Wednesday 13 December 1995
Assignment of ministries
Use of chamber
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Chair / Président: Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
*Bartolucci, Rick (Sudbury L)
*Boushy, Dave (Sarnia PC)
Cooke, David S. (Windsor-Riverside ND)
*DeFaria, Carl (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
*Froese, Tom (St Catharines-Brock PC)
*Grimmett, Bill (Muskoka-Georgian Bay / Muskoka-Baie-Georgienne PC)
*Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Johnson, Ron (Brantford PC)
*Miclash, Frank (Kenora L)
*Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East / -Est L)
*O'Toole, John R. (Durham East / -Est PC)
*Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt ND)
*Stewart, R. Gary (Peterborough PC)
*In attendance / présents
Clerk pro tem / Greffière par intérim: Bryce, Donna
Staff / Personnel:
Yeager, Lewis, research officer, Legislative Research Service
Sibenik, Peter, procedural research clerk, office of the Clerk
The committee met at 1544 in room 228.
ASSIGNMENT OF MINISTRIES
The Chair (Mr Ted Arnott): I call this meeting to order. Members have in front of them a copy of our agenda. The first item that we have to deal with today is the assignment of ministries pursuant to standing order 108(b). I think it's fairly straightforward, but we require a motion from the floor to reflect the changes in the structure of the government so that those ministries can be assigned to the various standing committees of the Legislature. Is there any member of the committee who would like to move the motion to reflect that change?
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I so move.
The Chair: Any discussion to the motion? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
USE OF CHAMBER
The Chair: Secondly, we have a request from students from Wilfrid Laurier University to use the parliamentary chamber for a model Parliament. This was referred to us by the Speaker, as to whether or not we should perhaps have a policy as a committee to make recommendations as to who should and who should not be allowed to use the chamber. I think in the past Upper Canada College has operated a model Parliament involving people from across the province, and that has been the only group that has been allowed to use the chamber for that purpose, for a model Parliament. I'm in the hands of the committee as to how you would want to deal with this. I just open the floor for comments and suggestions as to what would be appropriate.
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I think that we should consider each application as it comes and that we should not hesitate at all to grant them authorization to use the House. What is the procedure? Do we have security? Do we have people keeping an eye on the whole thing? Is that the way we do it?
Clerk Pro Tem (Ms Donna Bryce): I'm not familiar with the actual operations of it once it's approved. I am familiar with the House leaders' agreement in the past, I believe 1994, that permission would be granted only to Upper Canada College's Ontario model Parliament. So in terms of the operations of it, I'm not familiar with that. We can find out. I think that if the committee were to develop a policy, we would want to have future meeting dates to discuss it and perhaps at that time more information can be brought forward.
The Chair: In the past it's been the House leaders who have made this decision. What they're looking for, I guess, is our involvement in these decisions.
Mr Morin: I think we should all of us think of future recruits to replace us. It's important that they know how to operate in our House. I think it's a wonderful experience.
Mr Bartolucci: I certainly concur with my fellow member with regard to this. I believe we should look at every application, deal with every application individually, and certainly we should never, ever discourage our future leaders from using the facility which governs this province. So I would be in support of this application and I indeed think it would be a good idea that we as a committee sit down at some date to discuss what type of policy we are going to develop, always encouraging and never discouraging our future leaders.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I would just simply say that I think the use of the Parliament by groups such as this should be applauded. I think in the absence of a policy, we should approve this request. The idea of developing a policy is also a good one. In the absence of that, this sounds to me like it's a worthwhile initiative that should be supported.
Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): Myself, I don't understand why it would have been limited to one particular school in the past, and particularly Upper Canada College, which is a private school. So I certainly agree with the members opposite.
The Chair: I gather that it was Upper Canada College that organized it, involving students from across the province. But I'm not sure of the rationale for the previous policy beyond that. I suppose there was some consideration given to the fact that if it was wide open we'd be inundated with requests and it would become difficult. The other issue, I suppose, is perhaps also the tourists who come in here in the intersession, particularly in the summertime, that we should give consideration to that.
Do we require a motion?
Clerk Pro Tem: Not if everybody's in agreement.
The Chair: Do we have general consensus that we allow students from Wilfrid Laurier University to come on the terms that they've -- have they given us a specific date that they're looking for?
Clerk Pro Tem: March 9 or 16.
The Chair: Then is it the consensus of the committee that the subcommittee would deal with individual applications as they come in or would we require a full meeting of the committee to discuss every individual application? Would you want to empower the Chair or should we discuss it further and come up with a policy at a later date?
Mr Silipo: I don't know that we're going to be deluged with applications, but in the event that there might be additional applications that come, and if it proves, in terms of the time lines, difficult for the committee to have to deal with them, I certainly would be quite happy if we authorized you, as Chair, if need be in consultation, even through the clerks by telephone, with members of the subcommittee, to be authorized to approve those requests. That would be fine.
I think what we're seeing today reflected here in the comments made so far is a spirit of people saying we think the chamber should be available for initiatives like this. Again, if there are additional requests, I wouldn't expect that there'd be too many and I'm sure that they can be accommodated within the spirit of what we're passing here today.
The Chair: Again, assuming that there are students who are interested.
Mr O'Toole, did you have a question?
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I gather we're discussing the order here that is the Wilfrid Laurier request? Pardon me for being late. Have we, in this discussion, put any restrictions on -- you mentioned the word "students." Does that imply elementary school?
The Chair: There was general consensus that we want to encourage students to take an interest in Parliament and parliamentary democracy, and that this request should be granted and that others in the future be given favourable consideration, assuming they're coming in under similar circumstances.
Mr O'Toole: My only sense is that it is, first of all, kind of a privilege type of thing. It is a very historic place and all that kind of thing, but I'd be very happy, without putting restrictions on it initially, to try it at the university level. Model Parliament starts, I guess, in grades 7 and 8, and United Nations activities are encouraged in elementary schools as well. So my sense is that it would be appropriate, for the first time, to do it at the university level. The next opportunity might be at the high school level. High schools have model Parliaments and United Nations forums. I'm just questioning it. I wouldn't like to put it so loose that it would be eligible to any group that could call themselves students.
The Chair: Perhaps we could have the subcommittee look at some of these additional issues in consultation with staff on the understanding that we generally support the concept, certainly of university students who are expressing an interest, to accommodate them as best we can and that we will extend the approval to the Wilfrid Laurier University group and they'll be in.
