Evidence of meeting #28 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was back.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

There's no such thing as a friendly amendment. This is a subamendment. We need the wording of your subamendment.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

It would simply be a matter of adding to the amendment that the committee should look into all government resources used on Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Therefore, I suggest that we add “and Facebook” to the amendment, after the word “Twitter”.

That way, we would be consistent when it comes to our use of social media.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Thank you, Monsieur Dusseault. We are now just on the subamendment of adding Facebook. Could you speak to your subamendment?

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

I thought that we could make a friendly amendment and that Mr. Andrews would agree. That would have been similar to what we did last time, when Ms. Davidson proposed a friendly amendment to the main motion on the date change. I thought this could be done in the same way.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

I have to see if there's unanimous consent from the committee to accept the subamendment as presented. Otherwise, we will need to debate the subamendment.

Is there unanimous consent—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

No.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

There is not unanimous consent, so we need to proceed with your subamendment on adding Facebook.

March 8th, 2012 / 11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

I could talk about this for a long time. Facebook is another very important element, in terms of parliamentary resources. Facebook and Twitter are both being used. I often use them at the same time. If we punch in the pound key followed by the letters “fb” at the end of our tweets, we can automatically add a tweet on Facebook. It could be worthwhile to discuss that, which is why I am asking for an amendment.

If we want to get to the bottom of things when it comes to Twitter, why not do the same in terms of Facebook use? I think that's very important. Facebook is also often used to play partisan politics. People use it to promote their party's positions, or simply to talk about current events. Often, people share information they believe is true, or untrue.

If we pass an amendment like the one moved by Mr. Andrews, regarding Twitter, I think we would also have to talk about Facebook. If we were to conduct a study on the use of parliamentary resources on the Internet, especially in social media, it would be all the more important to also track what is happening on Facebook. I feel that would be an important thing to do.

We know that the incident involving Mr. Toews happened on Twitter—Vikileaks30. I think the same thing could have happened on Facebook. Knowing that, it would be important to see what could be done on Facebook, how it could be done and what we can do to prevent it. That is somewhat the idea behind the original motion put forward by Mr. Del Mastro. It was a matter of checking how government resources were being used.

Something specific was recently in the news. An amendment was proposed in order to take things further, and I think it's a good idea to have a more in-depth look at the use of government resources. We could make the amendment more specific by adding Facebook to it. That's something that should be done if we take that path, as it's clearly the type of thing that could have happened.

I don't understand why my colleagues from across the table did not accept the friendly amendment. We were adding only two words. It is too bad they want to focus on a single issue, the case of the Liberal staffer, Adam Carroll. When we ask to take things further, to conduct a more in-depth and larger study, they refuse right away. That's a bit strange. I would have been very interested in seeing what is happening on Facebook, as that really is also where things happen.

The number of social network users is a hot topic. Facebook has the most users, about 500 million. Twitter has only 100 million users, if I'm not mistaken. The figures have probably changed recently; they're always changing. However, Facebook is a social network that is used even more than Twitter. If we are serious about this, we will also look at what is being done on Facebook.

That being said, I hope we can achieve a consensus. The committee members did not unanimously agree on the friendly amendment. However, I hope we can at least reach a consensus when we vote later today to add Facebook to Mr. Andrews' amendment, which is asking for a more in-depth study on Twitter.

In addition, it is somewhat surprising to see that the Conservatives have not agreed to this, given the Speaker's ruling. I won't get into all the details of the Speaker's ruling right away. I also understand that I cannot add anything more than the two words “and” and “Facebook”. That's fairly specific, and I think it's a pity it was not accepted. I am eager to hear my colleagues speak about the friendly amendment I would have liked to pass here. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

On that note, I will see what my colleagues think about my amendment, and I hope that we will find some common ground in order to add that part to Mr. Andrews' amendment.

After we finish discussing this amendment, we can go back to the original amendment proposed by Mr. Andrews. I can't wait to see what my colleagues think about that amendment.

Thank you.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Merci, monsieur Dusseault.

I am now turning to Monsieur Morin on the subamendment.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Thank you for allowing me to speak, Madam Chair.

As for my colleague Mr. Dusseault's friendly amendment, I agree with it, but I feel that I should play something of a devil's advocate.

I have evidence to present. This is my BlackBerry, which is paid for by taxpayers and has Facebook and Twitter applications. I can use my telephone to access social media. I also have with me at all times my personal telephone, which is not paid for by taxpayers, but also has Facebook and Twitter applications.

If we pass the amendment and the whole motion, will we be able to distinguish between a tweet that could violate House rules sent from my personal phone—which I think I can use as I like—and a tweet sent from my BlackBerry, paid for by taxpayers?

That's something no one has considered. My intention is not to start a witch hunt on all Facebook statuses that may be problematic. I just want to point out that the issue involves a considerable grey area. In principle, I agree with both the amendment proposed by my colleague Mr. Dusseault and the motion introduced by my colleague Mr. Andrews. However, I think we should take this matter into consideration when voting. Perhaps the issue I just raised will lead to other discussions.

Thank you.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Thank you, Mr. Morin.

Mr. Angus, go ahead on the subamendment.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I think the subamendment and the amendment are reasonable, but again this goes back to the discussion that we had the other day, where I said—

11:40 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Mr. Angus, if I can interrupt, when there is another subamendment introduced, there is a new speakers list. I keep the speakers list on the original amendment. Because we're now on a different subject, we've been taking speakers as they put their hands up, and Mr. Andrews has his hand up.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

I've been waiting patiently, Madam Chair. Could you put him in order of precedence ahead of me? I waive my precedence in his favour.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Thank you.

Mr. Angus, go ahead.