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View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Madam Clerk.
I think we are blessed with one of the very experienced clerks on the Hill, who will be undoubtedly invaluable to the person sitting in this chair over the next little while.
We'll do some of the official stuff first, and then get into the routine motions.
Welcome to meeting number one of the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canada–People's Republic of China Relationship.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application. Regarding the speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do the best we can to maintain a consolidated order of speaking for all members, whether participating virtually or in person.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all participants in this meeting that screenshots or taking photos of your screen is not permitted. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website.
I would like to remind all of those present in the room to please follow the recommendations from public health authorities, as well as the directive of the Board of Internal Economy on October 19, 2021, to remain healthy and safe. As the chair, I will be enforcing these measures for the duration of the meeting, or for as long as the measures themselves last, he hastens to add, and I thank members in advance for their co-operation.
Should any technical challenges arise, please advise me, so that we can suspend a few moments to ensure all members are able to participate fully.
Those are a few formalities out of the way, but I wanted to add a quick note that I've been interested in this committee since it was first struck, living on the west coast as I do, and as does the honourable member for South Surrey—White Roc. We're kind of at ground zero for many of the concerns, especially the domestic concerns about our relationship with China.
It has been very interesting to watch the proceedings from the last Parliament, to see the work that the committee had done, because it resonates very well with what I've noticed over time. There may be times, in fact, when I will regret being here and being unable to ask some questions to try to coax out a little more information on what is, I think, as has been pointed out many times, a very complex relationship. There are upsides and downsides to it. As a group, we'll accentuate the positive, but deal something with the other.
With that, I suggest the next order of business be that the committee now proceed to consider its routine motions. In preparation for this, the committee clerk has circulated a list of routine motions that committees have typically adopted. As we go along, the committee clerk can also answer any questions about the routine motions that you may have.
It's customary that somebody on the government side take the lead, leading us through the routine motions.
Mr. Oliphant.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
I don't have to do them all, but I'm happy to start.
We'll begin with the one with respect to analyst services.
I move:
That the committee retain, as needed and at the discretion of the Chair, the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist it in its work.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
I suspect that some of these routine motions may be subject to further discussion, so perhaps it would be best if we indicated our approval of each one individually as we go through.
All those in favour of analyst services?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: In the six years that I've been here, I have nothing but total awe and respect for the analysts to absorb all of the things they hear and then turn out some pretty wonderful studies that we can present to Parliament and consider for ourselves.
Thank you, Brendan. It's good to have you on board.
Shall we continue?
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes.
This is the second routine motion:
That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be established and be composed of the chair and one member from each recognized party; and that the subcommittee work in a spirit of collaboration.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to amend the motion and replace the text that my honourable colleague has just read with the following text:That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be established and be composed of five members, namely the chair, three vice-chairs, and one member from each other recognized party; and that the subcommittee work in a spirit of collaboration.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Okay.
The motion is: That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be established and be composed of five members, namely the Chair, the three vice-chairs and one other member from the government; and that the subcommittee work in a spirit of collaboration.
That's it. Can we say that's accepted? Are we good?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are you ready for the third one, Mr. Chair?
That the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive and publish evidence when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including two members of the opposition and two members of the government, but when travelling outside the parliamentary precinct, that the meeting begins after 15 minutes, regardless of members present.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Everybody's heard the motion. Is there any comment?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Chong.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
I'd like to present the next routine motion on time for opening remarks and questioning of witnesses. I understand that there's likely not going to be support for this, but I do want to read it out to make a point in the hope that members will consider it for a future committee or in the next Parliament.
Let me read out my proposed routine motion for the rounds:
The Chair shall divide equitably, among all the other members of the committee, the time available for questioning a witness appearing before the committee, providing that a member may share or transfer his or her time to another member.
Mr. Chair, the whole reason for presenting this motion is that it would divide the time remaining after opening witness statements equitably amongst the 11 members of the committee. There are five members of the committee from the ministerial party. There are four from the official opposition party. There's one from the Bloc Québécois, and there's one from the New Democratic Party.
