Proceedings of the Committee on 
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Issue 3 - Evidence of December 3, 2002


OTTAWA, Tuesday, December 3, 2002

The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament met this day at 9:38 a.m. to consider that within 150 days, the Leader of the Government shall provide the Senate with a comprehensive government response to the report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence entitled: ``Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility,'' tabled on August 30, 2002.

Senator Lorna Milne (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, with regard to the motion which forms the substantive part of our agenda today, the government did provide the Senate with that response within the 150 days but the matter is still before this committee to consider as a general rule for the Senate. It also was the subject of the fourteenth report of the previous committee, which was presented in the last session but was never passed by the Senate.

Does everyone have a copy of the document headed, ``Excerpts from the Fourteenth Report from the Standing Committee on Rules...''? This is part of the committee's report that was referred back to us by Senator Gauthier. We have dealt with it at two different times. There is a mistake on the third page, under ``Annex.'' The motion referred was as follows:

That the Rules of Senate be amended, by adding after Rule 90 the following new Rule:

90.1 Ninety days following the passage by the Senate of a select committee's report, the government shall table, at the Senate's request, a comprehensive response.

That was the original reference. The committee itself decided to change that number to 150 days.

Mr. James R. Robertson, Researcher, Library of Parliament: The original motion referred to this committee in the last session came from Senator Lynch-Staunton. It provided for a 90-day government response period. In its decision, the committee decided that 150 days was appropriate. That was done on the basis of consistency with the rule in the House of Commons that allows 150 days for government responses.

I went back this morning to check that. It came from the Lefebvre committee, which was established in 1982 following the bell-ringing episode in the House of Commons. The Lefebvre committee made a number of recommendations of a procedural nature, one of which was that committees be allowed to require a government response. The wording of the standing order is a comprehensive government response, and there has been great variety in the comprehensiveness of responses tabled. The Speaker in the House of Commons has consistently said that it is not his role or her role to decide on whether the response is sufficient, whether it is comprehensive or not, and that it would be left to the government to decide what constitutes an appropriate response.

I was involved in one situation in the late 1980s when a committee prepared a major report of more than 100 pages on the Canadian broadcasting system and the then minister of communications and culture tabled a two-page letter saying, ``You made some interesting suggestions and I intend to review them in more detail and get back to you at the appropriate time.'' You have read many of those.

However, the idea was set out that this at least allows a committee to bring something to the attention of the government and to force the government to make some formal response. The suggestion was that a similar procedure should be adopted for the Senate. That is why, in its fourteenth report, this committee thought that was a good idea. Basically, it would enhance the capacity of committees to obtain a clear and public reaction from governments to policy studies and recommendations. The absence of such a response potentially undermines the Senate by not allowing committees a formal means of seeking a response and a widespread perception that these studies are simply tabled and gather dust. It would be tangible evidence of government attention and contribute to the debate on policy formulation. The issue came up again in this committee when we talked about the tabling and presenting of reports. As Senator Andreychuk said at that time, the fact that a report is tabled for information purposes and that no follow-up decision is required does not mean that the Senate does not want to take into account the report and to discuss it in an appropriate forum. The idea of a government response would provide yet another opportunity for the committees to require the government to provide a response to them.

The difference from the House rule, which is that a committee in its report may request a government response, is that under the Senate proposal the Senate would make that determination. It would not be up to individual committees; it would be subject to a Senate vote. The Senate would adopt a resolution that would thereby set in motion this requirement. In the House, there is no requirement for the chamber to do anything. It is up to the committee, in its report, to include a reference to standing order 110.

In the last session, this committee made such a recommendation and it did modify the original proposal of 90 days, which probably is not enough time to go through government decision-making processes. I believe these reports are presented to cabinet before they are tabled in the chamber, and therefore there is a lengthy process at a governmental level. The 150 days would be more practical, but it would also be consistent with that employed by the House of Commons at this time. It is 150 calendar days; it is not related to sitting days.

The Chairman: I think that is a very good idea — anything to ensure that the government actually looks at our reports. Does the Senate actually have the ability to demand this of the government?

Mr. Robertson: Yes, the Senate can do this at present. There is nothing to prevent the Senate from doing it. Some concern was raised in the past with respect to the fact that the Senate is not a confidence chamber and the fact that ministers generally do not sit in the Senate. Therefore, what recourse is there if the government does not abide by an order of the Senate? I think the Senate's powers are quite strong in that regard and it would be a disobedience of an order of the Senate if a report were not tabled by the end of the 150 days.

