Evidence of meeting #39 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chair.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

8:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I now—

Why did we know that was going to happen? All right, I see you all have your hands up. We'll deal with it later.

I now declare this 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts open. Now in order, the purpose of the meeting today is to follow up on the previous meeting and the order of that meeting, that we convene today for the purposes of discussing next steps vis-à-vis chapter 2 of the 2012 report of the Auditor General.

Here's the dilemma I mentioned to you before, which we have still not resolved, and that is that there's no particular order of preference as to who gets the floor, and that has a lot to do with how this meeting will unfold.

I've raised this kind of thing before. My concern has been that it becomes a physical contest of who can get my attention first, which can be totally arbitrary and not necessarily fair if I'm looking the wrong way when somebody else's hand is up.

I have to tell you, I was pretty much looking straight ahead when I banged the gavel to call the meeting to order, and instantly, all hands went up. So I'm left with a huge dilemma in terms of where I go first because you all virtually got my attention at the same time. Everybody has the same strategy, and it's unfortunate that a determination of how a meeting will unfold is based on who can get their hand up the quickest or get the eye of the chair the quickest, and yet, that is where we are.

I think the record will show that consistently Mr. Saxton has been very good at being the first off the mark, to the point where I have noticed he was first and felt comfortable giving him the floor. That's not possible right now. Virtually, you were all at the same time. Like I said, everybody knows what we're doing here, and you managed to all do it simultaneously.

Therefore, what I'm going to do is, again, I'm going to ask each of the caucuses to please consider joining with me, even if it's just an informal start over a coffee, to come to some determination on how we do this in a way that's fair to everyone. I'm reiterating that the current process is not fair. It has a built-in unfairness to it. I don't have an obvious answer or I would have brought a recommendation. But I've done this from the beginning of my term as chair. I reach out again and ask colleagues from each of the caucuses if we could sit down and find a way where we can deal with this in an equitable fashion.

Having said that, I'm in an impossible situation in that I can only go to one person and virtually all of you put your hands up instantly at the same time. Mr. Saxton continues to put his hand up so that he knows I see him there.

As I said, I have consistently seen Mr. Saxton first, as a member of the government. Given you were all at the same time, given this is an oversight committee, I'm going to recognize Mr. Allen from the official opposition. But again, I ask colleagues to please join with me to find a process that is fairer than this, because this just doesn't work.

I am not comfortable doing this, but I have to, in order to get the meeting going.

Having said all of that, I recognize Mr. Allen first, Mr. Byrne, Mr. Saxton, in that order.

8:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

8:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Go ahead, Mr. Allen.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and it—

8:55 a.m.

An hon. member

[Inaudible--Editor]

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Wait a minute. Is there an allegation to be made here? I heard somebody say something about “predetermined”.

Mr. Kramp.

April 24th, 2012 / 8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Yes, I just felt that, so I said it, Chair.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I appreciate you said it. I assume that it was just an emotional remark and that you're not challenging the chair, or are you?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

I'm not challenging the chair. I just believe that was the strategy overall, from all of the opposition, and I think it's unfortunate for the chair. He knows that this meeting will very shortly get out of hand and he'll have to bear responsibility for it.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

All right. I'll take that as your comments.

All right, folks. Let's not get too twisted up in process. People are watching.

Madame Bateman.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Just on a point of clarification, sir, I did note that Mr. Allen's and Monsieur Ravignat's hands were up. I noticed our hands were up. I didn't notice Mr. Byrne's, and yet you're—

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I virtually saw a sea of hands. If Mr. Byrne's hand didn't actually.... I don't know, but that's what happens with this process. Again, I come back to—

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Yet you've given him preferential treatment.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I just saw a sea of hands, so I'm trying to find a process that's as fair as possible.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Do you mind if I clarify that, Mr. Chair?