Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of order related to my private member's motion, Motion No. 167. As you will recall, this motion instructed the public safety committee to conduct a thorough assessment into all the factors of the rising rates of rural crime in Canada, so action could be taken expeditiously to address and combat this public safety emergency.
The House of Commons passed this motion unanimously, with 287 yes votes and zero no votes, on May 30, 2018. Clearly, this motion has the strong support of this whole House and rural Canadians who are increasingly concerned about their personal safety.
The final line of Motion No. 167 reads, “that the Committee report its findings to the House within six months of the adoption of this motion.”
Sadly, I rise today because six months from the adoption of Motion No. 167 would have been November 30, 2018. Therefore, it is now five months past the deadline.
The committee, from what I understand, considered a draft report on December 4, 2018. According to the minutes of the committee, the next meeting to consider a draft report was March 20. No report was approved at that time. The committee did approve its agenda for the next several weeks on Monday, April 29, with no mention of Motion No. 167.
In chapter 20 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, 2017, under the heading “Procedural Framework for Committee Activities”, it states:
First, committees are free to organize their proceedings as they see fit provided that their studies and the motions and reports they adopt comply with the orders of reference and instructions issued by the House. Second, committees may adopt procedural rules to govern their proceedings, but only to the extent the House does not prescribe anything specific. At all times, directives from procedural sources higher than parliamentary committees (the Constitution, statutes, orders of reference and instructions of the House, Standing Orders of the House of Commons, and rulings by the Speaker) take precedence over any rules a committee may adopt.
Therefore, I would submit that the House did direct the committee to conduct that assessment within six months, yet it has not provided the report within that timeline. This order originating from the House takes precedence over the other matters before the committee.
The committee has conducted 17 meetings, which happened between December 4 and April 5, 11 of those meetings being the committee's current study on cybersecurity. I mention this to highlight that the committee has not been focused on items such as legislation, which traditionally could take precedence for committee consideration, and only the last two meetings have dealt with Bill C-93.
Further, in chapter 20, under the heading of “Studies Conducted by Committees, Subject Matter Studies”, it states:
From time to time the House refers to its committees the consideration of specific matters for more in-depth study. These orders of reference may include an obligation to report and the imposition of time limits within which the committees must complete the study or report.
Therefore, I would submit that the House providing a six-month deadline for the committee to report is a limit established by the House and the committee has failed to uphold the instruction of the House.
I will close now by quickly by noting that 17 MPs did jointly second this motion. Over 200 towns, municipalities and communities endorse this motion, including thousands of Canadians across at least seven provinces.
Statistics Canada reported last week that the rural crime rate was 23% higher than in urban Canada. This remains a growing epidemic and crisis for rural families, businesses and communities across the country.
Therefore, I would request your consideration as Speaker to consider following up with this committee. I hope you will undertake to ensure that the very clear instruction of the House, through Motion No. 167, is carried out by this committee as soon as possible.