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.
Ms. Dancho, you have a hand up. Let me introduce the subject, and then we'll proceed at pace.
Pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), the committee is meeting to consider a request received by the clerk and submitted by more than four members of the committee regarding allegations of involvement of the offices of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety of politically interfering with the criminal investigation of the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murders.
Members have all received the letter. I will open the floor for debate.
I'd like to move that the committee study the allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications; that the committee (a) hold a two-hour meeting to hear from RCMP officials, including (i) Superintendent Darren Campbell, support service officer, Nova Scotia RCMP; (ii) Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iii) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iv) communications director Lia Scanlan, Nova Scotia RCMP; and (v) senior communications manager Sharon Tessier, RCMP; (b) hold a two-hour meeting to hear from, (i) Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP; (ii) former minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair; (iii) deputy minister of public safety Robert Stewart; (iv) Minister Blair's former press secretary, Mary-Liz Power; and, (v) any other department officials involved in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications; and (c) that these meetings be held no later than June 30, 2022.
Mr. Chair, we are providing this motion to the clerk in both languages. He can distribute it immediately.
I have a couple of comments. Thank you to my colleague for bringing this motion forward and to all the colleagues for calling our meeting together today. These are important issues that this committee should be looking at.
I would remind everyone that there is the Mass Casualty Commission happening right now, where witnesses are under oath, just as they are in a court of law. We need to be mindful that we don't prejudice what's happening at that commission.
Commissioner Lucki will be appearing at the commission over the course of July. That's my understanding. That's a comment that will preface where I'm going with this.
The other thing is that next week—I believe it's on Wednesday—there's a memorial for Constable Stevenson, one of the....
Chair, I guess we need unanimous consent to continue.
Next week there is a memorial for the RCMP officer who was killed during the horrible mass casualty in Nova Scotia. It would be absolutely insensitive and disrespectful for us to call all of these RCMP officers, as well as Commissioner Lucki, to appear before a committee at the same time as this memorial is being held in Halifax.
I am going to suggest that we hold a three-hour meeting—just one—and that we remove Minister Blair's press secretary, Mary-Liz Power, and any other department officials involved in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications from the list. They're numbers (iv) and (v) under point (b). I would further amend the motion that the meeting be held immediately following the commissioner's appearance at the Mass Casualty Commission.
We would be able to ask these people questions following the commissioner's appearance. We would have more information at that time.
The other issue that we are running into, quite frankly, is that House resources are down from July 4 to 22. It would probably be in early August, but we would leave it to the chair to call the meeting immediately following the commissioner's appearance. I think we all have faith in our chair to do that.
Those are the changes I would propose to this motion.
Yes. The motion would be amended to say, under point (a), “hold a three-hour meeting to hear from RCMP officials, including”; remove point (b) completely; points (i), (ii) and (iii) under (b) would remain; and that those meetings be held following the commissioner's appearance at the Mass Casualty Commission.
To be clear, the panels would be (i) to (v) under point (a) as one panel, Commissioner Lucki as one panel, and Minister Blair as one panel. That would fill out the one hour. If you want me to clarify that in the motion, I can.
Maybe this would be clearer. I would move that the committee hold a one-hour meeting to hear from RCMP officials, including those five named officials; hold a one-hour meeting to hear from Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP; hold a one-hour meeting to hear from the former minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair, and deputy minister of public safety Robert Stewart; and that the three meetings be held on the same day, following the commissioner's appearance at the Mass Casualty Commission.
First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues from the NDP and the Conservative Party for proposing this emergency meeting pursuant to Standing Order 106(4).
I understand that we are debating Ms. Damoff's amendment. Indeed, I thank her for it and agree with her on the whole.
The reason I support the changes that Ms. Damoff has proposed is mainly because of timing. We do this kind of thing in order to get answers for our citizens and for the public. Now, let's face it, during the week between Quebec's National Holiday and Canada Day, people follow the news a little less—it's summer, the holidays are coming up. So if we really want to get answers and make sure that they reach the public, for the public's sake, we should hold this meeting at a slightly better time. Also, with the memorial service that Ms. Damoff was talking about, the timing seems even less appropriate.
So we have had a rather busy session. I think, out of respect for the human resources of the House, which are stretched, we should postpone this meeting. To have it as early as next week would be rushed. Personally, I would have postponed it until the resumption of regular business in September, but I understand that it may be appropriate to hold it after Ms. Lucki's appearance before the inquiry in July. Perhaps that would be a better time.
