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

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Good morning. Welcome to the 56th meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

As members know, yesterday the House voted unanimously to refer the question of privilege regarding free movement of members of Parliament within the parliamentary precinct to this committee. I think you all have a copy of that in front of you. The order of reference specifies “that the Committee make this matter a priority over all other business including its review of the Standing Orders and Procedure of the House and its committees, provided that the Committee report back no later than June 19, 2017.”

This meeting is, at the moment, in public.

Mr. Reid.

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Thank you. This is a point of order of which I have given you previous notice, Mr. Chair.

This deals with the point of order that I had raised just as the last committee was being gavelled shut. I have several things to say.

First of all, since the cameras were still rolling, and the microphones, too, people will be aware that I used some terms that are not parliamentary. I'm not sure whether one withdraws non-parliamentary language after a meeting that took place outside of a parliamentary reading in the formal sense, so I guess I'm not in a position to withdraw it. But I am in a position to say the following. This is what I'd intended to raise in the point of order at that time. I believed, at that point, that had we sought it we might have been able to come to a unanimous consensus in which Mr. Simms might have been willing to withdraw his motion. I, of course, as a part of that, would have been happy to withdraw my amendment to his motion. I think if we try going around the table today, we might get success in that.

While I have the floor, Mr. Chair, I will just state publicly something you're already aware of, which is that I've given a letter to the clerk and to you outlining what I believe were four points in which you, in your capacity as chair, over the course of that epic meeting, were in violation of either the practices of the House, as enumerated in O'Brien and Bosc, or else of the Standing Orders. Those are enumerated, and I would like to raise that at a future appropriate time, after we deal with the matter of privilege before us and perhaps other matters that are of importance to the committee, and at a time that is deemed suitable by the members of the committee.

I do, however, want to say—and I take a fair chunk of the letter I've given to you to point this out—that while those specific problems are important to me as issues of privilege, I do not mean to denigrate your overall chairmanship of this extraordinary and indeed unique meeting. I thought that your chairmanship on the whole was absolutely outstanding. I already had a high regard for you as a parliamentarian, and indeed in leaving the 55th meeting, my regard is higher than it was before, based upon the overall way in which you handled things over that long period of time. But I do think it's important to deal with these matters, because I think it's important that we are clear as to which practices are acceptable and which are not.

That was really all I had to say, Mr. Chair. I thank you for the fact that you allowed me the time.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

I appreciate that, Mr. Reid. Thank you very much.

Mr. Christopherson.

11:05 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I'll begin, if I may, just by saying that I concur with the remarks of Mr. Reid in terms of your chairing of this. I would extend that, actually, to the whole group dynamic. The fact that in the midst of that major pitched battle—it doesn't get much more pitched than that—we were still able to find an amicable way to create what we called the Simms....

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

The Simms model.

11:05 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Yes—the Simms model, where we found a way to allow colleagues to have a say and interact in a way that's not the usual way we do it, but it was felt that it was the healthiest way for us to deal with the situation we were in.

I want to extend your remarks, if I may Mr. Reid, not only to our chair but also to colleagues. That's about as good as it gets when you're in that bad a shape. To that degree, hopefully, lessons were learned and good things will carry forward.

Chair, the reason I asked you for the floor was that the government has indicated it is withdrawing, and Mr. Simms has indicated through a tweet, conversations, and public comments that it is his intent to withdraw his motion. Mr. Reid has said that if there's a withdrawal of Mr. Simms' motion the amendment would obviously be withdrawn too. Therefore, what I want to do is clean it up. If we just move forward now, technically, that motion is still on the books and could be recalled by Mr. Simms at any time he wishes, and it would be in order. That creates a problem because it can only leave us, on the opposition benches, with the impression that the government reserves the right to bring back this heavy hammer.

In order to allow us to have a clean airing and a fresh start and get on to some real work, I wouldn't say it's necessary but certainly critically important that we go through that formal process of getting the motion and the amendment off the books. Make it go away, let us get on with our work, and that matter will move to the House where the battle will continue, but in another arena under a different set of rules, and we can get back to work.

I ask, through you, Mr. Chair, if Mr. Simms would be prepared to seek unanimous consent to withdraw his motion, and by extension the same process for Mr. Reid, to clear the matter so that both the government and the opposition are starting from the same perspective and attitude going forward, without any lingering doubts as to whether or not anything else nefarious is at play.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Simms.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

It is May 4, and I am wearing a tie decorated with the face of Darth Vader, representing the Empire.

11:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

May 4th, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

I say that jokingly, but I know it's a serious topic, and I apologize to my colleagues. Please don't take it as such.

First, I would like to say thank you for fixing my name to something that, in the future, I hope we use as an adult debate, as it were. Hopefully, during the pitched, fevered battle, among all that, I'd like to play my role not as the hard hammer but more the velvet hammer.

Before I do what I'm about to do, normally people would say, “I regret doing this”, but I don't have a lot of regret for several reasons. I like the content of the motion. I do. I like the content of the discussion paper. But further to that, I really enjoyed the content of something I would call a filibuster with a small “f”, because we managed to put forward a lot of ideas. We managed to put forward a lot of great discussion, some of it bordering on the best theatre I have ever seen in this place, and I mean that in a nice way—theatre as in good content. By way of example, two weeks ago, I purchased a copy of the Magna Carta.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

You didn't have to. It's in the minutes.

11:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

That's actually a valid point. I just wasted $20. No, I didn't waste it because—

11:10 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

You have 800 more years to go.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Anyway, I was inspired to buy it, and when I bought the thing I realized this was actually a useful exercise, and that's why I called it a filibuster with a lowercased “f”. I actually enjoyed a lot of the content, and not just from the opposition but from our side as well. I want to thank my colleagues on all sides of this.

That being said, I brought up a point of order for a very good reason. That is, I am seeking the unanimous consent of all my colleagues, with a great deal of respect, to withdraw the motion that I tabled on.... I can't remember the date.

(Motion withdrawn)

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Mr. Reid, do we need unanimous consent to remove your amendment?

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I don't know.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Let's just do it.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Yes.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Do we have unanimous consent to remove the amendment?

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

With the motion removed, there would be no amendment to the main motion.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

You can't amend thin air.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

You could probably talk about it for several days, though.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Okay. Thank you, everyone.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Given that we've now dispensed of the matter, I think technically Mr. Graham noted that this would normally be March 25—