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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We are beginning the 17th meeting of the Board of Internal Economy.
The first item on the agenda is the minutes of the previous meeting, on April 22. Are there any comments on that?
Mrs. DeBellefeuille has the floor, and she will be followed by Mr. Holland.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have a question. We've noticed that over the past two weeks there have been significant technological problems with interpretation, whether in the House of Commons or in committees. Last week, we were having difficulty going from French to English or English to French. This week, we're noticing that it's difficult to go from French to English.
Can someone explain the nature of the problem? Is it a technological or specific problem?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Aubé could answer that question.
Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-05-13 11:04
Thank you for your question.
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, in preparation for the meeting, we always look at our statistics. Statistically, it's clear that we have had some issues in the past two weeks, but I would still say that the number of incidents this week is down from the beginning of April. This week, we've had some technical difficulties in the House.
We had technical difficulties in the House on Monday, and some difficulties this week in committees. As you know, we are in a very difficult time to do infrastructure maintenance. We're trying our best to resolve these issues in the evening, and we are on our way to a solution. We're trying to maintain the functional environment of the House and committees. We're working on it day and night, I assure you.
However, it's true that we saw five or six incidents in the House on Monday this week. We noted a few incidents on Tuesday in the House and in committees. That's more than normal, compared to past weeks. We have some solutions, but it's a matter of finding the time to do the maintenance. It's very difficult right now. We can only work on it at night and on weekends, but we're trying to make the changes. We're doing everything possible. The technical difficulties are with some of the equipment.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
If I may, Mr. Speaker, I'll ask another question.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
It's a question for Mr. Janse.
Mr. Janse, you sent all the whips' offices your desire, in response to the clerks' request, to hold virtual rather than hybrid meetings in committees. Some clerks would be at home or elsewhere, but not on site.
The Bloc Québécois made an effort to ask members who liked attending committee meetings in person not to do so, because you had asked us to. We found that it was not necessarily a directive or an instruction that was followed by the other parties. We've asked our members to do that, because we want to listen to the clerks, as you've asked. However, we see that members from other parties are physically sitting in the meeting rooms. It seems difficult for them to comply.
We in the Bloc Québécois have strictly respected what you asked for, but when we return from the break, some members will probably come and attend committees in person. I wanted to warn you of that. We've made our effort. I think that when we return from the break, some members will want to use their parliamentary privilege to be physically present in committee. It's not out of disrespect for the clerks, but in order to work better.
For them, it's a more efficient way of working. I wanted to formally notify you of this at the BIE. I'm proud to say that we made our effort when you asked us to.
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-05-13 11:08
Thank you very much for the information, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
I'd like to make a small clarification. We did not request that members not come into the committee room. We only notified the whips' offices that we had given our clerks the choice of coming in person or working from home. A large number of committee clerks still come into the committee room to work, but others have taken up the offer to work from home. We're still here to see members, either virtually or in person, in committee rooms.
Perhaps the message you are referring to is about next week's meetings, next week technically being a break week, although many committees will be in session. When we talked with other departments and our partners, some questions arose about resources. We wondered if the whips would consider the possibility of some committees meeting only virtually, given that it will be a break week and most members will be at home. If no members attend in person, it's going to require fewer resources, so all departments will be better able to accommodate all meetings requested for next week.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right.
The Bloc Québécois will support you on this. No problem.
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-05-13 11:10
Thank you very much.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We'll continue with Mr. Holland, followed by Mr. Richards.
Mr. Holland.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:10
I'm not addressing this matter. I believe Mr. Julian had his hand up. If either Peter or Blake has something related to this matter, I'll wait. I don't want to interrupt the flow.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Mr. Richards is addressing a different matter as well.
Mr. Julian, are you addressing the same matter or a different matter?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
It's about the same matter raised by Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I just want to say briefly that we know very well that we are in the third wave. The idea of having exclusively virtual meetings, in my opinion, is simply a workplace health and safety issue. So, we support the idea of limiting as much as possible the exposure of employees and members to the variants circulating in this third wave, which is proving to be extremely dangerous across the country.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Richards.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll stay on the list for my other items—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, that's no problem. Go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
—but I'll address this point quickly.
