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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 17 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Today is Wednesday, May 13, at 3 p.m. I know that during this pandemic some of us are losing track of our days and dates, so it's always good to have a reminder.
Today we're going to continue going through the draft report and hopefully adopting the recommendations. This is our last meeting, so we should be through all the recommendations by the end of today's meeting and have a final report that will then have any dissenting or supplementary opinions submitted by tomorrow, Thursday, at 5 p.m., with the translated version.
I want to remind members to make sure to unmute their mikes when they are about to speak.
Obviously we are going to have an informal meeting in order to have some discussion around adopting the report. Basically I'm in your hands as to how you'd like this to work.
I would suggest that we look at each recommendation separately and adopt it, reject it or rework it with a view to adopting it. Then we'll move on to the next recommendation and so on until we've considered each recommendation in the report. I hope this will allow members to debate and decide on the recommendations in an orderly and systematic fashion.
We obviously have no witnesses at today's meeting; however, I want to just let you know that we have received two letters from the Speaker as of late. We received one on May 11, which was brought up in yesterday's meeting, and we received one as of this morning, May 13. The letter was written to the House leader, Mr. Rodriguez, with the committee copied on the letter.
There was an attachment to this letter—four key procedural issues to consider and Standing Orders to consider—so I just want to make sure that everyone has had a chance to maybe look at that letter. You may wish to reference it today in making any suggestions or amendments to the recommendations. I want to alert you to that off the bat. Basically in the correspondence there is a limited number of possible amendments to the current Standing Orders. The Speaker is trying to provide a workable approach when addressing the issue of changing the Standing Orders, given the current circumstances, of course.
We're going to start where we left off yesterday, and that was in the discussion portion of our draft report. I know the clerk also informed us all earlier today that the edits, suggestions and comments that were provided yesterday have all been reworked by our analyst, Andre. They have been incorporated, but they're in translation currently so we don't have that current copy. We're going to be working off of the copy we had yesterday. The version two copy we had yesterday is what we'll be working off of. It has been recirculated today in case anybody needs to reprint it.
We're going to start on page 26.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay.
We did receive a copy of the Speaker's virtual chamber report. I just want to be really clear, though. It says on there that it is confidential, so I've definitely reviewed the document but I have not spoken about it because it is confidential. I am assuming that it's not part of this report. I just need clarity on that.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, I am assuming that has been written on there just because it was also on our draft report as well at first. I believe the Speaker has submitted it to us so that we can incorporate the suggestions, but we can hear from the clerk on how to move forward or what the right thing is to do in that circumstance.
Justin, there is a question about the letter from the Speaker being confidential.
Justin Vaive
View Justin Vaive Profile
Justin Vaive
2020-05-13 15:08
Yes, hello, Ms. Blaney.
My understanding is that the Speaker and the Clerk's office wanted to share that material with the committee so that committee members would be aware of the contents of the letter as they begin to look at the recommendations for their own PROC report.
Some of the content from the Speaker's letter may be relevant to some of the recommendations that the various members of this committee have put forward, and it might be something to keep in mind as you are considering the draft recommendations today.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Sorry to be a stickler, but I'm going to be because I think what we're talking about really is important.
When I look at that report, one of the things that is said in it is that the administration consulted with more than 30 parliamentarians and collaborated closely with several who share similar requirements, co-testing solutions and so on. Are those parliamentarians Canadian parliamentarians? Are they international? I wasn't clear on that. If they are Canadian parliamentarians, what I understand, at least from the NDP, is that none of our members were included in this process.
One of the things I think is very important as we talk about a virtual Parliament is that working collaboratively together and respecting all the parties is even more important, because we're not in the same area or able to see what everyone is up to. I think it's important that we respect that and that our report reflects that quite honestly, so I need clarity on this as well.
I think one of my challenges right now is that we're getting information at the very last minute, and that makes it harder to get the report done. It puts a lot of stress on the analyst as well. I really agree with Mr. Turnbull. He brought this up yesterday, and I know it was a little bit of a discussion. I was on the other side of that, but it is a little bit hard to be discussing the future of our democracy in this sort of set-up and feel that I don't have all of the information to propose the best solutions.
View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
I would like to clarify the following point.
The French version talks about a consultation with 30 parliaments and not with 30 parliamentarians.
What are we really talking about?
Is it parliaments or parliamentarians?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
I think you're right now that I read that, but still, it just says 30. I guess what I'm trying to say at the core of this—and thank you so much, Ms. Normandin, for that clarification—is that we don't know which 30 parliaments. I get this report, and what I really want to do is sit down with the Clerk and with the Speaker and ask more questions. I think it's really important, and I want to make sure that's on the record.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. Blaney, I know there's a lot coming at us every day. There are some great recommendations that all of the parties have made. The NDP have made some great recommendations, which I was just suggesting to the clerk are very much in line with letting the House of Commons, the Speaker and their staff decide what Standing Orders we need to take a look at.
