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Evidence of meeting #3 for Subcommittee on Private Members' Business in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was take.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michel Bédard  Committee Researcher
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Olivier Champagne

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I have a more basic question, if we can try to get at this. Maybe this isn't where the committee is, but is it possible for the committee to approach the sponsor of this motion and ask her to clarify whether she meant to support, or to subsume within the right of the Canadian government? If she could clarify that, if that's allowable, we could then bring it back and it would still be in this order of precedence.

Has she forfeited her spot? That's what I'm asking.

11:30 a.m.

Committee Researcher

Michel Bédard

If it is the will of the committee—maybe the clerk will have something to say on that too—the committee could have the sponsor of the bill as a witness or ask the sponsor of the motion for a submission. The committee is the master of its own proceedings.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I'll ask the clerk to comment as well.

March 8th, 2012 / 11:30 a.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Olivier Champagne

That would be a precedent, certainly. Since the current rules have been in place, we haven't had any witnesses before the subcommittee. The idea is that if we designate something as non-votable, the sponsor of the item could appear before the procedure and House affairs committee to defend the item.

The design is such that this witness would appear not before the subcommittee but before the main committee.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Mr. Toone.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I would like to raise two points.

First, I would like to go back to a point which seems to be bothering people somewhat. It is incorrect to say “relever les efforts” or, in English,

“take over the efforts of the...Committee”

in the sense where the federal government would replace the committee and take control of things. It says: “take over the efforts of the Shannon Citizens' Committee to monitor filtration systems in place [...]”. In the final analysis, what this means is that we want to support the members of the committee in their undertaking. The objective is not to take over control of the committee.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

But that is not what is written.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

It says the following:

“take over the efforts of the Shannon Citizens Committee to monitor filtration.”

It does not say:

“take over the committee.”

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

But “take over” is very strong.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Perhaps.

I would like to go back to another point, concerning the committee's four criteria. We cannot exceed our powers. Which criterion would be the basis for our rejection of the motion? I think we could invoke the criterion that the bills or motions must not concern matters that are outside federal jurisdiction.

Personally, I think that this matter does fall under federal jurisdiction, even if it is not desirable that the federal government deal with it. But we cannot reject the motion simply because we don't like the idea that the federal government play that role. This question nevertheless falls under federal jurisdiction. Honestly, I think it would be regrettable for us to do that. I would not want to reject the motion on grounds that do not really allow us to reject it. I think that we would be exceeding our powers if we referred this to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Mr. Reid, and then we're going to try to get to the end of this one.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Sure.

First of all, I wasn't actually thinking of inviting anyone as a witness. I agree that would be unprecedented. It's not unprecedented to take something and just set it aside until a question is answered. I know this from personal experience, because this committee did that with a motion that I had proposed. They had to deal with the question of whether or not that motion was permissible for a private member's bill, to produce a motion to amend the Constitution. In fact, it was to amend part of the Constitution that deals with the power to take over public works for the benefit of all of Canada. It's just an irony, but the point is that all I'm asking is that it be set aside.

If I were guessing, I'd say there's a 75% chance that what is in here is completely constitutionally acceptable. At the next meeting, once the question is answered, we'll be able to vote in favour. However, there is a 25% chance that it is not. The question to me really boils down to the nature of the Shannon Citizens' Committee—if it is actually a creation of the municipal government or if it is totally non-governmental. That's the question I'm seeking to answer.

It's just to set it aside and deal with it that way.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Okay.

Mr. Toone.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Once again, I fail to see how we would have this power. Unless I am mistaken, the only thing we can do today is decide whether or not this motion is votable, and convey that decision to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

We are opening the door to the possibility that the person may appeal the decision to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. However, I do not think that we can postpone this decision. This is one of our duties.

11:30 a.m.

Committee Researcher

Michel Bédard

In the past, when there were 15 or 30 items on the agenda, the committee examined only a part of those items. There are precedents, among others that of Mr. Reid, when the study of a bill or a motion was deferred so that members could take a closer look at all the ins and outs of the issue.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

This was when the members of the committee were unkind, whereas today, we are very nice and kind.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

The point is, we are not under a deadline to decide this today, so I think Mr. Reid's request is in order. The question is whether the committee wants to proceed in that way or not. Again, I'm willing to come back, unless there's more discussion, to ask us to vote on whether this is votable or not.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Well, I'm ready to vote.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Or another motion could be put into place that would defer it. I'm just telling you, I'm ready to call the question on whether it's votable or not, but if there's a motion to defer it, I'm prepared—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Okay, so I guess I'd have to make a motion to defer it, to be in order. Let me make a motion to defer it until we get an answer to the question of whether the Shannon Citizens' Committee is a governmental or non—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

There's a motion on the floor. Is there a seconder? Or does it need a seconder?

Well, it's on the floor.

Mr. Toone.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

If we go ahead with Mr. Reid's motion, I wonder what the effect of it would be. As he says, there's a 75% chance of this, and 25% of that. Whatever it is that comes out, then what? Do we ask her to amend it? I'm not really sure if this is helping, because at the end of the day we are still going to have this same motion in front of us with its same ambiguity, regardless of what she says to us.

Again, I would propose that this would benefit from debate in the House, because we're essentially replacing the debate that's going to happen there with a debate in here.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I'm ready to call the question on Mr. Reid's motion.

All in favour of deferring this for some future answers? Opposed?

(Motion negatived)

We'll now go to the votability of motion M-273.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Seeing as we're back to main question, can I just take a little time to explain how I'm going to vote, because I can't do it afterwards.

I'm going to vote in favour of letting it go through because I think it's likely, in the balance of probabilities, that this doesn't involve the question I have raised. I'd prefer to have settled that. I'd hate to see this caught up in a discussion over the problems of paragraph (b) when we could have made an adjustment in order to accomplish all of our goals.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I think, Mr. Reid, we've also indicated again the value of having these meetings in public. These discussions are on the table, and the person who sponsored it will understand our misgivings, if there are any, and the decision we make.

All in favour of allowing this to proceed as a votable item?

That is carried.

We now have motion C-326.