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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, just a point of order.
I wasn't here for the last consideration of this. I guess I'm a bit confused about one point. Normally, committees are masters of their own domain. They set their own rules. We're operating now, though, under a framework of a House order, where the committee is constrained in terms of what it can do.
In the past, when committees have operated under a House order around time allocation on amendments, they have in every case abided by the House order in terms of not allowing amendments to be moved. But we're in a situation now where the committee has overruled your ruling on that and is arguably defying a House order. I'm not sure if the committee can do that, overrule a House order.
You've just told us a number of things we have to do vis-à-vis the House order. If members of the committee have decided through a challenge to the chair that they're not going to abide by the House order, it raises lots of questions. One of them is, why does the committee have to adhere to any of the House orders? I guess that's what—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay, Mr. Chair, but—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
I have just a follow-up point of order, then.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
From what I understand in terms of the ground rules you've laid out at the beginning, the committee can, by majority, at any point overrule those ground rules if they challenge the chair. If that puts us at odds with the House order—again, we're already potentially at odds with the House order—you're saying those are arguments that can be made or not made in the House, but that they can't be made here, essentially, because you have to adhere to challenges, whatever they say.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, I would like to challenge your ruling.
If I correctly understand the rules, they don't allow me to make arguments for that challenge.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
My challenge is no reflection on yours, Mr. Chair.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
It was clear, but not convincing. I'm challenging the chair.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
But you're not reading the amendments, Mr. Chair, with all due respect. If you're reading a ruling but not reading the amendment, I mean—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
I challenge you, Mr. Chair.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes. I would like to move a subamendment to the amendment from Mr. Housefather.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
I'd like to challenge your ruling that I can't submit a subamendment.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, on the point of order, though, the challenge was whether the amendment was admissible. The challenge has been overruled, which means the amendment is admissible.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Just let me finish the point of order.
The amendment has now been submitted. I would like to submit a subamendment to the amendment before it goes to a vote.
In the past we have had cases where you made a ruling, based on your view of the House order, that was overruled by the committee. You have again made a ruling, based on your understanding of the House order, that a subamendment is not admissible. I am challenging your ruling that a subamendment is not admissible.
Let's vote on the challenge. If the challenge is sustained, then I can't submit this subamendment. If it's not, then I can.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
It's a subamendment to LIB-9.1.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, it is a subamendment to this amendment, so you can't have a vote on the amendment when I'm seeking to make a subamendment to that amendment.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Prior to the vote...yes.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, I challenge the ruling you just made.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, you can't refuse a challenge to the chair.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Can I just clarify my position?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
My position is that this committee has already defied the House order, because the House order said “without further amendment” and the amendments were not moved at committee. Notice had been given of those amendments, but those amendments had not been moved at committee. My position is that, if the committee is able to defy a House order, then it is able to defy a House order. You can't say that there's a challenge from a Liberal member seeking to overturn a ruling, and allow it, defying the House order, but that's going to be—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
The amendments were not moved, though.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order and I would like to be heard on my point of order.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, Mr. Chair, insofar as it responds to what Mr. Méla has said.
What happened at the last meeting was that you made a ruling that the amendments had not been moved. Therefore, the House order obliged you not to allow them to be moved after the fact. That was your ruling. That ruling was challenged and overturned.
Now you are making a ruling again that is substantively the same as your last ruling, which is that the House order does not allow further amendment. Those earlier amendments had not been moved, and it's clear in the way you're talking about this. Every time an amendment is moved, you're saying, “This amendment has now been moved.”
In fact, you said earlier in the meeting to Mr. Rayes that an amendment can be withdrawn before it is moved, but it is deemed moved once you read it.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
You can't not allow a challenge when you allowed a challenge before on this same point.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Méla, I have one question for you.
You've said that they were—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Méla, you said that in your view there is a difference between those two rulings. Is there any basis on which a ruling of the chair cannot be challenged?
You called his second ruling a ruling, which it is, and if it's a ruling, then it might be the correct ruling and it might not be, but my understanding of the powers of members of committees is that they have the power to challenge any ruling of the chair. Is that correct?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just wanted to very quickly confirm that we are going to be meeting on Monday, because I will be bringing forward my motion that I think has been shared with the committee.
I also want to thank you very much. I know this hasn't been a very easy process to chair over the past few weeks and months, so thank you for all of your efforts on that.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 15:37
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We were in the middle of a debate on an amendment. I appreciated hearing from Mr. Louis—I really did—expressing his opinion and his desires for artists, performers and creators. It's great to hear opinions from committee members about the things that are meaningful to them.
