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Evidence of meeting #43 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 going.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alex Smith  Committee Researcher

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Could I suggest, since I would assume we're going to have this meeting on process and on the way the committee can go forward in a more positive way to discuss business, that we hold off deciding what Tuesday is, in the hope that this meeting with you and with our other colleagues—a more informal meeting—will bear fruit?

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

That will not give us an agenda for Tuesday.

If I might, colleagues, just to complicate our lives, I'm reminded by staff that we have to do the estimates, and we have until May 30. We need to have the AG. We haven't had that hearing yet, and the only week that the AG is available prior to the drop-dead deadline is next week.

Again, it sounds like either next Tuesday or next Thursday we had better plan the public accounts hearing on estimates or we're not going to have it. I don't think the committee wants to miss that piece of business.

It would be best if we could schedule that on Thursday. Then we're somewhat flexible on Tuesday. Even if we didn't go with the report, the chapter 5, we could build in report writing. We wanted to leave that date flexible in case the AG couldn't make it on Thursday.

That's where we are. The thought would be this: the motion, AG first hour on Thursday, second hour report writing. If the AG can't make it that day, we bounce it over to Tuesday, May 15, and then the second half of that meeting would be report writing. Let's deem that if the AG does come on May 10, May 15 would be all report writing, but let's schedule the estimates hearing for May 17.

Mr. McKay.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Just out of curiosity, could you do the second hour with the AG next Thursday as estimates—this Thursday coming?

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

The only downside is with health, and because it was fairly recent. Mr. Ferguson, I really believe, is doing everything he can to accommodate the timeline wishes of this committee. My concern would be that if he couldn't make it on Thursday, then we would have the backup on Tuesday. If we built in the estimates, we're hardening up the meeting and leaving less flexibility.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

The other alternative is that if you don't want to waste your Thursday, you do your report writing on Thursday, and schedule the AG for next Tuesday, a week today, first hour F-35, second hour estimates. That way you're starting to move through your agenda.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Another thing—again, just working this through, colleagues—is we don't have to have the AG on Thursday. If the committee feels that they'd rather have an agenda with some certainty, and they're okay just waiting a few days, then we could have the AG as part of what Mr. McKay suggested. Just directly this week, this Thursday would be report writing. May 15 would be the first hour F-35s, the second hour estimates. May 17 would be a nice slot to do chapter 5, but May 17 remains open. I kind of like that better, actually.

The trade-off for the committee is that you wouldn't have the AG this week on F-35s; you wouldn't have him until next Tuesday. That's the only trade-off.

The positive thing is that it gives us more certainty. There's a far greater likelihood that Mr. Ferguson will be back up to speed and ready to come on Tuesday rather than Thursday. I'd like to give him a little time if we could, and not push him. I think that's a good suggestion.

Could people comment on that suggestion first, please?

Let's have your comments, Mr. Ravignat.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

I like that suggestion. I think that stabilizes what we're doing. It ensures that the Auditor General can be here. We don't know what the nature of his medical condition is, so I think Tuesday is a good bet.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Yes, thank you.

Is there anything further?

Go ahead, Mr. Saxton.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Chair, I think my motion adequately addresses the concerns of the committee that have been voiced by Mr. McKay and others. I would say that we should still stick with my motion as it reads. It does offer the flexibility that if the Auditor General is not available this Thursday, then he can come on Tuesday. It offers flexibility, which is exactly what we're trying to achieve here.

I would recommend we just stick with my motion as it was said.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

I do remind colleagues that we have May 10, 15, and 17 to do estimates. If we don't hold a hearing on estimates in one of those three slots, it won't get done.

I remind colleagues that we have ten minutes.

Mr. Thibeault, welcome, sir.

May 8th, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Thank you very much.

In trying to understand the whole process here and what we're trying to accomplish with May 10, 15, and 17, we need to have a meeting on the estimates before the end of May--is that correct? Did I understand that correctly?

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

That is correct, and the Auditor General is not available the week of May 29.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Okay, so then we have next week to ensure we have a meeting on the estimates.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

We have those three days: this coming Thursday, and Tuesday and Thursday next week, yes.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

We all wish the Auditor General well, but we have no idea if he's available this Thursday or not, so we—

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

The information I received—and if there's an update, I'll gladly take it—was that Mr. Ferguson thought he would be sufficiently recovered to be here on Thursday. I'm the one who's suggesting that with health things you never know. I was just trying to provide a little bit of a backup, rather than risk having him cancel at the last minute or, worse yet, come when he isn't fully recuperated because he felt a sense of commitment. I do get a sense that's the kind of person he is.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Yes. So the motion right now is saying for the Auditor General to come Thursday; then we're going to ask him to come again next week for the estimates.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Yes.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

It just makes sense to me to have the Auditor General here for one day, and my suggestion would be to make it Tuesday. We could have him do the first hour on the F-35s and the second hour on the estimates. We'll have killed two birds with one stone. We'd get the report writing in. I think that works. I actually agree with colleagues that we should do that on Tuesday.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

Very good. Thank you.

Something else comes to mind, too. If we do it that way, colleagues, what we would be doing is....

I'm going to wait until I have the attention of the two government leads.

If we had the Auditor General here one day—the first hour on F-35s and the second hour on estimates—we'd be truncating the estimates meeting. Normally it's a full two-hour meeting.

My personal sense from the committee is that we could probably do estimates in one hour. If we did schedule Tuesday firmly for both—the F-35s for one hour and then estimates the second hour—we'd have accomplished both, we would have met the deadline, and we would have a game plan. And we could do report writing on Thursday.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Which Thursday?

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

This Thursday. I'm just throwing this out there.

Mr. Saxton, your motion still has precedence. However, notwithstanding that, let me just say that the suggestion is we do report writing this Thursday. Again, as I have said, that would be a scheduled in camera meeting on my authority and my responsibility. Then the following Tuesday we would have the Auditor General in, the first hour on F-35s and the second hour on estimates. Then we can still decide what we want to do with May 17. We can do that either now or during the meeting on May 15.

It provides us with certainty, Mr. Saxton. Again, this Thursday would be report writing. Next Tuesday the first hour would be on F-35s with the Auditor General and the second hour would be on estimates. We've actually saved ourselves an extra hour on the estimates, because normally it's two hours, plus we would have met the deadline. I would not be impressed with our work if we did not meet a deadline like that. We've had this in front of us for a number of months now, colleagues. It would just be a sign of bad management, quite frankly, if we weren't able to organize ourselves in such a way that we could do this in a timely fashion.

I guess I'm looking to the government. The government has the priority motion on the floor.

With that in mind, go ahead, Mr. Kramp.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

This is just a thought. I'm certainly not speaking to Mr. Saxton's motion. I just don't want to get waylaid. If we have the Auditor General here for the first hour and we are scheduled to do estimates for the second hour—I have some personal thoughts on that, but I'll throw those aside right now—we'll need to have some kind of assurance that we're going to get to the estimates. I can just see motions coming on the floor at some point during the F-35 discussion, and we would end up in another situation, again.

Somehow the chair is going to have to ensure or find some way to clear the air, so we don't get caught up once again in procedure and discussion and the politicization of the event.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP David Christopherson

I just want to be clear. We've got about five minutes left. Your concern is that we may get into motions on Tuesday in the first hour. That would then bump the second hour?

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

That's my concern.