The Chairman: The only recourse the Senate has to the disobedience of an order of the Senate is for the Senate to require an individual to appear before it. It has the force of a subpoena, but I cannot see the Senate subpoenaing the government.

Mr. Robertson: Presumably the minister responsible could be invited to attend before the Senate or before the committee to explain the reasons a response was not tabled within the 150 days.

On this point, according to the House of Commons annotated standing orders, the text of the House of Commons standing order is silent on the procedure to be followed if the standing order is breached. They do not set out a procedure in the house for breaching. To my knowledge, it has never been taken up as contempt of the House. Presumably a point of order would be raised if a response were not tabled within the appropriate time.

The Chairman: In the House it is contempt of a committee, not of the house itself.

Mr. Robertson: That is right.

Senator Rompkey: I remember our earlier discussion in this committee on this point. I think the suggestion was that the committee could take action, that the committee could call the minister before it if the minister had not responded. Alternatively, there would be a lot of pressure on the Leader of the Government in the Senate and he or she would be on the firing line of some minister who did not comply. If that were Senator Carstairs, it would not necessarily be her fault, but she would have to defend what might be the indefensible. The pressure has to be on the minister and it is the committee that should exercise the pressure if the minister does not respond in a comprehensive way within 150 days. As I recall, that was the tenor of the previous discussion.

Senator Andreychuk: Also, with respect to publicity, a government that is not responding to the Senate should have some salutary effect by that statement in itself.

Senator Rompkey: Yes, but I think it is the committee that should bear the brunt of action and not the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Joyal: I first want to address the issue of confidence. I think it is stretching the argument a little far. The issue of confidence is essentially linked to money bills and not to general studies of committees.

Second, if the government put its survival clearly at stake on a vote in the House, then there is a confidence vote, but that type of situation is exceptional. It is not the convention. Convention provides that a money bill usually triggers a confidence vote. In my opinion, all the other situations are reinterpretations that sometimes suit the purpose of governments but they are not really the constitutional convention.

With regard to the issue of a government and a minister who would refuse to respond to a Senate study in an appropriate form, I think that the way for the Senate to go after the minister is to look to the Estimates. We cannot defeat the government, but we can certainly go after an item in the Estimates. The effective capacity of the Senate is in going after ministers who refuse to respond appropriately. We are not asking for a government to be responsible for something done by the Senate, but we do want to have a reasonable answer to recommendations of committees that have worked diligently and satisfactorily.

Even though the government is not responsible, we still have a very important element of constitutional responsibility, and that is part of the powers of the Senate.

The Chairman: It is a very effective lever.

Senator Joyal: We had a lengthy discussion with regard to the fourteenth report around this table and there was a consensus that we must revise the way the Senate approaches the issue of the tabling of reports and following up on reports.

I hope that the statistics that Ms. Lank circulated this morning will be appended to the record of our sitting this morning. Those statistics are very telling with regard to the committee's work. There has been a substantial increase in the number of reports from all Senate committees in the last five years. In the last fiscal year there were 139 reports; the year before there were 190 reports; before that there were 84 reports, and so on. We achieved a new record last year. It is part of our responsibility to decide how we do the follow-up on those reports to avoid, as both Senator Rompkey and you have said, shelving them. That is part of the work of the Senate.

I was totally supportive of Senator Lynch-Staunton's motion to review the procedure of following up on reports. That is an important subject. In fact, the motion of Senator Kenny about the report under security is a good example of why we should revive the motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton. That would respond to Senator Kenny's preoccupation not only with his committee but also with other committees of the Senate that have produced substantial reports on various issues. They maintain public discussion because when the minister is on record as having responded to a report of the Senate that becomes part of the public domain and the public debate in Canada. Essentially, that is what we are there for when we publish a study on the substantial issue of policy, namely, to support the making of public opinion and the coalescing of public opinion about the various options the government has in deciding to make its policies.

The Chairman: Yes. I would remind senators that the figure of 139 reports last year includes all reports of committees. It includes both those that were presented in the Senate for action in the Senate, and those that were tabled. In this, we are speaking of the reports that are tabled; that is, the special studies.