I'm not sure of the reference about big tech. I like all performers, and whatever we can do.... The other side of it is performers, and I'm not one of them. I'm not a creator, but what I am is a person who buys tickets. I'm one of those people who really appreciate artists and creators of all different kinds, and I'm the one out there as a consumer who really supports them by buying tickets and wants to support them because I appreciate what they do. I purchase pieces of art, or admire the statue of David in Florence and line up for hours to do so.
Then there's the other side of it, those people who really want to support and appreciate art by buying the tickets to do it. We need to remember the consumers out there, because without those consumers to appreciate.... If the tree falls down in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it, did the tree make any noise when it fell?
I really do appreciate Mr. Louis bringing his opinions and concerns, though. On big tech, we've all agreed that there's going to be taxation. That hasn't been up for debate for a long time, and there's going to be a support of the culture side of it. We've done reports on how short a lot of that is out there in support, but we have a bill here that at times, I think, doesn't hit the mark. Big tech's money isn't the answer that we're working on with this amendment. It's freedom of speech for creators and performers, but again, I'm not one of those. I'm one of those who will pay the price to see, listen and appreciate those who do create. That's the part we have to remember that they drive, what it is that those people can do, and that's the part that facilitates their moving forward and being able to use their talents and express them in many different ways. Freedom of speech is very important for two sides: One is the consumer and the other is the artist.
Again, thank you, Mr. Louis, for expressing your opinion. I appreciate those people on the committee who will and do express them. We learn a lot more from each other when we take the time to talk about what is meaningful to us in our particular roles outside of this forum we are enclosed in at the moment.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
I want to take a moment to speak to the motion. Obviously, there are a lot of things going on here, but at the heart of it, I think it has to do with artists or creators and discoverability online, and making sure that any regulations that are put in place do not infringe upon their charter rights or the charter rights of those who might view that content.
It's interesting to me that in this committee, when proposed section 4.1 was removed, there wasn't a unanimous call to hear from the artists. I think that's very sad because their voices have been ignored and they are going to be largely impacted by this piece of legislation. There's this whole world of digital first creators whose voices haven't been invited to the table. We are here at the 11th hour before this legislation gets rammed through and we haven't even heard from them.
How sad is it to not hear from this group that is going to be dramatically impacted by this legislation?
That being the case, I mentioned earlier at this committee that I've taken it upon myself to reach out to these individuals and hear their voices. There's one in particular who I would like to bring to this committee's attention as we continue to consider the amendment that is on the table by my colleague Mr. Rayes.
This is from an organization called Skyship Entertainment. This letter was written and submitted to me just within the last couple of days.
It is from someone by the name of Morghan Fortier. This individual is the CEO of Skyship Entertainment, which is an award-winning entertainment company owned and operated in Canada. Of course, they are using non-traditional media platforms.
I'm going to read it into the record, because again, I believe it's very important for this committee to consider the words of this individual. She writes:
As one of Canada’s top two YouTube creators, we are a proud example of how Canadian content can be successfully exported to the rest of the world. Our educational content enriches the lives of over 30 million viewers around the world every single day—
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
Again, Morghan Fortier writes:
Our educational content enriches the lives of over 30 million viewers around the world every single day on YouTube alone. Additionally, we’re one of the world’s top children’s music artists and our content can be found on streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Roku and Tubi to name a few.
We produce nearly all of our content in-house at our Toronto production studio where we employ over 30 writers, musicians, designers, animators and puppeteers. We operate with no debt, no investors, and to date we have never received any of the government support that traditional Canadian TV broadcasters and producers benefit from.
I am a proud supporter of Canadian content and have seen first-hand the quality that we can produce here. However, I am greatly distressed by Bill C-10.
Despite our prominence we have been given zero opportunity to participate in any discussions regarding this legislation, and neither have any of our digital content contemporaries. This is distressing because Bill C-10 directly affects digital content creators, but it is being written by people who don’t understand how digital platforms work and without any consultation of those it directly impacts. The proposed bill gives no consideration to the long-term growth of the companies that have evolved from the digital landscape.
I worked for close to fifteen years producing series for TV broadcasters - the traditional broadcast industry. Having moved to the digital side of the industry in 2015, I understand how overwhelming this sector can be. But your lack of understanding cannot be an excuse to inhibit our industry's growth. Digital content creators are a vital and growing part of the broadcast industry, and our input should be mandatory.
