Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 1 (11 November 1980)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Parliament, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 1 (6 November 1980).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 1
Thursday, November 6, 1980
Senator Harry Hays, P.C.
Serge Joyal, M.P.
Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence
of the Special Joint Committee of
the Senate and of
the House of Commons on the
Constitution of Canada
(See back cover)
First Session of the
Thirty-second Parliament, 1980
SPECIAL JOINT COMMITTEE OF
THE SENATE AND OF THE HOUSE
OF COMMONS ON THE CONSTITUTION
Senator Harry Hays, P.C.
Serge Joyal, M.P.
Representing the Senate:
Representing the House of Commons:
Campbell (Miss) (South West Nova)
Joint Clerks of the Committee
Pursuant to S.O. 65(4)(b) of the House of Commons.
On Thursday, November 6, 1980:
Mr. Tobin replaced Mr. Lapierre;
Mr. Lapierre replaced Mr. Henderson.
ORDERS OF REFERENCE OF THE SENATE
Extract from the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Senate November 3, 1980:
“The Senate resumed the debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Perrault, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Frith:
That the Senate do unite with the House of Commons in the appointment of a Special Joint Committee to consider and report upon the document entitled “Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada” published by the Government on October 2, 1980, and to recommend in their report whether or not such an Address, with such amendments as the Committee considers necessary, should be presented by both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty the Queen;
That ten Members of the Senate, to be designated at a later date, act on behalf of the Senate as members of the Special Joint Committee;
That the Committee have power to appoint from among its members such sub-committees as may be deemed advisable and necessary and to delegate to such subcommittees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the Senate;
That the Committee have power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate;
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and to examine witnesses and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee submit their report not later than December 9, 1980;
That the quorum of the Committee be twelve members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented; and
That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to inform that House accordingly.
. . .
So it was resolved in the affirmative.”
Extract from the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Senate, November 5, 1980:
The Honourable Senator Frith moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Petten:
. . .
“That the following Senators be appointed to act on behalf of the Senate on the said Special Joint Committee, namely, the Honourable Senators Asselin, Austin, Connolly, Goldenberg, Hays, Lamontagne, Lucier, Petten, Roblin and Tremblay; and”.
. . .
The question then being put on the motion as amended of the Honourable Senator Frith, seconded by the Honourable Senator Perrault, P.C., it was—
Resolved in the affirmative.
Clerk of the Senate
ORDERS OF REFERENCE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
Thursday, October 23, 1980
RESOLVED,—That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons be appointed to consider and report upon the document entitled “Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada” published by the Government on October 2, 1980, and to recommend in their report whether or not such an Address, with such amendments as the Committee considers necessary, should be presented by both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty the Queen;
That 15 Members of the House of Commons to be designated no later than three sitting days after the adoption of this motion be members on the part of this House of the Special Joint Committee;
That the Committee have power to appoint from among its Members such sub-committees as may be deemed advisable and necessary and to delegate to such sub-committees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the House;
That the Committee have power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the House of Commons;
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and the examine witnesses and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee submit their report not later than December 9, 1980;
That the quorum of the Committee by 12 members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, when 6 members are present so long as both Houses are represented; and
That a Message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose, and to select, if the Senate deems it to be advisable, Members to act on the proposed Special Joint Committee.
Tuesday, October 28, 1980
ORDERED,—That the members designated to serve on the part of this House on the Special Joint Committee to consider a proposed address to Her Majesty the Queen concerning the Constitution of Canada by: Mr. Beatty, Mr. Bockstael, Miss Campbell, Mr. Corbin, Mr. Crombie, Mr. Epp, Mr. Fraser, Mr. Henderson, Mr. Irwin, Mr. Joyal, Mr. Knowles, Mr. Lapierre, Mr. Mackasey, Mr. McGrath and Mr. Nystrom; and that a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their honours thereof.
C. B. KOESTER
The Clerk of the House of Commons
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1980
The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada met at 9:42 o’clock a.m., this day, for the purpose of organization.
Members of the Committee present:
Representing the Senate: The Honourable Senators Asselin, Austin, Connolly, Goldenberg, Hays, Lamontagne, Lucier, Petten, Roblin and Tremblay.
Representing the House of Commons: Messrs. Beatty, Bockstael, Miss Campbell (South West Nova), Messrs. Corbin, Crombie, Epp, Fraser, Henderson, Irwin, Joyal, Knowles, Mackasey, McGrath, Nystrom and Tobin.
Other Members present: Messrs. Allmand, Lapierre, Reid and Robinson (Burnaby).
The Joint Clerks of the Committee presided over the election of the Joint Chairmen.
The Honourable Senator Goldenberg, seconded by the Honourable Senator Petten moved,—That the Honourable Senator Hays do take the Chair as Joint Chairman of the Committee.
The question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
The Joint Clerk of the Committee declared the honourable Senator Hays duly elected Joint Chairman.
Mr. Irwin, seconded by Mr. Corbin, moved,—That Mr. Joyal do take the Chair as Joint Chairman of this Committee.
The question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
The Joint Clerk of the Committee declared Mr. Joyal duly elected Joint Chairman of the Committee.
The Joint Chairmen presiding, Mr. Irwin moved,—That the Committee print 5000 copies of its Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
Mr. Irwin moved,—That the Joint Chairmen and seven (7) other Members, three (3) representatives from the Liberal Party, three (3) representatives from the Progressive Conservative Party and one (1) representative from the New Democratic Party, appointed by the Joint Chairmen after the usual consultations do compose the Sub-committee on Agenda and Procedure.
After debate, Mr. Epp moved, seconded by the honourable Senator Goldenberg,—That the motion be amended by adding the following:
“and that the quorum be not less than five (5) members, including at least one member of the Official Opposition”.
After debate on the amendment, Mr. Corbin moved the following sub-amendment,—That the following words be added after the amendment:
“and the Joint Chairmen of the Committee”.
After debate, by unanimous consent, Mr. Corbin was allowed to withdraw his motion.
Mr. Beatty moved the sub-amendment,—That the following words be added after the amendment:
“and a representative from each House”.
After debate, the question being put on the sub-amendment, it was agreed to.
The question being put on the amendment, it was agreed to.
The question being put on the motion, as amended, it was agreed to.
Mr. Irwin moved,—That the Joint Clerks advertise in the major daily newspapers throughout Canada for the purpose of inviting written submissions, to be received by the Joint Clerks, as soon as possible, but not later than November 25, 1980.
After debate, Mr. Nystrom moved,—That the motion be amended by adding the following words:
“and to invite witnesses to appear before the Committee”.
After debate, the amendment was by unanimous consent, withdrawn.
On motion of Mr. Irwin, it was agreed,—That the motion be amended by adding after the words “November 25, 1980” the following words:
“and that the advertisement state that the Committee will invite witnesses from among those making submissions and requesting to be heard”.
Mr. Epp moved,—That the full proceedings of the Committee shall be broadcasted via television and radio by the House of commons Broadcasting Service.
After debate, on motion of Mr. Beatty, it was agreed,— That the motion be amended by adding after the word “That” the following words:
“the Committee report immediately to both Houses requesting that”.
After further debate, the question being put on the motion, as amended, it was negatived on the following division:
The Honourable Senators
The Honourable Senators
(South West Nova)
At 12:45 o’clock p.m., the committee adjourned until 3:30 o’clock p.m., this afternoon.
The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada met at 4:00 o’clock p.m., for the purpose of organization, the Honourable Harry Hays, presiding.
Members of the Committee present:
Representing the Senate: The Honourable Senators Asselin, Austin, Connolly, Goldenberg, Hays, Lamontagne, Lucier, Petten, Roblin and Tremblay.
Representing the House of Commons: Mr. Bockstael, Miss Campbell (South West Nova), Messrs. Epp, Fraser, Irwin, Lapierre, Mackasey and Tobin.
At 4:08 o’clock p.m., on motion of Mr. Fraser, seconded by Mr. Tobin, the Committee adjourned to 4:45 o’clock p.m.
The Committee reconvened at 4:45 o’clock p.m. and adjourned until 8:00 o’clock this evening.
The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada met at 8:07 o’clock p.m. for the purpose of organization, the Joint Chairman, Mr. Serge Joyal, presiding.
Members of the Committee present:
Representing the Senate: The Honourable Senators Asselin, Austin, Connolly, Goldenberg, Hays, Lamontagne, Lucier, Petten, Roblin and Tremblay.
Representing the House of Commons: Messrs. Beatty, Bockstael, Miss Campbell (South West Nova), Messrs. Corbin, Crombie, Epp, Fraser, Irwin, Joyal, Knowles, Lapierre, Mackasey, McGrath, Nystrom and Tobin.
Other Member present: Mr. Robinson (Burnaby).
Mr. Epp moved,—That the Committee be empowered to provide financial assistance to all witnesses appearing before the Committee in order to fully cover their travelling and accommodation expenses in accordance with the rules.
After debate, by unanimous consent, the motion was agreed to.
Mr. Epp moved,—That the Committee report to both Houses requesting that the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was negatived on the following division:
The Honourable Senators
The Honourable Senators
Campbell (Miss) (South West Nova)
Mr. Beatty moved,—That the Committee report forthwith to both Houses requesting that its term of reference be amended to provide that the quorum of the Committee be twelve members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that at least one Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented and a Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present.
By unanimous consent, the motion was amended to read as follows:
—That the quorum of the Committee be twelve members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that at least one Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented and a Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present.
After debate, at 9:52 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned until 9:30 o’clock a.m., November 7, 1980.
Joint Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Le jeudi, 6 novembre 1980
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Bélisle): Honourable senators, honourable members, [Text] there is a quorum.
Your first item of business is to elect Joint Chairmen. I am ready to receive motions to that effect. First I am ready for the Senator.
Senator Goldenberg: I move that the honourable Senator Harry Hays do take the Chair of this Committee as Joint Chairman.
Senator Petten: I second that.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Bélisle): Moved by Senator Goldenberg, seconded by Senator Petten, that Senator Hays do take the chair of this committee as Joint Chairman. [Text] Is it your pleasure to adopt the said motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Bélisle): I declare the motion carried and the honourable Senator Hays duly elected Joint Chairman of this Committee.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Prégent): We will now elect the Joint Chairman from the House of Commons. I am ready to receive motions to that effect. Mr. Irwin.
Mr. Irwin: I move that the honourable member. Serge Joyal, take the Chair as Joint Chairman.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Prégent): Moved by Mr. Irwin, seconded by Mr. Corbin that Mr. Joyal be nominated Joint Chairman of this committee.
Is it the pleasure to adopt the said motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Prégent): I declare Mr. Joyal Joint Chairman of this Committee and invite him to take the Chair.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Honourable Senators, members of Parliament, this is a great honour for me. I know that it is not going to be an easy job. We will have a busy time; we are not going to stop for wood, water or coal. We hope to get on with the examining of the witnesses as soon as possible. We will always be in your hands. If we run into stormy water we will do the best we can and we are looking for great cooperation from all.
This is a very historical moment. I think that we are on the brink of success. Hopefully when the Committee has to rise on December 9, that we will have something that will be accept- able not only to the Committee but acceptable to the Canadian people.
I am going to turn the meeting now over to my Joint Chairman. There are some housekeeping chores to do and he will take that responsibility now.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Honourable senators, ladies and gentlemen, members of the House of Commons, according to the procedure governing the work of special of standing committees of the House of Commons, we will proceed to the adoption of two statutory motions, the first one
concerning the printing of the minutes of proceedings of this committee.
Consequently, I will entertain a motion regarding the printing of our minutes of proceedings.
Mr. Irwin: I would move the Joint Committee and seven other members, three from among the Liberal members of the Committee, three from among the . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Please . . .
Excuse me, Mr. Irwin, I was asking for a motion to print the minutes of proceedings of this committee.
Mr. Irwin: That the Committee print 5,000 copies of its Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Moved by Mr. Irwin that the committee print 5,000 copies of its Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence.
Do you second this motion Mr. Epp?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I would like some clarification on a proposal to print the 5,000 copies of the minutes of this Committee.
What is the number of copies that have been printed for other Joint Committees; how does it relate; what has been the maximum, for example. that has been printed for a given committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Would you like to make any comment on the question brought up by Mr. Epp?
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Chairman, most committees authorize the printing of 1,000 copies of their Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence.
However, it has happened occasionally, I cannot recall exactly when, but I remember vaguely that we have had cases where, public interest being high because of the nature of the discussion, certain committees ordered the printing of a greater number of copies. I believe it is in order for the committee to accept the printing of 5,000 copies, taking into consideration, the high degree of interest that this subject is likely to raise.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am also told that in 1978 when the joint committee of the Senate and the House was sitting to examine Bill C-60, the printing of 1,500 copies was authorized.
Mr. Epp, you wanted to have the floor?
Mr. Epp, you wanted to comment on that point?
Mr. Epp: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The 5,000 copies is acceptable to us with the following caveat: we know that there have been additional printings in the past of joint committees and I would suggest to members of the Committee should we find that the 5,000 is not adequate and that there is additional public request for additional copies that we re-examine the 5,000 copies at that time.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): According to what you have proposed, we could ask our clerk to report periodically on the demand from the public and from both Houses for these 5,000 copies; we could adjust the number if additional copies for the members of this House, the Senate and the public proved necessary.
Is it agreed?
Yes, Miss Campbell.
Miss Campbell: I am agreeable to that. I just want to make one comment, that it seems to me there is a big delay at present in getting the Committee reports out. I am just wondering if this Committee could not have a priority in getting the reports out, because of the backlog of the different travelling committees and things like that, that this Committee take precedence over all other Committees in getting the reports out.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I understand, Miss Campbell, that the Leader of the Government in the House has asked for the services of the House and it has been agreed that priority will be given to this committee, for simultaneous translation during our discussions and also for the printing of the translated documents and other evidence.
Mr. Epp: Just on that point, tangentially, the so-called blues of the Committee, the rough copies of the transcript, will also be made available to the Committee, in what form and in what number?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I think we could proceed the way the other House committees proceed right now, that is we could have a first transcription as soon as possible, the following day, for reference purposes, and then follow the usual way and have the issues printed within the usual or shortest deadlines, given the particular circumstances we know right now.
Nevertheless, I shall make sure with all concerned services the first transcription is made available to us first thing the next morning, as is presently the case for other House committees, even though circumstances might be different at present.
Unless you have other remarks on this point, we will proceed to our next item on the agenda, namely the subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure.
Are there any questions in this regard?
Mr. Irwin: I move, Mr. Chairman, that the Joint Chairmen and seven other members, three from among the Liberal members of the Committee, three from among the Conservative members of the Committee and one from among the New
Democratic members of the Committee, appointed by the Chairmen after the usual consultations to compose a Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure.
It is not part of my motion, Mr. Chairman, but I propose therefore that the two Joint Chairmen, three Liberals, two M.P.’s and one Senator; three Conservatives, two M.P.’s and one Senator; and one NDP, that is the intent. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Monsieur Epp.
Mr. Epp: The motion that Mr. Irwin has put forward, I believe is a steering committee of nine composed of not seven but rather nine; and that the Joint Chairmen are full members of the steering committee. That is the first clarification I would like to have. Correct.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I think that is quite right; there will be nine members, of course, including the two co-chairmen.
Mr. Epp: Secondly, in terms of the quorum on the steering committee, what provisions if any are in that motion in terms of quorum.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I understand that at the present time the motion presented to us by Mr. Irwin does not include any mention of quorum. I am prepared to accept proposals or suggestions on quorum from the members of the committee; I believe that a quorum of five would probably be the minimum acceptable for the deliberations of this sub-committee.
Is it not customary for the steering committee to nominate their own quorum, to set their own quorum.
Mr. Epp: I think it is important in terms of understanding within the Committee what will constitute a quorum; but what I am concerned about is not only in terms of numerical values but also in regards to representation from the parties that are sitting around this table.
I might as well tell you now, Mr. Chairman, that we intend to also move amendments in terms of the quorum that are spelled out in the Notice of Motion which established this Committee. So, in view of the steering committee and specifically to the resolution put forward by Mr. Irwin, I do not have the exact words in front of me, I regret that, but I would move an amendment that the quorum consist of not less than five members and that a member of the Official Opposition be present in order to fill the quorum.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp has presented an amendment that quorum for the subcommittee on agenda and procedure be made up of at least five people, including one representative of the Official Opposition.
Do we have a seconder for this motion . . .
Senator Goldenberg, I believe that Mr. Nystrom had requested the floor before you; I will come back to you afterwards.
Mr. Nystrom: I just wanted to support the amendment. I think a number of five would suffice but there should be someone there from the opposition parties, not necessarily Official Opposition, although I would be willing to go along with that as long as someone is there from the opposition side.
Otherwise, it would be dangerous, because you would have five Liberals who would be the quorum that could indeed set the agenda and perhaps make some crucial decisions unbeknown to us.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Corbin.
First the amendment and then the main motion.
Mr. Corbin: Yes, the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I do not know for sure whether both joint chairmen have to be present for a quorum to be reached.
It is understood that both joint chairmen are present, as well as a representative from the opposition, from the Official Opposition, if you prefer, but, whatever the case, a quorum will only be deemed reached conditional to both joint chairmen being present.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Will you make a motion to this effect?
Mr. Corbin: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Very well.
We then have a new amendment proposed by Mr. Corbin to the effect that both joint chairmen can be part of the five-member quorum.
Does this proposal seem to satisfy the members of this committee?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We are back then to Mr. Epp’s amendment.
I think this amendment is also acceptable by the committee. Consequently, our clerks have taken, I believe, due note of all proposals, so that we are now back to the main motion.
Yes, Senator Austin?
Senator Austin: A point of clarification. I heard Mr. Epp say Official Opposition in his amendment. I did not hear him accept the suggestion of Mr. Nystrom that it be a member of the Opposition and I believe that ought to be clarified.
Has he accepted Mr. Nystrom’s suggestion.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, no, I have not.
Mr. Nystrom: In terms of this measure, there is only one opposition anyway.
Senator Austin: I believe then, Mr. Chairman, you misunderstood when you said that it was inclusive of any member of the Opposition and the Committee should deal with Mr. Epp’s suggestion.
I personally would consider suggesting—I would consider suggesting to this Committee that the quorum be five but if no member of the Opposition appears within 30 minutes, if the quorum of five is present, that the steering committee can continue.
Some hon. Members: No, no.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): You have an amendment, Mr. Tobin?
Mr. Tobin: Mr. Chairman, I just want to speak to the matters raised by my colleague, and I personally believe that a quorum should consist of at least a member of the opposition. I don’t think it should be necessarily the Official Opposition, and I think the matter raised by Senator Austin is worth considering, and that is that the steering committee have a quorum of five and that at least . . .
Mr. Epp: Point of order.
Mr. Tobin: Let me finish. At least a member of the opposition present, and it is a real concern to me that the work of the steering committee could be, and I do not have any reason to believe it would be, but could be held up if we stipulated the Official Opposition showing up at some point or time or day.
So I think a better motion and more acceptable motion for a quorum would be a member of the Opposition, be it the NDP party or the Conservative party.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp, you wanted to clarify . . .
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, just before I go back to the point before us, is Mr. Tobin a member of the Committee?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, he is a member.
Yes, the Liberal Party Whip informs me that Mr. Tobin is now a member; I believe he is replacing Mr. Jean Lapierre.
Mr. Epp: That does not appear on the official record, Mr. Chairman, that is why I am asking.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): That is due to the fact that it has not been updated. Usually when there is a change in the membership of the committees of the House of Commons, it is enough to register the change with the Whip who then tables the new printing with the clerks of the House of Commons. Nevertheless, it is true that at this time, the record has not yet been printed.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I have no argument with your interpretation, and it is correct. It was simply that it was not before us on the official record and I also take that by your ruling now that you have established the practice in this Committee as a Joint Committee, which was not clear in earlier questions in the House, that in fact it is the ability of every party now to appoint alternates in the Committee in replacement of those whose names appeared on the list of members in both the House and Senate.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I would like to give the floor to the Joint Chairman from the Senate, since I believe the rule is slightly different when it comes to replacing a senator. I will let Senators Hays bring us up to date.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): If I recall correctly it seems to me that before we could change a member from the Senate on a Committee that it would have to go back to the floor of the Senate.
Mr. Epp: I think from that interpretation, Mr. Chairman, that the names of the Senators as they appear on the list before us this morning, that they will not be changed unless there is a change on the floor of the Senate.
Is that correct?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): That is my understanding.
Senator Roblin: That is the general rule that applies to Committees of the Senate but I believe that yesterday we passed a motion which would allow party leaders in the Senate to nominate substitutes, should that become necessary, in much the same as is done in the House of Commons.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): I stand to be corrected. I did not know that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes.
Mr. Beatty: When Mr. Nystrom spoke he indicated that he was prepared to accept Mr. Epp’s proposal not a member of the Official Opposition be there to constitute a quorum, and I do not think it is necessary for the government members, if Mr. Nystrom has no objection, to make objections for him.
I think also it is worth mentioning at the outset that it is the intention of the Official Opposition, Mr. Chairman, to approach this Committee’s work in good faith and to expect good faith of members opposite as well. I think that we have the right to expect that and I think that it will be forthcoming.
It is our intention to participate fully in the steering committee meetings, but we would be very concerned, particularly after the experience of recent days in the House of Commons with the invocation of closure and other procedural problems that there have been in the consideration of this resolution, if we had a situation where it would be possible for members of the government party alone to decide, for example, what witnesses were to appear before the Committee and make other critical decisions relating to the Committee’s business.
I would ask the government members to demonstrate the good faith with which they approached the activities of this Committee and to recognize that one of the principles that must be followed is that of balance within the steering committee and that the rights of the Opposition should be protected.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Knowles.
Mr. Knowles: Mr. Chairman, I was going to make the same point, namely, that Senator Austin did not press the point that it should be a member of the Opposition. While we think that
we are important—and we are—in all realism, since there are three Conservatives on the steering committee and only one member of the NDP, I think it would be unrealistic not to require that there should be at least one member of the Official Opposition.
Now, on the other hand, when it comes to the question of a quorum of this Committee, we may take a different position, namely, that all parties should be represented; but, so far as the steering committee is concerned, we would be quite satisfied with the proposition that there should be one member of the Official Opposition, and we reject totally Senator Austin’s proposition. If the steering committee could meet with only five Liberals present, God help us!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Okay.
