Proceedings of the Standing Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
Minutes of Proceedings - June 6, 2019
OTTAWA, Thursday, June 6, 2019
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration met this day at 8 a.m., in room C128, Senate of Canada Building, the chair, the Honourable Sabi Marwah, presiding.
Members of the committee present: The Honourable Senators Batters, Dawson, Dean, Forest, Frum, Marshall, Marwah, Mitchell, Moncion, Munson, Plett, Saint-Germain, Tannas, Tkachuk, Verner, P.C. and Wetston (16).
Also in attendance: Pascale Legault, Chief Corporate Services Officer and Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; Richard Denis, Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments and Chief Legislative Services Officer; Philippe Hallée, Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel; senior Senate officials and other support staff.
Also present: The official reporters of the Senate.
Senate of Canada:
Diane McCullagh, Chief Human Resources Officer;
Geneviève Garneau, Senior Advisor, Talent Management, Human Resources Directorate;
Pierre Lanctôt, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Procurement Directorate;
Julie Lacroix, Director, Corporate Security Directorate.
Pursuant to rule 12-7(1) of the Rules of the Senate, the committee continued its consideration of financial and administrative matters concerning the Senate's internal administration.
CIBA/2019-06-06/605(P)|211| — Adoption of minutes of proceedings
The committee considered the minutes of proceedings of Thursday, May 30, 2019, public portion.
The Honourable Senator Saint-Germain moved:
That the minutes of proceedings of Thursday, May 30, 2019 be adopted.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
CIBA/2019-06-06/606(P) — Chair's Ruling — Point of Order Raised at the Meeting of May 16, 2019
RULING BY THE CHAIR
I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised by Senator Dean at the CIBA meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2019.
The substance of Senator Dean's point of order was that some of Senator Batters' statements contained unparliamentary language. Senator Dean stated that, in his view, her words "would have known'', suggested that another senator acted even though that senator knew that their actions were in contravention of the Senate rules. Senator Dean went on to explain that Senator Batters' comments imputed an improper motive to that senator.
In response to Senator Dean's point of order, Senator Batters subsequently clarified her earlier remarks by saying the Senator "should have known, and she would have known.'' In her view, "that is not unparliamentary.''
Honourable senators, in formulating my response to Senator Dean's point of order, I would note that we have been reminded recently by the Speaker in the Chamber that the words we use matter. A proper analysis requires that statements be reviewed in their totality, that we consider not just the use of specific words, but their overall effect and the potential harm that those words may cause.
It is not my intention in this ruling to limit the right of senators to participate in debate. Senators often have strong views on issues and can express those views vigorously. As explained in a Speaker's ruling on October 2, 2012, "Freedom of speech is a fundamental right necessary for the performance of our duties as parliamentarians.''
There is no doubt that the issue before the committee generated much debate and that senators had strong views. This is not the first time we have had debate on contentious issues in this committee and the debate has mostly been respectful.
The right to freedom of speech is not absolute, however, and our rules impose certain limits. Rule 6-13(1) in particular is clear and states that "All personal, sharp or taxing speeches are unparliamentary and are out of order.''
There is no definitive list of words or expressions that are "personal, sharp or taxing.'' Indeed, as explained in a Speaker's ruling of December 16, 2011, "[t]he circumstances and tone of the debate in question play important roles in this determination.''
Parliamentary precedents are clear that ascribing improper motives to other members' actions crosses the line and enters the sphere of what can be considered unparliamentary language. On Thursday, May 9, 2019, the Speaker made the following statement: "I would caution that you cannot assert improper motives when you're naming a senator or a group.''
In addition, Beauchesne's states the following:
§481. . . .it has been sanctioned by usage that a Member, while speaking, must not:
. . . (e) impute bad motives or motives different from those acknowledged by a Member. . .
In choosing their words in debate, I ask all senators to consider the overall effect and the potential harm that those words may cause to a senator's character and integrity. We should be guided by what the Speaker stated on October 2, 2012:
"By and large, this limitation on the freedom of speech is observed in the Senate without incident. The Senate is a largely self-regulating chamber and each of us assumes responsibility for maintaining order and decorum in this place. In close to 30 years, only eight rulings have addressed inappropriate language. This is because the respectful exchange of ideas and information is a basic characteristic of the Senate.
In the past, I have asked senators to show care in how they frame their remarks. This caution includes whether senators are speaking extemporaneously or from prepared remarks. It is possible to express a position firmly and with conviction, indeed to attack a contrary view, while avoiding giving offence. We should always strive to show respect for each other, for the right to hold and express our divergent opinions is the basis of free speech.''
Based on parliamentary precedents, such language could be characterized as unparliamentary as its overall effect may cast aspersions on another senator's character and integrity. I strongly urge all senators, to avoid imputing motives on other senators. The Senate is at its best when we all engage in respectful debate.
The Honourable Senator Batters indicated that she wished to make a statement at the committee's next meeting.