Also, I have some questions about the French wording. I feel that the translation is not very accurate. The text talks about “meurtres collectifs,” but this is not really something that is said in French. It should be called the « tuerie de 2020 ». Secondly, I'm not sure I understand why it is proposed to study the allegations and communications. Perhaps it should be worded differently.
Apart from these details, I am in favour of the changes proposed by Ms. Damoff.
I agree with what Ms. Damoff is proposing in terms of putting this together in a three-hour meeting.
The one part I don't agree with is the timing. I know that we, as a committee, want to be respectful of the inquiry's work, and I still think we can do that. However, the revelations that have come out from media, from Wednesday onwards, deal with an issue that Parliament needs to be seized with.
The mass shooting inquiry is dealing with the events that happened on that terrible day two years ago, but we're dealing with allegations that the commissioner of the RCMP became involved in an investigation because it was to make a point for proposed firearms legislation. That's a very serious allegation. We have many more questions than answers at this point.
I think it's possible for this committee to proceed in an orderly way that respects what the inquiry is trying to do, but that also allows us, as members of Parliament, to do our jobs to hold the government to account.
The one thing, though—and I know this might be a subamendment to the amendment—is that I think we also need to include the RCMP deputy commissioner, Brian Brennan. He is not listed here. It is mentioned that he was on the call with Commissioner Lucki. In fact, the handwritten notes from Superintendent Campbell noted that Deputy Commissioner Brennan tried to calm things down during what was a very heated call. He might add an interesting perspective. I would suggest that the deputy commissioner appear alongside the commissioner during her particular hour.
The one part I have an issue with in Ms. Damoff's amendment is the timing. I understand the value that might come from hearing the commissioner's testimony during the inquiry, and I understand that's to be a date around mid-July, but this is an issue that the country is seized with right now. Our interest, as a committee, is going to be quite different from what the inquiry is looking at.
I would support having the meeting next week and trying to find a way to be respectful of the fact that the members of the RCMP we have listed here are going to be attending a memorial for a fallen comrade. I'm sure there is a way that we can work around that. We have Canada Day at the end, but there is a way for us to find some time so that they can both attend a fallen comrade's memorial and be present for our important inquiry.
I have an issue with the date. Everything else is fine. I would suggest that we also add Deputy Commissioner Brennan to the list.
More to what Mr. MacGregor has said, I do agree that this is a breaking development. It is shocking and disturbing. It is certainly regrettable that it is happening during a very sober memorial next week. What I would say is that those responsible for the political interference that is mentioned in the testimony, that is on those people. That is on any individual in the Liberal government who put that political interference.... As mentioned in the notes, that is legal testimony in the Mass Casualty Commission. It is deeply regrettable that they have done that, at least as alleged in this testimony.
That is why we are here meeting today, so I would agree with Mr. MacGregor. I would also agree with Mr. MacGregor that we add Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan. Certainly he should be part of that. I agree on the timing and his addition there.
I would say, however, that we are concerned about Ms. Damoff's amendment to remove, in part (b), “(v), any other department officials involved in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications”. We have no representative yet from the PMO on this. That is supposed to be encapsulated in this. It is specifically mentioned in two separate legal testimonies in the MCC that the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office directed or pressured Commissioner Lucki, but there's no specific name mentioned. In order to do a fulsome investigation, we require a representative from the PMO who was involved in this, who was in those discussions with the minister and Commissioner Lucki, so that they can come forward and answer questions.
Without having anyone representing the PMO or the other relevant top officials involved in this, we cannot verify or ask questions concerning the testimony that was just released. It is imperative that we have, at minimum, someone from the Prime Minister's Office who was involved at that time to come and testify at committee.
Again, the Liberal government would know who those individuals are, obviously. We would be firm on at least one representative from the PMO in order to ensure that this is a fulsome investigation.
I agree with Mr. MacGregor's subamendment to add Brian Brennan, but I can't support Ms. Damoff's amendment as it is. A one-hour meeting with five RCMP officials; a one-hour meeting with the commissioner of the RCMP and, if it's amended, the deputy commissioner; and a one-hour meeting with the Minister of Public Safety and the deputy minister will not be near enough. I mean, if all five of these witnesses want to give five-minute opening remarks, that will eat up about half the meeting. Then we'll have only 30 minutes for actual substantive questions.
