Wednesday 15 November 1995

Election of Chair

Election of Vice-Chair

Appointment of subcommittee


Committee business


*Chair / Président: Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale 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)

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 / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa

Staff / Personnel:

Yeager, Lewis, research officer, Legislative Research Service

Sibenik, Peter, procedural research clerk, office of the Clerk

The committee met at 1534 in room 228.


Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): Honourable members, it is my duty to call upon you to elect a Chair. Are there any nominations?

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): As I look around, I just want to make a remark. I think I'm the oldest standing member on this committee. I've been on this committee since 1985, although when I look at some of my colleagues, I may be younger, but I'm very pleased to nominate a young and able candidate, Ted Arnott, who I've known for quite a few years.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I'd certainly like to second that.

Clerk of the Committee: Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I declare the nominations closed and Mr Arnott elected Chair.

The Chair (Mr Ted Arnott): Thank you, Mr Morin, for nominating me. I'm not sure if I was born in 1985 or not but I hope to live up to your expectations as Chair. Thank you too, Mr Froese. I thank the members of the committee for their support and look forward to working with you in the coming Parliament.


The Chair: Our next item of business is to elect a Vice-Chair. It is my duty to call upon you to elect the Vice-Chair. Are there any nominations?

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I'd like to nominate John Hastings for the position of Vice-Chair.

The Chair: Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I declare the nominations closed, and Mr Hastings is elected Vice-Chair.

Is there a motion to elect the subcommittee?


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I move that a subcommittee on committee business be appointed to meet from time to time at the call of the Chair or at the request of any member thereof to consider and report to the committee on the business of the committee; that the presence of all members of the subcommittee is necessary to constitute a meeting; and that the subcommittee be composed of the following members: Mr Arnott as Chair, Mr O'Toole, Mr Morin and Mr Silipo; and that any member may designate a substitute member on the subcommittee who is of the same recognized party.

The Chair: Is there any discussion on the motion? Seeing none, are all members in favour of the motion? Any opposed? The motion is carried.

I'd like to turn now to the clerk, who has some information she'd like to extend to committee members at this time.


Clerk of the Committee: I thought I'd spend about two minutes just explaining to this committee what it has done historically. What I've put in front of you is standing order 106, which is the terms of reference of this committee.

Essentially, this committee is empowered either on its own initiative or at the request of the Speaker or the direction of the House to report to the House its observations on the standing orders and the procedures of the House and its committees, and on the administration of the House and the provision of services to members.

Over the last few years the work of this committee has really fallen into four categories.

The first would be procedural referrals. These are referrals that generally come from the House. In the last few years the committee has looked at, for example, the role of the independent member, deferral of votes -- the process that was used to defer votes -- and it has also looked at referrals of conflict of interest against ministers of the crown.

The next category would be bills. Generally, the bills that this committee looks at deal with either members' expenses or the Election Act. It did in the last Parliament deal with a private member's bill by Mr Sorbara, and that had to do with elections.

It also spends time looking at members' services, and some of the issues that it has dealt with over the last few years include the TV broadcast of the House, decorum in the House, the use of computers in the House, the restoration project.

It also from time to time hears from the Speaker or the Clerk of the House and looks into broadcast on an annual basis to look at its policies.

This committee has two researchers. Lewis Yeager is from legislative research and does most of the research for the committee. Peter Sibenik is from the Clerk's office and Peter does the research that deals with procedural issues.

I'm going to turn it over to Lewis and Peter so they can give you a quick explanation of the work they do.

Mr Lewis Yeager: Thank you very much, Lisa and Mr Chair, and to committee members, welcome. I've been with this committee since 1987, so I'm second in terms of age, I suppose, and there's a bit of corporate memory here in spite of the number of new members that we have.

I have handed out a little outline of what legislative research does for committees. Most of you, I imagine, by now will have used our services as individual members, and as committee members you can continue to do that at any time. But legislative research performs a specialized service for the committees. We report directly to the Chair and perform any type of research that the committee feels that it needs.

The one area that we don't get involved with is in terms of minority opinions or dissenting reports. This is not a committee that tends to write a lot of reports. Legislative research works directly for the committee as a whole. For any dissenting reports, the caucuses are normally responsible for preparing that themselves and giving it to the clerk. That's probably in everyone's interest. I doubt that I could write an interesting dissenting report if I tried.

The other area in which legislative research works with the committee is in recording presentations if you're having hearings and preparing a summary of the depositions that come before you. This was done in terms of the Election Act. Any time you have a hearing, we can prepare a summary of the presentations that come before you so you have that to work with during your consideration of the legislation.

