Interventions in Committee
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View Mark Warawa Profile
The point of order is that this meeting that we're having right now with the witnesses who are before us—and I appreciate their being here—came from a desire that we have the minister invited here to deal with supplementary estimates—
View Mark Warawa Profile
With respect, Mr. Chair, I have the floor.
View Mark Warawa Profile
We have this agenda today based on a request by this standing committee that we have the minister come here—and if the minister's not available, the parliamentary secretary—to deal with the supplementary estimates.
Complementing the minister or the parliamentary secretary, it was the decision of this committee—and Chair, you represent as the chair this committee, but the committee made a decision to invite the minister or the parliamentary secretary.... Complementing one of those two people would be the departmental officials. That was the decision of this committee, and you as chair are to enforce that decision.
Now, what we have today is not in line with what this committee decided. I would ask you, where is the minister?
View Mark Warawa Profile
On that point, Chair, I appreciate the explanation and I trust that the intent was honourable, but the request to have the minister or the parliamentary secretary supported by department officials was made, I believe, by the committee, and as members of the opposition—and you have four members of the opposition—it is our only opportunity and our responsibility to question the government on the estimates and supplementary estimates.
If we do not—this is where it becomes a point of order—and our opportunity and responsibility to question the minister or parliamentary secretary was removed because of what happened....
To your point that this would have been passed anyway, the government has the authority to change and appoint when things happen, because it's a majority parliament. This is the second time while I've been on this committee that we as opposition members have not been given an opportunity to question the minister or to vote on the supplementary estimates.
I believe that's inappropriate and unparliamentary; our responsibilities are to question and have been removed because of the way this played out and, I believe, shouldn't have. This is the second time we cannot vote and cannot question.
View Mark Warawa Profile
Okay, I will do that at this very moment.
View Mark Warawa Profile
Thank you, Chair.
Bosc and Gagnon, in the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, say on page 980—this is under chapter 20, regarding committees—under the title “To Send for Persons”:
Standing committees often need the collaboration, expertise and knowledge of a variety of individuals to assist them in their studies and investigations.
This is referring to witnesses whom this committee calls.
Usually these people appear willingly before committees when invited to do so. But situations may arise where an individual does not agree to appear and give evidence. If the committee considers that this evidence is essential to its study, it has the power to summon such a person to appear.
A committee exercises this power by adopting a motion to summon one or more individuals to appear before it at a set date, time and location. The summons, signed by the Chair of the committee, is served on each of the individuals by a bailiff. It states the name of the committee concerned, the matter for which the appearance is required, the authority under which it is ordered, and the date and location of the appearance. It also orders the witness to be available from the time of the appearance until duly released by the committee.
Under the further explanation on this, it is stated:
This power, delegated to standing committees by the House, is part of the privileges, rights and immunities which the House of Commons inherited when it was created. They were considered essential to its functions as a legislative body, so that it could investigate, debate and legislate, and are constitutional in origin.
We have heard from the House and the Speaker of the House that committees are independent. We have heard rumours that in a majority government such as we are experiencing, the PMO provides direction to the Liberal members, who will then take direction from the Prime Minister's Office and do what the Prime Minister's Office wants, and so there's a pre-determined outcome. But we are told that this is unparliamentary; that the committees are their own creatures, and we then have a level of trust that we build in working with one another.
This is the issue before us today—and this is, I believe, a sound point of order—that the chair received instruction from this committee to call two people, the minister or the parliamentary secretary, and one of those two people could be supported by officials. I respect officials, I appreciate their expertise, but we wanted the minister or the parliamentary secretary.
Those were the instructions, but this is not what we got. It was our responsibility to question the minister—and so that I don't repeat myself, it was very clear—and that was the responsibility of the chair.
What we have today is not what was directed by this committee.
I would ask you, Chair, did you, to deviate from the instructions that were given by the committee, contact either of the vice-chairs—and hopefully it was both vice-chairs who were contacted—to say, “We can't get the minister, or we can't the parliamentary secretary. Do I have your okay to continue the meeting on the topic of supplementary estimates? Can we go ahead without the minister or the parliamentary secretary?” It was clear that those were the people who were supposed to be here.
I look forward to your comment. This is not the first time this has happened, namely, that we have called for the minister to appear and the minister has refused to come to this committee. I don't know why she's refusing to come to this committee, but she has that responsibility.
My second question for you is whether we can by motion, as I've read here on page 980, summon such a person to appear. In this Parliament, does this standing committee have the power to ask a minister or a parliamentary secretary to be here, or is it a witness within the public?
It doesn't elaborate on that in this, but you have a clerk to support you in providing wise advice.
Does this committee have power or authority to call the minister or a parliamentary secretary and compel them to attend?
View Mark Warawa Profile
Well, it's responding to your ruling.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr. Mark Warawa: Page 982 that you've referenced says:
There is no specific rule governing voluntary appearances by Members of the House of Commons before parliamentary committees. They may appear before a committee if they wish and have been invited.
This part is what I think is quite salient:
If a member of the House refuses an invitation to appear
—and we have that—
before a standing committee and the committee decides that such an appearance is necessary
—I think this is the perfect example of that, but what is the solution?—
it may so report to the House, and it will be up to the House to decide what measures should be taken.
