Good afternoon. I call to order the 46th meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for the consideration of Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.
We thank you, officials, for joining us today.
From the Privy Council Office, we have Mr. Allen Sutherland, Ms. Heather Sheehy, and Ms. Nancy Miles, senior legal counsel. As well, from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, we have John Davies.
Thank you for joining us.
We also welcome independent members to the committee today; we're very pleased that you're with us.
Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Today we are beginning our clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-22, and I'm going to warn the committee at the beginning that I'm going to be going slowly through today's meeting and through the amendments we have received to make sure that we give due consideration to the amendments and that we're understanding the process as we go. Because the committee has only done one clause-by-clause study before, and it was somewhat less complicated than this bill with the number of amendments we have, I want to review the process.
I'll just remind the committee that we have help with our legislative responsibilities with legislative clerks—we thank you for joining us today—as well as our usual clerk, who will keep me in order.
I'd like to provide members of the committee with a few comments on how committees proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.
As you would know and as the name indicates, this is an examination of each and all of the clauses in the order in which they appear in the bill, unless you choose otherwise.
I will call each clause successively, and each clause is subject to debate and a vote. If there are amendments to the clause in question, I will recognize the member proposing each amendment, who may explain it. The amendment will then be open for debate. When no further members wish to intervene, the amendment will be voted on.
Amendments will be considered in the order in which they appear in the package that each member received from the clerk. If there are amendments that are consequential to each other, they will be voted on together.
Just as a reminder, we received a package of amendments that have come in from various members of the House of Commons to our committee; however, other amendments are allowed as we proceed; we're aware of that as well.
In addition to having to be properly drafted in a legal sense, amendments must also be procedurally admissible. I as chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond its scope, both of which were adopted by the House when it agreed to the bill at its second reading, or if they offend the financial prerogative of the crown.
If you wish to eliminate a clause of a bill altogether, it is inappropriate to propose an amendment to the bill to remove a clause. If you want to remove a clause altogether, the proper course of action is to vote against the clause when the time comes, not to propose an amendment to delete it.
As I said, since this is only the second time our committee has been tasked with a clause-by-clause examination, I will go slowly to allow all members to follow the proceedings properly. If you have questions, do not be afraid to ask me, and then I will ask someone who knows, who is probably our legislative clerk at that point.
During the procedure, if the committee decides not to vote on a clause, that clause can be put aside so that the committee can revisit it later in the process.
As indicated earlier, the committee will go through the package of amendments in the order in which they appear and vote on them one at a time. Amendments have been given a number—it's in the top right-hand corner of each page—to indicate which party submitted them.
There's no need for a seconder when moving an amendment. Once it has been moved, you will need unanimous consent to withdraw it; however, you do not need to propose it, even if it is in the package.
During debate on an amendment, members are permitted to move subamendments. These subamendments do not require the approval of the mover of the amendment. Only one subamendment may be considered at a time, and that subamendment cannot be further amended.
When a subamendment is moved to an amendment, it is obviously voted on first. Then another subamendment may be moved, or the committee may consider the main amendment and vote on it at that time.
Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will then vote on the title, the bill itself, and an order to reprint the bill, which may be required if amendments are adopted, so that the House has a proper copy to receive at report stage.
Finally, the committee will have to order the chair to report the bill to the House. That report contains only the text of any adopted amendments as well as an indication of any deleted clauses.
I think the most difficult thing for me in clause-by-clause examination is the fact that if we take a certain action on an amendment at one point, it has effects consequentially, down the line. That may mean that an amendment is not able to be moved later in the process because we've already dealt with something that would nullify its effect. I will be trying to signal that to you as we go, on each of the amendments. For me, when I've done clause-by-clause study before, that has always been the trickiest part. You have to pay a lot of attention to what you're voting on. You may have forgotten that there's an amendment later that we will not be able to consider because it is consequential to what has happened already in the meeting.
I'm thanking you in advance for your patience with me and for your attention as we set out to have a very productive meeting. I am hoping for a very good and thorough consideration of what I think is an extremely important bill for this House to consider.
Are there any questions about that before we begin?