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THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade met by videoconference this day at 4:30 p.m. [ET], pursuant to rule 12-13 of the Rules of the Senate, to organize the activities of the committee.

[English]

Gaëtane Lemay, Clerk of the Committee: Honourable senators, as the clerk of your committee, it is my duty to preside over the election of the chair. I am ready to receive a motion to that effect. Are there any nominations?

Senator M. Deacon: For the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, it would be an honour for me to nominate the Honourable Senator Peter Boehm, Ontario.

Ms. Lemay: Are there any other nominations?

Senator Housakos: I would like to nominate Honourable Senator Peter Harder.

Ms. Lemay: Are there any other nominations?

Senator Harder: While I’m graciously welcoming the nomination from Senator Housakos, I would like to withdraw that nomination in favour of the Honourable Senator Peter Boehm.

Ms. Lemay: If there are no other nominations, honourable senators, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Deacon that the Honourable Senator Boehm takes the chair of this committee. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Ms. Lemay: I declare the motion carried.

I invite the Honourable Senator Boehm to take the chair now.

Senator Peter M. Boehm (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: Thank you very much, dear colleagues.

Thank you for your support and your confidence. It doesn’t take long, I’ve noticed, to take the chair on Zoom. You press a button and it happens; you don’t have to get up.

By the way that we are meeting, we know we are in a difficult and challenging time. There will be technical difficulties, as we all know, but there are also a lot of big issues confronting the planet and the world, and Canada is a global actor. We will be asked to do many things. I’m delighted to have your support and I will support all of you as well.

We have to, my understanding, only about half an hour to conduct this meeting so much of it will be procedural. I would ask that we move to the second point on the agenda which is the election of the deputy chairs. I’m ready to receive nominations to that effect.

Are there nominations?

Senator Ravalia: I would like to nominate Senator Leo Housakos.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Ravalia.

Senator Housakos has been nominated as deputy chair. Are there any other nominations?

Senator Housakos: I would like to nominate Senator Ngo. I graciously appreciate the nomination from Senator Ravalia, but I withdraw my candidacy. Like Senator Harder, we like to serve in the background, more than the forefront.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Senator Housakos, for your nomination of Senator Ngo. Would anyone like to second that nomination?

Senator Ataullahjan: I would.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Ataullahjan.

Are there any other views?

All those in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Congratulations, Senator Ngo, on your election as deputy chair. I will give the deputy chairs an opportunity to speak. We have one more deputy chair to elect. Are there nominations?

Senator Ngo: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Senator Housakos. Thank you, everybody, for your support and for your trust in me and I hope I can do my best in this committee.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Ngo.

Are there any other nominations?

Senator Harder: I’m in the invidious position of thinking Senator Housakos was nominating me for deputy chair. He jumped the gun. I don’t know whether he is prepared to nominate me in this position?

Senator Housakos: I am prepared to nominate Senator Harder as deputy chair, absolutely.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Senator Housakos.

Thank you very much for helping Senator Housakos, Senator Harder.

All those in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Congratulations, Senator Harder. I will now offer an opportunity for both Senator Ngo and Senator Harder to say a few words, if they wish. Senator Ngo, do you want to add to what you’ve already said?

Senator Ngo: No, thank you. I think we’d better hurry up with the organization meeting. I will let Senator Harder say a few words.

Senator Harder: Let me just say thank you, and I look forward to working with all colleagues.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Senator Harder. We have as Item 3 the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. First, the motion to create the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, known as the steering committee.

For this session, it was agreed that all four parties and groups would have a representative on the steering committee. Are there any nominations for the fourth member of the steering committee?

Senator Harder: Yes, I would like that Senator Stephen Greene be the fourth member of the steering committee.

The Chair: Any others? Support for Senator Greene? Yes?

Senator Harder: Agreed.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Greene: Thank you very much.

The Chair: Senator Greene, you’re on board. Would the committee members be agreeable to changing the wording of the proposed motion to, “That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be composed of the chair, the deputy chairs and Senator Greene?” Is there agreement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I was going to ask for a proposer for Motion 3, but it was so far down the page, I didn’t see it. I think we’ve just done it and senators have adopted the motion.

[Translation]

Item 4 concerns the motion to publish the committee’s proceedings. Do I have a proposer for Motion 4?

[English]

Senator Dean: I so move.

The Chair: Senator Dean, thank you very much. All in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Motion carried.

[Translation]

Item 5 concerns the financial report. In accordance with rule 12-26(2), each committee shall table a report on any special expenses incurred during the previous session. You received an email containing a copy of the draft report prepared by the clerk.

Do I have a proposer for this motion?

[English]

Senator Coyle: I so move.

[Translation]

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Coyle. Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: I declare the motion carried. Thank you.

[English]

Do I have a proposer for Motion 6 on research staff?