I would not support the amendment as is, but moving forward, let's have two two-hour meetings. One would be with the RCMP officials who were involved on the call. The other two-hour meeting would be with the commissioner and officials and the minister and officials.
I'm sensitive to what's happening next week. I think we can be flexible on that. I would certainly want to be flexible on that, but I think this one hour, one hour and one hour is way too short a time. It's not giving near enough attention to a very serious issue.
I'd certainly like to support Mr. MacGregor's subamendment. I'd actually like us to be able to vote on that particular subamendment, because I'd like to move a further subamendment, which I believe I can't do as long as that's on the floor. I'm going to propose an amendment so that instead of three one-hour meetings, we have one meeting, without being too specific about the panels.
Anyway, I can't move that until we deal with this subamendment.
I'm generally in favour of Mr. MacGregor's amendment. I think it's important that we have Mr. Brennan at the meeting. He was part of the call, and we want to hear from him.
I would also underline the fact that our investigation is going to be quite different from the Mass Casualty Commission investigation going on in Nova Scotia right now, which is really looking at operational matters—what happened on the ground, what didn't happen on the ground and timing issues. Our investigation is going to be more into allegations of political interference, which I think definitely falls within the realm of what this public safety committee needs to be doing.
I think it's an urgent matter. I think we need to move along just as quickly as we can. I understand that House of Commons resources will be limited over the next couple of weeks, but it is also my understanding that, for an emergency meeting, they can be made available. I think we need to use whatever tools are available to us, provided by the House of Commons, to conduct these meetings as soon as we can.
One thing at a time, Mr. McKinnon. Let's get the votes out of the way. There are a number of minutes left. I believe we have to wait 10 minutes after the vote has been announced in the House before we resume our deliberations. I will look to the clerk for a cue when those 10 minutes have passed, and then we will resume discussion of this item.
I'd like to move a subamendment, which is substantially what Ms. Damoff said, except when she said three meetings with one-hour panels, I wish to change that to one meeting with three panels.
I'm going to read the whole of the motion as applicable to my subamendment. At the end it retains the indication of timing that was in Ms. Damoff's motion. I understand that is something still to be discussed. I propose, if we can focus on just this subamendment and deal with just that as a subsequent issue, we'll move along most effectively.
The motion, as amended, would read that the committee study the allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications, and that the committee hold one three-hour meeting that will include (a) a panel to hear from the following officials from the Nova Scotia RCMP: (i) Superintendent Darren Campbell, support service officer, Nova Scotia RCMP; (ii) Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iii) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iv) communications director Lia Scanlan, Nova Scotia RCMP; and (v) senior communications manager Sharon Tessier, RCMP; (b) a panel to hear from (i) Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP; and (ii) Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan; (c) a panel to hear from (i) former minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair; and (ii) deputy minister of public safety Robert Stewart; and (d) that these meetings be held following the commissioner's testimony at the Mass Casualty Commission.
I understand there are some issues around the particulars there, but I suggest we vote on that particular subamendment and then we can deal with the particulars as further potential amendments.
I appreciate Mr. McKinnon's amendment; however, I do feel it's a bit of a semantics amendment. I don't know how substantial it is, but I would make the point that three hours for, I think, about 10 witnesses, according to the original motion, is not nearly enough time. When we think that in the first hour we're inviting the numerous RCMP officials who were mentioned in the Halifax Examiner, that is not nearly enough time.
Mr. Lloyd made the point that they all have five-minute opening statements, and that would perhaps allow for one, maybe two, rounds of questioning. They are certainly a focus of this study. It would not do justice to the study and what we're trying to accomplish, which is to provide more insight into the legal testimony that was provided. Again, one hour is not nearly enough time to have opening statements and to provide rounds of questioning to each party, when it is important for the democratic process to get the full story from these witnesses.
I have great issue with the time constraints being put on the Liberal members on this. I think if we want to be open and transparent, we need substantially more time. That's why we originally proposed a full two-hour meeting for all the RCMP officials. I think that is very important and we need to stick to that.
One point for clarification, do we know exactly when the commissioner is speaking to the Mass Casualty Commission? Do we have a firm date? I wouldn't want to commit to a subamendment such that anything could happen and then the commissioner's testimony to the Mass Casualty Commission could be delayed. That would then force us, by supporting this amendment, to further delay our meetings.