I do believe that government investment in quality content could lead to a strengthened Canadian Broadcast industry, but Bill C-10 does not do this. Rather than the promotion and elevation, it focuses on restriction and isolation. Rather than introducing Canadian content to a global audience abroad, it focuses on removing choice from our Canadian audience here at home.
You have an opportunity to raise our traditional media companies to the standard of success our digital producers are experiencing. Instead you are choosing to antiquate digital companies. This is a step back, a step inward, and a step in the wrong direction.
Mr. Chair, this letter was written to members of this committee, and I was asked to share it today. It is with pleasure that I do so because this individual and this company raise a really valid point, and it's one that needs to be considered by all members of this committee.
I understand that we've had our squabbles, and I understand that this process might feel frustrated, but I think what needs to be rightly understood and stated here is that there is a legislative process in place within the House of Commons by which a bill is considered, clause by clause, statement by statement, and it is evaluated to see whether or not it makes for good legislation. That standard, of course, is going to be somewhat different for each party, because each individual comes to the table and views this legislation through a different lens. I understand that.
What needs to also, I believe, be carried with due weight is the fact that there are tens of thousands of creators who are going to be impacted by this legislation and their voices have not been considered.
It has been said that this legislation is going to level the playing field. I would propose to the committee that it will indeed level the playing field, but rather than calling traditional broadcasters up to the higher standard where digital first creators exist, it instead insists that those digital first creators be punished for their success and be diminished, that they actually be put down to a lower standard.
I don't think that's what it means to be Canadian. I don't think that is or should be the purpose of putting legislation in place, that we would downgrade people, that we would enforce a standard that lessens their ability to create and access an audience. Instead, why wouldn't we insist on the traditional broadcasters becoming better, coming up and learning from digital first creators.
Doesn't that seem innovative and creative, and doesn't that contribute to the e-commerce world the current government said it's committed to creating and supporting?
Right now, this legislation goes after those individuals who have talent, who have exercised an entrepreneurial spirit, who have been innovative and creative, who have taken risks and who have put themselves out there and found new ways to promote their skill, their talent, their ability and their ideas and to elicit an audience organically.
This legislation will empower the CRTC, or even call upon the CRTC, to put regulations in place that will impose algorithms on these artists. These algorithms will move their content or their creativity up or down in a queue. It will determine whether they get showed favouritism. Do they get to be in first place or do they get to be in 20th place? Maybe they get to be in 200th place. Maybe they appear on the first page when you search something on YouTube, or maybe they just get to be on page 27 where they'll never be found.
For the government to dictate that is extremely detrimental to the industry and to those artists who have so effectively invested their skill, their time, their talent and their money in order to be successful on these new platforms, this new way of being able to promote material, ideas or a skill, talent or ability.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, thank you for being so gracious with Ms. Dabrusin and helping her understand the credibility of my argument.
This has to do with charter rights. This has to do with discoverability. This has to do with algorithms. This has to do with regulations. I'm talking about creators, and I understand that the members of this committee seem to be uncomfortable, for whatever reason, talking about the greatness that exists within the Canadian people who have determined to be creators on these digital first platforms.
I'm unsure as to why that discomfort exists. I'm unsure as to why the members of this committee have refused to hear their voices. I'm unsure as to why the members of the government would like to force this piece of legislation through without first considering those who are going to be impacted by it in negative ways.
I can only assume that there is some alternative agenda at play here, because I don't know why else a government would wish to punish a good section of our population who, again, have invested the time, talent, money and energy into being productive citizens, into being able to promote material that Canadians are accessing freely and enjoying.
I'll also mention that they're creating an income for themselves, many of them a full-time income. More than 25,000 of those individuals who are Canadian are producing an income of over $100,000 a year. It's amazing. I'm just so baffled by the fact that we're not actually celebrating that as a committee. I'm baffled by a government that started out by saying they were all for seeing the expansion of e-commerce, yet this bill is a direct attack on that. It's a mystery to me.
Here we are, with a few minutes left before the five hours are up, before the gag order takes full effect, before my voice and the voices of my Conservative colleagues on this committee are quelched, but most importantly, we have a few minutes left before the voices of these tens of thousands of creators are wiped out, silenced, put into a black hole, before the government implements regulatory measures that are either going to move them up in the queue or down in the queue, show them favouritism or punish them for their success, determine who gets to succeed and who doesn't. It's a sad day. I'll end there.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 16:22
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate Mr. Champoux's intervention and his opinions.