I'm supportive of the way the administration has approached this. They've given clerks the option to be there in person if they choose or to be there virtually. I think all people need to be given the choice to do what they feel is safest. It sounds like that's what the administration has done, so I'm supportive of what they have suggested.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good. Thank you.
Now we'll go to Mr. Holland, followed by Mr. Richards.
Mr. Holland.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:12
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
First, on that point, I would wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Julian that, wherever possible in this third wave, we need to avoid coming in. I understand there are challenges for all of us, but this is a matter of public health and safety. It's a matter of the security and health of people who work at the House of Commons, and it's a matter of risk for members traversing provincial borders. Hopefully, folks will take that into consideration, as we try to navigate through this global health crisis.
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak at this point, if I could, on a matter arising from the previous meeting, as noted in the minutes.
In the previous meeting, we had a very lengthy discussion in camera with respect to the member for Pontiac and the terrible incident that occurred with the photo that was taken of him during private proceedings. I'm not going to have any questions for the House legal teams, so my comments here are not in any way in camera. This is a very troubling incident because it is.... Let's start in the ways in which it's different from what we have dealt with before.
In the thrust and parry of partisan politics, we are all used to our characters being besmirched or having our ideas attacked. Before we come to this place, we have an idea that's going to happen. That's not what happened here. This was a member of Parliament who, in a private proceeding, made a decision to take a video or a picture and then share that image somewhere. That was an image of another member naked. That image was then disseminated across the planet. Because of that decision, a member of Parliament and his family were subjected to the image of him naked on late night talk shows in England and the United States, and on social media sites around the world.
To date, the member of Parliament in question, Sébastien Lemire, has refused to say where he sent that photograph or what his intent was in sending it. And that matters.
Now, fellow board members, there is only one place that can adjudicate our own behaviour. That's it. We're it. If this were any other workplace.... When I headed up the Heart and Stroke Foundation, if an employee took a naked photo of another employee against the will of that employee and disseminated it, I can guarantee that an apology and walking away as if nothing happened wouldn't be the end of the matter. I can assure you that no workplace in this nation—
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe we have a point of order.
Mrs. DeBellefeuille has the floor.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes, I have a point of order.
I don't understand. It's a very important matter, I agree, and I hope we have time to grant it the importance it deserves, but it's already an item on the agenda for the portion of the meeting in camera. So, I have a lot of trouble understanding why Mr. Holland is starting the discussion on this during the public portion of the meeting, because he is well aware of it.
So I'm asking you to rule on this, Mr. Speaker, because we're not following the agenda right now.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
It's a matter related to the business arising from the previous meeting. It was a little mixed up, but we let it go.
Mr. Holland, I'm not sure exactly how you would like to proceed right now. Would you like to withdraw and then come back?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:16
No, absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. There's nothing that I'm saying that needs to be put in camera. The process of in camera is not to hide matters. It is not to bury matters. It is not to avoid dealing with matters. The purpose of going in camera is to allow matters to be discussed that cannot be discussed publicly.
One of the reasons the Board of Internal Economy made its meeting public was specifically so the deliberations of this body could be seen by the general public. It would be a violation of that principle to move this matter in camera. There is absolutely nothing I am saying now, or that I will say, that in any way needs to be in camera. And that is why I will continue.
The problem that I have is—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
If I could, at this point, because we had determined that this was an item that was in camera, and it is—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll refer to our legal team to comment on it, just so that we're not breaking any rules and to make sure that we're within our legal parameters.
Mr. Dufresne, would you like to comment on this?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2021-05-13 11:17
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
When we were reviewing the items for consideration, it seemed to us that the discussion could touch upon powers and legally available avenues for the board to deal with the situation involving use of House of Commons resources. It could give rise to discussion about scope and legal consideration about those powers. These types of discussions could normally involve receiving or discussing legal advice. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, the recommendation was that this be considered in camera.
The Parliament of Canada Act does have a presumption that the board meetings are in public, and it is only in stated circumstances that it is in camera. Those circumstances include matters subject to solicitor-client privilege and when legal advice will be obtained. The board can discuss matters in camera and make its decisions public after the fact. If the discussion does not involve the giving or the receiving of legal advice, then it could take place in public. It is also possible for a member to state their position on something that they would want the board to consider at a later stage.