Senator Smith: We have had a good discussion this morning. I am comfortable with the wording. I think the only word we can use is ``request.'' We cannot use the word ``demand.'' We want to this evolve into a pattern so that, in the normal course of business, the government does this. In other words, it becomes the norm. It is becoming the norm in the House, I believe, although there may be exceptions. They have the rule, so we should use the appropriate terminology so that it becomes the norm here as well.

Senator Joyal made a good point when he referred to the lever of the Estimates. I am having flashbacks in that I remember being on the rules committee in the House 20 years ago when the bells were ringing. At 8:30 this morning, I was speaking at a convention of disabled persons at the convention centre. The subject of ``obstacles,'' reminded me of the report which I produced 20 years ago. I mention this because I think it is relevant.

You can no longer do things like this, but 1981 was the International Year of Disabled Persons. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It was Mr. Trudeau's fourth term and some members were restless. They were not happy. Some genius in the Prime Minister's Office came up with the idea of finding things for people to do.

The Chairman: You are on the record here, you realize, Senator Smith.

Senator Smith: I am happy for it to be on the record because it is worth bearing in mind. They then established five committees. I have to think long and hard as to what the other four were about, but I certainly remember what ours was about. In order to get the message out, we decided to personalize our proceedings and to interview 12 people with various disabilities from across the country. We had full-page pictures of them. A writer from Toronto who worked in an advertising agency met with all of these people and reduced to everyday language the extent of their problems. You will see the relevance of what I am saying in a few minutes.

We came up with 130 recommendations, but it was the stories of all these people that caught the imaginations of others. We were getting requests from MPs and high schools for thousands of copies of our report. Finally, we produced an abbreviated version which contained those stories. About 360,000 copies were printed. I got heck from the Speaker because of the bill for this. They then passed a rule that you could no longer have photographs in any of these parliamentary reports because, if you did, people might actually read them.

The relevant point, honourable senators, is that we decided that we would prepare and publish a follow-up report. Several different departments and Crown corporations were involved in this. A year later, we published another report that was about half the size of the first report and it contained the responses of every agency to all of our recommendations. This would only be practical where you were doing a comprehensive report similar to the current one on health. We published our report and went through what the government had done in response to every single one of the recommendations. I mention that so that people can bear it in mind because that is another lever that a committee may use. Everyone knew our report was in the making, and it motivated responses that we otherwise would never have received. I was speaking about that this morning, of all things.

Senator Joyal: I was the object of one of the senator's recommendations, absolutely. I say this because today is the special celebration day of handicapped people. One of the 30 recommendations was to appoint a minister specifically responsible for the implementation of the recommendation and the follow-up. I happen to have been appointed the minister responsible for that. That was due to a recommendation of Senator Smith. I had to appear at the committee of the House of Commons each year, in my capacity as the minister responsible for these recommendations, to follow-up on them. There was a clear undertaking of the government to contribute to the improvements of integration and rights of the handicapped. It is a good example of what a committee can do, but it must have a follow-up procedure. That is what Senator Lynch-Staunton is proposing, namely, a follow-up procedure.

The Chairman: At the bottom of the page, in the fourth paragraph, it states, ``Ensuring a Visible Response to Committee Reports.'' Responses can also provide an initial focus for follow-up study. That is very important. One of the sad stories of the Senate is that for so many years excellent reports were prepared on various subjects and those reports sat on the shelf never to be seen again. They are still probably gathering dust somewhere. This would ensure some way of at least getting our reports out to the public and of drawing them to the attention of the government.

Senator Rompkey: I repeat the point I made earlier, that is, if the government does not respond to the original committee report we have some responsibility and some leverage to follow up on that.

The Chairman: After asking for a response within 150 days, what happens if we get an outright refusal?

Senator Rompkey: The committee then calls the minister before it.

Senator Stratton: Let us take the difficult scenario where the minister refuses to appear.

Senator Rompkey: Do you mean refuses to appear before the committee?

Senator Stratton: Yes. It happens. They refuse to appear. We would then say that the level is the Estimates. However, those Estimates could be a long way down the road, so this kind of thing going on between a minister and the Senate could go on for a while and then die.

