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Results: 1 - 30 of 13931
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 33 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-19.
The meeting will be webcast on the House of Commons website. Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. Therefore, members can attend either in person or remotely using the Zoom application. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that taking screenshots or photos of your screen is prohibited.
Since I don't see anybody attending in the room, I will just remind everyone who's participating virtually to select your language of interpretation at the bottom of your screen. Ensure that you are on gallery view so that you can see the entirety of the committee. As well, you will have to mute and unmute yourselves throughout the meeting. Please raise your hand on the toolbar below if you wish to speak to an amendment.
(On clause 10)
The Chair: At our last meeting, we left off with CPC-17.
Ms. Vecchio, maybe we can have you reintroduce it. I know that you already moved CPC-17. If you wish, you can speak to it again, just to give the committee a refresher on that amendment.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks so much, Ruby. I'm happy to do so.
This amendment would limit the Chief Electoral Officer's ability to accelerate the implementation of the provisions, which would be enacted by clauses 2 through 5, to prevent those provisions from coming into effect prior to September 20, 2021, which is the first scheduled sitting day of the House this autumn. In other words, if the Prime Minister wants to call a summer election, it would be under the current rules that are there.
I have just a couple of things. I'll be honest; I know that some members, specifically Daniel, would really like to see this go through—not necessarily this amendment, but this bill—because he recognizes that there's a good chance the Prime Minister will pull the plug. Let's be honest. The only way he can pull the plug is if there's a non-confidence vote, and we have not seen a non-confidence vote that was lost in this House of Commons.
Since we already had a motion indicating unanimously that we do not want an election, this is something that we thought about. Let's get back to work in September and do the job that Canadians are expecting of us.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
I really appreciate that, Ruby. Thanks so much.
As I was saying yesterday, about 15 million Canadians will be voting in this next election. The fact is that this is all about our democracy. We want to ensure that there is safety, but at the same time, we talked about the fact that, if we're in a pandemic, we know that voter turnout might be a question. There's a variety of things that way. Those things are really important.
That said, there is a good chance that this amendment will go through. I wanted to speak to Ms. Lawson or Michel or Andrew about the bottom line here, about going into this election without this legislation. We heard from the Chief Electoral Officer that he would be able to hold an election during the pandemic currently under this legislation. I just want to confirm that this is the case.
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:08
Thank you, Madam Chair, for the question.
I wish to reassure the members that Elections Canada is prepared to deliver a safe election under the current existing legislation.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Excellent.
I think those are some of the things we need to highlight here. The biggest concern we have, of course, is that we don't want a pandemic election. That is what we'll continue to indicate. Any sort of barrier that we can put up for the Prime Minister, for perhaps the safety....
I'm never wanting to use “the safety of Canadians”. That's not where I'm going with this one, but any time there is something the Prime Minister may have to question himself on—i.e., “Is this going to be good for Canadians?”—we don't want him to be opportunistic. That is why we're looking at this.
Thanks very much.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Mr. Roussel, can you confirm for the committee that when you're talking about Bill C-19—Elections Canada obviously and rightly has an important public health focus—that you don't consider turnout to be part of your mandate? When you comment on C-19, you're not providing comment on whether turnout would be likely to be better under a C-19 regime versus the existing regime.
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:10
Thank you for your question.
Through the measures that we put in place, we wish to ensure that there's a minimum level of barriers, administrative or otherwise, to voting for the electors. You're correct. We don't measure our success by the level of turnout.
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
I wonder if Mr. Roussel would reaffirm the comment that I believe he made at the last meeting, that to fully implement all of the provisions of Bill C-19, Elections Canada would require the full 90 days.
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:11
Thank you.
I am pleased to reaffirm that. I would add, Madam Chair, that the Chief Electoral Officer had once indicated that it might take at least 120 days to fully and properly implement Bill C-19, so it will certainly be at least 90 days, to reassure the members.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Along that same line, in the event that Bill C-19 did not pass Parliament before the summer, and passed, let's say, sometime in September or October, it would then likely take 90 to 120 days from that point in order to implement the provisions of C-19, or would you expect that these provisions would be implemented by September, whether the bill passes or not?