Matters covered by solicitor-client privilege have to be discussed in camera.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Dufresne, based on what was just said, I want to make sure whether Mr. Holland can continue or cannot continue. My impression is that based on what you're saying he can continue and it won't be an infraction.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2021-05-13 11:19
If Mr. Holland does not disclose confidential information or legal advice or seek or share, he can.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Holland, I'd ask you to continue, then, please.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:19
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Certainly, as noted, I'll be careful not to cross into matters that are legal in nature, namely any legal advice that might have been given on this matter.
The situation that we are in now, as in any workplace where a naked photograph had been taken without the consent of another employee and then sent out by email, is that there would be action taken. Let's consider what reasonable action would be taken.
First, mens rea would need to be established. What was the intent both in taking the photograph and in disseminating it? We know there were only about two hours between when Sébastien took this photograph and it appeared in social media by both Chris Nardie and Brian Lilley. There were about two hours between when he took that photograph and when it first appeared on social media.
The question is: How did it get there?
We know, and it's been well established, that Sébastien Lemire, as the Bloc has said, would have no relationship with these media outlets, so mens rea, intent, is extremely important. I would ask that he appear before the board in an in camera session to answer what his intention was when he sent this. What was his intention when he took the photograph? When he sent it, did he send it to a reporter? Did he send it to another MP? Did he send it somewhere where he should have known that it would wind up in the public domain?
It's entirely unacceptable for him to send it to a private individual, but if he sent it somewhere where he knew that the image of the member for Pontiac would be used and sent around to humiliate him, that is not an acceptable tactic.
I have had members from both sides of the House come to me and ask, “What does that mean for the lobby? If I've had a red-eye flight, and I come into the lobby, and a member of Parliament can come in and take an unflattering picture of me with my shirt dishevelled, perhaps my bra showing, or perhaps my underwear showing, is that now fair game?”
What we're saying is that as long as you say sorry, it's no problem.
Imagine if this were a female colleague. What would our discussion be? Would it be a month later? A month later, would we be saying that maybe we'd do something about this, maybe we wouldn't?
What is owed to the member of Pontiac? What is owed to his family? What lines do we have as an organization? At what point do we say that there are limits to partisan engagement? The naked body of a fellow colleague, I would say, is an absolute limit. Today we're establishing a precedent for how such a matter is dealt with. I think that precedent must be expunged. I think the idea that a member can take a naked photograph of another member and disseminate it around the world is wholly and entirely unacceptable.
We have to understand what Mr. Lemire's intent was in sending this message, to whom he sent it to, and to whom that recipient then sent it to and if they happen to be a member of our organization, so that their actions can appropriately be captured, because that all speaks to the damages that were done and, frankly, the consequences that should be faced. Right now, the consequence faced by Mr. Lemire for this terrible action is nothing—not a thing.
I would request, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. Lemire appear before this body in camera so that he could be appropriately questioned for the actions he took. I think it is a minimum action that any reasonable organization would take. We are the body that holds responsibility for that action.
With that, I'll make a request officially that Mr. Lemire appear before this committee in an in camera session to answer questions relating to his taking and disseminating of that photograph.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any comments or questions from the other members?
Go ahead, Mr. Richards.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I do understand the clarification we received earlier allowing Mr. Holland the opportunity to speak to the matter, because it arose from previous minutes.
Now we're starting to get into some debate and discussion about potential remedies and things like that. I think we are now starting to get into where there would be potential during this discussion and debate about the motion—I don't know if he's made a motion to this effect or what has just happened—where we would be talking about legal matters. Even by establishing the very precedent that we have jurisdiction here as a board, we could be getting into where there are questions that could arise here about asking for legal opinions, etc. I do believe that then falls under what needs to be in camera.
I'm not certain, but my suspicion is that now, at this point, it probably is best to defer that to the in camera portion of the meeting. I'll seek some guidance on that, but it seems to me that it's probably the best course of action there.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm suggesting that we get some better guidance. At this point, because we need to establish.... It's actually a legal matter to even establish whether we have jurisdiction here. There are many questions that arise then that could, in fact, fall into what the law clerk was telling us would then be the in camera portion, based on the decision made before the meeting that that would be where the discussion should take place.
I'm not suggesting that we move in camera now, but perhaps that this be deferred to the in camera portion where it was originally intended to be discussed, because I think we are now getting into.... Mr. Holland was able to make his comments, because we weren't falling into the discussion about jurisdictional and legal issues. A lot of the discussion that might now flow, I think, would be a better fit into the in camera portion. We will start to get into some pretty grey areas otherwise, right?
