Mr. Speaker, that is a very reasonable concern for you and the clerks to have. It is just a suggestion that might make sense. I do not see any point in moving forward unless the mover is agreeable to it and it would cause the government to change its direction. The government has stated that its objection to this is purely that it gives a veto to the subcommittee. I am not sure they are right in their reading of the rule, but they have indicated exactly the basis on which they say this veto exists and the amendment would allow that objection to be taken away. This would allow us to test the sincerity of the government's resolve.
As I mentioned, section (4) of the new standing order would be worded slightly differently. Section (5) would make reference to section (4), and would accomplish the goal. However, if I have mis-drafted it, because I did this very much on the fly, it gives an opportunity for others here, particularly the mover, to make a superior amendment to the one I am suggesting for the purposes of answering the concerns expressed by the government House leader. That was the purpose of what I had to say.
With that, I will move on to my prepared text. First, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Barrie—Innisfil, so I have, at this point, six minutes left, and he will be carrying on with his own comments.
I also want to talk about the scope of the proposed amendment to the standing order and exactly to whom it would apply. There are a number of officers of Parliament: the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Auditor General, the Privacy Commissioner, the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying, and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. All of these individuals would be covered, as well as the parliamentary budget officer who, if the budget implementation act is approved, as it almost certainly will be, will become an officer of Parliament. However, the position is named separately in the motion, just in case that does not happen. The clerk of the House of Commons and the parliamentary librarian are also covered.
These are all individuals who are acting in a manner where they are deciding upon the rules of this place. It is reasonable that there should be the support of all parties. This way of dealing with these appointments is reasonable. It is not the only way, and it may not be the best way if one is trying to conceive of the best way.
About a decade ago, when we were preparing the Conservative Party's platform for the 2006 election, I pushed very hard and was successful at getting implemented in our party's platform another system for appointing officers of Parliament. It was to be by means of a secret ballot in the House of Commons, much in the way we elect the Speaker. That made it into our election platform. After he became prime minister, Stephen Harper took up the idea with the then Liberal House leader, the current Minister of Public Safety. The Liberals said no, that we do not do that sort of thing, secret ballots, around here, and they rejected it and refused to move forward. Had that been adopted at that time, had it not been resisted by the then Liberal opposition, we would have that system in place and events like the kerfuffle over Madam Meilleur's proposed appointment would not have happened.
Is that superior to the proposal before us? Is it superior to what we suggested a decade ago? I am not sure, but what has been proposed by hon. colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley is far superior to the status quo, and it might well be superior to what I proposed a decade ago.
Going through the specific items in the motion for the proposed changes to the Standing Orders, on the whole, this is a very sensible way of covering it. Section (1) deals with all of these officers of Parliament. That is the reasonable universe that ought to be covered, so I agree with that.
The subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is a reasonable place to put these things. The procedure and House affairs committee is the committee that deals with these kinds of procedural matters, appointments, review of appointments, and so on, so that is the right place for it to go.
A subcommittee would draw upon the senior individuals who are members of the procedure and House affairs committee, but the committee itself would not be tied up, as it can be, over some area that is going to draw it away from its other business. It has to deal with reviews of the election, legislation, items of privilege, and so on. Therefore, it is reasonable that this would go to a subcommittee.
The structure of the subcommittee involves all recognized parties, which is different from unanimity. This is, again, a reasonable level at which to set it. We can have a debate and we have had debates in the past over whether, with respect to recognized parties, the net should be cast more widely. Right now, the Bloc is left out because it does not meet the 12-member criteria. However, that is a separate debate from the debate over using recognized parties.
This essentially says the major players would be involved because, let us face it, we are mostly elected as members of parties. We all understand that it is very difficult to get elected as an independent. Nobody, in fact, was elected to this Parliament as an independent. It is reasonable to say that this is a way of aggregating the various interests, the legitimate interests that are involved. I agree with that, as well.
On the issue of a report that comes back, on the whole, the way in which the report comes back, either positive or negative, is very reasonable. That is section (3) of the proposed change to the Standing Orders. The subcommittee reports back to the House. Presumably, the actual report would come from the chair of the procedure and House affairs committee, not from the subcommittee chair, but that is a reasonable way of sending it back. Then the House makes the final decision.
We cannot override statute here. The fact is that with the way the statutes are designed, the House of Commons and the Senate are the two bodies that make the decision to approve an appointment. That would not change. I suggested an alternative wording as a possibility and I leave that for others to discuss as we go forward.