Chair, I'll pick up on Mr. Reid's last point just while it's fresh in my mind, and I have a number of other thoughts from previous speakers.
Mr. Reid, through the chair to you, your point is well taken. I think what would mitigate it in a huge way is exactly the issue I'm trying to get resolved. If the steering committee didn't have the political majority control power to control a motion that comes here, in the affirmative or in the negative, then it wouldn't matter as much because there would either be total agreement.... If you're not on there, you run the risk that you don't know what's going on, but for the most part, if somebody is on there from somewhere else, if it's by consensus, it's not as big a problem. There are two big issues, as I see them, with your point. If you get somebody on there who doesn't really know what is going on at the committee, it's a little difficult to be part of the steering committee that looks ahead, especially if you're in a bit of a jackpot and you're trying to get out of it. It's very difficult if you're not one of the ones who are there, but it's a lot easier for us on this side of the House, the other recognized parties, if there's a consensus model so that at the very least it's not being partisan-driven that way, and then when it comes here we still have the opportunity, but your point is well taken.
If I might, I would say just a couple of things, Chair. First of all, both Mr. Lamoureux and Mr. Chan have been sort of urging us to get on with things and to watch the clock, since this may be our last day. I want to remind colleagues that it was on Tuesday when we assembled all the things it takes to pull a committee together that the only thing we did was elect a chair and two vice-chairs. We had an hour and three-quarters or an hour and a half available, and I was ready to start working, but the government had no interest at all, so, I'm sorry, but the argument that the NDP caused major problems because they backed up the committee and the work couldn't get done isn't going to wash. The government has to remember that on Tuesday it shut us down after we did the least amount of work possible. I leave that with you.
Second, through you again, Chair, with respect to Mr. Lamoureux, I hear what you're saying and I don't necessarily disagree, Kevin. I think Scott was right that there actually were a few examples in which there were problems, but I agree with you to the extent that most of the time it's not an issue. When I link that with what the government has said it wants to do with committees, it reminds me of my old negotiating days back when I was in my twenties negotiating collective agreements and how whether an employer said “may” do something or “shall” do something could cause a strike. On the one hand, “may” means they might or they might not depending on how they feel that day. “Shall” means there is an obligation.
Unfortunately, Mr. Lamoureux, you didn't quite get your notes in order, because while you were arguing that we're always going to get along, Mr. Chan is on record as saying—I'm paraphrasing—that's likely to happen, but sometimes we'll disagree. There's the big “but”. Either the government wants the PMO to have the ability to control the committees or it does not. I again put forward that the government already has control.
I'm going to acknowledge that there's about a 99.9% certainty, if not 100%, that other than in some freakish scenario, I'm going to lose votes and the government's going to win. That is going to happen 10 times out of 10 whether it's in any committee or in the House, and, Chair, I'll be the first one to say that under our current system, as flawed as it is, that's the way it needs to be. I accept that. I'm not trying to rewrite the election results; as much as I might like to do that, I'm not trying to do that.
There's backup control for the government, and I do get that, but at the end of the day, you have that at committee. No matter how many times I place a motion or the former government members place motions, we're going to lose if the government decides it doesn't like those motions. That is just life for us. The government gets to win every time the government wants to win.
I've been there. It's glorious. It's great. It's wonderful walking into a room, whether it's the House or a committee, knowing that 10 times out of 10 you're going to win. It's a great feeling, but you have that, and you made a promise that you're going to do things differently, so arguments about what we did in the past carry only so much weight when the government came in on an agenda of change. Arguing status quo really is arguing against your own agenda.
If you want to have two members on there, fine. That's not a hill I want to die on. However, if you're going to say that those two members are going to use their voting clout to force things through, that's not the intent of a steering committee. Even if the government doesn't get its way at the steering committee and there's no recommendation, the government lead—possibly Mr. Chan, if we're going by seniority and the fact that it won't be a parliamentary secretary, so it could be Mr. Chan or anyone else—is going to put forward a motion that reflects the argument that was made at the steering committee. They didn't win it at the steering committee because the rules of the steering committee provide for as much consensus as possible. The structure is meant to provide that. Then, when we don't have unanimity and we come here, Chair, I can all but guarantee that the government lead is going to move a motion that, just coincidentally, reflects everything that the government members wanted to do in the steering committee.
I don't have a problem with that. You're going to place that motion. The most we can do is debate the hell out of it and delay things, as I'm doing now, to make a point on something. We can do that, which we're entitled to do, assuming that you're not into railroading mode yet. You still have that backup at this committee.
Again, if you wanted to change things, this isn't even that big. I'm really quite surprised, Kevin, that you're letting us get this far down the rabbit hole, because this isn't going to reflect well on you either. This thing should have been boom, boom, boom, out of here. We could have been done on Tuesday.
All I'm trying to do is to help the government. Let's turn this and look at it differently. I'm trying to help by facilitating your agenda to make committees a little more independent. They're not going to be totally independent, because you have that majority vote. Fair enough. Again, nobody's arguing that. You have the right to make the decision. We can squawk and complain all we want, but you have that power. They used to have it; now they don't and you do. Okay. However, if you really want to change things and you want us to feel that committees are more independent, that we're actually reflecting what we think rather than what we're being told from on high....
That still applies to our parties. It's not as tight when you're not in government, but we all have leaders, whips, and House leaders, so those things still come into play at this committee. Other than the parliamentary secretary not being on the committee, there's not a lot of change to the power structure. It's a good start, but it doesn't really change the dynamic, and nobody's pretending it should. I'm not saying that you're evil for not doing that. That's the way it is. You get the final say.
However, if we really want to make things more independent—and this is not new; most of the steering committees I've sat on have operated by consensus. If we couldn't agree, the matter was bounced over to the committee with no recommendation. The government members would have done their homework, and Mr. Chan, for example, if he were the lead, or Ms. Taylor, if she were the lead, would put forward a motion that would exactly reflect what the government was saying in the steering committee. We would be fully expecting it, and then we'd have our array of measures and tools to respond, such as discussing and talking and holding things up and all that other stuff. That'll all come into play here, but at the end of the day, you win. Fair enough. But now a government that says it wants to do things differently wants to control the one place in committee work where there are no cameras and nobody sees the transcript, except for a very few people who have to get permission. It's like Maxwell Smart's cone of silence. Nobody knows what's going on.
They're fun meetings, quite frankly, because people are intelligent and they're funny in their work. If you've been around a long time, as I have, you actually get more of a thrill when you try to work together instead of fighting, because fighting is just the same old same old. Working together is a lot of fun; it really is, especially if you have serious challenges and you're working together. That's done a lot better in a collaborative relationship without the partisan aspect of power voting.
Mr. Lamoureux, you just finished saying that you didn't expect it to be a problem. I don't disagree with you, but I have to listen to your colleague who sits besides you, who said that there's going to be occasions where...and that as soon as we get there...even if it's just one time.
I say again to Mr.—