Wednesday 20 October 1993

Role of the independent member

Peter Sibenik, procedural research clerk, committees branch, Office of the Assembly


*Chair / Président: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND)

*Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

*MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND)

*Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

*Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L)

*Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

*Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford ND)

*Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L) for Mr McClelland

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud ND) for Mr Sutherland

Wood, Len (Cochrane North/-Nord ND) for Mr Dadamo

Clerk / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa

The committee met at 1540 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Ron Hansen): We'll call this meeting of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to order. Today is consideration of the report with respect to the role of the independent member. In front of you, you have a paper that's been written by Peter Sibenik. To start off, Peter can go through this paper with us and then we'll go to members of the committee for any questions on the report. Go ahead, Peter.

Mr Peter Sibenik: First of all, I should indicate to members of the committee that in the document you have in front of you there's a covering memo entitled Role of the Independent Member -- Draft Report. Some of the pages after that may be out of order. The page after that should be the introduction of the report, the page after that one should be the page with the title "Recommendations" at the very top, followed by the two pages thereafter. The "List of Issues" paper, with page 1 at the bottom, continuing on to page 2, should be at the very end of this. I hope we're all straight about that. I'm sorry for the confusion.

What I'm going to do is head directly into the introduction of the report. In putting together the draft recommendations, what I decided to do at the very outset was to put together a list of items on which there appeared to be have been some kind of general consensus on the part of the committee. I have listed these five areas of consensus right at the outset, on page 1.

These areas of consensus are in no particular order; however, I thought that one of the dominant themes, one of the dominant issues at the committee hearings over the summer and the fall was the fact that the House is composed of 130 members and that when one examines the issue of independent members one also has to be cognizant of the fact that the House is composed of 130 members. That is one of the concerns that was expressed in the course of the committee deliberations on the role of independent members.

The second area of consensus that I've indicated on that very first page is the fact that independent members, as was pointed out by several people in the course of the hearings, have many opportunities to participate in the course of proceedings before the House, the committee of the whole House and indeed in standing and select committees. The previous memo that you may have read sort of indicated the areas in which members could participate.

The third area of consensus was that there seems to have been some concern about the fact that there are some ambiguities concerning the rights of independent members, their entitlements. There were certain qualifications in certain of the standing orders that seem to indicate that entitlement to a certain procedural matter was a function of party membership, so there was some concern on the part of the committee in that regard.

I thought there was also a consensus that independent members should be less inhibited by these qualifications or concerns or restrictions on what independent members could or could not do, so the fifth area of consensus was with respect to certain aspects of the proceedings before the House and its committees that the committee felt should be altered in some way. I have listed them as members' statements, oral question period, private members' public business, speaking opportunities in the House and its committees, committee membership and access to certain documents.

Turning to the draft recommendations themselves, beginning with the page that has the title "Recommendations" at the top of it, I've drafted six recommendations. The very first one is members' statements. There seems to have been a consensus to the effect that independent members should have an opportunity to make a member's statement -- in a sense, a 10th member's statement -- in the course of the item of routine proceedings known as members' statements and that there should be an additional 90 seconds allotted for this particular member's statement.

The Speaker should recognize an independent member from time to time. There seems to have been some concern about the opportunities for making members' statements. Members in the House generally do not have all that frequent an opportunity to make these kinds of statements, and independent members perhaps should be subject to the same kind of opportunity all members have to make those kinds of statements. That is the first draft recommendation.

You will note that the expression "have regard to the opportunities that members of the [recognized] parties have" is used throughout the course of these draft recommendations. It's a phrase I thought was useful in trying to give some guidance to the presiding officer, the Speaker, as the case may be, as to how discretion should be exercised. That is the very first draft recommendation.

The second one deals with oral question period. In this particular case there seems to have been a consensus that oral question period should not be extended beyond 60 minutes for the purposes of the Speaker recognizing an independent member. The Speaker should from time to time recognize an independent member to place a question. It's not quite clear whether the committee was in favour of the independent member being allowed to place a supplementary, but clearly an independent member should be allowed to put a question from time to time, at the discretion of the Speaker, having regard to the opportunities members generally have to place questions in the House. That was the second recommendation.

I should indicate that apart from the question of supplementary, there's also the issue of late shows. The committee did not address the issue as to whether an independent member who places a question in question period should be entitled to request a late show. That is something it may want to reflect on.

I should indicate that in several places in the course of these first two recommendations I have placed in square brackets the word "recognized," because there is some ambiguity, if I can use that word, as to whether the draft recommendation should be phrased in terms of "members of the recognized parties" or simply "members of the parties." You will see in the list of issues exactly what I mean by the ambiguity concerning the word "recognized." There's a widespread assumption in the assembly community that a recognized party has 12 members or more. It's not explicitly outlined or specified in the Legislative Assembly Act or the standing orders, but that is the widespread assumption. Perhaps the committee may want to reflect a bit as to the actual way in which this particular recommendation with respect to the use of the word "recognized" is phrased.

The third draft recommendation deals with private members' public business. I've separated the recommendation into two areas: (1) the situation where an independent member wants to move a motion and wants to participate in the ballot as well, and (2) the situation where the member wants to participate in a motion that has been moved by another member of the House. Those are two separate situations. I had thought that the committee was in favour of allowing an independent member to participate in the ballot and permitting that independent member to move a motion and make a reply at the end of the private members' hour.


I have alluded to standing orders 96(c)(i) and (iii), and also 96(d). What I haven't alluded to there is 96(c)(ii), which gives members of recognized parties an opportunity to speak a second time in the course of private members' hour. In this particular recommendation, item 3(a), we really haven't indicated whether or not an independent member will have that second opportunity to speak in the course of private members' hour. The way it's drafted right here suggests that the independent member does not have that opportunity. So what the private member would do is, he or she would move the motion and would have 10 minutes at the outset and a two-minute reply at the end of the hour, and that's it, according to the way this particular recommendation has been drafted.

The second component of private members' hour of course is the situation where the independent member wants to participate in the debate on another member's motion, another member's ballot item. In this particular instance, what I have done is indicate a two-step approach as to how the independent member would participate. There was a consensus at the last meeting of the assembly committee that an independent member should be allowed, from time to time, to participate for up to five minutes at the end of the particular debate. It was going to be at the Speaker's discretion as to whether the independent member would be allowed to make that five-minute participation.

I would say that there are certain problems with respect to the balloting, as to how an independent member is going to participate in the ballot. At present there are three ballot boxes that we have at the outset of a session of Parliament, and the picking of the names from these boxes is done in rotation. I'm not sure, and the committee didn't really particularly address this point specifically, how an independent member is supposed to be picked from that rotation. It's really an issue. I'm not quite certain; I have some options that the committee might want to consider.

We might want to establish a fourth box for independent members and every once in a while take a name from that fourth box. So if there are four independent members, their names would be in that fourth box and every 20th or 25th name that was taken from the other three boxes -- well, in that case an independent member would be picked, so by the end of the balloting all of the independent members would have been selected. That's one particular option.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): That would depend on how many independent members were on the books. You'd reduce that number, right?

Mr Sibenik: You're absolutely right about that, and how you would draft the formula for this so that it would be applicable. Whether it would be one independent member or five or 10 would be something I'd really have to give a bit more thought to. It gets kind of complicated. There's a mathematical formula I'm sure one could devise to assist.

The Chair: Maybe we can go through the whole report, Mr Johnson, and then we'll take questions. I think there are a lot of questions to be asked on some of these details here.

Mr Paul Johnson: But some of them should be made on the basis that we have three independent members right now, right?

Mr Sibenik: Yes.

Mr Paul Johnson: Or we did.

Mr Sibenik: The fourth draft recommendation deals with speaking opportunities in the House and in the committees. I don't think this particular draft recommendation, at least the first five lines of it, says anything innovative. There's not something new that is being proposed here, because independent members do have a great number of opportunities to participate in the House, in the committee of the whole House and in standing and select committees. There is a fairly extensive list of things they can do.