If we have, for example, a government in the House of a different stripe or colour than that of the majority in the Senate, I can see that happening. If it is a contentious issue, it will happen. What can the Senate then do? What recourse does it have? If there is that kind of fight going on, the only recourse you have is friendly persuasion. If that minister happens to have introduced a bill that he wants us to pass, he will cough up. That is what it will ultimately boil down to. That is how I think the negotiation will go on this.

The Chairman: On the last last two pages of this handout, we have the proposed rule from the previous committee. The paragraph numbered (3) reads:

Where the Senate adopts a resolution or a report under subsection (2), the report of the select committee and the response of the Government or the explanation of the Government Leader for the absence of a response are deemed to be referred to the select committee one hundred and fifty calendar days after the adoption of the report.

This rule provides for it to be referred back to the select committee.

Senator Joyal: I want to address the point of Senator Stratton by way of an example. Two years ago, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs produced a report dealing with the changing of riding names. We suggested a way to do that, which it was ignored. Two years later, it came back before us and we raised the issue of having a report. At the same time, the House of Commons, the other place, was reviewing the way it was dealing with private members' bills coming from here. These bills are no longer private once the Senate has voted on them; they have become a Senate bill. We adjourned the issue of the request from the House of Commons because we wanted to have fair consideration of our own position. I think that is one method we have.

There are multiple ways to skin a cat in political terms. The minister would say it is the majority of the other party, but you must remember that on a given committee study there is input from both sides of the house, and the report is normally a consensual report from all the members of the committee. It is not a majority report; it is a report of the committee. It then becomes a report of the Senate.

If I were faced with such a situation, I would analyze what the most effective way the Senate has to address this.

The Chairman: As you say, there are many ways to skin a cat. First, the media would never let it go. Second, that minister would undoubtedly want to have some of his legislation passed by the Senate in the future.

Senator Joyal: There would be a delay.

The Chairman: That minister would be called in the future before a committee to explain and defend his legislation and would be open for questions on any subject.

Senator Joyal: In that example, there were some changes in the rules of the other place dealing with Senate private members' bills.

Senator Stratton: That was a wonderful move.

Senator Andreychuk: The previous committee understood we were talking about getting a reply. Therefore, it is a request for a reply from the government. It was not ever intended to be a reply that would accept our recommendations. That is a totally different issue from what we are getting into now. Our reports were gathering dust and the government was not commenting on them. We fully expected that this was the first step to see whether, by putting it forcefully to the government, it would have to reply. We were putting ourselves on an equal footing with the House of Commons and we were going to monitor the kinds of replies it was giving. If the replies were superficial, thanking us for the wonderful report and indicating they would study it, that would not be enough. If they were actually making a substantive reply, then of course we would not have to go the next step.

However, I never took it to be getting into negotiation, or a discussion of how to influence the government to adopt the recommendations of our reports. I think that is horse trading, that is, the innovative way that we bargain with the government to have our views accepted.

The Chairman: No, I do not think we are trying to force the government into accepting our recommendations, but we want to know that they have actually studied the report.

Senator Andreychuk: I remember when one report involving Aboriginal veterans was filed and I did not know the rules, so I did not immediately request a reply from the government. That was one of the instances where the Leader of the Government in the Senate would tell us that she would take it up with the government, and then tell us that she had done so, but there was never a formal response. That was one instance that led us to realize that the government had to rethink how it deals with Senate reports.

The Chairman: It is not that the government does not reply; it is sometimes the adequacy of the reply that creates a problem.

I would point out that paragraph (3) on this last page comes back to what you were mentioning before, Senator Rompkey, where the Senate adopts a resolution, report, et cetera. The response of the government or the explanation of the government leader for the absence of a response puts the government leader on the hook again. You were saying that that perhaps is not the most appropriate thing to have happen.

Senator Rompkey: Having sat in Question Period in the House of Commons and listened to questions and to ministers' responses, I notice that, even when a minister is briefed, with a briefing book before him that he can flip through, the response is not always on target or knowledgeable. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. However, in the Senate, the Leader of the Government has to get up every day and try to answer every question from every department. That amazes me. I do not want to be partisan about this or gild the lily in any way, but it amazes me that she is able to give some sort of substantive answer to various questions.

It is unreasonable to expect the Leader of the Government in the Senate to answer for every single minister in the government. The pressure has to be put on that minister. It is the committee that can put the pressure on the minister. It is the committee that has the levers available to it. That is where the onus must be.