One of the things that he got from Mr. Ripley was the position that, yes, there are legal opinions. The second level they get, which they contract out, is legal opinions via the CRTC paying these people for those legal opinions.
As we've heard, this will be challenged in court for those people who, as you say and as I believe, are in disastrous need of support for moving on. This particular legislation, however, is going to keep that from happening because legal opinions are legal opinions, and there will be legal opinions on all sides.
I've been in elected positions where we would try with legal opinions to make legislation. At the municipal level, you do that, and you think that you've created the best, legally right legislation. Then you find out quickly that you haven't, but at a municipal level, you can change that legislation very quickly. You can amend it at the next meeting, or you can change the legislation at the municipal level.
I've been on provincial appointed boards—a health board—and we had lots of provincial lawyers, lots of them, but guess what? When somebody wants to challenge it, there are lawyers that they can buy for any legal opinion they want. When you put legislation in like we're going to, without as many safeguards as you can get, it's going to get challenged.
This amendment is attempting to add another layer of that legal opinion protection. That's what this is about, because the lawyers that they have, in house and contracted, are paid for by the government and the CRTC under their mandate, so their voice is for them. The outside legal voices will have differences of opinions. When you make a law federally—it's been 30 years since this one was touched—you don't change it next week, you don't change it next month and you can't fix it for many years, sometimes decades. You can do that at the municipal level. It's harder at the provincial level, and drastically difficult at the federal level.
These are legal opinions, both in house and contracted. With this legislation, they will be challenged because of problems with this legislation. It's going to tie this thing up in court. That's why you try, as with this amendment, to bring as much protection to decisions that are made as possible because those decisions, as we know, are made behind closed doors. There is no transparency, and there are no notes.
That's a field that's wide open for lawyers to get into—it really is. Yes, I wandered through law school one time and then came to my senses and said, no, I don't want to be doing this.
This type of thing makes it just a wide-open door for other legal opinions—it really does. When I say that word, “opinions”, that's what they are. They are in-house and contracted opinions for those who are paying their bills. For those on the outside, they will contract looking for opinions to support them, and that's why this will be tied up in court and delayed longer.
With this amendment, this is on a positive side trying to make it in a better place before it hits those opposition lawyers that will be there. This gives them more due cause to say, “This is grounds to challenge it.” If we see more transparency, if we see more legal opinions there will be fewer lawyers who want to challenge this because it's narrowed the field for more legal opinions to challenge it.
That's what this amendment is about. It's trying to protect this so that the legislation can move on and be enacted and protect those people in it. It protects the CRTC and their decisions. It adds another layer of validity to what they're doing. The more you leave it open, the more you leave it open for challenges, and if you don't understand how the legal field works, this is one that they're going to be able to see is more open to challenge without that extra layer.
Mr. Champoux, you want to get this done. People are waiting for it. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to put something in that more guarantees it is likely they'll get it, even a little slower, than its being challenged, with it more wide open for legal challenges to happen. They're all opinions until a judge makes a final ruling or a panel of judges makes a ruling. This is how the legal practice works. They all have opinions and they are people who are paid for those opinions. That's who they work for, the people who pay them, just like the ones in house work for the CRTC and the contracted ones.
I believe it's a good piece. Yes, it's going to slow the process down a bit, but it narrows the field for legal challenges by doing it, so we can get through this. It's a challenging piece of legislation. It could have been done much more quickly the other way, with fewer problems, if the amendment hadn't been made, but it's going to go forward. However, this is an amendment that could have helped.
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
I will be as fast as I can. Thank you.
I just want to respond and say that I think this is a good amendment. I'm happy to support this extra oversight. I think that's great and I'm very thankful to Mr. Rayes for bringing this amendment forward.
However, I want to also just bring up the idea and to flag that when Mr. Shields spoke about legal opinions, and the legal opinions being those of the ministry or the government or of those who are contracted by the CRTC, it's important that we recognize that there was a letter sent to the Prime Minister by 14 of Canada's pre-eminent broadcasting, telecommunications and entertainment lawyers, with decades of experience, who spoke very clearly about the concerns that have been raised by some of the Conservatives.
They made it very clear that the commission is not being given any powers to infringe on Canadians' charter rights, that this is clearly outlined in the Department of Justice's update to the charter statement and that these lawyers agree with the conclusion. They say:
Bill C‑10 would restrict the powers the Commission would have over social media services to: mandating financial contributions to support Canadian programming or the recovery of regulatory costs; discoverability, so Canadian creators can be more easily discovered and promoted online; registration, so the Commission knows which services are operating in Canada; and audit powers, to ensure compliance with all of these powers....
They also said it is simply false and completely ignores that:
Users who upload content to these social media services would not be subject to the Act, as specified in proposed Section 2.1. Moreover, the Commission would not have the power to constrain the content on social media services, set program standards for these services or the proportion of programs on these services that must be Canadian.
Also some very smart legal opinion around this country has come forward and said some of the concerns that are being raised by certain members of this committee are completely unfounded. I think it's important that we get that on the record.
I realize I'm at the very last and at the tail end here, but I do want to make sure that that gets put into the record.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 17:30
Mr. Chair, I move to adjourn.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 11:20
Thank you, Mr. Chair, I appreciate that.
The amendment has been explained and the rationale for it, and I very much appreciate that, but the department is with us today. I was wondering what they believe in terms of how this could work with the CRTC. They're familiar with the CRTC and the regulations they develop and their undertakings regarding the things they do now.
Could the officials explain to me how they believe we could do this in the future, as the CRTC would look at this piece within the work they would do looking at this legislation?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 11:24
Thank you.
Mr. Chair, could I follow up?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 11:24
In looking at this when you first mentioned this, I see that would then lead to somebody on the outside, if this wasn't in place, to do that, take it to court and challenge what they haven't seen as a ruling. They would have to challenge it in the legal sense.
As this is new legislation, new ground in the sense of what we're dealing with, would they not want to make sure they are establishing the groundwork? This amendment should cover them in the sense that if they were to do this, because we're moving into new territory, it should provide cover for what we think is going to be challenged by the outside anyway.
Wouldn't this be a safeguard step as we're moving into it?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 11:26
I very much appreciate your explanation and your belief of how this could work. That's what I asked for was your opinion. I appreciate that.
In the sense of the amendment, as we've moved into this area—this legislation could possibly pass—you try to look for all the safeguards you can find. You know that it will probably end up in court and challenged, so you try to find ways to protect as much as possible as you go into new territory, making sure that those things are protected and that there is as much legal advice and judgment ahead of time as possible. I understand what you're saying about confidentiality, client confidentiality.
You know, it's an amendment that maybe protects things from getting tied up in court and this getting tied up in court for years. I thought, maybe, as an amendment, it might help that process along. Nobody wants to have a law put in place and then all that happens is that lawyers make money for years fighting things in courts, and nothing happens. No money moves other than to law offices. That's the last thing you want to do when you pass legislation.
I think it's a protection, and that's why it's there.
Thank you for your opinion. I appreciate it.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 12:43
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate the conversation. A couple of things come to mind. Recently, the CRTC was in the news when they said that after Thursday's decision, the regulator essentially set aside rates established in 2019. The reason I bring it up is that we talk about transparency. To me, this amendment leads to more transparency. We had a decision that was made, and in the news recently, with no minutes and no recorded votes. You don't know what the discussion was. When they had the open one that they went through with the CBC, there were transparent hearings, absolutely.
This concerns me in the sense that this amendment might bring more transparency to the decisions they're making. Now there are no recorded minutes. There are no recorded votes. I compare that with my involvement in municipal government. It's always out there, in front. You have to be very transparent in what you do. It's all on the record. To me, this provides another safeguard for that. I think the amendment provides that.
Mr. Ripley, I really appreciate your advice and your opinions on this, but to me, that piece is important in the sense of transparency. The CRTC doesn't operate as an elected body. It's an appointed one. They can be behind that screen that's provided for them. This, to me, is another level of transparency for elected people. We've moved into an area that will be very challenging, with very much interest in how a decision's made. This amendment will provide just a little bit more of that transparency on the decisions and on what they're doing.
I don't think it is now, as a body or as a board. They can have all sorts of discussions with no minutes of those discussions and no records of votes or rationale for what they're doing. This recent decision a week ago was very controversial. They changed their 2019 decision to the one they'd suggested the other day. Again, that has created lots of discussion out there on both sides, but there's no background information.
What I think we're talking about with this amendment is having a legal opinion out there and having it be public, having it in the Gazette. I think it would provide more of that level of transparency that we need going forward with this piece of legislation.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 13:00
Mr. Chair, I have a point of clarification for those on the committee and those listening.