What really has been done here is that I've identified three criteria by which the Speaker or other presiding officer, as the case may be, would exercise his or her discretion in recognizing an independent member to speak. The first one should be fairly familiar from the previous recommendations, namely the fact that there are a global number of opportunities that are available for speaking. The Speaker would have to exercise some discretion in that regard so that the independent member wouldn't necessarily have a greater number of opportunities to speak than any other member of the House. That's the first criterion.

The second one would be the fact that in the exercise of his or her discretion, the presiding officer would not really be undermining or subverting an existing standing order. For example, the standing order dealing with opposition days does not allow independent members to speak in the debate. So if an independent member, under a rule change that incorporated this particular draft recommendation, stood in the House and said, "I want an opportunity to speak in the opposition day debate," I think the Speaker could, in all fairness, point to the fact that we have a standing order that says independent members are not, by implication, allowed to speak in that particular debate. Presumably it would apply to other kinds of standing orders, perhaps the one dealing with time allocation. It's not intended to undermine an existing standing order. That's why the second criterion is in there, to preserve the status quo in other respects.

The third criterion applies only to standing and select committees. I think there was a consensus that an independent member who is not a permanent member of a committee should not have a better right to speak than a member, independent or otherwise, who is a member of the committee.

The fifth recommendation deals with committee membership. There was considerable debate over this particular draft recommendation and I think that you'll want to scrutinize this one the closest. There was some debate as to who exactly the independent member should approach in order to seek a permanent membership on a committee. There was also some debate as to the proportional representation of a committee if an independent member was allowed to be on a particular committee. There is a threefold step that I've drafted for your review. Basically, the situation that would develop would be that an independent member would approach either the Speaker or the government House leader or the House leaders as to his or her availability for membership on a particular committee, and perhaps even indicating a preference for a particular committee, and then it would be open for the House to incorporate that independent member's wishes in the course of striking the membership of the various committees at the outset of a new session of Parliament.

The key consideration, it seems, in 5(b) was the fact that if an independent member was going to be allowed to be a permanent member of a committee, there should be an additional government member to ensure that proportional representation was maintained on the committee. This particular draft recommendation doesn't really address the situation where an independent member is somehow removed from the committee. What happens in that case? Is the additional government member removed as well? It's not quite clear what we're going to do about that particular situation but it's something that perhaps the committee can think about in the course of its deliberations.

If you turn to the list of issues -- there is a page entitled "Lists of Issues" towards the end of the document that you have before you -- and look at paragraph 5 at the bottom of that page and continuing on to page 6, there are a number of issues that you'll want to consider in the course of determining the extent to which an independent member who is a permanent member of a standing or select committee has the same rights and entitlements as other members. I've listed what they are.


Some of them, I think, are fairly easy to resolve: the one dealing with quorum, motion and votes, and perhaps substitutions as well. However, the other four or five dealing with the estimates, the ability to be Chair or Vice-Chair of the committee, the appointment to the subcommittee on committee business and designated matters under standing order 125 are issues that perhaps are a bit more difficult to handle. That's why I say at the outset that draft recommendation 5 is one that is perhaps particularly difficult.

The final draft recommendation, number 6, deals with access to information. I felt that there was a consensus with respect to an independent member being allowed to have access to the same kinds of documents that opposition critics are entitled to with respect to bills and other kinds of background information.

So that is an indication of the draft recommendations.

I want to alert you to the fact that there are some general issues as well that you'll want to consider, and I've listed them in items 7 and 8 of the list of issues; namely, the extent to which the recommendations require rule changes. There are no recommendations with respect to rule changes in this draft report; there is simply a list of the recommendations proper.

The other issue the committee may want to consider is that it may want to have a trial run of these recommendations if they're going to be implemented. It may want to indicate that if there are going to be rule changes, they should just be provisional standing orders, for example, or just in effect for a certain period of time and allow an opportunity to have some indication of how these changes would work in practice.

Those are my submissions.

The Chair: Okay. We have some questions.

Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): Thank you for your submissions. Independent members don't always happen at election time, and we may well have, because of party status and what have you, situations that we'll have to look at. Independents wind up coming through the life of a Parliament, and I think we should have in here when we may start out with no independents and therefore no names go into the private members' ballots, or we may have five or six, a party that may not have recognition as an official party. Would they be independents?

The Chair: Any other comments?

Mr Villeneuve: It's a question. Secondly, if someone decides to sit as an independent, whether from an opposition party or from government, do we automatically redo the draw immediately to include that independent? These independents, if they're not there at the time of the initial draw, will have been in there as part of a party. Do their names stay in line as independents if they become independents through the legislative season?

The Chair: May I ask a question just on that aspect? Is it not private members' hour at that particular time?

Mr Villeneuve: It is private members' hour, but only going to recognized parties to this point.

Mr Sibenik: That's correct. I guess the issue is not really a practical one at this particular time because of the fact that the independents we now have are quite far down the list of the order of precedence.

Mr Villeneuve: It just happened that way.

Mr Sibenik: It just happened that way. We were lucky, in a sense, or otherwise -- perhaps "lucky" is the wrong word.

Mr Villeneuve: It can allow our decision to not be real imminent.

Mr Sibenik: Exactly. I don't have an answer for you right off the bat to that particular issue. It's something the committee is going to have to --

Mr Villeneuve: I think exactly, in the same vein, that if a recognized party now goes through an election and doesn't have recognized party status, ie, 12 members, are they still a party or are they all independents?

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I'd like to make sort of a general statement as far as the role of the independent member is concerned. I think the way that the member became independent should not have a bearing on whether or not the member may participate in proceedings of the House and its committees. He's a member. He represents a constituency. The member is and remains the elected representative of the people of his or her riding regardless of the fact that he or she may have changed party allegiance or become independent. He is representing, again, a constituency. Perhaps people did not vote for the MPP as a member of a particular party. Yet the point should be made that many persons in the riding did not vote for the member also, and he also represents them. So the member represents everyone.

This is why I think when we consider, when we look at changes, we should look at the role of the member, not if he is a member of the NDP, the Conservatives or the Liberals. He is a member of the House. When he debates private members' business, he represents all the electors, and this is the purpose -- I've just gone through that -- of the private members' hours: to bring forward issues that otherwise a member, a backbencher, would not have a chance to do. He debates it. He represents a point of view of his constituents and he represents the feeling of people whom he has approached on an issue that he feels is of concern to everyone. It's not because he's a member of a certain party that he should have a certain right to do so. He is a member.

I think this is where we have to start. He is a member of Parliament, and if our procedures only allow for parties, it should be changed so it reflects the role of the independent member. I think this is the basis of where we should start. Otherwise, we'll raise all kinds of questions -- like he does, and they're good questions -- because in the ballots, the three parties put in their names. Should you have a special box for the independent members when you don't even know if after two or three months they leave their party?

I think what we should do is that if that person is number 26 and he happens to represent the Liberal Party at that time and he becomes independent, he should be number 26. What happens, for instance, during the private members' business if you have two independent members, 26 and 27? Should we prevent them from debating? I don't think so. They're members. They're bringing forward issues that are of concern to them.

I think again -- I must repeat -- this is the basis of where we should start. We're all equal. I know the way it is written it doesn't work that way, but we should allow for a certain flexibility to give a chance to the independent member to be able to voice his or her opinion.

The Chair: It might be helpful, and I'll see if the committee's in agreement, if maybe the researcher could wind up taking a look at other jurisdictions on how this works in parts of --

Mr Morin: He has already done that.