I realize that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is a conduit, but it is the minister's responsibility to reply, and it is the committee's responsibility to exert the pressure and pull the levers if that does not happen.

Senator Andreychuk: On a point of clarification, previous committees said the same thing, except if there were some justifiable reason why you could not get a reply in 150 days. I cannot remember what examples we used. Surely, it is the Leader of the Government in the Senate who would stand up and say, ``Unfortunately, here are the issues.'' We are not letting the minister off the hook.

The Chairman: This report then is deemed to be referred back to the committee. This would create the paper trail within the Senate, which we need in order for committees to undertake a study.

Senator Stratton: Senator Rompkey and I rarely disagree. However, for the sake of argument, the levers of power are in the hands of the Leader of the Government in the Senate and with his or her power at that cabinet table to get an appropriate response. I still believe that. The committee can yell and scream all it wants, but there has to be someone sitting around the cabinet table yelling on behalf of the committee and the Senate. I give credit to Senator Carstairs for doing that. She has been a strong advocate and defender of this place. She goes to cabinet, bangs on the table, and we get responses.

That has not always been the case. Previous leaders of the government in the Senate have not had that power or exerted that authority. Therefore, it falls on the Leader of the Government in the Senate to ensure that. I firmly believe that. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate does not exert or deliver that authority, then they have no right to be there, in my humble opinion. That is where I think the ultimate power has to lie.

Senator Rompkey: Clearly, subparagraph (b) has to stand as is. It reads:

(b) require the Leader of the Government in the Senate to either table the Government's response within the 150 day period or provide the Senate with an explanation;

That has to stand because the Leader of the Government is the conduit between the two chambers.

Subparagraph (c) makes the point that I am making, that is, the issue should then go back to the committee, and the responsibility and the levers are with the committee to take action, once the leader has either tabled the response or given an explanation as to why not.

I am not arguing necessarily that I want the words changed. I simply make the point that the report comes out of the committee and, after the action or inaction of the government, it is the committee that has the levers to take action on whatever happens.

The Chairman: The wording of the new rule would be that the report ``be deemed'' to be referred to the select committee for 150 calendar days after the adoption of the report. Whether we hear or do not hear, it is ``deemed'' to have been referred.

Senator Joyal: I want to add to the comments made by Senator Stratton on the status of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We must keep this point clearly in mind. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has the status of minister in cabinet. However, in the Senate she or he is a senator like any other. He or she cannot be censored by a vote in the Senate because, for example, a minister in the other place did not respond or is fighting with the Senate. Essentially, the government leader is a conduit. He is there to transmit the information from the other place to our place. He is not responsible for a minister who refuses to answer systematically a motion of the Senate. He is there to give to the benefit of the Senate as a whole the government's position on an issue. It is then up to the Senate to decide what to do.

Even if the Senate voted on a motion ``blaming'' — to use the harshest term — a minister for not having diligently performed his role, the government leader would not be compelled to resign; the government would be blamed. A similar vote in the House would, of course, create a lot of problems.

We must understand the role of the Leader of the Government in providing explanations. For example, let us say the government leader says in the Senate that the report on an issue of policy is, in the eyes of the government, wrong, period. It is up to the Senate at that time to ask itself, ``What shall we do?'' With this rule, the matter would be referred immediately to the committee for committee members to decide the appropriate measure to be taken to review the issue.

The government leader is not a minister in the same sense as is a minister in the other place. Their role is to inform us of where the government stands on the issue. That is his or her role.

That is why I think that, as Senator Rompkey mentioned, it is extraordinary for one single person to be able to give information on everything. It does not affect his or her status in the Senate if the answer appears to be not satisfactory. It is up to the Senate to decide after that what it has to do with the government.

Senator Wiebe: Senator Joyal more than adequately covered the points I wanted to raise in response to the points raised by Senator Rompkey. One of the advantages that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has is that that individual will know when the 150 days has expired and he or she is in cabinet and would be able to put the proper pressure on a cabinet colleague by saying, ``In five or ten days, the government must respond to this request.'' If that individual cabinet minister or the government as a whole decides that they will not respond, then that is the report that the Leader of the Government in the Senate provides to the Senate. I do not think we are putting him or her at a disadvantage in terms of being able to answer the question in that period of time.

