THE SENATE COMMITTEE OF SELECTION

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday February 7, 2001

The Committee of Selection of the Senate met this day at 4:30 p.m. to nominate senators to serve on select committees during the session.

Senator Léonce Mercier (Chairman) in the Chair.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Honourable Senators, the meeting will now come to order. In accordance with Rule 85.(1) of the Senate, I am now ready to receive nominations for the membership of select committees.

Senator Robichaud: I have the honour to nominate as members of the Committee on Aboriginal Peoples the Honourable Senators Carney, Chalifoux, Christensen, Cochrane, Cordy, Gill, Johnson, Pearson, Rompkey, Sibbeston, Tkachuk and Wilson.

The Chairman: Are there any comments? The Chair accepts these nominations.

Senator Kinsella: I wish to propose the following senators for the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry: Chalifoux, Fairbairn, Fitzpatrick, Gill, Gustafson, LeBreton, Milne, Oliver, Stratton, Taylor, Tkachuk and Wiebe.

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations? Then the Chair accepts these nominations.

Senator Robichaud: I have the honour to nominate the following honourable senators to serve on the Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce: Angus, Furey, Hervieux-Payette, Kelleher, Kolber, Kroft, Meighen, Oliver, Poulin, Setlakwe, Tkachuk and Weibe.

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: Fine, then motion agreed to.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: For the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, I propose the following senators: Buchanan, Banks, Christensen, Cochrane, Eyton, Finnerty, Kelleher, Kenny, Sibbeston, Spivak, Taylor and Watt.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: Then the Chair accepts these nominations.

Senator Robichaud: I wish to propose the names of the following senators for the Senate Committee on Fisheries: Adams, Callbeck, Carney, Chalifoux, Comeau, Cook, Mahovlich, Meighen, Molgat, Moore, Robertson and Watt.

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: Then the Chair accepts these nominations.

Senator Kinsella: For the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, I nominate the following senators: Andreychuk, Austin, Bolduc, Carney, Corbin, De Bané, Di Nino, Grafstein, Graham, Losier-Cool, Poulin and Stollery.

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: The Chair accepts these nominations.

Senator Robichaud: For the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, I nominate the following senators: Austin, Comeau, De Bané, DeWare, Doody, Forrestall, Furey, Gauthier, Kenny, Kroft, Maheu, Milne, Murray, Poulin and Stollery.

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: The Chair accepts these nominations.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: For the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I propose the names of the following senators: Andreychuk, Atkins, Beaudoin, Buchanan, Cools, Fraser, Grafstein, Joyal, Milne, Moore, Nolin and Pearson.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: The nominations are accepted.

Senator Robichaud: For the Senate Committee on National Finance, I have the honour to nominate the following senators: Banks, Bolduc, Cools, Doody, Ferretti Barth, Finnerty, Hervieux-Payette, Kinsella, Kirby, Mahovlich, Murray and Stratton.

The Chairman: Are they are other nominations?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: The nominations are accepted.

Senator Kinsella: For the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders, I nominate the following honourable senators: Andreychuk, Austin, Bryden, DeWare, Di Nino, Gauthier, Grafstein, Hervieux-Payette, Kroft, Losier-Cool, Murray, Poulin, Rossiter and Stratton.

The Chairman: If there are no other nominations, motion agreed to.

[English]

Senator Robichaud: It is my honour to place for nomination the names of the following senators to serve on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology:

The Honourable Senators Callbeck, Cohen, Cook, Cordy, Graham, Fairbairn, Johnson, Kirby, LeBreton, Pépin, Robertson and Roche.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Are there any other nominations for this committee? If not, then the nominations are accepted.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: I propose the names of the following senators as members of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications: The Honourable Senators Adams, Angus, Bacon, Callbeck, Christensen, Eyton, Finestone, Fitzpatrick, Forrestall, Rompkey, Setlakwe and Spivak.

[Translation]

The Chairman: If there are no further names, the motion is agreed to.

Senator Robichaud: On the agenda is a motion authorizing the Chair to report to the Senate.