I know there are also many recommendations to continue the study after this report is submitted so that, into the future, the future of our democracy, we can take some real time to study them in depth and perhaps give the recommendations that we're able to give, knowing the evidence we have had before us so far in order to make some temporary solutions for this pandemic.
I'm going to put my participant list up on the side so I can see everybody. I'm sorry if I have overlooked anybody.
Mr. Alghabra, go ahead.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, to Ms. Blaney's point, may I propose that we accept the fact, given how late this report has arrived, that we do not take it into account as evidence, at least for this report? The reality is that all of our work is done examining evidence, and while I'm sure the Speaker and his team have done tremendous work—and I think it would have been helpful had we received it earlier—we should accept and come to terms with the fact that it arrived on our desks a bit too late.
Maybe we should mention in the report that we haven't had a chance to review the recommendations and that this report is on a parallel track, but accept the fact that we were not able to incorporate it into this report.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I think Ms. Blaney actually raises a very good point, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Alghabra just indicated that we wouldn't include anything in terms of quotes from other things like that in the report. I think she raises a really good point, and I think she was far too polite about it.
Without knowing who these members are, how are we to know that it wasn't just entirely or mostly the cabinet, for example? Maybe this is something that's being imposed upon the Speaker and is, therefore, something that we, as a committee, are being asked, essentially.... Whether we include anything in the report, we could be being pushed to recommend what the government wants, and by the government, I mean the cabinet. As a committee, we're being expected to rubber-stamp that, which would be completely and utterly inappropriate. I certainly hope that as we go through the course of today I'll be proven wrong about that, but I now have some suspicions.
When we start to talk about these letters, I can't even.... This goes back to one of the problems that we had previously. We also received another piece of correspondence from the Speaker not that long ago that was marked “confidential”. I now, therefore, can't even talk about the contents of that letter, but it was also of importance. Here we are in public, and we can't reveal anything about that letter, so we can't even discuss that. We're being asked to discuss selective portions. Why was this one not confidential? Why was that one confidential? It raises a lot of questions, and I hope the answers aren't what they appear to be. Those are my thoughts on that.
I will also make the suggestion, Madam Chair, that maybe a wise way.... You talk about trying to go through these recommendations from the perspective of finding ways to adopt them. The problem is that they're on various different places on the map. A good starting point might be for each of us, whether it be as individual members or as one person from each of the parties, to give some indication of where we're hoping to end up at the end of the day. That might actually help us get some sense of how to deal with these various recommendations, rather than just shooting all over the map on things. It might be better for each party or each individual to give some sense of where they're hoping to end up at the end of the day. That would probably be a very good starting point.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I definitely hear you. Both you and Ms. Blaney raised good points about the suggestions that have come from the Speaker. I think Mr. Alghabra also raised a good point: that the committee could decide to not look at that since most of our recommendations are already written and have been submitted since the weekend. We had a clear understanding—at least before any of these letters really got to us.... We had already created our recommendations from what we had heard from the witnesses. This was before the first letter that the Speaker sent and the second letter in which we were asked to submit our recommendations to the clerk so that they could be incorporated into the draft report. We could just work off that, really. What I intend to do today is to work from that.
I'm sure the committee members will probably start getting a better idea of where people want to be. I may be understanding this incorrectly, but I think the recommendations are slotted in a systematic way in the appropriate sections. For some, we can debate which section they should be in. I think, from being able to read through myself.... When I read through the Bloc, the NDP, the Liberal and the CPC recommendations, it gave me a better idea of where the different parties were—just by doing that alone.
I may not be understanding you, Mr. Richards, as to why there is no understanding of what the wishes of the different parties and the different members are.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
You may view it somewhat differently than I do.
I've looked through the recommendations. I think I have a reasonable sense, maybe, of the other opposition parties and where they might be. I'm not as clear on where the government is, per se. A lot of the recommendations that I'm seeing from the government side are more along the lines of what we would do going forward and those kinds of things. We're not really here to talk about that. I'm really quite unclear on where the government hopes to end up. It would be really good to get some clarity on that, because it would help us determine how we might be able to work together on common ground. If we don't know that, then it's hard to do that.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'll be very brief as well. I simply want to make a point of clarification for the record.
Mr. Richards indicated in his statement that the letter that was provided by the Speaker indicated that the administration had consulted with 30 members of Parliament or cabinet per se.
I want to quote the paragraph in that letter. It states:
The Administration consulted with more than 30 parliaments and collaborated closely with several who share similar requirements....
Then it continues on from there.
It's very important, for the record, for Canadians to know that the consultation was done with international parliaments as opposed to parliamentarians here in Canada.
Results: 1 - 13 of 13

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