Mr Grimmett: Could I ask if we're going to set up some rules regarding this?
The Chair: I think that the subcommittee could work through some of those issues. There'll probably be some criteria that would be appropriate to attach. We just received the request this morning, so we'll have some more time to think about it.
The Chair: We're at other business. Are there any members of the committee who would like to bring forward other business for the committee's attention?
Mr Silipo: Are we dealing with item 3?
The Chair: I'm sorry; request for meeting time. We have a letter from the Speaker that the Chair received today, and I think all members of the committee have a copy of it. As I understand it, essentially the Speaker regrets that he can't be here with us today to discuss the issue of security. As you know, he's been scheduled to be here on several consecutive Wednesdays and circumstances in the House were such that he was unable to attend. Today, I understand the Board of Internal Economy is meeting and the Speaker has to be there.
What he's suggesting is that in the intersession the subcommittee of this committee should travel to Ottawa and Quebec City to study the security arrangements in the House of Commons and the National Assembly. I guess we'd like to have a discussion at this point, if committee members support that concept. We would have to go to the House leaders in turn, as I understand it, to request time to have any sessions as a committee. That's something that would still have to receive approval, to go outside of the province, which is an additional factor that has to be approved, again, by the House leaders, as I understand it.
Is there any discussion with respect to the Speaker's letter?
Mr Silipo: I would say that I think this is a useful suggestion that's made by the Speaker. Let me just back up a bit and say that I think that the issue of security, which we had agreed as a committee that we wanted to discuss and, as you mentioned, for a variety of reasons have not been able to begin that discussion here at the committee, is something that I for one would want to see us pursue in the intersession, so I think that we should make the request to the House leaders for time for the committee to be able to deal with that issue.
I would want to see, as part of that, all of the things happen that we had in fact asked happen, including the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms and other appropriate officials coming before the committee and discussing the events of the opening day of the Legislature and subsequent days, so we get that kind of information before us.
I think that what the Speaker is suggesting here is something that would be useful in terms of also getting a sense of what security provisions are like in Ottawa and Quebec City. If going there is the best way to get that information, then I think that would make some sense. If there are other ways to get that information, then I would support that as well. But again, maybe that is something also that can be worked out in terms of its details at the subcommittee level, assuming of course that the House leaders were to agree that this would be something that would be useful. I think that as a way of getting a better understanding of what should be done it might be useful, but I just wanted to also make sure that we not lose track of the approach that we had agreed we would follow earlier, which was that we would have various officials come before the committee and that we would start by looking at what happened as a way to then launch our discussion into what changes, if any, should take place around the security provisions.
Mr O'Toole: I completely concur. Whether or not the Speaker's recommendation here is the proper route, I suspect the subcommittee should do a thorough review, and it may indeed include that in terms of the security issue. It seems like we've met, this is the second formal time, and I think the subcommittee has met once, and we seem to be spinning our wheels here. By the time we get back here, it will be March.
It would appear to me that it's a priority issue. It would set the tone in respect of other events happening in the Legislature -- I may have something more to say on that later -- but yes, I would suggest that we develop a background for all members of the committee and some reference points from firsthand observations. This may be the appropriate action. I default to other members' comments.
Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I too concur with the aspect that's been given to us here in terms of having the subcommittee go and take a look at both the Quebec Legislature and what happens in Ottawa as well. I think that's important in terms of our discussions here in this committee, but I also have to reiterate the comments made by Mr Silipo. The fact is that we are truly looking forward to having appear before the committee the people whom we've suggested in the past, being the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms. I do hope that does not get lost in terms of our investigation and further discussion. I too look forward to those appearances.
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I think we should get our priorities right and I think we should, first off, as a committee look at what occurred here in terms of the security issue before we head out anywhere looking at what they are doing or not doing. I think we should clearly identify what the problems are or aren't before we head to Quebec City or Ottawa, or any place else, instead of the other way around.
The Chair: I guess the Speaker's thinking was that if we could look at the security arrangements in Ottawa and Quebec City, we'd have some understanding of security arrangements here just based on our day-to-day activities, and give recommendations on that basis.
Mr Miclash: I really don't think that the order is important here. I think we're in agreement that both items have to be taken care of. We have items of appearances on the agenda and we have a second item here of visits to other jurisdictions to find out what they're doing. I think both of them have to occur. The order of occurrence to me is not important as long as both of them do occur.
Mr Grimmett: I want to concur with Mr Silipo. I guess I haven't been following the agenda very closely; I thought there would be witnesses here today. Do you have any time frame on when we can expect to see some witnesses before this committee? Because I think we have to determine what happened around the time of the throne speech before we embark. I disagree with Mr Miclash in that I think the order is important; I think we have to determine what happened here. Just from walking around here, I don't think it's possible for someone to know what the security arrangements are; I certainly don't know what the security arrangements are. As I said before, I've been jostled coming into the House myself. I want to know why and I want to know what happened, and I want to know also just what rights the public have around here.
Mr Bartolucci: Getting back to our original discussion, I concur with the honourable member across the way. Before we go to Ottawa and before we go to Quebec City, have we investigated whether or not people have already done that and whether or not we have reports on file? It's my understanding that people have already visited these two sites, and I think if we did a little research, we could probably find some reports here which may make it a lot easier for us to come to some type of consensus without travelling.
But certainly the problem here is what's happened here in the past, and that must be dealt with first. I would suggest that while we're doing that we try to get reports. I don't know if I'm right or not, but I heard that Tom Stelling already has reports on file with regard to the security in Quebec and the security in Ottawa. We might want to investigate our own staff and our own expertise before we decide to go out and travel.
The Chair: I think Tom, as well as our clerk, is quite knowledgeable about many of the security arrangements in other parliaments.
Mr Morin: At the risk of repeating what has been said, I think one good suggestion would be for Tom Stelling to give us a tour of security, what do we have as far as security here at Queen's Park is concerned, so that at least you have a feel for it. What are the things that are extremely important as far as visitors are concerned, all the apparatus that we have to make sure that people don't bring in weapons? Because when you visit Quebec or Ottawa, you'll see that their system is far more elaborate than what we have. Yes, we do have on record information about our tours that we did in Quebec and that we did in Ottawa.