Mr Sibenik: I could say that in Ottawa it's a different situation, and in fact it's a different situation in most of the provinces. In Ottawa it's a random draw that occurs there. I was just reviewing the standing order this morning and that's what it says down there. I'm not sure that looking in any further detail at the provisions of the other standing orders in the other jurisdictions would necessarily offer us some guidance, but I'd be prepared to take another, more detailed, review of those particular provisions if that is what the committee wishes.

Mr Morin: Can I continue on some of the recommendations you've made?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Morin: There is one that deals with members' statements and oral questions.

Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): Could I make a general statement before we go on to the particulars? I agree with everything Mr Morin has said, because it's basically a statement we have stated before.

When you look at the particulars, and because our rules have been framed over the last 15 or 20 years by representatives of political parties, we face a problem here in terms of either redrafting all the rules and approaching them from an entirely different standpoint or dealing with two or three independents, which we have in the Legislature at this time. It may grow.

My suggestion is that we allow the Speaker a degree of latitude or discretion, maybe in a general statement, rather than going bit by bit through the rules and saying: "This is fair. This isn't fair." I mean, some things are obvious. In private members' hour you've got to allow an independent the same right as any other member of the Legislature, the right to participate in some fashion.


Rather than try to go back and fit in the independent member, I guess until this Legislature becomes a place where independent members are there in larger numbers or are there over a longer period of time -- which they have not been; this is a relatively new phenomenon to our Legislature -- what's been happening seems to be working relatively well, and that is that all parties have recognized that the private member has been able to participate in some fashion.

I suggest we empower the Speaker, perhaps in a generic kind of standing order, to allow an independent member the right to participate as any other member of any other standing party would participate, and that he could be flexible with the other rules, which are basically for the parties, and that we leave it at that. Then we say to any independent member, "You can come before this committee and say you're not getting a fair shake and you would like put down in writing, in black and white, a rule which will protect you from the parties and give you a right to intervene or participate in some fashion," and leave it that way.

I think the House leaders will agree to participation in committees by independent members and will work around the rules we now have in order to allow members to become members of the standing committee. I think that will happen. I don't have the other independent members coming to me, nor did I have Mr Drainville coming to me, saying: "Norm, I'm not being allowed to participate in this process. I'm not being given a fair shake."

If we gave a generic discretion on the part of the Speaker to allow an independent member the right to participate in our parliamentary process coincident with what any other member would have in a party and left it at and then just walked away from it, we could come back if there's dissatisfaction, or if after the next election we have five or six or seven or 10 independents, or if in the next six months we have that many independents.

But by trying to fix little parts of our standing orders which were basically designed with another focus, I think we're going to run into more and more problems as we go through this. There are going to be more and more circumstances which we have not thought about or accommodated the independent member. I just don't see it as being a big problem at this time. I think everybody will work -- it's basically goodwill -- to allow an independent member to participate. If they don't, then if I were an independent member, I would be rising on my hind legs as often as I could to raise that as part of my platform, in terms of not being allowed to participate in the process.

The Chair: In a sense, you're saying if there were six independents, but it actually could be a party that ran --

Mr Sterling: But we're not there now.

The Chair: That's what I'm saying: We can't go there until we're there. In other words, we have to take what we have as independent members and where their problems are to come before this committee, and leave some discretion to the --

Mr Sterling: What I'm saying is that we put forward a general clause in the standing orders and say that where a member either is elected as or decides he wants to be an independent member, the Speaker shall make such accommodation to the standing orders to allow the independent member to participate in the Legislative Assembly in an equal manner to any other member of the Legislature -- something like those words.

The Chair: Okay, we've got it down to one sentence there pretty well.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a fundamental concern with the report right at the beginning of it. That is the term "independent member." I'll tell you, I don't like the term "independent member." I think most members would be offended not to be called independent members. I think "non-aligned member" may be a far better description of their status in the House and the status in the Legislature. I don't feel that I or any member of my caucus would like to be thought of as dependent members mindlessly following whatever dictates happen to be the rule of the day. I think the term gives a false impression. I would prefer the term "non-aligned" to "independent." That's my first and most fundamental problem with this discussion.

Second, I agree with my colleague Mr Morin that each member is elected to first of all serve the constituents of his or her constituency and that we have to find some kind of method to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to do that. I also hear Mr Sterling's comments that maybe in getting so rigid in order to do that we'll make a grand mistake, because we can't predict the future.

It seems to me a little mathematics could be used here to determine how often each of us gets to speak in the Legislature, and of course being a member of a political party does give you some advantages in that you share your time with your colleagues. Nevertheless, at a minimum, the independent should have equal opportunity to each individual member. In the case of our Legislature, that would be about one 103rd, because of course ministers of the crown cannot participate in many of the activities of the back bench. I think that could be worked out if we just put our minds to it, but in a rather more general way than in a very precise way.

Mr David Winninger (London South): I have a couple of comments. Before I make them, I want to ask a couple of questions of our legislative research person.

You handed out a chart some time ago, and I don't have it with me, that showed when the last independent member sat in the House prior to 1990. Do you recall when that was, approximately?

Mr Sibenik: It was before the Second World War. There were many more of them in the 19th century in the history of Ontario and Upper Canada, but it was before 1940.

Mr Winninger: My other question was about the lottery for private members' public business. As I've never attended the draw, I don't know all the mechanics.

Mr Villeneuve: You want to bet on it?

Mr Brown: You've got to go to Windsor, Dave.

Mr Winninger: You mentioned there are three different boxes for each of the parties. Does the Clerk choose one slip from each box in rotation?

Mr Sibenik: I've never attended one of these myself, but that's my understanding.

Mr Winninger: I'm just mindful that in the first two sessions, oddly enough, each time I drew the number 4 lot, and in the third session I drew 102, so I'm quite confident I will not have another private member's public bill in this session and maybe not in the next, depending on the luck of the draw. Therefore, it would be a little disturbing to me that there would be an extra box for the non-aligned members, as Mr Brown calls them; I don't know what the rotation for them would be.

If you could work out a fair system that would give you a one in 103 chance, fine, but right now, if, as I suspect, the rotation goes one, two, three in each of the boxes, by the time the Conservative Party's basket is emptied and the Liberal's basket is emptied, we'll still have many more people left in the basket, because we had -- well, I lost count, but somewhere in the low 70s in members. That would concern me.

Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): Sixty-nine and falling.

Interjection: The ministers aren't in there.

Mr Winninger: No, but there's just under 50, I imagine, compared to 34 or 35 for the Liberals and so on.


I can understand why a non-aligned member who wasn't elected as a non-aligned member might need to have time during members' statements to put forward announcements from the constituency. I can understand why a non-aligned member might need time during oral question period to put forward a constituency-based concern. I just question how far the mandate of a non-aligned member who hasn't been elected as a non-aligned member would go, because quite clearly, as Mr Morin said, we don't get 100% of the vote in our ridings; there are many people who vote against us who might vote for us if we declared our intentions otherwise. The mandate of such a person is very uncertain, I would suggest, and therefore I can't understand why a private member needs to participate in private members' public business and take positions, put forward certain bills, put forward certain resolutions, because I don't know where that person's mandate is coming from. They haven't been elected as a non-aligned member.

Similarly, I wonder why someone whose mandate is that uncertain would be given speaking opportunities in the House and on the standing committees. As to the process of the standing committees, there are many who have suggested that the size of our committees should be reduced, particularly those who are concerned about the expense involved in running legislative committees -- the expense, for example, in having large committees travelling across the province.

I don't know why we would choose to make our committees bigger at this stage rather than keep them the same size or make them smaller. If you're adding a non-aligned member to a committee with voting rights, you would need one additional government member, and I question the need for that.

On the whole, I think there has to be a constituency-based role for a non-aligned member, but I don't think it should go much further than that unless the member has been elected in a non-aligned capacity. I note now Mr Drainville is running independently for Parliament; if his constituents decide that they don't like Reform and they definitely don't like the Conservatives and they're not partial to the Liberals, they may decide to elect Mr Drainville and there will lie his mandate. I think he should have an important role to play on the public federal stage, and I don't take that away from him in any way.