Also, I think the point has been made by some of our colleagues around the table that this issue is separate from what the Mass Casualty Commission is talking about. This is about political interference. It's not about the details the Mass Casualty Commission is focused on. I don't think it should be a prerequisite that we wait until the commissioner has testified before we do that.
I'd also like to know if Mr. McKinnon knows the date that the commissioner is testifying, because I can't commit to a subamendment unless I know what the date would be.
On a point of order, Chair, right now the only change is changing the word “meeting” to “panel”. I had already submitted the amendment on the timing, so maybe we can stick to a discussion of Mr. McKinnon's subamendment, which is changing this to “panel” from the word “meeting” and suggesting one three-hour meeting. It's the only change right now. The timing of the appearance of the meeting itself has already been submitted, so right now it's just “panel” that we're discussing.
On the same point of order, I guess the other change is that, instead of specifying “one-hour panels”, the subamendment just specifies “panels”, so it could be an hour-and-a-half panel for the large panel, and it could be a two-hour panel for the large panel. That's really up to the committee to decide separately. I would reiterate that.... Let us vote on the subamendment and we can deal with the particulars separately.
Yes, I think it's already been covered. I think this vote is on a very specific part of the language, and then the discussion on the dates will resume when we're back to debating Ms. Damoff's principal amendment.
I think Mr. McKinnon is saying that his subamendment was just technical and reordering things, but I want clarification on whether it would be “(v) Minister Blair's former press secretary Mary-Liz Power”. Is she still on or is part of the amendment to have her removed? Then, on “(v) any other department officials involved in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation”, are they still in or are those out?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, I would certainly be delighted to do that.
The motion, after my subamendments are applied, would read as follows: that the committee study the allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications, and that the committee hold one three-hour meeting that will include (a) a panel to hear from the following officials from the Nova Scotia RCMP: (i) Superintendent Darren Campbell, support service officer, Nova Scotia RCMP; (ii) Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iii) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iv) communications director Lia Scanlan, Nova Scotia RCMP; and (v) senior communications manager Sharon Tessier, RCMP; (b) a panel to hear from (i) Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP; and (ii) Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan; (c) a panel to hear from (i) former minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair; and (ii) deputy minister of public safety Robert Stewart; and (d) that the meeting be held following the commissioner's testimony at the Mass Casualty Commission.
The substantive subamendment really is to change Ms. Damoff's language about three meetings with one panel each to one meeting with three panels.
I want to clarify something. Mr. McKinnon said that the timing for the three panels had not been identified, but when he just read his subamendment again, he said three hours of three panels, I believe.
Could he clarify that? Are the hours open and it's three panels, or is it three panels in three hours?
Mr. Chair, to my point, Mr. McKinnon may have misspoke earlier. He mentioned that the timing for the hours was open with his amendment, but it is, in fact, defined to three hours. To my point, that is not nearly enough time for all of the witnesses to testify fully.
Mr. Chairman, I am going to move a subamendment, but I have a question for the clerk first.
The scheduled maintenance is to begin the week following next. My understanding is that if Parliament requires an urgent meeting—and I believe we've established that this is urgent—we can meet during scheduled maintenance.
I have one more question before I move my subamendment. The point has been made that next week there is a memorial on Wednesday, and we could perhaps have this meeting on Thursday. To Mr. MacGregor's point and the points that have been made, this is an urgent matter. I recognize that Liberal members and perhaps our Bloc colleague would prefer not to have it the same week as the memorial. If that's the case, I think perhaps a compromise, a “purple tie” moment, may be that we host the meetings in the first week of the scheduled maintenance.
I would like to move a subamendment to the Liberal motion.
Mr. Chair, I don't have the amendment with the subamendment in front of me, so I'm not sure how we proceed in this type of situation. The objective of my amendment is as follows.
The panels have been divided into three groups. We have the RCMP officials, Commissioner Lucki, and the deputy minister and the minister. Is that correct? Can we clarify since we don't have it in front of us?
Oh, I have it now. We have a panel with the RCMP officials. We have a panel with Commissioner Lucki and Deputy Commissioner Brennan, and we have a panel with Minister Blair and the deputy minister.
I would move an amendment that we make the first meeting with the RCMP officials two hours, the panel with Commissioner Lucki and Deputy Commissioner Brennan one hour, and the panel with Minister Blair and the deputy minister one hour, and that we provide a 30-minute recess between each panel. That's one part of the amendment.