Secondly, once we're familiarized with what we have here at Queen's Park, then after that ask Tom what are the things that you'd like to see or what are the weaknesses in our system, so that at least again you can see and you can compare it with other places. Once you have that, then also: What are the concerns of the Speaker? How did we solve the issues dealing with people who were denied entrance at Queen's Park to the throne speech? Once you have all that information, look at the report that we have and then go and make your tour so that you can compare. The idea is to get the best. You know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, you know their strengths and their weaknesses, and we bring the best package that we can have here for Ontario.
Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I want to concur with Mr Morin. I think, first of all, we have to get a good understanding of exactly what it is that's going on here in terms of security. As a new member, I don't have a clue what the security arrangements are for this Legislative Assembly. So I think a tour is a tremendous idea; I think getting some sort of briefing or report from the security here would be a wonderful idea.
At the same time, I'm not particularly interested in reinventing the wheel either, and looking at what Ottawa is doing and looking at what's happening in Quebec City, if Mr Morin is right that they are operated much differently than we are, I think we could stand to learn a great deal by visiting those sites. But first, again, I agree with Mr Morin that we have to determine what it is that's going on here and get a good understanding. That way we have something to compare it to when we do see the other sites.
Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): Just a question: There has been a tour taken before to Ottawa. Am I correct on this?
Mr Morin: Yes.
Mr Boushy: They made a report on it?
Mr Morin: There should be a report. Tom has that, and there must be some documents somewhere.
Mr Boushy: I think that's what we should do: Take a look at the report, find out where we stand and then make a decision.
The Chair: Would the committee authorize, then, the Chair to write a letter to the Sergeant at Arms, perhaps copying the Speaker, requesting that we have this time to have a tour? We've certainly got to get our approval first from the House leaders in order to sit. I think there's consensus in the committee that we should request some time in the intersession to discuss the security issue further. Perhaps we should have the subcommittee meet to refine the details. Would the committee members think one week could be appropriate to discuss security, or is there a feeling that we'd have to go beyond that?
Mr Miclash: One week here?
Mr Morin: I think you could do it in a couple of days, two or three days.
May I suggest also that one of the responsibilities of this committee in the past was to look at the refurbishing of the building. If I could make a suggestion, for the new ones, that we're also given the opportunity, with the Sergeant at Arms, to visit all the floors, there are a lot of historical parts of this building that you'll never see if you don't take the time to do it, like on the fifth floor. What does the structure look like? Those are extremely important things, and Tom will give us a tour. I took the tour only after eight years, and I was quite proud of this building and all the history attached to it. It's a good experience for all of us. You'll have a good feeling of the building.
The Chair: Any other comments on this issue? Do we have a motion from the floor to authorize the Chair to write a letter?
Mr O'Toole: I move that the Chair convene the subcommittee to outline a strategy to examine the security of the building for the committee and to make recommendations for us -- including the Sergeant at Arms and the Speaker, of course -- so that we can sit in the interval period.
The Chair: Okay, we've got the motion to authorize the Chair to request that, and the subcommittee would be empowered to meet to discuss the details as to what we'd do with the week that we're seeking. All in favour of that motion? Any opposed? Carried.
Mr Morin: I move that for the purpose of the committee business over the winter recess the Chair and the clerk, in consultation with the subcommittee, shall have the authority to make all arrangements necessary for the orderly consideration of all matters referred to the committee.
The Chair: Any discussion on the motion?
Mr O'Toole: That's basically a kind of blanket motion? Anything that's before us, they set up some ability to deal with it?
Mr Morin: Right.
The Chair: No further discussion? All in favour of the motion? It's carried.
The clerk has asked a valid question. Do committee members have a preference as to which week they would prefer to sit, assuming that the House leaders do give us the authorization?
Mr Miclash: Being from as far away as I am, I would suggest that maybe the week around the day that we have to come back, January 29, which is a Monday. Possibly that week would be nice.
The Chair: All right. Is there consensus around that point? Good.
Do committee members have any other business they would like to bring to the attention of the committee?
Mr O'Toole: Yes, if I could, Chair; I'm just not too sure. I've listened to this debate here on this security issue. As a new member, I must qualify when I say perhaps my comments may be a little out of order, but I have written them down to give some consideration to it.
I've been concerned about not only security but the antics -- in the broader term it's called security, but I call it behaviour -- both inside and outside the assembly. I believe I can speak for many members whom I've mentioned this to. There seems to be a kind of degeneration or a disregard, disrespect for our standing orders, as displayed in the Legislature last week. They can't go unchallenged or unquestioned, in my view. I mean this sincerely and for the right motives. The purpose of this committee is to re-establish confidence in the standing orders and the ability of the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms to carry out the process.
It's an insult basically to us -- not just new members, but the people of Ontario. I'm not trying to point out any individual. I think it's time to re-examine, and in the context of what we're doing with the Speaker, examining security and other procedural requirements in this House, I have a motion, with your indulgence.
I move that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be authorized to review and report on the issue of decorum in the Legislature as well as the disciplinary powers of the Speaker. An examination of these processes both in Ontario and in other legislative precincts will be necessary.
Furthermore, as the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly is currently reviewing other security and related issues, it may be appropriate to include this concern at the same time -- because we'll be dealing with many of the same people.
This review by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly will be authorized to examine, among other things:
The authority of the Speaker to name members; use of force by the Sergeant at Arms to eject members who have contravened the standing orders, been named by the Speaker, refused to obey the Speaker and refused to leave.
Also, the current standing orders which compel members present in the Legislature to vote (for or against). This also applies to votes during a division or any other vote as called by the Speaker.
The committee will examine other relevant standing orders: points of privilege and points of order.
In other cases we will consider other jurisdictions.
Furthermore, I move a motion that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be authorized to meet as a committee during the intersession.
I think it's that important to react responsibly and quickly to the statements by members and the press and people watching the parliamentary channel in this province. I know I speak for other members, that this has to be checked immediately and quickly. I, for one, am not going to sit by and watch democracy completely destroyed and defaced.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr O'Toole. Can we get a copy of the motion for the members of the opposition parties?
Mr O'Toole: Sorry; it's handwritten, so it's a little jaggedy. I hope you'll be able to read it.
