Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
I would nominate Mauril Bélanger. I think it's very important to have the continuity, now that we have two new chairs; to have somebody who has been at the steering committee before and knows the history of this committee.
In other committees, I've generally not been a fan of steering committees, because I find that they just take extra time relative to the main committee. I have found that committee business was often best discussed in a larger committee anyway, but c'est la vie.
Previously there was a steering committee for this committee, and we can set it up. Whether or not we exercise its use, though, is up to our discretion. I just raise that question. I know that previously Carol Hughes for the NDP was a member of that subcommittee, Senator Strachan was a member of it, Monsieur Plamondon for the Bloc Québécois was a member of it, and now he's a vice-chair, and Mr. Blake Richards was for the Conservative Party of Canada.
Do people wish to have a steering committee for the committee?
All right. Let's proceed with it, then.
Since we have Monsieur Plamondon now serving as a vice-chair of this committee, it would probably be fitting that we have somebody nominated from the New Democratic Party to serve on the steering committee.
Mr. Rafferty, I think you're the only representative. Am I correct, sir?
Do you mean, to be a member of the subcommittee on agenda and procedure, the steering committee? It will be provided for in the routine motions that all members.... When we get to this specific motion, we just need to make sure that there will be a seat for the NDP.
I am going to read this so that everybody is up to speed. For the services of analysts from the Library of Parliament, the motion is that the committee retain as needed and at the discretion of the joint chairs the services of one or more analysts from the Library of Parliament to assist in its work.
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Now we go to routine motion number two. I'll read it, and then somebody can go ahead and move it. For witnesses' statements and questioning, the motion is that witnesses appearing before the committee be given ten minutes to make their opening statements and that during the questioning of the witnesses the time allocated to each questioner be five minutes.
Mr. Trost moves it.
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Motion three is on the subcommittee on agenda and procedure. Once again I'll read it:
That the subcommittee on agenda and procedure be composed of the joint chairs, the vice-chairs, and four other members of the committee representing: from the Senate the Conservative Party; from the House of Commons, the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, and the New Democratic Party, to be designated after the usual consultation; and that the subcommittee be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the committee with respect to its agenda, to invite witnesses, and to schedule hearings.
I'm just going to ask our officials here. I'm assuming that first we move it, but then do we deal automatically with the election of the people to it, or do we move to motion four?
Honourable chairs and joint chairs, I would first like to point out that I count myself with those who believe that this subcommittee is very useful. That is why I am happy we are proceeding to constitute it and I would like us to spend a little more time on that.
There are two joint chairs, two vice-chairs and four other members. Perhaps it is time to do something different.
It will be the Conservative Party on the Senate side, since the Liberal Party is represented by the joint chair. I have no objection.
Then, it will be the Conservative Party for the House of Commons because I am representing the Liberal Party. There is also the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois is already represented. I am not sure we need two representatives. I would remove one. But we must certainly have someone from the New Democratic Party because it is not represented right now. So I would remove one of the representatives from the Bloc Québécois.
I would also like us to focus on the positions and not the people. So, if Mr. Plamandon cannot come to a meeting, he can send someone in his place. If the regular NDP representative cannot be there, she will send a representative. If I cannot be there, I will send one of my colleagues and so on.
It is a question of positions and not of people, even if it means sending a substitute when we cannot be there.
I would first like to comment on Mr. Bélanger's point. Other than the joint chairs and the vice-chairs, the other representatives who will be sitting on the small steering committee will be designated by the whips of each of the recognized parties.
In that case, if someone is not available, they could be duly replaced in conformity with the mechanisms that are usually used in the other standing committees. This is also in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. It will not be a problem.
(a) That its quorum be fixed at six members, provided that each House is represented, and a member from the opposition and a member from the government are present, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken; and
(b) That the joint chairs be authorized to hoId meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence published when a quorum is not present, provided that at least three members are present, including a member from the opposition and a member from the government, and provided that each House is represented.
Senator MacDonald's hand was up first. Bless your heart, Mr. Plamondon. It's moved by Senator MacDonald.
The reason is simple: this rule does not apply to all committees. Each committee has to pass it so that it becomes a rule, at least in the House. That may be the case in the Senate, but it is not automatically so in the House. That is why it has to be adopted by each committee, and it is my pleasure to so move.
Our joint chairs must recognize that francophones are not only in Quebec.
I'm going to just say, for whatever the record is worth here, that I noticed Mr. Plamondon's hand first but that Mr. Bélanger was speaking. Therefore, I have to accept Mr. Bélanger's moving of the motion while he was speaking to it.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Next is a motion to publish the committee's proceedings:
That the committee publish its proceedings; and that the joint chairs he authorized to set the number of printed copies to meet demand.
