Proceedings of the Special Committee
on Senate Modernization
Issue No. 8 - Evidence - December 7, 2016
OTTAWA, Wednesday, December 7, 2016
The Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, to which was referred
Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of
Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate), met this day at 12:01 p.m. to give
consideration to the bill.
Senator Tom McInnis (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, this meeting of the Special Senate
Committee on Senate Modernization is in public.
The Senate has referred to this committee Bill S-213, An Act to amend the
Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the
Senate). This is a public bill proposed by one of our colleagues, the Honourable
Terry Mercer, who appears before us today.
While this bill has a similar general objective in nature to one of the
recommendations this committee made in its first report, the mechanism in
getting there is very different. I'm sure my colleagues on the committee share
with me my eager anticipation of the explanation Senator Mercer has for this
approach and his vision for its implementation.
Senator Mercer, please proceed with your opening remarks, and then senators
will have questions, I'm sure.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer, sponsor of the bill: Thank you, Senator McInnis
and colleagues, for having me. I thank the committee for welcoming me here today
to talk about Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the
Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate).
Let me begin by congratulating the committee on its deliberations thus far.
Your recommendations will spur debate on how we can further improve the Senate
and how the Senate operates so that we can do a better job as senators for all
Canadians. While I may not agree wholeheartedly with all or even some of the
recommendations, I do look forward to debate on those proposals. I will hold my
comments on most of them for now except for one, of course. This specific
proposal concerns the speakership of the Senate and selecting up to five
senators as nominees for consideration by the Prime Minister to recommend to the
Governor General for appointment. I will get back to that later.
I'd like to review what my bill does, offering some commentary on why we
should be considering this. I apologize in advance if this is repetitive for
some. I hope to stick to the 15 minutes provided to me.
I have the utmost respect for the role of the Speaker. In my tenure in the
Senate, I have served with five different Speakers: Senator Dan Hays, Senator
Noël Kinsella, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, Senator Leo Housakos and, of course,
the current Speaker, the Honourable George Furey. All of them have served with
Senate with dignity, in good times and in bad. The Speaker is our counsellor,
our keeper of decorum and our adviser in times of difficulty, and all of our
Speakers have been just that.
This is not the first time a bill like this has come before the Senate. In
March 2003, a former colleague, Senator Oliver, another Bluenoser, introduced a
bill to do the very same thing I'm suggesting. This is actually the fifth
reincarnation of this bill.
Current practice is that the Speaker is appointed by the Governor General, on
the advice of the Prime Minister. To be clear, the appointment by the Governor
General is part of the Constitution; specifically, section 34 of the
Constitution Act, 1867, but the Prime Minister's role is a constitutional
convention, so it is not codified in law. At the start of each session, the
Committee of Selection is appointed to nominate a senator to preside as Speaker
pro tempore, which is the de facto Deputy Speaker.
Honourable senators, this bill would amend the Constitution Act, 1867 to
provide for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Senate.
Further, it amends the Constitution to provide for a vote similar to that in the
House of Commons and provides that the senator presiding cannot vote except in
the event of a tie.
It also amends the Parliament of Canada Act to allow for the absence of the
Speaker and/or the Deputy Speaker. How does it do this? Well, this is where it
gets controversial for some senators. We must amend the Constitution. I'm not
afraid of saying that, nor am I afraid of trying to do it. I believe that falls
within the scope of the powers of the Parliament of Canada alone as it relates
exclusively to the executive government of Canada or the Senate and the House of
Commons. I refer to section 44 of Part V of the Constitution Act, 1982.
I really should stop there because, in my opinion, that's what gives this
bill the authority to elect a Speaker. But, of course, I will continue.
We can interpret that section as giving us the power we need to amend section
34 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which currently states:
The Governor General may from Time to Time, by Instrument under the Great
Seal of Canada, appoint a Senator to be Speaker of the Senate, and may
remove him and appoint another in his Stead.
Bill S-213 replaces that section with the following:
34.(1) The Senate, on its first assembling at the opening of the first
session of a Parliament, shall proceed with all practicable speed to elect,
by secret ballot, one of its members to be Speaker and another to be Deputy
(2) Where a vacancy occurs in the office of a Speaker or Deputy Speaker by
death, resignation or otherwise, the Senate shall proceed with all practical
speed to elect another of its members to be Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as
the case may be.
So the Speaker pro tempore would be replaced by a Deputy Speaker, and
both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker would be elected by us, the senators.
The bill also changes section 36 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which states:
Questions arising in the Senate shall be decided by a Majority of Voices,
and the Speaker shall in all Cases have a Vote, and when the Voices are
equal the Decision shall be deemed to be in the Negative.
This bill, the bill I've introduced, would change that to ensure that the
senator presiding shall not have a vote, except in the event of a tie the
presiding officer should be able to cast a vote. I believe this change further
enhances the independent nature of the position of Speaker.
The bill also amends the Parliament of Canada Act to ensure the chair is
never empty. The Speaker must choose a Deputy Speaker to replace him or her in
the event the Deputy Speaker is unavailable. The Speaker may choose any other
senator to act as a temporary Deputy Speaker. In the event the Deputy Speaker is
in the chair and must leave, the Deputy Speaker may choose a senator to replace
him or her as a temporary Deputy Speaker. This is very similar to what happens
now, but this would be codified in law.
So, honourable senators, that is what Bill S-213 does. Some questions this
committee needs to consider include our selection process for the Speaker
compared to other jurisdictions around the world. Can we bring about the change
proposed in my bill? And, frankly, should we do it at all?
We also need to examine how we would go about putting this process in place
at some point. As I said in my speech on the bill in the Senate, the research I
have indicates that in 267 parliamentary chambers in all 191 countries where
national legislatures exist, only the bicameral legislatures in Canada, Antigua
and Barbuda and Bahrain appoint their presiding officers. That's it. That's the
company we're keeping. The countries that elect their presiding officers in
their chambers include Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the
Russian Federation, among many others.
In fact, Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit, Department
of Political Science at University College London, reminded the committee that
the Lord Speaker is elected, again in a secret ballot. So even Westminster
elects its Speaker.
We have the constitutional powers to do this because of section 44. Amending
the Constitution this way does not require the 7/50 rule or unanimous consent of
the provinces. The Constitution permits the Parliament of Canada to change how
it chooses a Speaker of the Senate, and I believe it should exercise that right.