Mr. Irwin and Mr. Austin.
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Chairman, I do not believe for one moment that it will serve any useful purpose if we were to assume ulterior motives on the part of either side at this or other meetings. I agree with Mr. Beatty and also think that we should support Mr. Epp’s amendment.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Mr. Chairman, I made the suggestion in order to make clear the proposition the suggestion in order to make clear the proposition that what is essential is that the Opposition should have the opportunity to come before a steering committee. I am perfectly happy to have both Mr. Beatty and Mr. Knowles state their position. My concern was as to the efficacy of the steering committee. But, as that is clearly not a problem in the minds of members, I defer.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So we are coming back to Mr. Epp’s proposition. Have you any further comment to make or do you agree that we accept this proposition?
Further comments? Agreed?
Agreed. So we are coming back to the main proposition as amended. Do you have any comments on the main proposition?
Then, do I understand . . .
Yes, Mr. Roblin?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Roblin.
Senator Roblin: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make sure that I understand correctly that the steering committee will not function unless both Joint Chairmen are present. Is that the situation?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I think that is exactly the way we all interpret the proposition.
Senator Roblin: Thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Do you have any questions or comments about the main proposition?
Then, I do understand that it is agreed by all members of the present committee.
Senator Lamontagne: I can see a drawback to this proposition; one of the two Co-Chairmen be sick or unable to attend for many reasons. According to this motion, the steering committee could not meet and the committee itself would be paralysed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): As I understand the main motion, and I am again in your hands for the interpretation of it. the two Co-Chairmen are members of the steering committee. But when as to the quorum of the committee itself the only condition is that the Official Opposition be represented. This is the way I understood the motion.
Mr. Epp’s motion did not require the presence of the Official Opposition. At least it is the way I interpret the motion of Mr. Epp.
But regarding the attendance of the two Co-Chairmen, this is a requirement for the steering committee and their presence is not required explicitly for the committee itself to have a quorum. This is the way I understand the motion put by Mr. Epp.
Mr. Corbin: I apologize for having started the debate on the presence of both joint chairmen at the subcommittee. In fact, all I wanted to do was to guarantee, I said to guarantee, the presence of a representative of both Houses in this committee. This was the meaning of my motion.
I do not think that, after my comments, you formely disposed of my motion and if the honourable Senators of this committee prefer to ignore this motion. I would be quite happy to withdraw what I said earlier.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I hope that Mr. Epp was following what I was saying on the interpretation of your own proposal. The only qualifying membership of the quorum would be a representative of the Official Opposition, and the presence of the two Joint Chairmen is not an absolute necessity. The presence of the two Joint Chairmen is specified only as members of the Subcommittee, but not as participants in the formation of a quorum of the Subcommittee.
Mr. Beatty on the same point.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, I think it is a well worthwhile point to make that, because of the fact that this is a joint Committee it would be very helpful that at any steering committee meeting there should be representatives from each House. I think Senator Lamontagne made an excellent comment when he suggested that one of the Joint Chairmen might find himself incapable of coming to a meeting. I think it might be useful formally to amend the resolution to provide that at least one representative from each House be present at the steering committee meetings.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Do you have any other comments on the motion presented by Mr. Beatty to the effect that both Houses be represented in the quorum of the committee? Is it agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So we are getting back to the main motion as amended, which is about consent of the members of this committee. Are there any other explanations or amendments which you would like to discuss?
Then I take it that the main motion as amended by the members of this committee is unanimously adopted.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): That completes our business this morning.
It would appear that Mr. Allmand would like to address some remarks to us. Mr. Allmand.
Mr. Allmand: Mr. Chairman, I would like by way of some questions to seek some direction from the Joint Chairman. I would like to know, first of all, what procedure the Committee proposes to adopt in respect of those members of Parliament and honourable Senators who might wish to appear.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Corbin, on a point of order.
Mr. Corbin: As far as I understand, Mr. Allmand is not a member of this committee; but, I admit that we can give him the floor at the present time.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Corbin, on a point of order, states that Mr. Allmand is not a member of this committee, I would like then to read to the members of the committee Standing Order 65-9 of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons which deals with the presence of members of the House of Commons at meetings of special or standing committees of the House.
(9) Any Member of the House who is not a member of a standing or special committee, may, unless the House or the committee concerned otherwise orders, take part in the public proceedings of the committee, but he may not vote or move any motion, nor shall he be part of any quorum.
As I see this standing order, members of the House of Commons, and of course I am referring to those members of the House of Commons who are not members of this committee, can take part in the proceedings of the committee but they can neither be part of quorum nor can they vote in the committee.
By my experience and knowledge of the work of the other committees, standing or special, the committees have always agreed to recognize those members of the House who are not members of the committee itself but they had the floor only
when the time of the other officially listed members of the committee had expired.
So, as no other qualified member of this committee asked the Joint Chairman to speak on the motion which we had before us, I saw it fit to give the floor to Mr. Allmand pursuant to this standing order which does not exclude members of the House to participate in this committee and because the House did not exclude them in the motion which it adopted when it created this committee.
This is the way I understand it.
Mr. Epp, on a point of order.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I have two points to make. First, in respect to Mr. Allmand having a right to be heard, I would say that it has been the practice of the Committees that members who are not official members of the Committee have the right to be heard after other members have been recognized by the Chair. Of course, we accept the caveat as to a quorum and the prohibition against any right to vote.
However, it is important if members of the House want to appear before the Committee to make a point they should obviously have the right to do so, quite apart from the question of discussion and whether or not they have the right to be witnesses.
Secondly, I would like to make this point, Mr. Chairman. Earlier you mentioned that you regarded the work of the Committee so far this morning had been completed. We do not regard it as such. I have a number of points which I would like to raise after we have heard from Mr. Allmand.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I think I share with you the interpretation you are giving to this rule. As to whether or not members should have the right to be witnesses, I suggest you to refer the question to the subcommittee on the agenda for specific proposals since we have to determine how this committee will proceed when we will be hearing the various witnesses and discussing the briefs that will be submitted.
With your permission, we could refer the question to the subcommittee on the agenda. Now, as to the possibility of raising other matters, my comment was simply to the effect that ordinary or statutory motions have been dealt with.
But It is clear that I am willing to receive all other matters you wish to submit to the committee for debate. If there are no other questions . . . Yes, Mr. Roblin. I shall come back to you, Mr. Allmand.
Senator Roblin: Mr. Chairman, you have been discussing in your rulings so far, the rights of members of the House of Commons in connection with the proceedings of this Committee. I would like to request that you make a ruling with respect to members of the Senate, because the same rules as apply to
the House of Commons in connection with this matter also apply in the case of the Senate.
I would like to be assured that any members of the Senate who are not formally members of the Committee should have the opportunity not only to appear, but to enter into discussions under the rules as you have laid them down.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Well, I should like to ask the opinion of honourable Senators on that point and my colleague, Mr. Hays, might want . . .
Senator Connolly: Senator Roblin is quite right.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Lamontagne?
Senator Lamontagne: I agree.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Then, Mr. Hays, might want to comment.
Senator Hays, would you like to comment on the point raised by Senator Roblin?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Well, I would like to hear Senator Connolly before I make any comment.
Senator Connolly: All I said was that the Senator was quite right: the Senate rule is to the same effect as a rule in the House of Commons, as I understand it; and, in the Joint Committees, the practice has been followed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Hence, there is nothing to add on the question of participation. Mr. Allmand has the floor.
Mr. Allmand: Mr. Chairman, I have four questions to put to you. My first question is what would be the procedure for members of Parliament and honourable Senators as to their participation in the Committee. As you know, many of us did not have an opportunity to participate in the debate in the House of Commons, and some of us who represent special interests would like to make our views known on certain provisions, that is, linguistic minorities, native people, and so on. I hope we will have an opportunity to present our views and ask questions, and I might say that, although it is a practice for non members of Committees to come after all members of the Committees, I cannot find it so stated anywhere; and I would urge you to consider that—not to debate it this morning. I would also like to ask you to consider the possibility of certain members of Parliament appearing as witnesses in order to make their views known on certain positions that may not be represented on the Committee.
My second question—and I would like some direction from the Committee on this either today or later—is as to exactly what are the rules with regard to groups and individuals appearing before the Committee as witnesses, how will they apply and what would be your guidelines.
Thirdly, what will your procedures be for receiving amendments to proposals? Will you be setting any deadlines? Will you be asking that they be given within a certain period of
time without delay before the reporting date of the Committee so that you can consider them; in other words, must they be tabled at a certain time, and so on. I would like to have your rules with respect to all of that.
Fourthly, I would like to ask the Committee to publish, if at all possible, both its lists and times of sittings. I have been waiting for the notice of the first meeting of this Committee today, and looking at the distribution notices last night, the Committee was not listed; in fact, it was only listed in the elevators this morning. For those of us who are not on the Committee, the only way we have of knowing when the Committee sits is when those general notices go out. I, as well as other members, would very much appreciate it if you could give some kind of advance notice with respect to sittings.
Mr. Chairman, those are my four questions, and, as I have said before, I do not expect to have an answer to them now, though I would appreciate receiving them.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): If you wish, Mr. Allmand, and with your consent, I would give the floor to Mr. Hays for a few minutes because he wants to give clarifications on the participation of Senators who are official members of the committee, but I will come back to all the points you have brought up. I think there is a way that appropriate decisions can be made on them, and I am confident that you will receive satisfaction on all of them.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Rule 72 reads:
A senator though not a member of a committee may attend and participate in its deliberations but shall not vote.
So I suppose it is the same as the House of Commons.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): That question is then settled. Mr. Allmand I would like to answer your first point. I think that Standing Order 9 of the House of Commons is quite clear on that. As to the order in which members of the House and Senators are recognized, as I said earlier, it is practice in committees to first give the floor to official members. But, on occasion, and I do not intend to make a rule of it, I have seen in committees on which I have myself sat, that the Chair would give precedence to a member who was not officially part of it, if it was clear that the interest of that member was so special that all members agreed to recognize that his contribution was made under exceptional circumstances.
But, that required unanimous consent on the part of those members of the committee who have priority in making their views known during the debate.
Therefore, I cannot myself rule on that but I think that members of the committee could do if they wished and waive the usual practice in order to give the floor to someone who
would want to make a contribution in a particular case on special topic.
So, if you are agreeable, I would suggest that we follow that flexible procedure in order that everybody could have a fair participation. I will pursue your other questions after Senator Lamontagne has made his comment.
Senator Lamontagne: Mr. Co-Chairman, this is exactly the practice that we followed in 1978 in a similar joint committee on the constitution. Thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): As to your other point, as to whether or not members of the House of Commons or Senators could be called as witnesses or could appear as witnesses, I would suggest that the matter be referred to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure which will report to us with specific proposals.
As to the schedule of our meetings, I, like you, regret very much the fact this first meeting was called on such short notice, but I think that it was following a request made yesterday, in the House of Commons, by the Leader of the Official Opposition, right after Question Period, because he wished that this committee would start its proceedings as soon as possible.
However, I do not think that what happened this morning will happen again since the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure will schedule meetings for the following day and members of the committee as well as members of Parliament will know in ample time what to expect as far as the work of the committee is concerned.
Finally, you were asking about briefs and amendments to be tabled. Once again, I think it would appropriate to refer this matter to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure so that it determines what type of participation members of both the public and the House of Commons will have in the committee’s proceedings.
Of course, I am willing to accept any special proposal if there were need to take immediate steps in order to inform the public that this committee is now sitting and ready to accept briefs and testimony. Of course, there are time constraints because, as you know, the House has requested us to report by December 9, and if we wish to hear witnesses from the outside and receive briefs submitted by citizens of Canada, we are required to notify the public as quickly as possible.
If we wish to do so, if we wish to publish notices in this week’s papers, that is, this weekend or this Saturday, we would have to decide right away because requirements for deadlines are such that tomorrow might may even be too late for publication in this weekend’s edition. I wish to bring this to your attention so that members of the committee will take it into consideration.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I may be recognized later on the issue of the time limit, and I would like to obtain some clarification from Senator Hays as to the undertaking given by Senator Perrault on Monday to the Senate. But I would like to deal, first of all, with the issue of members of Parliament appearing before this Committee.
Most of the members of the House of Commons who are on the Committee will have received a letter from the Liberal member, Mr. Flis of Toronto, who has requested the right to appear before the Committee.
The vast majority of members of Parliament on all sides of the House, did not have an opportunity to be heard prior to the vote been taken to send this matter to the Committee. You will remember that the Prime Minister, at the time he announced that the House was being called back early to deal with the constitution, invited all members of Parliament to play a role in the deliberations which were taking place with regard to this resolution. In the debate before the House of Commons a number of government members indicated that they felt that the most substantive work to be done on this resolution would be in the Committee.
While members on this side of the floor expect and hope that the vast majority of witnesses who will be called before the Committee will be representatives of the public, because it is time that the doors and windows be opened to the Canadian people and that they be given an opportunity to be heard on the fundamental laws of the land, defining the whole character of the country and the legal framework in which we live together, it is essential that the representatives of the people of Canada should be heard as well.
I think your proposal that the steering committee look at this issue as to the participation of members of the House of Commons is a reasonable one, because obviously that Committee will have the responsibility of proposing to the full Committee the list of potential witnesses to appear.
But what I would like to indicate at the outset is that I have written to Mr. Flis to indicate that members on this side of the Committee were as disturbed as he was by the denial of the opportunity for him to speak in the debate on the second reading, and to indicate that we would be supporting the right of members of Parliament to appear before the Committee as witnesses.
I would like to make clear publicly that our party’s position in going into the meetings of the steering committee will be that members of Parliament should not be denied the opportunity to appear before this Committee as witnesses.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Your point is well taken, Mr. Beatty. As a matter of fact, I was going to say that I was in your hands as to the possibility of convening the subcommittee on agenda this very morning, following the adjournment of this meeting, if possible, or later this afternoon, in view of setting forth the procedure as expeditiously as possible. With a few hours we should know from the Subcommittee on Agenda what procedure we will follow to hear the witnesses and receive the comments of Canadians.
Are there any other comments on this particular point? Mr. Irwin?
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Allmand made some good points but I personnaly feel that we should distinguish between members sitting on the Committee and witnesses. I think the spirit of this particular gathering is to hear the public, and the public could be given considerable priority over members of Parliament because the members of Parliament and the members of the Senate do have access to the resolution at two of the three stages; but I think that is something that the steering committee should look at.
As far as the ads, Mr. Chairman when you see fit, I will propose a motion to advertise for submissions.
As far as deadlines, I think we should be flexible but I think that the staff in the caucuses of the party should have sufficient notice to go over the submissions so that they are not handed them the day of the submission.
As far as the sittings, first of all I think the notice was published last night and put in the elevators. It is unfortunate Mr. Allmand did not see it and this is a matter that should be dealt with by the steering committee as to when we are going to sit. I would hope that we sit as many days as possible throughout, from Monday to Friday, because we only have a month if we intend to reach the December 9 deadline.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am sorry, Mr. Connolly, but Senator Tremblay had asked to be recognized.
Senator Tremblay: Mr. Joint Chairman, I just wanted to say that Mr. Allmand was not the only one who did not receive the notice for this meeting at 9.30. Perhaps it is due to the fact that some senators have their offices in the Victoria Building, but as a matter of fact if I had not called someone around 9.30 this morning to ask if there was a committee meeting, I would have missed it.
So I fully agree with Mr. Allmand on this point.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am truly sorry about that. I said so to Mr. Allmand. In the future, we will make sure with our Clerks that the notices are posted at the exact places where the members of our Committee have their offices or working place even though they may be farther from the Hill than some others have the privilege of being.
So I fully agree with you, Mr. Tremblay, and I thank you for bringing it up. I think it is essential to have the participation of all members of the Committee.
Senator Tremblay: We do not have the same.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Connolly, followed by Messrs. Goldenberg and Epp.
Senator Connolly: One thing, I certainly would not want to see the right of the members of Parliament, either House, downgraded to the slightest degree insofar as their right to appear before this Committee is concerned. These people are
in the House of Commons elected, in the Senate appointed, but they are there representative of the people and a great many people, and they have right to come here, and I think we should make that crystal clear. I do not think anybody on the Committee would object to that proposition.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Goldenberg?
Senator Goldenberg: In answer to Senator Tremblay, I can tell you that when I arrived at my office this morning, around 9.00, the notice of the meeting was on my desk.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The delivery service, then, must favour you over Senator Tremblay. We will see that everybody has the same service.
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Possibly it is appropriate at this time to just spell out to Committee members how we see the Committee functioning, and after having done that I also intend to move a number of motions as to the working of the Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Before I give you the floor on that particular point, let me stress again a very important aspect of our work, I think you will agree with me, the need to inform the public as fast as possible that we are sitting and ready to accept representations from the public at least in the form of briefs, even though the subcommittee on agenda meanwhile may define further the procedure for hearing witnesses and receiving briefs. Time is of the essence if we want to inform the public this very weekend and want to use the weekend papers.
Many members of the Committee have gone through this before, having to advertise in the newspapers and invite the public to send briefs. You know what the deadlines are for publication in the written media. Perhaps the Committee should decide as fast as possible on the possibility of using the weekend papers, the Saturday papers throughout the country to inform the public that we are sitting and we are ready to receive representations.
I do not know, Mr. Epp, if you wanted to bring up this point among those you wanted to bring our attention to, but I stress it again. It is directly related to our proceedings next week.
Are there other comments . . .
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I intend to address myself to that point as well, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): All Right.
I am sorry, Mr. Epp, but Mr. Irwin has asked to be recognized on this point.
Mr. Irwin: Are you prepared to receive a motion?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Well, I said yes, that I would.
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Chairman, I would like to move the Joint Clerks advertise in the major daily newspapers throughout Canada for the purpose of inviting written submissions to be received by the Joint Clerks as soon as possible, not later than November 25, 1980.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So, we have a motion from Mr. Irwin, and I will read it slowly for the benefit of all the committee members:
. . . that the Joint Clerks advertise in the major daily newspapers throughout Canada for the purpose of inviting written submissions to be received by the Joint Clerks as soon as possible but not later than November 25, 1980.
Do you want to comment on the motion, Mr. Epp or Mr. Nystrom?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I do not know if it is the intention of Mr. Irwin to move a second subsequent motion in terms of witnesses. The motion before us allows Canadians to present briefs only and my interpretation of those words would be that this motion if there is not another motion allowing them also to appear as witnesses, would foreclose that opportunity, that would not be acceptable to us and so I want some clarification if there is a second motion that Mr. Irwin intends to move, namely that the advertising also can be directed in such a manner inviting Canadians to appear as witnesses; or whether it is the intention of the government through Mr. Irwin that this be the only extent of participation by Canadians. Could I have that clarification?
Mr. Irwin: I cannot speak for the government, it is my intention, as a member of this Committee to hear witnesses, as far as how many and how long we should spend on each witness, I think we have to see what the reaction by the public is to the ads and the notice and the word of mouth and then the steering committee can make recommendations; and the steering committee is always subject to this Committee, that is my intent.
Mr. Tobin: Mr. Chairman, on that . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I will return back to you, but Mr. Nystrom and Senator Lamontagne and then you and Mr. Crombie if you do not mind. Mr. Nystrom, on that very point that we are discussing.
Mr. Nystrom: On that very point I would like to move an amendment that we also in the advertising include the phrase.
“and to invite witnesses to appear before the Joint Committee on the constitution”
or whatever wording may be appropriate. I think it is very, very Important that we make it absolutely clear we are inviting Canadians to come before this Committee. If we do not do it, it then becomes a farce. We are discussing something here that is the essence of the country, it is the essence of the future of Canada, and if we are to advertise and suggest they only send
in written submissions I think that would be a very negative thing for the future of this Committee, for its work, a very negative impression of what we as Parliamentarians are trying to do; so I would strongly urge the Committee to accept that type of amendment to Mr. Irwin’s suggestion that we invite Canadians to appear before this Committee, we invite Canadians to send written submissions. In other words this becomes an open forum, for the people of this country from one coast to the other.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Lamontagne.
Senator Lamontagne: Once again, Mr. Chairman, I would stress the fact that joint committees in the past have, as a matter of fact, invited the public in general, interested groups, et cetera, to present their views through briefs. It will be up to the committee and the subcommittee to decide which ones among those who have submitted briefs will be heard by the committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Lamontagne.
Are there other comments?
Mr. Crombie, followed by Mr. Tobin and Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Crombie: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I want to strongly support the amendment moved by Mr. Nystrom and I would think that anything short of that, short of inviting Canadians both to communicate in written form or to appear before the Committee. If you do anything short of that then they will feel cheated for not being able to have their voices heard. I think it is essential that the Committee do that and I would suggest that if we adopt the motion in its limited form by Mr. Irwin and as I understand being supported by Senator Lamontagne, I would think that Canadians generally would not support that; so I hope Mr. Chairman, that we would first of all in the ads indicate that we expect that Canadians will come before the Committee. I secondly want to get onto the question of whether or not the Committee will be fully open so that radio and television can also be here so that other Canadians can see what other Canadians have to say.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I think that on your two points I might add something. I have not understood intervention of Mr. Lamontagne in this exactly the same context than opposing the motion of Mr. Nystrom. I think you were qualifying the motion of Mr. Nystrom. That is the interpretation I have given, but I am open to suggestions from members on that very aspect, I do not want to intervene myself in the debate.
Mr. Crombie: No, no, if the burden of Senator Lamontagne’s remarks was to support Mr. Nystrom, then I am happy.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I said that there was a qualification of Mr. Nystrom’s proposal, but on the very second point I reserved the broadcasting aspect of our work until later on after we have disposed of that first motion, if you do not mind.
Mr. Crombie: Therefore could, Mr. Chairman . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am open to any suggestions that honourable members of that Committee want to put through but I think for proper order let us discuss the very first motion of Mr. Irwin and then come back if you want to your second one.
I have on our list Senator Hays gives me notice, M. Tobin, Mr. Mackasey, and Senator Roblin.
Mr. Tobin: Mr. Chairman, I just want to address myself to Mr. Irwin’s motion. I, first of all would say that to my knowledge, and I do not claim to have been a member of the House of Commons for a long, long time or a member of Parliament for a long, long time, but I have not heard of a Committee yet, and I have sat on several and have recently chaired one, that operates in a fashion where you would open with an invitation to everybody to participate at their discretion in the work of a House of Commons Committee.