That's what I'm suggesting, that we defer it until its scheduled as part of an in camera meeting.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have two more members to speak, but before we go to Mr. Julian and Mr. Rodriguez, I'm going to defer to Mr. Patrice to give us a legal opinion on what we're doing right now, or where we're at to make sure that everything is in line.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-05-13 11:26
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It won't be a legal opinion, because I won't speak in my capacity as a lawyer.
Mr. Richards raises a good point about the grey area. Obviously, based on what the law clerk has previously said, if the board is of the view that it can have the discussion and make a decision on the motion presented by Mr. Holland without receiving, asking for or discussing legal advice, it can do so in public.
If, on the other hand, members want to receive legal advice and discuss it, then the Parliament of Canada Act and the prescribed regulations and bylaws that have been passed by the board come into play. The meeting should then proceed in camera in accordance with the bylaws.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
If I could add to that, because I think I still have the floor, Mr. Speaker, I can certainly imagine that there are some questions of a legal nature that I would have in order to establish where we should be going with this. I would imagine others will probably be in the same boat, because there are many questions about what we can and can't do that I would want to have answers to, and I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one.
That's why I made the suggestion that that's probably what we should be doing.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm going to continue then. There's a fine line that we're stepping on here.
I'll let Mr. Julian go ahead, followed by Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Holland and Madame DeBellefeuille.
Mr. Julian, please go ahead.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I listened very attentively to Mr. Holland, and I certainly have a lot of sympathy for his views, and the importance of coming to terms with this issue. There's no doubt that there was a pretty profound violation that took place.
That being said, at the end of his comments, he very clearly stepped to the issue that raises a whole range of legal concerns. There's no doubt that any further discussion really needs to be taking place, as was foreseen on our agenda, in the latter part of the meeting.
There are a whole bunch of legal ramifications, of course. Those need to be considered, and I think the direction that we've gotten from the legal adviser to the BOIE is that we should be proceeding in camera to have that discussion later on.
We do have a number of other items that need to be discussed in public, and then we should move to the in camera portion of the meeting.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll go to Mr. Rodriguez, followed by Madame DeBellefeuille, and then come back.
We have some different interpretations here.
Mr. Rodriguez, you have the floor.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I feel like we're complicating matters. Mr. Holland is simply asking that Mr. Lemire appear in camera.
We all know that what happened is extremely serious, and that it had a huge impact on Mr. Amos's life. We have to be able to say that there are limits in politics as well and that the line has obviously been crossed.
We're not having a legal discussion today, or a discussion about solicitor-client relationships or anything of that nature. All Mr. Holland is asking is that the committee call Mr. Lemire to appear, and there is no question that he has the authority to do so. In fact, recently, on several occasions, the committee has called individuals to appear before the Board of Internal Economy to explain themselves.
I would point out that when an in camera meeting is recommended, it is done under section 3.1 of the Board of Internal Economy Rules of Practice and Procedure, which I will read to you:
The Board must hold a meeting or portion of a meeting in camera in circumstances where it considers:
(a) matters subject to solicitor-client or litigation privilege; or
(b)sensitive matters respecting the health or family situation of an identifiable individual.
This matter has nothing to do with either of those things. We're simply looking at whether or not we should call Mr. Lemire to appear in camera to come and explain himself. I feel we should vote on it.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mrs. DeBellefeuille has the floor, and then it will be Mr. Holland's turn.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I'd like us to exercise caution.
The April 14 incident is unprecedented, and it is an important matter that we need to address, I agree. However, we should not set any more precedents on the Board of Internal Economy, the BOIE.
Since I have been on the Board of Internal Economy, all the more personal discussions that involved members who had broken the rules have been held in camera. I don't want to minimize this event, but I have a lot of questions about Mr. Lemire's potential appearance before the BOIE. Mr. Holland says we need to define what his intent was, and a member's intent is a legal concept.
I do not consider the Board of Internal Economy to be a court of law and it has no authority to define an individual's intent. I myself would like to ask a lot of legal questions. This isn't a refusal or a desire to hide anything on my part. To suggest otherwise would be to imply very bad intentions on my part, and I sensed some suggestion of that earlier. I simply want to ensure that the BOIE does not become a body used for political and partisan purposes. I want to ensure that we maintain our usual working methods when dealing with important and confidential matters involving members and their personal lives.