The Chairman: Correct.

Senator Prud'homme: I see that an independent senator has been nominated.

The Chairman: In fact, two have been nominated, Senators Wilson and Roche.

Senator Prud'homme: On which committee is Senator Wilson slated to serve?

Senator Corbin: On the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Senator Prud'homme: Could someone explain to me the nomination process, because other senators have expressed the desire to serve on committees, including at least five independents and one Canadian Alliance senator. I cannot speak for the others, but what exactly are the requirements for serving on a committee, because I observed the procedure followed here. Mind you, I was only an observer.

It may not be official, but I am not blind. I have also retained my sense of smell. However, I would like to know how you arrived at the proposal to retain two nominations, and then to eliminate the name of the one person who had actually expressed a desire to serve on committees.

I will be making my views known in the Senate, but before I do so, I would like to know what kind of arrangement was made. I see that agreements were reached among the parties -- the senators in attendance seem poised to leave. I have always heard that senators are equal. Why then are some more equal than others?

Senator Robichaud: As far as the proposed lists are concerned, we agreed on these nominations for membership on the various committees after consulting with each party in the Senate. We circulated a letter to all Liberal senators asking them to lists their top three choices. I understand that the opposition party did likewise. I was assured that independent senators were also contacted. Some indicated that they did not wish to serve on any one committee in particular, while others expressed a preference for certain committees. Both the government party and the opposition party were faced at times with some difficult choices, because in some cases, we had more senators who had expressed a preference for a particular committee then we could in fact accommodate.

You must understand that we tried to give senators their first choice of committee. Quite frankly, Senator Prud'homme, in some cases, certain independent senators listed the same committee as their first, second and third choice. It was difficult for us to accommodate everyone simply because we had twice as many members wanting to serve as we had spaces available on these committees. I hope nobody will take offence or feel left out, because as we all know, all senators are free to attend every committee meeting. That, Senator Prud'homme, is how the process unfolded, to the best of my knowledge.

Senator Prud'homme: I regret to inform you that when this motion comes under consideration, I plan to set out fully the reasons why my name was excluded. I will not go easy. It will be embarrassing for the party leadership. To begin with, I have waited seven years. Second of all, I recall very clearly what Senator Carstairs said when she was deputy government leader. She said that many factors were taken into consideration, seniority in Parliament being one of them. I respect that. Experience was another factor. Lastly, desire was a consideration.

I recall these words quite clearly. I had expressed a preference to serve on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. My nomination was not retained and the reasons given are not those which you so eloquently and diplomatically put forth to the committee. I informed Senator Carstairs, who had consulted with me, that I would no longer tolerate the dictatorship of some members of the Foreign Affairs Committee who are unwilling to hear the political views of some members, as if we were only concerned about one thing. I deeply regret what happened. I find it odd that the opposition was so quick to go along with this decision -- I am already preparing you for tomorrow's debate, as you can see. I also find it somewhat strange, given that Senator Maheu's report on the role of independent senators, namely reports nine and twelve, were never adopted by the Senate. Suddenly, without any debate, in a spirit of openness, you have decided, with the consent and in consultation with the opposition, the membership of committees, without telling us that the reports were never adopted. I find it somewhat premature to implement the recommendations of the two reports on the role of independent senators and their participation in committee work even though the reports were never adopted by the Senate. This situation is rather odd. Not to be overly crude, I feel that I have been had.

I anticipated the situation. I prepared for it accordingly and therefore I hope that some of you will stick it out with me. Things are bound to get a little unpleasant.

The Chairman: Is that all, Senator Prud'homme?

Senator Prud'homme: It would appear so.

Senator Kinsella: Pursuant to Rule 87, we may designate members ex officio. For the opposition, these will be either Senator Lynch-Staunton or myself, and for the government, Senators Carstairs and Robichaud.

The Chairman: Are there any further questions?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: I move that the Committee of Selection be adjourned to the call of the Chair. Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Senator Robichaud: Assuming that the motion to report has been agreed to?

The Chairman: Of course.

The meeting is adjourned.


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