The second part of the amendment is that, in the hour that Minister Blair and his deputy minister are coming, a representative from the Prime Minister's Office come. Obviously we require someone from the Prime Minister's Office to speak because they have been mentioned in two different accounts in the legal witness testimony provided to the Mass Casualty Commission. This investigation at this committee would be incomplete without a representative of the Prime Minister's Office, so that's the second part of my amendment.
Then the third part is that we meet in the first week of the scheduled maintenance. I propose Monday. I'm not sure of the exact date, but it's a Monday.
It's important to note that this subamendment, to clarify and summarize what my colleague was saying, adds an hour. That addresses my concern, because one hour for five officials from the RCMP to present on one panel, even if, as Mr. McKinnon said, we could extend it by a half an hour within the three-hour time frame, is not enough time for us to properly cross-examine these officials.
I agree with the two hours, but I would also note that this subamendment would basically, because we are setting a date during the maintenance period, invalidate the amendment that Ms. Damoff made that we await the commissioner's testimony at the Mass Casualty Commission unless that testimony takes place before that, but I don't believe it will. It's important to note that this subamendment would be eliminating that requirement.
In the spirit of collegiality with my colleague from the Conservatives, I think we could agree to a four-hour meeting, but I would reiterate that the commissioner is testifying at the inquiry in July at some point. I continue to stress that she should come following her testimony. Even if we moved it to that first week of July, it would be prior to her testimony. We don't have a date. I know Mr. Lloyd and I were having a sort of off-line conversation on that, but my understanding is that there is not a date for the commissioner to testify.
It's also my understanding that, when she testifies, there's no time limit on it. It could be a day. It could be two days. It could be three days. It could be a week. It depends on the commissioner and how many questions they want to ask her. If we're having these officials come, I strongly urge colleagues to do this after she has testified and we have all the facts on the table. That would likely be in August.
We could support changing it to a four-hour meeting but not the end part. I think we'd have to vote against Ms. Dancho's amendment and then perhaps, depending on how that turns out, we could amend again to make it a four-hour meeting, but we would have to vote against it the way it is worded now.
I thank Ms. Damoff for her comments, but I would reiterate the point that's been made several times. The inquiry is investigating something separate to what we are investigating at the public safety committee. Our responsibility is to hold the government accountable for their actions in all regards and all departments in public safety. This is an urgent matter, a shocking revelation from the Mass Casualty Commission, that we will be further investigating, which is our duty as opposition members and as members of this public safety committee.
I would reiterate that the inquiry is investigating matters separate from what we are investigating. We have an obligation to move forward, and to move forward quickly, frankly, given the revelations that were made and how shocking they are. I believe the public deserves answers rather than waiting four, five or six weeks to hear.
I would respectfully disagree with my colleague on that.
I guess I would seek clarification from our clerk with regard to the critical maintenance. It did say that, if there's an urgent request for a House committee to meet, so if we do decide to meet that week of July 4, it is possible.
I know that if it's urgent, we can arrange for the committee to meet. However, the resources of the House require three weeks a year to do maintenance work on the system and reprogram it so that everything is ready for the next session of Parliament.
I understand that the committee wants to meet for four hours, because we have a lot of witnesses to hear. However, with all due respect to the resources of the House, I think we could postpone the meeting until after the commissioner's testimony.
I will have to vote against the subamendment. I agree that the committee should meet for four hours, but I do not agree with the timing of the meeting, unfortunately. If we could separate the two proposals, we could reach a compromise. Otherwise, I will be obliged to vote against the subamendment.
As a further comment to Ms. Dancho's, we wouldn't support a half-hour break in between each panel as well. That's getting into quite a lengthy meeting. We don't normally do that.
The other thing I think we need to be mindful of is that the five individuals who've been asked to testify, and who are now being asked to testify for two hours, are individuals who were deeply traumatized by what happened in Nova Scotia. They have publicly acknowledged that they have had mental health issues following that, and we're asking them to then appear for two hours at our committee. I think we should be mindful of that and give the option of one or two hours in order to be respectful of the mental health challenges they've had.
I'm not quite sure how we deal with that in the motion, but I wanted to raise that as a concern for all of us. I know that the members of this committee do take the mental health of our public safety officers very seriously, especially these individuals who have experienced so much trauma.
I really think this is an extremely important issue for a lot of people, starting with the people who were involved with this incident and the people who lost loved ones in this incident, the residents of Nova Scotia and all Canadians.
