Evidence of meeting #117 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendments.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Angela Crandall
Stephanie Kusie  Calgary Midnapore, CPC
David Christopherson  Hamilton Centre, NDP

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Are you, then, supporting the amendment?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

As you can tell from the nature of the remarks I'm making, I'm generally supportive of the tenor and direction of the amendment.

I want to urge all members of this committee to consider being supportive of this amendment, just as I want them to be supportive of the actual amendments to the bill that my party is proposing. We need to have some kind of assurance that those will be taken into account.

I'm aware that amendments proposed by opposition parties are not normally accepted by governments in committee. It requires some kind of behind-the-scenes negotiation between the minister or those who work for her and our shadow minister, and likewise with the House leaderships. These things always have a number of different players.

We have to allow this to happen. A programming motion shuts it down. That's the thing we're trying to avoid.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Reid, we have a long list here. Do you have any new point to add here?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I'm in the process of making points, but I think it's not unreasonable to think that I should not move from any of the specific points that I've enumerated in my discussion until I'm certain they have been fully grasped by those who are not necessarily persuaded, but who certainly are potentially the targets of persuasion.

That essentially is the point concerning the motion. It is that we simply remove the part that says that clause-by-clause starts on October 2.

It is entirely conceivable—and this is something that I have not said at this point, Mr. Chair—that once we've had the opportunity to negotiate and be more certain of this position, be more certain that what we are being offered represents a genuine opportunity to present our amendments, we will be happy to return to a date that allows the expeditious adoption of the bill.

The bill, as you can imagine, seems more desirable to us if it has some amendments that reflect our concerns. Our willingness to move forward with it, not merely to start the process of dealing with clause-by-clause but to finish it, would therefore be greatly sped up if we had that kind of assurance.

The way this place works, and we all know this—those who have been around for a while certainly know it, and those of us who are new to the place are rapidly finding out—is that the rules allow things to grind along extraordinarily slowly when we're not talking to each other behind the scenes. As a result, when we think there's potential for a compromise, we have the practice of dealing behind the scenes to work out what that compromise might be.

That is, for example, why we have House leaders' meetings every Monday afternoon.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

There does have to be a willingness to compromise.

September 20th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Yes, there does have to be a willingness to compromise. That's part of the point, David, of saying that I don't sense an unreasonableness on the part of the minister, quite the contrary.

I have to be careful of what I say about her. I've said some really nice things about her. She could practically write an entire campaign brochure saying, “Here's what the Conservatives think about me. Vote for me.” I may live to regret that. I don't mind her winning a second term; I just don't want her coming back and congratulating me and saying, “I couldn't have done it without you, Scott.” That would be very upsetting.

The way compromises work is that they are worked out behind the scenes. Each side has to express what its own bottom line is. Then they have to go back, and there's a chain of command that is not that fast, but it works. It speeds things up. Every side has to be respectful of the privacy of such negotiations, of course, because as we all know, politics is a bit like making sausages. Nobody wants to see sausages being made.

These are just reasonable positions, so we hope that we can get that. My sense today is that the new parliamentary secretary came with what amounted to an opening bid in those negotiations. We're simply responding to that opening bid. It would not be reasonable for anyone who has been around here for a while to expect that one accepts that opening bid at face value or as the fallback position. We no more assume that of her than she does of us, or the reverse. We are simply trying to work toward a situation in which the folks who are not present in this room right now, but who ultimately make the decisions, have a chance to talk to each other either directly or through us, or whatever happens to work, in order that we can actually have a discussion that winds up moving toward the adoption of this bill, amended in some form.

I can say definitively that nobody thinks the bill in its present form is ideal. The government doesn't think so; it has some suggested amendments of its own. I should be careful of what I say here, because I don't actually know this for a fact. I certainly know what the sources are and their concerns. I know for a fact that the CEO expressed some concerns and had some suggestions. I'm sure that's the source of some of those concerns. I would expect that, as is typical, they would have some concerns based on the fact that the draftspeople don't always get everything exactly right. You have to make technical corrections for that. Those are two sources.

It may also be the case that they've made some calculations that some of what they were proposing—it is, after all, a very large bill, on many subjects—in one or another of those subject areas may well be other than the ideal proposal, from a policy point of view. For whatever reason, those calculations would be based upon....

They have a series of changes they themselves want to make. It goes without saying that the opposition has its own reservations. We want to make sure that either their amendments take into account the kinds of things that we have in our amendments, or that they will take some of our amendments. They can propose them as government amendments—we don't care—but they should actually make sure that these things are given a real chance.

That's not something that will be negotiated in the process of going through clause-by-clause. That's not what happens once you're in that process. Once you're in that process, each amendment is voted up or down on a party-line vote. That is just what happens.

I'm sure if I go back I'll find an exception to that somewhere, but I can't think of an exception to that in my own parliamentary experience, which is pretty long at this point. Giving our people the chance to work this out between each other is what I'm trying to do right now. It's why I'm taking such pains to be as thorough as possible in the remarks that I deliver to you today.

The minister and shadow minister have just come back into the room, so it is conceivable that they will want to share further information with us.

Would it be unreasonable, Mr. Chair, to ask if the committee would be willing to give a brief suspension while we do that?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Make it very brief, though. We can't take too long.

We'll suspend for a couple of minutes.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

We're un-suspended, I hope for the last time.

I understand we have some sort of agreement here. Does someone want to say what it is?

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I have a substantial number of additional comments to make, some of which I know you'll find absolutely riveting.

I suppose I would, with great reluctance, be willing to surrender the floor to the parliamentary secretary, Ms. Jordan, but I don't want to rush her, so I'll just give it a second and continue to say that, while we're waiting....

Sorry, it's going to be Mr. Graham, I guess.

I'm just going to talk until I get a signal that this is all sorted out.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Are you ready?

Mr. Graham, go ahead.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Please hold. Your call is important to us.

12:40 p.m.

Hamilton Centre, NDP

David Christopherson

This would be a lot harder to take if I thought it was coming back with more to study.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

You can always change your mind.

12:45 p.m.

Hamilton Centre, NDP

David Christopherson

No, no. I already got my guy lined up. He'd assassinate me.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I will have a revised version of my motion available in just a second.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Okay.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Get the typing fingers ready.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I am withdrawing my previous motion and reissuing it with some changes. It's easier than doing amendments, so keep your original text. It's not that far off.

I'll read it once, and then I can read it again more slowly for you, Scott, if you'd like. I move that the committee invite the chief elections officer and the chief elections officer of Ontario to appear for a total of 90 minutes on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, and decide on the date to commence clause-by-clause at that meeting; and invite Minister Gould to appear from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 27, 2018 on Bill C-76.

I'm ready to read it again more slowly as you type.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I got most of it. Basically, what it boils down to is 90 minutes for the two CEOs, followed by—

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

It's a total of 90 minutes—

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

It's a total of 90 minutes, sorry.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

—not 90 minutes each, unless you really want a really long meeting.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

No, none of us wants that.

And at that meeting....

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

At that meeting we'll decide on the date to commence clause-by-clause.

We are agreeing that we will come up with a date at that meeting, and there won't be any more not deciding. Does that sound decisive?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

When does Minister Gould appear before the committee?