Evidence of meeting #7 for Subcommittee on Private Members' Business in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was decision.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alexandre Lavoie  Committee Researcher
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Okay.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Madam Chair, I have an item that I need to raise as well, on C-343 that was introduced by Madam Brosseau.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Mr. Chan, you have the floor.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

This is Bill C-343. This is a bill that would establish an office of an ombudsman under the—

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

victims of criminal justice act.

9 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

—victims of criminal justice act, and there are in the provisions of the bill a provision of remuneration and expenses for the ombudsman, plus the hiring of staff.

Typically, this would not be a matter that could be brought under private members' business, as it would be a contravention of section 54 of the Constitution Act 1867. However, I do want to note that...and let me read section 54 of the Constitution.

It provides that:

It shall not be lawful for the House of Commons to adopt or pass any Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill for the Appropriation of any Part of the Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost, to any Purpose that has not been first recommended to that House by Message of the Governor General in the Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill is proposed.

As you know, there is no actual royal recommendation attached in the bill, however there is an attempt in this particular bill to add an interesting section at the very end of the draft bill, section 26, which is a coming into force provision, which basically provides a subject to royal recommendation provision.

The text of this particular clause under section 26 of Bill C-343 reads:

26.1 Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. 26.2 No order may be made under subsection (1) unless the appropriation of moneys for the purposes of this Act has been recommended by the Governor General and the moneys have been appropriated by Parliament.

From my perspective it sets a really interesting precedent if we allow this to move forward. It is an attempt, from my perspective, to do something indirectly what you can't do directly, which is to circumvent the prerogative under the royal prerogative process with respect to the use of spending under both section 53 and section 54 of the Constitution.

If we were to allow this bill to move forward, it would be my view that it would allow future bills to use a very similar provision to get around... We would end up with a whole series of potential bills on the books that would be subject to a future royal recommendation. I'm not sure that this is a particular precedent that we want to set.

This is sort of a grey area. I want the comments of my colleagues and, perhaps, from the clerk as well, or the analyst, whether from their perspective this is a votable bill. I am of the view that it should not be.

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Thank you, Mr. Chan.

Alexandre, would you like to make a comment?

9 a.m.

Committee Researcher

Alexandre Lavoie

Do you want to explain the procedure to get the royal recommendation?

9 a.m.

The Clerk

Okay. I can offer some comments.

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

If the MPs want them, do we have any comments?

9 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Do we get a royal recommendation first or comments from the clerk or the analyst?

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Would you like that to happen first before you speak?

9 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Yes.

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Okay.

9 a.m.

The Clerk

Thank you, Madam Chair.

About the concerns raised for Bill C-343 by Mr. Chan, first, I'll comment on the idea that the bill might be requiring a royal recommendation.

At this stage, it's not necessarily the role for the subcommittee to determine whether or not a bill requires a royal recommendation. As you know, the role of the subcommittee is to determine whether or not the items that you have in front of you should be the subject of a vote down the road by the House of Commons or rather be designated non-votable on a series of criteria that you are already familiar with.

Regarding the royal recommendation, it's helpful to note that, once the report from this committee is presented to the House, usually very rapidly, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Regan, will scrutinize them, perform a scan of all these items, and will check for that royal recommendation requirement.

If he finds in Bill C-343 or any other bill that there is a requirement for a royal recommendation, he is going to make a statement about that in the House of Commons. As you know, the Standing Orders and the procedure provide for this bill to go forward, until the question is asked at third reading.

If it's determined by the Speaker that this bill requires a royal recommendation, the question will not be put at third reading, but the bill will be able to travel throughout the legislative process for second reading, committee stage, report stage, and even have a debate at third reading. However, if there was a requirement for a royal recommendation determined, not by the subcommittee, but by the Speaker of the House himself, the Speaker will say, “Well, I see that now I have to interrupt the proceedings. The question shall be put whether or not this bill shall receive third reading. There was a requirement put forward for a royal recommendation. I don't see that this royal recommendation is present. Therefore, by the Standing Orders, the bill will now be dropped from the Order Paper.” That's the end of the bill.

I think you mentioned clause 26, that this bill shall not be put into force before it actually receives appropriation of funds by Parliament.

My opinion is that maybe this is a question that could be raised in the House of Commons, rather than in this subcommittee. It may even be a precedent. If I recall correctly, we have seen some bills come from the other place with that kind of provision. If it's the case now that we have this provision in Bill C-343, it might be a good idea to request a formal opinion from the Speaker of the House of Commons himself about whether or not the bill, as it stands now, is in the proper form with this clause.

With that being said, as I was mentioning with my other points, for whatever reason and based on the criteria that you have, you want to determine that this bill shall be designated non-votable that is entirely your decision, Madam Chair.

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

May I pose a question particularly to Mr. Schmale, given that I believe this originates from one of your caucus colleagues?

Again, you had raised the earlier point with respect to Mr. Sangha's bill, Bill C-344. I want to give the same opportunity to Ms. Boucher. Anything is possible and perhaps a royal recommendation will be granted before third reading, but we know that the potential consequence is that the bill would be deemed non-votable at third reading. If it were to proceed that far down the process and if there were no royal recommendation, then the bill would be deemed to be non-votable at that stage.

As an alternative, maybe we would want to give Ms. Boucher at least some consideration about whether this is still how she wants to proceed or whether she wants to substitute?

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

That's a fair point, since it's the same thing with Bill C-344.

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

That's right.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

I think that's fair.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

In terms of our role or goal today, we have to decide today whether the items are votable or non-votable. In regard to the matters that have been discussed, the clerk is going to make a few more comments based on the discussions that have taken place.

9:10 a.m.

The Clerk

I was just mentioning that, if my memory serves me well, there was a new Standing Order adopted in 2015 by the House that provides that, in the event that a private member's bill is judged out of order by the Speaker of the House, either because it needed to be preceded by what we call a ways and means motion when there's a taxation purpose included in the bill, or for any other procedural reason, there's a time frame that is provided for the member in question to actually substitute the item that he or she had that was found to be out of order and replace it with another item of his or her choice. Basically, the member doesn't lose his or her spot.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Okay, that's good.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

It's what, 20 business days or something like that?

May 4th, 2017 / 9:10 a.m.

The Clerk

The thing is, my Standing Orders here are from this book.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Yes.