Evidence of meeting #66 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 commons.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Charles Robert  Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments and Chief Legislative Services Officer

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Respectfully—

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

I'll allow you to answer.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

You have 30 seconds left.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

I appreciate your permission to allow me to answer. Through the chair, I will definitely reiterate that different members of Parliament might have different ambitions. My primary ambition will always be to represent Canadians. We know that we needed a strengthened democracy. We know that we needed the voices of Canadians to be heard in this place.

As somebody who never thought she'd run for office, I ran for office because I knew that people like me did not have a voice in the House of Commons. The government of the day was not listening to what I had to say. That is my commitment. That's why I wake up every morning. That's why I go to sleep.

As for being chosen to be part of government and the Prime Minister giving me the opportunity to be the Minister of Small Businesses and Tourism as well as the government House leader, my commitment to Canadians will remain, and the very people who have sent me to this place are the people who I will fight hard for every single day.

It might be tough to understand that a prime minister gives direction. I'm a person who has an opinion. People sacrificed their lives for me to have my opinion. I will continue to be that voice. The Prime Minister knows me very well. Part of why I'm at the cabinet table is that he knows I will stand up for what is right, and I will debate any point that needs to be debated with anyone who wants the opportunity to do so, so thank you for the opportunity to do that.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

I'm not sure, Mr. Chair, how that related at all to the idea of what's screened between her and the Prime Minister.

11:45 a.m.

An hon. member

Was that the question?

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

I guess she tried to avoid the question—

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

The time's up. We'll move on to Ms. Sahota for five minutes.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Thank you.

Thank you, Minister, for being here today.

In your opening remarks, you made some statements about wanting to improve our Parliament, the place we work in. I'm also regretful, as you've stated you are, that we weren't able to have the conversation in the appropriate manner here, with experts, to learn from perhaps other parliaments or other people who may have input as to how we can better our workplace.

I know that you've put out some thoughts in your discussion paper, and you've highlighted about four or five things here today, but I imagine that there must be other things on your mind that you would like to see happen in our Parliament, perhaps not now but in the future. What are some of these other ways for how we can better our workplace for Canadians?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

I shared some ideas in the discussion paper. I do believe that we can bring the House of Commons and Parliament into the 21st century. I do believe that we need to strengthen and modernize our institutions. Because of the lack of willingness to have that conversation, I will let the committee do the work they want to do and discover and consider ideas. I look forward to being part of that conversation when that opportunity becomes available, if it becomes available.

What I do know is that we've been having good-faith conversations over the last little bit in regard to what the government is proposing and the commitments we've made. It shows me that there is a willingness to work better together and also that we can find a way to do that. That's what I will continue to endeavour to do.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

When you were appointed to this position, you must have come to it with a vision. Even if there are not specifics that you can give at this point, I wouldn't mind hearing a bit about what your vision for Parliament is and how you feel that members can better represent their constituents here in Parliament.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

That is exactly the vision. It's to be able to represent Canadians, to represent constituents, in this place. The House becomes partisan, as we are elected with political parties and political stripes, and oftentimes it becomes about the messaging of the day rather than the challenges our constituents are facing. When we talk about diversity under the leadership of this Prime Minister, we are not just talking about visible diversity. We are talking about the diversity of our country, whether it comes to regional differences or to industries that flourish in our communities or don't flourish.

When you're talking about the diversity of age and experience, and how people came here and why people came here, I believe those perspectives and those experiences need to be shared in the decisions we make for Canadians, so that we can better reflect them when we do pass legislation, to ensure that it's good legislation.

I believe that's what we've been having: good, constructive, and meaningful conversation. Can we improve it? Yes. Will I continue wanting to improve it? Yes, and I will work with everyone to do that. Look at the independent non-partisan Senate. Some people will say, “Well, is it tougher?” Are they having good conversations and representing Canadians to ensure it's good legislation? Yes. Are they scrutinizing? Yes. That's exactly what committees do. That's why I really value the work of committees.

We have to remember who elects us and who we're here to represent. What I try to do is ensure that I don't represent only the people who voted for me, but that I represent the best interests of my entire constituency, the best interests of my stakeholders and so forth.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

You have one minute.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

I'll share my time with Ms. Tassi, because she has some questions as well.

June 15th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Thank you.

Thanks for being here, Minister, supposedly to talk about changes to Standing Orders. It's interesting that we spent so much time talking about that previously, and unfortunate that many of the questions today are straying from that topic. It's a bit of a bait and switch.

In any event, I have two questions, if I have time for them.

First, I want to confirm that the five areas you have outlined in your presentation today were all areas which were contained in promises that we made to Canadians. Can you make just a couple of comments about how important that is in keeping those promises that we made to Canadians?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

When parties run in campaigns, we make commitments to Canadians, and Canadians expect us to deliver on those commitments. Things change and new information becomes available. That is always the case. We understand that.

When it comes to the commitments we have made for what I believe are reasonable changes to the Standing Orders, they are commitments that I would like to see us advance. We've been having good-faith conversations with leaders of the recognized opposition parties to see if we can find a way to work more collaboratively. They've been good-faith conversations, and I can tell you sincerely that I've appreciated them.

When it comes to the five areas, yes, I'd like to see us deliver on them. Something I heard at doors time and time again was Canadians saying that they wanted members to work better together in general, because all of us combined represent the best interests of Canadians, and there is no one member who tries to do that more than others. We all work hard. There is no doubt.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Thank you.

Mr. Schmale, you have five minutes.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for being here and for all your hard work on this file.

As you said in your remarks, “Canadians elected a government with a mandate to strengthen Parliament”. That said, we're looking at a rushed process to appoint a potential new Clerk of the House of Commons. In this spirit of openness and transparency, were there any of your staff, any other ministerial staff, or any staff in the PMO on the search committee for this new Clerk?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Once again, Minister, while you're here—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Well, I'm just—

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

—if you want to answer, you can, but I'm just.... Go ahead.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

I believe I've commented enough on this issue, which I'm not sure is the reason why you want me here. I will repeat and remind everyone that there is an open, transparent, merit-based appointment process. The position was posted. The qualifications and requirements for the position were available.

As I'm sure the member could understand when it comes to this position, it's a substantial position, and there are very few people who have the expertise and knowledge that would be required for such a position, but I'm sure we all endeavour to have the rules memorized and at our fingertips....

There was a process. The process unfolded. Part of the process was me making the tough decision that I made. I tabled that name, and it was referred to committee. The committee will be able to do what the committee needs to do.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Can you tell us who's on that search committee?