Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
Okay, folks, how about we get this going, because it is Friday? I shouldn't say that I anticipate having a longer meeting, but one never knows. Nevertheless, let us commence. I don't have a gavel.
Hello, everyone. First things first, we don't normally meet on Friday afternoons. Obviously, with committee work it's usually twice a week, on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. From what I understand, there are some technical issues and issues with the whips, so we'll have to wait patiently in the meantime.
I'll touch on that again when it comes to future meetings, which we'll do at the bottom part of this meeting just before we break for the weekend, but what I would like to do is just talk about a few things that I think are more housekeeping things than anything else.
Oh, I see that Mr. Fillmore is with us. It's good to see you, Mr. Fillmore.
I think Mr. Fillmore is looking to do his sound check. Is that correct? Is that necessary?
Perhaps we can quickly do a sound check just to make sure it's okay, in case we do need to have him chime in for either a vote or an interjection at some point. It's probably prudent to make sure we have his audio working.
You have the pleasure of being the only MP with a recorded-on-committee sound check. That's awesome. Congratulations, Mr. Fillmore, and thank you for filling in from the beautiful riding of Halifax. It's nice to see you.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I want to outline a few rules for everyone to follow in this new reality that we're in, which is a hybrid situation. I will address in just a few minutes the issue that Ms. Dabrusin brought up before the meeting started.
Number one, members may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either floor, English or French.
For members participating in person—and we have two—proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in a committee room. Keep in mind the directives from the Board of Internal Economy regarding masking and health protocols.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are on the video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself. For those in the room, your microphone will be controlled as is normal by the proceedings and verification officer. When you are not speaking, please put your mike on mute. I think we should know that by now, after three-quarters of a year of going through this process.
With regard to a speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do our best to maintain a consolidated order of speaking for all members when they are participating virtually or in person, so here's what I'm going to do. If someone brings up a subject matter that we are discussing, please use the indication at the bottom to put up your hand. If somebody has a topic that is new, not germane to the current topic, and they want to bring it up, they can get my attention, and I will do it the old-fashioned way: I'll write down your name. That way, I can refer to a list of new topics, which I will keep here.
Now, as far as the people in the room are concerned—Ms. McPherson and Ms. Dabrusin—obviously you don't have the “raise hand” function, but I will try to do that, and Tom will send me a text or get my attention to let me know that you wish to speak. This will be much easier after mid-November, as I plan to return to Ottawa to chair these meetings from where Tom is. That would make it a lot easier, but unfortunately I'm not there at the moment, as you can plainly see.
On my final point, should any technical issues arise, please advise the chair and please note that we may need to suspend for a few minutes, as we need to ensure that all members are participating fully.
Those are my notes.
Now, as you know, we are in committee business. This is the only thing that we have for today. We'll deal with a few motions, I would assume, but it occurred to us—or it occurred to Tom and then Tom told me—that there was one thing left out of the routine motions. We forgot to do it, so I apologize for that, and I'm scoping out the scene trying to find a volunteer to help us with this particular motion that we missed.
Hopefully, the sound is working. I tried to put the microphone in a different place that wasn't as obtrusive.
Is it okay, Tom? Thank you.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to move the following, on orders of reference from the House respecting bills:
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.
Okay. Has everyone heard this part of routine motions? Is there any discussion on the motion?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you for that.
Sorry that I didn't provide too much background, but for those of you just joining us, we did routine motions the other day, but there was just the one that we had left out.
For committee business, folks, I basically see two streams here. Normally some committees like to have a subcommittee handle the agenda and decide what we'd like to do. With your forgiveness, I would like to do this with all committee members to begin with, and if we want to take something as part of the agenda to the subcommittee, I would like to get the blessing of full committee to do that before I just race ahead and say that we should have a subcommittee meeting.
Nevertheless, we are talking about what we'd like to do in the months ahead. Of course, we're still on a one-day-per-week schedule, so we have to operate that way right now. I foresee that changing, but I don't know when.
We have two schools of thought here, but before we get to that, I just want to say that we did receive notice from the minister regarding a motion that we had passed on bringing in the minister to discuss the main estimates. We have received notification that given the schedule that we have, the minister will be available November 6 from one to two p.m., and the officials would like to remain for two hours. So it will be the minister for one hour, and the officials for two hours.
Of course, that motion has already passed, so it's not as though we need to pass another. I just wanted to bring to your attention that it will be November 6. As I say, we're still going off the fact that there's one meeting a week, which would be the Friday.