Now having said that I want it to be put in the proper context, I think that a motion inviting the Canadian public to present briefs or to send briefs to this Committee is in order. I think it is then in order for the steering committee of this Committee, in order to ensure that the work of the Committee is carried out and the Committee is progressing and that we are dealing with groups that are representative of opinion in Canada and representative of the various interest groups in Canada, to ensure that we do that because we do have some limited time. It is then up to the Committee to look at the briefs that are sent by the people of Canada and if we decide at that point as a full Committee, as all members of the Committee, that we would like to have as a witness one of those who hassent a brief to this Committee, then we invite witnesses, I think that many of the things that are being raised here today in the full Committee, in my short experience, are the kinds of matters that are discussed in the steering committee by representatives of certainly at least two parties, if not all parties.
You know I resent, Mr. Chairman, and I do not cast any accusations here, but I resent having to stand here and sound like I am against having our 22 million people coming into this room and having their voices heard, but I do think we have to be practical, I do not believe any other Committee has ever operated in the fashion which is not being suggested. I say that we make available to the people of Canada an opportunity to have briefs presented to this Committee, send briefs to this Committee, send their feelings to this Committee. We look at those briefs and from those and ensuring as a Committee because of our limited time, that we have a representative body here, we make invitations to people that come and appear as witnesses here; and certainly that is the reasonable, that is the rational and that is the traditional method in which this matter is approached in the Parliament of Canada. I, for the life of me, fail to understand what is the point of the discussion we are now into.
I add before I finish Mr. Chairman, it is fine to say democracy, but I am a very frank and very forthright sort of person. I have never seen members sitting opposite, and I have
sat on some Committees with some of the members opposite, make that suggestion in other Committees. Now, it is a great point. I hate to be in a position of saying, yes, I am sorry we cannot have 22 million people coming to the Committee but, gentlemen, I humbly submit, you ask for submissions, you receive submissions, you look at them; then you invite those who are a representative body to come and appear before this Committee as witnesses. That is normally done through the process of steering committees and through the process of committee of the whole. I think I am being very reasonable in making these comments Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Mackasey, Senator Roblin and ensuite M . . . Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Chairman, I think Mr. Tobin has covered most of the points I would have liked to have made. I sat in a similar Committee in another house not too many months ago in the Quebec Assembly where we had the same type of dilemma of a time frame at the same time the realization that the issue on hand was of extreme importance; that the views and opinions of a wide cross section of the population was important. I think that Mr. Nystrom’s amendment to the suggestion or to the motion that we advertise could unintentionally create amongst those individuals who want to appear false expectations, in the sense of having answered the ad and applying or requesting to be heard as individuals, the practicality is impossible. There are, as Mr. Tobin said, perhaps thousands of people, individuals who would like to appear here, and obviously with the date of December 9 hanging over the Committee, that is not our date but the date set by the House, that as long as December 9, looms in front of this Committee there is going to have to be practical limitations on the number of people who can be heard.
It would seem to me that unless we want to create a mood of confrontation, which we do not want, that perhaps the question of individuals, the practicality of December 9 date, whether there is any tendency to extend that or to not extend that I don’t pretend to know, but I think that that is related; and I have to share Mr. Tobin’s view and suggest to Mr. Nystrom that the motion of Mr. Irwin stay as it is because I am afraid that the amendment if accepted, will whet the appetite of create false expectations right across the country, and you are liable to have thousands of people asking or hundreds of people asking to appear here as individuals where with that time restraint you would have to limit it not only to the briefs, but to the representative groups perhaps through invitation, based on the hopefully unanimous opinion of the steering committee to select particular individuals whose views are unique and who feel must be heard.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Merci, Mr. Mackasey. Senator Roblin.
Senator Roblin: Mr. Chairman, I would like to express a word of enthusiastic support for Mr. Nystrom’s amendment and I must say that I am dismayed to hear the comments that have just been expressed on the other side of this horse-shoe here with respect to the purpose and goals of this Committee. I am afraid I cannot subscribe to the opinion that our duty is to complete our work by December 9, no matter what the House
of Commons or the Senate may have said about the matter, because we have the right if we wish to do so to make recommendations about that matter and secure an extension of our term, it’ that should be necessary. I get the impression that some members here would like to compare the proceedings before this Committee with other rather less significant Committees that have taken, that have been held in Parliament in times gone by. I am afraid that I cannot accept that comparison.
It seems to me that when you are dealing with the Constitution of the country as we are doing at this present time, that any comparison with the activities of other Committees in the past probably does not stand on all fours. I think that the substance of the matter before us is sufficiently important that we should consider not what precedent might suggest but what the circumstances, indeed the compelling circumstances about the present instant, dictate should be our course of action in this matter. To say that we would whet the appetite of Canadians by having an advertisement put in the paper inviting them to come to this Committee with a written brief or with a statement strikes me as a rather hopeful statement. I hope we do it.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Mackasey, on a point of order.
Mr. Mackasey on . . .
Mr. Mackasey: Senator Roblin, I at no time suggested that there be any limitations on the number of briefs and I would hope that we do not start putting words in each others mouth through you, Mr. Chairman. I was talking specifically about it being impractical due to Mr. Nystrom’s amendment, and I am sorry but you mentioned briefs and I just want to go very much on record that the more briefs the better.
Senator Roblin: Well, I certainly accept Mr. Mackasey’s Statement but I come back to the point that I think that it is a good thing if we can stimulate the interest of the people of the country in their own constitution. I am not alarmed about the prospect of doing that and therefore I think that if we can point out to them that they can submit briefs and also appear here otherwise, it is a good thing to do. If we insist on written briefs what are we going to do about the members of Parliament. We have said that they can come here and speak to us. Are they to submit written briefs as well. If so, it is just as well that they should be informed of it. Why not?
It seems odd to me that in Parliamentary proceedings we usually discourage reading from briefs but apparently not before this Committee; let that be as it may, I come back to my point that if we do not make it possible for the people of this country to appear before this Committee in any way that they think is suitable to their circumstances and their capacities to express their views on this matter, then I think we are foreclosing, to that extent at least, the consideration by the Public of the issues that are before us.
In a sense of course I have the view that this deadline we have in front of us is a form of closure, if you want to get into that, but as the prospects of extending our period are certainly not foreclosed at the present time, I think we should support Mr. Nystrom’s amendment, and I think we should let the
people know that they can come here and if they do that we will be willing to hear them.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I want to also speak out in support of Mr. Nystrom’s amendment. If one takes a look at the record of the Senate Debates of October 27, of this year, the honourable Raymond Perrault, Leader of the Government, was speaking in terms of the manner in which witnesses should be heard and honourable Senators had been asking in terms of what witnesses would be heard, and the Government House Leader in the Senate on page 965, and I am doing it at random, because throughout his speech he tries to assure members of the Senate that in fact witnesses will be heard, and he speaks as a member of the Cabinet, he speaks as a member of the government; and those assurances have been given.
For example, just on page 965, the concept of a Joint Committee is a positive government initiative to ensure the broadest possible discussion of this historic proposed joint address to Her Majesty. He goes on to page 966 in which he addresses the question, who shall appear before that Committee. In my view the Committee shall hear from as many umbrella groups representing as many Canadians as possible. Again, just let me finish, he continues, just as soon as we have some time we will get to it, he continues labour and business organizations are important and should be heard. He speaks about native organizations.
I can just give you one example, for instance if we only hear the National Indian Brotherhood who should be heard, does that mean for example that the Native Council of Canada has already been heard? Does it mean for example that the Inuit have already been heard? Does it mean for example that the Yukon Indians, who are not under treaty, therefore feel that they are not under the National Indian Brotherhood in the sense of treaty Indians, that they should not be heard?
These are the questions that are now being addressed to us and I am simply saying to Senators that the assurances that we have received in the Senate and assurances we have received as members in the House of Commons from the Government House Leader, Mr. Pinard, has always been directed at the reason that closure was being invoked was that the Committee would be able to hear Canadians, that it would be open; that it would be an open forum; that the doors would be open, the windows would be open, so that Canadians could be heard. Because of what has gone on in the past and the assurances that have been given I frankly am surprised that government members today would want to suggest that before even the steering committee has met, or before we have even had an advertisement, that we already want to qualify the manner in which Canadians might be heard because we have not even advertised.
That is the motion before us, I do not believe in Mr. Irwin’s motion that it was that the motion presented was for briefs only and that the Government had not thought beforehand about witnesses to be heard right here. I just cannot believe that they would be that slack in the manner in which they would have drafted their motion, and I am appalled at that
because assurances throughout the country and Senator Roblin referred to this, there are desires of various groups and I say also individuals who want to be heard and who have been planning to be heard by this Committee and the point is being made by Mr. Tobin for example that we hear representative groups. This Committee, I suggest, is not the same as a Standing Committee of the House in the sense that more often than not we hear representative groups, and the reason is this, this is not a Committee that is looking at national institutions. it is not only looking at national organizations who have an interest in national institutions. It is also looking at provincial institutions, but as important as those two might be, it is also looking at the individual rights of the average and individual Canadian, and that point has to be made. If we are saying now that we are already placing a caveat that individual Canadians should not be heard or cannot be heard because they are not members of a representative group or an umbrella group or even groups, Mr. Chairman, that is unacceptable and I say on behalf of our members on the Committee that we will not accept that and we will resist that by whatever means that at are at our disposal. I want to also say, page 4073, October 24th, Mr. Pinard:
the purpose of the Committee stage is to further consideration for this institution and to let us in an orderly way smooth out the text and need be to hear
and here he says a few witnesses:
who are liable to provide us the precisions we might need.
Well the point of this Committee is throughout the questions in the House, the point has been made by members of the government that the Committee is the master of its own proceedings; and therefore I support the amendment and would hope that the government members would not consider that where we are going to be discussing individual rights, a charter or rights, that an individual Canadian should be discouraged from appearing before this Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Tobin, on a point of order.
Mr. Tobin: Some very brief clarifications from Mr. Epp and perhaps he might help me understand him a bit better. Could you tell me how long you believe, given your scenario, it is going to take this Committee to complete its proceedings? We are getting to the heart of the matter, asking that question. Mr. Epp?
Mr. Epp: It is a valid question, Mr. Chairman, and the point I think obviously has to be made that at this moment our Purpose is to advertise to allow Canadians to express their desire to appear before the Committee. The Subcommittee will then obviously look at the requests that will be presented to this Committee. The Committee is the master of its own house. It will also decide the date at that time.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Before giving the floor to Mr. Beatty, I will try to sum up what seems to be. . .
Mr. Tobin: Further point of order, I just wanted to point out that my question was not answered. Thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Crombie on a point of order.
Mr. Crombie: A very short one, and it really deals with the question of how we raise points or order. I think on two or three occasions there was a thing I had never heard of before called a point of clarification. I do not know where you would find that in the rule book.
Secondly, points of order which are raised frivolously, I think you ought to deal with it early and not accept them, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Your comments are well received, Mr. Crombie.
I would like to submit to you what I gather from the consensus of the debates from both sides of the table.
I do not have to interpret the comments made by the honourable Senator Lamontagne, by the honourable Bryce Mackasey, as foregoing the possibility for this committee to hear witnesses without specifying that they are organizations, representative groups, or “umbrella groups” as the honourable Perrault said, or even individuals. Personally, that is not the interpretation I give to these comments. Mr. Epp was absolutely right when he said that the government House Leader had mentioned “witnesses” yesterday afternoon, in response to questions of the Right Honourable Leader of the Opposition. He said “witnesses”. To me “witnesses” includes as well the groups of witnesses and citizens as well as individuals. In my mind, there is no difference.
This is what I have understood from the interpretation that has been presented by both sides. I have also understood that Committee members on this side of the table are somewhat more anxious that the Committee maintain the privilege of choosing the witnesses it wants to hear.
I do not think that any members of the Committee want to exclude groups or individuals. What is being suggested here, I think, is that the Committee reserve the right to choose the witnesses it will hear. It is obvious that we will have to set out our priorities and that the Committee will want to choose the witnesses it will hear to avoid duplication.
It thus seems that we have agreed to call both individuals and groups as witnesses before the Committee, but that we want to be able to choose who we will hear. This is what I understood from the discussions.
If I have interpreted what you have said. I would like you to comment on this.
Mr. Beatty and Mr. McGrath.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, I want to strongly support Mr. Nystrom’s motion. I find it incredible that we would consider running advertisements in national newspapers inviting people to make submissions but not even mention the word witness at any point. I think that surely we got to keep some sort of
perspective on what we are supposed to be doing here. This is not a constitution which belongs to us or to the politicians of Canada, it belongs to the people of Canada: and the issue here is not our convenience, the issue is how we ensure that Canadians be heard about their constitution. Mr. Chairman, if I sound exercise, it is in part because of your comment about avoiding repetition because if the goal of this Committee will be to exclude people coming before it or making points which have been made previously then I say we are extremely negligent in terms of discharging our responsibilities because surely when we are considering the constitution of Canada one of the things we should be looking for is the consensus of the Canadians as to what they want in their constitution and consensus implies to me not that you exclude people if they say that they agree with something that has been heard before but rather that you invite people to indicate where they are in agreement, where they are in disagreement and you try to get some sort of an idea as to what is acceptable to the vast majority of Canadians.
If there has been one thing that has characterized this debate to date, it has been the extent to which it has been dominated by politicians in which the public has been shut out in the discussion of their constitution. Surely if the goal, as the Prime Minister has indicated, of constitutional change is to promote the unity of Canada, consensus has to be the instrument that we use to achieve that, and ensuring that individual Canadians are heard; ordinary Canadians, working Canadians, plain Canadians, not people necessarily strictly who belong to one organization or another or who have academic credentials or who belong to political groups, but ordinary every day Canadians have a right to be heard about their constitution and they have a right to be heard when they have points to be made which have been made already because that is what is involved in the development of a consensus, If we have a constitution which is imposed from the top down by the politicians after excluding the right of Canadians to be heard if they have something to say which has already been said, then how can we expect to get public acceptance of what we are doing.
Mr. Chairman, many ordinary Canadians in my constituency as in yours, would have difficulty in terms of preparing some sort of a learned brief that would have to be considered by the steering committee and then have it decided whether or not their opinions were worthy of being called before this Committee. But they have very deep felt feelings about this country, they have very heartfelt concerns about the direction in which we are going in this country and they have a right to be heard about the constitution of their country and any suggestion that it is somehow wrong to encourage them to think that they should have that right, to appear before this full Committee to make that presentation, I think is doing a disservice to the people of Canada.
Mr. Chairman, I had indicated before that I had hoped to enquire of Senator Hays as to his understanding of the undertaking given by the Government House Leader, Mr. Perrault, in the Senate two nights ago, or three nights ago. You will remember Mr. Chairman, yesterday we raised questions in the
House of Commons as to whether or not Senator Perrault was speaking on behalf of the Government of Canada when he indicated that if this Committee were to find that the time limit imposed in advance by the government on the activities of this Committee was too stringent and that we would be able to issue an interim report to both Houses asking that the time limits be extended, I understand that Senator Perrault indicated that the government would give serious consideration to that. Now Mr. Pinard, in the House of Commons yesterday, indicated that first of all he knew nothing about this commitment made by Senator Perrault; secondly he indicated that the government was not disposed to extending that closure in advance which has been put upon the work of the Committee. I think that it is essential that we clarify this issue. Are we going to be so conducting ourselves that the people of Canada will have to conform to some sort of an arbitrary deadline, the need for which has never been explained to me or never been justified to the people of Canada, or is our purpose to serve the interests of Canadians to allow them to be heard on their constitution. If the principle that is going to animate us is that we have an arbitrary deadline of a month from now which has never been justified to the Committee or to the people of Canada, and that is going to be sacrosanct that there is no hope for extending that deadline, if it proves to be arbitrary and unfair, then we make a mockery of these whole proceedings.
Mr. Chairman, what Mr. Nystrom has simply asked is that we invite the people of Canada to be heard on their constitution and the responsibility of the politicians is to ensure that they are heard and to accommodate their needs rather than asking them to accommodate our needs.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Monsieur McGrath.
Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your giving us what you perceive to be a concensus around the table with respect to the understanding of this discussion, but the fact is that we are faced with a motion to advertise for briefs. Now that disturbs me because by definition that suggests that people are excluded, that witnesses may not appear. That disturbs me to no end. It also goes against the assurances given to us in the House by the Government House Leader that in fact we could hear witnesses. The Government House Leader on Friday, October 24, said, first I can assure the honourable member that we do not intend to hold meetings on the sly so it is wrong and I know that my colleague does not intend to make people think that what happens in Committee is secret. It will all be public. People have the right to participate. Now that is what the Government House Leader said to us the last Friday that this measure was in the House.
I realize of course what prompts the motion, and the support of it. The fact is that we are operating under a deadline of December 9 but as Senator Roblin has said this Committee can recommend to the House that it can be extended and we may very well have to do that; but surely to advertise for briefs and to vote against a motion to advertise for witnesses will signal to the Canadian people that we do not want to hear them. I could not conceive any member of this Committee voting against such a motion on a matter so fundamentally
important to the nation as the constitution of Canada. It is one thing to impose closure on the House of Commons by rules but what we will be doing it seems to me by rejecting Mr. Nystrom’s motion will be imposing a form of closure on the Canadian people and denying them the right to participate. in the making of their own constitution. I suppose everyone of us on this Committee have received enquiries from people asking how do I appear as a witness? What procedure do I follow? How do I go about it? I just think that if the motion to advertise for briefs only has the support of this Committee, it will be a negative thing, and I for one could not conceive that it would have any support around this table.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. McGrath. I would simply point out to you that several members of the committee have asked to have the floor. So I would ask those who have the floor for the second time to be brief.
Mr. Corbin: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having summed up the situation a moment ago. While I would not want to be accused of discrimination, I think that we should be able to choose the witnesses we can or want to hear.
There are what I would call statutory witnesses, that is, members of the House of Commons. And there are the provincial premiers who are certainly privileged participants in the debate. There are the national or umbrella organizations referred to by Mr. Epp. And all of the other Canadians, the individuals who have points to make.
The reason we want to advertise in newspapers as soon as possible is to make Canadians aware that we are sitting and that we are prepared to listen to what they have to say, but that it would be preferable that this be done in writing. They can either appear in person before the committee or send in a brief, but I think that in all fairness, those who want to appear before the committee should tell us beforehand what points they intend to make.
This leads me to the organizational side of our work. We will probably receive piles and piles of briefs and the committee will have to decide, immediately, whether it should hire non-partisan experts to analyze and summarize the briefs and compare the points that are raised, to make the committee members’ task easier.
It would not be possible for individual members of the committee to assimilate the tons of briefs that will be submitted.
We will have to look at this problem and I think that the committee should first reserve the right to call witnesses. We should reserve the right to select witnesses on the basis of the
time we have at our disposal and the criteria that I mentioned at the beginning of the meeting. And we should begin advertising as soon as possible to let Canadians know that we are sitting.
If it would make our work any easier, I think that we could turn the matter over to the subcommittee and ask it to report back to us later today or next week.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Corbin.
I have on my list the names of two hon. members of the committee who have not yet had the chance to speak on Mr. Nystrom’s motion. I will then turn the floor over to Mr. Mackasey. We will now hear the Hon. John Fraser, Senator Tremblay, and Mr. Asselin.
Mr. Fraser: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and colleagues.
I think it goes without saying that the difficulty which we have discussing comes about primarily because we have a deadline. Obviously, if we are constrained by a deadline, then there is a tremendous tendency on the part of members of the Committee to come up with some procedure to sort through and choose what we ought to hear.
Now, I do not agree with the deadline, but there will be time enough to argue about that later. I do not propose to dwell upon that. However, I wish to address the point which Mr. Irwin has made in his motion and which my colleague, Mr. Nystrom, has made in the amendment.
I think the motion can be amended so as to be wide enough to meet the fears and doubts which have been expressed here, by asking members of the public to submit in writing to the Committee an application to make a submission. Now, that only requires a two- or three-sentence letter. We could also ask them to describe in general terms that aspect of the constitutional package which they wish to discuss.
Now, the reson I am saying this is that if you use the word “brief” then we open up the public to quite a state of confusion as to what, in fact, is a brief. Mr. Chairman, I have had some experience on commissions, in my earlier life before I became a member of Parliament, and the procedure which has often been followed is not to scare away people by using the term “brief”, but to invite them to-apply to make a submission.
And I have, as I am sure both honourable Senators and members here have—found on different occasions that somebody could come in with an application to make a submission, but once they get onto the witness stand you find that they indeed have some very interesting and thoughtful things to say about the subject which they might not be able to reduce to writing in nearly as lucid a fashion as they can when they appear.
So I would suggest that we consider finding some other wording or substitution for the word “brief”.
I believe we should also make it clear that we would like to know in the application if the individual or the representative of a group wishes to appear in person. I think we should ask that. The decision as to how many people we can hear and how many groups or representatives of groups should come, however, I do not believe can be made today. I would invite all members of the Committee to consider this: we might get relatively few applications to make a submission, and if we do, then the problems of time constraint are not as severe.
But if, on the other hand, we do in fact get many applications to make a submission, and the interest of the public is evidenced by many applications, then we may have to sit together and come to a decision as to whether or not we can complete the work of this Committee by December 9.
So I would invite my friend, Mr. Irwin, who has worked with me on another very important subcommittee, to see whether he can amend that motion a little to take care of the concerns which we feel on this side and which have been expressed by Mr. Nystrom’s amendment, and to try to formulate or have some wording which does not have the effect of scaring away the public, so as not to put these matters on too limited an intellectual plane so that people who have concerns, but who may think they do not have a doctoral thesis to present should not feel that they cannot come before the Committee.
So I will ask all, members of the Committee to consider whether or not they feel our remarks are reasonable and whether they would help to satisfy or assist in solving the problem we are facing.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Tremblay.
Senator Tremblay: I will be brief, Mr. Chairman, because I was going to say more or less the same thing as Mr. Fraser. I would like to point out, however, that there is a point of principle involved in advertising for submissions and I fail to see how this principle can be respected if we place limitations on the ways in which applications can be made. In the light of this, I think that our advertisement should clearly state that they apply to anyone who has views to express to the committee on the matters it is being asked to consider.
I think that Mr. Fraser was right in saying that we will first have to determine how many people will want to make submissions. So we would ask them to tell us. Personally, I see no reason why we could not move the date up. You have proposed a November 25 deadline for the submission of briefs, but we could easily move it up so we could tell how many people will want to appear.
