Evidence of meeting #12 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was pandemic.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Justin Vaive
Charles Robert  Clerk of the House of Commons
André Gagnon  Deputy Clerk, Procedure, House of Commons
Patrick McDonell  Sergeant-at-Arms and Corporate Security Officer, House of Commons
Stéphan Aubé  Chief Information Officer, Digital Services and Real Property, House of Commons
Daniel Paquette  Chief Financial Officer, House of Commons
Kevin Leahy  Director, Parliamentary Protective Service
Antonia Francis  Director, Human Resources Services, Parliamentary Protective Service
Michel Patrice  Deputy Clerk, Administration
Michelle Laframboise  Chief Human Resources Officer, House of Commons
Marc LeClair  Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

If an election were held today, do you think there would be a serious risk of disenfranchisement of Métis voters because of the circumstances of the pandemic?

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

Some of our people really take this thing seriously, so they would have to be convinced that everything was done that was possible to be done, or we would disenfranchise them, that's for sure. There's no doubt about that.

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

I guess that speaks to some of your earlier comments. I know we've heard from chief elections officers and from public health officers who say that they think they can set up an election that would be safe according to the rules but that people's perception of how safe it is might be a reason they don't vote, as well. That's something for us as politicians to take into consideration when the House is deliberating on an issue that might cause an election.

Do you have any thoughts for us as political actors on election timing?

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

Yes, and I'm sincere about this: You guys should figure out a way to govern for a little while and let's see how this thing goes for a bit. That's what you should do.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Thank you, Mr. LeClair.

We should be able to get through the complete second round, and maybe, if we're lucky, the first speaker on the third round, who would be Mr. Lukiwski.

The second round is five minutes, starting with Mr. Tochor.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. LeClair, thank you again for being here. I appreciate your insights in the holding of elections during these very trying times.

The Métis National Council website speaks about how your election should be held, as a province-wide ballot box election.

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

How is that different from or the same as what Elections Canada does for a general election?

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

It's very similar. We have electoral districts. For example, Manitoba has seven electoral districts. We have the leaders run at the provincial level. The ballots for the president are counted in each of the seven regions. It's very similar.

In British Columbia, which just held a province-wide election, they used more mail-in ballots this election. The same thing was true of the Métis Nation of Ontario, which also had a large number of mail-in ballots. The process is similar.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

In that vein, I understand there was to be a national council election in the spring. To your previous comments, you found a way to govern without having an election during a pandemic. That's obvious, because you haven't had that election.

Knowing what you know now about COVID, would you still make that same decision, to hold off on having those elections?

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

We have a couple of other internal issues that we're working our way through that make it difficult to convene an election. For the current leadership, if there's any risk to any citizen....

Remember that we're coming from four provinces, so that creates risk in itself. We're watching this thing very closely. We want to get to an election, but we have to have the conditions that are right for it.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

You're taking into consideration just four provinces. Do you have any comments on a federal election that would take in all the provinces and all the territories and all the challenges that we would face in a federal election?

1:10 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

Yes, I remember voting last time here in Chelsea and those line-ups were pretty long. There are risks associated with voting in these conditions, and just like we're trying to find a way to govern, I think you guys need to find a way to govern. I think you need to hold the government to account. There's no doubt about that. And from a citizen perspective, it's going okay. Obviously we need to see, and I guess we'll see at the end of November, a budget statement to see where we're at, because everybody realizes that this is not sustainable for the long term. You guys can keep it together, I think.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Thank you so much for your comments.

I cede the floor, Madam Chair.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Thank you.

Ms. Petitpas Taylor, you have five minutes, please.

November 24th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you so much, Madam Chair, and thank you, Mr. LeClair, for being with us today. I always appreciate having an opportunity to meet and to exchange views. Over the past number of years I've had the privilege of meeting and working with many Métis leaders including Clem Chartier, David Chartrand, and also Clara Morin Dal Col, and you, and it's always great to be able to have candid, straightforward conversations. Sometimes we agree to disagree, but I always feel that I leave those conversations very well-informed, indeed better-informed, as a result of them.

I've got a few questions and they're not all going to follow each other. First and foremost, would you be able to share with us the test positivity rate of the Métis population across Canada when it comes to COVID-19?

1:15 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

I wish I could, but we haven't disaggregated the data against those registry records, which is something that we could do. But no, the system is not in place to do that.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Okay, thank you for that.

Getting to the electoral process right now, could you tell the committee members what is your relationship with the Chief Electoral Officer, or specifically with Elections Canada? I know right now that, first of all, we're in the midst of a global pandemic, but also that we are in a minority Parliament. When would you usually have conversations with Elections Canada in preparation for the upcoming election?

1:15 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

They would be ongoing by now. I don't know this new Chief Electoral Officer Perrault, but Kingsley was very good in reaching out and did so on an electoral basis. So we would expect we'd have those conversations with them.

By the way, is that a war picture there in the background?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

It is.

1:15 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

Yes, I just want to let everybody on the committee know how proud the Métis are that we finally settled for our Métis veterans.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you.

During your comments or in one of the responses you gave today, you indicated that during the last election of 2019, you worked very hard to “turn the Métis vote out.”

What steps did you take to increase that vote?

1:15 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

Calls, we had a team of people calling. We have a list of our own electors, which we used to make sure they got out, and we helped out if there were transportation issues. In Manitoba we have 800 employees who work for the Manitoba Métis Federation, so we're able to assist with getting people to the polls, especially the elders.

That's what we did. We had a dedicated portion of the website geared towards this. I think they did in Saskatchewan as well. We tried to make it easy for people to understand what the positions of the parties were. The national body had a special election section where we posted all of the material that was provided to us by the parties. We had posed questions to the parties on Métis issues or issues important to Métis, and posted the answers there. It wasn't perfect, and it's going to be a little bit more challenging now, I think.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

If we look at the normal percentage of Métis who get out to vote in federal elections, would you have that number? What is the percentage of people who turn out to vote in a typical federal election?

1:15 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

It's in the seventies.