My observation, Mr. Chair, has been that the routine motion that has been adopted in other committees, which is very different from this one, effectively means that two members of this committee get 45% of the time on most committees, simply because we often have two one-hour panels and, once you get through that opening round of 24 minutes, then you have turns of five, five, two and a half and two and a half minutes. Effectively, two members of this committee get 45% of the time after two one-hour panels are completed. That means that the remaining nine members of this committee are left dividing up approximately 55% of the time.
I don't think that's equitable or fair. I think that simply taking the time remaining for questions and comments after opening witness statements and dividing it by 11 members, with those members who wish to do so yielding the floor to another member of the committee, is a far more equitable way to divide the time.
I hope it's adopted, but if it's not, I hope members will think about it and potentially have it adopted as a routine motion at a future first meeting of a committee.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to thank Mr. Chong for that. I think he's raising an important point. My concern would be that I'm not sure we're ready to be trial committee for this system. We think there should be discussion among all the committees about how it would work.
On the substance of it, I think there are two values. One is that each one of us is here as an individual member of Parliament coming from the House of Commons to a committee, but at the same time, we're also here as a team, so we present a party point of view.
Mr. Chong's motion helps with the first part about the individuals each having equal time, but it takes away from the concept of its being a team effort where we would then sacrifice somewhat to the smaller teams for them to have “team time”, we'd call it.
At this point, we would not support this motion but would prefer the usual routine motion.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Very quickly, because I don't want to waste any time on this, to demonstrate how it would work, Mr. Chair, let's say we had a one-hour panel with one witness. That witness would be given five minutes for their opening remarks. There would remain 55 minutes in that hour remaining after the witness gave their opening testimony. The chair would take the 55 minutes, divide it by 11, and each member would be accorded 5 minutes for their questions and comments. If a member isn't interested in taking their time, they could yield the floor to any one of the other 10 members on the committee, whether it's their recognized party or not.
If, for example—and I'll finish with this—it were a single panel of 120 minutes, and let's say there were two opening witnesses statements, there would remain approximately 110 minutes in the rounds for questions and comments. That would be divided by 11, and each member would get 10 minutes for questions and comments to a witness, with those members who don't wish to use their time yielding the floor to another member of the committee.
That's how this system would work if this routine motion were to be adopted, and I'll finish there, Mr. Chair.
Thank you.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I also thank Mr. Chong for bringing this forward.
Obviously, we all feel that the constituents we represent—as New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, Liberals or Conservatives—deserve to also have a voice in this place. While I don't have other colleagues on this committee with me, I think that people in Canada who voted for New Democrats want to have their voices heard.
I wouldn't support this motion. I think there is something to be said about having that opportunity for different perspectives to be shared, not just as individuals, but as parties, and being able to have that time and that space to prioritize those things that are important to our party protects the values that our party represents as well.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
I would like to add to what my NDP colleague Ms. McPherson just said. The current motion already allows members to split the time available to question a witness. So I would be happy to see the current motion remain as it is, and have the Conservatives share their time with me.
I support what Ms. McPherson just said. I just wanted to add my two cents.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Oliphant, did you want to speak? No.
Are there any further comments?
We should vote. I'll read the motion again:
The chair shall divide equitably, among all of the other members of the committee, the time available for questioning a witness appearing before the committee, provided that a member may share or transfer his or her time to another member.
(Motion negatived)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
I might present the next routine motion. I'm not quite sure how to do it, because I would like to amend the routine motion slightly to follow the model that we had in the last Parliament for this committee.
I'll explain it before I move the motion, which is not really good procedure. The last time, we gave the chair the authorization to adjust the time of the opening statement, in consultation with the vice-chairs.
That was to allow discretion, because there could be some times when we have one witness and instead of giving them five minutes, we gave them 10, because that could be useful. Other times, using your discretion, it could be five minutes or seven minutes, or whatever. It worked well, I think, in the last Parliament for this committee.