To follow up on what Mr. Fraser said, we could perhaps ask them to specify how they intend to present their views, but I would tend to invite anyone who wants to present his views to the committee to do so and to warn us beforehand. In this way, we will not have to sit here wondering whether all 23 million Canadians will want to appear; I think we tend to exaggerate as to the number. We will know who really wants to come.
Then we will be able to set criteria like those mentioned or others.
If I may, Mr. Chairman I would like to make a remark concerning one of your statement, which seemed to imply a criterion. You mentioned that one of our objectives should be to avoid repetition, Personally, I would tend to oppose such a criterion since it would not allow us to find a consensus which, by definition, contains repetitions.
I have finished, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I accept your remarks Senator Tremblay. I said that, we should avoid repetition, which does not mean that that should be one of the selection criteria.
The Honourable Senator Asselin.
Senator Asselin: Mr. Chairman, we should settle this disagreement quickly as it as only a minor one. You said that the main motion might be confusing for the witnesses who might appear before this committee.
According to Senator Lamontagne, this main motion necessarily includes the appearing of witnesses before this committee. Mr. Corbin has said the same thing, that witnesses would obviously have to appear before the committee.
I was a member of the Joint Senate and House of Commons Committee on the constitution in 1972. Of course, we received briefs, but we also allowed groups, individuals and specialists to come and state their point of view. before this joint committee. Why should we now proceed differently since we are considering the same subject matter? What is the intent of Mr. Nystrom’s amendment? Simply to act on what several members on the other side have suggested, that is to invite witnesses to appear before the committee. And, as you explained, Mr. Co-Chairman, this main motion does not prevent witnesses from appearing before the Committee. Whether or not it is the Committee on Agenda and Procedure which will choose witnesses and select the briefs that will be submitted, if the main motion really means that we will be hearing witnesses, then why not include it in the motion and approve Mr. Nystrom’s amendment?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Agreed. I have completed the list for the first round after consulting the Joint-Chairman, the Honourable Senator Hays.
Two members who do not sit on this committee, the Hon. John Reid and Mr. Jean Lapierre have asked to be recognized. Before going on to the second round, I would ask all questioners to be brief now that the various positions have been explained, and the Committee’s permission and recognize the Hon. John Reid and Mr. Lapierre and then we will begin the second round with the Hon. Bryce Mackasey.
That is my suggestion if the committee agrees.
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Chairman, I was going to ask the consent of members opposite to, perhaps, reach a safe conclusion.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Chairman, I was about to make a comment. Mr. Irwin cut me off. I would like an opportunity to participate in this debate, too.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Order please.
I had put a question to the committee members before going on to the second round and I understand that your proposal, Mr. Irwin, should be made during the second round.
I asked whether the committee agrees that I recognize the Hon. John Reid and Mr. Jean Lapierre after all committee members whose name appear on the list have spoken on Mr. Nystrom’s amendment. If no one objects, I will recognize the Hon. John Reid.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Chairman, I have two points to make. The first is that I agree fully with Senator Tremblay that the principle ought to be what we hear as many Canadians as possible.
The second point is that Canadians can be heard in one of two ways: they can submit briefs; they could appear as witnesses. We have developed techniques over the last 15 years for advertising to allow Canadians to make a choice to come in either way.
The second point is that if we do get an overwhelming response, which I think most of us would want, this Committee can then divide itself into panels to hear them. We could divide ourselves into five, six panels, in order to give Canadians an opportunity to appear in person before us if they so choose to do. I do not think that is a problem, because other committees do it on a regular basis. The regulatory bodies do it on a regular basis; the House of Commons does it on a regular basis in its committee structure. I think we should adopt that as a principle of operation. We should make every effort to have as many Canadians come before us.
The third point I would like to make is that the Committee itself may want to bring witnesses in. They may be people who we might want to hear who have not submitted briefs; therefore, we should hold that option open as well.
I think that if we were to accept those kinds of principles and have an amalgamated motion of Mr. Irwin’s and Mr. Nystrom’s, I think you could come to a conclusion fairly rapidly.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you Mr. Reid. I was thinking about the point raised earlier by the Hon. Senator Tremblay which I think would be a very practical and efficient way to proceed.
I now recognize Mr. Jean Lapierre.
Mr. Lapierre: On the same point, I was particularly concerned when Mr. Fraser said that we could send application forms and I could already see . . .
The application form printed and sent to members of any political party and say, “send them in.” You might get 10,000 or 100,000 and then at the end you might say, “well, the date does not suit us any more, because we have ten thousand requests.” I think we should be more serious than that and really know in advance what people have to say in order that the steering committee could go into the matter point by point and make sure that the original aspect is preserved. [Translation] Earlier we were talking about the national aspect. I think that we should not forget the regional aspect as well; in some cases, different interest groups may appear which need not necessarily be national organizations.
Mr. Epp mentioned earlier Indian federations of one province or another. I do not think that they should be excluded even if umbrella groups appear before the committee, but it is obvious that it is not realistic to suggest that application forms be sent to the committee. December 9 is our deadline if the committee asks for briefs, it means implicitly that it wants to hear witnesses. Otherwise, we could specify it. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary has an idea on this matter. We could specify that witnesses will follow, but I think we should first receive a written brief so that we know where we stand.
As somebody was telling me, people who are opposed to our plan, like the Parti Québécois could send a form to all its members telling them to ask to appear before this committee. It would be unacceptable to have 10,000 persons asking to appear.
Senator Asselin: And Mr. Ryan.
Mr. Lapierre: Mr. Ryan could appear, if he asks to, and writing a brief should not be a problem for him. So we should not be concerned with Mr. Ryan or others. But I think it could be very risky to send application forms and that it is not in the interest of the committee of the constitution or of Canadians in general.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson, another member of the House of Commons, is asking to be recognized now.
Does the committee agree to recognize Mr. Robinson before going on to Mr. Mackasey?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will be very brief. Mr. Chairman, I have only just entered the meeting, and upon speaking with colleagues I must say that I am a bit surprised as to the length of time which is being taken up on what I understand to be a very eminently reasonable amendment. I have consulted with the Joint Clerk—and perhaps I am missing something here; but my understanding is that the debate before the Committee now is on the question of what will be included in the notice to the public of these meetings. As I understand it, the motion before us, unamended, would merely invite the submission of written briefs. I believe the amendment which is being proposed by my colleague from Yorkton-Melville, would permit, indeed invite, submissions in the form of groups being able to make submissions as witnesses.
Mr. Chairman, unless there is something I have missed, it seems to me essential and not merely desirable, that groups within the Canadian society, such as civil liberties organizations, womens’ organizations, and native groups and so on, should not be left with the implication that what they are being invited to do is only to submit written briefs, because as the motion is now worded, that is unquestionably the implication which is being left with those groups.
As I understand it, the amendment is a very straightforward one, which says that persons who wish to appear as witnesses are invited to make application to do so. Obviously, as is the so with all other committees, this Committee would have the responsibility and right to determine which of those persons who had requested permission to speak would have the right to do so. We may very well be flooded with requests and there might have to be some selection process. It is implicit in the motion of my friend from Yorkton-Melville that this Committee would sit down and determine which of the groups which had requested the right to appear ‘before the Committee would have the right to do so.
Now if my understanding of this motion is correct, that we would be merely inviting people who wish to have the opportunity to appear as witnesses to apply to appear as witnesses, Surely there could be nothing offensive to that on the part of my friends in the Liberal party who have indicated a desire to get input, not merely in the form of written briefs, but also in the form of submissions by groups and organizations.
So, unless there is some misunderstanding and this is not the intent of this motion, I would hope that it could be supported unanimously indeed to invite witnesses who wish to appear to make application to do so; and that this Committee, exercising
its powers, would determine which of those witnesses it wishes to hear.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Chairman, I think Mr. Robinson did all of us a service. If I am not mistaken, he used the word “implicit”. I do not believe it is necessarily implicit. I would like to see it spelled out.
Mr. Chairman, I did express to Mr. Robinson, through you, some concern about the amendment. I would like to go publicly on record as noting that some of the contributions have moved away from the amendment to one of principle, and, as often happens, the impression is unintentionally left that somehow we are against the principle of hearing witnesses. It was only Mr. Fraser, in his wisdom-exclusive to all Postmasters-General, past and future—that brought the matter back on the rails.
As far as I am concerned, it is not only important, but imperative that we have witnesses. I would not be part of this Committee if I felt that the Liberal party in some way intended to make it impossible for key individual witnesses to appear before the Committee.
I do not propose to belabour the point as to where I stand: we must bear witnesses and it is imperative. The amendment might fail to express clearly in writing what you consider to be implicit, that is realistically and some people will not appear before this Committee as witnesses.
I think we all agree. That is why I raised the point on December 9, which is a matter for the steering committee, if that is to be the date, or whether or not there is to be some compromise or amendment on that point.
But I would go so far as to suggest to Mr. Nystrom that we vote on the particular motion as is, and then, if Mr. Nystrom—and I would gladly second it—could present a motion indicating that we would advertise separately from the advertisement dealing with the briefs, requests for individuals, but being very clear in that method of publicity, reminding them, possibly, that there might be some criteria developed through the steering committee which would limit some of the witnesses. That is the only point I am getting at; in other words, what I want to do is to be rid of the word’ “implicit”.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I would like to call attention to the fact that I have many speakers in the second round on my list, and I believe if we are to be effective we should abide by the order of speakers.
Senator Connolly: It makes sense, but I did not understand why it had to be two separate ads, that is all.
Mr. Mackasey: Because if you take Mr. Nystrom’s amendment it simply says we are inviting witnesses.
Senator Connolly: But you have a newspaper ad.
Mr. Mackasey: Fine, but then you have got to make very sure that in the running of that ad you make it very clear to the witnesses, for those that want to be witnesses, that they may not be heard.
Senator Connolly: Agreed.
Mr. Mackasey: That is why I tied it in with December 9.
Senator Connolly: Agreed.
Mr. Mackasey: And I have to resent, perhaps for the first and last time on the Committee any inference that somehow I was opposed to the general principle of a witness being heard, I just want to say that this is a political arena and I do not want to be naive, but I rather hope that those kind of inferences at this early stage are unnecessary, and I resent them.
Senator Connolly: We understand what he had to say, and we agree with him.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Mackasey. I will now give the floor to Miss Campbell who has not had the opportunity to speak during the first round.
Miss Campbell: I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, if I misunderstood what was happening but I would have certainly spoken even before some of the ones who are not on the Committee.
It seems to me that this matter has been discussed well here today. The magnitude of it comes out very clearly, but there have been some good proposals from both sides of the table and I think that maybe we should clear up before we start a second round as to just where we sit right now.
It seems to me that we have established that we should advertise, that we should have a deadline for inviting people who will appear; if there is a mechanism to appear, and I think the steering committee can handle that, and I am sure that there are many other things that could be handled by the steering committee.
So perhaps we could have a clearing up of the air now before we get into the second round on just talking.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Miss, Campbell.
Mr. Irwin now has the floor; I think he will answer your questions.
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Chairman, this is actually the first time I have spoken and I put the motion and I answered a question as far as the intent.
I want to assure the members that my delay in speaking has not been caused by my lack of trying.
I would ask permission of members opposite that I might add words to my proposed motion, because I think we all want the same thing.
The words are:
And that the advertisement state that the Committee will invite witnesses from among those making submissions or requesting to be heard.
The whole motion reads that the Joint Clerks advertise in major daily newspapers throughout Canada for the purpose of
inviting written submissions to be received by the Joint Clerks as soon as possible, not later than November 25, 1980 and that the advertisements state that the Committee will invite witnesses from among those making submissions or requesting to be heard.
Some hon. Members: Agreed, agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Pardon me, but I have a small procedural problem here. I will have to ask for Mr. Stanley Knowles’ enlightened opinion on this, but I do not think that he who moves a motion has the right to amend it himself, unless there is unanimous consent of the Committee to that effect.
Is there, therefore, unanimous consent so that the mover of the motion, Mr. Irwin, can move this amendment?
An hon. Member: Put the question.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Is it agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Are there any comments on the motion as drafted?
Senator Roblin: I did not hear all that motion clearly.
Would you please repeat it to us?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Certainly, Mr. Irwin.
With your permission I just have a copy of that motion and I will try to read it loudly and slowly:
That the Joint Clerks advertise in the major daily newspapers throughout Canada for the purpose of inviting written submissions to be received by the Joint Clerks as soon as possible, but not later than November 25, 1980; and that the advertisements state that the Committee will invite witnesses from among those making submissions or requesting to be heard.
Motion agreed to.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Agreed?
I therefore consider this motion as having been passed.
Thank you for your co-operation, I think it is thanks to all of those who address themselves to it, that we were able to agree.
Are there any other questions that the hon. members of the Committee would like to bring to our attention?
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
There is another matter I intend to raise this morning, and I thank you for the opportunity.
Before I present the members of the committee with the motion I want to state on behalf of members on the Committee of the Conservative party that it is our intention in this Committee to participate fully.
We also feel that it is time that this Committee now hear Canadians on their constitution and it is for that reason that we insisted, as we did this morning, that witnesses have an opportunity to appear before the Committee and to address themselves to their constitution.
We also, Mr. Chairman, intend to move amendments, that is one matter that is still very much in doubt as to the procedure; we intend to raise that matter in the steering committee and subsequently in the Committee after the steering committee has tabled its report to the members of this Committee, but what we want to stress is the openness of the Committee.
We realize that there is some inclination on the side of the government members that this Committee should be open, and we appreciate that attitude.
That, Mr. Chairman, results in questions that have been asked, both in the House of Commons and in the Senate, but I will restrict myself today to questions in the House of Commons.
Normally questions, and I am only going to use one example from Hansard, which appears on October 28, on page 4160 of the record of the House. The questions were being asked of the Prime Minister in terms of the manner in which the Committee would extend to the public media, not only to the print media but also to the electronic media, that is both television and broadcast radio, the proceedings of this Committee.
You might say. Mr. Chairman, and other members of the Committee might also say that this should be taken up by the steering committee first. I do not agree with that procedure. I believe it is important that we discuss that matter here this morning in full Committee rather than in the steering committee because that steering committee, as you have noted from procedures this morning already, has a number of issues with which to deal. I think that in order to not only inform and ‘make preparation, preparations can be made by those who are in the electronic media, but more importantly, that Canadians can know what is happening behind these doors today, that this matter be disposed of before we adjourn this morning.
On page 4160 Hansard, Mr. Chairman, the Prime Minister in response to the question on whether or not the committee proceedings should be televised and broadcast via radio, the Prime Minister said the following.
I am also asked by some of the backbenchers if I am in favour of it . . .
That is the broadcasting.
I have no preference one way or the other, Madam Speaker. If the committee members make a good case to televise the proceedings I think it would be a good thing. It would cost a little bit of money but I am sure everyone would be prepared to chip in.
Further down in the same column he continued.
Madam Speaker, that is a repeat of the same question. I just answered that I have no preference. I am not all that keen on television but I have no objection to it.
The important words “I have no objection to it”.
If the members of this Party and the Committee decide that it is a good thing and they have the support of ours friends in
the NDP . . . and there was an intervention there, and he continued: and our good friends from the Tory Party then it can be done.
There are two operative phases, Mr. Chairman, that I believe are important, one, that is if the members of this Party, namely the Liberal party, in the Committee decide that it is a good thing, so he placed the onus, Mr. Chairman, directly on the members of his own, and whether or not they would determine as Committee members whether television would be a good thing.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that I can speak for members of our party that that is our position, that it is a good thing, both in terms of television and radio; and I would hope that Liberal members who have had time to ruminate over the words and the contribution by the Prime Minister on October 28, have in fact come to the same conclusion.
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my Liberal friends opposite that the Prime Minister has no objections to their making a positive decision. In fact, he said,
“I am not keen on television but I have no objection to it.”
And so the point must be made as well that although some of them had to take a litmus test before appearing on the Committee, I am sure that they could also very carefully make the decision in favour of these proceedings being in fact televised.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I would like to move that the full proceedings of the Committee shall be broadcast via television and radio by the House of Commons broadcasting service.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): May I have a copy of that, Mr. Epp.
Can I have a copy of your motion?
I have Mr. Mackasey on my list, and Mr. Nystrom. I am sorry, Senator Hays has informed me that Senator Austin asked to speak before Mr. Nystrom.
Mr. Mackasey first, thank you.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief. I share the views of Mr. Epp that we should televise the proceedings provided of course they are consistent with the quality, which it would he, obviously from Mr. Epp’s remarks, that we refer to as electronic Hansard and I think it is quite consistent with the concern of ours that as many Canadians participate as possible. Some will participate by watching television, expressing their views perhaps in the forum, and I believe, I cannot speak for the Liberal party, of course, I speak for myself, that it might even have some positive restricting influence on the behaviour of all members of this House.
So for that reason, if no other, I support the motion and I am glad to second it.
Mr. Knowles: A seconder is not needed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Mr. Chairman, I am responding to Mr. Epp’s comments, I would like to begin by saying that it seems to me that the Prime Minister in saying that he had no preference left the question open to the judgement of this Committee, or at least his supporters on this Committee.
I would like to express some considerable concern on my own part to the question of electronic reporting of the proceedings of this Committee.
Let us make it clear that the issue is not whether the public will have access to what happens here. The proceedings will be recorded in full and reported in full by the print media and certainly by electronic media in an informative and interpretive way.
The question, and perhaps some of my ancient legal training is evident here, is a question that in my view is specifically related to the efficacy of the proceedings of this Committee. The question is whether we, as members of this Committee, will get on with the serious business of dealing with the matters referred to us by both Houses of Parliament or whether, as we have recently discovered in our own Chamber, we will find that the purpose of some of the Senators or members here may be distracted from the analysis, from the rational process and from the specific work that has been placed before us by the two Houses of Parliament.
I would also like to add that even if I am wrong in terms of what may be the attitudes of members of all three parties, as represented on this Committee, we may be offering ourselves hostage to some of the witnesses who may seek to appear before us whose purpose will not be to assist us and placing before the Canadian people the finest form of constitution this Committee can produce but whose purpose may be a secular and more narrow one and who will seek the free hot medium of the electronic system to create images in the place of a process that I submit to members of this Committee must be one of reason, of analysis, of care of a very high quality in what is before us.
My conclusion, Mr. Chairman, is that we should proceed without the presence of electronic media in order to avoid tose difficulties and those distractions from our work.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Austin.
Before giving the floor to Mr. Nystrom, I am informed by a letter which I will have copied immediately—I have asked the messenger to have it photocopied—a letter from the Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, Speaker of the House of Commons, on the legality of a decision that this committee might make on the broadcasting of its proceedings.
Consequently, if you will allow me, I will reserve the right to stop the discussion as soon as I will have received copies of this letter, so as to inform you of its contents; then, we could follow on this particular aspect of the problem.
I will now give the floor to . . .
Senator Asselin: If you have read it, you could maybe summarize it.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, briefly. I apologize for not being able to give it to you immediately, I have asked the photocopy services to give me copies for distribution to the members.
It is a response from the Honourable Jeanne Sauvé to a letter which she received from Mr. Smith who is a member of the House of Commons; it is dated August 17, 1980 and Mrs. Sauvé says clearly that she interprets the regulations and the decisions of the House of Commons as reserving to the House of Commons the decision to authorize a committee to broadcast its proceedings.
This request had been addressed to her in relation to the proceedings of the Special House Committee on the Handicapped and our colleague, Mr. Smith, was asking the Speaker of the House to make a ruling on the possibility for this committee to broadcast its proceedings.
As you can see, it is a question which is very important for us this morning as well as for our future meetings, and I would like to read to you the entire text of Mrs. Sauvé’s letter since, if it appears clearly that this is the position of the Speaker of the House, we will obvisouly have to go back to the House to continue this discussion.
I apologize for this slight incident, I have asked that priority be given to the photocopying of this letter. As soon as I will have received it, we will be able to pursue the question, but for now I will give the floor to Mr. Nystrom whose turn it is.
Mr. Nystrom: Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
I want to say that I support the motion that was moved this morning by Mr. Epp to televise and provide audio service to the members of the media and directly to the Canadian people of the proceedings of this Committee. I believe that to be very, very important.
I think one of the things that is very important at a committee meeting of this sort is that that service be provided from gavel to gavel, from the beginning to the end, so that statements that are made by members of the Committee will not be taken out of context or distorted in any way that may be, I am sure, inadvertent.
The other thing I want to say is that our party for a long while has been in favour of broadcasting and televising the proceedings of the Committees of the House of Commons. I think it is part of the modern 20th Century concept of being open and providing information to people.
I read the Prime Minister’s remarks in the House to say the same thing, that he would like to see the Committee open to radio and to television, That has been a long standing position of this party.
I would also like to say if we are going to start with any Committee, then perhaps this is the Committee to start it with. We are dealing with something that is very basic, the constitution of our country. It is the very essence of the country, it is the future of Canada, it is more important than any other bill or any other piece of legislation that we are to deal with.
In fact, in many countries around the world, people adopt a different way of drafting a constitution. They go through the constituent assembly where they have people that are chosen, people that are elected, to draft a constitution.
I think since we are going the opposite route or another route, the very least we can do is to open the proceedings as much as possible by having witnesses come here and by having the proceedings of this Committee televised and broadcast.
One response to what Senator Austin said about some of the dangers and pitfalls of television, I would like to say that we have had television now in the House of Commons for a few years, and I think it is a self policing mechanism. Sure, you have some gradstanding by some people, but if members are to grandstand all the time and make fools of themselves, then they negate the point they are trying to express, and they become less influential in the point of view that they are trying to express. I think the same thing would apply to groups who are appearing before this Committee.
So I would just like to urge very strongly members of the Liberal party sitting opposite that they indeed vote in favour of this motion this morning because I think the motion expresses the wishes of the Prime Minister of this country and in my opinion it certainly expresses the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Canadian people, if not all the people of this country, to have the proceedings of their representatives here in the House of Commons, in Parliament, in the open made available to the public so they can participate in at least some indirect way in formulating a constitution for Canada.
Mr. McGrath: Point of order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, Mr. McGrath, on a point of order.
Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, I just want to clarify something which could perhaps save us a lot of time if this in fact is the case.
Are you suggesting that there is some question as to the admissability of Mr. Epp’s motion in the light of the ruling by Madam Speaker in a letter to a member of Parliament of August 30.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): That is exactly what I would like to bring to the attention of the hon. members of this committee.