Senator Rompkey: I do not disagree with what Senator Wiebe has said. I do not mean to imply that the Leader of the Government in the Senate should do nothing. It is legitimate for the leader to go to cabinet to remind his or her colleagues of what they should do. In fact, our present leader does that. Senator Stratton made the point better than I can. Under this particular leader that has been happening, and it should continue to happen. She should advise her colleagues of what they should do within a time period, and that is proper.

We were talking not about what might be done but about responsibility. It seems to me that she can make the intervention, but if the reply is not satisfactory or forthcoming, then it is the Senate through its committee that must take some follow-up action. We are talking about not what might be done but about responsibility.

The Chairman: I remind honourable senators that this proposed rule does not give any responsibility whatsoever to the government.

Senator Stratton: I do not disagree with having subparagraph (c). However, I still think the biggest hammer you have is the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If you want to elicit a response, it is his or her responsibility to ensure that happens. What is the role of the leader if it is not to sit at the cabinet table and demand a response from cabinet or ministers? That is partly why they are there.

From my point of view at any rate, I insist that person has the greatest lever of all around that cabinet table. It is a special place. They should be able to have that kind of clout. If he or she does not, I for one, if our party formed the government, would point that out.

The Chairman: My question concerns subparagraph (c), which states: ``deem the report and the comprehensive response to be referred...'' I would simply say ``response,'' no matter what form it is in, because it is up to the committee to decide whether it is comprehensive. I would remove the word ``comprehensive.''

Senator Joyal: I have two points to make on that subject. The first one concerns the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was under the impression, having read past articles, that making the Leader of the Government in the Senate a Privy Councillor is a recent creation. That position carries the rank of a cabinet minister. This is a recent status. I cannot put a specific date on it without further research but, in my opinion, it was around the second half of the last century — around the 1950s. I asked for our able people from the table to confirm that for me.

I remember reading the biography of former Senator Raoul Dandurand, who was the government leader in the Senate but who was not made a cabinet minister. We would have to research that. If there is such a change in the way that the status of the government leader in the Senate is confirmed, it has some effect, as Senator Stratton pointed out. The point that Senator Stratton made about that senator now being a Privy Councillor provides the Senate with additional capacity to obtain more immediate information on government policies and issues, but it is not part of our institution. It is not an essential character of our institution, and it is important to keep that in mind.

My second point concerns the French version. The word ``comprehensive'' has been translated to the word ``globale'' and I think the word ``globale'' means ``general'' more than it means ``comprehensive.'' In English, the word ``comprehensive'' means that each recommendation will be the object of a position — an answer. By saying ``globale'' in French, it does not mean that it will address each and every recommendation; rather it will simply address the entire issue. The first meaning of ``globale'' is ``the whole.'' ``Une réponse globale'' is a response that addresses the entire or the whole issue, while a comprehensive response means, systematically, each and every recommendation. I suggest that we change that word.

The Chairman: That is in the recommendation, but in the actual wording of the rule, it is ``complèter des détails.''

Senator Joyal: That is much closer to the meaning of ``comprehensive'' than the word ``globale.''

The Chairman: We have had a fairly good discussion of this matter. Could we draft a report so that we may consider it at our next meeting?

Mr. Robertson: Yes.

Mr. Blair Armitage, Clerk of the Committee: In keeping with what you have been talking about, the last paragraph of the text before the recommendations states that the Senate has no easy means to compel a minister of the Crown. One consistent trend line that you established early in this session has been to remind senators that, when they make a motion that involves rights and privileges, they should be conscious of that. When we talked about asking for permission to table when the Senate is not sitting, you are reminded that when you pass such a motion it has an impact. Perhaps they were not taking that impact into consideration previously. Perhaps some of this wording along those lines will remind senators that if you are going to pass this report and, more important, if you are to pass a resolution that a report be responded to within 150 days, you may be called upon to back that up in one way or another. That would be consistent and useful to your colleagues.

Senator Joyal: I would like to support the opinion expressed by our clerk.

The Chairman: We will see that it is put into the background material for the report.

Senator Joyal: It always helps to put such an item in the background material so that we begin with the principles, what the report addresses and which important institutional principle it questions. That is important because we have to familiarize ourselves, generally. We should keep that in mind when we address issues such as these.

The Chairman: Are we all agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Thank you.

The committee adjourned.