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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities


NUMBER 001 
l
1st SESSION 
l
43rd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1530)  

[English]

     Honourable members of the committee, I see a quorum.

[Translation]

    I must inform members of the committee that the clerk of the committee can only receive motions for the election of the chair. The clerk may not receive any other motions, hear points of order or participate in debate.

[English]

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

[Translation]

    I am ready to receive motions for the chair.

[English]

    I nominate Vance Badawey.
    It has been moved by Todd Doherty that Vance Badawey be elected as chair of the committee. Are there any further motions?
    (Motion agreed to)
     I declare the motion carried and Vance Badawey duly elected chair of the committee.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Clerk: I invite Mr. Badawey to take the chair.
     Thank you, Madam Clerk, and thank you, members, for your confidence. If the committee is in agreement, I am now going to move forward with the election of the vice-chair.
    Mr. Chair, I would like to nominate MP Todd Doherty for vice-chair.
     Thank you. Are there any further motions for vice-chair?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Doherty, congratulations.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Chair: I am going to be opening up a dialogue or discussion for the second vice-chair. The information that I've received so far is that we have in fact dialogue and discussion happening at PROC with respect to that. I am going to open this up for dialogue or discussion as well.
    Mr. Bittle.

  (1535)  

    This is just my thought, and I spoke with Taylor about this. The matter is before PROC, and I don't know that we necessarily want to jump the gun. It should be discussed by PROC, and the House leaders of the Bloc and the NDP should also have discussions about that. With respect to my colleagues from the Bloc and the NDP, I suggest that we table that decision until those things can happen.
     Thank you, Mr. Bittle.
    Are there any further questions?
    Mr. Doherty.
    I would agree, Mr. Chair, with my colleague and with you that while there's discussion in another committee, or among other House leaders, we should await the results of that.
     Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    Are there any further questions? I'll take that as consensus. Thank you, members.
    We're now going to move on to routine motions.
    Mr. Sidhu.
    Mr. Chair, I would like to bring some routine motions forward.
     On analysts, I move:
That the Committee retain, as needed and at the discretion of the Chair, the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist it in its work.
    Everyone in favour?
     I will call the question.
    Mr. Bittle, did you have a question or a comment? No?
    Are there any questions or comments?
    (Motion agreed to)
     If we could invite the analysts to sit at the table, that would be wonderful.
    On the subcommittee on agenda and procedure, I move:
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.
     Are there any questions or comments?
    Mr. Doherty.
    I guess the only question I have is what we just voted on or spoke of previously. It's this very question that the makeup of the subcommittee, I guess the vice-chairs, could change due to the conversations going on at PROC. I guess we can vote in favour of this today, but it may change.
    I would suggest that we vote on the chair and the vice-chair, which has already been established. Once the decision is made by PROC, we can then amend the motion to include any other decisions that are made.
    If I may, Mr. Chair, I would amend the current motion to say that the subcommittee on agenda and procedure be composed of four members, including the chair, one vice-chair and two government members.
     Are there any questions or comments on that?
    Mr. Bittle.
    These are standard motions that have been passed. I know what Mr. Doherty is trying to get at, but this is what has been passed at every committee. One member from each party is very specific. If the chair is Mr. Doherty in that instance, a Liberal member would have to attend.
    I appreciate what he is saying, and I know he's trying to clarify it to ensure fairness, but I think this is something that has been agreed to by the House leaders. Again, I appreciate what he is doing, but I'm not sure it's something we need to amend.

  (1540)  

    I don't believe this clause speaks to the vice-chairs specifically. I'm wondering if the two matters could be dealt with separately. I believe the issue that PROC is dealing with is the issue of the number of vice-chairs. This simply speaks to the number of representatives on the subcommittee from each party. I wonder if those can't be dealt with independently.
     Are there any further questions or comments?
    Mr. Duval.

[Translation]

    I'd like to support what my NDP colleague just said.
    Currently, it says one representative per party. So I do not see the point of making any changes, since, no matter what happens with the vice-chairs, the motion before us will be valid.

[English]

     Mr. Doherty? Okay.
    I'll call the vote right now if there are no further questions or comments.
    Are we voting on the amendment or the motion?
     We're voting on the main motion.
    Are we voting on the amendment first...?
    I'll withdraw it.
    (Amendment withdrawn)
     Okay.
    We're voting on the main motion.
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Sidhu.
    On reduced quorum, I move:
That the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four (4) members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government, but when travelling outside the parliamentary precinct, that the meeting begin after fifteen (15) minutes, regardless of members present.
     Thank you, Mr. Sidhu.
    Are there any questions or comments?
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I would like to put forward an amendment, if I may, to replace the words after “are present” with “including two members from the opposition and two members from the government”.
     Are there questions or comments on the amendment?
    (Amendment agreed to)
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     Thank you.
    Mr. Sidhu.
    On the questioning of witnesses, I move:
That witnesses be given ten (10) minutes for their opening statement; that, at the discretion of the Chair, during the questioning of witnesses, there be allocated six (6) 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 (5) minutes
Liberal Party, five (5) minutes
Conservative Party, five (5) minutes
Liberal Party, five (5) minutes
Bloc Québécois, two and a half (2.5) minutes
New Democratic Party, two and a half (2.5) minutes
     Thank you, Mr. Sidhu.
    Are there any questions or comments?
    Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

     Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It makes me feel funny to call you that. That's a good thing. I congratulate you.
    During the last session, we had difficulties with the time allocated to witnesses. It says: "That ten (10) minutes be given to witnesses for their opening remarks...". If there are four witnesses, that makes 40 minutes for opening remarks, and if there are two witnesses, 20 minutes. That leaves parliamentarians less time for discussion. Under the current wording, it is 10 minutes, regardless of the number of witnesses.
     I'd like to hear more specifics on what's being proposed here, Mr. Chair.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Berthold.
    Are there any further questions or comments?
    Mr. Doherty.
    I appreciate my colleague's comments. As a matter of fact, I had the very same comment earlier this session. What I would offer is that it's at the discretion of the committee and that when we are planning our witness list, we can have that discussion to come to a unanimous decision around the table on whether to allow or afford our witnesses more time on an as-needed basis.
     Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    Are there any questions or comments to add?
    Mr. Bachrach.
    I would support the comments of the vice-chair. If a witness group showed up with a number of speakers, we as a committee could make an exception and give them an added amount of time, but having a shorter amount would keep them brief and give the maximum amount of time for questions and answers.
     That's great. Thank you.
    Mr. Barsalou-Duval. Did I get that right?

  (1545)  

    That seems right.

[Translation]

    I agree with my two colleagues. If we have several witnesses and they each have 10 minutes to make their opening remarks, things could get long. If we want to have time to intervene and ask questions, it could be 10 minutes for all the witnesses, and the committee could adjust the time at the end of the meeting.

[English]

     Thank you.
    Are there any further comments or questions? I'm hearing that we're going to leave the motion alone and that if there are any changes that have to be made during the meeting, we can make those prior to it. That's fine.
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Sidhu.
    On documents distribution, 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.
     Thank you, Mr. Sidhu.
    Are there any questions or comments?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Thank you.
    Mr. Sidhu.
    On working meals, I move:

That the Clerk of the Committee be authorized to make the necessary arrangements to provide working meals for the Committee and its Subcommittees.
     Are there any questions or comments?
    Mr. El-Khoury.
    Mr. Chair, as a member of the Liberal Party from Quebec, I would appreciate if at least one or two of the motions were read in French.
    Thank you.
     Thank you, Mr. El-Khoury.
    Are there any further questions or comments?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Sidhu.
    On witnesses' expenses, I move:
That, if requested, reasonable travel, accommodation and living expenses be reimbursed to witnesses not exceeding two (2) representatives per organization; provided that, in exceptional circumstances, payment for more representatives be made at the discretion of the Chair.
     Thank you.
    Are there any questions or comments?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Sidhu.
    On staff at in camera meetings, 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.
     Are there any questions or comments?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. El-Khoury.

[Translation]

    Here is the motion on in camera meeting transcripts:
That one copy of the transcript of each in camera meeting be kept in the committee clerk's office for consultation by members of the committee or by their staff.

[English]

    Are there any comments or questions? All in favour?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Thank you.
    Mr. El-Khoury.

[Translation]

    The motion regarding notices of motions reads as follows:
That a forty-eight (48) hours notice, interpreted as two (2) 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 (1) the notice be filed with the Clerk of the Committee no later than 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday; that (2) 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 (3) 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]

     Thank you, Mr. El-Khoury.
    Are there any questions or comments on the motion? All in favour?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. El-Khoury.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    I now move the motion on independent members and clause-by-clause consideration:
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;
(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; and
(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.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. El-Khoury.
    Are there any questions or comments on this motion, with this being the last motion? All in favour?
    (Motion agreed to)
     Mr. Bachrach.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I have three additional motions that I would like to bring forward for the committee's consideration.
     Through the Chair, to Mr. El-Khoury, I apologize for not being able to read them in French passably. I'll work on that.
    That's why we have translators.
    I understand—
    An hon. member: Just do your best.
    Mr. Taylor Bachrach: —but it's a goal, and I will get there.
     I assume that I'll go through these one at a time. I believe the clerk has copies of the motions. Maybe we can provide them, Mr. Chair.
     You want to provide them—
    Mr. Taylor Bachrach: Yes.
    The Chair: —and you're basically introducing them today.
    These are additional routine motions that I would like to bring forward for the committee's consideration, if that's in order.
     Go ahead.
    The first one concerns in camera proceedings.
     If you just want to wait until we distribute the motions....
    The paper version is translated.

[Translation]

    I would like clarification on a procedural matter.

