Motion to Resolve into Committee of the Whole to Receive Ministers to Consider the Main Estimates and Supplementary Estimates and to Consider the Government’s Role in Combatting Racism

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, I rise on behalf of my colleague Senator Tannas, who has had to leave the chamber, to speak about Senator Mégie’s motion. He notes that he personally supports the motion, as I do. He also notes that this is an important motion, which proposes a Committee of the Whole whereby senators would pose questions to ministers on their response to systemic and, indeed, other issues of racism in Canada.

These are his words:

As an Alberta senator, I have some questions I would like to ask about the treatment of Chief Allan Adam, as documented in that video that has outraged Canadians. I want to participate in a Committee of the Whole, and so do many of you here today, and so do many of our colleagues not here today.

He goes on to say that we must insist that all senators be able to participate. Very shortly, I will table on his behalf an amendment to the motion that proposes we conduct the Committee of the Whole as soon as the technology can be delivered for us to do so.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Robert Black: Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:

That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended:

  1. by replacing the words “following the adoption of” with “provided for in”; and
  2. by adding, after the words “systemic racism;”, the following new paragraph:

    “That the sitting day provided for in this order be the earlier of the following:

    1. the first sitting day that follows the adjournment of the third successive sitting of the Senate with a daily attendance of at least 60 senators that follows the adoption of this order; or
    2. the first sitting day on which senators are permitted to participate in the proceedings of the Senate by video or teleconference;”.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator R. Black (Ontario), seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner, that the motion be not now adopted but that it be amended — may I dispense?

Hon. Senators: Dispense.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I would like to take adjournment of debate.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed, please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the “nays” have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Do we have agreement on the bell?

An Hon. Senator: One hour.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 5:18. Call in the senators.

Motion negatived on the following division:

Yeas - The Honourable Senators

Nays - The Honourable Senators

Abstentions - The Honourable Senators

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mégie, seconded by the Honourable Senator Anderson:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules or usual practice, at the start of the Orders of the Day on the sitting day following the adoption of this order, the Senate resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole in order to receive a minister or ministers of the Crown to discuss the role of the Government of Canada in combatting anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism, and ending systemic racism;

That the committee report to the Senate no later than 120 minutes after it begins;

That the provisions of rule 3-3(1) be suspended while the committee is meeting;

That the application of any provision of the Rules or previous order concerning the time of adjournment be suspended until the committee has completed its work; and

That the ringing of the bells for any deferred vote that would conflict with the committee be deferred until the committee has completed its work.

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Black (Ontario), seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner, P.C.:

That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended

  1. by replacing the words “following the adoption of” with “provided for in”; and
  2. by adding, after the words “systemic racism;”, the following new paragraph:

    “That the sitting day provided for in this order be the earlier of the following:

    1. the first sitting day that follows the adjournment of the third successive sitting of the Senate with a daily attendance of at least 60 senators that follows the adoption of this order; or
    2. the first sitting day on which senators are permitted to participate in the proceedings of the Senate by video or teleconference;”.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, clearly we believe that people need to be in this chamber in order to deal with these issues, and we don’t have that. I expressed that earlier today in my comments to Senator Moodie’s emergency debate. And I still believe what I said at that point, even though this is a very serious issue and needs to be debated. We support that.

We are also not entirely in favour of virtual sittings. And so I have a bit of a problem with the amendment as it was presented by Senator Black with the virtual sittings. So in light of that, Your Honour, I will move a subamendment.

Motion in Subamendment

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:

That the motion in amendment be not now adopted, but that it be amended by deleting:

  1. the words “the earlier of the following:
    1. ”; and
  2. the words “; or
    1. the first sitting day on which senators are permitted to participate in the proceedings of the Senate by video or teleconference”.

The Hon. the Speaker: In amendment, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Plett, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:

That the motion in amendment be not now adopted, but that it be amended by deleting —

Shall I dispense?

Some Hon. Senators: Dispense.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do you want me to read the whole thing?

That the motion in amendment be not now adopted, but that it be amended by deleting:

  1. the words “the earlier of the following:
    1. ”; and
  2. the words “; or
    1. the first sitting day on which senators are permitted to participate in the proceedings of the Senate by video or teleconference”.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Martin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of Senate. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the nays have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: I see two senators rising. Do we have agreement on a bell?

An Hon. Senator: Until 5:58.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 5:58. Call in the senators.

Motion agreed to on the following division:

Yeas - The Honourable Senators

Nays - The Honourable Senators

Abstentions - The Honourable Senators

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is now six o’clock. Pursuant to rule 3-3 (1), I’m obliged to leave the chair until eight o’clock when we will resume, unless it is the wish of the chamber that we not see the clock. Is it your wish that we not see the clock, honourable senators?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

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