I call to order this 136th meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
Good afternoon. Conforming to Standing Order 108(2), we will continue our study of migration challenges and opportunities for Canada in the 21st century, particularly today focusing again on the global compacts that are under discussion.
With apologies to the witnesses, just before you begin I'm going to take a few minutes with the committee to remind them of a few issues about the Standing Orders of the House that I just want to draw your attention to following our meeting on Tuesday. I'll be quoting some lengthy portions of the rules for the committee's consideration. I'm quoting:
The Chair is a key figure on any committee. Chairs are so important that, when a committee does not have one, it is not considered properly constituted. It can undertake no work or other activities, and cannot exercise any of its powers.
Committee Chairs have procedural, administrative and representative responsibilities. Chairs preside over committee meetings and oversee committee work. They recognize the Members, the witnesses and other people who wish to speak at these meetings; as in the House, all remarks are to be addressed to the Chair. They ensure that any rules established by the committee, including those on the apportioning of speaking time, are respected. They are responsible for maintaining order and decorum in committee proceedings, and rule on any procedural matter that arises that are subject to an appeal to the committee.
With respect to disorder and misconduct:
Disorder and misconduct in a committee may arise as a result of the failure to abide by the rules and practices of a committee or to respect the authority of the Chair. Disorder and misconduct also include the use of unparliamentary language, failure to yield the floor or persistent interruption of the proceedings in any manner. However, neither committees nor their Chairs have the authority to censure an act of disorder or misconduct. If a committee desires that specific sanctions be taken against those disrupting the proceedings, it must report the situation to the House. The House may then take such measures as it deems appropriate.
In the event of disorder, the Chair may suspend the meeting until order can be restored or, if the situation is considered to be so serious as to prevent the committee from continuing with its work, the meeting may be adjourned.
That's at the chair's discretion.
In addition, the Chair may, at his or her discretion, interrupt a member whose observations and questions are repetitive or are unrelated to the matter before the committee. If a member in question persists in making repetitive or off-topic comments, the Chair can give the floor to another member. If the member refuses to yield the floor and continues talking, the Chair may suspend or adjourn the meeting.
With respect to repetition and relevance in debate:
The rules of relevance and repetition are intertwined and mutually reinforcing. The requirement that speeches remain relevant to the question before the House
—and this is the committee as well—
flows from the latter's right to reach decisions without undue obstruction and to exclude from debate any discussion not conducive to that end. The rule against repetition helps to ensure the expeditious conduct of debate by prohibiting the repetition of arguments already made. To neglect either rule would seriously impair the ability of the House to manage its times efficiently.
Notwithstanding their importance, these rules remain difficult to define and enforce
and are subjective to the members and particularly to the chair at any give time.
I wanted to remind the committee of that. If, during these proceedings of our committee, I sense that decorum is failing, I am going to take the opportunity to read this statement again, and the clock will remain running while the member's time is on, and you can either use your time to question the witnesses or to listen to me and my discussion about decorum. That will be your choice. Thank you.
Now we're going to begin with our witnesses. Mr. Beuze from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations, welcome. We're going to begin with testimony from you and then Mr. Damian Smith afterwards.