Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-10(1), I ask leave of the Senate to modify the motion so that it reads as follows:
That a Special Committee on the Charitable Sector be appointed to examine the impact of federal and provincial laws and policies governing charities, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other similar groups; and to examine the impact of the voluntary sector in Canada;
That the committee be composed of nine members, to be nominated by the Committee of Selection, and that four members constitute a quorum;
That the committee have the power to send for persons, papers and records; to examine witnesses; and to publish such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee;
That, notwithstanding rule 12-18(2)(b)(i), the committee have the power to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week; and
That the committee be empowered to report from time to time and to submit its final report no later than December 31, 2018, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 60 days after the tabling of the final report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: So ordered. Resuming debate on the motion as modified. Senator Mercer.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, this amendment brings this motion in line with the motion that created the Special Committee on the Arctic in terms of the numbers of senators and quorum. It also extends the reporting time in order for the committee to have a full and complete debate. I believe there is support for this amendment, and then to approve the amended motion so that we can get started on this study.
Every other day, it seems we hear news of declining donors, volunteers and the like. I believe it is time to lay everything on the table that has to be done and possibly that has not been done, and make recommendations for some action on this file. Too many Canadians rely on the works of charities, non-profits and volunteers for us to do less. Thank you, honourable senators.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Would Senator Mercer take a question?
Senator Mercer: Certainly.
Senator Plett: As whip of one of the caucuses, I have concerns about committee rooms, meeting times and so on. Have you given some thought as to when this committee would meet?
Senator Mercer: Yes, I have, Senator Plett. Looking at the schedule, I understand how difficult it is. I’m looking at Monday evenings, the actual hour to be determined by the committee itself, once the committee is formed. It certainly shouldn’t be Monday afternoons to allow for people from Western Canada to be able to get here for Monday evenings. So that would be my point.
Senator Plett: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for clarifying that. Thank you for making the amendments that you and I discussed and that are in keeping with the amendments that were put forward on the Arctic Committee.
Colleagues, as I have said as the whip, there are always problems with meeting times and so on, but I want to say, after the amendments that Senator Mercer has put forward, I would encourage us to support this motion and support this committee, so that Senator Mercer can start doing some groundwork over the holidays before we get back to officially organize the committee.