Mr. McGrath: If that is the case, Mr. Chairman, we have been had. ‘We, Parliament, has been double crossed and badly double crossed because I will demonstrate to you from the official record of the House of Commons, October 24, on page 4074, and this was by the House Leader, the Government House Leader, monsieur Pinard with Madam Speaker in the Chair and she did not intervene and here is what was said:
It will be up to the Committee to decide whether the debate should be televised. As to the material organization that would be involved, that aspect would come under the responsibility of Madam Speaker.”
Nothing could be clearer. It was said time and time again and it was made very clear, crystal clear by the Government House Leader. At that time, Madam Speaker did not intervene; there was no suggestion of any previous ruling and all throughout the debate as to whether or not the proceedings of
this Committee would be televised. There was never any question raised on either side of the House other than that the Committee had the right to make this decision in its own right.
To rule otherwise, Mr. Chairman, I would suggest to you would touch off at least one question of privilege on the floor of the House of Commons, if not a number.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. McGrath, for expressing this point of view. I recognize the importance of the decision to be made but before making a final ruling, I would like to bring this to your attention because, as you have said so well, I was myself present in the House of Commons when members of both sides of the House mentioned that it was up to the committee to make its own decision as to the possibility of broadcasting these proceedings. I witnessed it personally.
Consequently, I do not question this aspect and especially the quotation you have taken from Hansard, the Debates Record. Nevertheless, before accepting such a ruling, you will recognize that as Chairman, I must ask questions as to the legality of this decision; if it would be desirable that other instances give their opinion on the subject, you will recognize that I raise the question justifiably.
Mr. McGrath: I appreciate the position you find yourself in, Mr. Chairman, and I have every sympathy for it.
Mr. Fraser: On the same Point of order, Mr. Chairman . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): On the same point of order, Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: I just wanted to clarify to Mr. Chairman my view of what you said. I did not interpret anything you said to me that you were intending to make any ruling on what we are discussing. I take it that you are just bringing this to our attention, and very properly so, but I take it that neither of the Joint Chairmen are intending to make a ruling on the basis of that letter.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I did not say I would make a decision immediately. I said that I would bring to the attention of the members of this committee the contents of the letter which I have received personally, as well as our Joint Chairman. Obviously, I would be ready to hear the views of the hon. members of this committee on the contents of this letter; then, I will decide what to do with the proposal which has been submitted to us this morning, since I am responsible for the legality of the decisions we make. I believe a Chairman would not be transgressing the regulation in questioning the legality of the decisions of a committee at any moment, if it is brought to his knowledge that the decisions or the proceedings of the said committee are done without respect for the frame- work or the regulations governing it. That is essentially what I wanted to bring to your attention this morning.
I know that many members want to speak, but if you will allow me, I will read . . .
Mr. Knowles: On the point of order—?
Le coprésident (M. Joyal): Yes, Mr. Knowles.
Mr. Knowles: Mr. Chairman, there may be some problem in the translation or the interchange of words, but I notice that you several times, at least through the translation, said that there was a question of legality, that Madam Speaker had ruled on the legality and that you wanted to be guided by anything that was legal.
I draw your attention respectfully to the fact that the Chair is not permitted to rule on constitutional or legal matters. The Chair of the House of Committee rules only on matters of order.
I would respectfully suggest that the Speaker is not in a position to tell us that what we propose to do is not legal. Now, I can see here the possibility, that because we are asking for the services of the House of Commons broadcasting service, we might have to submit a report to the House to the effect that proceedings be broadcast and get the House to approve that report, but any suggestion that it is illegal I do not think comes from the Joint Chairman of this Committee either.
Maybe we should defer this until we see the actual letter and I also suggest that a letter to the Chairman of another Committee does not necessarily tell us what we want. We have to know what that other Committee was requesting, whether it was a request to the Committee or a request to the Chairman and so on, but I would think that even with all of those things that this Committee should have the right to request the use of the House of Commons broadcasting service and that we should not be deterred from that by any suggestion by the Chair that it is illegal.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Knowles, for bringing this aspect to my attention and with your authorization I will read the letter since that is what I promised. The letter is dated . . .
August 13, 1980. It is addressed to Mr. David Smith, M.P., Chairman, Special Committee on the Disabled and Handicapped:
I am replying to your letter of July 11 concerning the posibility of televising your forthcoming meetings of the Special Committee on the Disabled and Handicapped.
As you may recall, in January 1977, the motion adopted by the House of Commons for radio and television broadcasting of its proceedings and of the proceedings of its committees was very specific. It provided that broadcasting would be based on “principles similar to those that govern the publication of the printed official reports of debates”. The Special Committee on TV and Radio Broadcasting of Proceedings of the House and its Committees which was also established by the same motion to supervise the implementation of the resolution, as you are aware, did proceed under those instructions in respect to the House. With regard to Standing and Special Committees, the Committee submitted a Report to the House
which, among other matters, stated that it would be contrary to the order of the House for any radio and television coverage to take place in any Standing or Special Committee on TV and Radio Broadcasting.
A motion on the Order Paper, during the 31st Parliament, which would have appointed a Special Committee to supervise the implementation of radio and television broadcasting in committees was not debated before that Parliament disolved. To date, during the current Parliament, no further action has been taken in respect to the broadcasting of the proceedings of committees. Failing such a decision of the House. the committees are without authority to broadcast their proceedings. I should also point out that the decision to provide committees of the House with broadcasting facilities, if and when it is made, would entail considerable investment in staff and equipment, and would possibly require several months to implement.
Although I am personally very sympathetic to the endeavours of your Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped, it is my opinion that any committee seeking to televise its proceedings must first get authorization of the House.
Mr. Knowles: On a point of order, I crave the right immediately to withdraw any suggestion that Madam Speaker had exceeded her autority by saying that what we were asking was illegal. She did not use that word at all, and I do not blame you for having put that interpretation on it.
What she has said in that letter is that the arrangements made by the House thus far include only broadcasting the House and that for the Committee to have the right to do it, it would have to get the approval of the House.
That does not interfere by one iota with our right to ask for it, so you have no problem, and if this Committee wants to make the motion, or you accept the motion by Mr. Epp, it is certainly procedurally in order.
I think that the Speaker’s letter is probably correct as to what the present status is, but it is up to us to ask the House in the first report of this Committee which I would hope we could make today, to make those services available. If the House approves that report, then the position already taken is extended to cover this Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Right. Thank you, Mr. Knowles, but I did want to bring to the attention of the members of the committee that the motion we might accept or adopt by a majority, motion presented by Mr. Epp, would not, in my view, be immediately enforced, that there are nonetheless procedures to follow in this debate and that is why I wanted to acquaint you with this letter.
On that same point, I would like to hear Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Beatty: I am sorry, was I on your regular list, or are you recognizing me for a point of order?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We are still debating the point of order and not the content of the motion presented by Mr. Epp.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I might enquire of Mr. Epp whether he would be prepared to see his motion amended to read as follows:
That the Committee report immediately to both Houses requesting that the full proceedings of the Committee shall be broadcast via television and radio by the House of Commons broadcasting service.
If that were acceptable to Mr. Epp, then perhaps we could get back to the merits.
Mr. Epp: It is acceptable to me.
Mr. Beatty: May I be put on the list to discuss the merits of the motion?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Certainly.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Chairman, I had asked to speak to this for precisely the reason that Mr. Beatty outlined. The motion proposed by Mr. Epp earlier, that the full proceedings of the Committee shall be broadcast by television and radio by the House of Commons broadcasting service, in the light of Mr. Knowles’ sage observations on the letter I think the motion should be redrafted, that we request permission, and I think that is what Mr. Beatty suggested and I am fully in accord with that.
Senator Lamontagne: I am speaking now according to the rules, and I will refer to my friend Mr. Knowles, to appraise what I am going to say, but I see the time now, it is 12.05 p.m. my suggestion would be, without limiting the debate, that we should ask the steering committee to discuss this and report to us at the beginning of the afternoon.
Some hon. Members: No.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We have a proposal from the honourable Senator Lamontagne.
Does anyone else wish to speak on the point raised following the reading of Mrs. Sauvé’s letter, or am I to understand that there is agreement amongst the members of the committee who would like to speak on this subject that Mr. Epp’s amendment takes into account the fact that it is up to the House to decide whether or not it will grant us the authority to broadcast our debates.
Senator Asselin: From the House or from the Senate?
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Chairman . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): From the Senate of course.
Mr. Corbin: …you can rule on whether this is the same point of order or a new one, but the order of reference from the House authorizes us to present our report on December 9 at the latest. The order of reference does not state that we can report from time to time, which is the customary formula behind the establishment of other special committees or standing committees.
I would like to know what happens to the status of this committee if we decide to report to the House. If I have correctly interpreted Beauchesne and other authorities, and I have looked for the specific passage but cannot find it right now, but i am under the impression that under the type of mandate given to us by the House, if we report to the House now, we will quite simply cease to exist.
And I would like clarification on that point. Gentlemen, this is a technical question, but it is also a serious question.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I receive. . . can only be heard in a report to the House, to both Houses . . .
I will accept your point of order, Mr. Corbin, and I will check with our clerks and come back to you on that specific question.
Other comments on the subject of . . .
Senator Austin: I wanted to make a comment, Mr. Chair- man, with respect to the question of a reference to the House and to ask for guidance in respect of the role of the Senate.
What would be the situation if the House sought to give consent to this Committee, having the full proceedings broadcast via television and radio, and it was the view of the Senate that this was not an appropriate procedure?
Mr. Crombie: Abolish it.
Senator Roblin: I am a little late in making this comment, Mr. Chairman, although have been zealously trying to catch your eye for the last little while, but the point has been covered to a great extent because we first started out discussing the rules of the House of Commons and I was about to say that it would be necessary to consult the Senate as well in connection with this matter.
I think the resolution as redrafted probably covers that point.
I might say that while I would defer to some other Senators here with respect to their experience and expertise in the rules of the Senate, yet I do know that previously the Senate has approved the use of television in the Committees of the Senate and it was done, I believe, by a resolution on the floor of the Senate which permitted one of the Committees in days gone by to have its proceedings televised.
So I would presume from that that there would be no problem in getting the Senate to reaffirm that decision with respect to this Committee, but I do make the point that it may be necessary to ask them.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Anyone else to speak to the point of order.
M. Corbin: Here again, Mr. Chairman, [Translation] I would like to refer to Beauchesne’s interpretation of the order of reference for special committees. I will refer to number 591, page 193, of the most recent edition of Bcauchesne (Translator’s note: The English version of Beauchesne does not include this quotation.)
It is important that the motion moving the establishment of a committee mention that that committee must report from time to time, since if the committee reported once without authorization, it would cease to exist.
That is the point I wanted to make a few moments ago. I do not know how we can put a recommendation or a request before the House unless we do so in report form.
The logical conclusion is that if we make this type of request, our committee will cease to exist. The whole debate resumes in both Houses of Parliament and it is carnival all over again.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Are there any other members of this committee who would like to make comments or give us the benefit of their experience on the point of order raised by Mr. Corbin?
Mr. Knowles: Mr. Chairman, the first comment that I make in the citation that Mr. Corbin has read was that it was clear that the drafters of the motion did a poor job when they did not do what that citation says that they should do.
I still think a precedent can be found of a Committee submitting an interim report. If it submitted a report as such, it should be the end of the Commitee, but I am sure we can find a way to submit an interim report.
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Chairman, on that specific point, with respect, I think that both Houses had an opportunity to amend in the line of what my honourable colleague is suggesting, the terms of reference of this Committee. We cannot amend the terms, of reference. If we make one report to both Houses, we cease to exist. It is just as plain as that, and Mr. Knowles knows it.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Beatty: My colleague says, let us report to the House, if that is the case.
Let us avoid any element of procedural trickery here, because, for heavens sake, let us go back to what in fact took place in the House of Commons.
The issue was raised in the House of Commons as to whether or not the Committee would have the right to ask for radio and television coverage.
Miss Campbell: Point of order.
Mr. Beatty: I am already on a point of order.
Miss Campbell: I am speaking prior to you commencing your new discussion on it.
We are on that particular discussion right now as to whether or not the proceedings of this Committee will be broadcast or not.
So we are commencing something, going back to the House , to say it has been discussed in the House, we are already discussing whether or not this Committee will decide we have electronic media.
Mr. McGrath: Would you repeat that please. I missed the translation.
Miss Campbell: Sorry, would you like to hear it again, because I think it is rather boring myself if you did not understand, Mr. McGrath.
I think this Committee is already debating the issue that was brought up in the House, has been raised here, whether or not this Committee will have electronic broadcasting of the proceedings.
Now, Mr. Beatty starts all over again in terms of the House and the reference that was brought up in the House to this.
I think we should continue discussing whether or not this Committee is going to vote as to whether we will have electronic broadcasting, and discuss it as such.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Miss Campbell asks that the hon. members of this committee resume the discussion on the proposal as amended, reserve their decision on the point of order raised by Mr. Corbin.
Do you agree that we should continue the discussion of the merits of the proposal as amended and submitted by Mr. Epp?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Well then, I have on my list of those who wanted to talk about the merits of the proposal submitted, Miss Campbell.
Miss Campbell: I have been waiting.
A lot of the members have been aware, Mr. Chairman, when electronic media came into the House I spoke against it. If there had been a vote at the time, I probably would have voted against it, so quite clearly I have not changed my opinion on that, and I would like to just state again why.
I think it is the right of a member of Parliament to communicate with their constituents and basically in rural Canada we do not get, and I can look across and most of the people there would have cablevision, but in rural Canada we do not get the televised proceedings of the House of Commons as they exist today.
In other words, if you are in an area that has no cable, and we have heard the discussions about discs and satellite communications and other problems, you are not providing to the great percentage of the Canadian people the right to watch it.
Secondly, the cost; if a person here even in Ottawa who is now receiving televised proceedings from the House of Commons, they have to convert, and I think the cheapest you possibly can get that television for is $50 dollars and now will have another station to which we have to convert.
I just think that the cost to the people of Canada, in order to have the privilege of watching what some people have automatically as a right, is prohibitive. and I think that there are many people who, across Canada, would like to see this and are not going to. If you start looking at the number of people who will actually watch it on a day to day basis, I do not know how many, I would not like to say, but you would probably get a proportion in the rural areas who have been denied that privilege. I think when a committee such as this is looking at rights of Canadians we do not have full broadcasts.
Another aspect of that, aside from the cost and the fact that rural Canada does not get this, is the fact that I think the media is in here, they can report.
Basically, if you look at what has been done to the television broadcast in the House. it has been edited, and if you come from rural Canada your chances of even getting the local feed-in from rural Canada is based on percentages on a weekly basis.
I do not feel that for giving up the informality which should be in this Committee and having been a chairman of a committee and having been here for five years I do feel that there is an informality that must be adhered to. For that reason I will vote against it, not only or the informality but for the fact that it deprives the rights of many Canadians to be here and taking part. If anyone in Ottawa wants to see it and has not got a $450 dollar converter on their set, they are going to have to buy another one if they are getting the House proceedings.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you. Miss Campbell.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, I was intrigued by Miss Campbell’s intervention introducing what I would consider a novel doctrine, namely. that unless television cable service were equally available to everyone, then no one should have access to the proceedings of the House of Commons broadcast over the electronic media.
I am from one of those rural constituencies to which she referred. The bulk of my constituents are not on cable, and I have never received a letter from my farming constituents urging that we rip out the cables from those homes which already have it because they are able to receive something which others do not have.
Mr. Chairman, as communications critic for our party, perhaps I could offer Miss Campbell some information as to the cost of a converter. If she is looking for one and is having a hard time in obtaining one for less than $100, I can get her one for $29. I would offer my services in that regard if that would be helpful.
I wonder if I could return to Senator Austin’s point, because it was also an intriguing one. He argued that the proceedings of this Committee would be changed fundamentally by opening up the proceedings of the Committee to radio and television, and that the quality of the proceedings would of necessity deteriorate. Mr. Chairman, I do not think that is the case. The House of Commons has decided that was not the case with regard to its own proceedings. The experience of most members of Parliament in respect to the coverage of the House of Commons has been a happy one. It was his party which moved for the introduction of television into the House of Commons, a measure which won the support of every other party in the House of Commons. There is no move afoot at the present time that I am aware of to rip out the cameras in the House of Commons either.
I suppose, implicit in what Senator Austin was saying, is that somehow there would be a temptation on the part of members—the middle processes would suffer deterioration—a temptation to histrionics if the electronic media were allowed in.
Well, Mr. Chairman, I certainly would not suggest of Senator Austin that his behaviour would change profoundly and that he would not be as intellectually fit as he is today or that his behaviour would be less business-like than it is today if the cameras were focussed on him. Perhaps I have more confidence in Senator Austin than he has in himself.
Mr. Chairman, I think another point needs to be mode. Some members of the Committee may have some concern as to whether, in fact, it is possible to have television in the committees and whether or not the facilities exist for us to be able to do that.
Well, I put this question to Mr. Al Johnson, the President of the CBC about a week ago when he appeared before the Communications and Cultural Standing Committee; and, as members of the Committee are aware, the CBC are under contract to the House of Commons to provide production facilities for television in the House. At that time I asked Mr. Johnson whether the CBC, if they had the facilities available, would be able to provide gavel to gavel coverage, and his answer to that question was, yes, indeed they would be able to do so.
In addition to that, I asked him if there was time on the “bird”, the satellite, that is, dead-air time which is not being used when the House of Commons is not sitting, when the proceedings of this Committee could be made available through the satellite to Canadians from one coast to another; and he informed me that that was the case and that time would be available. I think it would be very helpful to ensure that Canadians from one coast to another would have access to the proceedings of this Committee.
That brings us to the merits of the argument as to whether or not it is desirable that Canadians should be able to observe the activities of the Committee and to see witnesses called before the Committee dealing with the constitution of the people of Canada.
Mr. Chairman, there is no issue more fundamental to Canadians today than the changing of their constitution. This is, as I said earlier, the basic law of Canada, the most fundamental law of the land; and there is no issue in which the interests of individual Canadians is more involved than on this particular question. The unity of Canada is fundamental to us all.
Mr. Chairman, I think that one of the most important functions which can be fulfilled by this Committee is an educational one in terms, first of all, of informing Canadians of what is in fact in the package that is being considered by Parliament at this time; secondly, in terms of developing that consensus which is essential in the country if this exercise is to succeed.
Unless we are going to have a constitution which is cooked up among the politicians and imposed from the top on the people of Canada, it is essential that we develop a consensus within the country as to the desirability of what we are doing. I would say to my colleagues on the Committee that the best way of ensuring that consensus, of ensuring that Canadians feel they are participating fully in the work of this Committee and that all sides have been fairly heard and that they understand fully the issues which are being considered, would be if we were to open the doors and windows of this Committee to the people of Canada and allow them to see for themselves its activities.
I think, Mr. Chairman, we would be doing a disservice to the people of Canada if we were to take the position that they are not entitled, not allowed, to see full coverage of this Committee’s proceedings when the issues being discussed here are the most profound issues facing the people of Canada today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Beatty.
Senator Lamontagne: Could I ask a question to Mr. Beatty, through you?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): If Mr. Crombie. . .
Mr. Crombie, would you allow Senator Lamontagne to ask a question of your colleague, Mr. Beatty?
Mr. Crombie: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, Mr. Lamontagne.
Senator Lamontagne: It was suggested earlier that our committee should, because of the great number of witnesses, which will appear before us, subdivide in subcommittees and I would like to know if the proposal submitted by our friends this morning, covered also all these committees?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Beatty, would you like to answer?
Mr. Beatty: Well, Mr. Chairman, we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. We have not yet decided whether or not the Committee wants to divide into subcommittees.
My feeling is, whether television is here or not, that the people coming before this Committee have a right to make a presentation to the full Committee; and, as a member of this
Committee, recognizing the fact that we will be holding several meetings over the course of a day, let alone throughout the week, I would want to be able, myself, to be present at all Committee meetings, first of all, and, certainly, to be able, myself, to cross-examine witnesses and to elicit information from them and to feel that I have had the benefit of the contributions of all the witnesses seeking to come before this Committee—and I say this on two grounds: first, I would feel we would be cheating or depriving the witnesses who wanted to come before the full Committee; secondly, I feel, as a member of the Committee, I feel that decisions I would be making would be better informed if I had the benefit of being present and able to participate when the evidence was taken from any witness intending to appear before the Committee.
But the question whether or not we subdivide a matter for a later date—has not yet been before the Committee as a formal motion, and when it is, I would be happy to speak to it at that time.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you so much, Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Crombie, you have the floor.
Mr. Crombie: Mr. Chairman, I am sure there are other views to be heard; and I do not think I can enhance the remarks of Mr. Beatty, so I will stand down.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you very much, Mr. Crombie.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal):-Mr. McGrath.
Mr. McGrath: I have had my say on the point of order, Mr. Chairman, and I will defer.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Are there any other speakers? Mr. Henderson.
Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I have one point I would like to make. It is on the question whether or not the electronic media should cover this Committee’s meetings.
I come from another elected forum, too, the House of Commons; and, in dealing with committees and asking for input of private individuals on those committees, I have found in many instances that a lot of people did not want to become witnesses on a committee if it was televised.
Since we are dealing generally with minorities in many of these situations, I believe we must take a second look at the question whether we want to subject people, who themselves may be very unwilling to appear before a Committee if they know that Committee is going to be covered by the electronic media, to that process.
Most of us in the House of Commons have become very used to television coverage, but that is not true of many people who may want to make submissions before this Committee. I would ask the members of this Committee to take that into consideration, because there seems to be a great deal of interest as to whether we allow many people from all facets of society to appear before this Committee; and, I think, we have agreed that there should be as much coverage as possible, but not everyone who is going to appear before this Committee will be a professional in his or her own right and who would like to
go on the electronic media. So I could not support television coverage, for instance.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you.
Mr. Bockstael: Mr. Chairman, I would like to preface my remarks by informing the Committee that I have not been directed by anyone as to what my views should be on televising the proceedings or using the electronic media. The opinion I am about to express is entirely my own.
First of all, I would like to point out that the media do not cover Senate deliberations at the present time; secondly, if it has not been done in the previous committees then we would be setting a precedent if this Committee proceeded to do it first.
