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Evidence of meeting #38 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was witnesses.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Joann Garbig

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

I will, briefly, Mr. Chair.

We're all suggesting that we're here for the greater good, that we want to get this work done. Let's use whatever time is available, including the time after 4 p.m. today, to conduct this planning session to get the job done.

I will remind committee members that the order of witnesses is normally a prerogative of the chair. We do allow some latitude to our chair. We authorize him, and we give him great respect. Part of that process is actually allowing him to make a couple of simple decisions about the order of witnesses to the proceedings.

Let's get into our planning meeting. I am delighted, despite the fact that there were suggestions that we were not acting in good faith, that the NDP have now supported my original motion, which unfortunately was defeated, but I think we have the basis for our witness list. The NDP can come forward with a witness list and the government can come forward with a witness list. We can get the job done and be in business by 8:45 on Tuesday morning.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Just help me understand where we have a witness list in front of us right now, given your amendment.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

We have a notional witness list as we conduct our planning session, because, Mr. Chair, my amendment calls for a planning session to be held today.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Okay, fine. It's just that the way you worded it, I thought there was something in front of us that I was missing. But no, we don't yet have that in front of us.

We are on the amendment, and we are generating a speakers list.

After the mover of the motion, I have Mr. Saxton.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to move that we take this to a vote immediately.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

We can't do that.

Next. The floor is open.

I hear no one. This is the last opportunity to speak to this motion.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Chair, I would really like other members to stand up and say that it is very important that in the conduct of this inquiry we hear from bureaucrats who are below the pay grade of deputy ministers. Also, I would like to hear members express their intent to ensure that witnesses appear as panels so that there isn't a jockeying of eight or nine different witnesses appearing in a one-hour block at the exact same time with no capacity whatsoever to honestly and sincerely ask and receive questions and answers. This is an important part of the process.

If at the end of the day we are simply going to have the table stacked with four or five or eight witnesses at a time, with only an hour in which to testify, there will not be proper questions asked and there will not be proper answers given.

With that, you won't hear another word from me, but I just wish we could actually agree to that point. What is so terrible about that as a way to conduct our business?

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Thank you.

The floor is open to further debate.

Mr. Aspin.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Chair, I believe Mr. Saxton's motion will allow for that.

Let's get on with the vote.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Thank you.

Are there further opinions? Is there anybody else who would like to get in on this?

Mr. Byrne.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Saxton's motion will allow for it, but the question is will it be allowed?

With that, let's get to a vote.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

The floor is open for further debate on the amendment.

Last call.

Hearing no debate, I'll place the motion before us. Is everybody clear on the amendment?

Very good. Everyone is ready.

Let's stay with what we've been doing all day and do a quick roll call vote so that there is no doubt as to how things are being determined.

Hearing no objections, I will direct the clerk to begin a formal roll call vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4)

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

I declare the amendment defeated, seven to four.

The main motion is now back before us and the floor is open for debate.

Mr. Shipley.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

I would propose an amendment, I guess, since “friendly” doesn't work, to the original motion by Mr. Saxton as written by the analyst when we tried to make a friendly amendment.

I believe it would start in after the word “study”—

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

That word is in there twice. Is it the “study” in the second-last sentence?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Yes.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Okay.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

After “study, and that”, it would say, “the first meeting to hear witness testimony be on April 26, 2012”.

Just so we're clear, it's....

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Bev, the clerk is going to come over here to make sure we have it clear.

Madam Clerk, I'll ask you to read out the amendment as you understand it.

I will then look to Mr. Shipley for agreement that it is correct, or I'll ask him to make corrections, and then I'll look for agreement from everyone else that they understand.

Madam Clerk.

April 19th, 2012 / 3:35 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Ms. Joann Garbig

Perhaps I could read the motion with the amendment incorporated and alert the members as to when the new wording comes in.

The motion of Mr. Saxton would then read as follows:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Standing Committee on Public Accounts begin a study of the Spring 2012 Report of the Auditor General, beginning with Chapter 2 (Replacing Canada’s Fighter Jets), and that the committee hold a planning session at the meeting of April 24, 2012, to determine the witness list and agenda for the study, and that

—here is the new wording—

the first meeting to hear witness testimony be on April 26, 2012,

—and then we resume the wording of the original motion—

and that when the study is completed the committee report its finding to the House of Commons.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

All right.

Bev, you're good?

Does everybody understand it? We're not looking for agreement yet. Does the committee understand the amendment?

Very well. The floor is open for debate.

Mr. Shipley, do you wish to speak any further?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

I don't.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

You're good? All right.

The floor is open.

Mr. Byrne.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Chair, I think we should be using this time today. We have lots of time to do the planning session today. We all flew here, or drove here, or took trains to get here today. We have time on our hands today. Why don't we conduct the planning session today?

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Thank you.

Are there further speakers?

Mr. Kramp, you want the floor? Go ahead.