Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the point being raised. It is important, of course, that it be put in context. I appreciate the fact that many members have risen and restated similar sorts of things, but it is important to always put them in the context of the argument.
As previously referenced, disorder did not come to the committee until the chair announced the attempted adjournment. However, the then chair did not have the implied nor the expressed consent of members present to do so, nor was a motion to adjourn presented and voted upon. There was, therefore, no legal basis on which to adjourn the meeting.
As it actually happened, the chair announced her decision on a point of order to adjourn the meeting, and it was obvious that she was going to be confronted with a challenge to her ruling. People wanted to speak. She gavelled down and darted out of the room. She left the room, leaving the association staff, including the secretary, who we always call the clerk, and the analyst alone at the table, and conforming to the rules, not moving, as the meeting had not been properly adjourned.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, however, is silent, and this is an extremely important point and a novel one, as far as I have understood the points on the point of order that have been raised, on when a vice-chair can assume the chair. In practice, the chair of a committee will often get up for personal reasons. It is such a common practice that in three editions of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, no clerk or author has felt it necessary to elaborate on this. However, the chair of the House may sometimes tend to personal matters and have some other member take his or her place.
In the case of the NATO Parliamentary Association meeting, as the meeting had not, in fact, adjourned, and there was no legal basis to do so, it was not only permissible but an obligation of the vice-chair to step in and resume the meeting, given that quorum remained, quorum being 20 members, according to chapter 11 of the NATO Parliamentary Association constitution.
Any claim that Conservative members are making with regard to the fact that this was a takeover of the meeting by a vice-chair is completely incorrect. Moreover, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, the other vice-chair, also stepped up to the head table and made no effort to intervene when the member for Etobicoke Centre carried on the meeting, and thereby, I would submit, acquiesced until the motion of non-confidence was approved on the floor.
A senator overtook the chair to oversee the election. Nominations were called from the floor, and only one name having been offered, the member for Etobicoke Centre was acclaimed.
Further, had the meeting been legitimately adjourned, the clerk of the committee, bound by the rules of this institution, would also have risen and left, but he remained at the table for the duration.
While the minutes of the proceedings will not be published until the next annual general meeting, the clerk would not have been able to update the NATO Parliamentary membership page to reflect the new chair had the rules been followed.
I would like to raise one other point that was mentioned that I have not heard rebuttal on, and that is the point regarding the nomination process. The procedure in the constitution is with respect to the entire executive committee. This is a novel and unique situation, I would submit, based on the vote of non-confidence. The vote of non-confidence had yet to be voted upon, and it would have been premature for the clerk to seek nominations, because that was not decided until the meeting itself
Those are my respectful submissions.