THE COMMITTEE OF SELECTION

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Committee of Selection met this day at 12:30 p.m., pursuant to rule 12-13 of the Rules of the Senate, to hold an organization meeting, and pursuant to rule 12-2(1)(a), the committee will designate a senator who will preside in the House on an interim basis; pursuant to rule 12-2(2) of the Rules of the Senate, the committee will select the senators who will be members of specific committees during this session.

[Translation]

Blair Armitage, Clerk of the Committee: It is my duty to proceed to the election of the Chair. I am ready to receive a motion to that effect. Are there any nominations?

[English]

Senator Munson: I would like to nominate Senator Marshall as the chair of this meeting, please.

Mr. Armitage: Are there other nominations? There being none, are all honourable senators agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Mr. Armitage: Senator Marshall, would you care to take the chair?

Senator Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Welcome, everybody.

We've just been through the election of the chair, so we're going to move to the election of the deputy chair. I open the floor for motions.

Senator Plett: Chair, I would like to nominate Senator Munson.

The Chair: Senator Munson, do you accept?

Senator Munson: Yes.

The Chair: Is it the will of the committee that Senator Munson be deputy chair?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Congratulations, Senator Munson.

Now we're going to go to Item 3 on our agenda, nomination of a Speaker pro tempore.

Senator Wells: I'd like to nominate Senator Eaton.

The Chair: It's moved by Senator Wells that Senator Eaton be nominated to preside.

Is it the will of the committee to approve this nomination?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: All in agreement, thank you.

We also have to report back to the Senate regarding the nomination of the Speaker pro tempore, so could I have a motion, please?

Senator Plett: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by Senator Plett that I report to the Senate the nomination of Senator Eaton as Speaker pro tempore.

Now we're going to go to Item 5 and discuss the senators who will serve on the various committees. We're going to start with the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Senator McCoy: Chair, I wonder if I could interject with a question.

The Chair: Yes.

Senator McCoy: Thank you.

I'm here obviously as an observer, not a member of your committee. We're living in changing times and in transition, so I'm curious as to what plans the Selection Committee has for accommodating the changes that we anticipate to come in the new year, in particular, the addition of new senators. I preface this remark or add by way of background that according to the current set of rules that we operate under in the chamber, committee membership, once accepted by the Senate on nomination by the Selection Committee, lasts for a session. The only way changes can be made are through a recommendation by the Selection Committee, endorsed by the Senate, or by way of a notice in writing to the clerk, signed by a leader of a caucus.

The Chair: That's correct.

Senator McCoy: Specifically, a Leader of the Opposition for members of that caucus and the Leader of the Government in the Senate for members of that caucus.

The Chair: That's correct.

Senator McCoy: Which is to say that there will be no way of changing membership on these committees without reconvening.

I'm also wondering, since the expected sitting dates of the Senate were issued yesterday and we will not be reconvening until the last week of January, why are we rushing this piece of our selection process?

The Chair: Well, historically, we have reconfigured the committees at the beginning of each new parliamentary session, so it's more by tradition than by rules. There's been nothing conveyed to me that we were going to change the process, although, as you know, Senator Wallace has been exploring other options.

Senator Munson: I concur with the chair that, traditionally, as soon as a new session of Parliament begins, we get on with the business of what we have to do. In fact, we've done the Speaker pro tempore, which really has to be done as well.

Also, the configuration of these committees will not take place until after we see the supplementary estimates, because we do have two committees that are in place now dealing with supplementary estimates, the one committee, but also we do have of course Internal.

When you notice the lists of the names that will be here, there will be vacancies. We've canvassed all our senators, at least on our side, and we can't quite fill a number of these right now because we're doubling up and tripling up on a number of these committees. I also notice that the Conservative senators have tripled up and quadrupled up on a number of committees.

We can't live in a hypothetical world. We just know that a promise has been given that five new senators could be here at the end of January. They could be here at the middle of February; they could be here in March. We don't know that. We have to get on with the business of the Senate. But room will be made for the new senators. I'm sure this will happen with open arms. With that, there will be plenty of work for new senators to do.

Senator McCoy: If I might just add, I agree that the appointment of the Speaker pro tempore is mandated within five days of session starting, but with regard to the report for members of other committees, there is no time stipulated, no timeline. In the time I've been here, I can recall waiting for weeks on one occasion to hear what the final allocation was.