Of course, this event has had an impact on Mr. Amos's personal life, and I can assure you that it has also had an impact on Mr. Lemire's life. So I would prefer that we avoid setting a bad precedent and get to the bottom of this event in camera. Like Mr. Richards and other colleagues around the table, I also have legal concerns about the implications of this appearance and the nature of the questions that might be asked. So I feel this appearance should be in camera. I am cautioning us against turning this committee into a tribunal. That would set a precedent, and when future events occur, it will be difficult for us to sort out what should be dealt with in camera and what should be dealt with in public.
I understand Mr. Rodriguez's comments, which are based on the Board of Internal Economy's Rules of Practice and Procedure. However, as we have been saying all along, we're managing a new and exceptional situation and we need to be open to the possibility of managing this incident in a new way. I strongly suggest that we meet together at the end of the meeting, as planned, to have a substantive discussion in camera. That way, we can ask all our questions to the law clerk, to the IT staff, to all the people around us who are providing support and advice. That's what I encourage us to do.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
We'll go to Mr. Holland.
I believe you had your hand up.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:35
I did. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I want to start with the intention of moving the proceedings of the Board of Internal Economy into public. The Parliament of Canada Act is clear that the deliberations of this body should be public. The exception that has been indicated is where we are seeking confidential legal advice for having a discussion that would preclude the proceedings from being public.
That question before us right now is whether Mr. Lemire is going to appear before this body to be accountable for his actions. Yes or no?
This body has answered the same question regarding the actions of other members many times—if we're talking about precedents—even within the last year or last several years. Certainly in my time here, this body has publicly said that it would have, in camera, members come before this body to be accountable for their action. Why? Because this is the only body that can take action.
Certainly, I believe that Canadians have a right to know how we comport ourselves as a workplace. They need to hear this discussion. No element of what I'm saying deals with any matter that is legal.
It is very simple question: yes or no? Should Mr. Lemire come before this body, as other members have in the past, to be held to account for his actions, and for us to ask him what his intentions were? Or, are we not treating him the same as we've treated other members who have engaged in problematic behaviour, which we've dealt with at this body?
I think that's an important thing for folks to hear, because being in camera is not an opportunity to avoid public scrutiny or to hide from difficult conversations. It is a tool to be able to ask scoped and direct legal questions, of which none are pertinent to the question of accountability and the presence of Mr. Lemire before this body.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I point to the fact that we have a scoped and direct matter before us, and that is the appearance of Mr. Lemire before this body, as others have done, to answer for the actions he took, and for that proceeding to be in camera.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Julian, I first want to give a little synopsis of where I believe we are.
We have a motion asking us to request Mr. Lemire's presence in front of the board, in camera, to find out general information about what happened and to see what we can discover. The issue, before it comes to a question of the board, is that we do have two members I've heard from so far who have some legal concerns about doing that.
I'm proposing that maybe we should go in camera to discuss the legal matters and then come back out and make a decision on whether to invite Mr. Lemire. That decision is a public one. The legal matters—the questions that can be asked—would have to be in camera.
Does that sum up where we are? Does that make sense?
Based on what I just said, I guess, Mr. Julian seems to have a question on this. Then we'll go to Mr. Richards.
Mr. Julian.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
The legal advice we've gotten is very clear: there are a whole range of legal questions that come up. Again, as I mentioned, I'm very sympathetic to Mr. Holland's concern—which we all share—about what happened and how best to deal with it.
There are three things that I think need to be brought forward. First, there are a number of other ways this whole issue can be approached beyond the Board of Internal Economy. There is the procedure and House affairs committee, and there is the House of Commons and you, Mr. Speaker, as well as the group of whips who get together on these kinds of issues.
Mr. Holland did raise the fact that on financial issues, we have in the past called upon members to step forward to meet in camera with the BOIE. I'm not aware of any situation beyond those financial issues.... Where the Board of Internal Economy comes from is, of course, the administration and the administration of parliamentary resources, so I'm not aware of precedents around that.
