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Evidence of meeting #52 for Government Operations and Estimates 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

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard

Honourable members of the committee, I now see a quorum.

Our first item of business today, as you know, is the election of a chair for this committee. Just as a reminder, pursuant to the Standing Orders, the chair must be a member of the official opposition.

I'm now ready to receive motions for the position of chair.

Mr. Wallace.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

I'll nominate Pat Martin from the New Democratic Party.

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk

Are there any further motions?

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

And he's to stay silent for the next six months.

8:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt this motion?

(Motion agreed to)

I declare the motion carried and Mr. Pat Martin duly elected chair of this committee.

Congratulations.

Before inviting Mr. Martin to take the chair, if the committee wishes, we will now proceed to the election of the two vice-chairs.

We will begin with the first vice-chair.

I would like to remind you that, pursuant to the Standing Orders, the first vice-chair must be a member of the government party. I am now ready to receive your motions to that effect.

Mr. Gourde, go ahead.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

I nominate Mike Wallace for first vice-chair.

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk

Mr. Gourde just nominated Mr. Wallace. Are there any further motions?

As there are no further motions, is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to)

I declare Mr. Wallace duly elected first vice-chair of the committee. Congratulations.

The second vice-chair, as you know, must be a member of the opposition party other than the official opposition.

I'm now prepared to receive a motion for the second vice-chair.

Madame Duncan.

8:50 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I nominate John McCallum.

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk

Ms. Duncan has nominated Mr. McCallum. Are there any other nominations?

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

There's not much choice, is there?

8:50 a.m.

The Clerk

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to)

I declare Mr. McCallum duly elected second vice-chair of the committee.

I now invite Mr. Martin to take the chair.

Thank you.

8:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you, Marc-Olivier. Nicely done.

I'd like to say thank you very much to my nominator and the committee for the confidence they have shown in re-electing me the chair of the government operations committee. I'm very grateful and will try to aspire to the confidence you have shown in me.

I'm very grateful as well that we continue to have our wonderful clerk, Marc-Olivier. I think he is the finest clerk in the House of Commons...accompanied by Marlene.

We like our clerk best, Marlene. You can understand.

I'm very glad to see the continuity of our wonderful analysts, Tina Lise and Lindsay.

Welcome back to both of you, and thank you for the service to our committee in the last session and continuing into this one.

I'll also welcome the only change we have. We agreed that continuity on the committee is a good thing given the nature of the work we deal with, but we would like to welcome a new committee member, Costas Menegakis.

Welcome, and thank you very much for agreeing to sit on the government operations committee.

Having said that, I think it would be useful to talk a little bit about not necessarily future business but what we accomplished in the last session. We only have one new member, but we have a new briefing book circulating, put together by Tina Lise and the Library of Parliament, which reminds us, I guess, of the mandate of the committee and the possibilities of this committee as one of the major financial oversight committees in Parliament. I know quite a bit of effort went into this book, and I think it would be useful, if the committee wishes, sometime early on in this session to revisit this in some detail and talk about just what our mandate is and, again, the depth and the reach of the committee.

I hope we have time prior to jumping into a whole new study. I would be interested in revisiting the work we did in the last session, especially since—I believe by October 18—we can look forward to a government response to the report from our study on estimates. I think we structured our study in such a way or made sure that we submitted our report in such a way that we would get a response early into the fall session.

Let me just say I'm very proud of the work we did last fall. I think that particular study, the government operations review of estimates, is probably the most significant piece of work that went on in that session, as far as committee study goes, considering the importance of the subject matter and the influence it may have in subsequent parliaments. I'm very proud of the work the committee did and also the tone that we adopted in making up our minds to take on something of substance and to do a thorough and comprehensive job of it.

Future historians will stumble across that report, and when your grandchildren are sitting on your knee saying, “Grandad, what did you do to make Canada transparent and accountable and strong?”, you can point to that report with great pride, surely.

8:50 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

8:50 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

That might be overstating things a little bit.

Seriously, we should pat ourselves on the back. That was good work by this committee, and the government response to it is sort of how we finish. I think that's the conclusion of the study, and that warrants our review and our comment at that time too.

The analysts have also put together a list for me here of some of the central agencies and departments that report to the committee. We could probably look at that in the context of studying the book.

I guess the first real order of business is to assess where we want to go as a committee.

Mike, do you want to...?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Yes.

I had some discussion with Linda, and it was her understanding that there are some issues with the clerk for Thursday.

No? Okay.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

There are all kinds of rumours flying around. Somebody told me that we can't meet Thursdays because we have no clerks and all this stuff. I don't understand. I don't know where these rumours are coming from.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

If you're okay with it, we thought we would move that the subcommittee on agenda meet in the Thursday time slot and that we would put together the agenda—Linda just remembered that she can't make it now—for the fall. At this point, that would include the concept of a study on P3s that we would like to do. I just want to give you a heads-up. I don't know if it will circulate.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

What is it on?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

It's on P3s.

Ms. Duncan has submitted a couple of recommendations. One for sure that we are interested in on this side is about the energy efficiencies of buildings.

I think we have to discuss where we're going to go with the estimates process, and set some time aside, hopefully, for the response from the government to our report. That might take the fall, based on how many time slots we have. We have to look at it.

I'm moving that the subcommittee meet in the Thursday time slot and that we set the agenda for the rest of the fall and bring that back to the committee.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Chair?

8:55 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Yes? It is on the same issue? You do have a motion on the floor. Is this on the same subject?

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

I'm just responding to Mike's comment about meeting on Thursday, about what our agenda should be. Why don't we talk about that today since we're all here?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

In my view—and we can have a discussion on this—the committee I've been on that has worked the best over the six years since I've been here has been the finance committee. The subcommittee on agenda sets the agenda and then brings it back to the regular committee. If you want to let the others go and have a subcommittee on agenda this morning, I'm fine with that.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

I guess my only point is that we're here. We have a meeting. If we do what you propose, are we just going to adjourn in five minutes?