So did the late Senator Beaudoin, a respected constitutional expert, law
professor, dean and author. At one time, he sat in front of me in my first few
years in the Senate. He is on the record as saying, "In my opinion, Parliament
may amend section 31 of the Constitution Act, 1867 on the basis of section 44 of
the Constitution Act, 1982.''
Honourable senators, in my review of this committee's hearings, I'd like to
make note of some comments made by senators and witnesses that I found
interesting. I do note that the committee was mandated to consider methods to
make the Senate more efficient within the current constitutional framework.
Thus, your recommendations have provided a list of senators for consideration by
the Prime Minister that does not change the Constitution like this bill does.
Senator Greene and Senator Massicotte noted that the results of the
questionnaires senators completed on Senate reform showed overwhelming support
for electing our Speaker. Senator Joyal also indicated that there could be a way
around the selection instead of changing the Constitution, where the Senate
could select some candidates, not only one, and recommend those choices for
consideration. That appears to be the recommendation you've made. While I may
not agree with this mechanism reported by the committee, this does show that
there is a desire among senators to elect a Speaker through one mechanism or
The problem I have with this proposed recommendation of the committee is that
the Prime Minister is not beholden to such a system. He or she can still suggest
whomever they want to the Governor General for appointment as Speaker of the
Senate. This idea does not guarantee the senators' choice, but this bill does.
We have, in fact, seen Prime Ministers generally waiver on the results of Senate
elections — in Alberta, for example — even though it was the will of that
province to have those individuals appointed to the Senate. That is a wholly
different debate, indeed, one which would involve major constitutional change
and which I will not further comment on other than that several prime ministers
have ignored the results of those elections in Alberta. However, it does show
that such ideas and recommendations are no guarantee they will be put into
As referenced by Senator Eggleton, the composition of the Senate is moving
toward a wholly independent body, as witnessed by the latest rounds of Senate
appointments. That brings up a very fundamental difference between when Senator
Oliver introduced his bill and my version. I strongly believe greater
independence should also allow us to control how our Speaker is chosen.
Paul Thomas, Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, also said
My main argument is that the Senate must change, and the direction of that
change involves transforming itself from a house of political parties into a
house of review. At the centre of this transformation is an implicit
political bargain. In other words, Senate modernization is primarily a
I agree. It takes political will to change. Do we have that will, honourable
He went on to say:
Consistent with the principles that senators should control the affairs of
the institution, the Speaker should be elected by secret ballot.
Errol Mendes, Professor in the Faculty of Law of common law at the University
of Ottawa, said:
It is interesting that the present government thinks that it doesn't need
an amendment to the Parliament of Canada Act to move the title of Leader of
the Government in the Senate to Representative of the Government. If there
were consensus in the Senate to propose that you elect the Speaker, given
the fact that they are already willing to forgo any formal amendment process
to the act, perhaps they would even say "go ahead.'' You should try it and
see what happens.
Senator Peter Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate, also
addressed the selection of the Speaker:
I think that the Speaker ought to be specifically mandated to reflect the
independence and equality of senators and to, in various ways, chair or lead
our self-administration in that regard. That probably means we need to go to
the notion of an elected Speaker so that whoever she or he is has the
legitimacy to act in this fashion on behalf of the institution.
He went on to defer that opinion because of the time required for discussion
on constitutional change, but I think the sentiment is there for the election of
the Speaker, and it is certainly reflective of what senators are thinking.
Honourable senators, I ask you, "Why not take the time?'' We are always busy
with a lot of legislation, motions, inquiries and more. Why not take the time to
study this? Why not take the time to reflect on these proposals, to be bold and
implement real change?
If the committee agrees that the bill should go forward for further debate,
then the Senate will decide.
That brings up one last concern I wish to address: royal consent. During
debate on Senator Oliver's bill, Senator Murray was concerned:
. . . the Queen or the Governor General's consent needs to be obtained
before a bill that affects the prerogative of the Queen or the Governor
General is presented in Parliament.
This was also reiterated by Senator Cools. I was determined that it did by
way of the Speaker's ruling. As one of the objectives of this bill is the same
as Senator Oliver's, Senator Hays' ruling remains:
This would effectively extinguish the authority of the Governor General to
appoint the Speaker. Such an action clearly affects the prerogative power
exercised by the Governor General. Accordingly, it seems to me appropriate
that Royal Consent be obtained for this bill.
He went on to say that it would not prevent debate until such time as it was
required, which would be before proceeding with the adoption at third reading.
Again, let's allow the full complement of senators to decide on the merits of
this bill, and then Royal Consent could be sought before the bill is passed at
third reading and sent to the other place. I ask that we let this process go
forward. If the will of the Senate is to say, "We want to elect our Speaker,''
then let's just do that. We have the time. We just need the fortitude to try.
Thank you, honourable senators. I look forward to your questions and the
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Mercer. We have quite a list here.
Senator Joyal: Welcome, Senator Mercer. I would like to say outright
that I totally support Recommendation No. 6 in the report of committee to the
chamber, whereby we recommend a process of selection which, in my opinion, is
the step that we can constitutionally take at this stage to have a say in the
selection of the Speaker. So I want to underline that I totally support the
objective for senators to have direct involvement in the selection of the
Speaker. That's the position I hold, and I want to put it on the table before I
make my comments and put my question to you.
The first comment is in relation to your last point, the one that was raised
by former Senator Lowell Murray, which is the need to get Royal Consent before
the bill proceeds at third reading. That Royal Consent, as you stated quite
appropriately, and as the Speaker's ruling said, is needed because we are
changing the powers of the Crown. As you know, section 34 is quite clear. It
The Governor General may from Time to Time —
— the following words are the most important —
— by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada —
"Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada'' means a decision of the Crown.
— appoint a Senator to be Speaker of the Senate, and may remove him and
appoint another in his Stead.
We are dealing here with the power of the Crown. To have a vote to finalize
the adoption of your bill, we would need Royal Consent at third reading, at the
latest, before the vote is called. That's the very-well-established rule of
The problem I have with this first hurdle, if I can use that word, is that
when Minister LeBlanc appeared at the meeting of this committee on February 24,
2016, the question was put to him by Senator Massicotte on what would be the
stance of the government to proceed to change the appointment process provided
in 34. I want to read into the record the position that Minister LeBlanc gave as
an answer, because Royal Consent can only be provided by a Privy Councillor who
is an active minister of the Crown. I am a Privy Councillor; I cannot give
consent. I have to be an active Privy Councillor. It is only a member of the
cabinet that can signify the consent of the Crown.