Our tradition, I think rightly so, probably fluctuates in response to the conditions under which we're operating. At the moment, it seems to me that a number of questions are up in the air, and it seems strange to rush to do what we've always done, knowing very well that it's not going to be like that in the new year. That doesn't seem to me to be a particularly enlightened approach.

Senator Munson: I want to add one thing: If you check every session of Parliament over the last many, many years, there have been vacancies left by previous regimes that weren't filled until the new time. They were wide open, and there was no timetable then on when we would know. We didn't disrupt committee selection because there were five or six vacancies in the Senate, because we had no idea if a Prime Minister would make those appointments or when he would make those appointments. We're in a similar situation now where we would like to get on with our business.

Senator McCoy: We have two days left in this year and nothing happening until the last week in January. It's not as if we're being pressed with business.

Senator Fraser: I have a couple of quick points. First, in addition to vacancies that may be left after today's work on various committees, there will be retirements of senators in the coming months, so there will be empty spaces to be filled. My expectation — and it's purely personal — is that, as Senator Munson suggests, independent senators would be called upon at that point.

But I do think it's important to get what we can of the institutional structure in play because this committee will report. There is then a time lag unless leave is granted. The report has to be adopted by the Senate, and then all the organizational meetings have to be held. It seems to me that after the long hiatus around the election and another good chunk of time coming up with several weeks off, after we do come back in January — one week on, one week off, that kind of thing — if we can get this elementary step out of the way, knowing that there will be changes, but at least get the process started, that's a good thing to do.

Senator McCoy: For the record, there are four vacancies coming up by way of retirement in 2016: One in June, one in April, one in May and one in February.

Senator Fraser: There may be more than that.

Senator Martin: I want to just add my voice and concur in what I have heard.

On your point, Senator McCoy, even in yesterday's chamber debate about the changes that we are faced with and more changes to come, I think it goes all the more to constituting these committees. That would give us a sense of certainty, because we do such good work in our committees. Especially upon our return early in the new year, the committees would then be in place and we could really get up and running. I'm very much in favour of doing what we do now, but knowing that there will be new individuals who initially will have a steep learning curve, as we all did. So to have the committees in place is a very good reason for that.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to know what the independent senators’ role will be. To my knowledge, independent senators do not have the same rights as the senators who belong to a political party. Independent senators may sit on committees, but they do not have the right to vote. I don’t understand why the five new senators to be appointed next January would only have half a senator’s workload. In my opinion, that is not appropriate. Here is the crux of my question: what will be the role and the mandate of the future independent senators?

We present ourselves as independent Liberal senators, but I am sure the next five senators will want to be perceived as independent senators, period. If we add players who do not have the same rights as all the other players, it seems to me that that will be an issue. Our committee should at least make a recommendation.

Personally, I have no problem at all with the fact that all senators have the same rights. This matter has to be debated here.

Senator Fraser: I noted with interest yesterday that Senator Wallace had submitted a notice of motion asking that the Committee on Rules examine precisely that matter, as it happens. I think the motion that is being proposed is a very good one. I am entirely in agreement with it. As an institution, we do have to examine a vast array of things, among others the rights of independent senators to sit as full members of committees; but that does not, it would seem to me, prevent this committee from doing its initial work here today.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Forgive me, I simply want to say that I am not challenging the process that should unfold here. My name was on the list of senators who are to sit on the Standing Committee on National Finance, whereas I would prefer to no longer sit on that committee. I will be leaving the Senate next April, and I think I have done my fair share of the work for quite a long time now, all the more so since that committee sits late into the evening. Senator McCoy and I would like to be apprised of the process to follow so as to withdraw our names from the list of members who will sit on that committee in 2016.

[English]

Senator McCoy: I can reiterate the point that if we are going to consider what we do need to address, adapt, in anticipation of a somewhat different configuration of this institution, then I would imagine this committee would want to have that information and that deliberation before it merely repeats by rote what we have done in other circumstances.

But I do want to say for the record that the only two independents that I see proposed to be nominated in the lists that have been circulated this morning are Senator Cools and myself. I appreciate that courtesy. I've always been dealt with courteously by all members of this institution, so I'm not making this a personal point but, rather, an institutional point.

That means, apart from two who are not sitting with us at the moment as they're under suspension, there are five. Even as we sit here, there are five senators who are not being proposed for committee work. This strikes me as, at the very least, an inefficient use of resources. We have some good people who were on committees and were highly regarded in their capacity and their performance on committees, and they aren't being nominated.

Senator Munson: I'll respond to Senator McCoy first that we did ask other senators, or senator, to appear on these committees, and they graciously declined. There is another senator or two that we could approach that we haven't approached because I thought the senator had been approached.