Senator Housakos: So moved.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Housakos. The Honourable Senator Housakos moved:

That the committee ask the Library of Parliament to assign analysts to the committee;

That the chair be authorized to seek authority from the Senate to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of the committee’s examination and consideration of such bills, subject-matters of bills, and estimates as are referred to it;

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be authorized to retain the services of such experts as may be required by the work of the committee; and

That the chair, on behalf of the committee, direct the research staff in the preparation of studies, analyses, summaries, and draft reports.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Motion carried. I now invite the analysts, Pascal Tremblay and Brian Hermon, to turn their videos on so we can see them.

[Translation]

Mr. Tremblay has served the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee since 2015. He was assigned to the House of Commons International Trade Committee from 2013 to 2015 and again in 2017. Pascal also served as an adviser to the Canadian Section of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie from 2014 to 2019.

[English]

Brian Hermon is an analyst with the Library of Parliament. Brian has been assigned to this committee since the beginning of the Forty-Third Parliament, and he previously served this committee between 2012 and 2014. Brian was assigned to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee between 2014 and 2019, and he also served as an adviser to the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association between 2014 and 2019.

Thank you very much, gentlemen, for what you have done and what you are about to do.

We will move on now to authority to commit funds and certify accounts. I would like a proposer for Motion 7.

Senator Coyle: So moved.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Coyle. The Honourable Senator Coyle moved:

That, pursuant to section 7, chapter 3:05 of the Senate Administrative Rules, authority to commit funds be conferred individually on the chair, the deputy chairs, and the clerk of the committee;

That, pursuant to section 8, Chapter 3:05 of the Senate Administrative Rules, authority for certifying accounts payable by the committee be conferred individually on the chair, the deputy chairs, and the clerk of the committee; and

That, notwithstanding the foregoing, in cases related to consultants and personnel services, the authority to commit funds and certify accounts be conferred jointly on the chair and deputy chairs.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Excellent. Thank you, senators.

[Translation]

Item 8 concerns travel. Do I have a proposer for Motion 8?

Senator Saint-Germain: I so move.

The Chair: The Honourable Senator Saint-Germain moved:

That the committee empower the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure to designate, as required, one or more members of the committee and/or such staff as may be necessary to travel on assignment on behalf of the committee.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: I declare the motion carried.

[English]

Next is designation of members travelling on committee business. Do I have a proposer for Motion 9?

Senator Harder: So moved.

Senator M. Deacon: So moved.

The Chair: I have several. The Honourable Senators Harder and M. Deacon move:

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be authorized to:

1) determine whether any member of the committee is on “official business” for the purposes of paragraph 8(3)(a) of the Senators Attendance Policy, published in the Journals of the Senate on Wednesday, June 3, 1998; and

2) consider any member of the committee to be on “official business” if that member is: (a) attending an event or meeting related to the work of the committee; or (b) making a presentation related to the work of the committee; and

That the subcommittee report at the earliest opportunity any decisions taken with respect to the designation of members of the committee travelling on committee business.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you, senators.

[Translation]

Item 10 concerns the travelling and living expenses of witnesses. Do I have a proposer for Motion 10?

Senator Saint-Germain: I so move.

The Chair: The Honourable Senator Saint-Germain moved:

That, pursuant to the Senate guidelines for witness expenses, the committee may reimburse reasonable travelling and living expenses of one witness per organization upon application, but that the chair be authorized to approve expenses of a second witness from the same organization should there be exceptional circumstances.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Motion carried.

[English]

Do I have a proposer for Motion 11?

Senator Ngo: So moved.

The Chair: Thank you. The Honourable Senator Ngo moved:

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be empowered to direct communications officer(s) assigned to the committee in the development of communications plans and products where appropriate and to request the services of the Senate Communications Directorate for the purposes of the promotion of their work; and

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be empowered to allow coverage by electronic media, of the committee’s public proceedings, with the least possible disruption of its proceedings, at its discretion.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your support, senators.

We now come to item 12 on our rapid-fire agenda and that is other business. Would any senator like to take the floor?

Senator D. Black: First of all, congratulations, Mr. Chair.

Senator Ngo, Senator Harder and Senator Greene, congratulations and thank you for serving.

Do we need to deal with the question of allowing our staff to participate in the meetings and in camera sessions? Is there a process for that?

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Black. My understanding is there is a process for that. It will be discussed by our steering committee, and we will also turn to Ms. Lemay to explain this.

Ms. Lemay: Senator Boehm is right. There will be proposals made at the steering committee level. They will have to make a decision about how to proceed, and then the steering will report back to the full committee with an option regarding the presence of the staff at the meetings.

It could not be done today because there was not a properly organized committee, but there will be in the near future.

Senator D. Black: Thanks so much, very helpful.

The Chair: Are there any other elements of business? I wanted to say we are trying to organize a steering committee meeting for next week, so a notice will go out to steering committee members on that basis. It’s a bit difficult looking for time slots. I think we are all aware of the constraints we are under.

If there are no other comments under other business, then all I can do is declare this meeting adjourned. I don’t have a gavel so I will just say it is adjourned.

(The committee adjourned)