I will read the answer of Minister LeBlanc to show the position of the
government in relation to the bill. This bill cannot proceed at third reading if
the government does not approve it:
I know there is a Senate public bill on the appointment of the Speaker of
the Senate. We received a formal constitutional opinion from the Department
of Justice indicating that changing the appointment process for the Speaker
of the Senate infringes on the Constitution. For the time being, then, I do
not have the authority or ability to say that we could consider that change,
through a potential amendment to the Parliament of Canada Act.
As things stand, according to the formal opinion we received, the Governor
General appoints the Speaker of the Senate. Is that ideal? Is it a modern
practice? Probably not, but we were told that it has to be that way right
now because of the Constitution. There would have to be a discussion to
determine whether there was a way to approach the issue differently.
In other words, the government says we're caught within the Constitution.
Maybe there's a way around it; hence, the recommendation that we have,
Recommendation No. 6.
That's the first hurdle. We can debate it. You are totally right. We can
study it. We can debate the bill at third reading. But when the vote will be
called at third reading, the Speaker cannot call the vote as long as he doesn't
have a Royal Consent signified by a minister of the Crown. That is very well
established. That is the first hurdle. Do you want to comment on this before I
go to the next question?
Senator Mercer: Senator Joyal, I've acknowledged in my comments
exactly what you've said. We can get to the point where we're ready for a third
reading vote, but we need to make a reference to someone in the cabinet to give
that Royal Consent.
I don't counsel the current government at all. As you know, I'm no longer a
member of their caucus, so I'm not there to give them counsel. However, I would
suggest that in the current atmosphere, this government would be hard- pressed
to say no because of the fact that they have pushed for reform and independence.
The large number of recent appointments indicates that.
I would also suggest that while I appreciate the fact that you've been very
creative in coming up with the recommendation that's in your report, allowing
for the recommendation of five names to the Prime Minister, as I've mentioned in
my opening statement, that's not worth the paper it's written on.
Let's put the situation down the road. Let's change the political scene here
for a moment. Let's suggest in 10 years' time the Senate recommends a very
controversial senator to be the Speaker of the Senate. The Prime Minister of the
day, he or she would say, "I don't like that person; I want Senator Mercer to
take the chair.'' I'll be gone by then.
An Hon. Senator: On division.
Senator Mercer: That was where the controversial part came in. He or
she could ignore everything we have said collectively. All 105 of us could agree
that Senator Joyal should be the Speaker, but if the Prime Minister doesn't want
Senator Joyal as the Speaker, then Senator Joyal will not be the Speaker.
We have the opportunity of saying, "Prime Minister, here is who we've
chosen.'' That is an important thing for us. If we're going to continue to talk
about reforming this place, then we need to reform this place. We need to take
charge. We can't sit back and wait for someone else to say, "Oh, by the way,
Senate, we've done something over here and now you can select your Speaker.'' We
need to force their hand.
There's an opportunity to say, "Okay, how serious are you about Senate
reform? Here's an issue that is important to 105 of us. We've said out of the
105 of us we want to select our own Speaker.'' Who will win that election? I
have no idea. I can only assure you that I will not be a candidate.
Senator Joyal, while I respect the recommendation that was made by this
committee, it has no guarantee of coming up with the choice that the 105 of us
Senator Joyal: We are trying to approach the issue in the context of
the constitutional framework, and the constitutional framework is one that is
imposed on us by the law of the land. As much as I would prefer to elect a
Speaker in the way you suggested, there are constraints, and those constraints,
as you know, are in the Constitution at sections 34 and 41.
The government might allege that the Parliament of Canada — the House of
Commons and the Senate — doesn't have the capacity to change the power of the
Governor General under section 34 because it goes beyond the power given in
Section 44 is very short and reads:
Subject to sections 41 and 42, Parliament may exclusively make laws
amending the Constitution of Canada in relation to the executive government
of Canada or the Senate and House of Commons.
When you read it, you have the impression that it's very broad. I will read
. . . Parliament may exclusively make laws amending the Constitution of
Canada in relation to the executive government of Canada or the Senate and
House of Commons.
Your reasoning is simple: The Speaker is an officer of the Crown that has
status within the Senate only, so it is the prerogative of the Senate to change
the way the Speaker is appointed. That's your contention. The problem is that
the person who holds the power to appoint the Speaker is the Governor General.
Section 41 has very clear wording about the power of the Governor General.
Section 41 says that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made in
relation to the office of the Queen, the office of the Governor General and the
office the Lieutenant Governor of a province only with the consent of the
legislative assembly of each province and the Senate and the House of Commons.
In other words, it's a unanimity rule. If you want to change the office of
the Governor General, and hence the question and your interpretation, what is
the office of the Governor General? That's the $1 million question.
All the major legal constitutional experts have contended that by "Office of
the Governor General,'' we have to conclude that it is essentially a link. I
will refer to the last decision of the Superior Court of Quebec, in February
2016, less than a year ago, when it concluded that "office'' means amendments
involving the powers, status and constitutional role of the officer. I repeat:
Powers, status and constitutional role.
There's no doubt that the Governor General has a role to play in the
appointment of the Speaker of the Senate. It is part of his office. In other
words, it is part of his power, because he acts on behalf of the Crown. When he
appoints a Speaker on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, he appoints
under the instrument of the Great Seal.
Let me finish; I will conclude shortly.
The office of the Governor General includes its power to appoint the Speaker.
If we want to change the power of his office, it requires an amendment of the
Constitution under section 41.
What I conclude is that the government will never signify Royal Consent that
we go to third reading — that is, that we vote finally on your bill — because it
would essentially be an infringement on the office of the Governor General, and
that has to be covered by section 41. That is, it needs the consent not only of
the federal Parliament, the Senate and the House of Commons, but also of the 10
We are stuck with the situation as it is now constitutionally. Politically,
it is another debate, and that's why this committee recommended that we consult,
ourselves, and make proposals to the Prime Minister of at least three names so
that the Prime Minister could select among those three the person he thinks is
most appropriate to exercise the function under the present constitutional
That's why we're constrained in our capacity to manoeuvre within the changes
of the system of appointment to have a say in the selection of the person who
will be asked to fill the job of Speaker of the Senate.
