Evidence of meeting #43 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

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

It's a reasonable presumption.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Yes, it's a reasonable presumption.

So I certainly encourage my colleagues on the committee to voice their opinions, but I want us to keep in mind that because Mr. Byrne is not here, I think we should not make a decision without Mr. Byrne.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Look, you two guys are making me crazy here. Mr. Kramp wants us to make a decision right now because he doesn't want this to hang around any further, and you're saying that it's a great idea, that we should come to an idea, but let's not make a decision today because we need to hear from Mr. Byrne.

The other thing I want to remind folks of is that as much fun as everyone may be having as we have this interesting discussion, we're rapidly running out of time to actually make some business decisions. At the very least—and we've been here before, and this is why lack of long-range planning isn't good—I need some marching orders for Thursday. Otherwise, we don't have a meeting.

With that, Mr. Kramp, you have the floor again, sir.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Well, without having the capacity, following the chair's instructions, to make a motion now, I won't. I wouldn't do that to the chair based on a precondition we both agreed to, and the word has to be kept. It looks like we have a difference of opinion here. I think we're going to go around and around, as hopeful as I was that we could just come to a very quick decision.

I don't think it's a complex issue. Well, I'll take that back; it's a very complex issue. But I think we only have two or three legitimate solutions that are in front of us, and I'm not seeing any real relative unanimity.

I appreciate, Mr. McKay, that the chair is doing an admirable job, but I do know that if somehow the government were able to put a motion forward today to suggest a manner of going forward, at the next three to four meetings we would be simply wasting our time again, because I know I would have adequate comment from across from the third party.

In the spirit of still trying to make this committee work, I'll certainly be more patient than my normal nature is. All my life, as most of you know, I was in business. If I got paid for wasting my time, I wouldn't have stayed in business. Unfortunately, it is disturbing that when we are here being paid by the tax-paying dollars of hard-working people, and they see us just sort of in a bit of a straitjacket paralysis of indecision, it's frustrating.

I would hope that at a subsequent meeting we can all have some adequate time for thought. Recognizing the importance of moving forward, we can have a number of informal discussions, and I would certainly hope Mr. McKay would also pass those thoughts on to Mr. Byrne.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

He's watching.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

I wish him well, and I hope he is watching and he will take our word to heart that we do need to move forward with this committee.

I'm hopeful that by the time we come back for the next session, Chair, we will have already had a meeting in order to come to a decision on this and have debated this adequately so we can move on. We have to bring some closure to this at some point. Obviously it's not going to be today. I regret that, but I think it's an obvious fact, just from hearing the first couple of speakers, that there are some obvious differences of opinion.

Others may wish to speak on this issue or others may have some thoughts and concerns. I'm willing to take another swallow of patience pills until we get to one more meeting. But at that particular point, I can assure you that my patience, like yours and that of many others, will be rather thin, because we do have to proceed. We have to move on.

We could have simply.... I know I'm repeating myself here, but obviously we have always--with the exception of the last time, when we felt it imperative to demonstrate the government's commitment to dealing with this issue on matters such as this--whether it's procedure or whatever, gone in camera.

I just thought that might have been a slam dunk today, but I understand Mr. McKay wished to make his point by bringing forward a motion and basically going on down the whole list of many potential invitees that obviously are strongly opinionated, with no direct action or attention from a direct involvement with the file, but obviously it would have made for good theatrics and good politics.

I think that was the intent and is the intent. Were I sitting in his position, perhaps I would even consider following a pattern such as that. But I can assure the member, it's not going to make for an efficient operation of this committee.

That's all I have to say at this point, Chair.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Very good. Thank you, Mr. Kramp.

Monsieur Ravignat, you have the floor.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

I certainly agree with Mr. Kramp that there are better things we could be spending our time on presently than trying to get some process. I think that should be taken off-line and we should be talking informally before the next meeting.

That's precisely the point. I think Canadians want us to be discussing things of importance. They want us to be continuing the F-35 debate and hearing from other witnesses. They want to know the consequences of Bill C-38 on the roles and powers of the Auditor General. They also want us to debate other chapters of the Auditor General's report. These are things this committee should be doing.

I'm speaking in favour of perhaps going forward here to try to openly discuss what we'll do for our next meetings, and then take the discussion with regard to how this meeting should function off-line with the chair.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you.

I have one last speaker and then I'm going to make a couple of suggestions in terms of moving forward.

Mr. Dreeshen, sir, you have the floor.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'll go back to what I had mentioned earlier about the concept of rotation.

If you look at the draft report we have here and you're going to each meeting that we're going to have and we end up with a game being played as to what we are going to put on this date, because we know the opposition is going to be able to start it, and what we are going to be putting on the next date, you end up with the same types of theatrics that we're trying to deal with here.

I think a person has to look at something a little bit more in depth, rather than just what day it is going to be, because then we'll be back to this argument. So I think as we try to think of ways of putting it together to come up with solutions, we should be cognizant of that fact. That's what I wanted to bring up.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Very good. Thank you, sir.

That exhausts the speakers list.

Colleagues, I'm going to try again. This is the fourth or fifth time, but I'll add a wrinkle. I'll invite all members to forward to my office any suggestions at all, even if you have a bad one and you want to throw it on there, so that everything's being looked at. Then I am going to invite representatives from each of the caucuses to join me for a coffee to kick around what I have in front of me. Members can choose to attend or not.

I'm going to make the attempt, in the absence of a process, to lead to some kind of an agreement. We are going to keep repeating this time and time again. It's not healthy, it's not impressive. I'm sure there are a lot of Canadians at home now rolling their eyes, going, “Really, folks, that's the best you could come up with in terms of working together?”

So we'll continue to pursue it. For the time being, we could go through the whole political dance of in camera, but at 10:22, I'm not sure that makes a lot of practical sense.

Could I suggest that someone provide me with a motion that this coming Thursday we invite the Auditor General? He does believe he will be in a position where he can be here Thursday. Might I suggest that the motion would be that we invite the Auditor General for the first hour, which was the commitment we had made earlier, and that we then move into report writing? If it turns out the Auditor General can't attend on Thursday, then we would use the entire two hours for report writing.

That's the bare minimum we need to achieve today, folks. We still have a lot of work. We didn't get any of it done. But at best, if we can get through with an agenda for Thursday, all is not lost.

Mr. Saxton, are you going to help me out with such a motion?

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Chair, I would like to follow your lead.

I would like to propose a motion that we invite the Auditor General to come on Thursday for the first hour and that the second hour be report writing; and should the Auditor General not be able to join us on Thursday, he will join us on Tuesday for the first hour and the second hour be report writing; and should the Auditor General not be able to attend on Thursday, that all of Thursday will be report writing; or if he can't join us on Tuesday, that all of Tuesday will be reporting writing.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

What worries me is I followed that.

Okay, I see speakers to it. Did you wish to speak any further, Mr. Saxton?

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

I'm just putting my motion to the committee, and I hope that everybody will accept it.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Okay.

Let me be very, very clear. I did say that I've never seen an exception to the report writing being in camera. I think that's about as close to a motherhood rule as we have. So unless I hear interventions to the contrary, I will direct that we move directly in camera, either segueing from the Auditor General or from the beginning of Thursday's meeting, all the way through. I want to be very clear on that.

On the motion, I'll take speakers.

Mr. McKay, Mr. Ravignat, and I saw somebody on the government side.

Mr. McKay.