But I seriously question expanding the role of the independent member beyond question period and statements in the House. I also think it's problematic from a procedural point of view. The discretion that now resides in the Speaker of the Legislature I think is sufficient in many respects to allow such a non-aligned member, where it's absolutely necessary, to participate in public debate, conceivably, and in other fora.

Mrs Sullivan: I was very interested in hearing Mr Sterling's comments about not getting too technical in the recommendations as they go back from committee. Frankly, I think perhaps we're overcomplicating what the issues are, as we are not asked to do a full review of the standing orders at this time. I think that over a period of time there has been a flexibility in the standing orders that reflects decisions that are made according to the culture of the place as it changes from time to time in the House. Clearly, there's a new culture and a new interest in the non-aligned members because we have more than we have had for many years.

My sense is that a general statement and direction to the Speaker that could be adopted by parliamentarians with respect to having discretion to recognize the non-aligned member in question period, in private members' statements and in private members' public business is an appropriate direction to him at this time. I am quite concerned, however, about adding a further blanket discretion to the Speaker to determine participation in committee activity, whether the member would, for instance, be counted as part of a quorum, the difficulties that are associated with substitution. I just don't think we should leave those issues to the discretion of the Speaker. However, my personal view is that we shouldn't deal with them at this time.

Mr Morin: We shouldn't deal with the issues?

Mrs Sullivan: The committee issue. The other recommendations to the Speaker are the appropriate recommendations.

Mr Paul Wessenger (Simcoe Centre): I've looked over the recommendations and, basically, I have problems with the committee recommendation, although the others I think are fairly much in accord with what was discussed previously at the meeting.

An issue has been raised with respect to private members' public business and I wasn't, in effect, aware of the aspect that it works on rotation on a party basis. Is it specifically set out in the rules that it works on that basis, or is that just agreement of the House leaders?

Mr Sibenik: It's not in the rules, so I presume it's on the basis of the party House leaders. It also could be a procedure that's been adopted at the table as well.

Mr Wessenger: I'll just go on record as saying that I don't like that situation. I think private members' hour should be for private members and all members should be treated equally in that respect. We should have one ballot box and all private members should draw from it. Then there'd be no problem with respect to parties or anything. I would be prepared to recommend that and support that recommendation. I think Mr Morin would also be in agreement with that.

We have too much partisanship in our system, in any event, and I think we can ensure that this is one area where members are treated as individuals instead of being always treated as a member of a political party. I think we should emphasize it that way and I would like to give that direction as a recommendation from this committee.

The Chair: Ms Sullivan, you just want to make a short comment and then I'll go to Mr Sterling.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. I just wanted to clarify. When I say that in my view we shouldn't be moving on the committee issues at this time, there certainly are opportunities for any member to participate in any committee and in the debate on any committee, although not in the vote and I think that's appropriate, those that are already existing in the standing orders.

Mr Sterling: I'm really intrigued by Mr Winninger's comments and his idea that there's some kind of difference between a person who becomes independent by being elected or otherwise. Quite frankly, I view a person walking away from a party as having a lot more intestinal fortitude than somebody staying when they disagree with a major part of the policy of a particular party. I have a lot of respect for somebody who does that because, quite frankly, it's very difficult for any one of us to get elected as an independent in this province. We haven't had an independent elected in this province in a long, long time and I dare say, even though I have been successful in five elections, even when the tide was turning against me at various times, I doubt that I could get elected as an independent myself.

Therefore, the party label is very, very important in terms of deciding my political future, and when somebody walks away from a party on a matter of principle, I don't think they should be penalized. That's basically what Mr Winninger is saying, that okay, as long as he's asking about his constituency, that person doesn't have the right to participate in debate over other provincial issues.

I disagree with that. I believe that the Legislature, in its most esoteric form, should be drawing on the expertise of the people who have the most knowledge about any particular subject. They should be involved in the debate, the questioning, whatever it is that determines what the law will be when we come out, or what the policy shall be at the end. That's the most ideal situation. I reject very strongly the idea that you're limiting an independent member, either elected or chosen after election, in terms of what he or she should be involved in.


The second part is that vis-à-vis the participation of an independent member on a committee, I believe that independent members should be allowed to participate as voting members on a committee. If members feel uncomfortable about allowing that to occur in terms of the number of people on the committee, why don't we put in, in terms of a generic statement, that it will be done on the agreement of the party House leaders? That's the way all of our committees are struck now.

Therefore, if an independent member has a particular interest in the Legislative Assembly committee, why should we say that particular member should not have the right to go to each one of our House leaders and negotiate that he can sit on this or that committee? Then the House leaders can negotiate the size of that committee so that the proper balances and proportions are set there so that a majority government continues to hold the largest number of seats on that committee.

We may, for instance, be willing to say we'll forsake one of our seats on a committee so that an independent can sit on it, or the other opposition party might be willing to do that. I would like the idea that we are being as open as possible in our framework to an independent member to be involved.

Lastly, in terms of what we call this particular individual, whether he or she is non-aligned or independent, I don't know what the best name is and I don't, quite frankly, care, but let's face it: The media, the public, everybody else accepts these people as independent members when they're not aligned with a party. If we try to invent a new name, we're only kidding ourselves. The fact of the matter is that the media are going to continue to call them independent members, and that's the way it's going to be. I don't feel strongly on that. I think it's more important that we allow them to participate in such a manner.

I would like to go with a generic statement as to their involvement, if there's more comfort in terms of the other members, in the debate, in the questioning, in the members' statements, in the other parts of the House, and in terms of the committee, to say an independent member shall be allowed to participate as decided by the House leaders of the recognized parties of the Legislature, and leave it at that. If an independent member goes to those particular House leaders, it puts them in a bit of a spot, but so what?

The Chair: I know as a Chair I could be in a spot. If there are three parties and one independent, how much time is given to the independent on committee? As you know, with a lot of bills that come forward, it's split equally among the three parties. With Bill 164, the auto insurance, we had a government member who asked time of the other two parties, which I granted, but it should have been government time that was taken. That's something I could see, sitting in the chair, and I imagine the two Deputy Speakers here also see problems in the House that could develop.

Mr Sterling: If I may respond to you, you are the Chairman and you should be able --

The Chair: Yes, but each Chair could wind up viewing it a bit differently.

Mr Sterling: So what? At least they're participating.

The Chair: Okay. I have to go to Mr Johnson.

Mr Morin: And me.

The Chair: Do you want to make a quick comment on that?

Mr Morin: I have a sense, I have a feeling that we're taking a complete new direction now from where we originally started. We came out with all kinds of recommendations, we had long debates this summer, but Mr Sterling brings in some new ideas. I'd like to know which direction you want to take. Shall we discuss the recommendations that have been made? If this is the case, I have some comments to make. If not, then perhaps we should look at it in a totally different way, in a more open way, and not be restricted to more or less imprison ourselves in certain rules or we may regret it later on.

My only concern with giving more responsibility to the Speaker is that you're asking him to play God, and then some decision he may make at times to allow the independent member to speak or to voice his opinion may not be well accepted by the others because they'll say: "Well, look, we belong to a party. He doesn't belong to a party. The Speaker seems to favour him more often than he does others." This is where I'm worried about the responsibilities you may give to the Speaker. It's a very pressing debate.

The Chair: That was my point also, as committee Chair. We go to Mr Johnson.

Mr Paul Johnson: I note too that the title "independent member" conjures up a lot of ideas. I think clearly the members of this committee understand exactly what we mean when we talk about an independent member. However, the public may not understand that and I think it might not be a bad idea to have "independent member" defined.