[English]

    Are we going to have something to look at—because you want us to vote on those right now?
    We're going to get a copy.
     Mr. Chair, in fairness to all who are here and just receiving this motion, which would change the routine motions, I would offer that perhaps each party, each group, be allowed to take this back and review it for the next 48 hours and then we can discuss it at our next meeting.
     Thank you.
    Are there any questions or comments on that? Is there consensus on that?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: That's fine. Let's do that. We'll have this back for the next meeting, and, by the way, just to get this on your minds, I'm going to ask at the end of this meeting when you guys want to have the next meeting.
    Before we get there, I'm going to ask for any other business.
    Mr. Doherty.
    Are we on new business? Is that where we're at? We're past the routine motions?
    Mr. Chair, we have, possibly coming up in the days, weeks and months ahead, the recertification of the 737 Max. Therefore, I would like to table a motion that this be one of the very first studies this committee endeavours to have. It has impacted Canadians from all across our country. It is an issue that we should be seized with.
    Therefore, Mr. Chair, I would like to read into the record and table the following motion:
That, the committee undertake a study of four meetings in regard to Transport Canada’s aircraft certification process, including, but not limited to, the nature of Transport Canada’s relationship to the Federal Aviation Administration and other certifying bodies, as well as the role of airplane manufacturers in the certification process.
    In the spirit of collaboration and fairness, I will get my colleague from Quebec to read this in French, if we are all right with that. It is in both English and French, by the way.
    Are we good? Everybody is good. All right.
    We have copies for all.

  (1555)  

     Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    Are there questions or comments on this?
    Mr. Bittle.
    We support this as something that Parliament should be looking into. The only suggestion I have is that the subcommittee meet and start this. Obviously this is an item that should be prioritized. We will support this publicly, and perhaps the subcommittee can meet to go through the agenda and determine if four meetings is enough, or whether there should be fewer or more, and who the witnesses will be. That could be done to perhaps streamline the approach to what we're going to be looking at in the near future beyond this—but we're supportive of this study.
     Thank you.
    Are there any further comments?
     I'll take that as consensus that this is the motion.

[Translation]

    I have a question about procedure.
    Will the proposed motion be handled in the same way as my colleague's previous motion? We did not receive it 48 hours in advance. Are we going to deal with this motion at the next committee meeting? I'm trying to find out if that's the way it works or if there's something that might prevent this.

[English]

    The quick answer is yes, we can, but I think what Mr. Bittle is asking for is that it actually go to the subcommittee. I'm sure there is going to be some discussion at the subcommittee with respect to queuing up the motions that are going to be coming forward for discussion and debate at this committee.
    The motion that was brought forward by Mr. Bachrach had to do with routine proceedings—the in camera proceedings, the quorum as well as the questioning of ministers and the requests to appear, which are motions we just spoke about and passed. That would amend those motions, which we can then discuss at the next meeting. That way the 48 hours is being given.
    With respect to the other motions that Mr. Doherty brought forward, and I'm sure other members may bring forward in the future, we can bring those to the subcommittee, queue them up, and come back with a motion. Then we can have a set of directions, for lack of a better word, that the committee is going to embark on.
    Go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, following my colleague's comments, I think the question is whether we are referring this to the subcommittee for further discussion, after which it would come back to the main committee for ratification, or are we passing it and then sending it? Procedurally speaking, it would be good to have some clarity.
     We're simply sending it to the subcommittee.
    We're simply sending it to the subcommittee. Then perhaps just for clarity and for the purpose of the minutes, we could have some sort of motion to that effect just so that we're all on the same page.
    We have a choice. Either it won't be in the minutes at all or, as you stated, we can simply have a comment by Mr. Bittle, for example, with his direction of sending it to the subcommittee. We can have that as a motion. That's fine.
    Mr. Bittle. No?
    Mr. Doherty.
    Mr. Chair, I understand that our colleagues are new to committee work, and what have you. With all due respect, the routine motions are essentially standing orders for committees. What's been put forth is essentially how committees operate. Our colleague is suggesting that maybe we change our “standing orders”, if we can, which deserves a little bit more of a discussion.
    I would agree with my colleague across the way, Mr. Bittle, that this is something that we could perhaps do at subcommittee as well and talk about the routine motions that our colleague Mr. Bachrach tabled. Perhaps don't mark this in the calendar, as these are comments that I wouldn't like entered into it, but our colleague Mr. Bittle is correct in saying that it is the subcommittee that sets the agenda moving forward. I accept his comments. I agree that as we move forward, it would be the subcommittee that sets not only the way this committee sets out, but our agenda as well as we move forward.

  (1600)  

    Great. Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    I will accept that as a motion to formalize. I'm reading that the members want something more formalized, so I'll read that as a motion.
    Are there any questions or comments on that motion?
    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
     Is there any further business?
    Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I would like to advise members of the committee that I submitted two motions to the clerk before 4 p.m. to meet the deadlines we just talked about. The first motion is to invite the Minister of Transport, the Hon. Marc Garneau, to a meeting by February 27 to discuss his mandate letter, and the second motion is to invite the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, to a meeting to discuss her mandate letter as well, by February 27. We can discuss this at Thursday's meeting to meet the deadline, or the committee may deal with it immediately if it wishes.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Berthold.
    Are there any questions or comments?
    Mr. Bittle.
    I guess my only comment is that it would probably be good to again put it to the subcommittee so that we can also check the ministers' schedules. I know that they do have to appear. The supplementary estimates are up, and the ministers do have to appear here regardless of that fact.
    I know, as the members who have been here before know, that Minister Garneau is more than happy to appear, and would just have to check his schedule to make sure he's here. His willingness to appear before the committee is long-standing. I just can't speak to it if I don't have his schedule.
    Are there any questions or comments on that?
    Mr. Berthold, go ahead.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I do not agree that we should send this motion to the subcommittee. I would like it to be dealt with. Then we will dispose of it at the next meeting. I think the government has been slow to call the committees to meet. It has been a long time since the ministers have had their mandate letters and this meeting could have been organized long ago. I do not want the meetings on mandate letters to be overshadowed by the meetings on supplementary estimates. It is important that we have meetings dealing exclusively with mandate letters. That is why I do not want this motion to be referred to the subcommittee and I want it to be dealt with quickly.

[English]

    Okay.
    Are there further questions or comments on this?

[Translation]

    I just want to speak in support of my colleague Mr. Berthold. The mandate letter is a very important element in the mandate of ministers, because it outlines the instructions given to them by the Prime Minister.
    So I think it would be natural for us to have them come to the committee so that we have an opportunity to discuss this with them, given that part of our job is to monitor what they do. I don't think we need to postpone a discussion on this for very long or to do a great deal of thinking on this subject.

[English]

    Thank you.
    Mr. Bachrach.
    I would add my voice, Mr. Chair, to those calling for a timely appearance. It's something that should be prioritized and can probably be dealt with without the added step of going to the subcommittee for discussion.
    Okay.
    We do have a motion before us. It was presented to us. It is appropriate to bring it to the next committee meeting and vote on it there—that is, to not vote on it today but at the next meeting. Of course, we can move forward from there with respect to the committee's pleasure in this regard.
    Mr. Bittle, and then Mr. Berthold.
    Again, just in looking at it, I'm not sure how this committee operated, but for the committees that I was on—Justice and PROC—no request that a minister appear was rejected. I think there was always an understanding that we'd work within the minister's schedule.
     I'm not saying that this is something that should be delayed till June or trying to delay it, but to say specifically that it needs to happen on February 27 may not work if the ministers are not here. That was my only request: to adjourn it either until the next meeting or to the subcommittee, so that we can get the ministers' schedules and actually work this out so the ministers are available.
    Again, I know that Mr. Garneau has worked hard with this committee in the past and did not in the past refuse any opposition requests to meet. He has always been open and willing to speak with members of the opposition. I think it's reasonable to go back and check his schedule rather than to say “appear on this date”, when he is unavailable to do so, because then we're back into wrangling when we're actually agreeing that it's perfectly reasonable for the minister to be here. Let's just find a date that works for everyone.

  (1605)  

     Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

    I was going to ask for unanimous consent to pass both motions right away. I understand from what Mr. Bittle said that it probably won't be possible to get it. In light of that, I'm still going to ask for unanimous consent of the committee members to adopt the two motions as they were tabled a few moments ago. Otherwise, we'll talk about them again at the next meeting on Thursday.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Berthold.
     At this moment, we have the routine motions and the Doherty motion going forward to the subcommittee. I'm understanding now that you want this motion to come up on Thursday. You have given due notice—that's proper notice—and you can move the motion. You do have the ability to move that motion on Thursday. It would then be up to the pleasure of the committee to—
    Yes, but I asked for unanimous consent to talk about it today. If they don't want to, that's fine.
     Okay. I'll ask for that, but I think I've read between the lines on this one. I was just trying to get to the point. Do I have unanimous consent?
    An hon. member: No.
    The Chair: Again, Mr. Berthold, that brings it back to Thursday, and if it's the pleasure of the committee, we can decide to deal with it on Thursday.
    Is there any further business? I'm making an assumption that the next meeting is going to be on Thursday. I apologize for that. Is that assumption correct?
     Mr. Doherty, you mentioned that earlier.
    I did. If it fits with everybody's schedule, that was the assumption we had as well.
     I just want to offer this. If it's at all possible, can the subcommittee meet tomorrow or at their earliest convenience? That's offline for everyone.
    Yes.
     Am I able, Madam Clerk, to ask for five minutes so we can suspend? Thank you.
     Oh, do I get a gavel too? This is pretty cool. I haven't had one of these in a while.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    The Chair: I will suspend for five or 10 minutes. Thank you.

  (1605)  


  (1620)  