Allow me to return to the two things we have at play here. First, we have motions on notice that we can address, that we can look at, that have been proposed in this session. We did bring back the motions passed last session into this session, so we have to do two things. First, we have to look at what we currently have on the docket and what we'd like to do. Second, I'd like to go over the motions that we did pass last session to see what the committee would like to have as priorities over the next couple of months. We know there is legislation in the House, so we know that's coming at some point, but I can't really officially plan for that until, of course, it passes second reading.
I would like to start with the motions we've put on notice in this session. We have, from last meeting and this week, notices of motion by Mr. Champoux, Madame Bessette, and Mr. Rayes. Would anybody like to discuss those right now?
I see Mr. Rayes, and I think Ms. Dabrusin had her hand up first—is that right?—so it's Ms. Dabrusin and then Mr. Rayes. Thank you.
I think we're probably going to speak to the same thing, because draft wording was sent in by Mr. Champoux on behalf of all of us. By “all of us” I mean Ms. McPherson, Monsieur Rayes, Monsieur Champoux and me. We had all talked about amalgamating motions.
While it wasn't reviewed by all members of this committee, and I know Mr. Champoux didn't want it to seem like it was him proposing it as a motion specifically, I can say that it was wording that, if you seek it, I'm sure you will get confirmation that the vice-chairs, Ms. McPherson and I all agreed to.
I wanted to say the same thing as Ms. Dabrusin. We, the representatives of the four political parties, met to combine our four motions. We reached a consensus. The resulting motion was tabled by Mr. Champoux on behalf of all of us.
Allow me to throw in my own little opinion here. Given what's been going on in the political landscape in this country, and even in the United States, wow, this is a refreshing breath of air, isn't it? It's fantastic. It brings tears to your eyes. Thank you.
Sorry, I don't mean to prejudice the motion in any way, shape or form. Maybe I just did; I apologize.
Is there any discussion on this particular motion?
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee undertake a comprehensive study on the challenges and issues faced by the Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic; that it consider new measures that would: (a) draw up a clear picture of the impacts of the pandemic on their activities; (b) better identify their needs during the current crisis; (c) identify gaps in federal aid programs; (d) identify better support to these sectors which are disproportionally affected by the pandemic to better suit to their reality; and (e) facilitate getting artists, athletes and the cultural sector workers back to work; that it also consider measures to best assure and protect business continuity for events, festival, and sporting events in these specific sectors; that the Committee hold no less than four meetings on this subject; and that the Committee report its findings to the House as soon as possible.
It's more of a “thank you” to everybody. It just seems like this level of co-operation is.... I don't know how much of precedent this is. This is only my first time in. This is wonderful that everybody is on the same page. We all want to help, so I just want to say thanks.
Yes. I'm not diminishing it, but it's almost like in today's world you want to create a Heritage Minute, produced by Historica, that will play on television. Nevertheless, I digress. My apologies. It's Friday.
All those in favour of the motion? This is where you show your hands.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: It's unanimous. Thank you, folks, for working on that.
Before I get to the scheduling of the said study, I would like to go over what was brought back to us, or resurrected, from the last session. There are some motions here that are pertinent, and some not so much, as they've already been dispensed with.
I'm not going to read the whole motion, but I'm going to read the motion to the point where I think it will jog your memory, and for those of you who weren't here, it should illustrate exactly.... If you have any questions, I'll stop at each motion. Ask me. I just want to give you an idea of what we're looking at.
Motion number one is:
That the Committee invite the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel to present the report “Canada’s communications future: Time to act
I think we dispensed with that one. Is that the case?
That's when we brought in Ms. Yale, if you recall, and the Yale report. That's there. I can't take it off the chart, but I guess, like a typical hanging chad in southern Miami-Dade County, it'll just hang there for a while.
The next motion is:
That the committee undertake a study of the creation and implementation of new measures for online media platforms and internet service providers requiring them to monitor, address and remove content that constitutes hate speech and remove any other content which is illegal in Canada or prohibited by the Criminal Code....
It continues. I'll leave it at that, but I think you know what I'm talking about, that being what we commonly call the “online hate study” or the online hate motion.
That would be number two.
Next we have number three:
That the committee undertake a study of how best to ensure a national culture of safe sport consisting of both physical safety and sporting environments free of harassment, abuse and discrimination
Tom, could you jog my memory? Was that from Madame Bessette?