It's not simply defined, because indeed people can be aligned with parties if they are independent members. For example, if they do not have enough members to attain party status, as Mr Sterling put it so well in the beginning of this meeting today, then certainly they are aligned with a party even though they are independent members or may have the status of independent members.

So I think that in the interest of our final draft that we submit to whomever we're going to submit this to -- the Speaker, I guess, and all the status parties, and I suspect to the independent members as well -- we define exactly what an independent member is.

An independent member, and I hope I'm all-inclusive when I say this, can be someone who has left a party so therefore no longer has the relationship with the party and therefore would be a non-aligned independent member. But a member may also be a small group of individuals. For example, maybe the Natural Law Party will have four or five members successfully elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the next provincial election, and therefore they wouldn't have status as a party, but as independent members they would certainly be aligned to a particular party. I think also members could be elected as independents. I know it hasn't happened for a long time, and I agree with Mr Sterling: It's highly unlikely that it will happen, but they truly could be elected as independents.

Therefore I think it just requires a clear definition of what an independent member is. I think the term "independent member" is well understood by us. We can call them many things, but when we say "an independent member," we mean all those members who might not be aligned to a particular party, or indeed they may be aligned to a particular party but the party has not achieved party status here in the Legislative Assembly.

With regard to committees, I think that presently the way the committees are structured, at least the way the members of the committees cooperate, we agree to allocate time between the parties equally. Now, it's clear mathematically that the third party has the most opportunity for its members to speak, proportionally, and the second party, or the official opposition, the Liberal Party, has proportionally the next-most opportunity for their members to speak and the government party has the least. If an independent member were to have an opportunity to be on a committee, then I believe that they would probably have the most opportunity to speak, proportionally, mathematically. So it's something to take into consideration.


Right now, as we cooperate and divide up the time between the parties, there is something that one might say is not fair. Well, it's certainly fair because we all agree to it. If we have an additional person, whom I will call an independent member, on the committee, they may be perceived to have an inordinate amount of time to speak to a particular issue; then again, if we all agreed that they had that time, then I guess it would be fair just by our agreement.

I think many of the concerns that are raised here -- many, not all -- can be solved by coming to some consensus or agreement on some kind of mathematical equation that allows these people an opportunity to participate in many of the functions that all members have an opportunity to participate in as we deal with many issues through the course of our duties here at the

Legislative Assembly.

Mr Villeneuve: I agree with my colleague Mr Johnson, in many instances. However, being an occupant of the chair, and I think my colleague Mr Morin, before going to occupy the chair in the Legislature, touched on it, we are giving the Speaker a great deal of power and at times possibly almost dictatorial powers. I think we have to have some sort of mechanism, because from time to time we have to ask for unanimous consent. Unanimous consent when we have independent members, if they feel shortchanged -- and we were on the verge of having that prior to one of our members resigning from the Legislature.

I think we should have something known as legislative consensus. We have that at private members' hour from time to time on Thursday mornings when we come to, "Should this bill go to committee of the whole or to a designated committee of the Legislature?" We have members stand up just to indicate, without a count, and you look: Do you have legislative consensus? That would give the Speaker a much better idea about what the general consensus of the Legislature is, as opposed to having unanimous consent, whereby one "nay" kills everything.

Maybe we should look at that. It would give whoever is in the chair at that time -- it would simply be a 15-second, "All those in favour of the motion by such and such a member, please stand." If you have 98% of the people in the Legislature stand, it's obvious you've got consensus or it's obvious you don't have so-called consensus, as opposed to unanimous consent.

Mrs Ellen MacKinnon (Lambton): Maybe I've come in a little late on my thoughts, because Mr Johnson very much referred to what I was going to ask. Mine is really a question. It sounds to me like we are all assuming these independent members have no alliance with any political party. In our situation right now, that's not so. We have two who perhaps are being considered independents, but we know they have party alliance.

Mr Paul Johnson: Or allegiance.

Mrs MacKinnon: Or allegiance; perhaps that's a better word. Thank you, Paul. I don't know just how to word my question.

Mrs Sullivan: Peter North?


Mr Paul Johnson: They want to know which party they have allegiance to.

Mrs MacKinnon: Never mind, Mr Chair. I won't say any more. I obviously can't express myself, so don't bother.


Mrs MacKinnon: Oh, Peter North be damned. There's one member sitting out right now that I don't call independent; he belongs to our party. We know there's one sitting out right now and I know he is a member of the official opposition. If we have people sitting that way, why is there a problem in regard to committee or private members' bills or whatever the case may be? They're aligned with a party.

Mr Winninger: Well, Peter North is a wannabe.

Mrs MacKinnon: Peter North should be gone south.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Just having come into this committee, it seems we're talking about temporary situations that exist from time to time as we go along. You've only had one independent who's ever been elected before, and that was before the Second World War, and you're talking about making rule changes or changing things to look after only temporary situations.

If individuals are elected as members, whether Liberal or NDP or Conservative, and if they feel they want to sit as an independent or switch to another party or whatever, my own personal opinion is that they should do as some members have in the past: They should resign their seat and have a by-election.

Rather than changing the rules here for independent members who are only temporary -- "temporary" might be a year, it might be less than a year or it could be several months -- I don't think we should be worrying about those particular rules because of the fact that it's only happened once that a member ever got elected as an independent member.

Every election you're starting with a new slate. There probably are going to be hard feelings from time to time and members are going to decide that they would like to switch to another party or sit as an independent, but I don't think we should worry very much about these situations unless they are elected as independents. If they want to switch from one party to another, my opinion is that they should resign their seat and have a by-election.

The Chair: I agree with you, Mr Wood, but sometimes they get caught in the middle of the floor and can't get to either party.

Mrs Sullivan: As we're looking at how we're going to shape the final report, I think we should be mindful of what we were asked to do. The committee was asked by the Speaker to provide guidance to him to deal with the current situation, at the request of more than one independent member who came before the committee to express their views about what their role should be as it evolves in the House.

That's why I favour Mr Strling's general statement of principle to put forward to the Speaker in terms of the involvement of the independent member in the activities of the House. My view is that until there is a full review of the standing orders which could consider the intricate areas of committee membership and participation, we should not provide further power to the Speaker to exercise discretion in terms of committee participation.

Currently, if the discretion is exercised from time to time, as it is in Ottawa, on members' statements, during the oral question period, in private members' public business and in debate on motions in the House and in committee, I think that's appropriate. If it's not appropriate, you can bet that this committee will have a reference right back to it for additional recommendations.

Mr Sterling: Can I narrow the discussion? I'm getting a sense from the government side of where they're standing on the issue. I'm quite willing to put a motion, if that's necessary, that we either take one tack or the other. I move --

The Vice-Chair (Mr Paul Wessenger): Would you mind if I asked a question from the researcher with respect to clarification of these recommendations? I hope you don't mind.

Mr Sterling: No, that's fine.

The Vice-Chair: Which of the recommendations would require rule changes in items 1 to 6?


Mr Sibenik: It seems to me that 1 would require a change, and 2 would because of the way the particular standing order 33 is phrased, and I think 3 would require a rule change as well. If you want to give some guidance to the Speaker or the presiding officer with respect to speaking opportunities, that possibly can be a rule change as well; committee membership is another; in fact the sixth one as well, if you want to give independent members the entitlements or rights that other members have.

Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I move that in giving guidance to the Speaker as to the role of the independent member, one generic rule be drafted for our standing orders which would allow the Speaker discretion to permit the independent member to participate in the legislative process as any other member of the Legislature might do.

The Vice-Chair: Discussion on the motion?

Mr Sterling: I think it's best that we deal with this in a generic form rather than going through various points and amending six, seven, 10, 15 different parts of the standing orders. Therefore, I move that we deal with the change to the standing orders in a generic form rather than in specific recommendations to each and every part of the standing orders.