Does anybody wish to move that motion?
I saw Mr. Armstrong's hand first, maybe because he's closest.
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Next is a motion on the authority to commit funds and certify accounts:
That either joint chair or, in accordance with the direction of the joint chairs, either joint clerk be authorized to approve payment of expenditures of the committee.
That's moved by Mrs. Cadman.
(Motion agreed to)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Next is a motion on travelling and living expenses of witnesses:
That at the discretion of the joint chairs, the committee may reimburse reasonable travelling and living expenses for one witness from any one organization, and payment will take place upon application, but that the joint chairs be authorized to approve expenses for a second witness should there be exceptional circumstances.
Honourable chairs, I suggest we at least have sandwiches when we come here at lunchtime. I have not eaten since this morning. We should at least have sandwiches, vegetables, fruits, something to munch on. If the meeting goes to 1:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m., we do not have the time to eat before going back to Senate. So, I move that we approve a small budget to accommodate everyone who participates in the committee.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Rob Anders): Now notice of motions:
That 48 hours' notice be required for any substantive motion to be considered by the committee, unless the susbstantive motion relates directly to business then under consideration; and that the notice of motion be filed with the joint clerks of the committee and distributed to members in both official languages.
Who would like to move that? Okay, Mr. Malhi.
Is that a seconding, Mr. Plamondon? Okay, it's a seconding.
We need to deal with the first report of the committee. It is very usual for this committee, the standing joint committee, to present its first report basically to both houses. It sets the quorum of the committee, its mandate, and it seeks special authorization on the Senate side.
Actually, in the Senate we have to report how much we spent the last session, so this is just based on our rule 104 in the Senate, and it's how much this committee has spent. So it's basic from previous years.
Mr. Chair, could the clerks tell us what room the meeting will be in? We used to meet in the East Block. I think it was Room 362. It was a good way of doing things. I am not sure what the other hon. members think, but it is a better meeting room than this one. It was also easier for the members of the Senate. I am not sure if we can get back into that habit. I am just bringing that to your attention.
Here is how things are going to be until June. From January to June 2010, the Standing House Committee on National Defence meets every Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the room you are talking about, Room 362 in the East Block. Since the meetings of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament are less frequent than those of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I suggest that, perhaps till June at least, we meet in the West Block. It is possible that, by next fall, we can be back in Room 362 in the East Block. As I was saying, every Thursday, the Standing Committee on National Defence is in that room.
I would just say, seeing that we have so many new members, that before we decide on the work of this committee, at the next meeting we should ask the parliamentary librarian to come with whatever people he would bring with him to do an orientation or an update of his challenges and the work to date.
I'd just like to suggest that this is a good place for this committee to meet. You look at the surroundings. Clearly, this room will be inspirational to the work that this committee does. I would suggest that until June, when everybody moves out of West Block, this would be a good place to meet.
Before I recognize Mr. Malhi, I want to get something on the record. It's in response to Ms. Bennett. I think everybody here has been to the Library of Parliament and seen what is the very obvious representation of the library at the back of Centre Block, but they do have other facilities where they house the majority of their books, which I've never seen, and I've been here 13 years. I don't know if anybody here has. Has anybody? I think that might be very interesting to peruse.
No, I was just saying I've been in them. I've been on this committee so long, they've taken us around.... Even when the library itself was in renovation we actually had a hard-hat tour of what they were doing underneath, and when they lost that forklift down into the river. It's important work.
I just want to talk about the location. I think most of the members' offices are in either the Confederation Building or the West Block. This is very close to all the members. This is a better place than the East Block. Sometimes I know I have to go within five minutes or seven minutes to the bus service, then I arrive late, five or ten minutes, all the time. This is a very easy and very convenient location to reach in time.
I know. It's an absolutely beautiful spot, but it's not available, so c'est la vie.
That being said, Mr. Rafferty loves the spirit of the room. It's available. It's close for Mr. Malhi. Unless anybody else has any wonderful suggestions we might look into, I think this is probably going to suit us till June just fine. I think the idea of having the librarian in and then maybe doing a tour afterwards is not a bad way to begin.
Carolyn mentioned new members. In addition to me, how many are new? Could I see a show of hands?
It might be advisable, Rob, if we had the officials from the library, not only the librarian but the senior officials of the management team in, particularly for the new members. For other members, it would be optional, if they would agree. The steering committee could consider that at our first meeting if that's agreed.