Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Motion in Relation to Committee Membership Adopted

February 5, 2020

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo

Pursuant to notice of February 4, 2020, moved:

That, notwithstanding rule 12-5, the Honourable Senator Dean replace the Honourable Senator Gold as one of the members of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration provided for in rule 12-3(2)(a).

He said: Honourable senators, may I quickly explain the motion, if you will indulge me? Thank you for granting leave. The motion is self-explanatory. It is about replacing Senator Gold with Senator Dean on CIBA. I would like to explain why the motion is necessary in the first place.

Under ordinary circumstances, replacement of members on a committee is a routine matter, especially when the member is from the same caucus or parliamentary group. Senator Gold is no longer a member of the ISG and therefore we have to do this special procedure to replace him.

This is a pedagogical moment here. I wanted to let everyone know that there are other circumstances behind this special motion. Senator Gold wasn’t even an original member on CIBA for the ISG. That person was Senator Dean, but we replaced him with Senator Gold because there was a meeting of CIBA during the intercessional period between the dissolution of Parliament and the start of the new Parliament. We had to do that because it was not possible for the ISG to replace our members once we entered the intercessional grey zone, if you will, between the end of one Parliament and the start of another.

That privilege, however, is given to the government and the opposition. In other words, some groups in the chamber have the right to replace their members on CIBA during a period between one Parliament and another Parliament, but other groups do not. That is why we were unable to immediately make the switch back from Senator Gold to Senator Dean at that time.

I bring this up only because it is an example of discrepancies, if you will, in the rules and the statutes that govern the Senate. In this particular case, that rule is in the Parliament of Canada Act. We are hoping that we can get changes to the Parliament of Canada Act that will restore, introduce and allow for some equality of Senate groups in the Senate. We are also hoping for changes in the Rules of the Senate that recognize groups other than the government and opposition and provide them with the same privileges and benefits that the government and opposition have.

That, of course, is the subject of the motion that I gave notice of some weeks ago, a subject for a different day, but I thank you for the opportunity to provide you with some background to this motion and a preview of the motion that I will be speaking to after the break. Thank you, colleagues.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)

If I may, since you did explain the reasoning behind this specific motion, even though we did give leave and it was actually adopted, because we understood what was happening, it actually demonstrates the flexibility of our current Rules which, in the previous Parliament and in this Parliament, will stretch for all of us as a chamber, if we give leave, we can make these changes and adjustments.

In terms of the motion you’re referring to, senator, in my years in the Senate, I have never seen a motion that changes so many rules in one motion. Customarily we would refer the matter to the Rules Committee. The committee would have an opportunity to look at things in depth. However, we’re not debating that motion, per se, but I want to point out that our current Rules have allowed these changes to happen and I think the Rules do serve us very well. I wanted to add that to today’s debate.

The Hon. the Speaker

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)