The third question, which is an important one that Peter Milliken was so very straightforward on in his years as Speaker is that the Board of Internal Economy functions as a board by consensus. That is an extremely important component of the board's function and mandate. Peter Milliken was always very clear that we have to look for a consensus on how to deal with the issues that come before us, particularly when it comes to the administration of parliamentary resources.
Those are all critical elements.
I'm glad Mr. Holland brought this issue forward. I do think we have a number of other elements to consider on the agenda, and we also have a discussion that is already on the agenda by consensus following when we move to in camera. There are so many questions, particularly legal ones, that have come up, and our legal advice has been that those questions be explored and answered in camera.
I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the meeting proceed as planned.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
There's been another motion put forward. Do we have consensus to proceed with that before we go to...?
I know we have Mr. Richards and Mr. Holland, as well, who have a few comments to make.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm, I think, almost completely in agreement with what Mr. Julian just indicated.
I understand that your thought, Mr. Speaker, had been potentially to go in camera to ask legal questions about Mr. Lemire's possible appearance here, and then come back and make a decision. However, I think that's a difficult way to approach it, frankly. Mr. Julian has outlined quite well how there are a number of different potential remedies, different aspects to this that are also tied together, and I think it's difficult to make a decision about potentially just one part of what the discussion would be. I don't see how that would work practically.
I think the administration suggested what they did for a reason, and I do think we have a number of other agenda items that we would deal with far more quickly than we would with this one. They have laid it out in such a way that I think it does work best for this meeting, and it would also allow us to ensure that we don't start to get into areas where.... It might be difficult to make this decision without getting into some of the other discussions about this matter, and there are a lot of legal questions related to this.
If you look at the section of the Parliament of Canada Act that governs what the term “in camera” means, one of the other matters relates to security. When we start to talk about some of the things that we would be looking to follow up with regard to Mr. Lemire, I think those delve into that area as well. So I think we're getting into a couple of different areas where we would have difficulty discussing this without being in camera—even to follow the Parliament of Canada Act.
I really do believe that, as Mr. Julian has indicated, we should follow the agenda that's been set out and recommended by the administration, rather than trying to differ from that and deal with one piece of one item separately. I just don't think it makes any sense, Mr. Speaker.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We'll go to Mr. Holland,
Next, Mr. Deltell will have the floor.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-05-13 11:44
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Your suggestion is a good one. It makes pre-eminent sense that the board can go in camera for the questions that are related to in camera matters, and then it can come out of camera to deal with the matters that don't belong in camera.
Let's be very clear: The matter of accountability and whether Mr. Lemire appears before this body is not in camera. That is a question of whether this body wants to take its responsibilities, as it has in other matters.
To Mr. Julian's point, it is absolutely not just financial matters that this body has dealt with, with respect to other members. Mr. Julian will recall Mr. Weir. Mr. Julian will recall Mr. Kang. Mr. Julian will recall many other instances where we were dealing with the behaviour of a member that was non-fiduciary, that had to do with their comportment in relation to other employees, to people in their employ.
The thing that makes this situation difficult is that this is one of our own colleagues who did this. Just as one of our colleagues did this to another employee and that matter was before this body, this is unfortunately a situation where Mr. Lemire has done this to another member of Parliament. We don't know if he sent this image to yet another member of Parliament who might also have participated in that.
We are the body ultimately responsible for that. I think, and I would hope, that all members of this body, once their questions are exhausted in camera that actually relate to in camera matters, would want to demonstrate that we are a workplace that does not allow this behaviour. Certainly we would condemn this behaviour in any other workplace. Would we not want to demonstrate to Canadians that we did everything that we could reasonably do to ensure that taking naked images, private naked images of colleagues and sending them all around the world, is inappropriate behaviour? Certainly that is not something that belongs in camera. That's a basic statement of values.
What I heard mostly today is about the need to talk about legal things and go in camera, but I haven't heard a lot about that principle. Mr. Amos is here today. He's listening to this.
There's a lot of time spent about why we need to go and hide this conversation, and not a lot of time talking about the damage done to Mr. Amos.
You have an elegant solution. We can go in camera. People can pose their questions as they relate to legal matters. As is required under the Parliament of Canada Act, matters that are not in camera, matters that don't have to be in camera, should not be in camera. We have a duty to make sure that those matters are public.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Deltell, you have the floor.
Then it will be Mr. LeBlanc's turn.
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