You're referring to a clock and you're referring to timing. Could you clarify what would occur when that clock runs to zero?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 13:00
Clause by clause in committee...?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 13:00
Okay. Thank you.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2021-06-10 13:09
I move a motion to adjourn.
(Motion agreed to)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
To our witnesses, thank you for your patience and for sticking with us. I know that staring at a blank Zoom screen for two hours is probably not the highlight of your day, so thank you.
I want to thank everyone for their opening statements. It pains me that we have to invite witnesses here today for this study, because we went through an almost identical process three to three and a half years ago in the last Parliament, when we heard different people from the indigenous communities say basically the same things we're hearing today—big promises, no follow-through, and on and on. I'm glad you were able to come and reinforce what we've heard before.
One thing that's always stunned me about procurement from the indigenous community is that when we had the last set of committee meetings on this issue, we heard from indigenous people that they were getting no help from the government side, no real results. Then we heard witnesses say that they were getting great help from the energy industry, especially in Alberta. Then, when we brought the procurement bureaucrats in, they almost threw their shoulders out patting themselves on the back so hard. There's a complete disconnect between what you're telling us and what the bureaucrats will end up telling us.
One of the things I'm really glad you brought up was the part about tracking and setting goals. We've seen procurement for three straight years now, with two to be decided as their goal for achieving the set-asides. I think it's important for accountability and achieving results that we have these things.
For everyone here, Mr. Metatawabin, you mention how we're qualifying indigenous businesses. It's always a question of whether we are better off with a contract going to a non-indigenous-owned company that employs a very large number of indigenous people or whether the set-aside is for an indigenous-owned business that does not perhaps employ a large number of indigenous people. What delivers the best results for the community, and where do you see the balance between those?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Ducharme, do you have a comment on that, or Mr. Sinclair or Ms. Suitor?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Ms. Suitor and Mr. Sinclair, would you comment?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, again, to the witnesses. It's great feedback we're receiving here.
Mr. Sinclair, it's good to see you here. I was at Enoch a couple of weeks ago, visiting the fire hall. They have some work to do there, so I'm hoping we can get some work done on that.
I want to make a couple of comments. When we did this study three and a half years ago on how to better serve indigenous small businesses, I spent some time with the U.S. Small Business Administration. They don't set goals as we're trying to do here; rather, they do it on a name-and-shame business. They far exceed their goals, similar to the numbers you were talking about in Australia.
I asked how they did that, and they said that no one in the government—the bureaucrats—wanted to be the person who did not reach their targeted goals for marginalized groups. Even without these concrete goals, some other countries are succeeding.
We've heard a bunch about difficulty in meeting qualifying restrictions. Can you give us some examples, Ms. Suitor? I think you brought it up.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Ducharme, I saw you nodding. Do you have anything to add?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
That's an excellent example.
I'm going to bring up the previous hearing again.
We heard about the difficulties in scaling up businesses. We've heard that the mother parliament in the U.K., when large contracts are given to, say, a PCO doing parliamentary precinct work, actually requires them to repost their subcontracting jobs on the government website. We tried to push for that, but it went nowhere. Do you think something like this would help with the scaling issue, where a company is perhaps not large enough to bid on a billion-dollar contract but they're shut out of the subcontracting? It's still taxpayers' money, but they're not getting access to the subcontracting jobs.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
That is an excellent point.
Is there anything that is working right now? Is there any good news in the procurement process?
Feel free to say no.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Is there something we can build upon?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
But you're using up her time.
Sorry, Ms. Vignola.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
It might be because we just have one two-hour block as opposed to two one-hour blocks.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair. It's five, not two and a half.
Mr. Ducharme, I think it was you who mentioned that one of the businesses you dealt with had the capability to provide masks and had bid on some of the COVID business.
I'm sorry. Was it you who brought that up?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes. Did you ever receive any feedback on why a business like that did not get the contract, or similar businesses? Was it price, or was there just no response?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
They invoked national security.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Good lord. That's garbage. I'm sorry. We see this again and again when, in order to sole-source something to a preferred vendor or someone they want, it's national security. I highly doubt there's a national security issue—and I think you would agree with me—in buying masks and supporting an indigenous business.
