I will call the committee back to order.
I find myself in an interesting situation where I'm expected to break the tie. As the chair of this committee, I have reviewed the documents in front of me, including our procedure book and the expectations that are outlined there. I've also conferred with the clerk, and I have come to a decision.
As the chair of the committee, it is expected of me to break the tie one way or the other; of course, it cannot be sustained as a tie. I am not expected by the green book to give a reason for my decision; however, I will provide you with a reason here today.
In the mandate set out for this committee, towards the end of the mandate, it says this:
In cooperation with other standing committees, the Committee also reviews any bill, federal regulation or Standing Order which impacts upon its main areas of responsibility: access to information, privacy and the ethical standards of public office holders. It may also propose initiatives in these areas and promote, monitor and assess such initiatives.
There's an important distinction here in terms of the mandate of this committee. Yes, it will review bills and reports that are brought forward by the four officers of Parliament; however, it may also “propose”, which is to say create a new study or initiative in these areas, and “promote, monitor and assess such initiatives”, which would tell me that this committee does, in fact, serve as a body to promote, monitor and assess the activities that take place by office-holders within this place called Parliament.
That said, it is for sure within the purview of this committee to monitor and assess the actions of those on Parliament Hill. The Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Justin Trudeau, is one such office-holder. It is definitely within the purview of this committee to have him come here and testify.
The amendment that has been put forward requests that. The amendment that has been put forward requests that a list of speakers be made available to the clerk, then to this committee and to the Ethics Commissioner.
My question, as the chair of this committee, is whether it is in the public's best interest that this take place. Ultimately, this committee is responsible to assess the actions and take on other studies having to do with public office holders and their conduct. We do that not for our own sake, but for the sake of the Canadian public.
In this case, we are looking at over $900 million that was committed to by the Prime Minister of this country and his cabinet, and that money was to be given to an organization to run a youth volunteer program. That $900 million is public funds; that is taxpayer money from the Canadian people. Therefore, I would surmise that the Canadian public does, in fact, have an interest in how that money was utilized.
It has been suggested by some members of this committee that some of that money—not money that was incorporated in that $900 million, but in previous interactions with WE Charity—was also public money that may have been used to fund the members who are on the speakers list that has been requested. Again, because that is public money, it is, in fact, in the interest of the Canadian public to understand how that money was used.
That said, I will make my decision in the interest of Canadians from coast to coast, and I believe that what is in their best interest is full transparency. I vote yea.
(Subamendment agreed to: yeas 6, nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])