Evidence of meeting #27 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 prorogation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Justin Vaive
Andre Barnes  Committee Researcher

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Someone will be calling you, Mr. Lukiwski.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Thank you.

11:35 a.m.

The Clerk

Madam Chair, we will have an IT ambassador call Mr. Lukiwski. I don't know if you want to suspend while we're doing that, seeing as Mr. Lukiwski is not able to hear what I am saying.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Yes, we'll suspend for two minutes.

Noon

The Clerk

The vote is on Mr. Blaikie's subamendment.

(Subamendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Okay.

Mr. Nater, you have your hand up.

Noon

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Chair, I assume we're back on the debate on the amendment as amended.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

We are on Mr. Lauzon's amendment as amended by Mr. Blaikie's subamendment, yes.

Noon

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I will be brief. I don't believe in stretching out discussion any more than it needs to be to get a few points on the floor.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

You must have changed your beliefs, Mr. Nater.

Noon

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

It all depends on whether I'm speaking on a matter of grave importance that needs me to flesh out many clear details, but it reminds me of something. Going back to filibusters of days gone by, usually there's a purpose, and often a noble purpose, in doing so. In the filibuster in the previous Parliament, we did so with the support of our colleagues in the NDP to prevent unilateral changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. We felt very strongly. That was the purpose of that.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

You're allowed to change your mind.

June 1st, 2021 / noon

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

In this case, however, it appears that our friends in the Liberal Party are filibustering to protect one person and one person only, being the right honourable Prime Minister, but I do digress.

Very briefly, what we see now is we have an amendment as amended. The first amendment from Mr. Blaikie gutted the entire motion to one hour of the Prime Minister's time and now we see that the Liberals can't even see themselves supporting one single hour, 60 minutes, of the Prime Minister's time.

I recognize the Prime Minister is a very busy person. He is the Prime Minister of our country, but 60 minutes within a 24-hour day is not [Technical difficulty—Editor] responsibilities that are out there. In the mandate letter of each minister of the Crown, it was stated that they would make themselves available to parliamentary committees when required and when needed.

This is certainly one of the important parliamentary committees and the Prime Minister has been seen as the only decision-maker on this matter. We've heard that from experts. We've heard that from witnesses who have come before the committee. The government House leader was not the decision-maker. From his testimony, the government House leader was not involved in the discussions prior to a matter of hours and no more than days before the decision took place. It is the Prime Minister who made the decision and we've heard that throughout the process.

We all know what's going to happen with this motion if it passes as amended. The Prime Minister will not show up and we will have, as Ms. Vecchio said, a paper clip at the end of the report stating that he didn't come. It's pretty lame, for lack of a better word, when we spent all this time, first of all, on this filibuster, but before that, hearing from witnesses on this matter to get to this point that we're really not going to see much of that going forward.

What I would do is make the suggestion that we amend this amendment slightly, so I'm introducing a subamendment. I will email it to Justin to send it to the committee so that the committee has it in both of our country's official languages. I move:

That the amendment be amended by replacing the words “the non attendance of the Prime Minister be added to an annex to” with the following: “a recommendation that this Committee be empowered to order the Prime Minister’s attendance be included in”.

I'll send that so committee members have the context of what this is saying, but what we're suggesting with this subamendment is that there be a recommendation in the report that the committee be given the authority to call the Prime Minister to have his appearance before the committee and that would be part of the [Technical difficulty—Editor] when it's finalized.

I'm not going to say anything more than this. I think the committee knows where I stand on this, knows where we stand on this, and as soon as I cede the floor, I will push “send” on that email so it goes to Justin, our clerk, and he'll be able to distribute that subamendment to the committee.

I will end my comments there, Madam Chair, and cede the floor back to you.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Thank you, Mr. Nater. Obviously, I was just kidding and joking around with you. I feel that I can do that with some of the members I've known a little bit longer.

Thank you for that subamendment. We'll wait to get that in writing. I think all the members, seeing how everyone has been operating in the last few meetings, will probably want to take a look at that.

Basically, you're adding a recommendation, based on a preconception you have, of what you want to see in the report. Okay.

Mr. Turnbull.

Noon

Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

I just want to say that I appreciate the levity you bring to our meetings, Madam Chair. Your sense of humour is appreciated by me and I'm sure by many other colleagues.

With regard to Mr. Nater's proposed subamendment—I'm not sure if it's an amendment or a subamendment, but I think it's a subamendment—would we be able to take a short suspension when we get it, just to have a quick read, please?

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Would the committee be okay with a 10-minute suspension to take a look at it?

Mr. Nater, have you already emailed it?

Noon

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Yes. It's been sent to the clerk. Hopefully, it is working its way through the interweb as we speak and will get to him shortly.

Noon

The Clerk

Madam Chair, I have just received it now. I will send it out to the members' P9s momentarily.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Okay.

It's 12:10 right now. We'll suspend for 10 minutes.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

We'll come to order.

We have just been presented with a subamendment by Mr. Nater. Everyone has received that subamendment. Hopefully, there were no problems and no one was left off the list.

Has everyone received it? Okay. You have had a chance to look at it. You were given time to do that over the suspension.

I think the natural thing to do at this point is to vote on the subamendment.

Go ahead, Mr. Blaikie.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I don't want to take up too much time. I do want to say that for me, anyway, the important objective of today's meeting is to get to a point where we know that the committee is resolved to issue a report next Tuesday so that we can go on to studying Bill C-19. One thing that I think is different about what Mr. Nater is proposing, from what he intends to remove, is that in Monsieur Lauzon's amendment....

I mean, while I very clearly share, as I've been stating consistently for months, Monsieur Therrien's and other opposition MPs' desire to see the Prime Minister at committee, I also share their express pessimism about the idea that he will appear. They've been very clear that they don't think he will come. The question, then, is how do you generate some political accountability for that? I believe that's best done with filing a report.

If indeed the Prime Minister doesn't come over the next week, Monsieur Lauzon's version makes a descriptive claim about that. Right now we're really just talking about adding a fact to the report, which won't be in dispute at that point. The Prime Minister will either have come or not come. What Mr. Nater's amendment does is leave the descriptive realm, if you'll excuse a philosopher's definition here, and move into the normative. It starts making claims about what the report, one that we haven't even agreed to yet that we're going to get done, will say. I think we need to resolve the question about whether we are in fact committed to getting a report done before we start discussing the recommendations of the report.

That's why I won't be voting in favour of this amendment, although I'm quite open to a discussion about what the content of the report might be and the kinds of recommendations we'll be making in respect of what I think is a failure of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister not to be here. That's a discussion for what goes in the report once we know we're making one. We have to get there first.

Thank you very much.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Thank you, Mr. Blaikie.

Monsieur Therrien.

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

I'd like to come back to what Mr. Blaikie said. Words and actions are two different things. Words can describe things, but actions are much more compelling.

I've read the amendment and would like to have its scope explained to me, because the French translation is not convincing. I can see the difference between the subamendment and what we voted on just now, but can someone explain the repercussions? Would it be possible, Madam Chair, to do that?

I'm still new here and unfamiliar with House of Commons parliamentary procedure. I'd like someone to explain the implications of this subamendment if possible.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Monsieur Therrien, would you like Mr. Nater to explain the implications? I think maybe it's best if Mr. Nater explains those implications, if he wishes. If there are any gaps, maybe I or the clerk can fill those in.

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Please.

Thank you.