Senator Mercer: Senator Joyal, I will not disagree with you because
you state facts, but the fact still is that we have the ability to get to that
point where we're about to go to third reading and go get the consent. Or we can
sit back and do as we're told, as we've done for so many years, and just wait
for someone down the hall to come and say, "Now, senators, you can elect your
own Speaker because we will give you the consent.'' We should go seek the
Senator Joyal, you're one of the most well-respected members of this chamber.
You're also one of the most well- respected members of the bar, and you have
appeared many, many times before the Supreme Court. However, you know that you
only get there if you ask to be there. We can only get this if we ask, not if we
sit here and wait for them to grant us an audience.
The other issue that I think is worthwhile to mention, of course, is that we
continue to talk about this place as designed and built on the Westminster
system. Let's look at the Westminster system, and let's look at the Lords, to
whom we are so many times compared to. The Lords themselves elect their Speaker.
Senator Joyal: They don't have a written constitution.
Senator Mercer: They don't have a written constitution. I understand
that and respect that. However, this is an opportunity for this place to evolve,
and I'm not suggesting that we will be that revolutionary. I'm suggesting we get
to the point where we are ready to vote on this bill on third reading, and then
we go ask for the consent. But we don't go cap in hand. If we are going to be
the new modern Senate that everybody wants, you don't go cap in hand and say,
"Please, Prime Minister, can you allow us to do this?'' I think we go to the
Prime Minister and say, "This is what we want to do. Sign on the dotted line and
we're out of here.''
The Chair: Senator Joyal, I will put you down for second round. It was
a great opening.
Senator Joyal: Thank you.
Senator McCoy: Senator Mercer, I truly like your style and I have no
questions for you at all.
Senator Mercer: Thank you very much. I'm going to mark that down as a
Senator McIntyre: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for your presentation. In
the house, the Speaker holds powers and duties, and I note that your bill
contains no provisions to grant the Speaker powers and duties with respect to
the administration of the Senate similar to the powers held by the Speaker of
the House of Commons. Your bill proposes that the Speaker's voting rights be
limited to a tie-breaking vote, and obviously this proposal would have the
effect of limiting the Speaker's participatory rights in chamber proceedings.
My question is this: Did you consider the possibility of granting the Speaker
additional powers and duties?
Senator Mercer: No, I didn't, for the very reason that I think that's
a separate discussion that we need to have amongst ourselves, and probably
through one or more of our very good committees. I didn't want to take it upon
myself to design the rules and the procedures for the Speaker him or herself. I
think we need to have that discussion as well, but I think that's a separate one
from that of the selection of the Speaker.
Senator Eggleton: I support the idea of electing our own Speaker. As
you point out, they do it in the House of Lords. Our companion body down the
hall here also does it. I spent a lot of years there, and it was a process that
I thought went fine and was quite supportable in a democratic way, so I don't
see why it can't be done in our institution. Meanwhile, I do support the
recommendation that comes from this committee as an interim measure, because if
there is a constitutional amendment, one never knows how long those things are
going to take.
I don't see why we can't proceed with a section 44 federal government-only
kind of provision. I realize the Governor General's appointment process is
affected here, which could take it into, as Senator Joyal says, a section 41
type of amendment, which is a unanimous kind of thing. The other one deals with
the 7/50 formula, neither of which are suitable or desirable at all in this
I can't imagine that either the Governor General, his office or the
government are going to get very upset about this kind of an amendment. The
Governor General not having to make an appointment of a senator on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister to the office of the Speaker — I can't see
that's a big issue, so I don't think we should get bogged down in that possible
I would think moving this on would be a good idea. I guess, from what the
previous Speakers have ruled, that a pause before third reading would be
necessary to get the Royal Consent, but I realize that maybe any government
wasn't willing before to do that before, but now this government is changing the
whole nature of this place and recognizes that, in fact, we need some new ways
of operating. That's why this committee exists: to bring about some changes and
to adapt to the new reality. If they are leaving it up to us to work out our new
reality, then I don't know why they can't leave it up to us to select our own
Speaker as well.
I think we should proceed with this. I think we should continue to proceed
with the interim measure as well, but I think as a long-term measure, this one
makes sense and we should proceed with it. Don't you agree? That's my question.
Senator Mercer: I knew there would be a question. It would seem to me,
senator, that the interim measure is a good one, but I think many of us would
agree that my measure is a better solution. Why would we go with the interim
measure when we have in front of us a solution? Let's go with the solution. If
the solution doesn't work — if they come back and we're denied — then we always
have the interim solution as recommended by this committee in your good work.
That is always there. I still think it's problematic, but I'm hoping that we
won't get there because they will accept my recommendation.
Senator Lankin: I have two questions. Thank you for your work on this,
senator. First, what does it mean that we should proceed with this? Is this a
bill that we're asking this committee to examine, call witnesses in regard to
and to have discussion about? What does it mean to proceed at this point in
Senator Mercer: I leave that to the chair and the committee to decide
what it wants to do. If you want to examine it with other people, then you
should do that in all haste. But I would desire the committee concur with my
recommendation that we proceed with the bill; send it back to the chamber; allow
all of us to debate this issue, with the understanding that when we get to the
end of third reading when the vote will be called, we ask probably the current
Speaker or the Government Representative to seek Royal Consent and to go speak
to a Privy Councillor, presumably the Prime Minister, to get the agreement.
I would suggest that as the debate goes on here, we will get feedback
officially or unofficially as to where they want to go. If this fails, we
already have a fallback position, as provided by this committee.
I'm suggesting that we solve this problem now as opposed to potentially
create some future conflicts between the senators and the Governor-in-Council if
we give them the option of selecting from our list of five. What happens in that
selection process if we don't come up with five? I can see it happening that
there are not five people among us who are interested in seeking the position of
Speaker. It's a big job. It takes a lot of energy. "It's not a job for
sissies,'' as I say. There is that possibility that we come up with a list of
three, not of five. What if we came up with a list of one? If we came up with a
list of one, what does the Governor-in-Council do then?
This is an opportunity for us to get this over and done with now. I would
hope this committee would send this bill back to the chamber with a
recommendation that we proceed and acknowledge that prior to the vote at third
reading, we seek Royal Consent.