I'm wondering if there's any low-hanging fruit here. It's probably very obvious, but for the record, is there any low-hanging fruit or any quick changes the government can make to better help indigenous businesses procure government contracts? We talked about the insurance one. We could change that, because we heard this before—three years ago—but I'm wondering what other low-hanging fruit the government could make immediate changes on.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
This was a theme that came up repeatedly when we did the same study three and a half years ago. Unfortunately, nothing has changed since then. Whether it's women-led business, indigenous-led business or other SMEs, what we hear is that for Amazon for their HQ2 it's an eight-page RFP, whereas for them it's 100 pages for a roll of toilet paper. It's silly.
Is there anything else in terms of low-hanging fruit? Obviously, scalability is one. Is there anything else we could implement relatively painlessly and quickly, if there is such a thing within government?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, how much time do I have, please?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Ms. Suitor, I'm going to bounce back to you, please. You've dealt with energy businesses a lot. Again, on a previous study, we heard repeatedly how the energy companies—Suncor, etc.—were setting a very high bar for indigenous participation and were achieving it.
Can you give us some examples of what they're doing right that perhaps the government should make steps to copy, when they're not trying to shut down the oil business?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Is there any reason the government couldn't copy that?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Right. Thank you, Ms. Suitor.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Great.
Mr. Ducharme, the rather disturbing information you provided to us about government invoking what I think is probably kind of a shady use of the national security exemption to not give a contract reminds me of the TV show Yes Minister, with Humphrey Appleby, and his comment of “All government policy is wrong...but frightfully well carried out!” That seems to be the case here.
Have you heard any similar stories of companies you believe were perfectly suitable to provide PPE or other COVID-related items to the government being shut out for such dubious reasons?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Then was it just on the one contract that several purveyors were told they couldn't be told the reasons because of security?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Wow.
Did they get any other feedback at all about the reasons? I recall—and I think it was you who mentioned it—that one company had submitted 34 RFPs and heard nothing. I think that was over several years. Did these companies receive any feedback at all—besides on national security—on pricing or anything else as to why they did not get the contracts?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
That's great.
Ms. Suitor had some comments about how the energy industry, especially in Alberta, had very good systems set up to deliver contracts and businesses. Do you have any similar industries you could point to as a gold standard the government could contact and learn from on being better able to deliver contracts to indigenous businesses?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
That's for you, and then I can pop over to Ms. Suitor. It's just that I have limited time now, and she's answered already.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Do you find that indigenous businesses have just given up or are perhaps refusing even to bid on things and are focusing on Suncor or other companies that have better systems set up?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
How are Deloitte and other companies getting the word out that there are contracts to bid on?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
Mr. Chair, how much time do I have?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll just say thanks to the witnesses.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Chair, I'm just curious to know a couple things. One, we have a couple of outstanding motions before the committee already that we can't lose sight of. Two, I agree that this is a study that requires some fulsome review and direction and recommendation moving forward. I agree with the concept. However, what are we going to park and not get at before the end of session?
That's what we need to deal with.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-06-09 16:57
Thanks, Chair.
Thank you, Pam, for bringing this motion forward. I, too, agree with the seriousness of it and the concept, the spirit, of completing our work and our report, and the specific witnesses who you're suggesting we bring forward in an urgent way to our committee. I sure as heck hope if there are immediate tools, which I think we've all been trying to explore, and legislative and policy remedies that could prevent and deter the heinous acts and crimes like the heinous act that took the lives of those innocent people and impacted their friends, neighbours, family members and an entire community, that it's being acted upon in government. I sincerely hope that our taking either a day or three extra days to report from our committee is not stopping that real work from happening if it is ready to go in government.
Chair, this is a bit embarrassing thing to confess: I have my material here prepared for our witnesses and the topic today, but could you or the clerk remind us what it is we had planned for which days? We're running up to there being eight days left in session. We all know that we want to complete the Levesque report, complete recommendations on Bastarache to drive to action, and then there is also a date for estimates. It's just so we can get a sense of logistics as to how we get all this done.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-06-09 17:00
Also, there's the Bastarache motion respecting the government—
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-06-09 17:00
Chair, are summer sittings an option, or are we going to run into a technical issue like we did the last time?
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
This is an issue that has grown and doesn't appear to be ending any time soon.
I think that as much as we need to hear from those, as Joël indicated and Pam laid out in her motion, nothing prevents the government....
We've talked about action. Of the things we hear between now and June 23, and even if we sit in the summer when Parliament isn't sitting, nothing is going to be actionable unless the government decides to act on it. The government doesn't need our committee to tell it to take some action. It can do that on its own. We have to be mindful of that. Yes, we need to hear from witnesses. We need to hear from those communities that are being impacted and we can learn.