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:12
We will do whatever is possible to implement the provisions of the bill within the deadline that will have been set by law. I cannot speculate on where we will be in September, as you can understand.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
This is a question from me.
In the past, with election legislation, I know that your office has worked toward figuring out how to implement certain things before the legislation has passed. Is that something you would be looking at doing? Would you be figuring out what would need to be in place if the legislation was to pass ahead of time?
Have you already been doing some of that work?
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:12
As you may know, in the context of the current legislation, there are things that the Chief Electoral Officer can do to adapt the current provisions of the act to effect a certain number of adaptations to the procedures. These would probably be put in operation—might be ready—before the 90-day deadline, and I would expect that. However, some of the more fundamental provisions.... When you talk about three-day voting, it is clearly at least 90 days' worth of work to put that in place.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Also, thank you to the officials for being here.
Monsieur Roussel, I have a question for you. I come from the province of New Brunswick and we had an election last year. Again, the government of the day was in a minority legislature and we didn't really know when an election was going to arise. I spoke to the New Brunswick chief electoral officer, who indicated that they had to be ready at any time for a potential election regardless of whether there was a pandemic or not.
I'm just wondering, because we are in a minority Parliament setting and knowing how efficient that you guys always are with respect to putting things in place, whether we would be prepared for an election should one arise at this point in time.
Let's be clear. None of us wants an election. I always say we are certainly not the ones voting against our government right now, so our voting record shows that we don't want a pandemic election. However, I'm just wondering if we would be prepared if one was to arise.
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:14
Thank you for your question and your kind words.
I wish to reassure you that we would be prepared to hold an election should one happen.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:15
Yes, we would have an election run safely. We are prepared for that.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-18 13:15
I just want to also clarify that there are powers. The adaptation powers and measures around long-term care facilities come into effect upon royal assent for Bill C-19. I know that those must be extremely important for moving forward. I know this amendment doesn't explicitly deal with that, but the challenge I have with this amendment is that it seems to go contrary to the CEO's ability to actually prepare for an election, which is the whole intent of this legislation, to be as prepared as possible for a pandemic-context election, should one arise. That's my challenge with this.
Maybe I'll ask Mr. Roussel. How important is it to have those powers in place immediately?
As to the other part of my question, my understanding is that you don't have to wait three months. If you can make things happen sooner, you would do that. Would you not? I think it's incumbent upon Elections Canada, within their mandate, to be ready at any time to do this as quickly as possible.
Regarding the timeline of putting this into the bill, it seems very counter to the intentions of the bill. It seems counter to even the mandate of Elections Canada. Would you not agree?
Michel Roussel
View Michel Roussel Profile
Michel Roussel
2021-06-18 13:17
What I would say on this is that the Chief Electoral Officer is prepared to adapt the Canada Elections Act in the event of an election so that provisions respecting voting in long-term care facilities could be enforced. We have already instructed our returning officers to get in contact with administrations of care facilities and examine the ways in which there can be more flexibility to the voting process as is contemplated in Bill C-19. I am confident that under the current legislation we would make that happen.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-18 13:18
I'm sorry. I have to clarify, though, that this amendment makes it so that you can't do certain things until after September 20. That is my understanding.
You're saying both that you're in the process of doing things to get ready now and also that the added powers and amendments to the Canada Elections Act within Bill C-19 are enabling you to do those things.
If an election were to arise at a point before September 20, I guess you would have your hands tied, because you wouldn't actually be able to do certain things until that time. Is that right?
Anne Lawson
View Anne Lawson Profile
Anne Lawson
2021-06-18 13:19
Thank you, Madam Chair.
As was pointed out, there are certain provisions of the Canada Elections Act that come into effect on royal assent, and one of those would be around specific measures in the act that would permit the CEO to take certain actions with respect to long-term care. Another one would be the gentle expansion, if you like, of the adaptation power that would allow the CEO to take certain adaptations to protect the health and safety of electors.