A large number of complaints have often been heard about the discomfort of long hours and of the hot lights in the House of Commons. One of the things that television tends to do is to induce different parties to acquire programme producers to have them stage acting performances as we saw at the closure debates in the House a couple of weeks ago.
The Canadian public does not expect their MP’s to become members of a TV acting guild or to be part of the television scene. I feel the role of the Committee is to study the resolution in depth in a much calmer atmosphere, and the electronic media would only heighten the intensity of the role and interfere with the deliberations and the opportunity to weight the arguments as one might in an atmosphere more conducive to the purpose. So I oppose the presence of the television or electronic media in this Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you very much Mr. Bockstael. Mr. Roblin.
Senator Roblin: I know my honourable friend, Mr. Bookstael, does not intend to leave the impression that the Senate is not acquainted with television. While it is perfectly true that it has not been used in the meetings of the Senate itself, nevertheless, we are one step ahead of the House of Commons in that we have used it in Committee. So it is not foreign to us.
Miss Campbell: That was an experiment, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): On the same point, I will hear Senator Goldenberg, since he has something important to say.
Senator Goldenberg: With regard to what Senator Roblin has said, I was, and still am, a member of the Senate Committee which televised its proceedings on marijuana legislation. I do not recall any resolution of the Senate authorizing it; because we were severely reprimanded by the Senate after we had done it.
Secondly, all that we got on television was a one or two minute news clip at the end of the National News. The subject that we were discussing, as I said, was marijuana legislation which, in my opinion, unfortunately, interests more people than details on constitutional change.
Mr. Chairman, if we are televised, I am sure we will not receive the publicity that honourable members of the Committee expect. We are not provincial Premiers, and the television will not have us on the air throughout the proceedings. All we will end up with will be a couple of minutes at the end of the National News.
Mr. Chairman, this was my experience, and I must say it was a very uncomfortable experience: members complained about the effects of the lights; some members came in while we were being televised, and as soon as the television lights went off I was lucky to have the quorum of the Committee remaining.
I thought, in all fairness, I should express this, because I am the one who can talk about the experience.
An hon. Member: Which Party were you talking about?
Senator Goldenberg: I was talking about the Senate.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Goldenberg.
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Chairman, I too have two personal remarks to make, although I am not against the principle of televising the work of the committee. I want to be quite clear in this regard. When the press interviewed me last week, I said that the introduction of television in the committee rooms, should not unduly delay our work. And I insist upon that principle, and I will not change my mind in this regard.
Unfortunately, I have the impression that is precisely what would occur if we decided this morning to televise our proceedings.
Secondly, the television system in the House of Commons has been through three years of fine tuning and there are still adjustments to make, there are still complaints from many members who do not like to work under those lights. Some complain of headaches, etc., etc.
Before introducing television in this committee or another, we want to make sure the system is ready so that no one will be uncomfortable… Can you imagine, Mr. Chairman, what would happen to this room if we were to install the lighting necessary to get a good picture? The place would become an oven, literally an oven, and I think it was premature… Oh. I know they will say that there is already enough hot air! But I am sure that this room was never meant to deal with so much lighting.
Therefore, I object, since it would delay our work, be extremely inconvenient for us; the floor would look like leftover spaghetti, I suppose, there would be all sorts of other things, although the personnel might competently handle the cameras and make sure that everyone gets equal coverage, I suspect the opposite would be true, because the personnel
working in the House of Commons is limited, and is busy there.
So I have no objections on principle, and I would ask you to put the question.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Crombie.
Mr. Crombie: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I stood down originally because, given Mr. Mackasey’s support for the motion, I had assumed that the government side would support the motion to open the doors and windows.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Crombie overlooked the fact that I was not speaking for the Liberal Party. You over-estimate my influence, Mr. Crombie. Maybe I am in the wrong party. Maybe I could go over and teach you a few things. But I do not speak for the Liberal Party on this issue.
Mr. Crombie: Well, I can understand your reluctance on the occasion to do so. I certainly did not intend any slight. But I think it is a fair assumption on the part of anyone watching, that if a member from that side supported the motion, then the others might go along.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I wish to make some comments. I was astounded by the reasons given for not wanting radio and television in this room. The reasons—and I think I should mention them for the purposes of the record so that we can all feel ashamed when we read them—were, first of all: some people do not want to appear because they do not want to come before television. Mr. Chairman, if that is the case, then in my opinion, those are the persons who, I would suggest, would want to put in written briefs. But I do not think we should bar television simply because some people do not want to come on.
The second reason given was that we were going to be hostage to witnesses, a phrase which I think was used by the Senator across the way.
I would like to remind the honourable Senator that an hour ago we reserved the right to select the witnesses. So we are hardly going to be hostage to the ones we select.
Thirdly, it was suggested that politicians might act. Well, in the republic to the south, they have just elected one as president. So it seems to me that merely because politicians might act is not necessarily the only reason why we should not have television.
Fourthly, it was suggested that because some people in the rural areas do not have cable, then we ought to deprive those who live in the urban areas of it, That is a principle of equity Which is just beyond me.
Fifthly, it was suggested—and here is where you can see the Progressively weakening of the arguments—that if all that does not work we should not have it because it gives you hot lights and headaches, It is inconceivable. Then it was suggested after the headaches, that the reason why we are not going to have it is that it would impair our work. Well, what is the work of this Committee, Mr. Chairman? Surely, it is at least to engage the interest of Canadians who have television sets
who would like to watch it. That is clearly one of the obligations we should have.
Now, can we do it? To suggest that somehow it is going to take away from the activities and responsibilities of those who have taken care of it in the House of Commons is clearly wrong. Mr. Beatty pointed out that technically it can be done and on the question whether they are able to do it, yes, was the Brunswick.
The final point I would like to make, Mr. Chairman, is that in many other political for a television has been available for years. I served in one where television was in the Committee rooms—in the City Hall in Toronto—and for every council meeting for the past ten years.
You might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of people who like to know what their politicians are doing.
You will find, I suggest, that the people who now argue that we ought not to have it are the same people who on other occasions say that people do not understand what the role of Parliament is. Mr. Chairman, the reason people have difficulty in understanding what we are doing in Ottawa is that they cannot see what we are doing.
So, Mr. Chairman, I hope we will at least follow the precedent set by a number of municipal councils in this country, the Congressional Committees in the United States, the House of Commons in this country, and have television so that Canadians can see how we go about our work in relation to their constitution.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Crombie.
Is the committee prepared to vote on the motion as read?
Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, before you put the question, I would like to say I am intrigued by Mr. Corbin’s suggestion, of all the independent minded people sitting over there. I would like history to record who they are, so I would like to have a recorded vote.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. McGrath requests a recorded vote.
Senator Lamontagne: Before the vote is taken, I would like to say that I am against the motion in its present form because of the reference to television. If it were amended to include only radio, then I would have to reserve my judgement.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Lamontagne.
We will now vote on the motion. I will read it once again since it is important for the wording to be well understood by the members and the public:
It is moved by Mr. Epp . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Our clerk will take the recorded vote.
The motion is rejected: yeas, 11, nays, 12.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Are there any other proposals which the hon. members of this committee would like to draw to our attention?
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Chairman, after this morning’s experience and since we will probably be sitting not only regularly but for long stretches of time, I would like to ask the Joint Chairman to request those responsible for material arrangements to provide us with more acceptable seating. The chair that I have is about ready to fall apart and I did not even have the time to change it . . . yes . . . and headaches . . .
Mr. Crombie: For the headache . . .
Mr. Corbin: No, Mr. Chairman. This is a practical matter and it might also be advisable, Mr. Chairman . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Order please.
Mr. Corbin: I have not finished. The way the table is laid out prevents me from seeing a colleague at the other end when he is speaking, and we sometimes have difficulty in hearing, I certainly want to see the members as they speak. I think it should be possible to lay out the tables so that we can see each other.
The Conservatives may laugh, Mr. Chairman, but I think that in view of the importance of the matter we are discussing, the material facilities should be up to certain minimum standards so that we may work comfortably and there should be a certain amount of decorum. This is all I am asking for. If the Conservative members would rather sit around bingo tables, it is their choice!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Corbin. I will see that the point you brought up is referred to those responsible for the preparation and the layout of this room.
Before Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: I would like to ask Mr. Chairman what time he intends to adjourn. Do you have any particular hour?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am, of course, ready to follow the desire of the committee with respect to such a decision. You know that committees usually adjourn at 12.30 for lunch and I would like to hear your opinions about the time of adjournment and when we should meet again today.
Mr. Mackasey: Mr. Chairman, I presume that that was the practice and I know that several of us have luncheon engagements that are being jeopardized at the moment and members all have to be back in the House at 2 o’clock.
Although we are all eager to get this done for December 9, we are not that eager that we would not like to stop periodically and have lunch.
I would suggest that we adjourn until after the Question Period today and continue then.
Mr. Epp: That is a motion I know that should be put but I have a number of other motions that I think would help in working of this Committee.
I would agree with Mr. Mackasey that this Committee adjourn and continue the organization of the Committee and that we adjourn until after the Question Period.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, there is.
With your permission, I will accept Mr. Mackasey’s proposal to adjourn now and resume at 3.30 p.m.
Mr. Epp, would you like to table your proposals right now or would you rather wait until 3.30 p.m.?
Would you like to propose your motion now?
Mr. Epp: I will wait until we reconvene, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fraser: One point, Mr. Chairman . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: I wonder if over the adjournment someone could get a cushion for Mr. Corbin. He is getting a headache.
Miss Campbell: Referring to the $29 dollar converter, maybe Mr. Beatty would provide us with the address.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The meeting is adjourned until 3.30 this afternoon.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Is it agreed that we proceed? If you wish to proceed I am in the hands of the Committee.
Mr. Fraser: On a point of order, I regret to say that my colleagues are not here at the moment, but the question of television in this Committee is being debated with some vigour the House of Commons at this very minute, and that is why members are not here. I do not know how long that debate will go on. But I did manage to phone over and find out the reason for the delay.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Well, I am in the hands of the Committee.
Mr. Tobin: Might I suggest, so that we may have a definite time, that we come back and try again in 30 or 40 minutes or something of that nature.
I have other things to do. As a matter of fact, I would like to go to the House. I am sure other members can spend their time better than drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes. I suggest that we come back with a full Committee and give members who are in the House a chance to be here when we resume. Let us come back in 30 or 40 minutes.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Is there any other observation?
Mr. Irwin: The House has indicated that we should report back by December 9. We had a vote this morning, here in this Committee, which is supposed to be the master of its own rules. The matter was raised in the House and now we have sat for half an hour, and I am wondering whether this is an indication as to how we are going to carry on from day to day? It is clear that a quorum to vote is 12 and a quorum to hear evidence is six. I hope this is not what we are going to do each day that we are supposed to be here, because it will only cut into the valuable time of this Committee.
Perhaps Mr. Fraser can respond?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: As I say, I apologise for the fact that my colleagues are not here. I have already explained the reason why. I would like to say to my friend, Mr. Irwin, that what is going on in the House this afternoon is unusual. I would just hope that all members of the Committee would not assume that because this debate has been raised on a question of privilege at the close of Question Period on the question of television, that that kind of thing is going to interrupt the time of this Committee unduly.
We have an unusual situation this afternoon; and my own sentiments—and I agree with Mr. Tobin that we all have things that we could be doing. I would suggest that we adjourn to a fixed time.
Again, I say I am sorry, but there is something unusual taking place in the House at the present time.
Mr. Tobin: I want it to be clearly understood that I have good faith and I want to show goodwill, and I am prepared to say today that it is a very unfortunate situation; but, I would reiterate that I hope this would not become a matter of common occurrence.
However, because it is the first clay, I, for one, will show some good faith, and I would suggest that we adjourn for 30 or 40 minutes, and if we do not have a quorum then, we should then have a hard look at going ahead.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Mr. Chairman, I believe that Mr. Fraser has offered the Committee a good suggestion in his reciprocating remarks to Mr. Tobin. I would concur. Might I suggest that we adjourn until twenty to five, and then we could make up the lost time or some of it either later today or tomorrow.
I believe there is a viable reason why certain members of this Committee are not here—due to a matter in the House which may touch this committee, and I believe we should take a flexible approach at this stage.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Are there any other comments?
Senator Asselin: Could we obtain some clarification from the Chair as to whether we are going to sit tomorrow, tonight? We have, among other things, to consider some meetings. Are
you planning to sit tomorrow morning, tomorrow night, tomorrow afternoon? What are your plans?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Well, that is a possibility. We only have so many hours.
Mr. Fraser: Mr. Chairman, I move that we adjourn until 4:45 this afternoon and meet here again, and in the meantime I trust that the debate will by then have ended.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Well, we have a motion. ls there any other observation? Is it all agreed?
Some hon. Members: Yes.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Well, the meeting stands adjourned until 4.45 pm.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Honourable Senators and members of Parliament, we have decided, if it is okay with the Committee, that we will adjourn now, as they are debating some issues in the House in connection with our exercise; and we will reconvene at 8 o’clock, if that is agreeable.
Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I would like to ask the cameramen to withdraw so that we can resume our work. As the members of Parliament know. there will be a vote this evening at 9.45 o’clock. This means we should begin as quickly as possible.
Mr. Corbin: I have a better chair this time!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): When we adjourned this afternoon, Mr. Epp was intending to submit a number of proposals to the attention of the committee.
I would like to invite Mr. Epp to make his presentation.
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before I start on further motions to the Committee, could I ask a question of clarification. In view of the debate which took place in the House today and the offer that was made by the Government House Leader in terms that members of the Committee could re-examine their position with respect to radio and television broadcasts of these proceedings, may I ask what the status of that effort is right now?
Mr. Chairman, that puts the Committee in some difficulty, as I am sure you can understand. I was not trying to question the veracity of what you say or the reasons why you say it, which may be more important. But it does create
difficulties for the Committee in relation to how we should proceed.
Additionally—and I do not want to belabour the point, Mr. Chairman—I think it is important that we have all the information before us.
If I recall the manner in which the Government House Leader made the proposal, he said that the Committee had the power to make the decision whether or not its proceedings should be telecast or broadcast.
In this pamphlet, here, entitled The Guide for Committee Chairman, which is a government publication dated May, 1980—and it is a guide to Committee Chairmen, even though, Mr. Chairman, knowing you, I am not sure you would need this guide; but, on page 14 of that guide, section 51, I read:
The Joint Chairman cannot entertain motions to permit anyone to photograph, record or broadcast the proceedings since this authority lies with the House.
So it would be my suggestion that an interpretation of that section, Mr. Chairman, is that even if the Committee reverses its decision of this morning, the authority to telecast and broadcast still lies with the House and not with this Committee.
Additionally, the only manner in which I could then see us proceeding, is if in fact this Committee, through the vehicle of an interim report—and Madam Speaker has now given her interpretation of 5.9(3) of Beauchesne at page 193, that an interim report can in fact be made and that does not end the life of the Committee—that the Committee would have to make request to the House for the permission for the broadcasting and telecasting of the proceedings of this Committee.
That is my interpretation, so that all that would be before the Committee would be the motion to request permission, and that request would go to the House.
If that is your interpretation, Mr. Chairman, as well, then I would like to have that confirmed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, indeed.
As was mentioned by the government leader in the House earlier this afternoon, there was a meeting of the two Joint Chairmen of the committee this evening and, after consultation, we are of the opinion that it would preferable to awat the Speaker’s decision on the question that was submitted to with particular reference to the contents of the letter dated last August, before reopening the debate on the broadcasting of our proceedings. At the present time, we feel that we are bound by the decision which we took this morning. Since the Speaker will be making a ruling on whether or not it is within the committee’s power to decide to broadcast its proceedings and debates, we would rather wait until her decision is made known before reopening the discussion.
As you said, Madam Speaker has been asked by the members of the House of Commons to determine whether the contents of a letter which she signed last August applied to the procedures of all House committees, both standing and special.
We also heard the government House leader express a different opinion in the House. He is of the opinion, and we shall eventually see whether it is justified, that this committee and other House committees are empowered to make a decision on the broadcasting of their debates. He put forward a number of arguments in defence of his interpretation of the powers of the committee.
At this stage, the Speaker has decided to take the matter under advisement and eventually make her decision known to the House. If her previous decision is revoked, then the opinion of the government House leader will hold to the effet that this committee, like any other House committee is empowered to make a decision on the broadcasting of its proceedings.
I do not consider the guide for committee chairmen, to which you refer, to be as forceful in authority as the opinion signed by the Speaker this summer. It is quite clearly stated in the preface to this guide, on the first page, and I quote for the benefit of the members:
This guide is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject nor should it be quoted as a procedural authority.
So you have put me in a position where I must interpret the powers of this committee which, as you have very well pointed out, seem through section 51 to give the House the power to authorize a committee to broadcast its debates on radio and television.
As I already told you this morning, I also have before me a letter signed by Madam Speaker which also seems to reserve to the House the authority to decide or to permit the committee to broadcast its debates on radio and television.
Hence, the opinion of the government House Leader is definitely one which can be defended on these arguments. But as long as Madam Speaker has not rescinded the opinion contained in her letter or expressed a different opinion, I must conclude that the members’ interpretation of this morning as to their power to request that the House authorize this committee to broadcast its debates seems to me to be in agreement with the situation in which we seem to find ourselves as a committee as far as the possibility of broadcasting our debates is concerned.
This afternoon, following on the questions of privilege which have been raised and the opinions that have been expressed on both sides of the House, should Madam Speaker come to the conclusion that this committee, like all other committees of the House, can broadcast its proceedings on radio and television, as Chairman of this committee, I think it would be in order for
us to reopen a debate with proposals including the possibility for this committee to decide immediately whether it wishes and intends to broadcast its proceedings on radio and television.
This is my understanding of the different interventions made this afternoon in the House on the subject of the committee Chairman’s guide which I have read to you.
Consequently, I think it would be most appropriate for us to wait during the next few hours for Madam Speaker’s decision, and continue our discussions related to organization; perhaps we could come back on the subject once Madam Speaker has made known the arguments supporting her opinion, whether she confirms the contents of her letter or whether she takes an attitude in line with the arguments of the Government House Leader.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, could I just on a point of order get some clarification, because I am a bit confused by your comments.
As I understand it from listening to the Government House Leader, he is saying that if any action is required of the government at all, that action will not be taken unless it is made clear by this Committee that it desires to have television and radio broadcasts of its proceedings.
Now, irrespective of whether those instructions come in the form of a report from this Committee to both Houses, or simply on a motion from within this Committee which ultimately the commissioners of internal economy—members of the Cabinet plus the Speaker—would have the responsibility of finding money for, the decision on principle must be made by this Committee.
No useful purpose is served by stalling it until such time as we have a report from the Speaker. The only issue that remains to be resolved by the Speaker is whether or not a formal report from the House is required to trigger that, or whether or not we can do it on our own without reporting to the House.
The act of sending a report to the House would serve both purposes. If it is not necessary to send it, then we would have made the decision on principle on this, and action could be taken immediately by the steering committee or by the Joint Chairmen meeting with Madam Speaker to facilitate the coverage of this Committee by radio and television. That would render the report redundant, but it would do no damage.
If, on the other hand, the report to both Houses require it, then our taking action tonight to reconsider the issue would facilitate action by the House of Commons on that report, That is the point that Madam Speaker makes.
So, in other words, nothing is jeopardized by making our report to both Houses. There is no question about that. But what does happen is that we stop losing time if a decision is made by this Committee to go ahead.
Now, let me also make mention of this. Mr. Corbin earlier today raised the issue of whether or not we had authority to issue interim reports to both Houses. Madam Speaker ruled on
that this afternoon. She overruled the President of the Privy Council, who had taken the position that we did not have authority; and Madam Speaker said, yes, there is no difficulty in terms of issuing an interim report.
So that the ruling she made this afternoon is ad idem with a statement made by Senator Perrault, the Government House Leader in the Senate on Monday night.
So that, Mr. Chairman, perhaps you could explain to me what purpose is served by our not dealing with this principle tonight, our not preparing to send a report to both Houses, if that is the wish of the Committee, when, in no way would that interfere with the Speaker’s decision, and in no way complicate our ability to get coverage of the Committee; but I would definitely facilitate it if a report is necessary.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): As I understand it, the motion this morning was amended: that the Committee report immediately to both Houses requesting that the full proceedings of the Committee shall be broadcast by television and radio by the House of Commons broadcasting service. Now, that was the motion of Mr. Epp that we voted down. The vote was 12 to 11.
What I am saying is that we are threshing old straw. If we dealt with it this morning and there is still some controversy in the House, then it seems to me that maybe we should consider the other things we have to deal with—and this is just my own opinion, and I would like to hear some comments.
Mr. Beatty: Could I get some guidance from you, then? is it your position that the Committee is incapable of reopening this matter because of the decision that was made this morning? If that is so, perhaps we can have a discussion about the offer made by the Government House Leader which would make it a phony offer, if he was saying that the Committee should reconsider the matter and it is your position that procedurally it would not be in order.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): It seems to me that the destiny of this Committee is in its own hands. We will have to proceed by the Committee’s rules.
Mr. Beatty: Well how do you interpret the rules, Mr. Chairman?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): I interpret it in this way, that we have dealt with this particular issue this morning by voting on your motion.
Mr. Beatty: And you are saying it would be out of order that the Chair will not receive a motion tonight which is similar to the motion made this morning to report to both Houses its desire to be covered by radio and television?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): It seems to me that we have already voted on it just a few hours ago that we would not send a request to both Houses to ask for permission to broadcast.
Mr. Beatty: But is such a motion receivable, or would you refuse to receive the motion? That is the issue, otherwise we
would have to go back to the House and raise the question there again.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): That is exactly the point. I am ready, of course, to reopen the debate on the discussion. It is not on the principles of the debate as such; but, from what I understand of the ruling, this Committee cannot decide fully to broadcast its proceedings, but has to report to the House in accordance with Mrs. Sauvé’s statement and on the basis of the contents of the pamphlet which you offered to me. I almost have to say dura a lex est lex and la loi, c’est la loi. That is the way I have interpreted it. It seems to me that there was agreement around the table this morning when I offered that opinion and members of this Committee agreed to that opinion.
Mr. Beatty: You are saying that you would not receive a motion. We have a motion ready to be presented to the Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): What I say is if it is a motion to the effect that the report should be sent to the House to authorize this Committee to broadcast its proceedings, I would have to question myself—acting on the advice of our Clerk, of course—if we have not already voted on the same issue; because, as you know, the rule is that once you have voted on a motion we cannot go back, unless there is a motion to reopen the debate on the very same issue. We have to come with another kind of proposal. In opening the debate I suggested that I interpretated the judgment or the opinion of Mrs. Sauvé as requiring, for the moment, the authority of the House for us to broadcast.
