Report of the committee

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Committee of Selection has the honour to present its

FIFTH REPORT

On October 29, 2020, the Senate authorized your committee to make recommendations to the Senate on issues related to meetings of either the Senate or committees by videoconference. Your committee now presents an interim report.

On November 17, 2020, the Senate adopted a motion authorizing standing Senate committees to hold hybrid meetings or meetings entirely by videoconference, subject to certain conditions, which was subsequently extended on December 17, 2020 to be in effect from February 1, 2021 to June 23, 2021. However, these two motions did not include provisions for standing joint committees.

On January 25, 2021, the House of Commons adopted a motion to authorize virtual and hybrid meetings for standing joint committees. Accordingly, your committee now recommends that:

(a)the Senate authorize standing joint committees to hold hybrid meetings or meetings entirely by videoconference;

(b)hybrid committee meetings or meetings entirely by videoconference be considered, for all purposes, to be meetings of the standing joint committee in question, and senators taking part in such meetings be considered, for all purposes, to be present at the meeting;

(c)that for greater certainty, when a standing joint committee holds a hybrid meeting or meets entirely by videoconference:

(i)all members of a standing joint committee participating count towards quorum;

(ii)such meetings be considered to be occurring in the parliamentary precinct, irrespective of where participants may be; and

(iii)the standing joint committees be directed to approach in camera meetings with all necessary precaution, taking account of the risks to confidentiality inherent in such technologies.

(d)subject to variations that may be required by the circumstances, to participate in a meeting by videoconference senators must:

(i)use a desktop or laptop computer and headphones with integrated microphone provided by the Senate for videoconferences;

(ii)not use other devices such as personal tablets or smartphones;

(iii)be the only people visible on the videoconference;

(iv)have their video on and broadcasting their image at all times; and

(v)leave the videoconference if they leave their seat.

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

Respectfully submitted,

TERRY M. MERCER

Chair