I've read verbatim what's in the manual. We do not have the power to force the minister to be here. If the committee says, yes, a minister or parliamentary secretary is a reasonable person, to allow the members of the official opposition.... We're a democracy. We have an opposition. It's the parliamentary structure. Is it reasonable that we should have access at one of these standing committees to hear from the minister and for the minister or parliamentary secretary to be available to answer our questions on the supplementary estimates, the estimates and the mains? I would argue that, yes, it is reasonable.
We do not have the power, but we do have this option. If the member, minister or parliamentary secretary refuses an invitation to appear and the committee then decides that such an appearance is necessary—I would hope that I have that support from the Liberal members—it may report this to the House and it will be up to the House to decide what is the solution.
That would be my motion in response. You do not need 48 hours' notice on a motion that is relevant to what we're discussing right now. Or I can wait until I have the time and move a motion at that time, but in the spirit of efficiency...and I'm still speaking specifically to a point of order. This committee, I believe, has a responsibility to provide us the resources so that we can do our job as members of the opposition. Without that support, this committee I believe is not doing what a standing committee should do in a democracy that needs to be a shining example around this world.
Because a government has a majority, it doesn't need to give the official opposition and other opposition members no rights in the House. They can do that—they can bully—but because you can do it doesn't mean you should.
I'm hoping that we have support from the Liberal members of this committee and that they would refer this to the House, because it's not the first time. If it was one time, I wouldn't be speaking on this, but there have been multiple times that the minister has refused, and now the parliamentary secretary.... What we asked for, we were not given. We can't do our job because of that.
View Mark Warawa Profile
On a point of order, page 1016 states the following:
When a standing committee examines estimates, it is free to arrange its own proceedings. Ordinarily, committees find it convenient to examine the votes assigned to them in groups....
They often or usually consist of a number of votes under one heading in the estimates, and occasionally both simultaneously. It continues:
Committees generally begin their examination of the estimates by hearing from the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary...for the activities and programs dealt with in the votes, who is usually accompanied by senior departmental officials.
I don't see a heading under supplementary estimates, so I've made an assumption that estimates and supplementary estimates are managed by the same policies.
The direction from this committee was right in order with the guidelines, with the policies of Parliament. That has not happened, Chair, so I'm going to move that—
View Mark Warawa Profile
Then I'll be leaving the committee, because I don't believe....
One of the changes the Liberals made is that they don't have to have any opposition members here; the meeting can continue. I believe this is quite disrespectful to members. I believe it's unparliamentary that for this committee the ministers say they don't have to come and the parliamentary secretaries say they don't have to come. We have a Liberal-dominated committee here. If the opposition members don't want to listen, then they don't have to. I think it's quite disrespectful what has happened. I believe it's unparliamentary. The guidelines, the policies, have clearly shown that this is not the way committees should be run.
With that, I will be leaving the committee.
View Mark Warawa Profile
Thank you to the witnesses. I'm not normally a member of the committee—I'm an occasional replacement—but I found this very interesting. I thank each of you for your testimony today.
I want to focus on recruitment. A lot of my questions have already been addressed. I want to focus, though, on military service. And thank you again to each of you.
It's not for everyone. My father was a vet and my uncles were vets of the Second World War. They did not make a career of the military. There were six boys and they all made it back safely. My father was in the army and my uncles were in the navy. What I experienced, as a parliamentarian, was four or five days in the military. I chose the army first, in Wainwright, and then I went into the navy on the Winnipeg. I quickly found that I didn't like the navy and the repetitive nature of the navy, but I thought it would have been very interesting to have had a career in the army. But, again, I didn't know what I would have been getting into if I would have chosen that as a career. That was a common theme—that people didn't know what they were getting into.
Mr. Lerat, you mentioned loneliness. You recommended that there be indigenous people in recruitment, but Ms. Pope said that she experienced isolation, an extremely unhealthy environment, to the point where she left. She talked about loneliness and felt that she needed that mentor person as she went through that.
My question is this. Is it for everyone? How do we properly let people who are indigenous know better what they're committing to? You said you didn't know what you were getting into, yet you liked it. How do you screen people and let them know this is what the life in the military, in the Canadian Forces, is going to be like so that people know what they're getting into? Would it be helpful if in the recruitment they were actually being mentored at the front end? They would get into it and be supported in all of these practical ways, and people would know what they were getting into. Would that be helpful?
View Mark Warawa Profile
Thank you, Chair.
The purpose of this is to hear from experts on the issue of putting a price on carbon. We're not here at this meeting, and it was not the mandate of the committee, to ask the panellists to critique different political positions, particularly going into an election. If this is what the committee now wants— to change the purpose of this study—then we need to know that.
The panellists today do not make a balanced panel. The panel provides one perspective on a complex issue. That was a concern that I expressed to you at the beginning of the meeting. The ideal is to have a panel that includes both sides of an argument. What we have now is one side, which for whatever reason.... I'm okay with it, but if we're now asking the expert panellists to provide a critique on political positions, that's not what this meeting was called for.
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