Senator Lankin: I have another question, but I just wanted to comment
that I, of course, was not here at this committee when the debate about the
committee's recommendation on the process for selection of a Speaker took place,
so there may have been a full exploration of the options, including an option
such as this, and there may be reasons why that was rejected. If that's the
case, I will go back and read that, and I will respect what discussion has gone
If that hasn't happened, I would appreciate the opportunity to hear some
people talk about and contrast the two models of proceeding, addressing some of
the constitutional issues and some of the ways around them, et cetera, so that
when it comes into the house, all senators have the opportunity to have a full
understanding and knowledge of what's before us. That's just a procedural
comment, senator, in terms of what I would appreciate.
I do have one other question, and this is a question that comes from, in
part, my lack of knowledge about all aspects of the job of the Speaker and the
role outside of the administration and care-taking of the Senate Chamber and
business of the Senate — the diplomatic and protocol role of the Speaker. I
don't have full knowledge of that.
I do understand that there's an order of precedence that comes from the
Crown, including the Governor General and the Speaker of the Senate and then the
Speaker of the house. There is an important extra Senate Chamber role that is
empowered by the current process of selection or naming through the office of
the Governor General as an agent of the Crown.
On one hand, I understand the point that you're making around modernization
and taking control of our own procedures, administration and business. On the
other hand, there's this other piece that many people talk about, which is
respect of the Westminster system and parliaments. I don't know where those two
things weigh off. It's not a commentary; it's a genuine question on my part.
Senator Mercer: Senator, I would suggest that the other
responsibilities that are dictated by the position of being Speaker of the
Senate, particularly the order of precedence, et cetera, are very important
things. I would also suggest at that point when we are going to select our own
Speaker, when we're going to sit down in the chamber and have a debate about
what we're going to do, when we have people who have expressed an interest in
wanting to be Speaker of the Senate, one of the gauges of the decision of those
of us who will vote as to who to vote for will be based on his or her ability to
fulfill not just the role of presiding in the chamber but the role that is
dictated by that person's presence in the order of precedence. You're absolutely
right: There's a diplomatic role. It is an important position.
Senator Wells and I just had a recent trip with the current Speaker to the
Czech Republic and Slovenia. It was very apparent how important the Speaker was,
diplomatically. That would be something that would weigh on us as we make the
selection and vote for candidate A or candidate B. Which one of those candidates
will be, first, able to run the chamber effectively, but equally, are they going
to be able to fill the role that the Speaker of the Senate has in the Government
of Canada in representing Canadians? That's a very legitimate question and one
which we should all be asking when we vote after this bill passes and we get to
elect our first Speaker.
Senator Tannas: I wanted to follow this idea of getting to third
reading and then arriving at the question of the royal prerogative. As Senator
Joyal has said, the government has kind of already telegraphed that they have
had this visit and that they have the advice that we don't want to hear, which
is that the provinces would need to sign off. I think that's what Senator Joyal
was saying was being telegraphed to us.
But let's assume that it wasn't being telegraphed, but the time comes and
that is the opinion of the government's lawyers, which we probably won't accept
because we don't want to accept it today. Why wouldn't we skip that and see if
there is some way that we can get ourselves a Supreme Court reference to settle
the question in advance? Would you be in support of that, if there were some
mechanism to do that?
Senator Mercer: I was just writing that down as you were posing the
question. That may be where it ends up, but let's get it there. Not doing
anything is never going —
Senator Tannas: Exactly.
Senator Mercer: — to get the question before the Chief Justice or
before the Supreme Court. It may end up there. I'd rather it not, because I'd
rather it get done. But I'm sure that, as always happens in this business,
somebody challenges it and it will go to the Supreme Court.
On occasion, we have challenged things ourselves. Senator Joyal has been very
active before the Supreme Court on behalf of issues that have been before this
chamber. I don't disagree with you, but we can't get there if we don't pass the
bill. If we don't challenge the existing structure, the existing structure is
going to stay the same.
Senator Tannas: Maybe I'm way out to lunch, but without somebody suing
us, we can ask for a reference.
Senator Mercer: Yes, and maybe that's what we do. If we go to third
reading and prior to the vote we ask either the Speaker or the Government
Representative to seek consent to do this, and everyone says, well, none of us
are sure whether we can do this, then guess what, the next place is the Supreme
Senator Tannas: Right.
Senator Mercer: And a referral be made to the court and ask the court
to make a ruling and away we go. By the way, I'm not a lawyer.
Senator Tannas: Nor am I.
Senator Mercer: The last thing we need is more lawyers, I guess.
Senator Tannas: I always like "and.'' So why wouldn't we do the
interim step and at the same time go ask for a Supreme Court reference?
Senator Mercer: I'm not against that entirely, but if you want to
force the issue, my bill forces the issue. My bill forces someone to give an
answer to the question. If we sit back and wait, we could take the
recommendations of this committee, because I know this committee has done some
really terrific work, and I appreciate many of the recommendations you have
made, but I think this one has some flaws in it and my recommendation solves
that, and if it's challenged, then so be it.
Senator Tannas: Fair enough. Senator McIntyre talked about additional
duties. Do you see any kind of beefed-up role for the Deputy Speaker that could
come as a result of us all electing the Deputy Speaker? Is there something to be
done there, do you think, or is it just to replace the Speaker in the chair when
the time comes?
Senator Mercer: Currently I think that last comment is it, but I think
there is an opportunity to develop a greater role. As this chamber changes and
we evolve — and we are evolving, for better or worse, I think generally for the
better — there could very well be a greater role for the Deputy Speaker. I think
that he or she could be doing much more.
Senator McIntyre and Senator Lankin raised the issue of the other duties of
the Speaker of the Senate that are diplomatic, and there may be a need to do
that. I don't see any problem in doing that, but I think that has to happen in
consultation with the Speaker and with the 104 other members of the chamber.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you for your bill. It's quite
thought-provoking. I come from this being really ignorant about it, and so I'm
asking you a question. From Senator Joyal's comments, whoever recommends the
Speaker to the Governor General, as long as the Governor General appoints that
person, I'm not sure we're in a constitutional mess at all. I just think he's
still appointing, so I'm not sure why it's a constitutional problem.
The other thing is why on earth do we have to ask a Privy Councillor for
permission? Going to your thought process, you just go ahead and elect someone,
and you either take it directly to the Governor General or you ask the Prime
Minister to take it to the Governor General.
Senator Cools: It doesn't work like that.
Senator Stewart Olsen: I'm not sure why we have to get all the
permissions. If you could answer that, I would be very grateful.
