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Evidence of meeting #30 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Don Head  Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada
Ward Elcock  Former Coordinator of Olympic and G8/G20 Security, Privy Council Office
Peter McGovern  Assistant Deputy Minister, Asia and Chief Trade Commissioner, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to call this meeting to order, please.

This is meeting number 30 of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

There are a couple of motions before the committee, both in substantially the same form. I'd like to deal with those motions first. I'd ask both proponents to speak very briefly in favour of their motions, because the chair does need some guidance as to some ordering of the committee's agenda.

Madam Bourgeois, I recognize you first.

8:45 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

On October 8, I introduced a motion to discuss my proposal today, October 19. It deals with the awarding of contracts by Public Works and Government Services Canada and it is a matter for the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. You have all received the motion.

Mr. Chair, do you think that I really have to read it? It is a long one.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

I don't think it's necessary.

Are there any amendments to the motion?

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

We are in favour of this motion, but I would like to propose a friendly amendment. In light of the fact that there is a current study ongoing in the procedure and House affairs committee, I would propose that we remove only Hubert Pichet, assistant to Conservative Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, from the list of witnesses in that motion. That is because we're going through that whole study about having staff appear before committee--that is in the procedure and House affairs committee. So I'd suggest and ask that that little bit be removed from the motion, and then we'll be in favour.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Madam Bourgeois, do you receive that as a friendly amendment to the motion?

8:45 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Yes, I will accept a friendly amendment.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Mr. Martin.

8:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

The only thing I might add, which may save us the time of going through the second motion that's put forward, and I do support Madam Bourgeois' motion, is to add the detail that is different in mine, which is that we recommend a moratorium on all contracts and tendering related to and associated with the architectural restoration of the Parliament Buildings until such time as this committee can undertake its study to assure ourselves that there is no political interference or tampering or hanky-panky in the contracting process.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

First of all, for the purposes of order, can we treat both motions as one for the purposes of the overall committee decision?

8:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I like that idea.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Okay, then we'll do that. The motion is as amended by Madam Coady.

I will recognize Mr. Warkentin.

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Chair, this morning I sense that this may take some time, if we were to debate and deliberate. I'm wondering if there is a possibility that we might be able to table this motion to a steering committee meeting so that it can be undertaken.

I have a number of questions in that I don't know any of these people named in this motion. I have no idea what exactly is the intent of calling these witnesses. It might take some time to investigate or understand exactly what's going on.

I'm wondering, Mr. Chair, if there's a possibility that we might be able to table this to a meeting when we don't have such a full schedule.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Madam Bourgeois.

8:45 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Chair, given that we have to get to the bottom of this quickly, I think I am going to accept Mr. Martin's amendment, if he makes it officially. Then we will be able to move to a vote as quickly as possible.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Mr. Warkentin has suggested that we postpone the discussion of this matter to the steering committee on Thursday.

From the standpoint of the chair, that would actually be my preference. The motions have been presented. There is guidance here to the chair as to which way the committee wishes to proceed, if you will, on the content of where you want to proceed.

I don't know that arguing over technicalities in the motion will contribute a great deal.

I would, first of all, ask the committee whether we are prepared to follow Mr. Warkentin's suggestion, namely that we deal with this matter before the subcommittee.

8:50 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

No.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

If, in fact, the committee is not prepared to deal with it before the subcommittee, does that mean you want a full-bore debate on this motion before we hear witnesses?

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Chair, there are a number of things in this that are simply completely wrong and it's important that they be on the record before we vote on something. I looked at this and I hardly know any of the names on this list. According to this motion, this Gilles Varin, who is a Conservative Party of Canada organizer.... Any of the media who have covered this have had an impossible time trying to trace his involvement with the Conservative Party. I do understand that he made donations to the Liberal Party and that he has been quite aggressively campaigning for a member of your caucus, Mr. Chair, but I have no understanding as to why that would be included here. I think it's important that we, as a committee, if we're going to have any credibility, don't simply play politics, that we actually provide accurate details. The first thing we must do is cross out this Conservative Party of Canada organizer, because it's absolutely unfounded and untrue. That would be the first requirement from this side.

In terms of these other folk, I need an explanation from my colleague opposite as to who these people are. I have no understanding. I've done some research on some of them. Some of them look to be entirely irrelevant to the study at hand. I'm wondering if the honourable member would explain exactly why she's intending to bring these people forward, who they are, and what they might contribute to this committee.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

I'd like to point out to the committee that the longer you debate this, the more time you take away from your own witnesses on subjects that you previously deemed to be important. The chair is obviously in the hands of the committee. If in fact there are motions that you wish to debate, the chair has to recognize the will of the committee.

My suggestion, as an attempt to deal with this, is that you come to a vote. In effect, the vote would instruct the subcommittee to arrange for witnesses, and that you proceed to our witness here today. But I'm open to the direction of the committee; I have to be.

8:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Call the question, Mr. Chairman. We can vote on the matter and we can argue witnesses at a later time.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Okay. Mr. Holder and Mr. Warkentin.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I would like to take your recommendation forward and say that it's more important to do this right than to do this fast. No one is trying to slow this process down. I think to take it to subcommittee, as you've suggested, is very logical and still maintains an openness, because you'll be reporting that back fairly quickly, so I would endorse that recommendation.

Thanks.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Mr. Warkentin.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Chair, there's been conversation that we could deliberate about witnesses later, but right now there's a prescription for who the witnesses would be. We, as a committee, don't know why these witnesses are included in this motion. I think it's out of respect for other committee members--it's essential--that Madam Bourgeois explain to committee why she has included the list that she has. I see this list and it's very prescriptive as to who she wants to come forward. I don't know that she knows why she's prescribed these people. I think somebody in her office or in her leader's office has made a determination that she should include certain people. Now she has come forward, because right now she has given absolutely no explanation as to why she would include the people she's included. In the absence of that, I see it as irresponsible for committee members to vote for this prescriptive list of witnesses in this prescriptive motion without any explanation as to why. We have no explanation. Further to that, as I'm looking through this witness list, we have a senator's staff member that's included in this. I believe it's absolutely essential that that member be removed.

8:50 a.m.

A voice

It's already done.