Mrs Sullivan: I'm going to take a little different tack, but I still think that what Mr Sterling has suggested is interesting. I'm going to suggest that the committee recommend items 1, 2, 3 and 4 with a slight changing in the wording from "should" to "may" and from "should" to "shall" in the appropriate lines. I'm not really speaking to this, but I guess still in general discussion.

I also think the recommendation to the Speaker, as the Speaker does not make these changes independently, should be that this matter be raised with the House leaders for their consideration and for bringing forward to the House for recommendations for change to the standing orders in the normal way. The government House leader brings in the recommendations for change to the standing orders. We know that has generally been done by consensus, although not always.

Perhaps the Deputy Speaker or the Clerk can tell us if a motion of the House with respect to the kinds of recommendations that are here in 1, 2, 3 and 4 are adequate for the current period of time.

Mr Sibenik: An order of the House of course is effective. It can amend these standing orders, so there's no difficulty in terms of a simple order of the House amending the standing orders. Also, you can have an order that actually amends each standing order as well. There are various ways in which this can be done. There's no difficulty in that sense, though, from a procedural perspective.

Mrs Sullivan: I was thinking of process first, but in speaking directly to Mr Sterling's motion, we would prefer to leave out the committee participation at this time, so the portion of your motion that says "as any other member" we couldn't support.

Mr Sterling: It's a little difficult, because I haven't written the motion out. Therefore, maybe the clerk can help me, because I think you're referring back to my --

The Vice-Chair: I'm just wondering, if you're trying to sort out an appropriate motion, maybe there's some further discussion on the matter.

Mr Winninger: Just a couple of comments on Mr Sterling's motion: As I see it right now, there's nothing to stop the House leaders from agreeing, at the request of a non-aligned member, to have time during debate.

Mr Sterling: Yes, there is.

Mr Winninger: There is? What rule is that?

Mr Sterling: I can stand up on a point of order and say that you have no right to allow that independent member the right to speak.

Mr Winninger: But the Speaker may rule adversely on your point of order.

Mr Villeneuve: No, you've got to go by the standing orders.

Mr Sterling: I'd have a valid point of order.

Mr Winninger: The other concern involves sitting on a committee. If there were a permissive rule that allowed a member of the opposition parties to yield their seat on a committee and to allow a non-aligned member to take their place, and the House leaders approved of that, that would seem reasonable to me.

But I said the last day I sat on this committee, which is quite a few weeks ago, given the amount of obstruction getting bills through the House and the fact that it's taking us, on average, two and a half times what it took previous governments to get their bills through -- and Mr Sterling said, "That's because we don't like your bills" -- why would we want to add to the debating time by increasing opportunities for non-aligned members to increase the length of the debate? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me as a government member. It might make more sense to the opposition parties now that they're no longer in government.

Mr Sterling: Let me get the motion straight so that people know what they're voting on. I moved that we make our recommendation to the Speaker in a generic form rather than in a specific form with regard to the standing orders. Do you understand what I'm saying by that? I see some looks of puzzlement.

The Vice-Chair: Do you have a trial period for this, what you were talking about earlier?

Mr Villeneuve: We want to see some recommendations first.

Mr Sterling: Yes. Basically, I'm saying I would prefer to send our researcher back and say, "Come to us with some kind of general discretionary power." That's what the essence of my motion is meant to be, to have the researcher come back with some generic discretionary power to the Speaker to allow an independent member to participate in the legislative process, rather than going through and trying to say, "We should permit him here and there, and here and there," and then see how it works out. Then if there's a problem, either on the part of the party leaders or in terms of the independent member, we'll hear about it and we'll have to revisit this again.

I just think we're trying to deal with a problem that isn't that big. I don't think we can foresee all of the instances that can arise where a Speaker might want to exercise discretion either in allowing an independent member to participate or to keep an independent member quiet at certain times. This is rather than speaking to individual sections of our standing orders.


The Chair: Discussion? Mrs MacKinnon.

Mrs MacKinnon: First of all, Mr Chair, perhaps you might want to decide whether or not you want me to speak, because you're asking me to speak to the motion, is that correct?

The Chair: Discussion.

Mrs MacKinnon: In regard to the motion? My point in putting up my hand was that I wondered if it would be helpful to read into the record the motion that Mr Charlton made in the House regarding the activity around this particular issue, because I kind of feel from reading it -- I have a copy of it here -- that we might be going just a little bit further than his motion directs.

Mr Winninger: Why don't you read it anyway?

Mrs MacKinnon: I'm asking the Chair if he wants --

Mrs Sullivan: It's at the direction of the committee.

Mr Villeneuve: Let's put it on the record.

Mrs MacKinnon: "Mr Charlton moves:

"That the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be directed to consider the role of members of the provincial Parliament who are not members of a recognized party;

"That the committee give particular attention to issues relating to non-aligned members posing oral questions, making members' statements and participating in the standing committee process; and

"That the committee in its deliberations consider the rights of all members and the practices of other jurisdictions."

I don't see anything in that motion that says that we're to be dealing with private members' public business. I recall the legislative researcher coming back with practices from other jurisdictions, so we have done that, but I'm wondering if we're going beyond the bounds of this motion. Or am I jumping to conclusions?

The Chair: Could I have the clerk just go on the record for a minute here.

Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): I just want to clarify something. I'm not convinced, and I just want to check for a moment, whether or not that motion was ever passed in the House. So before you start discussing that motion, can you give me just a second to check back with the books to see if it was actually passed?

Mrs MacKinnon: Oh, all right. Sure.

Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, just on a point of order: Quite frankly, it doesn't matter. This Legislative Assembly committee has the right to recommend anything it wants to recommend, regardless of what we've been told. We're trying to deal with the independent member's role and how we would fit that particular individual into our legislative process.

The thrust of my motion is, do you want to do it specifically by dealing standing order by standing order and figure out what we're going to do or do you want to give discretion to the Speaker to allow them to participate in some fashion which is in accordance with what the rest of the members have in terms of rights and privileges in the Legislative Assembly?

The Chair: Which the Speaker has dealt with to date, in a sense.

Mr Sterling: Yes, that's right.

Mr Wessenger: I have some objection to the generic approach, because I'm concerned about the inclusion of the committee membership in a generic approach. My second objection to the generic approach is that I know one of the problems was that, as membership of the committee changed, it seemed we had arrived at a relative consensus of the then members of the committee with respect to certain items. Those items were, as I said, items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. I would agree there's been no consensus with respect to the whole question of committee membership, but it seemed to me that there was consensus on members' statements, oral question period, private members' public business, speaking opportunities in the House -- maybe that one, but certainly on the first three there was a consensus.

If we want to word it as a recommendation to the Speaker, I would much prefer that approach because it's what I felt I had agreed on previously here in the committee. Going off in a new direction, I have some concern and I also have some sympathy for those people who act as Speaker. They need some direction as to how they're going to exercise their discretion. That's certainly the point that's been made by Mr Morin and Mr Villeneuve. For that reason, I'm not really in favour of going off on another generic tangent.

Mr Winninger: I think Mr Wessenger has made some of the submissions I was going to make. I said earlier I don't have a problem with members' statements, I don't have a problem with oral question period. If indeed non-aligned members are going to be allowed time during private members' public business, there would need to be some changes as to how the lottery operates, to ensure fairness, but it seems to me that the role of a non-aligned member on a committee and speaking opportunities in the House would be highly problematic.

Unfortunately, I wasn't there to measure the consensus before the committee recessed last time, so I'm just going on the basis of what I heard there was consensus on before I left the committee. I don't support the generic approach because I don't think there's consensus around all of the changes to the standing orders that the generic approach would entail.

Mr Sterling: I guess I have more faith in the Speakers than most people here in terms of their discretion. One of the things we have done in drafting our standing orders in the past is not give enough discretion to our Speaker. Unfortunately, I've heard from the Speaker far too often, and my own humble opinion is, that instead of ruling and having the flexibility to rule what would be reasonable and rational at the time, we've hamstrung the Speaker with a whole bunch of specifics, and we continue to do that.