Mr Silipo: Mr Chair, before I get into the merits of the motion, could I just ask you to rule procedurally? This seems to me to be a pretty substantive issue that Mr O'Toole is raising and I'm really concerned about the appropriateness of it being raised as a matter of other business. I have a lot to say on the content of it and what we should do as a committee with this issue, but before I even get into that I really do have a serious reservation about this kind of issue being flagged as a matter of other business.
The Chair: On what basis would you ask me to rule it out of order?
Mr Silipo: I would just think that at the very least, if Mr O'Toole is interested in having a discussion of this item and decisions taken by this committee, it seems to me, given the significance of the issue that he's raising, that it would be more appropriate for that to have been flagged to us. I mean, the procedure that we follow, as I understand it, is that items to be discussed in the committee are determined and arrived at in agreement through the subcommittee, and this hasn't happened in this case with this particular issue.
If I could just go a little bit beyond that, I would also say -- and I don't know if Mr O'Toole is aware of it, because I don't for a second question his belief in what he's put before us, but you may be aware, Mr Chair, that the very issues that Mr O'Toole has raised in this motion have been the subject of discussions by the three House leaders. There was, as I understand it, a specific request in those discussions by, I believe, the government House leader for that very issue to be discussed by this committee, and there was not agreement reached on that because the long-standing practice has been that any discussion related to changes in the standing orders and related matters are dealt with through the House leaders and not through this committee.
For that reason as well, Mr Chair, I would say that the motion is, if not out of order, at least not appropriately before us at this point.
The Chair: I'll reserve my ruling until I hear further discussion.
Mr Miclash: Mr Chair, I would certainly have to agree with Mr Silipo. As he has heard, and as deputy House leader for our party, I know these discussions are going on among the House leaders. I strongly agree with Mr Silipo that this is certainly out of order, and prior notice as well would have probably settled this before we came to the committee room.
Mr Ron Johnson: I quite frankly want to speak in support of Mr O'Toole's motion in that I don't --
The Chair: We're technically, I think, at points of order, are we not? But continue if you have a comment to make.
Mr Ron Johnson: I do have a comment to make, if that's okay. I don't know that there's any more timely point in time when we can deal with this issue. If the Legislative Assembly committee isn't here to discuss the standing orders and discuss the role of the Legislature and the role of the Speaker in terms of the standing orders, then what are we here for? I think this is a crucial issue, one that, as has been said, has been discussed by all three House leaders, and we recognize that as well, but at the same time I believe this legislative committee has an obligation to this assembly to deal with this matter as well.
At the end of the day, I think that what Mr O'Toole is putting forward makes a lot of sense. It's important that we deal with it. We're not at this point, or I'm not anyway at this point discussing any particular issue with any specifics, but I think that in general terms this certainly needs to be looked at, and this is an appropriate time to do that.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I thought one of the main functions of this committee is to deal with the standing orders. For myself, I see no point in being in the committee when that kind of motion could not be put forward and all the decisions are delegated to the subcommittee. I read the standing orders, and I see nothing in the standing orders that says members of this committee have to wait for the subcommittee to put anything on the table.
Mr Hastings: I think this is a pretty vital issue. I can see Mr Silipo's viewpoint as to whether it's appropriate at this time, and in that context then I think this item ought to be referred to the subcommittee to look at. We furthermore need to find out what would be the terms of reference, if not written in stone, at least what are the parameters of the issues this subcommittee's supposed to deal with, and whether is this a good example of one of these items that the subcommittee could deal with.
Secondly, I'd like you, Mr Chairman, to find out where exactly there is any exclusivity as to whether this committee could not handle decorum in the House and why this committee would be prohibited from dealing with the issue, even if the House leaders are dealing with the item. In other words, would the House leaders' discussion of this item and its related side issues prohibit this committee from dealing with it, or the subcommittee, and if so, I'd like to see where in writing it would, or is it more an informal arrangement?
The Chair: I have quite a number of speakers on the list to go. Mr Grimmett? This is a point of order, remember, if you're speaking about the merits of the --
Mr Grimmett: The only thing I would say, Mr Chair, is that perhaps we should review the standing order with respect to this committee's mandate, and I think it's quite clear.
The "standing committee on the Legislative Assembly...is empowered to review on its own initiative...its observations, opinions and recommendations on the standing orders of the House and the procedures in the House and its committees."
I would find it very strange if we weren't allowed to carry out that mandate, and if we aren't, then I really think I'm wasting my time.
The Chair: Mr Froese, you wanted to make a comment as well?
Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Yes. In speaking directly to the motion --
The Chair: No, we're on a point to order.
Mr Froese: I'm sorry. With respect to democracy, you asked for other business, and I believe that anybody on this committee should be able to bring up, when you ask for other business, whatever they want to, regardless if it goes to the subcommittee. I think we should have that right.
As far as what Mr O'Toole has brought forward, I think it could be discussed here and voted on and doesn't have to go to subcommittee.
The Chair: Mr Froese, thank you very much. I've been advised that there's nothing -- did you have some further comment on that point of order?
Mr Silipo: I would just add, Mr Chair, that I believe that this is a pretty significant issue that's being raised, both procedurally and substantively, and I want to be clear with people that I'm not saying that I am against us having a look at the standing orders, because I think Mr Grimmett is right in saying that there's latitude for us to do that.
But I want to just reiterate one of the points I made, which is that we also, I think, as a committee of the Legislature, have to be conscious of a couple of things, one of those being the processes that have been followed and that are followed that make the Parliament of Ontario work, which are that arrangements around how issues are to be discussed and what issues are to be dealt with, especially of this kind of nature, are and have been traditionally the subject of arrangements reached through the House leaders. I think that we should tread lightly before we do away with that process.
Secondly, Mr Chair, I think it would behoove you, before you come to a -- certainly I would say that, given the significance of the issue that's been put before us, I find it disturbing that an issue of this magnitude would be raised here under other business when the agenda clearly set out the purpose of this meeting and the purpose of this meeting did not include the committee dealing with anything remotely similar to this kind of an issue. I think on that point alone, Mr Chair, you should rule this out of order.
But because I don't want to be seen to be suggesting that the issue itself is not significant -- because I believe the issue is quite significant, and I have not yet said anything on the substance of it; I have a lot to say on the substance, but I'm refraining from doing that -- I would think, Mr Chair, that as a minimum, if you're not prepared to rule this out of order at this point, which I hope you are, but in case you are not or if you had any doubt about that, you might want to consult with the Speaker and, I would suggest, even the House leaders before we proceed to do anything more on this motion.
