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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome to meeting number 18 of the Board of Internal Economy of the 43rd Parliament.
We will begin with the first item, the minutes of the previous meeting. Are there any questions about it? Since I see no raised hands, let's continue.
We will now move on to business arising from the previous meeting, the dashboards and virtual committees. Are there any questions on that?
Ms. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to address two items of business arising from the previous meeting.
I would like to talk about the dashboards first. I read them carefully and they are very useful in my work as a whip. If I may, I would like to ask a few questions about the dashboard.
On page 3 of the report, it says that the preliminary tests are 96% done. Does this mean that 96% of witnesses have undergone a preliminary test? Is that what that means, Mr. Janse?
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-06-10 11:11
That is exactly right, Ms. DeBellefeuille.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right.
Does what is written on page 4 mean that half of the witnesses did not have headsets that complied with our standards?
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-06-10 11:11
Either they didn't have a headset sent by the House or they were using a headset that was not approved by the House. Obviously, there are improvements to be made in this area. The difficulty is always having the time to send headsets to witnesses.
Lastly, we have put in place a process in collaboration with Mr. Aubé's team, which has approved a list of good headsets. When we don't have time to send a headset to witnesses, we encourage them to buy one themselves and then we reimburse them. We hope this will help us to have a better success rate on future dashboards.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Good.
The last question I have on this part is about page 6.
When witnesses come to committee and they don't have headsets or they don't have the equipment, what happens?
Are witnesses automatically invited to reappear? Has there been testimony without headsets, and therefore without interpretation?
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-06-10 11:12
If there are any problems during the pre-test or on the day of the meeting itself, or if the witness simply does not have a headset, the clerk will notify the committee chair following discussions with the technical team. The chair can provide this information to the committee, and it is up to the committee to decide what to do.
The committee can decide to hear the witness anyway, or, as you suggested, they can ask that witness to come back to another hearing when they are better equipped. This is really at the discretion of the committee, which decides how it will proceed.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Fine.
Yesterday, at the Standing Liaison Committee, someone said that most committees have adopted housekeeping motions that ask the committee chair to tell members at the beginning of the meeting whether the tests have been done and whether the witnesses have the necessary equipment. This makes things easier.
It was noted that few chairs made this statement at the beginning of the meeting. Knowing in advance that witnesses do not have helmets or that they have technical difficulties can be helpful. It allows the committee to make a decision at the outset rather than finding that the witness does not have everything they need during their testimony. Members may be too uncomfortable to interrupt.
So committee chairs have been asked to indicate this at the beginning of the sitting. I encourage the whips to remind all committee members that it is important to know this at the beginning of the meeting so that good decisions can be made. This prevents witnesses from appearing without the right equipment, which has implications for our interpreters.
The other point I wanted to make is to you, Mr. Chair.
It concerns your ruling in the House on Monday, June 7, regarding the misconduct of the member for Pontiac and your willingness to ask the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to look into this matter. I had discussions with my colleagues prior to the Board of Internal Economy meeting. I had invited you to review the decision to put the April 14 incident on the agenda, and I note that this item is absent. So I wanted to thank you for listening to all the members of the committee.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
You're welcome.
Now we'll go to Mr. Richards.
Mr. Deltell will be next.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I had two items of my own, but I'm not sure if I misunderstood what Ms. DeBellefeuille said. Was she suggesting that we put something up for discussion?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, the item relating to the April 14 has been removed from the agenda.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
She's just confirming that she's agreed to that.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Exactly. She's just thanking us for listening to her point.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Thank you, I appreciate that.
I have two things to raise.
The first one is that we have been provided some information with regard to technical incidents, etc., at committees. That brings to mind for me that there has been some discussion around here about fairly significant technical upgrades that are required this summer that would make resources unavailable for a couple of different and fairly lengthy periods of time.
I wondered if we could get a bit more information on what those upgrades entail. Specifically, we've been operating in a hybrid manner and we've seen some challenges with the availability of resources as a result. Particularly in the last couple of days, we've seen the other three whips agreeing to cancel meetings to ensure that certain other committee meetings occur. Of course, that's not something I've agreed to, but it has happened, and obviously it's unfortunate to say the least when we are in situations where committees are not able to do the work they're supposed to do.
I would assume that with vaccination rates rising and whatnot, we'll probably be seeing an end to hybrid sittings of committees within a fairly short period of time, but I am curious about the technical upgrades being done this summer. Are some of them related to hybrid sittings? Are technical upgrades needed for other reasons? Maybe you could just elaborate a bit on what those upgrades are and why they're required. I'm not certain I have enough information.
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