Senator Mercer: I'm with you. I don't know why we have to ask
everyone. However, recognizing traditions, I would suggest that if we followed
my bill and we went to that process, that one of the wrinkles at the very end
would be that we would leave the chamber and recommend that Senator X will be
our Speaker. We would deliver that message to His Excellency or Her Excellency
and say, "Here is who we want as our Speaker.'' We would exclude in this process
talking to our friends down the hall in the other place. We would go directly to
the Governor General, as we can, and say, "Your Excellency, here is who we have
elected Speaker,'' and the Governor General would then say, "I appoint Senator
Stewart Olsen as the Speaker of the Senate.'' And it would be just a formality
that he or she would accept the recommendation of the members of the Senate.
That's where I come from.
Senator Greene: When I walked into this room, I looked upon your bill
as a challenge to our recommendation, in that it was an either/or situation.
Either we have your bill or we have our recommendation, but I realize that it's
not either/or. It might be an interim step, as Senator Eggleton says, or it
might not be an interim step. Our recommendation might be as much as we can do
if your bill doesn't survive.
I certainly support our recommendation, because I think it is the best we can
do within the confines of the Constitution, as we understand it, but I also
support it on the basis that in all the recommendations we have, as they are a
basis of hard-won, in many cases, compromises won around the table, and I
support the compromises we have all made. I've made a lot of them, I know.
If I can boil this down to a question — and it's kind of a non-question in a
sense — basically what you're saying is it can't hurt us to ask the question;
right? It can't hurt us to pursue your bill. In the absence of your bill,
supposing we, in the end, come to a vote in the chamber on our recommendation,
will you be supporting both our recommendation and your bill, when it comes down
Senator Mercer: I haven't heard the debate on the changes recommended.
I've obviously read the changes. You've asked me to make a decision that I was
hoping I could put off or was actually hoping I wouldn't have to make.
I think an interim measure is better than no measure.
Senator Greene: Right.
Senator Mercer: However, I think my bill brings it to a final decision
as opposed to an interim decision. The interim decision would be better than
what we have now, but that still doesn't satisfy me as a parliamentarian or as a
Canadian trying to change this place. I don't think that changes the place.
I can see in the future a conflict between the man or woman walking by the
Prime Minister's chair and this chamber, and we have had that in the past. When
I came here, the majority was very heavily on one party, but prior to my arrival
it had been the other way, even though the government had been different. Even
though parties are taking a temporary backseat, I would argue that we could get
into a conflict between the Prime Minister and the chamber. This removes any
conflict with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister can not like our Speaker,
but guess what, it's our Speaker. It's not the one he appointed.
I would suggest that, ultimately, when we elect our Speaker, that it would be
a recommendation to the Governor General and he or she would follow our
recommendation as he or she currently follows the recommendation from the Prime
Minister. We would just remove the Prime Minister from the process.
Senator Greene: So do I understand you to say that you will support
our recommendation in the chamber as well as, of course, your own bill?
Senator Mercer: I would rather that we only deal with mine, but if we
have to deal with both, then obviously I'd rather have half a glass of water
Senator Greene: Agreed, thank you.
Senator Frum: Senator Mercer, I'm largely in sympathy with what you
are trying to achieve, although I am persuaded by Senator Joyal's argument that
the best way to go about this is through the recommendations in the sixth report
rather than a bill that requires constitutional amendments.
I would like to better understand why you think this reform is so important.
I heard your response just now to Senator Greene, but if the goal is to achieve
greater independence of the Senate Speaker from the government of the day, I
also heard you say that you think that the diplomatic role and the order of
precedence for the Senate Speaker should remain the same. I don't know how a
Speaker could have a diplomatic role that is not in harmony with the government,
the Prime Minister and the foreign minister. It has to be.
Senator Mercer: Senator, in the past 10 years and up until last year,
there was a government in power that I was not in agreement with. You know where
I stand, politically, and I have an opinion on a lot of things. However, when I
travelled on parliamentary business, for example with parliamentary associations
— particularly when I recall my frequent trips to the United States for the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group and I visited senators and
congressmen and met with people down there — when I was there, I was
representing Canada. Whether I liked the policy or didn't like the policy, it
was the policy — in this case of the Harper government — that I was proposing
and supporting. It wasn't easy sometimes for me, but I remember a specific
incident when we were visiting a senator in Washington. It was me, a New
Democrat MP and another Conservative senator. That Conservative senator was not
a big supporter of Mr. Harper, so three people in the room were not really big
fans of that government, but we were there following the diplomacy. That's what
When Senator Wells and I were in Slovenia and the Czech Republic together,
Senator Wells and I don't agree on all policy issues but we were there. That's
our job. And if you can't accept that, then you shouldn't accept the job.
Senator Frum: I think that's a very honourable position you're stating
and it's the correct one and I do appreciate that. But you did say in a previous
answer that when senators are thinking about who to choose and vote for as the
Speaker, that they should be mindful — I don't have your exact words — of the
diplomatic role and how that individual might play that role. What that says to
me is you're really saying that senators should be selecting somebody who can
work closely with the government.
Senator Mercer: No, I would rather look at it this way: I think we
should select someone who would be a better representative of both the chamber
and of Canadians. We could appoint a Speaker tomorrow and the government could
fall and there would be a new government in 30 days. We'd still have the same
Senator Frum: Would we?
Senator Mercer: With due process. We could end up with the same
Speaker with a different government. My picture of a Speaker is a person who can
work within the system to support Canadian diplomacy, whatever the Canadian
diplomatic policy might be on an issue at the time.
We travel now around the globe. I talked to somebody recently who was at a
NATO meeting. One of their jobs was talking about the NATO issue, but the second
part of their job was also to talk about votes from their country for Canada's
seeking a seat on the UN Security Council. Some of our colleagues — you may be
one of them, I don't know — may not like that, but you do it. That's what your
job is. You're speaking on behalf of Canada.
Senator Frum: It's a very principled position, but the reality is that
people would have to put their names forward for this position. By definition,
there will be a self-selection process. Because of this very large diplomatic
role of the Speaker, the self-selection process means that you will understand
that part of your job is to promote the government's foreign policy positions.
How much of a reform is this really? The Speaker will end up reflecting the
government of the day, no matter how you slice it.
Senator Mercer: He or she would be required to do that, but we're all
required to do that or we don't, or shouldn't, participate.
Senator Frum: Understood. That means some people won't participate.