I think that would not in any way jeopardize Mr O'Toole from bringing this motion forward at any other time, because in fact for us to do anything with this, it would require us being allowed to sit as a committee. Right now we have no authority to sit beyond today, assuming that the House adjourns tomorrow.
Mr Ron Johnson: On the same point of order, and with all respect to Mr Silipo, and I understand his position, at the same time, on one hand he's saying -- not to enter into debate, but he's saying that it's an important issue that should be dealt with, and quite frankly I believe it should be dealt with now. If it's an important issue, let's deal with it and let's get it on the table and start looking at it as a committee.
With respect to what Mr Silipo says in terms of the House leaders, what is happening between the House leaders should not in any way affect the autonomy of this legislative committee. This legislative committee is here to deal with issues of this type. We have a responsibility, I believe, to this Legislature to do that, despite what's happening at the House leader level. So I quite frankly don't buy that argument. I think it's a very important issue, and I honestly believe that it should be dealt with right away.
Mr O'Toole: The point of order is very important. I've heard Mr Silipo's comments on the substantive nature. That is a term that's used to require notice of motion or whatever kinds of procedural rules. But really, if you look at the standing orders on page 77 -- and I want to tell you very honestly that I'm acting on my own motivation here. I am purely disgusted. Since 1980 I've been elected and I've served in many capacities as chair and vice-chair of committees and at provincial levels. When you see such a complete breakdown -- and I've never seen that before. At local councils, where there's lots of slinging going on, I've never seen a House held for ransom. I will not put up with it, and it's the --
Mr Silipo: On a point of privilege, Mr Chair.
Mr O'Toole: I am trying to address what has been said.
Mr Silipo: There are people on this side of the table who feel equally strongly about who's holding the House up for ransom. I've tried very hard in dealing with this to stay away from my views on the substance of the issue --
Mr O'Toole: Okay, I will not deal with the substance.
Mr Silipo: -- and I think it would behoove Mr O'Toole to do the same.
Mr O'Toole: As far as being substantive, if you read the standing orders, we are more than clearly -- it's the standing order on the Legislative Assembly committee, "which is empowered to review on its own initiative." That says it all.
This is the initiative. I'm going to request that this be business that this House has sufficient time to deal with in the downtime over the break. If there are substantive portions or components of the debate that will ensue, this committee will bring a report forward, whether it supports my attitude -- the majority, I hope, of this committee -- and we'll be able to call on the Sergeant at Arms and the Speaker. And we're to report to the Speaker. That's what it says right in here: To report to the Speaker and the House on those things relevant to -- and obviously, that's what the Speaker's ruling did say to me. He said he had a tough time.
Just one final point on this: I believe it's far more substantive than that. I think if you look at the traditions in the House, the Sergeant of Arms has a sword, going back to the old days of the British traditions, and the mace, which was again a weapon, a truncheon of some sort.
I'm suggesting that those symbolic things imply the use of force, whether it's external to the building, which is one part of what we're reviewing over the downtime -- that is the force outside the building -- and I'm talking about the force inside. I don't think it's particularly my thing whether it is good or bad to use force, but in that respect they are related. That even more so reinforces the fact that they should be dealt with conjointly, so I'm going to stick to it that we're going to have to deal with this on the downtime, the sooner the better.
The Chair: Mr Silipo, do you have --
Mr Silipo: No, Mr Chair, I wish you would then rule on this.
The Chair: I will, after all members have had an opportunity to speak to this point of order.
Mr Miclash: Mr Chair, just on a procedural question, does the business to this committee not have to come either through the Speaker or through the House and be passed on to the committee for review? Is that not my understanding?
The Chair: I believe that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly has the right to initiate matters broadly speaking within its mandate, and I believe that matters affecting decorum in the Legislature would fall under the mandate of this committee. Furthermore, I'm advised that there is nothing in the standing orders which suggests that a motion of this nature is out of order, and I rule that it is in order. Now we should have further discussion, if necessary, on the nature of the motion.
Mr Boushy: I'd just like to say there are two key words in the resolution. It's to "review," the second page to "examine." If we don't have authority to review and examine things that relate to this committee, we might as well pack up and go home. I think it's very important to review and examine. The discussion and debate comes right after.
Mr Bartolucci: Is there not the motion for referral to the subcommittee? I thought I heard Mr Hastings ask for that. I always thought, when I was on municipal council, that --
The Chair: He suggested it, I think.
Mr Bartolucci: It was a suggestion, or was it a motion for referral, Mr Hastings?
Mr Hastings: I made a referral motion.
Mr Bartolucci: All right. So clearly that is without debate.
Mr Hastings: I don't know about the rules. It's probably not.
Mr Bartolucci: And we've had significant debate after that motion.
The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Hastings, I didn't hear you move that as a formal motion.
Mr Hastings: I suggested this item ought to go to the subcommittee as a test item as to whether this kind of a situation can be examined by the committee, and if it can't, why can't it -- under the standing orders, it seems very clear it can -- and to come back with some consensus on how it should be handled, and other items, because what the members of the two other parties are saying is that while everybody can bring something to the table that day, they would appreciate getting some advance notice of it.
The Chair: Would Mr O'Toole be willing to withdraw the motion and refer the matter to the subcommittee?
Mr O'Toole: No, I would not be prepared to withdraw the main motion.
Mr Bartolucci: But, Mr Chair, he doesn't have to withdraw it. Simply, the motion's on the floor. It's been referred. Is it not my understanding that a motion of referral is without debate?
Mr O'Toole: There's no debate on a referral anyway.
Mr Silipo: Mr Chair, if I may --
The Chair: Mr Johnson's next, Mr Silipo.
Mr Ron Johnson: My understanding, Mr Chair, is that there was no motion on the floor, it was simply a suggestion from Mr Hastings. Number one, that's your call; I understand that.
The Chair: I recognize it as a point of order.
Mr Ron Johnson: On a point of order, exactly. So my understanding is that there is no motion on the floor other than the one we have here.
Just to speak to it briefly, if I may, I think it's very important that everybody in this committee take a good, hard look at this motion. Nowhere in this motion does it talk about the recent events in this Legislature in terms of specifics. We're not trying to be judgemental here in terms of reviewing this. What we're dealing with are the authorities of the Speaker and of the Sergeant at Arms. This motion deals with reviewing the standing orders as they currently stand. So quite frankly, not to engage in debate over recent events, because that's not what this motion does, this motion is simply calling for us to review the standing orders and the powers that we've empowered the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms with.