What I will do is read it with that change in it. It would read:
That witnesses be given five minutes to make their opening statement; and that the Chair be authorized to adjust the time of the opening statement, in consultation with the vice-chairs; that whenever possible, witnesses provide the committee with their opening statement 72 hours in advance; that at the discretion of the Chair, during the questioning of witnesses, there be allocated six minutes for the first questioner of each party as follows for the first round:
Conservative Party
Liberal Party
Bloc Québécois
New Democratic Party
For the second and subsequent rounds of questioning, the order and time for questioning be as follows:
Conservative Party, five minutes
Liberal Party, five minutes
Bloc Québécois, two and a half minutes
New Democratic Party, two and half minutes
Conservative Party, five minutes
Liberal Party, five minutes.
(Motion agreed to)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I'll take over for the next few and then I'll yield to Ms. Yip. That's an early warning, I guess.
Regarding document distribution:
That only the clerk of the committee be authorized to distribute documents to members of the committee and only when such documents exist in both official languages, and that witnesses be advised accordingly.
(Motion agreed to)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
This is a really important one. Regarding working meals:
That the clerk of the committee, at the discretion of the chair, be authorized to make the necessary arrangements to provide working meals for the committee and its subcommittees.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Who would object to that? I'm sorry. What I just said is not official.
Is there any discussion?
Are all in favour? Are any opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you.
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
The next one is on travel, accommodation and living expenses of witnesses:
That, if requested, reasonable travel, accommodation and living expenses be reimbursed to witnesses not exceeding two representatives per organization; and that, in exceptional circumstances, payment for more representatives be made at the discretion of the Chair.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Are all in favour? Are any opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll continue:
That, unless otherwise ordered, each committee member be allowed to be accompanied by one staff person at an in camera meeting and that one additional person from each House officer's office be allowed to be present.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
We called him that to be polite.
The clerk advises me that “House officer” could also include the House leader's office. Which do we prefer? Let's make this a little bit simpler.
Are any opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll continue:
That one copy of the transcript of each in camera meeting be kept in the committee clerk’s office for consultation by members of the committee, or by their staff; and that the analysts assigned to the committee also have access to the in camera transcripts.
In our previous committee, we did not authorize the analysts to access in camera transcripts.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
That's the motion.
Are any opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just before I pass it off to Ms. Yip, this is on notice of motion:
That a 48-hour notice, interpreted as two nights, be required for any substantive motion to be considered by the committee, unless the substantive motion relates directly to business then under consideration, provided that: (a) the notice be filed with the clerk of the committee no later than 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday; (b) the motion be distributed to Members and the offices of the whips of each recognized party in both official languages by the clerk on the same day the said notice was transmitted if it was received no later than the deadline hour; (c) notice received after the deadline hour or on non-business days be deemed to have been received during the next business day; and that when the committee is travelling on official business, no substantive motion may be moved.
I hope I read that in a way that helped the translators.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
Are there any comments? Are any opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Ms. Yip.
View Jean Yip Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll just carry on with the motion on technical tests for witnesses:
That the clerk inform each witness who is to appear before the committee that the House administration support team must conduct technical tests to check the connectivity and the equipment used to ensure the best possible sound quality; and that the Chair advise the committee, at the start of each meeting, of any witness who did not perform the required technical tests.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
I simply propose to add the following title to this motion: Technical tests for witnesses.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Very good. Thank you. Is there any comment on that? Is anyone opposed?
(Amendment agreed to)
The Chair: Again, are any opposed to the motion as amended?
(Motion as amended agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you.
View Jean Yip Profile
Lib. (ON)
On linguistic review:
That all documents submitted for committee business that do not come from a federal department or members’ offices, or that have not been translated by the Translation Bureau be sent for prior linguistic review by the Translation Bureau before being distributed to members. That all meetings, other than those deemed in camera, be televised or, if that is not possible, then webcast.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
This relates to the motion that was to follow. I would like to add the following title: Linguistic review.
We like titles in my party.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
All right. Are we all good with that?
(Amendment agreed to)
A voice: Don't we want to carry the motion?
The Chair: I thought we did. Shall this motion as amended carry?