If Madam Sauve produces a different opinion tomorrow, or a different opinion is expressed in such a way that I could conclude that this Committee could discuss it by itself and take a decision to broadcast, then I would be open to receive any motion of that nature at any time during the proceedings.
Mr. Beatty: Madam Sauvé said that her ruling would be in line witht the letter that she sent. But I am perfectly prepared to see the matter stood until the next meeting, and I would not like to see a decision made if the motion was not precedurally receivable at this time.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): With the agreement of members of this Committee, we could stand this issue, which I think is a very important one on the basis of all the arguments that were put forward in the House; and I did have an Opportunity to hear most of them today; and I am convinced we are dealing with a very important question, which does not only concern our work, but the work of the other standing committees at the House as well.
It would be a very important precedent and we would have to approach the matter very cautiously. You and I are members of different Committees, and we would probably like to have our work broadcast on some specific issues.
But I think the decision which has to be taken by the Chair in the House is a very important issue; that is why I would not
like to be put in the position where I would be thwarting any possibility of the Committee to request tomorrow the Chairman of the House to authorize the broadcasting of the debate.
Mr. Epp: I accept that, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to raise a matter, then, regarding the witnesses. As you will recall, this morning the Committee decided to advertise both for briefs and witnesses. In order to facilitate the witnesses appearing before the Committee, I would like to move the following motion. It is straightforward, and I hope it would meet with your support. It is: that the Committee be empowered to provide financial assistance to all witnesses appearing before the Committee in order to fully cover their travelling and accommodation expenses.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): May I have a copy of your motion, please? I would bear out the fact that that motion has been seconded.
I would like to refer this Committee to Standing Order 66(2) of the House of Commons. I would like to read it in connection with our discussion. The paragraph reads:
(2) The Clerk of the House is authorized to pay out of the contingent fund to witnesses so summoned a reasonable sum per diem during their travel and attendance, to be determined by Mr. Speaker, and a reasonable allowance for travelling expenses.
It is in that context that a Standing Committee or a Special Committee decides to ask someone to appear. It is essentially within the context where a witness is requested to appear.
If I understand your proposal well, it would broaden that possibility to any witness that the Committee decides to hear.
Do I understand you motion correctly, Mr. Epp?
Mr. Epp: The purpose of my motion, Mr. Chairman, is that where requested are made for a travel allowance or an accommodation allowance, and where the Committee has selected those witnesses to appear before the Committee. that those expenses be covered in the usual way.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): According to the rules.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I am open to receiving comments.
Mr. Crombie: I do not have my little rule book with me, but, if I understand what you are saying, authorization is available if the Committee requests the witness to come before it. But I take it that the only way in which people can come before the Committee is when the Committee asks them.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Madame Campbell, Monsieur Tobin.
Miss Campbell: I thought it was decided that the witnesses coming before us could ask to come, but the ultimate selection of the witnesses would be left to the Committee.
Now I would think that if a witness asks to come, going on past procedure, unless they asked for their expenses as well,
they usually paid for their own expenses. I would think that the provinces come up here often enough and they can pay for their own expenses; it comes from the same pocket. I would hope that there would be some exercise of discretion, and would ask the Committee to think in terms that if there are four people, for instance, coming to Ottawa, that we are not going to pay for all four people. It is a very broad statement to say, “the witnesses who appear”.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Tobin.
Mr. Tobin: Mr. Chairman, I support Mr. Epp’s motion, as I unsderstand it. The only point I wanted to add—in fact it is a point of information: does that include provincial delegation, if there was a delegation from a province? Mr. Epp could tell me whether that was his intent or not. But I have no problem basically with the motion at all.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): You do it within the rules.
Mr. Tobin: As I say, I have no problem.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): The Senate covers it under Rule 83:
The Clerk of the Senate is authorized to pay every witness invited or summoned to attend before a select committee a reasonable sum for his living and travelling expenses, upon the certificate of the clerk of the Committee attesting to the fact that the witness attended before the committee by invitation or summons.
-But I suppose that the House of Commons is so rich that it would not ask the Senate to do that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Are there any other comments on the motion as presented by Mr. Epp?
Mr. Corbin: The wording of my motion?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, of course. [Text] That the Committee be empowered to provide financial assistance to all witnesses appearing before the Committee in order to fully cover their travel and accommodation expenses.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): According to the rules.
Mr. Epp: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like to amend that proposition and replace the word fully so as to stick to the rules, and replace it by their reasonable travelling expenses. That is what the rule says.
Mr. Corbin: You say fully on the one hand and the rules say reasonable travelling on the other. I do not want to split hairs; let us be consistent.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I understand that around this table there is an agreement that we follow the same practice that is the usual practice of Committees, and I understand that we all agree to this motion.
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Agreed.
Are there any other motions relating to the organization of our work? [Text] Are there motions related to the organization of our work?
Mr. Epp: It has been the position of our party, we mentioned this this morning again, we have mentioned it on other occasions, that we believe that this Committee should make itself available to as many Canadians as possible. This is a fundamental law of the country.
Canadians have expressed a keen interest in it and also a willingness and desire to participate.
Other Committees as you know, Mr. Chairman, will adjourn from place to place, to hear witnesses, to gather evidence, to hear opinion.
We have been told on a number of occasions that the Committee has a deadline. I am not referring to the deadline at this point but I am concerned that this Committee will be resident in this room only and quite apart from whether the Committee, I am not trying to view that, but whether the Committee will have television or broadcasting quite apart from that. I believe it is important that this national forum also in a physical way be evident in the regions of Canada as this matter is discussed.
That being the case and trying to strike a balance whereby it would not appear that the Committee would simply travel and use up all the time that is available to the Committee, in order to strike a balance I would like to move the following motion, that the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada and if that is acceptable, Mr. Chairman, I would further move and I serve notice now, that I would be willing to either have an amendment or have someone move later that the Committee have a sitting of every province and territory of the country.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Could I have the copy of your motion, please. I want to read it carefuly because I would say that we are bounded by our terms of reference and if we are to consider the possibility of amending our terms of reference, it means in my own interpretation that we would have to go back to the House or report to the House. We have the right according to a ruling of the Speaker this afternoon that we can report to the House without endangering our life as a committee, so your motion as it . . .
Mr. Epp: If you would give me permission to put it forward that this Committee report to both Houses requesting, that is within the conformity of the manner which you presented.
An hon. Member:He is asking that the terms of reference be changed.
Mr. Epp: That is right.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I have the necessary adjustment and I would read it to make sure it is in line with what you have in mind, that this Committee report to both Houses requesting that the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada. Is this the essence of what you want to propose? I am open to receive comments on that proposal put forward by Mr. Epp. Does anyone want to speak on the motion?
Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, I believe that this motion is as important as the motion that was voted on earlier today with respect to televising and broadcasting the proceedings of the House. Earlier this year we have seen a number of standing committees of the House of Commons travelling from place to place in Canada in connection with Item One of the main estimates. That is a new procedure and we have a number of special committees of the House or select Committees of the House which are travelling from place to place in Canada.
It seems to me that this Committee, charged as it is with studying the Government’s proposals, to patriate and amend the constitution at the same time has an obligation to at least visit the provincial and territorial capitals of the country. I do not think that that would interfere in any way with our desire, at least the desire of some of us, to televise and broadcast the proceedings of the Committee because there are ample facilities, certainly in the provincial capitals whatever about the territorial capitals, and for that reason I believe very strongly that this motion is certainly compatible with a desire which hopefully will emerge in the form of a new motion to ask the House to authorize the Committee to telecast and broadcast the proceedings. As I say it would enable provincial governments and individual Canadians who may find it inconvenient to travel to the nation’s capital to appear before the Committee and it would enable the Committee to be exposed to the full impact of the debate hopefully that is emerging across the nation as a result of the debate in the House of Commons and the proceedings of this Committee. So I would hope Mr. Chairman that this motion would find general acceptance.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Colleagues I want to speak in favour of this motion, conscious as I am that questions of witnesses, people who wish to make submissions, coming from long distances away is not satisfactorily resolved only by covering reasonable expenses. When somebody comes from Vancouver or the west coast not only do they have expenses, but there is time that they have to take away from their other duties and that time is cost, and I would urge upon my colleagues at this Committee to remember that if this Committee is to be seen by the Canadian public to be concerned with their views, as I think is the wish of all members, then the motion is clearly appropriate.
I would urge upon all members, especially those members who live relatively close to the Ottawa centre, that the real cost of getting down to Ottawa is not just the expenses that are incurred but it is also the time that it has taken to get here. We do not want to necessarily limit the witnesses to university professors who can get some leave of absence but there may well be citizens who cannot as easily take time away from work, and I think that that should be taken into account.
The other thing is that the point of view of making it very clear to Canadians that we wish to listen. The very fact that
the Committee visits other places in the country than just the centre would be beneficial and I think it is the wish of all members on this committee, both from the Senate and from the House of Commons, to instill some confidence in Canadians that this Committee is not only prepared to listen but is prepared to make it as easy as possible for people who have something to say and who are appropriate to appear in front of the Committee, to be able to get at us.
Mr. Chairman, I would urge that the motion be supported by all members and I put in a special plea because, this will come as no surprise, if I never saw an airplane again it would be soon enough, I have travelled to my riding every other weekend for eight years; I know something about distance and what it does. I think it is an important thing to take into consideration.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you Mr. Fraser. Mr. Nystrom.
Mr. Nystrom: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I want to indicate my support for the motion that was put forth by my colleague from Manitoba and indicate to Committee members that I feel very strongly we should consider travelling. Perhaps I will do that from a western point of view and that is that I am really concerned about some of the feelings that I have had expressed to me now in Western Canada. I very much want Western Canadians to feel a part of our country and to stay as a part of our country and I am very much terrified by some of the things that I see going on like the latest public opinion poll in Alberta that said 23 percent of Albertans would consider separating from the country. One wonders what the results would have been if a question like western independence were asked or some kind of sovereignty association and the like. So I just want to underline that there is a growing feeling of alienation there and one reason for it is that there is a feeling that they, they meaning the centre of the country or the east, as we say in the west, they are trying to do something to us, they are trying to force something down on us. That is a feeling that exists out there and that is a real feeling.
I have a hunch that if we do not go out of Ottawa with this Committee that we are going to be reinforcing that feeling and I am saying that in what I hope is a totally non-partisan manner to members of this Committee from other regions, hat there is a genuine feeling that the west is being victimized, the villain is Eastern Canada and particularly Ontario, the federal government, maybe personified by the Liberal party because the Liberal party has been in power for a long while, and if we continue to sit here in Ottawa I think that image is going to be reinforced.
I think if we are going to be concerned about the future of our country and the unity of our country, it would be well worth investing two or three weeks into travelling to the various provinces of our country. That is really all I wanted to say.
I just wanted to say that I think that symbolically it is really important, really important to go to the regions, to show the people that we are really interested, that Canada is not just solely what evolves around this place and these buildings but
Canada is very much the regions of this country which are indeed very, very diverse, so please consider the motion.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom. Are there any more speakers on this subject? Mr. Lapierre.
Mr. Lapierre: Mr. Chairman, as did my colleague, I would also remind the committee that other committees before us have travelled across Canada, and that people from the west and the east, from all the provinces, have had a chance to be heard, whether before the Pepin-Robarts Commission, or even years ago before the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, and also before the 1972 Parliamentary Committee, There are practical reasons as well.
A while ago, Mr. Epp said that we should no longer refer to the December 9 date, but I think that it is a fact that we must consider realistically. I do not think it would be practical to travel to all the provincial capitals from now until December 9 since we want to hear a great number of witnesses, and in this regard, Mr. Fraser mentioned “expenses and time”, and in view of the motion adopted earlier and unanimously, concerning the time and expenses of witnesses, in accordance with Section 66(2) of the Standing Order governing expenses, even time wasted costs money, as you said, which will be reimbursed according to the present procedures of the House. It would be very unrealistic that the committee decide to travel across the country, and I am not convinced that that would help our work, in view of the limited amount of time available.
Canadians have already had many occasions to be heard; they can again be heard by appearing before us, in my view, although it may not answer our wishes, from a practical standpoint, it will have to do.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Austin.
Senator Austin: Mr. Chairman, I would like to reemphasize the point that my colleague Jean Lapierre has made. It seems to me, Mr. Nystrom that we would have some difficulties, sympathetic as I am to your appeal, to western concerns. Question one, how many western centres could we travel to? lf we travelled to the west would we not then be expected to travel to other regions? Would that not be equitable? And if we do all that travelling are we not denying the opportunity to a substantial number of witnesses to appear before us because we are using time, logistical time, travel time, energy time moving around Canada; so I would as a threshold really want to respond affirmatively to what you have said but in the balance of efficacy, it seems to me that we are going to hear more witnesses, have a more studied and thorough report, by sitting here and using what would be travel time to hear Canadians on these questions that are before us.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Austin. Senator Tremblay.
Senator Tremblay: Mr. Chairman, in support of the motion before us, I would like to recount a psychological experience which I went through. During a period of a few weeks in the
summer of 1976, in an effort to establish some consensus among the premiers of the provinces, l was required to travel across the country quite rapidly over those two weeks, from “one Atlantic to the other” as some well known person in Quebec once said, and I discovered the following:
I had travelled across the country in earlier years, but at widely separated times, I had retained a view of Canada which corresponded to that which we get from looking at slides, and during this latest experience, the speed at which we had to travel, it seemed that the whole reality of Canadian diversity, was fused into a single more dynamic view of the Canadian entity.
It is therefore through this perspective, that I see some value in a decision that the members of the committee travel. In that way their own perception of the country will become more dynamic, much as films are more dynamic than slides, which might eventually have some considerable influence on the way that we attack the problems facing us.
In this respect, Mr. Chairman, I think we would gain an advantage which transcends all the administrative problems which have been raised, in giving a member a possibility of a rapid and dynamic overview of Canada.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Tremblay.
Senator Roblin: Mr. Chairman, many of the things that I would like to say have already been said, but I would like to suggest to the Committee that the proposal is really a modest one. When the last Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution was set up around 1970, they did travel. In fact they visited 47 cities and towns in the country and they had a great many people, they had over 1400 witnesses appear, and the proposal that we should restrict ourselves to a visit to 10 or 12 different centres in connection with our study of the constitution is I think is a modest one, reasonable and I think very important. I think it is important for the reasons expressed by Mr. Nystrom.
There is all too prevalent opinion in the country that Canada is viewed through the optic of an Ottawa eye and it is important that people that do not come to this city very often should have a chance at least to appear before this Committee to discuss the constitution.
I am doubly convinced about the value of this operation because in this document we do affect the constitution of the provinces. Right in this document itself, in section 29 and there are others that could be quoted, we are in effect amending the constitutions of the provinces as well as the federal parliament and we are suggesting that this law should take
precedence over, what has up to now, been the constitutional preserve of the provincial governments in the federal state.
Now if we are going to do that, it seems to me the part of prudence that we should allow the provincial people to have a chance to talk about it and I am not thinking so much about provincial governments, they have no trouble coming down here, but I am thinking of other people in the provinces of Canada that may have something to say on this subject.
Now, in a time like this, when there is a certain amount of unfortunate regional disaffection, it seems to me the part of prudence not to deliberately encourage or cultivate it but to do something to try to allay it, and a visit of the kind that we propose, even though it may be time consuming and I grant that it is, something that we ought to very seriously consider.
I have to admit that it points up into my mind the unwisdom, if that is the correct word, of setting this December 9 deadline and I am encouraged to know that is is now agreed by all that if we want to recommend an extension of that deadline later on we certainly can do so, but I think that we should not prejudge this issue of visiting around the countryside on the basis of a deadline that may be changed and perhaps ought to be changed. The merits of making these visits to the provinces and we are not suggesting many, 12 different centres or so, I think are so obvious in the present state of public opinion in the country, that the resolution ought to be accepted.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Roblin.
You are next, Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say a couple of words in support of the motion before the Committee, and I would like to start by saying that in response to a couple of the points that were made by my friends in the Liberal party by Senator Austin and Mr. Lapierre, that first of all when they say that in fact that there have been various propositions put before the people of Canada before and that there have been committees, and indeed there have been committees which have travelled extensively, that is accurate. It is correct to say that in the past there have been committees that have travelled in this country, but I would point that there is a very fundamental difference here.
What we are talking about now is not a committee that is travelling as a task force on unity, the Pepin Robarts Committee, to hear from Canadians in some nebulous sense about what they felt about the future of this country, but we have a very concrete and specific proposal. We have a proposal which would fundamentally alter the constitution of this country. We are not talking about getting input as I say, in some nebulous Way on some ideas for the future. I believe it is absolutely critical that we get outside the confines of Ottawa and get out to some of those areas, get out to the areas for example, that Coline Campbell has spoken of which do not even receive television, and I am confident that Miss Campbell will support this motion because she is particularly concerned about those Persons that can not watch our procedings on television . . .
Miss Campbell: Mr. Chairman, I did not hear them supporting me on the TV about them not having access and I am sure that if we started travelling there would be many areas in Canada that will never be touched.
Mr. Robinson: In any event, Mr. Chairman, I await with interest Miss Campbell’s demonstration of concern for the accessibility of this particular committee to persons in different parts of the country.
There is another point, Mr. Chairman, and that surely must be this, that the argument that was made by Senator Austin was that this will take some time and of course it will take some time if we are serious about this process of constitutional change, but what on earth is the reason for this headlong rush towards December 9, if in the process of achieving that deadline, that December 9 deadline, we are significantly alienating many of the very people who have to be involved in this process of constitutional change.
I want to say a word about something that happened which I think has shifted fundamentally many people’s views about the process that is involved here, because we are not just talking about the substance of this package, the process is a very important aspect of this package. I do not want to say that there was something, an event that took place which fundamentally altered the views, particularly of those persons who have been either sympathetic to our members of the New Democratic Party and that was the invocation, what I consider to be the Draconian invocation of closure on the debate at second reading. There were many Canadians who were prepared to accept in good faith, what was happening, many Canadians who were prepared to accept that this was an important process, that it was an important package and that it had to be listened to seriously. But Mr. Chairman, what has occurred here is that many Canadians views of the process have been soured as a result of the invocation of closure.
I suggest that one way of attempting to recapture the good will of those Canadians who are interested, many of them who are interested in this process, is to indeed travel to different parts of the country, and if that means that we have to extend the deadline, then for heavens sake, surely what we are attempting to achieve is a committee with some concensus in this country. We are trying to build a new constitution and if we can not achieve that concensus, if we can not achieve that objective by December 9, do we then scrap that as an objective and say that we are tied to this deadline even if we can not get that kind of input which I believe is so significant.
So Mr. Chairman, in closing, I would urge that the Committee seriously consider this as an option. What we are talking about is not unreasonable. The Prime Minister has spoken in terms of this being containing a very essential element that he has spoken about as a peoples package, the package for the people, not the division of powers although that of course is important, but a package for the people of Canada. Well, for heavens sake let us get out to the people of Canada and listen to their concerns and let them watch our debate, and listen to our deliberations, and involve them in this peoples package which theoretically is of so much concern to
them and which in fact is of concern to them. Let us get out there and listen to them and let us not be dictated to by an arbitrary deadline of December 9 which is as I say going to very fundamentally sour the atmosphere of good will which unfortunately, because of some of the actions that have been taken to date, is in danger of being permanently lost.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson. Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: Mr. Chairman and colleagues. My friend Mr. Lapierre said a few minutes ago and I wrote these words down. I hope I have them correctly. Canadians have had a great opportunity to make themselves heard on these matters. Now, Mr. Chairman, I of course invite all members to have their point of view in this debate but I have to remind all members of the Committee that during the summer months all Canadians of course did not have a great opportunity to make themselves heard because the discussions that took place were strictly between the heads of provincial governments and the Prime Minister and his advisers of Canada and what is more the proposition which we have in front of us was not really the subject of debate. During those many weeks of so called constitutional debate, many of the meetings were held in secret, much of the documentation was never released and really to take the position that Canadians have had some great opportunity to make themselves heard is not correct. The fact of the matter is that they have not had a chance to make themselves heard.
Now what we have now is that we have a specific proposal. One can agree with the proposal or one can agree with parts of the proposal, or one can be in disagreement with all of it or part of it but I urge you to consider what is going to be the attitude in my province when, fixed with an arbitrary deadline, Canadians in British Columbia are told that that Committee is not going to move out of Ottawa. If you want to say anything to it you have got to go back there to talk to it. And when they realize that there have been all kinds of other Committees, Immigration Committee, the other Constitutional Committee, the present acid rain Committee, which my friend Mr. Irwin chairs, and chairs well, how are you going to persuade people that we are serious about listening to them if we are not even prepared to get out of Ottawa and go there?
It is no good telling them that they have had some input into the co-called constitutional debate, because they know they have not. And I come back to the deadline. I think if you want to get something done, you try to set some targets and you try to set some target dates but those are not cast in stone if the date is too soon to do the job that everybody has said that we ought to be doing.
Now, Mr. Chairman through you, I have just got to say to honourable members and to senators of this Committee, and I say it quietly, but nonetheless with some considerable feeling, do not make the mistake of thinking that you are going to have the conficence of the people I represent, if you make a decision that you will never go out there. As Senator Austin said he was Sympathetic with the proposal but he said because of the deadline we can not come. Now if anybody thinks that that
argument will get any acceptance in my province, I have to say through you Mr. Chairman, it will not, I do ask all honourable members to remember that we have got some problems in the country and I can remember since I got here in 1972, some very impassioned pleas on the part of my colleagues and friends from the Province of Quebec, asking us to understand that they had some problems. To a remarkable degree, all members in the House of Commons responded to those pleas.
Now I would be the last person in the world to use inflammatory language to illustrate a point where we are dealing in, as I think Senator Austin said, a contemplative proceeding here, so I should not have to use pejorative or inflammatory language but just because I speak softly, I would ask all my colleagues, especially the colleagues on the government side, to listen carefully to what I say because that is my backyard and I probably know it better than my good friends that are here, and I do urge upon you to not fall into the error of saying that you are not going to go out west, and I think that really would be an error.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Lamontagne.