There are some serious allegations out there right now, and I think it is our job, our duty, to look into these allegations as soon as possible. The fact that we're discussing putting it off is quite shocking to me. The House has indicated that the resources would be available for the week after July 4. To put it off for six weeks minimum is just not doing our jobs properly. I think it's the sooner the better to look into these serious allegations, find out what happened and move forward.
I'll be supporting doing this as soon as we possibly can, keeping in mind that, yes, we won't do it next week when the memorial is on—I think that's respectful—but the week after that, I think, would be more than fine. I think we owe it to people—we owe it to Canadians—to find out what really happened and move forward.
I agree with my colleague Mr. Shipley about the urgency of this.
I don't think that provides answers for Canadians or the families of victims who have likely been shocked by the information at the Mass Casualty Commission.
I do appreciate Ms. Damoff's comments about the mental health of the witnesses, certainly. We do know from the testimony that was reported that they also suffered as a result of the meeting with Commissioner Lucki, who, from the testimony, was seen that to be under significant pressure. To quote the testimony as written by Superintendent Campbell, she was very “upset”, and that was stressed consistently in the reporting of the Mass Casualty Commission's findings of the written testimony from Mr. Campbell.
Again, I think that some of the responsibility for the impact on these individuals would seem to lie with those who were putting the pressure on them to reveal information and to interfere for political purposes in a criminal investigation. That is why we should be meeting urgently to discuss this matter.
Again, I would just reiterate that to wait five, six or maybe even seven—we're not sure—weeks is inappropriate and unacceptable, frankly.
I wanted to address one of the points that Ms. Damoff raised. It is going to be a long four-hour meeting, and if we don't have any recesses between the panels, it's going to be very long for us and for the witnesses.
I think the IT team is probably going to have to work to get.... Because maybe all these people won't be here physically and they'll be here virtually, there is going to be a 10- to 20-minute period to get these witnesses on. I just think that there's no reason why we shouldn't have a 30-minute recess so that people can go and get a coffee or go to the bathroom, just so we can have time to get the witnesses changed over. I don't see why there would be a problem with having a 30-minute recess in this case, since we probably are going to be taking 10 to 15 minutes to get the witnesses changed over anyway. I would stand by that subamendment.
Just to be clear, we are now looking at a situation in which this meeting is to follow up on the recent testimony from the Mass Casualty Commission that there was political interference from the Liberal government and pressure put on the RCMP to interfere in a criminal investigation. The Liberal position currently is to wait over four, five, maybe six weeks to hear from those witnesses, to take those 10 witnesses—pardon me, nine witnesses—and put them in a three-hour meeting, five to six weeks from now. That's nine witnesses in three hours.
Also, they refuse to allow a member of the Prime Minister's Office to attend. They're avoiding accountability on this. I'm actually quite shocked that members of the Liberal Party on this committee are so keen to avoid transparency on this. It's very disappointing, Mr. Chair.
The amendment as it stands now is completely unacceptable and certainly does not do justice for the victims' families, who are continuing to be shocked and traumatized by this.
I would ask committee members that we move forward on something better than waiting until over a month from now, squeezing nine witnesses into three hours, and preventing the Prime Minister's Office, which has been accused twice in the testimony, from appearing. They need to face accountability. We need to be transparent, and this needs to be a fulsome investigation, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I would note that Ms. Damoff had indicated earlier that she would be supportive of extending the three hours to four hours. I think there's an indication that there would be a recess, but we just wouldn't need to specify that it would be 30 minutes. It would be subject to the will of the committee, I believe, for a period of time between the panels so that members could take the appropriate time to reflect and to think about the testimony they're hearing, take a break and go to the washroom.
I would say I will move a subamendment, which I think will get support, that we extend this to a four-hour meeting. Then we can just clear that out of the way.
I was simply going to say that it makes good sense to do that. I think it allows us to ensure that we not lose time while we change panels and so on, and it provides, I think, a good compromise for us to move forward.
If there is any recess time in that, we just want to clarify that it is not taken away from the four hours of meetings. There will be four hours of witness testimony total. I just want to get that on the record.
I'd like to move a subamendment on the witness list for the panel the minister and deputy minister are attending, so that it includes a representative from the Prime Minister's Office who was working on this file at the time of the meeting mentioned in the MCC testimony that was within that first week of the massacre.
I move an amendment to include a representative from the Prime Minister's Office who was involved at that time and who was mentioned in the Halifax Examiner article.
