Evidence of meeting #4 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 things.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Andre Barnes  Committee Researcher

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I know the mandate letter well, as you know.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Yes, so do your kids.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I was going to say I could do a rap if you wish.

I think we should sit down. That's a good idea. We'll take the mandate letter and we should go through and say what each of us envisions on these things and try to come to an agreement. We could try talking about that now. I'm saying we should do that and come back with suggestions as to who has some expertise. He said that a legislature or maybe several legislatures had done four-day weeks, for example. I know that Ontario has. It would be reasonable to start by trying to get some officer of the Ontario legislature here. That's one example of the kinds of the witnesses I want to think about.

We could come back to the next meeting with lists of witnesses. They don't necessarily have to be for one topic. They could be just to try to get a sense of what we're biting off. I don't know if that's helpful.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Chan.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Might I suggest we even just go with the thematic aspects that come within the minister's mandate letter? The other way we could potentially look at it is to go through the Standing Orders by topic and then chunk it up that way. That's just another way to apportion the work. The real question is whether we do it as a committee as a whole or we just break off into having the subcommittee set that agenda.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Normally the subcommittee meets at the time allocated for this meeting, right?

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Yes, but that does take up time.

Mr. Christopherson.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I don't think there's a real obvious way here in this. We have to make it up as we go along. Is there merit in asking each of the caucuses to, number one, go back through not a thoroughly exclusive list but a list of the things that each caucus thinks is a priority they would like to talk about, and number two, give us some idea of where they might want to go just in general terms? Then, Chair, we can schedule a meeting of the steering committee. Even though we haven't finished all the rules yet, we can get through. Let the steering committee chew on it and come up with a proposal and a process that comes back here.

Obviously, what the minister said was important and reflects where the government would like to go. I'm sure that we and the Conservatives have options. We've all done this before.

Anyway, just as a starting point, I throw that out. Ask each caucus. Even if it's not on paper, verbally each of the representatives could be ready to come to the steering committee to provide a little more of a fleshed-out idea of where each of us would like to go. Then we can see where they intersect and try to identify the stuff we think would be the low-lying fruit, part two.

It's just a thought, Chair.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Okay. Let me paraphrase that. If each party went back and their representative on the subcommittee came with, out of the mandate letter—there are about five things there—what their priorities are and the things they think we could work on, the subcommittee could present that as an agenda for our next meeting.

I'd like to add a little amendment for discussion. As a task-oriented person, Mr. Reid has suggested that there are people with expertise in a number of these areas. Maybe we could think of one of those obvious people to have here for one hour of our next meeting so that we get the discussion under way, in the meantime going in parallel with the same process.

The other thing is the timing of the subcommittee. Often it's done at the time the committee would normally meet.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

No, no, outside of the committee time, Chair, please.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

That will speed up our time, yes.

Mr. Reid.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I want to start this by asking David a question.

Were you in the legislature when there were five-day weeks, or were there four-day weeks when you were there?

12:35 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

They were five days.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Okay, so that postdates you.

The obvious, then, if we're starting with that one, is that I would suggest getting the clerk of the Ontario legislature to comment, assuming the individual was there both before and after the change. They could comment in a non-partisan way on some of the practicalities of things that have arisen as a result; it would just be business. For that person, you'd want to check how long they've been the clerk. You'd want to make sure they were clerk when the transition took place, or deputy clerk. Assuming that's true, I would suggest starting with that person. I don't have a name, I'm afraid.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Are there any comments on that? For our next meeting, we'd invite the clerk or someone from the clerk's office in the Ontario legislature who has expertise on both four-day and five-day sittings.

Mr. Chan.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Is this a past clerk? It's probably not the current sitting clerk. I think the Ontario legislature returns after Family Day.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

So that means they're back next week?

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

No, the week after.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

If we met with them next Tuesday—

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

We could, if they're available.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Yes. We'll need to find out, but that's just a suggestion. There are other legislatures, I gather, that have this as well. Ontario is the one I know about because I live in Ontario, and I'm envious of my MPP, who gets a day....

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Lamoureux.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

I'm wondering about this. If you try to relate to a provincial legislature that might have some commonality with Ottawa, you could look at a legislature like Victoria's, where a vast majority of the MLAs are rural. I don't know how—I have no idea—their voting process works and at what time. There was a suggestion that we maybe look at the possibility of having question period earlier as opposed to two o'clock, and there are the days of the week and so forth.

There might be some benefit in looking to the B.C. operation and the clerk's office, just to see if there's some value in having them also come down to make a presentation, if you're looking at a second one. Again, the vast majority of MLAs live well out of Victoria, so travel is a big issue in British Columbia, more so than in other provinces. That's a suggestion you might want to consider. If you're doing Ontario—

January 28th, 2016 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

You're suggesting a panel of experts.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

I think maybe you can get someone from the clerk's office in Ontario and someone from the clerk's office in B.C. and hear what they have to say. On at least those three items, and possibly four, you can ask them for their opinion. For example, what have they been doing to be family friendly in the last few years? When is their question period? Was there a justification for it? Do they sit on the Fridays? As I say, I have no idea if they sit on Fridays. I don't know. I just think that they share a lot of things we would share in terms of distance-related issues.