Senator Mercer: If I were to have gone to a Canada-U.S. meeting in the
past 10 years and sat there and spouted Liberal Party policy, that would be
wrong. I can do that at the bar with people after the meeting, but if I'm
sitting in front of an American congressman or senator, my job is to consider
our objective — we always talk about our objectives when we go to these meetings
— and I promote the government. That's the government that the people have
elected and have determined what that policy is.
The same would apply to the Speaker, but the Speaker has a different, much
more senior and influential role in terms of things that are not that
controversial: continuing building friendships between us and other countries
and alliances around the world. Many times, I think the Speaker probably tries
to avoid the conflicts. It's wise to do and it makes it easier, but we haven't
had any major conflicts lately.
Senator Cools: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for coming before us. I
thank you for all the supreme work that you've done in preparing this bill, but
I must tell you that I have great problems with it, because I see this bill as
setting aside — actually, running roughshod over — many long and
well-established principles. The Senate Speaker, as we know, is truly a
Vice-Regal. This is a fact. The Senate Speaker is capable of representing Her
Majesty all over the world.
The Senate Speaker is quite different from the House of Commons Speaker. The
House of Commons Speaker is the mouth of the house, the mouth of the members.
The Senate Speaker is not the mouth of the members; the Senate Speaker is the
mouth of the Queen. That is why, when we are summoned to the opening of
Parliament, it is the Speaker who calls people before him to tell them Her
Majesty — well, her representative, the Governor General — will be coming and
causes them to assemble as we do in Parliament. That's one of the few cases
where the whole Parliament is in Parliament assembled, and it has to be in the
Senate Chamber. It can't be anywhere else. It can't be in the House of Commons.
We keep talking about the Supreme Court judges, but you're forgetting that
the Supreme Court judges are deputized as representatives of Her Majesty and
they are made deputies of the Governor General when they come here to do Royal
Assents. In the instance of if the Governor General were to fall ill, die or
something sudden like that, it's the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who will
carry the job — I think it's called the administrator — and will take over the
actual position of Governor General and function in that way.
I think that the Senate Speaker, as I said before, is an entirely different
creature than the House of Commons Speaker. The House of Commons member is the
mouth of the members but the Senate Speaker in the Senate is the mouth of Her
Majesty. We have to remember the Senate is the upper and the royal house. It is
the Senate. When Her Majesty comes or the Governor General comes, they must come
to the royal house. That's why it's red and not green.
I just don't understand how we can simply ignore these principles. Even in
the United States of America, which has always had an anti-monarchist element,
their Constitution recognizes that their President of the Senate should be in
the form of a vice regal. The United States of America Vice President is the
President of the Senate of the United States of America. The Americans have
maintained that tradition quite purely. This is the strange thing about the
American Revolution and the American Constitution. They're very radical and in
many instances remarkably mundane and loyal to very old customs.
There's no deputy Speaker. There's a Speaker pro tempore. The position
of Speaker is never, ever deputized to the Speaker pro tempore.
Senator Joyal: He is officer of the Crown and cannot be deputized.
Senator Cools: That is it. He represents the Crown in the Senate. At
all times, our system says that we must have the representatives this way. The
House of Commons is based on rep by pop. The Fathers of Confederation tossed
this out, worked it out and abided by it. The House of Commons is based on
representation by population. That is why they can elect their House of Commons
Speaker. The Senate is not.
The Senate is a totally different institution and we just can't decide one
day that, well, this doesn't sound good so let's try a new thing. Constitutions
do not work by trying new possibilities. As a matter of fact, constitutions do
not like novelties at all.
I'm having difficulty conceptualizing how this can be achieved. I thought of
raising this, but I didn't want to upset you: First of all, any issue that
touches what we call the law of the prerogative or requires Royal Consent — and
Senator Joyal and I used to raise a lot of those and won on many points. This
bill should not properly be before us without the agreement of the Governor
General that it should go ahead. Only a minister of the Crown can give such
agreement in the two chambers.
Senator Mercer: Senator Cools, we have had that discussion here this
afternoon, and I fully agree that we do need to have consent, but the suggestion
has been made that we proceed with this bill up to the point where we're going
to vote in third reading, and then we seek consent and I assume we will get
Senator Cools: Consent from whom?
Senator Mercer: You said we need consent from a Privy Councillor. I
would suggest —
Senator Cools: Not a Privy Councillor. It's a representative of Her
Majesty. It has to be a minister; only a minister can declare Royal Consent in
Senator Mercer: Right. The issue is that even in Westminster, the
House of Lords elects their Speaker by votes of members of the lords.
Senator Cools: It's a different house.
Senator Mercer: This place is changing. Whether we want it to change
or not, it's going to change. We need to evolve. My recommendation is that if we
were to follow my bill and we have the election, the election can be in the form
of our recommendation to His or Her Excellency, as you pointed out.
Senator Cools: No, it can't be. You can't do that.
Senator Mercer: You know what? Why can't we? Why can't with we try?
Senator Cools: Because it is outside the scope of the law that we must
The Chair: We have Senator Mercer presenting his bill. Your points are
well taken. Keep in mind there's another step to this in terms of clause by
clause and reporting it back. All of that will be done.
Senator Tardif: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for being here. As
expressed by many colleagues, I totally support the intention of the bill to
elect a Speaker. However, I'm trying to reconcile comments made by Senator Joyal
with regard to the need for Royal Consent and your bill, Senator Mercer. If I
understand correctly, we need consent for a change to the powers of the office
of the Governor General. In doing so, we would need some form of provincial
consent. Where do you see the role of the provinces as this bill goes forward,
should it go forward?
Senator Mercer: I would suggest that we avoid that by the fact that
what we're doing is recommending a name to the Governor General, the same as the
Prime Minister recommends a name to the Governor General, to appoint as Speaker.
The Speaker is appointed by the Governor General. He or she takes the
recommendation currently from the council and the cabinet; i.e., the Prime
Minister. I suggest that not change. What would change is that they would not
take the recommendation from the cabinet; they would take that recommendation
from the members of the Senate. We remove it.
A person's appointment authority that I see us removing is not Her Majesty's,
not the Governor General's but the Prime Minister's. We're moving that over to
us making a recommendation, not the Prime Minister. That is the principle that's
really involved. It's not Her Majesty. It's not the Governor General. It's the
Prime Minister. That's whose power we are removing. We're shifting that to the
chamber, to all of us.