The legislative researcher will draft a report for the committee. It's your report, not the researcher's, so we work entirely at your direction. In some cases you'll be seeing faces other than my own if there's a specialized topic being discussed. Procedural matters, of course, Peter will be handling through the Clerk's office. Legal matters, one of our lawyers will sit in. It could be a matter of economics or some other specialized field, in which case I would be replaced or assisted by one of our other people.

That's really all I have to say. There's a little summary of what we do. There's a brief blurb on me included in that so you can get to know me a bit. Unless you have any questions, I'd like to pass it on to Peter.


Mr Peter Sibenik: Thank you, Lewis. My name is Peter Sibenik, and I'm the procedural clerk, research. I work out of the committees branch. I am typically engaged in the writing of Speaker's rulings, maintaining of the parliamentary precedents and rendering procedural advice, typically to table officers and to my colleagues within the committees branch.

However, from time to time there are procedural issues that arise in this committee -- I think Lisa mentioned a few of them: independent members, conflict of interest, deferred votes, and there have been a number of others -- and the committee wants to hear the benefit of my procedural expertise. It's on those occasions that I will be called before this particular committee. I'm not a regular member. You won't see me up here at the front on a very regular basis except on those occasions when you do want to hear from me on a procedural matter that requires some fairly intensive procedural research. I'll be happy to serve the committee in that capacity.


The Chair: The next item on our agenda is "Other Business." I'd like to raise the issue of security. As all members know, it has been discussed in the Legislature that this committee should be reviewing the issue of security in this building. In light of the events on the day of the throne speech, it has also been suggested that the committee should be inquiring into what happened on that day, why it happened and what we should be doing in the future to ensure that there is suitable security in this building.

It's my suggestion to the committee that next week we invite the Speaker of the Legislature to come to our committee and extend to us his advice and suggestions, bringing along whatever staff of the Legislature he may feel is appropriate to initiate our review of the security issue. Is there any discussion on that idea at this time?

Mr Silipo: I certainly would agree with your suggestion. I also think it would be useful -- and I don't know if you intended this and you suggested other people as well -- I think one of the recurring issues that I know many members of the House had, certainly I would have, is to get a better understanding of what actually happened.

I would hope that under the Speaker's direction and your work with him we could ensure that the people who come before the committee are those who are able to give us a sense of what happened so that we can learn from what happened and deal, then, with whatever recommendations and advice we may want to make, but based on those experiences about who made what decisions etc about what actually took place on the day of the throne speech and subsequently.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Just following up on Mr Silipo's comment, to boil it down specifically, who is the single point of contact? Who is the person that gives the order from the Legislature to the security forces? That's what I want to know. Who's communicating the request for bulletproof vests and that kind of attendance at proceedings here at the Legislature? I think there must be someone who's empowered. You can't have 19 people calling the director of security. Who is the person, and how do they get that communication?

The Chair: That's a question that you might want to pose next week.

Mr O'Toole: No, that's what you should be prepared next week for them to answer that question.

The Chair: The Speaker ultimately is responsible for the workings of the Legislature, as I understand it.

Mr O'Toole: He doesn't phone.

The Chair: The Sergeant at Arms is responsible for the security. That's my understanding.

Mr O'Toole: The Sergeant at Arms. So that's the answer? It's Tom that phones and says, "We need tanks and police cars," or whatever it is? I'd like to know who that is and under what authority too. It sends a signal.

The Chair: Again, that's probably a good question for next week.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'd like to echo the concerns raised by both Mr Silipo and Mr O'Toole. I myself have been jostled twice on the way to regular House duty. I wonder if Mr Stelling should be at that meeting as well, because we've already seen that the Speaker doesn't have a lot of information to provide about the main day in question. So my suggestion would be, let's have the people here that can answer the questions about that day in particular.

The Chair: I'm certain that we could invite Mr Stelling as well. If there's concurrence in the committee that we do so, that's certainly something we can do.

The Clerk has raised a good point. Would the committee care to advise the Chair as to its feelings as to whether or not the meeting should be closed or open?

Mr O'Toole: I think the meeting should be open. That's the whole point. I think everyone has the right to know what the protocol is and go forth and try to calm the concerns.

The Chair: There might be some concerns from the staff about that, but we could certainly endeavour to have an open meeting.

Mr O'Toole: It's only my opinion.