That's important, but I think it's important for everyone to understand that our committee hearing these in the order we need to hear them and how that all looks.... Yes, we have to try to get a lot of work in a short period of time, but that does not preclude the government from taking action now, in advance.
I just want that to be very clear and on the record.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Pam's hand was up before mine. She can go ahead.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Chair, I thought I had a good idea of where we were going, up until Pam's motion. Maybe I should have gone first. Now I'm really confused as to the actual timeline that we have remaining for the next four meetings.
I have something to say about it. Could I first get clarity from the clerk on exactly what has been proposed, please?
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
For the next four meetings, yes, which is Pam's motion; I just need clarity on that.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Chair, I was asking a question before. I haven't made any of my statements yet that I need to make.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
That was the original, but Pam had just finished talking about changing that, and that's what I'm referring to. I knew what our schedule was previous. Pam just spoke about making some changes to her motion or changes to the dates and what we're going to study on those dates. That's what I'm referring to needing clarity on before I speak to what I need to speak to.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, that's what I'm referring to.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
All right.
I just want to say this. Further to what I said previously about this motion that's before us that Pam originally put forward, Chair, I look at this and it's so incredibly important that we hear this, but there's no action on here. There's no action from this motion that says what the committee is going to do with any of the information that we have or information that we're going to gather.
What I would encourage through Joël, as the PS to the public safety minister, is to go back to the minister and say that if we want action, because Canadians want action on this.... It might give us a warm feeling to have a conversation, but Canadians are looking for something that keeps them safe in their communities and we need to deal with this. I would encourage the minister and the government to meet with these groups and to action some things that we're not going to get actioned by hearing them at committee and then not giving anything to the government to action. That's what I'm getting at.
It's so critically important that we hear from these groups and we try to figure out some concrete plans, but in the short term this committee is handcuffed by time and the fact that Parliament won't be sitting in the summer to action the items that we hear. The government can. That's what I would encourage be done if we want to hear on IMVE and we want to hear from the Islamic groups and from the Jewish groups on what they're experiencing and what recommendations they would have.
That's my suggestion, Chair, and to Joël. Maybe that's an avenue where we can actually have these groups heard so that we could action some of those things, because what we hear now is there's no time. We're prisoners to the time that we have left.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-06-09 18:02
Chair, I am wholeheartedly amenable to Joël's suggestion here, which might come to a solution that we all want, to hear from representatives of the NCCM and CIJA about their recommendations to government, but as Jack and Glen have said, also to see government then act efficiently and expeditiously on the actions that they can take.
My only concern—and Joël, I don't know, maybe you can help guarantee this or whatever wording might be necessary to do it—is, as Jack has articulated, that it is also imperative that we do our report on Levesque. I'm sure that Joël feels the same way too, given that young woman's death. We need to figure out a way to be able to complete that and report out on that work.
You all know that I do believe we need to make recommendations to report out on the Bastarache report, about which I think we also share the same concern and desire to see actual consequences, support for victims and consequences for offenders, and so too with this heinous crime in London.
Joël might be on track here to helping us get to a solution. I just want to make sure that whichever way we have to, as a committee, we ensure that we complete these other items that we're working on.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Chair, I want to clarify a couple of things.
First, Joël, thanks for the amendment to the motion. That is something I certainly would support and do support.
I want to make it very, very clear that my statements at the front end were that this is a critically important study and a critically important issue that we have to deal with. It's increasing in this country, and it's completely unacceptable.
These groups who wish to come as witnesses want a voice. They deserve a voice, but what they need is action. That's what my point was. That's the point that I will stick to. This government can action things that this committee may not be able to in a timely way. That's my point. I'll stick to that. These groups want action.
Joël, you said it yourself, and, Kamal, you said it yourself: These groups need action. They have to have a voice. This committee is a vehicle for that but so is, directly, Public Safety Canada. The minister can meet with these groups and action some of these items immediately, faster than this committee can. That's what these groups need. Anything short of that is unacceptable in my books.
This sort of crime needs to stop, obviously, but a study here doesn't solve the problem immediately. That's my point. If it was misunderstood, I apologize for that, but action is what's required, not just words.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Chair, could you have that motion read as amended please? Is that the one that Joël just did?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-06-09 18:17
Chair, following all of that, I think that we still have outstanding motions we need to deal with, so can you confirm for us when will we do that next week and at which meeting?
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
You may have to lose her video, Chair.
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