I think Mr. Roussel was saying that those provisions would either come into force on royal assent, or in the case of the long-term care changes that are proposed in Bill C-19, we have taken some steps because we believe those changes can be implemented already under the adaptation power in the Canada Elections Act. If those changes were needed in a pandemic, they would be facilitating voting on the part of long-term residents according to the terms of the current act. We have taken some steps to discuss those opportunities in the field in order to be able to deliver them in an election without Bill C-19 being in force. That's one piece.
The other part that Mr. Roussel was talking about, which the CEO has also talked about, has to do in particular with the three-day voting, but there are other aspects as well, which would only come into force after 90 days, and rightly so, because we would need the 90 days to bring those provisions into force. We would not expect to be able to deliver three-day voting in any election that took place before the 90 days had expired.
I hope that's helpful.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks very much.
The thing is, even when this gets royal assent.... First of all, when we're looking at this, most of Bill C‑19 could be brought into force by the CEO between zero and 90 days after royal assent is received, so if this receives royal assent, it can go there. That doesn't change with this amendment. It just says that it can't bring them into force before September 20.
We're focusing on what this actually looks like, and we're saying that when we come back, the opportunity.... We can go to voting, and C‑19 could be implemented if there was an election. I think the most important thing is whether we could have a safe election. That's the most important thing that we want to look at. I am very grateful to hear from Mr. Roussel that this is what the focus is. I think what we're recommending here.... Let's not forget that we're talking about whether there should be a summer election versus actually getting back to work and doing our work in the House of Commons.
If, at that time something happens to the government, and the government does fall in a non-confidence vote, these provisions would be in place. We're saying that we do not believe that there should be a summer election, and that would be at the turning of the Prime Minister. That is one of our greatest concerns.
Thank you.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-18 13:22
I just have one more comment to make about this, and I'm sorry to belabour it. When I read this, this explicitly ties the hands of the CEO around two specific things: three-day voting and the mail-in ballots. I realize that you're saying it's going to take time to get ready for those things, but if you should be able to accomplish those earlier, and within a pandemic context, and an election happens to be called, I guess the point I don't understand is that this would essentially limit you from being able to do those things before that date. That's the problem I have with it. It just doesn't seem to make sense.
You're still going to do the preparations you need to do within that 90 days, and obviously, in my view, Elections Canada—I'm putting myself in your shoes now—would be doing it as expeditiously as possible to get ready. We all trust that you would do that.
I guess this just doesn't make sense to me. If you happen to be able to accomplish it early, then this essentially ties your hands so that you're not able to actually implement the three-day voting and mail-in ballots, because you happened to get it done earlier than September 20.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
This truly comes down to whether we're back in the chamber, we're in the House of Commons, where there would be a non-confidence vote, or whether this would be a decision of the Prime Minister, where he unilaterally decides, just like he did with prorogation, that we would be going into an election.
This is where the government would not be held to account due to a non-confidence vote where the majority of the opposition parties disagree. Those are things like that.
This is about letting us get back to Parliament and letting the government do its work, or try to do its work, but this is just the situation and us saying that we do not need a summer election. The only person who can call it—because none of us will be able to go to the Governor General after Wednesday, June 23—would be the Prime Minister. He would be the only one who could trigger an election. I think that's what is extremely important here.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
I would like a recorded vote, Mr. Clerk.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 10 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
(On clause 11)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Finally, this amendment would add a firm sunset date of December 31, 2022, for the provisions that will be enacted by clauses 1 through 5.
I think one of the most important things is that, as we're looking at this, there is not a sunset clause in the legislation. There has been stuff in the preamble, but there has not been a full dictation on how things go here. There needs to be something we can fall back on. Let's say we go into a 5th or the 6th.... That's not what we're expecting here in Canada.
We do need to have an end date to this. This gives it lots and lots of time, a year and a half, to be in effect. I believe we've already talked about what would happen if there was a pandemic and it ended earlier what could we do. I know that's been discussed as well.
We think there needs to be a firm date at the very end, and we just wanted to put that in there.
Thanks very much.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Why don't we do a recorded vote and then it's happy joyful, if that's okay. It will take 10 seconds.
(Bill C-19 as amended agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
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