Yes, it was.
The next motion is:
That the committee invite the Minister of Canadian Heritage, at his earliest convenience, to present and answer questions on his mandate letter for Canadian Heritage.
This is about the mandate letter. We've done that, at least for that time. I'll just leave that there.
There are two more. The next is:
That the committee undertake a comprehensive study of access to sport activities and facilities in rural and remote communities in Canada; that the study include, but not be limited to, the current state of sports infrastructure in rural and remote communities....
My sincere apologies. That was Mr. Waugh. Yes, there you are, Mr. Waugh.
The final motion is:
That the committee undertake a study on the process through which Indigenous institutions receive accreditation as a museum in Canada, that the study determine what impact accreditation as a museum has on the repatriation of Indigenous cultural artefacts, that the committee hold no fewer than two meetings on this subject, and that the committee report its findings to the House.
Those are the motions resurrected from last session, so the choice is this. We now have one new motion.... We actually have two, one with the minister talking about the main estimates. We're done with that on November 6. The second one is the one we just unanimously passed. Then, of course, we have these motions, with the exception of two that we've already dealt with.
Can I call for any discussion on what we would like to do first?
I see you Mr. Aitchison, and I apologize. I'm going to go to Tom first before I go to you.
Quickly, Chair, I want to mention that previously Monsieur Rayes had his hand up while you were making your interjection. I want to flag that. Next, I had Ms. McPherson in the room, then Mr. Aitchison after Ms. McPherson, and now Mr. Champoux as well.
Mr. Chair, before you listed the six motions, I had raised my hand.
I have two questions.
The first concerns what will happen when we unanimously adopt the motion regarding the study on culture, sports and so on. We don't have much time. Can we propose witnesses before we talk about the other motions or at some other point in the meeting, so that the clerk and his team can quickly call the witnesses?
Second, when we last met, we unanimously adopted all the old motions that you listed.
Mr. Clerk, I believe that a member of my party asked you whether it was appropriate for the motions to have been adopted all at once rather than one at a time. I don't know whether you have any information to give us, but I think that we should have adopted the motions one by one. That way, we would have known which motions we wanted to prioritize.
The only thing I was going to say in the discussion of this is that when we were working on that motion we passed today, we had discussed the idea of making that our very first order of business, of course, and that we would then have an option of people to putting names forward by, I believe, next Wednesday. I would like to suggest that this is what we could do.
Okay. Before we go any further, I feel I should address Mr. Rayes' issues.
Mr. Rayes, we did receive notice—yes we did and I apologize—about the fact that it was in order, and we made the ruling that it was in order at the time. I mean, this is fairly common. Is there a reason why you feel it wasn't in order?
There's no specific reason, but I know that some members were concerned about it. I just want to know what decision was made before we establish how we want to prioritize each of the six motions that were grouped together.
We were told that we couldn't adopt the motions all at once, and some people were concerned about this. That said, it's now up to you to decide.
I think the appropriate time to do one at a time was probably at that point back then. Because the motion was straightforward to bring all the motions from the past up to the current docket, the motion is there and that's what we have to vote on. It's not out of order. It's somewhat common and, therefore, we had to accept it.
However, in saying that, I understand your points, because that's why I brought each motion forward. You're right that I didn't ask for comments between the motions. I'm used to people just rushing to the microphone and I keep forgetting that we're meeting virtually, so I apologize for that.
The glaring, obvious examples would be that there are two that are just not pertinent any more. As for the others, we have to make a priority list of which studies we'd like to do first, whether it's sports, indigenous.... or online hate. Yes, it was in order, but that's why I wanted to unpack this today just for us to get in our minds what we'd like to do as a priority.
Ms. McPherson just said that she feels from discussions the priority should be on the unanimous motion that we just passed.
I hope this makes it clearer regarding what you asked.
I've just joined the committee, but I agree with my colleague Ms. McPherson.
Since the start of the pandemic, I've had the chance to speak with various people involved in the culture sector here in Sherbrooke, such as people from the Théâtre Granada or the Parvis. These people really need a boost, given everything that they're going through right now. This would give us the opportunity to make informed recommendations to the House, which could lead to assistance or other things. I believe that we should address this motion first.
Just as a reminder, everyone, before I go to Mr. Housefather, when we're talking about the current topic, can we use our “raise hand” function? If you have a new topic that you'd like to bring up, then you can wave at me and I'll write that down.