Senator Joyal: On that very point, you would change 200 years of
constitutional convention to which the only authority recognized being in
capacity to advise the Governor General on the exercise of the power of the
Crown is the Prime Minister.
Let me finish explaining that to you. Only the Prime Minister can advise the
Governor General, as section 34 stands, to appoint the Speaker of the Senate.
The Governor General is not allowed under constitutional convention to seek the
advice of anyone else but the Prime Minister, because this is a power of the
It's not me who has established that. It's the longstanding practice of
constitutional convention. You're asking us to think that we're going to be able
to change the secular constitutional convention that only the Prime Minister
advise the Governor General. It's a very steep mountain to climb, in my opinion,
to contend that would be something the Senate could do.
The other point that I would like to submit is that the Senate cannot send a
reference to the Supreme Court to check the constitutionality of the bill you
propose. Only the Governor-in-Council, through a decision of the government, can
determine the question that will be sent to the court. If the government is
amicable to your proposal, the government can refer it to the
Governor-in-Council to have a decision formalized. Then the question is sent to
the Supreme Court. But the Senate has no status to send a Senate bill to the
Supreme Court, according to section 53 of the Supreme Court Act. It's not me who
decided that; it's longstanding jurisprudence.
Senator Mercer: Senator Joyal, 200 years of constitutional authority
is a long time, but that doesn't make it right today. In 1982, Senator Joyal,
you were part of the process that also threw out some convention in this
country, when we liberated the Constitution from Westminster and moved it here.
It changed in 1982. There's absolutely no reason it can't change in 2017 or
2016. There's no reason we can't do that. So I don't let 200 years stand in my
way, and you shouldn't let 200 years stand in your way.
Senator Eggleton: I don't see anything in this bill that says that the
election of the Speaker by the members of the Senate would then be sent to the
Governor General for approval.
Senator Joyal: It's not me who said that.
Senator Eggleton: It's not in the bill.
Senator Joyal: That's what Senator Mercer said.
Senator Eggleton: Yes, but there's nothing in the bill that says that.
It's a draft bill, and it doesn't say that.
Senator Mercer: But if it's the desire of the chamber, then it can
certainly be amended do that.
Senator Eggleton: I think he's trying to catch you in a trap.
Senator Mercer: Senator Joyal would never do that to me.
Senator Eggleton: The original bill is that we would select our own
Speaker, the same with the House of Lords. There isn't anybody closer to the
Queen than the House of Lords. They elect their own Speaker, and I don't think
the Queen finds that objectionable. I don't see why the Governor General would
object to the power resting in the hands of the Senate.
I don't think the kind of functions the Speaker would do are relevant to this
bill or to the discussion today. It's relevant overall and should have a
This bill is simply we should be selecting our own Speaker, and I think we
should stick to that. If we want to have some other examination of what his
terms of reference and powers are, fine. The person is a non-partisan position.
They're not there as the mouthpiece of the government. They're there as the
mouthpiece of the Queen, if you will, of the Crown. Even the current Speaker
calls himself an independent.
I agree with Senator Joyal that the Supreme Court, quite aside from the legal
ramifications of not being able to go that route, wouldn't get us anywhere. I
think the opinion you would likely get from the Supreme Court is the one that
Senator Joyal gave us earlier on in the session.
If we believe this is the right thing to do, then we should press the issue.
We should go forward with this bill. I accept that a Royal Consent would be
needed so that therefore it should pause once it comes out of this committee
before it gets third reading so that Royal Consent is sought. If it's not
achieved, that's the end of the matter. But if it is achieved, then it can go
I don't see why people are going to get all upset about the Governor General,
and I don't think the Governor General is going to get upset about this
diminishing the power somehow of that office by this one simple thing, which is
in accordance with what is already done in the House of Lords, the mother of all
parliaments, and it's in accordance with what is done in the House of Commons in
this country and legislatures in this country as well, all of which operate
under the Crown, I might add.
The next step for this would be to get a couple of witnesses to talk about
it, but not from the constitutional framework, because I think Senator Joyal has
adequately covered that and I accept what he says. This would require Royal
Consent prior to a third reading, and then a constitutional amendment under
section 44 would proceed from there. I accept that. But the practicality of
going this route might be something that there are a couple of speakers that we
might hear from.
The Chair: That's exactly, Senator Eggleton, what's been going through
First of all, let me just quote the motion that was moved by Senator Cowan in
That the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization be appointed to
consider methods to make the Senate more effective within the current
That was our mandate.
When we made a recommendation with respect to sending on five names for the
Prime Minister to consider and pass on to the Governor General for approval, it
was at least something. We knew that we were embarking and touching on
constitutional matters, but we thought, look, in the good faith of the Prime
Minister, they may just take that advice and select from the five.
We knew your bill was there. We wanted you to have the opportunity to come
today and present it. You've done that, and we're going to deal with it, but
we're going to have to get a little more information, and it may be a witness or
two. In any event, what would happen is we would ultimately do clause-by-clause
of the bill, send it back, and then at third reading the Senate would determine
what is or is not necessary.
As you would appreciate, having served on many committees, Senator Mercer, we
want to do the best we can in determining what is right and wrong. We have an
expert on the committee with a lot of experience with respect to the
Constitution. We're going to defer. We're not going to do clause-by-clause today
or anything like that. We will come back to this bill in the not-too-distant
future. We have two professors next week. It will be dealt with. It may not be
until we get back after the break.
Senator Mercer: Colleagues, I'd like to thank you for the generosity
of your time and your questions. I look forward to your support when it does
come time for a vote by this committee.
The Chair: Thank you for coming.
Next week we have Professor Philippe Lagassé, followed by Professor Andrew
Heard, and he will be by video conference. Is there any further urgent business
that you would like to bring up? It is amazing we have not run out of time.
Senator Stewart Olsen: What are the two witnesses next week going to
The Chair: The Westminster system.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Do we have to do this next week when we're
trying to wrap up government business?
The Chair: It's over lunch, and you have to eat.
Senator Stewart Olsen: I'm just saying. It's one more thing to shove
in when we're trying to get other stuff done.
The Chair: The problem is it's a matter of time. Today I'll stand in
the Senate and ask for an extension, because we're supposed to have our final
report in by December 15, and extend it to June 15. May 15 we will want our
second report. I don't have to tell you when you look at the calendar how much
time we have. Not a lot. I appreciate your concern, but we have got to go again
We stand adjourned.
(The committee adjourned.)