(Motion as amended agreed to)
Ms. Yip, is this the final one?
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
It reads:That all meetings, other than those deemed in camera, be televised or, if that is not possible, then webcast.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
It looks like they go together, but they're actually different.
All right. Are there any difficulties with this one? Are there any comments or questions? All those opposed?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Just as a point of clarification, and in deference to our friend from the Bloc, should we have a title for this one?
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:04
Thank you.
Do we have a mover for motion one? It is as follows:
That the committee retain, as needed and at the discretion of the joint chairs, the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist it in its work.
Do I have a mover for this first motion?
Pamela Wallin
View Pamela Wallin Profile
Hon. Pamela Wallin
2022-04-08 13:05
I so move.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:07
Thank you, Senator Wallin.
Is it agreed to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Hon. Yonah Martin): If I may, I'd like to just quickly introduce our very capable analysts. The work we're about to do will continue, in a sense, from last session. For this session, it is very important.
I would like to first introduce Julia Nicol. She can turn on her screen so you may see her.
Julia Nicol
View Julia Nicol Profile
Julia Nicol
2022-04-08 13:08
Hello. It's nice to see you all.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:08
She is a lawyer who works as an analyst in the justice and national security section. She has worked at the Library of Parliament since 2009. She works primarily in criminal law, human rights, gender and foreign affairs, and has written a number of publications about medical assistance in dying. She has supported a variety of House of Commons and Senate committees, including the 2016 Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, as well as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. She has also worked for Health Canada on medical assistance in dying.
Thank you, Julia, for bringing your expertise to our committee.
Next, I will ask Marlisa Tiedemann to say a quick hello.
Marlisa Tiedemann
View Marlisa Tiedemann Profile
Marlisa Tiedemann
2022-04-08 13:09
Good afternoon.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:09
Marlisa is a lawyer who has been an analyst and manager with the Library of Parliament since 2004.
She has worked primarily in health law and indigenous affairs. She has worked on end-of-life issues throughout her career, including supporting the 2016 Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and writing various publications on the topic. As a manager, she has supervised the team that works on social development-related issues, including disability-related issues.
As you can see, colleagues, we have two very capable analysts working with us.
Thank you.
Now I will turn this over to the joint chair, Monsieur Garneau.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Senator Martin.
That takes us to the second routine motion on the subcommittee on agenda and procedure.
Do I have a mover for the motion that the subcommittee on agenda and procedure be composed of the joint chairs and the vice-chairs, and that the subcommittee work in a spirit of collaboration?
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
The amended motion reads as follows:
That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be composed of the joint chairs, the deputy chairs, the vice-chairs, one additional member from the Senate and one additional member from the government; and that the subcommittee work in a spirit of collaboration.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:11
Mr. Chair, earlier when Senator Mégie was asking about the steering, I had used the word “steering” but the subcommittee....
This is the discussion, Senator Mégie, so we will have a nomination of an additional senator to the subcommittee, which, in essence, will act like a steering committee.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I'd look to the mover, Mr. Maloney, for a rationale on the change. The composition of the committee in the pro forma seems consistent with past practices and that of other committees.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks.
The rationale is as follows. As a matter of interest to you, those of us who were on this committee last June will remember that we adopted this amendment as I proposed. The amendment is consistent with standard operating procedure at committees in the world we live in, because as you know, the chair of a committee is always accompanied by one other member from their party. For example, if a Liberal is the chair of a committee, there will be another member, because the chair is put in the position at the subcommittee of running the meeting, and it gives the other person the ability to be a spokesperson and not add that to the chair's responsibility.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate the rationale provided by Mr. Maloney, but I would note that this committee is different from a regular committee of the House of Commons. It's a special joint committee and, as such, we have two chairs. One is from the Liberals and one is from the Conservatives.
Based on the rationale provided by Mr. Maloney, it would seem to me to be appropriate that, if there's one additional member from the Liberals, there should similarly be one additional member from the Conservatives.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Chair, I wanted to speak to this because I think it isn't the same thing. That would mean that there would be two Conservatives on the committee.