Basically, I think if you seek it then you'll find unanimous consent to move first to the motion that was just adopted on the pandemic. As opposed to continuing to prolong the discussion, can I just move that we agree that it be the first study, as well as hearing from the minister on the estimates, which we've agreed to for November 6?
Yes, we're getting along fine. I think because of the effects of COVID that we've seen in the last seven or eight months, and we're bringing the minister in on November 6, I would like us to concentrate on the two motions that we have. One, we're getting the minister and the officials in on November 6, and then there's the motion that's been adopted by all parties around the table.
Let's focus on these two things. That could even bring us to the break in December. Then we can have a fresh start in the new year, if you don't mind. That's just a thought.
I agree with my colleagues. I think that we should prioritize the motion that we just adopted. We should be discussing this issue. We should start talking about the lists of witnesses whom we want to invite and the logistics of the upcoming meetings regarding this motion. We should start discussing this specific topic right away.
All right, sir. That's a valid point. Thank you very much.
That means that now that we've taken the decision, we will start this study. Perhaps down the line, if time grants it, we can address the other issues we discussed in the last session.
This brings us to the point where next Friday we do have a meeting. It is not the designated day for the minister to come in to discuss main estimates, so perhaps you would like to get it started, as far as the study is concerned, with officials from the department, as we normally do. Or perhaps you have another witness in mind that you'd like to bring in to start this.
I'm looking for comments.
I see Tom with his hand up.
See, Tom, you didn't use the “raise hand” function. Can you use that?
I'm not sure I'm worthy of the “raise hand” function, sir.
The Chair: Ah.
The Clerk: Just as a quick reminder, typically when we get down to the nitty-gritty of discussing potential witnesses for meetings, it is often a discussion that we do in camera. It is entirely up to the committee how it wishes to proceed, but when getting into specifics of the budgets or the witness lists for studies, often those discussions are in camera.
I just wanted to flag that. This seemed to be the most efficient way of doing that, sir.
I know that it does take some time for us to go into the in camera session. We could perhaps start having a conversation about the sectors we'd like to have represented in general terms, not specific terms. Perhaps that would prevent our having to take the 20 minutes or so to go in camera. I think probably what we need to do is make a point of coming together with our lists from our own parties that we would bring forward at a later date with individual people.
This may be able to stay out of in camera, from my perspective.
How about we deal with the issue of the longer list of witnesses in the future? In the meantime, I guess we can do this without going in camera. We can discuss the first witness, to get things started for next week, rather than doing committee business again.
As far as the first order goes, I don't think it's particularly contentious. We often call the department to start things off. I think everyone would probably feel comfortable with seeing if they are available, if that's something that's possible. Then we can agree to a date by which we as a group would submit witness lists, and we can go from there at a future meeting.
I think you said you didn't want a subcommittee. Then we could talk about it at another meeting, or perhaps even at our next meeting. I guess we have to go through a witness list and agree to it. If we have only one meeting each week, maybe we have to have committee business and then move over to witnesses. I don't know. I will leave it to you as to how that will mesh up.
I agree with Ms. Dabrusin. I think the first step next Friday would be to have officials from the heritage department. There has been a lot of money handed out over the last seven months, and needless to say a lot of us have seen some announcements, but we do have to get a better grasp, I think, countrywide of who has been a so-called beneficiary of the Heritage money that has been handed out. That would be a good start.
I agree with Ms. Dabrusin. If the officials could come in next Friday, that would be a good start. Then I think all of us around the table would have a better grasp of who has been helped and who hasn't been helped. Then we could see whether there were any gaps in the situation that we could address, and we could bring those people forward to committee.
I completely agree with the two people who spoke before me.
I also suggest that we focus on officials next week. That way, it would be easier for the clerk to organize everything.
I also suggest, as we did during the discussion among the four party representatives last week, that each party set a deadline of next Wednesday for sending the clerk a list of potential witnesses who could appear before the committee and answer our questions. We could take a few minutes to discuss this next Friday, but only if necessary.
So there are three things. How about for next Friday's meeting, number one, we have departmental officials; number two, we go in camera for a discussion of the list; and, number three, that each party provide a list to the clerk, as Monsieur Rayes pointed out, by Wednesday?
Does anyone take any exception to that? Everyone's okay. I think that's probably a good plan for next week.
Will this be a broad discussion on arts or on sports? This is a pretty broad thing we're going to be discussing. I just need to better grasp how many areas we are going to be discussing, because we could do arts; we could do, as I said, sports; we could do 15 different things.