So I will support this motion. I think it's very important that we get to this issue and start dealing with it right away.
The Chair: Mr Silipo, you are next.
Mr Silipo: I guess I first of all want to be clear, Mr Chair, what it is that we're dealing with. You've ruled that Mr O'Toole's motion is in order --
The Chair: I did.
Mr Silipo: -- and so we have in effect the motion before us.
The Chair: No, we're discussing the motion, the merits.
Mr Silipo: It would certainly be appropriate to refer -- a motion to refer, in other words, would be in order, because we now have the motion in front of us. I'm prepared to move that, but before I do that I would ask, Mr Chair: In ruling this motion in order, what is your understanding about what happens from now on? The fact that we decide as a committee that we want to do this doesn't make it happen. The committee has to be authorized to meet. The only way the committee gets authorized to meet is if the three House leaders agree that the committee is going to meet for this purpose.
So we're back at the point that I was trying to make earlier more subtly, Mr Chair, which is, you can't deal with this issue at this committee without a discussion taking place among the House leaders.
The Chair: No. I ruled that the motion was in order.
Mr Silipo: I understand that.
The Chair: If you choose to appeal that motion you can appeal it to the Speaker, Mr Silipo.
Mr Silipo: No. Well, I could choose to do that but I'm not going to do that, Mr Chair, quite frankly because I think that the issue is an important one, and what I really wanted to stress to you and to Mr O'Toole was that the point I was trying to make was that this was not the proper way to deal with it. Whether it is on the strict application of the rules or whether it's in the commonsense way of dealing with these things, I'm sorry, it doesn't make a lot of sense to bring substantive motions like this on major issues without at least the courtesy of flagging it for the opposition parties and saying you intend to do this. You just do yourself a disservice when that happens, I say to Mr O'Toole.
Now that the motion is here, I'm going to say a couple of things on it. I just want to say that I think it's important that members of the government understand that there are not at the end of the day very many powers that members of the opposition have in terms of procedures in the Legislature, and when members of the opposition decide to use certain powers that they have at their disposal -- and I hope that the members will at least appreciate this point -- we do so after a lot of careful thought.
The events that happened the other day -- and let's be clear about it -- part of what I think is here before us, while it doesn't deal specifically with the issues that occurred in the House last week, clearly flag that particular issue and that concern, because the suggested examination of these matters does include the questions of the authority of the Speaker to name members, the use of force by the Sergeant at Arms to eject members who have contravened the standing orders when they've been named by the Speaker etc.
I think it's important that members understand that when we use words like "holding up the House to ransom," there are in fact substantive issues and important issues that members of the opposition sometimes feel that they need to make and can only make, unfortunately, by using to the extreme the rules that are available when in fact less draconian measures and more desirable measures are available but unfortunately sometimes in the ebb and flow of things are not able to achieve that same end.
Just to make one point, I have some serious reservations with the way in which I understand that a particular standing order, as it relates to one of the members of this Legislature, Mr Curling, has been applied and has been interpreted by the Speaker, if he has interpreted, because I'm not clear -- the only thing I'm aware of is what I read in the media reports -- and I'm concerned about the way in which that particular standing order, standing order 15, has been interpreted by the table officers. I completely disagree that the actions, for example, that Mr Curling took resulted necessarily in his having to be excluded from the House for any more than the one day. I may not be in a majority in that view, but as I read the standing orders, that is the extent of the penalty. The House, in my view, and as I read the standing orders, could have decided upon motion to discipline him by removing him from the House for a period of time up to 14 days and further actions could have ensued after that. But that's my understanding.
But just to point out, there isn't one blanket way of looking at this, either in terms of the reasons why things happened last Wednesday and Thursday evening, or indeed the way in which the rules are read and how the authority of the Parliament meshes with the right of the government to govern. As a member of the opposition who was also in government, I feel very strongly that the government of the day, at the end of the day, has to have and has the right to govern and has the right to pass whatever legislation it deems appropriate. The rules have to allow for that and indeed, I believe the rules allow for that.
But I think that it is also an important part of the parliamentary process that the opposition has certain rights, and those aren't there by accident. In any examination that we may want to take of this, I hope that people would be open-minded enough to understand and keep in mind that we aren't talking here simply about the rights of a government to do what it wants, but we are talking also about that right in the context of the parliamentary procedures that have been part of the Parliament of Ontario for decades and decades.
If it's in order, because I don't know, Mr Chair, if it is in order at this point, given that I've spoken on the subject --
The Chair: Mr Silipo, I've ruled it as being in order.
Mr Silipo: I'm sorry, no, if what I'm about to say is in order, if it's in order for me to move a referral of this to the subcommittee, then I would do so at this point.
Mr Ron Johnson: Deal with the motion on the floor first.
The Chair: Mr Silipo has moved that this matter be referred to the subcommittee. Is there discussion on that motion? No? All in favour of the motion? Opposed? The motion is defeated.
Mr Bartolucci, you were quite anxious to say something, if you're still wishing to.
Mr Bartolucci: Obviously, the motion for referral that was debated for the last 10 minutes has now been defeated, so half the problem we have around here is we don't follow the rules the way we should follow them. In fact, had we followed the rules this wouldn't be here at this point in time and would be referred properly to the subcommittee, but that's already been defeated so I would be out of order to comment on it and I don't want to be out of order.
Mr Grimmett: Mr Chair, I would like to hear why matters have to be referred to the subcommittee to start off with. I was under the naïve impression that I could come into a committee and raise an issue for discussion.
The Chair: I don't think it's essential in a legal sense, according to the standing orders, but I think members of the opposition have expressed the view that that's the most appropriate way to deal with it.
We have the motion before the committee. Is there any further discussion on the merits of Mr O'Toole's motion? Seeing none, I call the vote. All in favour of the motion? Opposed? The motion is carried.
I would ask committee members for suggestions as to how much time we would seek from the House leaders to discuss the issue that Mr O'Toole has raised in the motion.