Senator Lamontagne: Mr. Joint Chairman. I think it is quite clear that our actual reference does not authorize us to travel. I believe also that we are not authorized to extend the date upon which we have to make report.
What our friends opposite are asking us tonight is simply to bring up a debate that was already settled in quite specific terms by Parliament, by both Houses which composed this Parliament.
That is to say that if we vote to modify our reference, we should go back to both Houses to ask them, quite probably, to reconfirm a decision that they took ten days ago or just a week ago in the ease of the Senate, so I do not think that it is at all practical, under the circumstances, to do that. I think we should proceed as quickly as possible in the study of our terms of reference and of the resolution.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Lamontagne.
Mr. Mackasey. Mr. Knowles?
Mr. Knowles: If it is not a point of order stop me, if I do not get it said before you stop me.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): You should say point of information, and I think it is.
Mr. Knowles: I thought that members of the committee, who have not already heard, might be interested in knowing that Madam Speaker. in the House of Commons, had made a ruling on the question that was raised this afternoon. It is a very clear one so it is easy to report.
She really did not go into the elements of privilege and dispute but she said she felt she was obligated to rule on the question as to whether a Committee of the House of Commons had the right on its own to go in for radio and television broadcasting. Her ruling was no, that a Committee can not do that by itself; only the House can authorize television and
radio broadcasting of a Committees proceedings and she followed that by saying very precisely that there were two ways in which it could be done. A committee could submit an interim report asking for it, or the government could bring in a motion for the House to pass. When Mr. Pinard was asked by Mr. Baker, my being in on it a bit of course, what he would do, he said he would consult, I think he meant with his colleagues, and then he would consult with us. I thought the Committee might be interested in knowing that and it is my view that we do not need to know anything more about it tonight.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Knowles I do not want to stress any more discussion about a point of inflammation. It is very useful and I am glad that you have raised it because earlier at the opening of our session tonight I maintained that I felt that as I mentioned dura lex it lex I felt that I was bound by the opinion as expressed by Mrs. Sauvé and by the rules that Mr. Epp. our colleague, put on the Table as an element of information. So my suggestion remains the same that we stand that question till the leaders from all the parties in the House have a chance to meet together and advise what they are going to suggest the House to do.
Mr. Knowles, on a point of order.
I am sorry to have to interrupted you but I think it was a matter of prime importance for the work of this Committee.
Mr. Mackasey: Anything the honourable member states, Mr. Chairman, is of prime importance, and as an aside when you were referring to Mr. Knowles I wish you would refer to him with his title, Honourable. He is a member of the Privy Council and if we repeat it often enough people will think he is a member of the Senate and one of the reasons why I like to see television in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I will only be a minute or two and I listened as objectively as possible to the arguments for travel and I too have made notes. I think Mr. Robinson suggested that- if we travel this would offset the ill effects of the closure motion and Mr. Nystrom went so far as to suggest that if we travel it will bring an end to the threat of separation from the west, Mr. Tremblay said it would broaden our perspective if we all get across the country, but most of us have been across the country on many occasions, certainly if you have been members of Parliament for any period of time.
I am rather surprised Mr. Chairman, that members opposite perhaps think so little of their own persuasive powers here. They represent constituencies as Miss Campbell does. She does a very effective task of acquainting this Committee and the House of Commons with the problems of her part of the country. That is why she is elected. That is our procedure and It seems to me that if we stretch this to the point that regions should not really have confidence in their elected members, no matter what party they come from. If we all have to travel to see for ourselves what the situations are, I think we would be reaching the point of absurdity. I think it is significant that on this side of the House, in selecting our Committee, we have made every possible effort to see that every province in Canada is represented on this Committee, including Alberta.
It is a very important province and it is represented here, I presume on the other side somewhere, although I have not noticed yet. I think all the regions of Canada are well represented here, and it is note important that we travel.
One persuasive voice was that of Mr. Fraser, and I understand his point. I think we have gone a long way to rectify any injustice done, and I am clearly stating tonight that witnesses who are invited here will be compensated.
I do not think we need to travel, regardless of the deadline of December 9. I do not think that is a factor that is keeping us here. The reason is that we are here because it is the nation’s capital, and we cannot be accused of favouring the East or the West, and I have to repeat: the West, the East, all the provinces and all the regions are well represented on this Committee, some better than others, but that is another point and a matter of opinion.
I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that we proceed with the vote. Speaking for myself I can see nothing wrong, improper or irregular about our decision, if we were to take that decision, to make this the base for the duration of the proceedings, making certain, of course, that key or other witnesses who are invited here can arrive in dignity without personal expense or hardship.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Mackasey.
Senator Asselin: I have been following the debate since this morning and while I have not said much, it seems to me that the committee is getting bogged down and is only discussing the deadline.
All we hear from the members opposite, who represent the government, is that we have until December 9. That is all we hear. Again this evening, Mr. Lapierre told us that we cannot do such and such a thing because we only have until December 9. The deadline is sacred, immutable; it is in the mandate and we cannot touch it. However, we learned in the Senate that the government might be willing to change the mandate and perhaps extend it beyond December 9, if it were brought back before the House or the Senate. I think that it is extremely dangerous to limit ourselves to one date. If we realize on the evening of December 8, that we have not had time to deal with the Charter of Rights, will we report back to the Senate and the House of Commons and consider that our mandate has been fulfilled in good faith?
I think, Mr. Chairman, that if the committee goes that route, it will not manage to fulfill its mandate.
In 1972, I sat on the Joint Constitution Committee and, as my colleague, Mr. Roblin said, we travelled across Canada. It was a very rewarding experience for the members of the committee, because throughout that period, because we experienced participatory democracy, where elected representatives and members of the federal Parliament sought out and met with the people.
It is not often that we have the opportunity to sit down with the people and discuss their problems.
Here, we are discussing our constitutional future. We are reviewing legislation which will change the political structure of our country. Some people will not be able to appear before the committee, because they cannot afford it, they do not have time, or they are too far from Ottawa, and it would be a waste of time for us to go to these people, tell them what changes we want to make and ask them what their reaction would be and whether they could shed any light on the changes we want to make.
I must say, Mr. Chairman, that I do not understand where the committee is going and I hope that my colleagues will stop talking about the December 9 deadline. We will see how things go. We will see whether we have to go back to the House or the Senate to ask for an extension, but for heavens sake stop trying to justify your decisions and your refusals by saying that we have to meet the December 9 deadline. We do not have time for that. I think that it is the committee’s duty to go to the people, to meet with the people. If we travel to different parts of the country, they will not have to come to Ottawa and the committee will save money.
That is all I wanted to say, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Asselin.
Senator Austin: I have two comments, I would like to make in response to the remarks in specific terms of my colleagues from British Columbia, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Fraser. First of all, I would like to say that while I grant Mr. Fraser has considerable knowledge of British Columbia, I think you will understand that I would not defer him in that respect, and I would be surprised if Mr. Robinson would.
Secondly, I believe that both Houses of Parliament spoke for my Province, British Columbia, when they instructed this Committee to get to work and to make a report by December 9.
I think it is passing strange that, before we have begun any substantive work at all, some of my colleagues on this Committee are re-arguing the debate as to time in both Houses. I could understand that arguments much better if we had begun the substantive deliberations, had heard witnesses and taken the measure of our task against the time available. But I find it really quite strange that members of this Committee would comment on and question a judgment of both Chambers on the very first day that this Committee meets.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): I think I have already indicated that we should do some work and then take the measure of our task.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Austin. Mr. Fraser.
Mr. Fraser: My good friend, Mr. Mackasey, said that he was surprised at the lack of confidence that some of us from British Columbia had in their persuasive abilities. It is not a question of a lack of confidence; but in British Columbia they know that we are in a minority in this Committee and are conscious of that fact, and, of course, members of Mr. Mackasey’s own party were very much aware of that after the last election, because they proposed a buddy system whereby central Canadian members would come down and become sort of surrogate associate MPs of ridings in British Columbia that had not elected any government members.
I say this gently, of course, to my good friend; but I do not think it is a question of anybody in British Columbia lacking confidence in my persuasive ability. But what they can do is count. That is what is concerning me.
Now, Senator Austin very graciously said that he acknowledged that I had some understanding of my own province, but that he would not defer to me in his own understanding of the province. I would never quarrel with his commet.
But he might have to defer to the fact that, in terms of my province’s understanding of me and Senator Austin, they probably understand me better than they understand Senator Austin. So I just turned that around a little bit to reply to what my good friend, Senator Austin, said.
But, listen: my friend, Mr. Mackasey, also said that it is not a case of favouring anybody. I do not think that is the issue. The issue here is a question of being sensitive to the sensibilities of Canadians who live thousands of miles from Ottawa.
Now, that we are asking, just as many of you asked over the years, to be sensitive as to what was happening in the Province of Quebec, we are asking you to be sensitive of the sensibilities of Canadians living thousands of miles away.
Again, I say these things gently, in the hope that in this contemplative spirit that Senator Austin spoke about earlier today. my words would be listened to.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Fraser. Since I do not have another name on my list, can I conclude that members are ready to vote on this proposal?
Then I will read again the proposal as amended with your consent:
That this Committee report to both Houses requesting that the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada.
Motion negatived: yeas, 10; nays, 15.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I have no motion to put, and I thank you for your patience; but my colleague does.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, earlier today, the Committee considered the composition of a steering committee, and decided that it would be appropriate that at meetings of the steering committee both parties, that is to say, the governing party and the official opposition, should be represented.
If one takes a look at the Order of Reference from the House, relating to a quorum of the full committee, it reads as follows:
The quorum of the Committee be 12 members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the Joint Chairman be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to authorize the printing thereof when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented.
Mr. Chairman, there is no mention made there for representation from the official opposition at the time when votes are taken or when evidence is received before the Committee.
The Committee decided that this matter was sufficiently important and unanimously agreed, I believe, earlier today that, when the steering committee, whose decisions are not binding upon the Committee, held meetings, it would be essential that a member of the official opposition be present.
If it is essential in a case where the decisions are not binding upon the Committee in any way, how much more essential is it when the Committee is making major decisions, including the writing of the report and other profound decisions affecting the conduct of the Committee and the ability of Canadians to be heard before the Committee, how much more essential is it that there be a guarantee that a member of the Official Opposition be present.
As you will notice, Mr. Chairman, with the composition of the Committee it would be possible for twelve members to constitute a voting quorum to be drawn exclusively from the governing party, and, for testimony to be taken, clearly the six members with at least one member from each House, could all be drawn from the same party.
Mr. Chairman, in the interests of consistency with the decision made by the Committee earlier today, one which was made in good faith—and I appreciate the support of members opposite in recognizing the fact that if we are to operate in good faith and in a spirit of compromise, then it is necessary to have that sort of balance present at any time when there are meetings of the steering committee.
I would like to move a motion asking that we report back to the House, making an interim report to the House, requesting that the terms of reference of the Committee be amended.
The wording of that resolution is:
That this Committee report forthwith to both Houses requesting that its terms of reference be amended to provide that a quorum be 12 members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and at least one Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present, and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented, and a Committee member from the Official Opposition in either House is present.
That is the motion 1 would propose. For the information of the Committee, Mr. Chairman, the only change which we would be requesting to the terms of reference as they exist today, would be the provision that a member of the Official Opposition be present for the Committee to receive evidence or to take a vote. That is the only change, and in all other respects, the terms of reference of the Committee would remain identical with what they are today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Irwin: I regret that there is some concern that we might start operations without a member of the opposition being present. I think we demonstrated our good faith today when we waited from about 3:30 to 5 o’clock, because there was only Mr. Fraser, that we would not do such a thing unless there was obstruction where members did not appear intentionally. So we have shown our good faith today. We could not start. We had a quorum, but because we thought it was an important issue, we thought that members of the opposition should be present, and we stayed until five and we came back tonight.
I would respectfully submit, Mr. Chairman, that all we are doing now is going back to debate what the House of Commons has decided. I do not know if it is out of order, but I would respectfully submit that it is not within the spirit of what we are doing, if we rehashed everything that was debated in the House and to change it only by saying that we will make an interim report referring this matter back to the House.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I thought this motion, because I did not move it, would go easier than the one I had moved. Obviously, experience is not a good teacher in this case.
I simply want to appeal to members opposite—and I really did not think it would be necessary-and say that this Committee would not sit if a member of the official opposition were not present. The fact remains that we are very careful in the
House of Commons, on both sides. not to impute improper motives. Mr. Irwin’s argument is totally based on imputed motive. It just lacks total credibility. I would think that government members themselves would want, if our resolution is passed in this Committee, to have the confidence that the official opposition was present and that it had validity.
I do not want to impute motives, because I do not like it to be imputed to me; so I am not going to reverse it and say that I feel that government will simply hold meetings whether opposition members are present or not.
It was mentioned in the House by the member for Winnipeg North Centre that there was a lot of goodwill—and I believe there is—around this table to get on with the work; but we have to know the rules whereby we are going to operate. That is only natural. It is natural not only to get the work started on a positive footing, but in every committee difficulties can occur. Experience dictates and teaches that. In order to have some manner by which we can then resolve the difficulty, we have to have the rules in place before the difficulty actually takes place. That is all I am doing. I am trying to help the Joint Chairmen and all members of the Committee. The Committee should not hear evidence or make any decision without a member of the Official Opposition being present. Not only does Parliamentary democracy demand that this should not happen, but the workings of the Committee would absolutely break down if we were to proceed on that basis.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Nystrom.
Mr. Nystrom: I have two or three points, Mr. Chairman. I am surprised at the opposition from the member from Sault Ste. Marie. I really thought that the resolution was asking for so little. All they are asking for is that one of their eight members be here. It does not include us at all. They are not asking for very much at all. In a Committee of this size, I would have thought they might have asked for two of their members and one of ours.
So I would like to appeal to the government to consider this and to support it in the interests of the Committee and the harmony of our work.
The other point I would like to make, if I remember what Mr. Pinard said in the House, I do not think we have to go back to the House to present an interim report. I think the Committee itself can decide what its quorum is, as long as we are not expanding it. We would be deciding within those 12 members, what that composition would be. On my understanding of the rules, we have the right to do that. I do not have the rule book with me, but I am quite sure we have that right; and Mr. Pinard as said that in the House on two or three occasions.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom.
Mr. Fraser: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I may not be correct in saying this, and there may be more learned members here who could give us some guidance. But is is not a fact that it is customary for committees of the House, without any reference back, to decide what members would constitute a quorum? I ask that question seriously, because it seems to me that there is probably quite a lot of experience that we can draw on on this subject.
If that has been the custom, the convention, that has been followed in the past with other Committees, then perhaps we are becoming a little bit too sticky with our concerns about having to go back to get this clarified. It seems to me it is something that we could decide right here.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Fraser.
Are there any other speakers who would like to address themselves to Mr. Beatty’s resolution?
Mr. Beatty: Three of our colleagues have now expressed concern about the possible requirement of going back to the House. Mr. Irwin said that he would be opposed to going back to the House. Mr. Nystrom gave us a similar indication, and Mr. Fraser expanded on it, that it would be possible for the Committee itself to decide the nature of the quorum within the confines and the broad ambit of the resolution passed by the House.
Again, in the spirit of compromise and goodwill, I would like to indicate to the Committee that if the hesitation they have is in reporting to the House, and if you feel, Mr. Chairman, that we have power in the Committee to determine the makeup of that quorum and to provide that one of the members that must be present should be a member of the Official Opposition, and that it is possible to do that without going back to the House, then I would certainly be agreeable to amending my motion to that extent. Indeed, I would be delighted to do that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Nystrom.
Mr. Nystrom: I wonder if we could ask you, Mr. Chairman, to provide a ruling as to whether we, as a Committee, would determine our quorum?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Well I could consult with our clerk and give you the information which I think would be most appropriate in the present circumstances.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): There appears to be no further speaker. Are you ready for the vote? Is there anyone else who wishes to speak?
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, while your colleague is discussing the matter with the Joint Clerk, could you tell us whether a decision has been made as to the meetings for tomorrow and whether the Committee could give some indication as to when those meetings would be, and what decisions have been made, if any, reflecting the work of the Committee next week?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): We were proposing that we would meet tomorrow morning at 9:30 am.
Mr. Epp: That is agreeable, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): In this room.
Mr. Beatty: Was any consideration given to meeting Friday afternoon? Has it been decided not to hold a meeting Friday afternoon?
I might indicate my preference that it not be held on Friday afternoon, but . . .
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): We have this suggestion to offer that we would meet tomorrow at 9.30 to 11.00 and on Monday, from 3.30 p.m. to 6 o’clock and Monday evening from 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock and of course Tuesday would be a holiday—and from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock tomorrow as well.
Mr. Beatty: Okay, discussing Monday, I think perhaps as the Chair is aware the House is not sitting on Monday or Tuesday. The reason why we decided not to hold meetings on Monday at the House was that it was impractical where members of Parliament had to participate in ceremonies for Remembrance Day back home in their constituencies on Tuesday, it was impractical to bring them to Ottawa for a Monday and then ship them back home for Tuesday, then bring them back again for Wednesday.
Consequently I have made, before knowing of the Chair’s intention, I made commitments back in my constituency for both Monday and Tuesday, but had left myself free for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and clearly it is not essential I be here but I wonder if other members of the Committee might have similar problems.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Mr. Epp?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, before this becomes a contentious issue, what Mr. Beatty says is the case for many of us. In fact, it is compounded by distances for those of us who have to travel further distances. I would suggest that the steering committee examine this and that the sittings that would have normally taken place on Monday, had it been a sitting day, and in view of the circumstances that members have to be back in their ridings to participate on Remembrance Day, that additional sittings be scheduled.
I would be willing to put that forward on behalf of my colleagues that we make up what would normally be three sittings, I imagine that is what you had in mind for that Monday, seeing that the House was not going to sit, or two sittings, that the two sittings be scheduled at periods of time where Committees of the House or in the Senate have not normally been sitting.
I would put that as a proposal that that be worked out with the Joint Committee and reported to this committee.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Mr. Nystrom?
Mr. Nystrom: I wanted to say a similar thing. It is particularly difficult for those of us from a long ways away. If we are here until Monday evening it is absolutely impossible to fly as far as Saskatchewan let alone further than that by Tuesday morning.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): We could leave the extra sittings I suppose with the Steering Committee.
Mr. Nystrom: Yes.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Would we all be agreeable to that?
An hon. Member: Agreed.
Mr. Bockstael: I may have misunderstood, but possibly the others may have misunderstood you. You talked about Monday. The Opposition has concluded that you are planning two sittings for Monday. I thought it was three.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): No, on Monday we are going to sit from 3.30 pm.
Mr. Bockstael: Not in the morning at all?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): No, not in the morning because of travel and arriving in Ottawa would be difficult too early.
Mr. Beatty: 9.30 to 11 o’clock?
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Hopefully if it was agreeab1e-I can go through the whole issue if you wish.
On Tuesday, not next week, but the following week, Tuesday at 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3.30 pm. to 6 o’clock and 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock.
On Wednesday, we would sit from 3:30 to 6:00 and 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.
On Thursday, from 9:30 to 12:30, 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.
On Friday, from 9:00 to 11:00 and to 4:00 pm.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the Steering Committee take a look at that schedule. Possibly you could leave one in my hands.
I would suggest that at the Wednesday night meeting that you are requesting that that be required as a special sitting in order to make up the Monday on the Wednesday.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): That is right, so we will sit in the evening three Wednesdays to make up for that.
Mr. Epp: I am willing to take that in the Steering Committee. I am simply saying that I want to place a caveat on that Wednesday sitting and we do agree to it that we use that to make up the sittings that we would have had on the Monday, November 10.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Yes, Mr. Irwin.
Mr. Irwin: I believe you said 3:30 to 6:00 on Mondays normally. I thought this Monday we would informally discuss 2:00 to 6:00 because there was no Question Period.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): That is right.
Mr. Irwin: What we had meant actually was to look at hours, this Monday we were prepared to sit from 11:00 to 12:30, 2:00 to 6:00 because there was no Question Period and 8:00 to 10:00, with the full realization that many of the members, because of what has happened in the election, you have to come from a lot further west then we do. So we may want to take a look at that. We realize your travelling time, especially from the western provinces, is maybe four or live hours where we can get here in an hour or two.
Mr. Epp: We had better leave it to the Steering Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): If I may come back to the substance of the motion put by Mr. Beatty, according to the advice that was given to me by the Joint Clerks that assist us in the work of this Committee, they suggest that it would be a modification to the quorum as spelled out in the terms of reference which would bring the quorum to 13 instead of 12. The quorum, in the terms of reference, is well spelled out, that the quorum of the Committee be 12 members, and to make sure that there will be representatives of the opposition party it would mean that to sit legally we would need at least 13 members.
Mr. Beatty: I am sorry, perhaps all is not clear in my motion, but it was not my intention to increase the membership of the Committee but rather to ensure that of those 12 members one is set up with six members and the other, that at least one at” those he a member of the Official Opposition. There was no intention to increase the size of the quorum.
The Joint Chairman,(Mr. Joyal): Then if there is no increase in the quorum it is within our power to qualify the quorum. It is within our privilege or our competence as a Committee to, you know, qualify the quorum, so I am open to receive that motion.
Mr. Beatty: Can I ask the mover of the motion to delete those elements of the motion dealing with reporting to the House and leave only those elements that relate to the definition of the quorum, on the understanding that you have given the Committee that we are empowered to do that within the Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Does anyone want to speak on the motion as put through by Mr. Beatty as amended?
Mr. Lapierre: Mr. Chairman, do you mean to say that if to qualify on the quorum we do not have to go back to the House, we will have to present an interim report to the House asking to change the motion?
I would like some clarification.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): No. According to the advice given to me by the clerks, if we wish to add to the quorum, we will have to report to the House asking that our terms of reference be modified. But if we have only to qualify the quorum from which we operate, that is 12 members, as a committee we have the privilege to proceed with the discussion.
Senator Austin: A question of procedure, Mr. Chairman. Do I understand that if we were amenable to the motion and we accept it—I believe the bells are ringing.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Monsieur McGrath.
An hon. Member: We can dispose of it right now if there are no speakers.
Mr. McGrath: I would be happy to be the first speaker in the morning.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. McGrath, the Members of the House are being recalled for a vote. . . .
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): We will meet tomorrow morning at 9:30, 9:30 to 11:00.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We will then meet tomorrow at 9:30 to resume our discussion on Mr. Beatty’s motion.
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