Let me reiterate: We do have lots of room on these committees, but a senator has been approached and said, "No, thank you."

The answer to Senator Hervieux-Payette is pretty simple. We've gone through all these committee processes. This is a public discussion. We had a brief discussion yesterday about the fact that I needed names now and to draw on your expertise on Finance for a very short period of time. That can be changed quickly.

In terms of the selection process, we can have a Selection Committee and sit down and I can introduce new names. For the purpose of today, there were a couple of spots for which we really wanted to make sure that we had names to show that we were out to do our job — very difficult.

I can recall back in the day, when the Conservatives had about 22 or 18 here, and watching Senator Stratton and Senator LeBreton running around here. It was incredible to see how many committees they had to sit on. They did not want to sit on these committees, but they served their provinces well by doing so. So it's a question of numbers; it's a question of being part of a team, and that team is called the Senate.

Senator McCoy: I take it then, Senator Munson, that the commitment from you is to come back to the Selection Committee to make changes to anyone who is not a member of the Conservative caucus.

Do I understand that that's your commitment as well, Madam Chair, being a member of the Conservative caucus, that the committee would reconvene at the request of the deputy chair?

The Chair: I would expect that the committee will reconvene sometime in the new year. I don't expect to be chairing, but I would fully expect that the committee would come back and reconvene. But you yourself said earlier that there is also the opportunity to make changes without having the committee come back.

Senator McCoy: Not for members —

The Chair: I realize that.

Senator McCoy: Not for any senator who is not a member of the Conservative caucus.

The Chair: I realize that.

With Senator Wallace's motion, I expect there will be further discussion on the issue, but for today, I was just going to go through and get the committees up and functioning. Then in the new year, whatever changes have to be made, which may be significant, will be something that we will discuss.

Senator Munson: The more that people want to work here, the happier I am.

The Chair: Yes, I agree with you.

Senator McCoy: Again, thank you for your courtesy, Madam Chair.

The Chair: Thank you for your comments. Thank you, everybody. That was a very worthwhile discussion.

We're now going to discuss membership on the various committees, and we're going to start with the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. I'm going to open the floor for nominations. I will ask Senator Munson if he would start.

Senator Munson: Yes, chair. We will alternate here on our side so that everyone can participate. I will ask our three senators to move along after the Conservative side has made their nominations. I'll do the first on our side.

For the Aboriginal Peoples Committee: Senators Dyck, Lovelace Nicholas, Moore and Sibbeston.

The Chair: Thank you.

The floor is still open. Do I have other nominations?

Senator Plett: Yes. Our caucus would like to nominate Senators Beyak, Enverga, Patterson, Greene Raine, Tannas, Plett, Wells and Carignan.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to agree with that motion?

Senator McCoy: Point of order. Carignan is an ex officio member.

Senator Fraser: Can I make a comment on that? Having been an ex officio member at various periods of my life, the convention has been that ex officio members don't vote unless they have previously told their counterpart — the ex officio member on the other side — that they plan to vote. To be a full member of the committee, therefore, just means you can go and vote and you don't have to go through this traditional little extra wrinkle. Senator Martin is familiar with this. It's not unusual for members of leadership — even if, ex officio, they have the right to go — to be full members of a committee.

The Chair: Thank you.

We will now proceed to the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. I open the floor for nominations.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I nominate senators Mercer, Merchant, Moore and Tardif.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Senators Beyak, Dagenais, Maltais, McIntyre, Ogilvie, Oh, Plett and Unger.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

We will now move to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Hubley: I would like to nominate Senators Campbell, Hervieux-Payette, Massicotte and Ringuette.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Plett: We will nominate Senators Bellemare, Black, Gerstein, Greene, Maltais, Smith, Tannas and Tkachuk.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: The next one is the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Fraser: Chair, I would like to nominate Senators Massicotte, Mitchell, Ringuette and McCoy.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

The floor remains open. Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: I would like to nominate Senators Bellemare, Johnson, MacDonald, Mockler, Neufeld, Patterson, Seidman and Frum.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Munson: I would like to nominate Senators Hubley, Lovelace Nicholas, Munson and Watt.

The Chair: Thank you very much. The floor remains open.

Senator Martin: I nominate Senators Enverga, Manning, McInnis, Poirier, Greene Raine, Stewart Olsen, Wells and Martin.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee Foreign Affairs and International Trade. I open the floor for nominations.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I nominate senators Cordy, Dawson, Downe, and Smith (Cobourg).