Notwithstanding that, I withdraw the motion and I suggest we move along on the recommendations piece by piece at this time.

Mr Villeneuve: If it looks like our motion is not going to carry, let's get the job done and let's go.

Mr Wessenger: Just as a suggestion, perhaps we should move each item. I'll start off where there seems to be no problem. I'll move items 1 and 2 for approval.

The Chair: Discussion?

Mrs Sullivan: I had indicated that I was concerned about a couple of the words in this: "should" and "the Speaker should." I think "may" is a more appropriate word when we're talking about discretion. Then latterly, in the third line from the bottom, have, "The Speaker shall have regard to the opportunities that members of the recognized parties have to make such statements." Those changes should follow through each section.

Mr Sterling: I agree with that. On number 1, I think there should be a statement in here that the independent member should give prior notice to the Speaker of his desire to make a statement.

Mrs Sullivan: "His or her."

Mr Villeneuve: We haven't got any "hers" yet.

Mr Sterling: All the independent members are "hises."

Mr Villeneuve: Yes, all the independent members are males right now.

The Chair: You're saying prior notice. That would be before the House actually sits at 1:30; it wouldn't have to be --

Mrs Sullivan: Or just advise the Speaker.

The Chair: Just as long as he knows that the person is standing up that particular day.

Mr Sterling: If you say, "one independent member," you've got a problem.

The Chair: Okay. Nothing in number 2? Everybody agree? Does everybody agree with number 1 now, with the changes from "should" to "may"?

Mrs MacKinnon: And "should" to "shall" in the second-last line.

Mrs Sullivan: And the prior notice. The clerk's doing all of our motions for us, I guess.

The Chair: Number 2, oral question period: Any discussion, changes?

Mrs MacKinnon: Where do you mean the act of prior notice to go, with 1?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. Also, I would suggest that the same addition be made to oral questions as well.

Mrs MacKinnon: That was why I asked. I was putting it on oral questions, but you put it on members' statements, right?

The Chair: We did number 1; we're on number 2 now.

Mr Wessenger: It's the same: "the Speaker may."


Mr Winninger: Is that prior notice going just to the Speaker, not to the other recognized parties?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. In a way, it's a protection for the Speaker.

Mrs MacKinnon: There's a second "should" in 2: "The Speaker should have regard to the opportunities." Should not that be "the Speaker shall have regard" again?

The Chair: It's "shall" again, yes.

Mrs Sullivan: I think all the way through we've agreed that those changes should be made.

The Chair: The researcher would want to know whether we want "recognized" in 1, in the second-last line: "The Speaker shall have regard to the opportunities that members of the recognized parties have to make such statements."

Interjections: Yes.

The Chair: Okay, on to 3. I guess this is where we start again.

Mr Wessenger: I don't know whether I'll get any support for this, as Mr Morin's not here, but I'd like to include in number 3 -- I don't know how to do it -- the recommendation that all private members who are not members of the executive council be considered equally in one draw.

The Chair: That's quite a change.

Mr Wessenger: Yes, I know it's a change, but I believe in it, so I'm moving it.

The Chair: Discussion on it?

Mr Sterling: I think we're going to get ourselves in trouble if we start fooling around with other standing orders than those dealing with independent members, and that's what we are here.

Mr Wessenger: I'd like to point out, as it was pointed out by researchers, that there's nothing in the standing orders that requires the way it is now.

Mr Sibenik: If I could just clarify that, actually there is an expression in standing order 96(d) that does say "for each party." If I misled the committee earlier, I apologize for that. It does say that there is a specific way, and that's why I said there are three boxes, because that's in a sense what the standing order 96(d) does say.

Mrs Sullivan: And members themselves choose to participate.

Mr Wessenger: I think I will stick with my motion, because I'm exercising my judgement as an independent member today.

Mr Brown: Not non-aligned; independent.

Mr Wessenger: That's right, thinking independently.

The Chair: Further discussion on this?

Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I think it's out of order in terms of the discussion we're having today. If you want to go into other realms of the standing orders and start discussions about that, I think you're going to lose credibility in terms of the total report. That's the way I feel.

Mr Winninger: I don't really understand how we can shake up the pot without shaking up the pot here. Clearly, there has to be --

Mr Sterling: I'll tell you how.

Mr Winninger: Wait. Let me finish.

Mr Sterling: I'll tell you how. It's simply a mechanical problem, and you can deal with it.

Mr Winninger: I'm asking this because I think Mr Wessenger raises a very valid point: Is there going to be a fourth box, or are we changing the manner in which we draw the lots?

Mrs Sullivan: You don't have to worry about that. That's somebody else's job.

Mr Winninger: I would ask for clarification about why we don't need to worry about that.

The Chair: Mr Sterling's response.

Mr Sterling: All you have to do is put everybody's name in the box, one box, and you agree that on each day it's going to be a government member first, so you choose until you get a government member, and you then you choose until you get an opposition member, and you then choose until you get a third-party member. Eventually, you're going to choose the independent member and he or she gets slotted wherever they fall. There's no problem there.

Mr Winninger: Where does "eventually" fall for the non-aligned member?

Mr Sterling: Wherever they draw.

Mr Brown: It sounds like a moose lottery to me.

Mr Wessenger: Perhaps in the interests of expediting the matter, although I like my proposal and I do support it, I will withdraw my motion.

Mr Paul Johnson: Notwithstanding that, I still want to make a comment about private members' public business. Peter actually brought up the notion when he was explaining it that there would need to be a mathematical formula that would, fairly, allow an independent member from time to time to have an opportunity for private members' public business. I think he's right.

You need to have those three boxes, like we're doing, to arrange for members of recognized parties to have their fair opportunity to avail themselves of private members' public business. Then, after a period of time, from time to time there is an opportunity for an independent, based on however many independents there are. If there's one, then it would be considered fair, I think, to allow that person an opportunity after the time period when we all get on the roster to have an opportunity to do that.

It becomes more complicated when we have more, and therefore there would have to be a mathematical formula to allow that to happen. They too would be in a draw and may or may not have success, I think. I know that sounds somewhat complicated, but I'm certain there is a formula that can be arrived at we can all agree to.

Mrs Sullivan: The ballot is conducted by the Clerk with each member who wants to identify himself or herself as interested in participating in a private member's motion or bill, putting their names forward to participate in the ballot. Every member does not have to participate. Some independent members may not, just as some party members do not, choose to participate.

The Clerk has, not only in this jurisdiction but in other jurisdictions, been responsible for conducting the ballot for private member's business. I suggest that we leave the process of conducting the ballot to the Clerk and get on with the principle which is expressed in paragraph 3.

Mr Brown: I have a question of the researcher. I don't have a great understanding of how many members actually do present bills or resolutions to the House in an average session. Would 50 members have an opportunity?

Mr Sibenik: Right now there are 100 members on the order of precedence and we are at --

Mr Sterling: Forty?

Mr Sibenik: Well, if it's October 21, we're at number 29. If we go to December 9, it would be 42 in all.

Mr Brown: I was just attempting to get some understanding of how important it was to be lucky in the draw. What we're saying is that about one third, at best one half, of the members who wish to participate actually have an opportunity to do that.

Mr Winninger: We had a government member in the room earlier just observing the proceedings. She told me she's never had a chance to present in private member's hour and her current ticket is 86. It would seem to me that if you're in a recognized party, your opportunities to participate in private members' business should be at least equal to that of a non-aligned member.

I don't know that there's an easy solution to this. Maybe the mathematical formula we described earlier -- quite frankly, I could never understand why, once you've drawn a lottery, your number should die at the end of a session; why your number, as you're still with your party or we're still in government, can't continue into the next session. But be that as it may, it seems to me that you could have opportunities for non-aligned members that a private member in a recognized party is denied.

