Maybe a partial answer to Mr. Graham's question about what one can do in the constitutional legal concerns, what one can get away with doing, in terms of creating parallel debates of both chambers, is that, ultimately, you have to pass a bill, for it to become an act, in both chambers. The rules about first, second and third reading are, however, as I understand it, entirely internal, and could be stripped away. This was actually tested before the courts in 1919, with reference to the Manitoba referendum legislation, which assumed that if a bill was passed in referendum, it would supplant the various readings in the provincial legislature, and would also be considered to have received royal assent. The courts ruled that royal assent must still take place. It's written down in the Constitution, but the courts ruled that the various internal stages of compressing or telescoping the various readings could be dealt with by means of.... I'm not sure if a statute could do it, or if you require changes to the Standing Orders. At any rate, they dealt with it. There's some reference point to go back to, if one's trying to figure out what is and is not permitted under our Constitution. That all deals with the 1867 Constitution, as opposed to what was added in 1982. It's still relevant law.
I wanted to comment, if I could, on Ms. Duncan's concern about the ubiquitous entry of whips, party considerations and partisanship into committees. That is what happens in most committees, most of the time, including this committee, frequently. My experience is that sometimes it doesn't happen.
There is one example on Parliament Hill of a subcommittee where party and partisan consideration has been kept almost exclusively out. That's the international human rights subcommittee of the foreign affairs committee, which I chaired for eight years. It already had that culture of not being partisan prior to my arrival. It retained it during my period there, and it kept that culture after I left. Whatever the reasons were for its arriving in the first place, I note that we just had to follow certain principles. We agreed that the Standing Orders still applied to everything we did in the procedures, but that we could, by a convention that exists only in the committee, agree to move forward only by consensus.
The world presents a vast smorgasbord of human rights abuses, the result being that we could pick ones where there was no obvious left, right or partisan division. If you debate human rights in Venezuela, the merits of the Maduro regime inevitably come into question, and that's problematic, because we have divisions on that. If you debate an issue about some other country, where there's a Canadian mining interest, say, you're less likely to have that problem. As a result, careful selection criteria, and some other internal rules—