CIBA/2019-06-06/607(P)|365| — Implementation of Diversity Report Recommendations
Diane McCullagh made a statement and answered questions on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Subcommittee on Diversity.
CIBA/2019-06-06/608(P)|231| — Update for Decision from the Subcommittee on the Long Term Vision and Plan - Replacement of Lighting in the Senate of Canada Building
The Chair informed the committee that this item is deferred to the next meeting.
CIBA/2019-06-06/609(P)|240| — Update for Decision from the Subcommittee on the Long-Term Vision and Plan - Access and Circulation within the Senate of Canada Building
The Honourable Senator Tannas made a statement and, together with Julie Lacroix, Pierre Lanctôt, Richard Denis and Pascale Legault, answered questions on the access and circulation within the Senate of Canada Building.
After debate, it was agreed to resume the discussions on this matter during the in camera portion of the meeting.
CIBA/2019-06-06/610(P)|236| — First Report and Extension of Mandate for Advisory Working Group on Senators' Pension Plan
The Honourable Senator Moncion tabled the first report of the Advisory Working Group on the Review of the Senator's Pension Plan as follows:
Thursday, June 6, 2019
The Advisory Working Group on the Review of the Senator's Pension Plan of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to table its
On March 21, 2019, your Advisory Working Group on the Review of the Senators' Pension Plan (hereinafter the "Working Group'') was given the following mandate by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration:
That the Advisory Working Group on the Review of the Senators' Pension Plan be established from the membership of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Administration and Budgets, as follows: 2 members from the Independent Senators Group, 2 members from the Conservative caucus, 1 member from the Senate Liberal caucus and 1 representative from the Government in the Senate (non-voting member);
That quorum be three;
That the mandate of the advisory working group be to examine the current Senators' Pension Plan and make recommendations for improvement; and,
That a report be tabled no later than June 30, 2019.
As of June 6, 2019, the members of the Working Group are: Senator Dean, Senator Marshall, Senator Mitchell, Senator Moncion and Senator Tannas.
The Working Group met for the first time on May 15, 2019 to discuss the election of the Chair, the priorities and scope of its study, the development of a work plan and the projected date for tabling of the final report.
Election of the Chair
The Chair of the Working Group shall be elected by the members at their next meeting, scheduled for September 2019.
Priorities of the Working Group and Scope of the Study
To determine whether recommendations for improvement may be required, the Working Group will examine the current senators' pension plan and identify potential problems and solutions. Comparisons will be made with similar pension plans in order to conduct an in-depth analysis.
The Working Group will examine the status and characteristics of the plan, the division of contributions between Senators and Members of the House of Commons, returns, actuarial calculations and sensitivity breakdown. The Working Group will hear various experts on the subject and study different models.
The Working Group will, if it finds that changes are required, consider all available options, which may include proposals to amend the relevant legislation.
The Working Group is scheduled to meet in September 2019, followed by a meeting in March and May of 2020. The Working Group plans to report its findings to CIBA no later than June 30, 2020.
First Meeting: Pension Plan 101
The first meeting will consist of hearing testimony from several witnesses to gain a better understanding of the current pension plan.
Second Meeting: Identification of Issues
The second meeting will focus on identifying issues associated with the current pension plan and determining whether changes are required.
Third Meeting: Solutions and Recommendations
The purpose of the third meeting will be to consider all available options for changes and to develop a list of recommendations for its final report to CIBA.
Tony Dean Elizabeth Marshall Grant Mitchell Lucie Moncion Scott Tannas Member Member Member Member Member
The Honourable Senator Moncion made a statement, answered questions and informed the committee that the Honourable Senator Dawson would be the Senate Liberal member on the Working Group.
After debate, the Honourable Senator Moncion moved:
That, notwithstanding the motion of the committee adopted on Thursday, March 21, 2019, the date for the final report of the Advisory Working Group on Senators' Pension Plan be extended from June 30, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
At 8:50 a.m., the committee suspended.
At 8:51 a.m., the committee resumed in camera, pursuant to rule 12-16(1).
At 9:22 a.m., the committee suspended.
At 9:23 a.m., the committee resumed in public.
CIBA/2019-06-06/611(P)|240| — Update for Decision from the Subcommittee on the Long-Term Vision and Plan - Access and Circulation within the Senate of Canada Building (continued)
The Honourable Senator Tannas moved:
That CIBA instruct the Senate Administration to continue the contractual arrangement with Arlington Group Risk Management (AGRM) to provide ushering services to the Senate, until the summer adjournment; and
That the subcommittee continue to monitor PSPC's progress over the summer adjournment, in order to ensure that they are able to meet projected timelines for the installation of the necessary upgrades to doors and hallways, as required.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted, on division.
At 9:24 a.m., the committee suspended.
At 9:25 a.m., the committee resumed in camera, pursuant to rule 12-16(1).
At 9:52 a.m., the committee adjourned to the call of the chair.
Chief Corporate Services Officer and Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration