the senate — The Senate

Notice of Motion to Authorize Hybrid Sittings

November 23, 2021


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[13:58]

Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-1, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules, previous order or usual practice:

1.as soon as practicable after the adoption of this order the Senate begin to hold hybrid sittings, with all senators able to participate in sittings either from the Senate Chamber or through an approved videoconference technology to be determined from time to time by the Speaker after consulting with the leaders and facilitators, with the provisions of this order applying until hybrid sittings cease, and during the time this order is in effect, the Senate Administration continue to implement a system to allow senators in the Senate Chamber to see, on screen, the senators participating by videoconference;

2.the Speaker, after consulting the leaders and facilitators, determine the date on which such hybrid sittings shall commence;

3.hybrid sittings of the Senate be considered, for all purposes, proceedings of the Senate, with senators participating in such sittings by videoconference from a designated office or designated residence within Canada being considered, for all purposes, including quorum, present at the sitting; the sitting being considered to take place in the parliamentary precinct; and times specified in the Rules or this or any other order being Ottawa times;

4.subject to variations that may be required by the circumstances, to participate in hybrid sittings of the Senate by videoconference senators must:

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

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

(c)be the only people visible on the videoconference from an active video feed, other than those in the Senate Chamber; and

(d)except while the bells are ringing for a vote:

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

(ii)leave the videoconference if they leave their seat;

5.the Senate recognize that, except as provided in this order, there should generally be parity of treatment among all senators attending in person and those attending by videoconference during hybrid sittings of the Senate and that proceedings should follow usual procedures, subject to such variations required for technical reasons as may be directed by the Speaker, subject to appeal to the Senate if technically feasible;

6.senators participating in hybrid sittings of the Senate by videoconference need not stand;

7.without restricting the operation of rule 3-6 and the right of senators to move a motion to adjourn the Senate as allowed under the Rules, without affecting requirements in certain circumstances that the Senate continue sitting after receipt of a message from the Crown or the announcement that a message is anticipated, and except as otherwise provided in this order:

(a)when the Senate sits on a Monday, the provisions of rule 3-3(1) be suspended and the sitting:

(i)start at 6 p.m.; and

(ii)adjourn at the earlier of the end of Government Business or 9 p.m.;

(b)when the Senate sits on a Tuesday, the sitting:

(i)start at 2 p.m.; and

(ii)adjourn at the earlier of the end of business for the day or 9 p.m.;

(c)when the Senate sits on a Wednesday, the sitting:

(i)start at 2 p.m.; and

(ii)adjourn at the earlier of the end of Government Business or 4 p.m.;

(d)when the Senate sits on a Thursday, the sitting:

(i)start at 2 p.m.; and

(ii)adjourn at the earlier of the end of business for the day or 9 p.m.; and

(e)when the Senate sits on a Friday, the sitting:

(i)start at 10 a.m.; and

(ii)adjourn at the earlier of the end of Government Business or 4 p.m.;

8.the Speaker be authorized to suspend the sitting of the Senate as required for technical and other reasons, and the microphones of senators participating by videoconference shall be muted during any suspension;

9.the Speaker be authorized to direct that the sitting of the Senate be adjourned for technical reasons, provided that this direction be subject to appeal if technically feasible;

10.the times provided for adjournment of the sitting in paragraph 7 be considered the ordinary time of adjournment for the purposes of the Rules, and, for greater certainty, any provisions of the Rules permitting the continuation of the sitting beyond that time in certain circumstances continue to apply, provided that if the provisions of paragraph 9 are invoked when an item that would allow the Senate to continue beyond the ordinary time of adjournment is under consideration, that item of business shall, except in the case of an emergency debate and subject to the provisions of rule 4-13(3), be dealt with at the start of the Orders of the Day of the next following sitting;

11.on the first day of debate on a motion moved in relation to a case of privilege, debate may be adjourned, even if normally prohibited under rule 13-6(6);

12.the evening suspension provided for in rule 3-3(1) end at 7 p.m.;

13.when the Senate sits on a day other than a Friday, any provision of the Rules requiring that something take place at 8 p.m. be read as if the time therein were 7 p.m.;

14.the Senate recognize the importance of providing the Speaker with information necessary to allow him to assist with the orderly conduct of business in hybrid sittings, and therefore, subject to normal confidentiality practices, strongly encourage all senators:

(a)to advise their party or group representatives, or the Clerk of the Senate or his delegate, as far in advance as possible, if they intend to intervene during the sitting; and

(b)to provide the Clerk of the Senate or his delegate, as far in advance as possible with an electronic copy in English and French of any amendment, subamendment, notice of motion, notice of inquiry, committee report to be tabled or presented, bill to be introduced, or any other document required for the sitting as far in advance as possible;

15.a senator who has provided an advance copy of a document under subparagraph 14(b) be considered to have fulfilled any obligation to provide a signed copy of that document;

16.the following provisions have effect in relation to voting during hybrid sittings of the Senate:

(a)only senators present in the Senate Chamber shall participate in:

(i)the procedure for a voice vote; and

(ii)the determination as to whether leave is granted for bells of less than 60 minutes;

(b)to be one of the senators requesting a standing vote, a senator participating by videoconference must clearly indicate this request, but need not stand;

(c)rule 9-7(1)(c) shall be read as follows:

“(c) then:

(i) ask the “yeas” in the Senate Chamber to rise for their names to be called;

(ii) ask the “yeas” participating by videoconference to hold up the established card for voting “yea” for their names to be called;

(iii) ask the “nays” in the Senate Chamber to rise for their names to be called;

(iv) ask the “nays” participating by videoconference to hold up the established card for voting “nay” for their names to be called;

(v) ask those who are abstaining in the Senate Chamber to rise for their names to be called; and

(vi) ask those who are abstaining and participating by videoconference to hold up the established card for abstaining for their names to be called.”;

(d)when a standing vote is underway, senators participating by videoconference must have their camera on for the duration of the vote and each senator must be seen on camera when voting;

(e)except as provided in subparagraph (h), if a vote is deferred pursuant to rule 9-10, it shall be held at 3:30 p.m. on the next day the Senate sits, after a 15-minute bell, interrupting any proceedings then underway, except another vote or the bells for a vote;

(f)except as provided in subparagraph (h), if a vote is deferred pursuant to rule 4-6(1), it shall be held at 3:30 p.m. on the same day, after a 15‑minute bell, interrupting any proceedings then underway, except another vote or the bells for a vote;

(g)except as provided in subparagraph (h), in the case of votes deferred pursuant to other provisions of the Rules, the usual processes for such votes shall hold, with the sitting being suspended, if necessary, at the end of the time otherwise provided for the end of the sitting pursuant to this order; and

(h)if a deferred vote is to be held on a Monday, it shall be held at the end of Question Period, after a 15-minute bell;

17.for greater certainty, leave be considered granted during hybrid sittings of the Senate when requested, unless the Speaker, after a sufficient period of time, hears an objection from a senator, either in the Senate Chamber or participating by videoconference;

18.from the time of the adoption of this order:

(a)any return, report or other paper deposited with the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to rule 14-1(6), may be deposited electronically;

(b)the government be authorized to deposit electronically with the Clerk of the Senate any documents relating to its administrative responsibilities, following the process of rule 14-1(6);

(c)written replies to oral questions and to written questions may be deposited with the Clerk of the Senate electronically following the process of rule 14-1(6), provided that written replies to oral questions be published as an appendix to the Debates of the Senate of the day on which the tabling is recorded in the Journals of the Senate; and

(d)written replies to oral questions deposited electronically with the Clerk of the Senate shall be distributed to all senators;

19.from the time of the adoption of this order, Senate committees have the power to hold hybrid meetings;

20.for greater certainty, and without limiting the general authority granted by this order, when a committee holds a hybrid meeting:

(a)members of the committee participating count towards quorum;

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

(c)the committee be directed to approach in camera meetings with the utmost caution and all necessary precautions, taking account of the risks to the confidentiality of in camera proceedings inherent in such technologies;

21.subject to variations that may be required by the circumstances, to participate in a committee meeting by videoconference senators must:

(a)participate from a designated office or designated residence within Canada;

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

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

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

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

(f)leave the videoconference if they leave their seat;

22.if a committee holds a hybrid meeting in public, the provisions of rule 14-7(2) be applied so as to allow recording or broadcasting through any facilities arranged by the Clerk of the Senate, and, if such a meeting cannot be broadcast live, the committee be considered to have fulfilled any obligations under the Rules relating to public meetings by making any available recording publicly available as soon as possible thereafter; and

23.the terms of this order cease to have effect, and hybrid sittings of the Senate and hybrid meetings of Senate committees cease, at the end of the day on March 31, 2022.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)
[14:11]

Thank you for that last clause. I was waiting for the sunset clause part of it, and it arrived in the last line.

The other question I have is that I believe in previous hybrid sittings, if we started at 2:00 and adjourned at 9:00, it was in the Rules that we have a supper break at six o’clock, as opposed to your asking the question. If I’m mistaken, then I’m fine with that, but I did not see the supper break mentioned anywhere in reference to the sittings on Tuesday and Thursday where we sit from 2:00 until 9:00.

Senator Gold
[14:11]

Thank you for the question. I think you’re correct, Senator Plett. I don’t recall reading that either.

This was the text of the hybrid motion that was circulated by my office a few days ago. We didn’t pick it up, and nobody did in response. There is no intention on the part of the government to not accede to a dinner break if that’s the will of the chamber.

I’m not sure how to proceed procedurally, but rest assured that, from our perspective, it was never the intention to speak to that issue. It’s clearly something that none of us caught when the motion was circulated in advance.

The Hon. the Speaker
[14:12]

Senator Gold, before Senator Plett asks his other question, would you be kind enough to repeat point 12?

Senator Gold
[14:12]

It would be my pleasure, Your Honour.

The evening suspension provided for in rule 3-3(1) end at 7 p.m.

I’ll defer to my colleagues or the table. I believe that contemplates a dinner break, but it will end at 7 p.m. I think it’s a reference to the Rules, Senator Plett.

[14:13]

Your Honour, we are certainly happy to take the government’s word. If we can have this clarified before the motion is dealt with tomorrow, I for one would be willing to give leave, as long as we’re on the record as needing that. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker
[14:13]

Is leave granted, honourable senators?