Mr O'Toole: If I may speak, I have also given this some thought and in respect to the other members who live a further distance apart, I think initially that we'd need a week. I think if we approach this as a team of people looking objectively at how to get better service -- and I mean that sincerely -- right from the outside of the building. What are the barricades up there for? I don't know and I don't even know who authorized it. Who calls the police? I've got some tough questions on the outside long before I get on the inside. I want people to feel invited and accessible to this place, so my feeling is that if we have a full week and we're looking at the general issue of accessibility and security, both inside and outside the building, I think we'll address a lot of that.
The standing order parts -- the protocol of the Speaker becomes a much more technical process. What does he do when something happens? I don't think it's there. We've seen some need to address that urgently, I think, for the assistance of the Speaker, whoever's in the chair.
I think at the maximum I would like to get an allocated time of two weeks. It would be up to this entire committee, not a subcommittee, a special, little élite group. I'm sincere about this. I think we can come back with a meaningful message that we aim to get on with doing business here in a parliamentary fashion with dignity, which the people of Ontario demand.
So that's kind of a two-week request, in my view. I'm interested in other people's opinions.
The Chair: Are you moving that as a motion?
Mr O'Toole: Yes, that's a motion.
The Chair: That's a motion before the committee. Any discussion on the motion?
All in favour that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be asked to --
Mr Ron Johnson: On a point of clarification, Mr Chair: In the two-week time frame we'd be dealing with both issues around the 29th? Is that the deal? Or is it two weeks specifically for this motion and one week for the prior? I'm just looking for clarification.
The Chair: I would gather that it's two separate weeks, is it not?
Mr O'Toole: Two separate weeks. It could be before, because they've assigned a week on the week of the 29th, which is a Monday, in order to deal with the sergeant's external security report.
The Chair: So, Mr O'Toole, you're suggesting two additional weeks on top of the one week that we've already requested.
Mr O'Toole: Because if you look at some of the standing orders, the ones referred to by Mr Silipo -- 15(d); there are two other standing orders that escape me right now -- that I looked at -- because as a new member, I'm trying to learn them and I see the blatancy within the rules and some of the ambiguity in the rules. But I don't have the background, which I'd like to acquire, and I'm sure all the members would, by looking at other jurisdictions.
For example, I know in council it wasn't a requirement to vote. You could abstain. What's the problem with abstaining? Maybe we should introduce that as a new standing order. Also in the Parliament of Canada they do not have to vote. They can abstain from voting. They don't lock the doors during a vote.
There's a lot of things that I think could expedite more effective, efficient ways of delivering good government, and that's what this is about. It's not about allowing someone to defecate in the Legislature. That's completely unacceptable, and I hope you picked that up as we've hit the bottom. If I'm going to be seen on television, it's not going to be on that kind of team, I'll tell you right now. It's going to be on a team that's focused on results and has integrity. That's a two-way street. We're also responsible too.
Mr Morin: Are you questioning our integrity?
The Chair: Mr Johnson is next.
Mr O'Toole: The integrity of what went on there is --
The Chair: Mr O'Toole, are you finished?
Mr O'Toole: That will be coming out in the debate.
Mr Morin: Are you questioning our integrity?
Mr Ron Johnson: Not to speak directly about any circumstance, but I think that if we have one week --
Mr Morin: Mr Chairman, I would ask for an apology.
The Chair: Mr O'Toole, do you have a response?
Mr O'Toole: The behaviour that I am speaking to in the House questions the integrity of every member who does not take exception to it. You, specifically, Mr Morin, I was not questioning your integrity; it's the rules by which our behaviour is governed that I was questioning. That's what motivated me.
If you wish for me to retract the statement if you felt it personally, I have no discomfort with withdrawing that particular reference. I do mean that sincerely. You are of the highest order of dignity in the House and you're wearing the Speaker's uniform right now. So it's not implied at you; it's applied at me. I felt terrible. I felt demeaned. That's how I felt, and I think a lot of members did.
The Chair: Mr Johnson, did you have a comment?
Mr Ron Johnson: Yes, just with respect to the time involved for the sitting, my understanding is one week has been set aside for the external review of security. Is that correct? Now on the floor is another further two weeks to review this particular motion. Being new to the committee process, I believe that we can get a tremendous amount accomplished in a week and I don't know that we need two weeks of committee time to deal with this particular motion. I think if we have one week of committee time for external security and then another week of committee time for this particular motion, that would be sufficient, as opposed to three total.
Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): The motion has already been passed.
The Chair: The motion is to request two weeks and you're suggesting that --
Mr O'Toole: It's a good question; I don't know the rules either. If we set aside two weeks specific to that subject, does that mean all of the staff and all of the resources are committed for two weeks, even if I only use one day?
The Chair: That's a question, Mr O'Toole, that probably the subcommittee would want to determine, assuming we get the weeks that we're requesting, as to exactly how we're going to deal with it.
Mr O'Toole: I don't want to be sitting around for two weeks if it only takes two hours.
Mr DeFaria: Maybe the request should be worded "up to two weeks" instead of "two weeks."
Clerk Pro Tem: That's fair. Generally, when time is requested, it's understood that you don't have to use every single day. A week can mean two days, three days, four days, five days. It's your choice.
Mr O'Toole: In response to that, what I was really trying to do was avoid saying, "Gee, if we just had a couple more days." I believed it was a generous request, but it may, in my opinion, take much less time.
The Chair: So what exactly are you moving, Mr O'Toole, that we request to sit for two weeks?
Interjection: He's already done that.
Mr O'Toole: It's a total of three weeks; we may only need one to do it all. The subcommittee's going to meet.
The Chair: All right. Any further discussion on the motion?
Mr Bartolucci: Call the question.
Mr Miclash: The House leaders are not going to agree to this. We're wasting our time.
The Chair: All in favour of calling the question? Agreed. Opposed? Carried.
Mr Hastings: On a point of clarification: I would like to know, Mr Chairman, and perhaps you could find out before the next meeting --
The Chair: Mr Hastings, I'm sorry. We have to have the vote now. That's the next order of business.
All in favour of Mr O'Toole's motion?
Mr Ron Johnson: We voted on that.
The Chair: No, we voted to move to that point. Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Hastings, you have other business you want to bring to the committee's attention?
