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 going.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you, Ms. Bateman.

Your input is always put so politely, and I appreciate that. Thank you.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

We will go ahead, unless there are other first-time speakers, although I think everybody who wants the floor has had a go-around.

Very well, I'll go to second-time speakers. Mr. Saxton.

May 8th, 2012 / 9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate that you've given just about everybody a chance to speak this morning for the first time to give their opinions on where we're at and where we're going. I'm not sure if we yet know where we're at or where we're going, but at least we know you've given everybody a chance to ventilate. I certainly would like to know where we're going and where we're at.

You made a suggestion that because your ruling was unfair in a lot of people's eyes, about relegating the government to third status on this committee when it comes to pecking order of who gets to speak first—I think even you would recognize that's not fair—you want to resolve this in another forum and another session, privately or publicly, whatever makes sense. Where are we going with that? Are we going to come to a conclusion?

Right now we're in a situation where, in this meeting and the previous meeting, you have taken it upon yourself to unilaterally make a decision that the government would be relegated to third status when it comes to pecking order. This is the second time you've done that. I do recall, last time you did that, you said something to the effect that this time you were doing it but there was a chance that next time you'd allow the government to go first, since you were allowing the opposition to go first this time. I think you might have even brought in the option of alternating back and forth last time. I do understand your dilemma about which opposition party goes first, because then if it goes opposition, government, then the third party wouldn't have its chance. Another option to that would be to alternate amongst the opposition parties and then government goes second.

So there are lots of possible permutations as to how we could resolve this as a committee. We have to resolve it, because the current situation is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to the government. You have even said you recognize it's not necessarily fair, as it stands, to do this every time. You did it once, last time, recognizing it wasn't really fair. As my colleague brought up, you recognized the third party even though it didn't even attempt to be recognized. I think that is also kind of a strange and bizarre thing for a chair to do, to recognize a party even though it didn't even attempt to be recognized.

Nevertheless, we've got a problem, and it has to be solved. The current status quo, which you created, is not acceptable, so let's find a solution. Let's set up another meeting so we can discuss this and come to a resolution. As it stands right now, we're sort of in never-never land, and we can't stay in never-never land forever.

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you. I agree--although some would argue that we do.

Let me just say, for the record, that I did ask that question, and I believe it is in Hansard that Mr. Byrne said he put up his hand, because I was checking that. I think that's in the Hansard, because I was careful about that.

However, I accept the fact that the government does not believe the current ruling is fair--just as, if I'd gone any other way, the opposition members would be saying it's not fair. On balance, I'm comfortable that I made the right decision in the absence of any kind of agreement, given the fact that the opposition can only give voice when it has the floor; it can move a motion, but it can't carry one. But I can appreciate that the government sees that as totally unfair: you have the most seats and you're getting third place in the pecking order--how can that be fair?

10 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

It was twice in a row.

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

It was twice in a row, and probably a third, fourth, and fifth time if we don't find a resolution. I think it's equally unfair for the government to get the floor as soon as the gavel's dropped, move in camera, and the cone of silence comes over everything, automatically, every time, ten times out of ten. I don't think that's fair either.

I will take it a step further. I will invite representatives of each of the caucuses to meet with me on an informal basis to see if we can't come up with something. Maybe it will be as simple as rotation, and who gets the floor will just be the luck of the draw in terms of the politics that day. But we can avoid this.

What we need is an agreement, colleagues. An easy Solomon solution is not available. The best we're going to get is an agreement we can all live with. That's what we should be shooting for. I will convene a meeting with the purpose of trying to achieve a recommendation we can all live with. I guarantee you it won't be fair, but by virtue of everybody buying into it, it will be deemed to be fair. Then we can avoid what has been well over an hour now on procedure.

To get us going in a positive mode, does everybody agree with my intent to call a meeting, pull everybody together, and see if there's a solution? Is there agreement on that?

10 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

No.

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Okay.

Mr. Kramp.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Chair, the longer we procrastinate, the longer we delay, the longer we don't have a process, the longer we're going to take to resolve this.

Why don't we do it now and get it over with?

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Sure.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Let's have this done and we can get on to our meeting. Whatever decisions are reached, right, wrong, or indifferent, we're going to have to live with them. We have had a number of suggestions. You've made a suggestion. Obviously the opposition members have made suggestions. Mr. Saxton made a couple of different suggestions.

Can we come to some kind of working agreement here that's going to be fair?

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

If you'll allow me to continue to give people the floor and they don't move motions, we can do that. If we're going to get into motions, I can tell you we're going to be bogged down for the balance of this meeting. That was the reason for the informal meeting, to kick it around.

If the committee is willing to enter into a give-and-take discussion with the sole purpose not of scoring points or moving motions but of finding something we can all agree to, then that would be wonderful. I'd love to have that done. If you want to do it now, I'm in your hands. Mr. Kramp has suggested we do it now.

What's the will of the committee?

Let me go to Mr. McKay and then Mr. Saxton.

10 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I certainly appreciate the expressions of concern for the fate of the Liberal Party. It's quite heartening to hear.

10 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

I did say the third party, but your point is taken.