seeing none, we'll vote on the motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
     The motion on staff at in camera meetings is next.
    Ms. Damoff.
    I move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, each committee member be allowed to have one staff member at an in camera meeting and that one additional person from each House officer's office be allowed to be present
    Is there debate? Seeing none, we'll vote on the motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
     The next item pertains to transcripts of in camera meetings.
    Ms. Khera.
That one copy of the transcript of each in camera meeting be kept in the committee clerk's office for consultation by members of the committee or by their staff.
    Is there debate? Seeing none, we'll vote on the motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
     The next one is on notice of motions.
    Mr. Lightbound.

[Translation]

    Yes, Mr. Chair, I'm jumping in. I move:
That a 48 hours notice, interpreted as two nights, shall be required for any substantive motion to be considered by the committee, unless the substantive motion relates directly to business then under consideration, provided that (a) the notice be filed with the clerk of the committee no later than 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday; that (b) the motion be distributed to members in both official languages by the clerk on the same day the said notice was transmitted if it was received no later than the deadline hour; and that (c) notices received after the deadline hour or on non-business days be deemed to have been received during the next business day and that when the committee is travelling on official business, no substantive motions may be moved.

[English]

     Is there any debate?

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I have a question.
    At certain times, we've agreed to proceed more quickly. Could there be an additional point stating that, with the agreement of the chair and vice-chairs, we can proceed more quickly? Would that be helpful?

  (0915)  

[English]

    Does anyone want to debate that?
    Essentially he wants to shrink it to 24 hours on the agreement of the chair and all the vice-chairs.
    Vice-chairs.

[Translation]

    I have a question for the chair. With the unanimous consent of the committee, can we proceed more quickly if necessary?
    Aside from cases where an emergency meeting is requested, sometimes we want to proceed more quickly. Could the chair and vice-chairs have the authority to speed up the tabling of a motion? Obviously, if we ask for the consent of all committee members, the process will take longer.

[English]

    Pam.
    I'm not keen on that. I think we can do it by unanimous consent at the beginning of the meeting. I don't see where that would be helpful. It also excludes one of the parties, if it's just the two vice-chairs and the chair. That means the New Democratic Party would be excluded from the decision; whereas, if we do it by unanimous consent of the committee.... Generally, this committee has been pretty agreeable so if there was agreement by all parties, I don't think anybody would be trying to hold it up.
    Okay. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    Is there any other debate?
    (Motion agreed to)
     The next one is on independent members and clause by clause.
    This is the substantive one. Who wishes to move this one?
    Marc.
    Do you want me to read the whole thing?
    You probably should because it's rather important.
    Okay.
    With respect to independent members and clause by clause, I move:
That, in relation to Orders of Reference from the House respecting Bills,
(a) the clerk of the committee shall, upon the committee receiving such an Order of Reference, write to each member who is not a member of a caucus represented on the committee to invite those members to file with the clerk of the committee, in both official languages, any amendments to the Bill, which is the subject of the said Order, which they would suggest that the committee consider;

[Translation]

(b) suggested amendments filed, pursuant to paragraph (a), at least 48 hours prior to the start of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill to which the amendments relate shall be deemed to be proposed during the said consideration, provided that the committee may, by motion, vary this deadline in respect of a given bill;

[English]

(c) during the clause-by-clause consideration of a Bill, the Chair shall allow a Member who filed suggested amendments, pursuant to paragraph (a), an opportunity to make brief representations in support of them.
    Is there any debate? Seeing none, we will vote on the motion as read.
    (Motion agreed to)
     That disposes of our routine motions.
    Generally at this point I would say, see you on Tuesday, but I hate to waste committee time. I would like to have an opportunity to have the committee instruct the clerk as to what our agenda items will be in the next few weeks so that on Tuesday morning we can hit the ground running.
    With that in mind, we can continue this meeting. I can continue the meeting as is with the full committee without any problems, but to be honest with you, my preferred methodology is to go to a subcommittee, because it gets to be, frankly, too many chefs in the room.
    Why don't we talk for 15 minutes about what the various parties' agendas might be, and then we can start shaping instructions to the clerk. Then we will break and go to the subcommittee and finalize them.
    Does that work?

  (0920)  

    Mr. Chair, I have a motion that I wanted to present to folks. Others may as well.
    Motions would take precedence over anything else.
    Do you want to go first Gagan? No? Okay.
     As many of you know, the correctional investigator tabled his report in the House on Tuesday. I don't know if any of you have had the opportunity to read it yet, but prominent in there was the report that the public safety committee did in the last Parliament about indigenous people in corrections. I was quite proud to see our work reflected, that somebody actually read it and was taking it seriously.
    I have a motion that would ask that the correctional investigator appear before the committee to brief us on his report. Obviously, there's no urgency to that, but I would like to get it on the table.
    Has the motion been distributed?
    Yes. It's being distributed.
     It reads:
That pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee receive a briefing from Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional lnvestigator, on the Report of the Correctional lnvestigator for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, which was presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.
    Are there other motions? We could talk about them together or do you want to talk about them one by one? I'm open to your guidance.
    Let's put everything on the table, and then we can go from there.
    Gagan.
    Something near and dear to my heart is keeping young kids safe and making sure they follow the right path.
    I represent a riding in the GTA, and every time you turn on the TV, it seems that there has been a shooting or a stabbing. I grew up in my riding and it never used to be the case. Having said that, I want to put forward this motion: “That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee initiate a study of programs that address the causes of youth gang involvement, while preventing recruitment and retention, as well as those programs that have successfully provided existing members with the opportunity to confront their challenges and create a better future for themselves and their communities.”
    I do think that has some urgency, especially given—
    Do you have a copy of that?
    It should be distributed.
    Okay.
    Pierre.