Mr Hastings: Mr Chair, the question I would like to ask you to look into is where in the standing orders is there a reference that this committee is excluded from dealing with this item, even though we voted on it? Because the members opposite keep saying the House leaders aren't going to like this. I would like to find out, informally from you, by the next meeting where in fact the House leaders deal with this kind of item and the committee can't, even though in the way in which the standing order is written, it's pretty all-encompassing. I'd like to find out exactly where the all-encompassing stops on this item and the House leaders' priorities start. That's all I'd request.
The Chair: I think the clerk can answer that question, but essentially it is under the standing orders that the House leaders make these determinations to authorize committees to sit in the intersession when the Legislature is not in session, but the clerk may want to add something to that.
Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Arnott was referring to when the House is not sitting and a committee is meeting during the session, they need the approval of the House, a motion to go to the House to authorize them to sit. I believe what the opposition members were referring to about the House leaders is that normally the House leaders get together and agree upon some sort of schedule for the committees during the recess. They may want to add or change that.
Mr Ron Johnson: So what you're saying --
Mr Hastings: That's not my point, as to when this committee or any other standing committee of this Legislature can sit or not sit. I would like to know precisely among the House leaders where this point of decorum can't be raised by this committee. Can it not be raised simply because it can't be included in the scheduling?
The Chair: I don't think that's in question, whether or not the committee has the right to deal with this.
Mr Hastings: It is the issue.
Mr Froese: Some of it was alluded to before, about the House leaders not agreeing to this. They'll never come out and not agree to this motion, but what they'll do is they'll agree or disagree that we sit. My concern now is, the opposition is going to go to their House leaders and say, "Don't agree to allow this committee to sit because this is the issue that they're dealing with." This is why we're talking about democracy as well. That's where the whole situation is with respect to -- are the House leaders going to deal with the one motion and then the other?
The Chair: It's up to the House leaders to determine. All we can do is request the time that we feel is appropriate.
Mr Silipo: I really do understand the points that are being made by several of the government members and I'm particularly respectful of the fact that as I look across, they're all members elected for the first time, and those of us sitting here, who have been here for more than one term, know that and appreciate that and respect that.
I find it difficult to express this point. Yes, this committee clearly has certain authorization that it has under the standing orders. To address in part Mr Hastings's point, it is, as you were explaining and the clerk was explaining, Mr Chair, by virtue of one of the standing orders -- we can certainly refer Mr Hastings to the particular one -- up to the House leaders to determine, unless the House otherwise, because the House, of course, could direct a committee to do certain things during the intersession. But in the absence of that, committees meet only upon agreement of the House leaders and for particular periods of time to deal with particular things, which is why I was making the point earlier that if you want to deal with an issue as important as this, you don't do it by raising it under other business and insisting that it be addressed through a vote that you can carry here, because it doesn't count for much at the end of the day.
I don't want to demean in any way the points that have been made. What I was trying to point out before and what I want to reiterate again is, if you've got a substantive issue that you want to put before us, especially an issue as important as this, I think it behooves members to sort of not take everything that comes from this side as being in opposition to what you are doing, but to sometimes also understand that we do agree that there are some important issues here to be discussed. The way in which we go about deciding how we're going to have those discussions is as important as the discussion itself.
We've got the issue now; it's out there. I really have to say, Mr Chair, I regret very much the way in which this issue has been brought here, especially because I know, as I said earlier, that this was discussed to some extent among the three House leaders. There was not agreement there that it should come to this committee to be discussed. Now that of course doesn't preclude Mr O'Toole or anybody else, as a member of this committee, from legitimately making the point and saying that they think it should be. That's fine. But at the end of the day, you don't do yourselves any favours by insisting on it that way, I guess is what I'm trying to say.
The Chair: Any other comments from committee members?
Mr Stewart: Going back to what Mr Silipo said, and it's just for clarification, are you suggesting that what went on is not part of protocol, protocol being part of the mandate of this committee? It's just for my own clarification. You're saying that it shouldn't have come to this committee.
Mr Silipo: No. I'm sorry, Mr Stewart. No, I'm not saying that. I think someone read out the standing order --
Mr Stewart: Okay, because I just assumed it was -- just more clarification. I'm not arguing with you, just more clarification.
Mr Silipo: I think the standing order does allow this committee, as I understand it, the latitude to deal with the standing orders. I was never debating that. I think, for example, it would have been perhaps more helpful if the concern had been raised as something that a member or members of the committee thought should be addressed somehow, and then perhaps a direction through the Chair to the subcommittee and discussion with the House leaders to sort out a way to deal with that.
I think that's a more constructive way to (a) flag the concern and (b) try to deal with it. The way this is going now -- I mean, I don't know. I'm not sitting here saying the House leaders aren't going to agree. I don't know. But I can tell you that based on the discussions so far, I'm not sure where this is going to get us.
Mr Stewart: The reason I said that, it's something I brought up three weeks ago and asked that it be put on the agenda for the meeting after security. So I guess protocol was on the table. Maybe this little incident has accented it a little bit more. I guess that's where I was trying to -- it's not all of a sudden it's just happened. It was there to be looked at.
The Chair: You did raise that some time ago, Mr Stewart, and thank you for that comment.
Mr Boushy: A point of order, Mr Chair: Isn't this out of order now that the motion has been passed?
The Chair: I'm not sure. I'm just trying to allow additional discussion because members seem to want to make some additional comments.
Mr Froese: I don't totally disagree with Mr Silipo's comments with respect to what is good, what is protocol and so on and so forth. I guess part of it, from my perspective, is out of naïveté, because I'm a new member. I don't know how we get this issue on the table to discuss it openly. I understand from the opposition parties about getting duly democratic process as a result of what has happened in the House just recently and understand your position to some degree, even though you probably don't think so, on why what was done was done. I understand that.
But on the other hand, we're trying to understand -- we've got the rules and regulations, why aren't we living up to it? If the House leaders aren't agreeing to get this on the table to discuss openly and to debate it, how does anybody deal with this whole situation? What do we have rules and regulations for?
Mr O'Toole is exactly right. There are a lot of us -- and it's not through the government House leader's office -- there are a lot of us that have problems with what we're seeing, what has happened, and right from day one. That's what we're questioning, or bringing the whole question to the standing orders and the rules and regulations. Are we living by them or aren't we living by them? What has the government side done that makes the opposition do what it does? That's all we're trying to do.
The Chair: Seeing no further discussion, at request by members, I will adjourn the committee and we'll finish our business.
The committee adjourned at 1656.