[English]

Senator Frum: I would like to nominate Senators Andreychuk, Ataullahjan, Housakos, Johnson, Ngo, Oh, Poirier and Rivard.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Hubley: I would like to nominate Senators Cordy, Hubley and Munson.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Plett: I will nominate Senators Andreychuk, Ataullahjan, Frum, Nancy Ruth, Ngo and Plett.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Wells: I would like to nominate Senators Batters, Doyle, Housakos, Lang, Manning, Marshall, Smith (Saurel), Tannas, Tkachuk and Wells.

The Chair: The floor remains open.

Senator Fraser: Chair, I would like to nominate Senators Campbell, Cordy, Downe, Jaffer and Munson.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Martin: I nominate Senators Batters, Dagenais, McInnis, McIntyre, Plett, Runciman, White and Wells.

The Chair: Thank you very much. The floor remains open.

Senator Munson: I'd like to nominate Senators Baker, Fraser, Jaffer and Joyal.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament.

Senator Frum: I wish to nominate Senators Ataullahjan, Eaton and Rivard.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Hubley: I would like to nominate Senators Mercer and Merchant.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Plett: Madam Chair, I will nominate Senators Bellemare, Eaton, Gerstein, Manning, Marshall, Mockler, Neufeld and Smith.

The Chair: The floor remains open.

Senator Fraser: I may nominate Senators Campbell, Cowan, Hervieux-Payette and Mitchell.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Frum: Madam Chair, I wish to nominate Senators Beyak, Dagenais, Lang, Carignan, Ngo and White.

The Chair: Thank you. The floor remains open.

Senator Munson: I wish to nominate Senators Day, Kenny and Mitchell.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Martin: Madam Chair, I nominate Senators Maltais, McIntyre, Poirier, Rivard, Seidman and Wells.

The Chair: Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I nominate senators Fraser, Jaffer and Tardif.

[English]

The Chair: Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: We're moving to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Wells: Madam Chair, I would like to nominate Senators Batters, Doyle, Frum, Martin, McInnis, Ogilvie, Seidman, Tkachuk, Wells and White.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Hubley: I would like to nominate Senators Fraser, Jaffer, Joyal, Smith (Cobourg) and Cools.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Plett: I will nominate Senators Runciman, Frum, Carignan, Plett and Martin.

The Chair: Thank you.

Further nominations?

Senator Fraser: Yes. I will nominate Senators Moore, Smith (Cobourg) and McCoy.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Frum: Madam Chair, I wish to nominate Senators Frum, Nancy Ruth, Ogilvie, Raine, Seidman, Stewart Olsen, Martin and Carignan.

The Chair: Further nominations?

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I nominate senators Cowan, Eggleton, Merchant and Munson.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you, senator.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: We're going to move to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Again I open the floor for nominations.

Senator Hubley: I would like to nominate Senators Dawson, Eggleton, Mercer and Ringuette.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Senator Hubley, for the nominations.

Senator Plett: Madam Chair, I will nominate Senators Black, Greene, MacDonald, Runciman, Unger, Plett, Frum and Martin.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are all honourable senators in agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Before we move to the report, I just want to check —

Senator Plett: Veterans Affairs, chair.

Senator Fraser: Chair, I don't think that has to be done in this committee.

The Chair: No, because I don't have it.

Before we move to reporting back to the Senate, I'm going to check with our clerk to make sure there's nothing of a housekeeping nature that he needs.

Mr. Armitage: No.

The Chair: Very good, then.

We have to report back to the Senate. I would like to report back this afternoon.

Senator Fraser, I think you have a comment.

Senator Fraser: I do. Report back, fine, the sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned, in terms of the report, but you will recall that we re-established the old National Finance Committee. That re-established committee dies if the Senate has adopted this report, so nobody should be looking for leave to get this report adopted quickly.

The Chair: Yes. We've already thought about it. I agree with you completely.

Senator McCoy: Will there be no motion to adopt the report?

Senator Fraser: "When shall this report be taken into consideration?" — that kind of thing.

The Chair: We would only report but not look to have it adopted today. I wouldn't be looking for leave. I would wait to see how National Finance is doing with its study before we approve.

So I need a motion that we report to the Senate.

Senator Munson: So moved.

The Chair: So moved by Senator Munson. Thank you very much.

I think that's the end of our business, except for the adjournment.

Senator Plett: I move to adjourn.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

(The committee adjourned.)


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