Evidence of meeting #38 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was remembrance.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Ms. Sitsabaiesan?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

I just have a question probably for the clerk. Two questions.

First, is this in order for one committee...? My understanding is it's not, but I want to hear it from you. Is it in order for one committee to.... I know the House has referred this bill to the heritage committee, so is it in order for us to suggest and to allow for examination by the veterans affairs committee?

That's my first question, I guess I'll wait for the second.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

My understanding from the clerk—and it's my understanding as well—is that we can refer it to them to study the subject matter, but it still remains within the purview of this committee, and that's why the motion.... It's not in the motion but that's what I was asking for: that we continue to concurrently work on this bill. In fact, I wanted to do a few minutes of committee business where we'll schedule that to keep this moving as quickly as possible.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you for that answer, which would then mean that the motion here might need to be amended, because it says, “allow for the examination of the bill”, rather than “the subject matter of the bill” in the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. That's just a byproduct of the response to my first question from you.

My second question is for the clerk again, I think. With respect to the extension, when does the original 60-day clock end, and then when would this new 30-day clock go to? Could you tell us the dates, please?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

The bill was to be reported back to the House by the April 23.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

So that's the end of the 60-day clock.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

We do have a little bit of time. The motion is to extend it....

Help me here, Mr. Dykstra. Is it 30 days?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thirty sitting days.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Thirty sitting days, yes.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

According to the calendar, that's June 11. I think we would deal with this in committee business. We would schedule another meeting right away to start to hear from these witnesses.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

No, I'm just trying to understand it. I want to understand what this means before I decide how I'm going to vote on the motion.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Okay. It means that we would have up until June 11 to have it reported back.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Chair, it's my first attendance at this committee, and I don't want to sound controversial or obstructive, but my line of questioning was designed to make it very clear that this bill does not create a statutory holiday that requires people to be off work and out of school. In fact, as the Veterans Affairs critic for the Liberal Party, I note that this concern, to a large extent, is why we were prepared to support the bill, because there are a lot of people who have expressed concerns.

We're told that the reason for the extension is that we want to hear from more witnesses who have those concerns. Well, those concerns are already allayed by the answers that have been given. That's number one. It would be adding more witnesses at more cost to bring those witnesses before the committee to address issues that Mr. Harris has already clearly addressed.

Secondly, the bill won't get royal assent if we extend this another 30 days. I think that's pretty clear. Anyone estimating the extension of time is going to say that this will never get to the Senate after third reading—assuming everybody continues to support it—in time to get royal assent.

I'm wondering why we would do that when there is a need to increase the profile of Remembrance Day, which is the intent of the bill, without imposing on the provinces the need to create a statutory holiday. I'm wondering if I could ask the mover of the motion, I suppose, about that, because I am concerned, and if I were Mr. Harris or were among those who want to see this bill go through, I would be concerned too.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Mr. Dykstra, do you wish to answer that?

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Sure. My intention in moving this motion is not to try to delay discussion on this until June 11. I'm happy to try to put some meetings in place. We've had a request from veterans affairs to take a look at clause 1. That's the piece that they wanted to take a look at; they're going to do that.

I certainly understand Mr. Valeriote's point to a certain extent. I can say that while we're always concerned about the fiscal responsibilities we hold as parliamentarians, I find it interesting that any time we move for closure on debate in the House of Commons, the opposition cries foul, says that we're trying to shut down discussion, and that there are many people who want to speak to the legislation that we've introduced. Now I'm asking for an extension so that we can do the very same thing over the next couple of weeks, spend a little more time studying the bill. I'm told that it's not required because they've asked questions, and witnesses can be satisfied that the questions they've asked are substitutes for them as witnesses. Those are interesting points that I may use in the future if required.

There are a number of folks...I can tell you some of the people who are substituted here today, as can my colleagues who have members of their community who have submitted requests to come here to speak and to witness. I think that if we were to take a little bit of extra time here, it would serve us all well to hear both perspectives on this issue, whether in support of the bill or opposed to the bill.

I know we don't have a lot of time left, but I am quite prepared to nail down some dates, Chair, and to make that a project that we undertake in as near a future as possible.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Thank you.

Ms. Latendresse.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would first like to point out that a mistake was made in the French translation. The French text only says 30 days and not 30 sitting days.

That should be changed.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Yes, you're right.

5:20 p.m.

A voice

Is it 30 days or 30 sitting days?

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Thirty sitting days.

That's a request you'll have to make. It's a standard request.

March 30th, 2015 / 5:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, I would like to raise another point.

As an opposition member who carried her bill through all the stages and brought it all the way to royal assent, I just want to say that I think there is a better way to consider this matter in committee over the next month without necessarily having to extend the sittings. I don't see why we couldn't find some time in the schedule for a few individuals who would be willing to come testify by April 23.

I sort of feel like we are being taken for fools when we are told that the point is simply to allow us to carry out a better study. You say the bill will have to be reported back to the House by June 11, followed by the stage when amendments are considered and the third reading. The report stage will actually come first because amendments will be proposed in committee. Then comes the third reading and the vote. The bill will then move on to the Senate. With all those stages, you are telling me that this bill will be passed before the House adjourns.

I think that is really unrealistic and basically a way to quietly kill this bill. I don't see how we could possibly fail to carry out a study by April 23, as we have been doing with all other private members' bills. That approach works really well.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Mr. Stewart.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

I have to agree with my colleague. That's what it sounds like is happening here, having gone through the process myself. Last year, an extension of 30 days would have been no problem, but this is year it is a problem. I think I'm looking at people who voted for this the first time through.

This bill isn't very long, and there was plenty of time to debate it all the way through that stage, so this is obviously just.... Everybody understood what it was. It's pretty easy, a very short bill. I'm sure that your PMO had a look through it. Our OLO did, of course, and we all voted for it. Now you're voting to kill it. That is pretty crappy.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gord Brown

Mr. Harris.