Evidence of meeting #40 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 process.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Andrew Lauzon
  • Vikram Vij  Provincial Member, British Columbia, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments
  • Jeannette Arsenault  Provincial Member, Prince Edward Island, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments
  • Brian Francis  Provincial Member, Prince Edward Island, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

11:20 a.m.

Provincial Member, British Columbia, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

Vikram Vij

Okay. Will I just keep waiting?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Laurentides—Labelle, QC

There's a vote called in the House so the bells are ringing.

11:20 a.m.

Provincial Member, British Columbia, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

Are you available in 45 minutes or an hour?

11:20 a.m.

Provincial Member, British Columbia, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

Vikram Vij

I'm available until 10 o'clock. I was told 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

If you could do some other work for 45 minutes or an hour. The technicians will be in touch with you.

11:20 a.m.

Provincial Member, British Columbia, Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

Vikram Vij

Okay, thank you.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

We will suspend.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

We're back.

We were just in discussion on a point of order when we broke. We will call Mr. Richards to reply to the point of order that was being made.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Banff—Airdrie, AB

Thanks, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Although I appreciate the attempts being made by the Liberal member to prevent the questioning, I think it is quite relevant to the witness's qualifications, and I'll explain why.

A very standard and typical question on a job interview—and this isn't exactly a job interview, but it's assessing someone's qualifications so it's a similar type of situation—and a very common question, which I use and many people use in job interviews, is to assess the candidate's ability to deal with conflict. You ask them how they deal with a conflict situation. It's very typical. I know Mr. Vij would have hired many people, and it may even be a question that he himself uses to assess a candidate.

Given that, what I was obviously asking about is a situation with potential conflict, or it may even be a situation that has already occurred and in which there has been real conflict, because they have actually undertaken some assessment of potential senatorial candidates already.

What we're faced with is a situation in which I'm using this to determine the candidate's ability to deal with a conflict situation, whether it be a perceived one or a potential one, by virtue of which the PMO would not choose to appoint the candidate who had been recommended by him and other members of the board; or it may be, a situation that has actually already occurred in respect to which he may be able to tell us how he addressed that situation in reality.

Maybe the PMO didn't choose to appoint the people who were put forward. It would be about my ability to assess the ability to deal with that potential conflict, or what may have been a real conflict already, if the PMO has not appointed the candidates who were recommended by him or his fellow board members.

I think it is a very pertinent question to be able to assess the candidate's qualifications. Frankly, Mr. Chair, as much as I respect your position and I like you as a person, I think if you choose to rule anything other than to allow the question, it would seem to me to show a lack of impartiality here and something that would be seen to protect the government. I really hope, Mr. Chair, that you'll allow the question to proceed.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

I'm not going to allow this debate to go on too long and take time from the witnesses, but we'll have Ruby respond.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Brampton North, ON

I think what should be appreciated is the leniency shown on the first question. There was a point of order right there as well, but some leeway was given. There was a good response that I think was beneficial to this committee.

However, the question, if we go back into the record, that Mr. Richards has asked was not, “How would you deal with conflict in any situation?” The question was a lot more pointed at what has happened in the process, and it was very particular to what the PMO did or did not do.

This is not the place for a question of that sort. This is not under our mandate—what we have according to the Standing Orders—which is asking about their qualifications.

If the question is “What would you do in a conflict situation?”, go ahead and ask that question. But that was not the question asked.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Chair, if you could give me an opportunity to respond, I would need, obviously, an equal opportunity.

The question was obviously driven to determine the ability of the candidate to deal with conflict. That is a very typical question. In this case, the reality of the matter is, Mr. Chair, that the board has already undertaken some of the work we're doing of assessing their qualifications, so it may be in fact that this situation has already occurred; or it may be something that's hypothetical. Either way, I would want to be able to have the witness's take on how he has or how he would deal with the situation.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

Mr. Reid.

November 17th, 2016 / 11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Chair, we've dealt with this in the past. On the previous occasion, it was me rather than Mr. Richards who found himself being denied the right to ask a question.

If a witness chooses not to answer a question, that's the witness's business. But the rules, as far as I'm aware, do not preclude our asking questions. I would recommend to you that you could pass that advice on to the witnesses, that if they choose not to answer, that's their business. But that does not, as I say, extend to prohibiting the freedom of speech of members of Parliament.