The Chair: Mr Winninger, I don't know if you've seen that some of the members have actually switched with other members, so if you're number 89, you can switch with someone who's already presented, and it's announced in the House that the two members are switching.

Mr Winninger: Yes, that can happen.


Mrs Sullivan: I wanted to once again say that I think the process should be left to the Clerk. In other jurisdictions, there is not the same kind of approach we have, where a member can participate in a ballot with or without materials prepared and ready to go. In many other jurisdictions, you must participate in the ballot with a piece of legislation that you intend to bring to the floor, and then there's a judgement made about the public good associated with that legislation by an all-party committee or whatever. Sometimes it's simply by draw.

But we are not talking about alternatives to the ballot system and to the process for private members today; we are talking about making a recommendation about how those people who are currently independents can or whether they should participate. My view, and I think Mr Wessenger has said it, is that there appears to be consensus on subsection (3), so I suggest we have a vote.

Mr Sterling: Can I say one thing? The other part of this debate is that once you get into the debate about how the ballot is done, the determination of how that happened in the past was part of a negotiation process between the government and opposition parties. Part of the government's giving was to say that opposition members are going to have a greater right to private members' hours than backbench members of the government are going to have a right to.

Mr Paul Johnson: And they do.

Mr Sterling: They do. You may disagree with that, but you can't change rules in isolation, in terms of the balance between government members and opposition members, without talking about a whole bunch of other things. You've heard about the 30-minute speech; we never had restrictions on speeches before this particular government brought that part in. It's a fluid process that takes place at that time, so for us to come up and say we're going to recommend a brand-new way of dealing with who asks questions -- I mean, when I was a member of the second party, I always felt very, very strongly that members of the third party, which was then the New Democratic Party, from 1985 to 1987 -- we had 51 members in our group and I think the New Democrats had 21 or 25; it doesn't matter. I always thought, why should they have twice as many questions as we have? That was the way it was negotiated, and that's the way it is.

When you look at one rule, does it necessarily reflect what the standing orders in total are about? In total, they're supposed to be a balance between the right of the government to govern and the opposition parties to oppose, and they've been negotiated a number of times. I don't know what the playoff was on this particular one when it was negotiated. You'd have to go back in history and look.

Mr Paul Johnson: We all studied mathematics in high school and I'm sure we all studied probability, and any of us who have studied probability and understand it would certainly never gamble -- let me make that comment -- but the probability right now of a third party member getting into private member's public business is greater than is the Liberal Party, the opposition, and far greater than members of the government. If indeed we're going to allow independent members an opportunity to private members' public business, as I examine this, it would almost be a certainty that they would have an opportunity to do that.

Mr Sterling: Not necessarily.

Mr Paul Johnson: But it would be closer to a certainty, given the mathematical probability. There's only one of them and they're going to have a greater number of opportunities.

Mrs MacKinnon: Sure. They're going to be fourth the very first time.


Mr Paul Johnson: Norm, if I may -- do I have the floor, Mr Chair?

Mrs Sullivan: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I have a question.

Mr Paul Johnson: May I complete what I have to say?

The Chair: Go ahead, Mr Johnson, quickly.

Mr Paul Johnson: If we are going to allow the three parties to draw from three individual boxes as they do, then given the numbers, the probability of success for a third party is greater than for the official opposition and far greater than for the members of the government. If we're going to make a fourth box that we put independents into and that we draw from, the probability of them being successful is far greater than anyone else. If we're going to do this in the way we're doing it, then that has to happen.

The Chair: Or you can put it in the third-party box also and that would even it out.

Mr Sterling: You can put them all in one box, as I told you before.

Mr Paul Johnson: But there's only one independent member in the fourth box.

The Chair: No, you put him in the third party's box.

Mr Sterling: On number 3, is there any objection from the governing party? I don't have any objection to the recommendation on participation of the private members.

Mrs MacKinnon: I thought Mrs Sullivan had a point.

Mrs Sullivan: No. Once Mr Wessenger said he wasn't going to go on proposals for changing the ballot, I'm in full agreement with this.

The Chair: As it is in number 3?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes.

Mr Brown: Just to be consistent, I think we should put in that clause about notifying the Speaker in advance that one would wish to speak.

Mrs Sullivan: They would participate in the ballot, so they wouldn't have to.

Mr Sterling: No, no, in speaking.

Mr Brown: In speaking. It provides for the opportunity to speak, and I think it's only fair to the Speaker that he knows he should be recognizing someone.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes.

The Chair: So everyone's in agreement with 3 now?

Mr Winninger: With 3(b). Mr Chair, if some recommendation is made around 3(a), I think there has to be a recommendation with regard to the process, because we're recommending in essence that this standing order be changed. If there is a process in 96(d), I believe we were told, and our recommendation would change that process, I think we need to have some recommendation around the process to meet the kinds of concerns that I and other members have expressed, that you just heard from Mr Johnson.

We know quite clearly that right now in the average session there's not enough time for all members to conduct private business. We know that the probability of a government member conducting private business is marginally or substantially less than the other two parties. We know, given that there's not enough time for all members to conduct business now, there's going to be even less time if three additional non-aligned members conduct business in a session. Therefore, I'm very concerned that there be a reasonable, acceptable formula that goes along with this recommendation in 3(a). If there isn't, then I would suggest our government members caucus.

Mr Wessenger: Can I make a suggestion here?

The Chair: Wait a minute; Mrs Sullivan's got the floor next.

Mrs Sullivan: I was going to suggest that the same direction to the Speaker to have regard to the participation of members of recognized parties be put under subsection (a) as well as under subsection (b), and that may solve the problem. He will understand that there is a concern.

Mr Sterling: I think you're going to cause more problems, because the rights --

The Chair: Mr Wessenger, and then I'll catch you.

Mr Sterling: I'm sorry; I was just speaking on her suggestion.

Mr Wessenger: I have somewhat of an interest in what Mrs Sullivan said. Perhaps this is one we need a further, more specific recommendation on so we can approve it in principle subject to a satisfactory process being agreed to by the committee. I'm just trying to short-circuit the situation here, but I think we need somebody to come back with some recommendations about the process, having regard to the standards of not lessening the rights of other members in an unfair manner, as Mrs Sullivan had indicated. I think that's the best way.

The Chair: So we leave 3 until next week?

Mr Wessenger: With the recommendation, yes.

Mr Brown: Can we stand it down, Mr Chair?

The Chair: We can stand it down. Mr Sterling had some comments.

Mr Sterling: The problem with this one is that the rights of members are not consistent.

The Chair: All members, you mean.

Mr Sterling: Yes. The right of a Conservative member in the Legislature to ask a question or to do private members' public business is greater than a Liberal, which is greater than an NDP member, just because of the balance we have in the House.

Mrs MacKinnon: I'm wondering if we should be considering having the Speaker or the deputy speakers in when we're considering this, if they might be able to shed some light on it, inasmuch as we are going beyond what the original motion said. We haven't got the advantage right now of having either of the deputy speakers. Have you been a Speaker, Mr Sterling?

Mr Sterling: No. I just ran for being Speaker.

The Chair: Ms MacKinnon, that motion you read out had never been passed in the House.

Mrs MacKinnon: I didn't realize it would have to be a motion.

The Chair: This committee has to take the direction back to the Speaker.

Mrs MacKinnon: That's what I'm saying. Could we not do that, take the direction back to the Speaker that we would like his or her or their guidance on it?

The Chair: We'll be making the decisions here to go back to the Speaker.

Mrs Sullivan: The Speaker wrote us a letter that said, "Will you look at this?"

Mrs MacKinnon: But not on this particular subject.

The Chair: He's asking us to make recommendations back to him. I think the only thing we can do is stand this down until next week, at 3:30 on Wednesday. This committee is adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1732.