Mr Morin: I think it's an excellent idea to have everything open. I agree with you. But as to certain things that happen as far as security is concerned, I think that the public should not be aware. Let me qualify this. There are threats in this House every day, and of course you don't want to frighten people, but it's a suggestion that I make to leave it to the discretion of the Sergeant at Arms or the Speaker, if they so wish, when there are certain items that should be discussed in camera. That's just a suggestion that I make.

We've gone through this, we've had committees, we visited the Parliament in Ottawa, we visited the Parliament in Quebec City, and then there are all kinds of reports that are available that perhaps you should read just for your own information so that you get a feel for it. I strongly suggest that you read them because you'll find that security evolves with society. There's no question about it. What we are doing today we would have never thought of doing 20 years ago.

This is why I think for your own information, try to read those documents, and then leave it up to the discretion of the Speaker or the Sergeant at Arms and they'll ask that permission if there are certain things that occur in the House.

Mr Froese: I'd like to suggest one step further, that it be a closed meeting. I agree that there's some discretion as to whether it should be open or closed and both points are valid. However, if you're going to say that an open or closed meeting will determine what information you really get, I believe our committee should determine whether it's open or closed and make a decision, rather than going to the Sergeant at Arms or the Speaker, because it will determine how they approach and what information they give based on whether it's open or closed. I strongly support its being a closed meeting when we talk specifically about what happened on a specific date and who was in charge.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I disagree, and I agree with John O'Toole. I believe the meeting should be open, but I think we should heed the advice of our senior member and move in camera or into closed session at the request of the Sergeant at Arms or any other individual who may, when testifying, request that. But I believe it's very, very important that we send out the signal that this is an open committee, and we have no problem moving in and out of camera at someone's request.

Mr Silipo: My sense, or perhaps my hope, is that in fact this is something that can be worked out between the Chair and the Speaker and/or the Sergeant at Arms. I think that, from my perspective, certainly from what I'm hearing, there are a number of issues around the process that I think have to be dealt with in public, about what happened and particularly when we talk about what we'd like to see happen in the future and not happen in the future.

But there may be within that discussion the need for us to be made aware of certain information -- if there is, I don't know -- about things that perhaps ought to be addressed in private, and I'm prepared to keep an open mind on that. I would lean more to the premise that, unless necessary for good security reasons, the discussions ought to, to the extent possible, take place in public.

The Chair: I see a lot of heads nodding. Is there concurrence, generally speaking, with that sentiment? The clerk would instruct that in the letter that we will send to the Speaker tomorrow.

Is there any other business before this committee that members would like to raise?

Mr Stewart: This may not be the committee that does this, but with the fact that we're having the Speaker at the next committee meeting, I would like very much to get this committee to look at procedures, protocol, conduct etc in the House.

I have never in my life been involved with anything with less control, more arrogance, and I could go on with all these magic words. It is absolutely terrible. When I start getting letters from people in my riding talking about our conduct -- and I said "our" conduct -- then I think that we should be looking at it.

As an ex-municipal politician, if this kind of conduct had been carried on in my county council, they'd have been asked to leave and not allowed to come back. I truly believe that if we are to represent the people of our ridings and in this province, we'd better act accordingly. I would ask that if this be the committee we do that, we look into that and have a discussion with the Speaker on it.

The Chair: As Chair maybe I'm not supposed to be entering into this discussion, but I agree wholeheartedly with your statement.

Mr Stewart: I would ask that that be put on the agenda for the next meeting, if that's how it goes.

The Chair: There will be a subcommittee meeting early next week to discuss additional issues that we're going to be wanting to deal with over the next little while, so that statement will be noted.

Mr Stewart: I would ask that it be included if possible.

The Chair: Yes. Mr Hastings, do you have a statement?

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): One of the things I hope this committee will look at after we get through the security and protocol concerns would relate to the overall operation of the assembly and the environs of the building.

One of my major concerns, things that we should be looking at, is the computerization or wired world that most legislatures have started down, and aside from probably a couple of studies that may have been done, how far behind we are in that whole area. That's one of the minor facets. But the operations of the whole parliamentary precinct I think require effective scrutiny.

The Chair: The clerk's taken note of that.

Mr Hastings: Food, restaurants, all those things. I know the Speaker's going to be bringing some stuff to us, but services to members is what I'm extremely concerned about.

The Chair: It is the mandate of our committee to do that, and thank you for your suggestion. Mr DeFaria.

Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): Also following on what Mr Hastings has indicated, to look into the role of supply and services and their role and function and how they function in providing services to the members.

The Chair: Is there any further business that members want to bring to the attention of the committee at this time? Seeing none, this committee stands adjourned until next week, Wednesday, November 22, at 3:30 pm.

The committee adjourned at 1553.