I completely support that motion to have a witness from the Prime Minister's Office attend. The evidence that was given by the superintendent of the RCMP for Nova Scotia, Darren Campbell, indicates that there was pressure from the Prime Minister's Office to disclose certain information at a press conference that Mr. Campbell was not comfortable presenting or making public at that time so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
It's extremely important for this committee, the parliamentary standing committee on public safety, to hear from an appropriate witness from the Prime Minister's Office.
My subamendment is to add to the witness list a member of the Prime Minister's Office who was involved at the time of the reports from the Mass Casualty Commission that is the subject of the 106(4) motion.
Being mindful of the time and the fact that we have another vote at 1:30 p.m., perhaps I could encourage our colleagues to maybe move to a vote on my amendment and see where that lands. I would very much like us to finish this today. I don't want us to have to come back another day for this meeting. We're all here today. This is the last day of Parliament. If colleagues are okay with it, perhaps we can move to a vote on my amendment and go from there.
I think we're coming very close to the end of what we're going to do here. I think there's maybe really only one outstanding issue. I know Ms. Michaud expressed concern about when we would have this meeting. I know she expressed concern that there is a maintenance period in the House of Commons from July 4 to July 22. I note that the clerk did say that resources could be made available, and I know Ms. Michaud knows that, because she was told that. We were all told that before, so what I would propose is a subamendment that we meet by July 23 or when the maintenance ends, whichever is sooner. I think that might be a compromise that the committee could agree on.
Quickly, Mr. Lloyd, do you want to clarify as to whether it is the week of July 25 or when the maintenance is completed? It could go later, too, so do you want to amend it to say, “the week of July 25”?
To clarify, what my amendment is saying is that we recognize that this maintenance is happening. It's scheduled from the 4th to the 22nd, so we want to get this done as soon as the maintenance is done. I had originally suggested the 22nd, but the clerk told me that is a Saturday, and I don't think we want to be having this meeting on a Saturday, so I would.... That's the 23rd. I'm sorry.
I am clarifying that my subamendment is that it would be the 25th, which would be the Monday. If the maintenance is still ongoing on the 25th, we would still have the meeting. If the maintenance ends before the 25th, then we could have the meeting the day after. The idea is that it would be whichever happens sooner, the maintenance ends or the 25th of July. I hope that will be good for the committee.
Mr. Chair, just to clarify, in sum, we are having nine witnesses appear through three panels for a four-hour meeting the day after the maintenance is done, and we are having zero representation from the Prime Minister's Office. Can you confirm that's the case, that we are meeting in a month, with no representation from the Prime Minister's Office?
The motion as amended by Ms. Damoff would read that the committee study the allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass murder investigation and communications, and that the committee hold one four-hour meeting that will include a panel to hear from the following officials from the Nova Scotia RCMP: (i) Superintendent Darren Campbell, support services officer, Nova Scotia RCMP; (ii) Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iii) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, Nova Scotia RCMP; (iv) communications director Lia Scanlan, Nova Scotia RCMP; and (v) senior communications manager Sharon Tessier, RCMP; the second panel will be held to hear from (i) Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP; and (ii) Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan; the third panel to hear from (i) former minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair; and (ii) deputy minister of public safety Robert Stewart; and that the meeting be held on the week of July 25.
We can proceed shortly. I just want to make it clear that the Conservative members find it to be very important that a member from the Prime Minister's Office come and answer to the testimony provided to—
We are not voting, Ms. Damoff. We are free to discuss. I can bring forward a subamendment if I like, which I'm not doing.
Mr. Chair, I just want it to be clear that we believe it is very important to the testimony that an official from the Prime Minister's Office come and answer to the official legal testimony at the Mass Casualty Commission. The Liberal members led the way in ensuring that did not happen today. They also led the way in ensuring that this meeting does not happen for another month.
For those reasons, we could not support this amended motion.
With respect to Ms. Dancho, the date was selected through Mr. Lloyd's subamendment. I just think we need to be clear on that. The subamendment, which he offered as a compromise, and a very good compromise, did come from the Conservative side.
On that point of order, Mr. Chair, I think we were trying to have this meeting as soon as possible. Mr. Lloyd made a good-faith effort to try to get it to be as soon as possible. Our objective was to have it within the next week.
Just to the point, we were trying our best to get to this as quickly as possible. I appreciate Mr. Lloyd's work to ensure that this happens by the 25th. Of course, our initial motion was to have this next week, just to be clear.