     We will reconvene.
    We've had some dialogue with our respective camps, so I'm sure that people on both sides have something to discuss here.
    Mr. Doherty, you have the floor. Then we'll have any questions or comments.
    With respect to the comments regarding the whips' agreement, or the offices' agreement, I think that was specifically with regard to those committees that are dealing with NAFTA, or CUSMA. It was my understanding that there was no agreement that it was for all committees carte blanche. The message we got is that we're here to work, so let's get to work.
    What I would like to propose, Mr. Chair, is that the subcommittee meet at our earliest convenience. I know what my schedule is and I can move things to make it work with yours and with others' schedules. I would suggest that on Thursday at the very least we meet as a committee, for at the very least an hour, to get things under way. We had motions that came before us and I think it will allow us to set the ground rules so that when next Tuesday hits, we're ready to hit the ground rolling.
     Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    Are there questions or comments?
    Mr. Bittle.
     I appreciate Mr. Doherty's comments. In speaking with our officials from the whip's office, this has been Parliament-wide in terms of what the committees have been doing, not just the ones studying NAFTA and CUSMA.
    In terms of scheduling a meeting for tomorrow, members have meetings and whatnot, and I don't know that it's.... I don't think there's much disagreement on what happens next. The subcommittee can meet on Thursday during the regularly scheduled time of this committee. Committee members have that blocked off. Those members who are on the subcommittee can meet. That's easily done.
    We can move forward based on that. I don't think there has been any disagreement in terms of what is proposed. We haven't put up any fight, but I think that's reasonable to expect so that members will be able to attend. They'll be able to meet, sit and do their work. Members on this committee have other committees; they have other parliamentary business to attend to. To schedule a meeting at the last minute just because, when there is an open slot.... There was an agreement between the whips that there be only one meeting. I think it would be useful to use that time on Thursday to set the agenda, to get everyone together and to do it at a time when members on our side are available.
    I appreciate that Mr. Doherty is free, but he has not canvassed our side on whether we are free, whether we're available to meet and whether the chair is available. Also, this isn't a crisis, especially since I believe we're in consensus on what happens next. We just have to get down to the nitty-gritty of what we're doing next in terms of witnesses and whatnot. Those witnesses have to be contacted. The ministers' offices will be canvassed.
     It's great that you want to get going, but the clerk can't wave a magic wand and have witnesses here on Tuesday because we've pushed up the agenda one day further. Let's respect the members' schedules and their ability to be here and meet during our regularly scheduled time. In terms of the orders and the schedule that we have, I don't know that the Conservatives have established a rationale to do this, especially considering that we can't necessarily hit the ground running on Tuesday. I don't think that's fair to the clerk either.
     Let's do this and let's do it reasonably, especially since all parties have committed their support publicly to the next study. I can speak for the Minister of Transport. He's more than willing to come and speak to whatever issue exists, but let's look at his schedule. Perhaps February 27 works. Perhaps an earlier day works.
     That might be a more useful way to address the committee business so that we can give more time to the clerk to set the witnesses, get them here, and get the lineup of witnesses that everyone wants so we can do a proper study, rather than rushing through. I don't think that's what the Conservatives want. I think they want a proper study—I hope.
     I know that I want a proper study in terms of talking to the experts on the subject and to Transport Canada officials, but these things don't.... I know that Mr. Doherty has been here before. It's not his first rodeo. Doing a proper study requires us to have a little bit of patience. This is something that needs to be done and needs to be looked at, but why are we going to rush into it and do it badly?
     If there are witnesses who can't attend, or whatever the case is, let's abide by the agreement. There's no reason, no rationale, for putting the whips' agreement aside, and even putting the whips' agreement aside, let's meet on the Thursday. Let's use that date for the subcommittee, get the agenda set, consult with the ministers' calendars, both at Infrastructure and Transport, and see what the schedule looks like, especially if it is.... Perhaps it's better to have the ministers go first and move this forward.

  (1625)  

     Let's use the time that we have, the time that's scheduled. Let's do this properly. We can respect the whips' agreement and move forward from there, especially as there isn't any disagreement as to what happens next.
    I propose that we use the time and use the subcommittee. It's a much better way to set things out and give us an idea of what we're going to look at, even beyond a study of the Max 8, and really have a good sense of what comes forward, including meetings with the ministers. Supplementary estimates were just introduced today. Those will have to be addressed in the near future as well.
    I really don't see the rationale.
     Thank you, Mr. Bittle.
    Mr. Doherty and then Mr. Berthold.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I can see how this committee is going to go. We have, with all due respect to Mr. Bittle, the parliamentary secretary doing a lot of the talking for the government side—
    A voice: [Inaudible—Editor] critic.
    Mr. Todd Doherty: —as opposed to the critic, I guess. There you go. Touché.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Todd Doherty: Mr. Chair, nobody was suggesting that we would have witnesses on Thursday. It was merely being suggested for the sake of time—you and I and the rest of the committee are here to work this week—that we meet as a subcommittee, at our earliest convenience, to chart the course as to what we have in front of us today. Then on Thursday, as a committee, whether for an hour, whether for two hours, or whatever we have in terms of time, we get our own house in order. It's not to call witnesses for that day but rather to come and report back to the committee on what we as a subcommittee deliberated on and came forward with. That would give us a fresh opportunity the following week, which is next week, to really hit the ground running.
    It is Thursday when we...again, taking what Mr. Bittle has offered, that perhaps some people may have already made plans. I think the best thing we could do would be to offer, through the clerks, to see whether there is an opportunity for us to have a meeting as a committee to get our house in order after our subcommittee meeting tomorrow.
     Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, we already have work to do. There is the motion that our colleague from the NDP has tabled and the two motions to call ministers to testify. If we listen to Mr. Bittle, there's going to be a subcommittee meeting on Thursday. At that time, we're going to recommend to the committee that the ministers be invited next week. We won't be able to have the ministers here on Tuesday. So we'll only have one day left. If we only have one day for the ministers, it's not going to be enough. We are not the ones who decided that it would take so long to convene committees and start work. I think citizens expect us to get to work as quickly as possible.
     I proposed a solution earlier, that we adopt both motions by unanimous consent. Unfortunately, that suggestion was rejected. The first meeting on the agenda is next Thursday. I think it is important that we have that meeting. The subcommittee could meet in 10 minutes, given that all members are present. If the subcommittee meets in the next few minutes, we can meet on Thursday and deal with motions that require 48 hours' notice. I really don't see why we couldn't do that.
     It's part of our role to have these discussions, but first and foremost, we need to get the ministers here as quickly as possible to talk about the mandate letters. It has been several months since we were elected. I think ministers are accountable to the committee. That is why I remain committed to holding a formal meeting of the committee on Thursday.

  (1630)  

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Berthold.
    Mr. Sidhu.
    I understand the urgency, but we have to be respectful to stakeholders and constituents. I have meetings scheduled with people coming up from Brampton. I can't just say, “Hey, listen, there's an important meeting, and I have to cancel. Thank you for travelling the 400 kilometres or so to Ottawa.” Let's be realistic here.
    I think we can decide amongst all our members on a time that works for all our schedules. It's not one hour right after this committee meeting. I have a pre-committee meeting to go to right afterwards. There's a domino effect. Everyone has their own schedule. I think we can work together. As my colleague Chris said, we're not saying no, but we have to be willing to work together.
    Thank you.
     Thank you, Mr. Sidhu.
    Mr. Bittle.
    Thank you so much. I don't know if I appreciate the suggestion that we should get our house in order. There's no disagreement on having the ministers come. There might have been more agreement if it weren't so firm that they must come on this date, not giving us any heads-up so we can coordinate the schedules. We agree that the ministers should come. They should come within a reasonable period of time. They should come relatively soon, in a week. Specifying a specific day may not work. I don't know why there's a suggestion that we don't want to get back to work, especially when we have suggested that we meet during the day that is scheduled for us to be here. Members, as I've said, have other committee business. They have constituents coming down. It's not as though we're going to put our feet up and go have a drink at the bar. We're here to work and we're ready to work, but let's do it during the time that the House leaders have agreed on, that the whips have agreed on. It's disappointing that we would start this process by not abiding by an agreement that had been reached by the whips.
    I have the floor.
    So that's how you want to do it?
     Let's have one person talking at a time.
     Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
    In terms of this notion that we need to have this emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss something that we have all agreed needs to happen is not what is required for an emergency meeting. Mr. Doherty brought forward an excellent point of a study that needs to be discussed, and Monsieur Berthold had a valid suggestion that the ministers come. The ministers may be able to meet on the date that he is requesting. We don't know. We've asked to go back and request and meet with them. That's something we can do during our regularly scheduled business.
     Let's have that opportunity to meet. Let's do it. Let's strike the subcommittee and have them meet during regular business time. Let's plot a course, because I'm sure there are items the opposition wants to discuss other than the Max 8. There are issues. I've spoken with the Bloc and with the NDP on the issues they look forward to discussing, such as transportation and climate change, access to rural communities and transportation in remote and rural communities. I know that Mr. Bachrach is interested in discussing infrastructure issues as well, so let's take the time that we have.
    I know you said to get our house in order, but let's use that time to plot the course so that members can attend, so that members can be here. I don't think there's contention on what happens next, but again, let's have a study that works for everyone. Let's have a study where we're not putting the clerk under the gun to get witnesses here. We may not be able to get those witnesses. If we're forcing that and demanding a.... There's a motion for a four-meeting study. If we can't get the witnesses we want, let's do this in a way such that we have a good study and we can get the information that's required.
    I appreciate the desire to rush, but we know that when we rush we don't necessarily get the best information. We won't necessarily get the best witnesses. We won't necessarily get the people who we want to be here.
     Again, Mr. Doherty is right. This is something that we need to get to the bottom of. It's something that we need to discuss. Many Canadians have been impacted. There's no disagreement on this side, but I'm curious as to the request for an emergency session. Let's do this—
    An hon. member: No, it isn't—
    Mr. Chris Bittle: Well, it's a session outside of our regularly scheduled time—
    An hon. member: No.
    Mr. Chris Bittle: —and the subcommittee.... I don't know. I'm new to transport. I apologize to the grizzled old veterans of the previous Parliament, but my experience has been that the subcommittee meets during the regularly scheduled time. Let's use that time, especially since there's an agreement with the whips that we have one full committee meeting this week. Let's use that. Let's take the time that wouldn't have been used, time that members have in their schedules and that has been blocked off because it is for a committee meeting. Again, since there is no argument in terms of....
    Are we supposed to adjourn this at...? I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, I overheard a comment.

  (1635)  

     Go ahead.
    I'll finish up at this point. I'll put my name back on the list in case we're not scheduled for this.
     Again, let's use the regular committee business. Let's get this done right. Let's get a study set up so that we have the witnesses in place and ensure that the ministers can be here. Again, it may be that the ministers are available or that one of the ministers is available on the 23rd instead of the 27th. Maybe it makes more sense to do it that way rather than starting a study, stopping it and moving forward. I'll leave it there at this point.
     Thank you, Mr. Bittle.
    Mr. Barsalou-Duval.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
     We've been going around in circles for 20, 30 or 40 minutes on this subject. Everyone should have an opportunity to speak, but some have had the opportunity to speak a lot. We could allow members who have not spoken to do so. My colleague to my left has not yet had an opportunity to give his opinion on the subject.
     I do not understand why we spend so much time debating when a subcommittee will meet. All the time we are wasting on whether or not we will hold a subcommittee meeting could have been spent on a subcommittee meeting. Perhaps five or ten minutes would have been enough to finish the job.
     I do not think we are rushing things that much. The goal is to meet to start moving forward. I fully agree with my colleague across the way that we need to give some flexibility to ministers in terms of when they appear, but we should still meet with them fairly quickly.
     After my colleague has spoken, I propose that we take a vote to end this discussion, which is wasting a lot of time.

  (1640)  

[English]

    Thank you.
    Mr. Bachrach.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    My perspective at this point is this. We have a limited number of meetings together as a committee. I think everyone around the committee table wants to maximize the work we're able to achieve in regular committee meetings. Every time we take a regular committee slot to hold a subcommittee meeting, we're effectively pushing the work of the committee down the road by at least half a week.
    The routine motions that I brought forward today could have easily been dealt with at today's committee meeting. I had no advance notice of the routine motions that were brought forward for us to consider, and yet I followed through them very quickly and voted in favour of them. We could have easily taken a recess and read through my very short additional motions.
    I don't want the subcommittee to be perceived as creating tension by delaying the important work of the committee. On Thursday I hope we can have a full committee meeting. We can deal with Mr. Doherty's motion on the Max 8. I think that's a very important bit of work. We can deal with my routine motions, and I look forward to that conversation.
     It's seems that the subcommittee work should be fairly brief. We're talking about comparing calendars and about what to do with these routine motions, which we're also going to talk about at the committee meeting when we debate them, correct? Other than if we want to slow things down, I fail to see the need to take up our Thursday spot with a subcommittee meeting instead of a regular meeting.
    I'm in support of having a full meeting on Thursday and finding some time—we're all here in the city—prior to that to meet for 15 minutes to look at the minister's schedule to see when he can appear.
    Thank you, Mr. Bachrach.
    Mr. Doherty.
     Again, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the comments of my colleague across the way. First off, I take offence at being called a grizzled, old—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Todd Doherty: I might be old, but not grizzled.
    On the other part, where he continues to use the wording that there was an agreement among the whips, there was no agreement among the whips for this specific committee. There might have been something on other committees. There just was no agreement, so that is completely false.
    Second, where the comment was made about the shadow minister or critic on a file, I'll remind my colleagues around this table that the parliamentary secretary is an arm or an extension of the minister. Committees are supposed to be masters of their own destination. I will just leave it at that.
    Also, nobody is talking about an emergency debate or lighting our hair on fire. First off, if it was me, it would be a short fire.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Todd Doherty: All we're talking about, as my colleague from the NDP mentioned, as well as the Bloc, is that we are here. When we got notification that we were having a committee meeting on Tuesday, we knew it was standard procedure, normal procedure, that if you have one on Tuesday, you were going to have a follow-up meeting on Thursday—unless those who are here have already booked their flights home on Thursday, which would be a shame, from somebody who's got one of the longest travel schedules.
    I think again, to Mr. Bachrach's comments, if we're here to work, let's work. Again I take offence to the comment about getting our house in order. All I'm saying on that point is that it allows us an opportunity to use what would be normally scheduled as a two-hour committee meeting to have a fulsome discussion about the motions that are there. Perhaps there are others that are going to be brought forward at that time. At that point, we can chart the course, or we can discuss the agenda as was charted by the subcommittee, hopefully tomorrow.
    There's nothing about lighting our hair on fire, no ulterior motive. We just want to get back to work and use Thursday, which would normally be scheduled as a committee meeting, as an opportunity for us to talk about the motions as tabled today and move forward.
    Mr. Chair, I think it's a reasonable request. We are here to work. I'm not saying that constituents, as Mr. Sidhu mentioned, should come second. However, those of us who have been here for a while know that if you have a meeting on Tuesday, it's normal course that Thursdays would have been the following meeting.
    I'll leave it at that.

  (1645)  

    Okay. Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
    You have a point of order, Mr. Bittle.
    You can cut me off because it's not really a point of order, but in terms of clarification, our issue is in terms of the Wednesday meeting. If it's acceptable to everyone to have a full committee meeting on Thursday and then all the points can be addressed, all of the issues can be discussed with some version of either a full committee for two hours—subcommittee/full committee—I'm just putting that out there.
    Mr. Doherty.
    Mr. Chair, there was no suggestion that the full committee meet on Wednesday, only a subcommittee, which as it stands today would be the chair and vice-chair, as made up in the routine motions that we all agreed on. That would allow us to move forward from there. Then as a whole, our committee would meet on Thursday. That's only what's being suggested.
    There are two more speakers, but I also wanted to make this comment. If in fact the committee is looking at moving forward on Thursday with a committee meeting, we could take some time on Thursday as well before that committee meeting to have a subcommittee meeting. Essentially, what we could do is to have a subcommittee meeting between 3:30 and 4:30 and have a committee meeting between 4:30 and 5:30.
    Would that be fine?
    Luc, I've still got you on my list, and you're next.
    Mr. Berthold, go ahead.

[Translation]

    I just want to say that, if I agree, it's because we're starting our work. This will be the last time I will agree to take time from the committee to hold a meeting of the subcommittee. The vice-chairs of the committee receive compensation for holding subcommittee meetings outside of regular committee meetings. Committee time should not be taken away from committee meetings to hold subcommittee meetings, I will always oppose this.
     I know that we have a deadline this week, so I will say it clearly: this week, exceptionally, I am prepared to support this motion. However, from now on, I will oppose the holding of subcommittee meetings using the committee's regular time. This is totally unacceptable.
     I would be curious to hear what my colleagues from the other opposition parties have to say about this. If they agree with me, I will propose something.
     I'm going to give the floor to Mr. Davidson, but I wanted to make this comment.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Berthold.
    Mr. Davidson.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     I want to echo my colleague's comments.
     I'm a newly elected MP. I was only here for 40 days after the by-election, so this is one of my first committees. I echo the sentiment that I was elected to get things done and to push any time in this committee. York—Simcoe is faced with infrastructure problems and there are lots of things we want to discuss, so I think, no matter what time it is on Wednesday night, a subcommittee could meet for 15, 20 minutes. We could break for 10 minutes now, check the minister's schedule and tell him to pre-slot stuff. It's that simple. Canadians expect us to get stuff done. We put stuff off and then you're making a big deal about this, and it's not. Just get it done.
     Mr. Bittle.
    Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
    Let's just have a full committee meeting on Thursday, if that's everyone's desire, and ensure that the schedule is done. But this—I apologize if I call it an emergency meeting—is a surprise unscheduled meeting. I don't think that's necessary, especially since we're all in agreement. Let's have a full committee meeting Thursday, given that we are in agreement. We will have the ministers' schedules. I don't know if Andy will be here, but I will have the schedule for the minister of...I believe the request is for Transport and Infrastructure. We can come to an agreement on that and in terms of studies moving forward. If there is a concern that it would delay, the full committee can be there, accept the agenda at that point and move it on to the next week, as opposed to the subcommittee having to report that back to the full committee.
    Again, we don't need to meet on Wednesday. Let's use the time we have. Let's move forward. It provides us ample time to discuss the issues, put other items on the table and go forward from there.

  (1650)  

     Thank you, Mr. Bittle.
    Are there any further questions or comments? Mr. Bachrach.
    I'm wondering if I can ask Mr. Bittle to clarify his proposal, Mr. Chair, because I'm not sure I quite grab it.
    Mr. Bittle is suggesting that we have a subcommittee meeting on Thursday, followed by a full committee meeting? I lost the plot somewhere through your proposal.
     Mr. Bittle.
    Or just a full committee meeting.
    The issue I see with having a full committee meeting is that we have just referred several things to the subcommittee and we want to be able to deal with them at the next full committee meeting. Are you suggesting that those items be dealt with in the full committee meeting on Thursday?
    Sure.
    I'd agree with that.
     Are there any further questions or comments on that?
    So the direction we're being given right now—and I'm going to take it as a motion—is to have a committee meeting on Thursday, no subcommittee meeting, and simply deal with the items referred to the subcommittee at the committee meeting on Thursday. That's what I'm hearing.
    Mr. Doherty.
    With the subcommittee meeting tomorrow.
     No, I'm not hearing that a subcommittee meeting be scheduled. I would prefer to have a subcommittee meeting, because it would be a good opportunity for you and me to bring something forward on Thursday.
    Mr. Chair, with all due respect to our colleagues here, the subcommittee can meet at its discretion. It's not voted on. So if you and I, or whoever the members of the subcommittee are, choose to meet tomorrow, we meet tomorrow.
     The intent is that Thursday we will deal with the items, period. Whether we have a subcommittee or not, whether it goes directly to the subcommittee or to the committee, the issue here is to deal with those issues on Thursday. Is that what I'm hearing? Okay.
    Could I get a motion to that effect?
    Mr. Bittle, do you want to put that as a motion?
    The motion, Mr. Chair, is—
    Hold on.
    Mr. Bittle, do you want to put that as a motion?
    Let Luc go first, Mr. Chair.
    Just as a point of clarification on that, Mr. Chair, do we need a motion to have a meeting on Thursday?
    No.
    So let's just hold the meeting and decide if you want to hold a subcommittee meeting or not. We don't need a motion.
    So is everyone good with having a subcommittee meeting? It's established that we're going to have a meeting on Thursday.
     Todd, if you and I want to sit down and have a subcommittee meeting to get some direction for Thursday, we're good. The intent on Thursday is to actually deal with the items that were brought up today. Am I clear on that?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Okay.
    With that, are there any more questions or comments?
    Mr. Barsalou-Duval, go ahead.

[Translation]

    Maybe it's because I wasn't listening to the interpretation properly or because I was listening to the interpretation and the discussion at the same time, but I think I missed something. I understand that we will have a meeting on Thursday, as we should, but specifically, what about the subcommittee? It's not clear to me.

[English]

    The subcommittee is going to meet. We just have to decide when.

[Translation]

    All right. The subcommittee will meet by Thursday, but the date has yet to be determined by subcommittee members. That's fine.

[English]

    That's great.
    Are there any more questions or comments?
    Can I have a motion to adjourn?
    Mr. Doherty, thank you.
    (Motion agreed to)
     We're adjourned.
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