I think next Wednesday might be a little early for me, because I don't know what the officials are going to tell us next Friday with regard to who got helped and who didn't. I am having some issues there.
I would like to hear from the officials how much money went out, where it went to and what the gaps are. I think I will need to know what the gaps are, following next Friday, to make a submission for the list. I think we're putting the cart before the horse here.
I understand my colleague Mr. Waugh's point. However, I thought that, by meeting with officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage next Friday, we could go all over the map and cover all the sectors referred to in the motion, without necessarily prioritizing or sticking to certain sectors. At the same time, I understand that this will probably be a decisive factor for the future.
Could we amend our witness list, especially since, on November 6, we'll probably set this topic aside temporarily to meet with the minister and officials?
Thank you both. That is a valid point in many ways. I'm not trying to prejudice the argument, because normally, with two meetings a week, we could hear from the officials and then consider who we'd like to bring in.
I think Mr. Waugh's point is valid. Do we provide an amendable list by Wednesday, or do we just wait on the list until we talk to the officials? Unfortunately, we have only one meeting per week.
I think probably Ms. Dabrusin and I were going to say similar things.
Knowing that we have a meeting only once a week and knowing that we really do want to get moving on this and that there is an awful lot of work to do on this, I would agree with your recommendation that we have a list that could be amended if we realize that there are gaps in our witness list once we've heard from the specialists next Friday. That would be my recommendation.
I'll support what Ms. McPherson said. My experience too is that, especially with only one meeting time that you can accommodate, it may be hard to get witnesses to fit in within specific times, so it's better that we at least get that ball rolling. There are probably some higher-level witnesses to get the ball rolling, and then we can move from there.
Maybe there could be two lists, with two dates, but it would be something for us to at least get started.
If I may interject again, first I was thinking that maybe we should wait on the list, but there are some people that we should obviously invite, so how about that by Wednesday we all provide an initial list? It could include just a few names, if you wish, but that would allow our clerk and table officers to do some research and to get some work done to ramp up to a situation in which we'd have a full, broad list of witnesses.
How about I recommend that we provide an initial list by Wednesday, that on Friday we have our meeting with the officials, and then we go into committee business in camera following that? We can have a discussion about what was said, and then you can provide another list based on what we've heard.
Okay, I see a fair amount of agreement. Thank you, folks, for that. I appreciate it.
That takes cares of Friday. I feel that we probably should not go any further than that, given the situation we are in, especially with one meeting per week and its being at the end of the week. Let's just deal with next Friday to begin with, and we'll see what happens afterwards.
Thank you. This also leads me to believe that we have no need for a subcommittee right now, but we can discuss that again next week if you wish.
How about I propose they come in for, I'll say, an hour and a half maximum? If we need more than that, we can take it. I think our in camera discussion about future witnesses probably won't take more than 30 minutes, but let's just give the officials 90 minutes.
Actually, maybe the clerk can help, but my understanding is that it takes about 15 minutes to transfer between public and in camera meetings, and I can say that yesterday it took us about an hour for some reason. So I'm just giving you a heads up that it can take at least 15 minutes to transfer between the two.
I did know that, Madam Dabrusin, and I'm so glad you brought it up. That is true. It takes a while. I understand we're working on that, but in the meantime we have to deal with today's IT situation, and that's what we have.
How about we say one hour for officials? If we need more we can take more. We are masters of our destiny. Let's leave it at that, and then following that, we can have committee business until it runs its course. So let's say one hour. Is that okay?
I don't see any dissension, so we can move on. Let's say one hour. We'll break to go in camera, have our discussion and conclude that meeting at that point.
We have two members in the room right now. I'll be there in mid-November. One of the things we have to address is whether we need catering for that particular meeting. Just by show of hands, out of interest as much as anything else, who plans on coming to Ottawa to be in the room itself in the foreseeable future? Only I do.
I put my hand down because you answered my question, Mr. Chair.
However, before you adjourn the meeting, I want to acknowledge that we have a technical team and a team of interpreters who do an outstanding job. I want to thank them for their unwavering support, which is key to the success of our meetings.
Monsieur Champoux, thank you so much. May I suggest that you spoke on behalf of all of us? To our table staff, interpretation and, of course, our IT staff, including for the blues, thank you so much for all that you do.
That being said, this is the point where I ask you to enjoy your weekends. The meeting is adjourned.