The chair's a neutral person on any committee, so the chair is not able to vote. That means, if we allowed for a Liberal to be on that committee, we would have every party having a vote in the House of Commons. That is what we are suggesting, so that we have equal votes.
If we have two Conservatives, it would be unequal in the committee votes.
Pierre Dalphond
View Pierre Dalphond Profile
Hon. Pierre Dalphond
2022-04-08 13:15
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As I understand it, the proposal is to expand the membership of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure from six to eight. So we would have a subcommittee of eight people and a committee of 15. I was wondering if that was the flexibility that was intended.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
One note of clarification is that in the Senate committees, the chair has a vote and would be able to have a speaking role questioning witnesses. On the subcommittee, I wanted to clarify that Senator Mégie, as vice-chair, would have a vote and I, as the Senate joint chair, would have a vote. That is why we're proposing to add another senator to the subcommittee as well.
I wanted to add that clarification.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2022-04-08 13:18
Unless I’m mistaken, it seems to me that the arguments presented by Mr. Maloney and Ms. Fry run counter to those of Ms. Martin. First, we're told that, because the chairs are neutral, it would be important to add people to the subcommittee for voting purposes. Then we're told that everyone can vote. Then what is the point of adding people?
I was in favour of adding people to the subcommittee, because I think it's good practice for chairs to remain neutral. It makes it easier to work together. In addition, the comments or interests of a party may be expressed by a voice other than that of the chairs, except when they have to decide.
It seems to me that the arguments were contradictory. Before I vote, I want to make sure I understand the two positions that have been presented.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Thériault.
In House of Commons committees, when committees vote, the chair only votes if there needs to be a tie-breaker.
I'd like to turn to the clerks to find out what the practice is or what is permissible with respect to joint chairs voting in subcommittees. Is there a rule with respect to that? I'm not aware of whether there is a rule or an accepted practice.
Leif-Erik Aune
View Leif-Erik Aune Profile
Leif-Erik Aune
2022-04-08 13:20
As previously mentioned by others, in Senate committees, the Senate chair has a vote and votes first. The established practice with joint standing committees is that the Senate joint chair may vote as well.
Marie-Françoise Mégie
View Marie-Françoise Mégie Profile
Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie
2022-04-08 13:22
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thought the question was simply whether the co‑chairs were voting. Once we know whether they vote or not, we can decide what we're going to do afterwards and determine, for example, whether we're going to frame them with one more member on each side, that is, a member of the Senate and a member of the House of Commons.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Indeed, the discussion revolves around this issue.
This is just my interpretation, but I get the impression that the suggestion of adding two people is to ensure that the co‑chairs do not vote, so that a certain impartiality is maintained. That is the purpose of the amendment.
Mr. Arseneault, you have the floor.
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Earlier I heard the clerk's interpretation that things were going one way in the Senate and another way in the House of Commons.
Could our joint committee of senators and members of the House of Commons agree that, given the purpose of Mr. Maloney's proposal, the two co‑chairs will not vote on the subcommittee? That would conclude the discussion and we could move on to the adoption of the other motions.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Senator.
Given the discussion that we've had here, I am eager to move on if possible. Everybody's heard everything. You've understood the practice with respect to subcommittees and joint chairs from the House versus the Senate.
I would like to know if it's agreed to adopt the motion as amended by Mr. Maloney. Could I see a show of hands with respect to that, please?
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Hon. Marc Garneau): Thank you very much. The amendment is adopted.
I'm assuming, Senator Martin, that we're going to go back and forth on the routine motions, so it's over to you.
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:26
Motion number three is one of our standard routine motions. Do I have a mover for the following? It reads:
That the subcommittee be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the committee with respect to its agenda, to invite witnesses, and to schedule hearings, and that the subcommittee report its decisions to the committee.
Do I have a mover?
Yonah Martin
View Yonah Martin Profile
Hon. Yonah Martin
2022-04-08 13:26
Thank you, Dr. Fry.
Is it agreed to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to)
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