Evidence of meeting #56 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 clerk.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:30 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Yes. What was Minister Gould's deadline on...?

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

She said the beginning of June or preferably the end of May. That was what she said to us. Those are almost her exact words.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Yes. Are we on a bill with that or is that her...?

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

No, that was in relation to our review of the Chief Electoral Officer's report.

May 4th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Right. I was just trying to decide. I can't recall, I just have to go back to notes.

Anyway, my point is this. Once the government accepted that the way it did it, through Bill C-33, is a non-starter going forward—don't do that anymore.... I think that message delivered, and I see certain other folks nodding heads that, yes, that's the way it's now understood. We had said that if the government were willing to stop usurping our work, we would do everything we could to try to work within her time frame. I still am, but I have to tell you that time's getting tight, and tighter.

I just leave it with you, Chair. It might also be that we talk this through in a framework and maybe we ask the subcommittee to take a look at some of the more finite deadlines that are involved and actually try to map something through that gets us close to when we still think we're going to be here. When we get to the end of June, it's never clear. There's always this: will there be deal; will we get out? Even at Queen's Park it was the same thing. There's a flurry of deals; everybody wants to get out. It depends on the mood of the House. If you get into agreement, you're out two or three days early. If not, you're there to the very last nanosecond.

There are at least three, maybe four different items that are all serious, at play, with deadlines, and in each of those cases at this stage there's a high degree of co-operation between this committee and the government and its desired agenda. I'm not sure we can do that with all of us here. We should keep talking it through, but it seems to me that at some point we're going to need to lay out all three, four, or five—whatever those pieces are. Again, keeping in mind that the House has now told us what our priorities are, I think we've agreed we can slip away with unanimous consent and do the estimates, but we have to nail that down.

I'm just concerned that, if we don't take the time now to do it in detail, we're just going to run out of runway, and then we're going to find ourselves wherever we are at the end. Then the government's going to say, “You know, we have no choice now; we're going to have to bring legislation in”. That's going to cause at least me to go crazy again, and away we go and nothing's happening. To try to avoid all of that, I think it's in our best interests to get this nailed down as to exactly how we're going to proceed to maximize our ability to achieve what we want to achieve in the time frame that we have accepted.

I'm really good at explaining the problem.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

I think today we can set up the privilege and the estimates, but I agree with you that we should have maybe a working group to figure out how we get to that, how close we get at least to that other deadline on the Chief Electoral Officer's report. I'll call that when we see when people are available.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

That's good. That will let us revert back to the matter at hand.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Yes.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I will defer to my colleague Mr. Nater on matters relating to the point of privilege.

I did want to say that with regard to the other matters that Mr. Chan raised, I think his work plan and the suggested dates are eminently sensible. I agree with everything he said in its entirety. Everything he suggested, the suggested dates and going back to the minister, everything he said, I think, is eminently reasonable.

I would advocate the following. In your conversation with the minister or her staff, I wonder if you could couch things this way. Her relationship with the Elections Act is unique among all ministers and their responsibilities in that the CEO.... Normally someone who is administering this kind of legislation reports to a minister. The CEO does not report to a minister for obvious reasons; he reports to PROC. We carry on a conversation that she literally can't have with the CEO. Therefore, we are, to some degree, serving as her main information channel. Finding out what things she actually needs to know would be helpful to us. There may be reasons that she'd be.... Well, if you could pose it that way, I think it might prove helpful in coalescing her thoughts as to where the biggest lacunae exist in her own knowledge of what she'd want to do.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

That's fine. I wanted to raise only one other point. The other way we can deal with this is by more meetings or longer meetings, or somehow getting to the things that we want to get through. I don't think I'll do my challenge with respect to the motion to adjourn.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

We could talk about that at the subcommittee.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

We could have conversations at the subcommittee level. Maybe we should think about calling a quick subcommittee meeting at some point. I don't know when it's convenient for the chair to.... We could do it now with all the members who are here.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

We could spend 25 minutes to see how much of the framework around the privilege.... It shouldn't be that difficult.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I don't think it's that difficult.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Unfortunately, we've done it before so we know how to go about it. Then we could slip into a subcommittee meeting on the hour.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Right.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Why don't we talk about the privilege motion, given that Mr. Nater is here?

Let me start, if you don't mind.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Wait, we're not finished yet. We're going to go to Mr. Nater, but I just want to conclude this thing on the estimates.

The last suggestion I heard was to have witnesses on the 16th, 18th, and 30th, hopefully towards the earlier part, with the elections officer first. There was a suggestion that the time be a bit longer than an hour because of the ideas that Mr. Christopherson put forward, the questions we might want to ask.

Is that agreeable to everyone?

11:35 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

[Inaudible—Editor]

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

A full day...?

11:35 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I don't know how else you do it. Two hours is a day.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I agree. Do two hours with the Chief Electoral Officer....

11:35 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

And then two on the—

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Two with the Clerk and the protective services...?

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Do you think you need two for the Clerk? I don't think you need two for the Clerk. I thought the Clerk and the PPS were pretty straightforward.