Evidence of meeting #127 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was elections.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Robert Sampson  Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Elections Canada
Trevor Knight  Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Elections Canada
Stephanie Kusie  Calgary Midnapore, CPC
Jean-François Morin  Senior Policy Advisor, Privy Council Office
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Andrew Lauzon
Philippe Méla  Legislative Clerk
Linda Lapointe  Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Lib.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I think it's more like this.

Colleagues may be wondering why I've been so quiet up until now. Mostly it's because I wanted to hear your wisdom—

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

You saved it for this amendment.

October 18th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

The main reason is that I've been saving up for this one.

Sometimes you can swear an oath and people may add things or muff it slightly or adjust it, perhaps based on their own religious beliefs or on their own rejections of religious beliefs, whatever the case may be. The oath itself remains absolutely valid, binding in precisely the normal manner.

A really good example of this is the oath that we all swore when we became members of Parliament. Some people have added to that in the past. I remember that when I was first elected, many of us who were Canadian Alliance MPs at the time, added a bit about not just swearing allegiance to the Queen but also to the Constitution and the people of Canada, all of which is irrelevant, from the perspective of the legality of the oath, although obviously of personal importance.

In that spirit, and also in the spirit of religious freedom, openness and acceptance, which of course is a motivating spirit of modern Canada, the purpose of this wording is to make sure that a solemn declaration—which means an oath—remains valid, regardless of whether people add words or use some form of mannerism that is appropriate to them but not part of the formal solemn declaration.

To answer Mr. Graham's question, I think that if I were to add something to the effect of “I'm now going to mess with the system, so ignore everything I said”, that wouldn't count. You're still under oath.

More likely is a situation where someone makes a solemn declaration and feels the need, based on their own profoundly held religious beliefs, to add something indicating their own level of solemnity.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

And if you didn't say everything that was in the oath, would the entire oath still apply?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

If you said literally nothing?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

No, less than...if you missed some words by accident.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I would think so, if you're asking if someone has an auditory impairment or can't read, and they muddle it up slightly.

We have a citizenship oath. I went to a ceremony at the Museum of Civilization, as it then was, when the judge said to me he did it two words at a time. He started by saying “I swear”, and everybody said, “I swear”, etc. He said the reason was that a lot of people didn't speak either official language very well and were going to muddle it up slightly. That doesn't have any legal meaning, but they want to get it right. They're trying.

He's an experienced judge. He's used to dealing with this. Some of our people administering elections might not be, and there would be some kind of issue of that sort. The oath is still proper, full and complete.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Graham.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I understand what you want to do with this, but I would like to ask the witnesses if they could expand on what would be and what would not be an acceptable oath under this.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Morin.

11:45 a.m.

LCdr Jean-François Morin

Thank you for your question.

Before answering your question, I would like, with permission, to ask for precision from Mr. Reid or Mrs. Kusie.

On the fourth line of the English version, it says, “or used forms or mannerisms normally associated with an oath.” When you use the word “forms” are you referring to a paper form or to a manner by which one can express themselves, for example?

11:45 a.m.

Calgary Midnapore, CPC

Stephanie Kusie

It's a manner.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Yes, it does not mean literally a form as in a singular sheet, but a formulaire. If you take a look at the French, you see that it probably provides us with the....

11:45 a.m.

LCdr Jean-François Morin

That's my question, because in French, formulaire really refers to a paper form. If you're referring to a manner of expressing oneself, I would recommend changing “formulaires” to “formules”.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

That's a good point.

I'm assuming nobody objects to that, before we vote on the actual amendment, to reading the French as “formules” instead of “formulaires”.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

I think that's okay.

11:45 a.m.

LCdr Jean-François Morin

With regard to any comment on the motion, the way I understand the motion is that now that we've gone from “oath” to “solemn declaration” it doesn't have any faith associated with it, and it's more neutral from a “liberty of faith” perspective. My understanding of this motion is that if someone were to say, “So help me God” at the end of a solemn declaration, it wouldn't affect the validity of the solemn declaration.

That's my understanding of this motion.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

If there's anything unrelated, irrelevant or contradictory to the oath, would it affect the oath?

11:50 a.m.

LCdr Jean-François Morin

Something that would contradict the oath, of course, would not be admissible. However, something that would only, as I said, add a form that people would usually add at the end of an oath, like “So help me God” or any other form added at the end of an oath by a person of another religious denomination, wouldn't make the solemn declaration invalid.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

David, just to set your mind at ease, it does say “forms or mannerisms normally associated with an oath”, such as “So help me God”. Something such as “Everything I just said, I'm going to do the opposite of, heh, heh, heh” doesn't count and is not normally associated with an oath.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Are you ready to vote? There is a request for a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 4)

Amendment CPC-189 was withdrawn.

CPC-190 can't be moved because Liberal-62 passed, consequential to Liberal-1.

We have NDP-26.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

This is the electoral district situation.

We've had some conversation. I'm not sure what the consequence of the previous conversations might be on NDP-26, so I'll just give you a second.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Yes, I'm just going to check that. It looks to me like it's been defeated already.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I will hold my breath until you determine that.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I have a point of order, Chair. Is this not already adopted, based on NDP-8?