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Evidence of meeting #27 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 commons.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Chad Mariage

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Order. We are in public session.

I believe Mr. Del Mastro has a motion.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I do, Madam Chair.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Mr. Andrews, is that a point of order? Mr. Del Mastro has the floor to move his motion.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

I want to make a notice of motion that I put on the order paper today.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

It has been sent. That's not a point of order. We'll put you on the speakers list.

Mr. Del Mastro.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

As I indicated at the last meeting, I've brought forward a motion that I'd like to move at this meeting and present to the members for their consideration.

I would move that the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics call Mr. Adam Carroll, former Liberal Research Bureau employee, for one meeting to examine his use of House of Commons resources in order to conceal his anonymous public attacks on a member of Parliament, and that this meeting take place by Thursday, March 8, 2012.

I think it's important that we examine this. The use of House resources to specifically attack and conceal a bad attack on another member in good standing of the House of Commons is something that all parties should in fact deplore, and something all parties should in fact want to get to the bottom of.

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Thank you, Mr. Del Mastro.

I am going to make a ruling on the admissibility of the motion. I thank the honourable member for having moved his motion; however, I am of the opinion that, as moved, the motion is inadmissible for the following reasons.

I should note that although I recognize that decisions taken in a different iteration of a same committee are not binding to a current committee, I would be remiss if I didn't restate, for the benefit of the current members of the committee, a decision made in a similar case in the last Parliament, on March 7, 2011, by the first vice-chair, as I feel it answers many questions surrounding the admissibility of the motion now before us.

First of all, I believe the motion goes beyond the mandate of the committee specifically with regard to Standing Order 108.(3)(h)(vi), which states:

...the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives which relate to access to information and privacy across all sectors of Canadian society and to ethical standards relating to public office holders; and any other matter which the House shall from time to time refer to the Standing Committee.

It is important to understand the definition of “public office holders” with regard to the mandate of the committee. This standing order refers to the definition as described in the Conflict of Interest Act, 2006, which was cited in a previous ruling in this Parliament by my predecessor, Mr. Cullen, on September 27, 2011. Most importantly, however, the Parliament of Canada Act in section 52.6(1) states that:

The Board has the exclusive authority to determine whether any previous, current or proposed use by a member of the House of Commons of any funds, goods, services or premises made available to that member for the carrying out of parliamentary functions is or was proper, given the discharge of the parliamentary functions of members of the House of Commons, including whether any such use is or was proper having regard to the intent and purpose of the by-laws made under subsection 52.5(1).

This is further emphasized on page 238 of the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc, which goes on to say:

The Board determines the terms and conditions of managing and accounting for the funds by Members and has exclusive authority to determine whether their use is or was proper. Other By-laws set out the terms governing Members' use of their budgets and other benefits provided by the House, including travel points, printing privileges, staff, and the purchase of goods.

As members of Parliament, the proper use of parliamentary resources is something that concerns all of us. However, I believe, for the reasons stated above, that this committee is not the proper forum in which to have this discussion.

I assume you're challenging the ruling of the chair, Mr. Butt.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I am. As much as I have great respect for the chair, I just don't agree with the ruling. I think it's very important that this committee look into this issue and determine the extent of it. I think it's an appropriate place for this committee to spend a little bit of time looking into this. Therefore, I will challenge the ruling of the chair.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

That motion is not debatable.

Point of order.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

I would like a recorded division.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

You would like a recorded vote. Thank you.

Mr. Del Mastro.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

On a point of clarification, Madam Chair, are we voting in support of the motion to challenge the chair, or voting in support of the chair?

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Because it's a recorded vote, the clerk will restate the question.

11:50 a.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Chad Mariage

The question is: shall the ruling be sustained?

(Chair's ruling overturned: nays 7; yeas 4)

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

The ruling of the chair is overturned.

We will now proceed to debate on the motion as presented by Mr. Del Mastro.

Mr. Andrews, I had you first on the list here.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Certainly, Madam Speaker, I think it's rather interesting that we have this motion before us here today and then your motion being overturned because the Conservative Party didn't get their own way in a committee. Once again they use their parliamentary will and their numbers to overturn the chair just when they don't get their own way.

Today it was very interesting that the Speaker of the House of Commons made a ruling on this very issue. I would argue that now that the Speaker has ruled on this issue, the committee should not be debating it at all—unless members of the Conservative Party would like to overturn and challenge the ruling of their own member in this very matter.

So I think it's important that we look at the ruling of the Speaker with the—

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member

The Speaker's not a member of our caucus.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Excuse me.

Mr. Andrews has the floor, Mr. Butt, unless you're raising a point of order.

Mr. Calkins.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

On a point of order, Madam Chair, with the greatest of respect, it is quite clear in the common practices of the House of Commons, and thereby extending out to any of the committees that are created as a matter of the Standing Orders from the House of Commons, that any reference to impugn the integrity of the chair of the House of Commons is simply beyond reproach.

I would encourage the member opposite to make very clear that he wasn't intending to impugn the reputation by the political affiliation of the Speaker of the House of Commons—

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Point of order.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

—who was elected by all members of the House of Commons.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Point of order.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

Thank you, Mr. Calkins.

I'm going to go back to Mr. Andrews, but first, Mr. Angus, you have a point of order.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

I was listening to the honourable colleague, and I think they're trying to twist the words and turn this into a political debate. So I don't think that's a legitimate point of order, and I think we should allow the speaker to continue.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Jean Crowder

I'm going to go back to Mr. Andrews.

Mr. Andrews, continue, please.