[Translation]

     In my opinion, the motion on the Parole Board of Canada that was passed in the House two weeks ago should be a priority for the committee, especially since the motion was passed unanimously. We should prioritize this study.

[English]

    Certainly, it would supersede other motions. Having said that, we're just trying to organize.
     Yes, it's just to let you know that's my priority.
     Yes.
    We'll have supplementary estimates (B), but can we actually study them now?
    We have supplementary estimates (B).
     It could be for next week.
    I don't think they're controversial.
    No.
    I have a question, Chair.
    As far as the potential for bringing different motions here is concerned, does that eliminate the possibility of bringing forward other items that may be coming up in the future?
    No, we're not exhausting the list.
    My concern is the timing. These motions are being brought forward. Does that mean that's the order they're going to come in?
    No. We're trying to get some guidance, and we're just trying to organize agendas. We have two meetings to do next week. I'd like to make them productive meetings. From this grouping and others, we will be able to shape some sort of agenda.
    Are there any other suggestions as to what we should be doing?

  (0925)  

[Translation]

     Could the clerk provide the list of motions that were tabled in the previous Parliament and that we didn't have time to cover? If not, should we find them ourselves and table them again?

[English]

    We can distribute them, but they still have to be moved.
    Yes.
    For my part, I would like us to resume the study on cybersecurity.
    Should we invite the analysts? It's a good idea, is it? They're nice people, are they?
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    The Chair: One of my favourites is right down there.
    Please. Should there be a fanfare, Holly? What do we need to get you up here?
    We were very fortunate in the last Parliament to have extraordinarily fine analysts, including Holly.
    Why don't you two introduce yourselves to the committee and tell us why you have such superior qualifications to be here. Come on, Holly, you're the senior here.
    Wait a minute, you can't say that.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    At my age, I can say that.
     At my age, I can just ignore that.
     Yes.
     My name is Holly Porteous. I'm really happy, mainly because I have Cynthia as my partner in this. I love doing the cybers. I love doing the national security stuff and I love sitting back and letting others lead. I was smiling about the corrections, etc.
    I don't know what to say, other than I've been with the library for 10 years. Before that I was in government in various capacities, in the private sector and in academia, and I wear sunscreen.
    What SPF?
    High.
    It's apparently quite effective.
    You were super helpful on that committee report. I think we'd all agree with that.
    Cynthia.
    I'm Cynthia Kirkby. I have also been with the library for 10 years. I have a legal background.
    We won't hold that against you.
    Thank you.
    I was most recently on the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, although I do have some experience on this committee as well. I think my primary focus will be on the firearms aspects and correctional aspects.
    In the audience right now, we have Robin Whitehead, who will be assisting us as well.
    As I was saying, I'd really be keen if we pursued that cyber study. This is the committee that brings all of the cyber issues in the government into play.
    We had the extraordinary opportunity in the last Parliament to renovate the security architecture of Canada. I think that we should flesh out how, where and what we want to do with this, and possibly even create a subcommittee, but that's another issue.
    Are there any other issues that people want to put on the table?
    Oh, my goodness, this is an easy committee.
    Maybe we don't need to go through the fuss of—
     John, I'm sorry, but my colleague Rob has something to say.
    I didn't have a chance to write it up, but I think it would be important for us to get into an information and intelligence sharing committee, especially since we have all the federal agencies that we can bring in as witnesses. My experience in the last 30-plus years internationally and nationally has been that the information sharing between agencies is awful at best. We say we share but we don't—RCMP, CSIS, CBSA, CRA, you name it. When we're talking about cybersecurity, we better be sharing information. It's really important. In fact, the backbone of intelligence is information sharing.
    You can view this as software being the information and hardware being intelligence, but it's all the same, and I think we need to flush out why we are not doing it and how do we can do it safely. It should be near the top of our list.

  (0930)  

     We did hear a lot about the silos of security, and they don't talk to each other.
    Maybe there's one other one, since I have the mike open.
     One thing I'd like to do, especially given recent events, is to bring the RCMP in as our federal police force and ask them what their internal policies are on things like road blocks and court orders, and find out what exactly they are mandated to do and whether they are following through with what they're supposed to be doing.
     Gagan.
    For clarification, were you talking about the information sharing within the study of cyber or do you mean doing a study in itself for information sharing?
    I'm talking about information sharing throughout the federal government. It would be part of cybersecurity for sure, depending on how far we go with it. I think there should be information sharing. There should be a process of information sharing that the federal agencies are required to follow, and I would suggest that we bring in our provincial and municipal partners, as well, if we're going to be sharing intelligence.
    I'm sorry, but again, just to clarify, are you saying we should do an entire study on just the information sharing or that it should be a component of the cyber study?
    I'm saying both.
     Okay, that gives the subcommittee something to chew on.
    Are there any other thoughts?
    Tuesday we could potentially look at the supplementary estimates or get Mr. Zinger in here. I'm assuming, from your motion, you want something a bit more substantive than a one-off.
    I'm expecting to have a subcommittee meeting after that to decide on the schedule.
     We can do that. Have we exhausted our 15 minutes? We are adjourning after 15 minutes. That's fairly crazy.
    As you can see, I'm not entirely a fan of all of the silly rules that go on around here.
    With that, is there anything else that people want to put on the agenda?
     I'll see you on Tuesday morning.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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