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Point of Order Speech in Senate Chamber: Motion to Call Upon Members of the House of Commons to Invite the Auditor General to Conduct a Comprehensive Audit of Expenses—Speaker's Ruling Reserved


The Senate

Motion to Call Upon Members of the House of Commons to Invite the Auditor General to Conduct a Comprehensive Audit of Expenses—Point of Order—Speaker's Ruling Reserved

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Downe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput,

That the Senate call upon the Members of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency by acknowledging the longstanding request of current and former Auditors General of Canada to examine the accounts of both Houses of Parliament, and thereby inviting the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons expenses, including Members' expenses, and

That the audits of the House of Commons and the Senate be conducted concurrently, and the results for both Chambers of Parliament be published at the same time.

 

Hon. Anne C. Cools: I thank His Honour. I also thank Senator Downe and Senator Fraser for their remarks.

Colleagues, I rise to speak in support of Senator Tkachuk's point of order on Senator Downe's motion. It proposes many things, but fundamentally it is proposing concurrent audits of the Senate and the House of Commons by the Auditor General.

The first point there is that the motion involves a third party, the Auditor General, which I will come to in a few moments. If you read the motion, it really could have been three or four motions, but that is beside the point. It states:

That the Senate call upon the Members of the House of Commons... to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency by acknowledging....

That's a decision that the Senate is taking for the House of Commons. They have chosen how to frame the decision of the House of Commons. The motion continues:

... the longstanding request of current and former Auditors General of Canada to examine the accounts of both Houses of Parliament,....

This Senate has no knowledge of the longstanding request of current and former Auditors General to examine the accounts of the House of Commons.

It continues:

... and thereby inviting the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons expenses, including Members' expenses,....

Honourable senators, the Senate has no power to invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct an audit of the House of Commons expenses. I shall come to this in a moment. I am just reviewing the motion, since Your Honour asked for some input on this. Any decision about an Auditor General's audit of the House of Commons is the exclusive purview of the House of Commons, including members' expenses.

The last paragraph of the motion states:

That the audits of the House of Commons and the Senate be conducted concurrently, and the results for both Chambers of Parliament be published at the same time.

Colleagues, this motion is trenching all over the House of Commons. It is an articulated decision of what it wants the House of Commons to do. The motion also says that it wishes the House of Commons to act in unison and in lockstep with the Senate, that is concurrent action.

This is just by way of a passing and cursory read of the motion. If you go back and read it again, you will find how much larger and how much more complex it becomes with each reading.

I wish to make several points. Please forgive me for my voice, colleagues; I have a bit of a cold.

Honourable senators, I want to begin by asking us to be mindful of the substance of Senator Downe's motion in light of the anti-Senate sentiments that emanate daily from some in the other place. I want us to weigh that against the likelihood of obtaining agreement from the House of Commons.

But my major point here, honourable senators, is that I urge honourable senators here to be diligent that our debate does not attach the Auditor General in any way. I urge that we be vigilant not to entangle the Auditor General or his office in any disagreement or quarrel between the Senate and the House of Commons, the co-equal, sovereign, independent houses of Parliament. To enmesh the Auditor General in this motion's debate would be unfair and even unkind to the Auditor General, and not very helpful to the business of audit.

Honourable senators, I urge caution and care. One just can't flip different office-holders in and out of our motions.

We have a duty to protect the integrity of the independence of the Auditor General, cognizant of the fact that he cannot answer anything said in debate here or in the House of Commons. He cannot answer. We can reasonably expect that the other place has no appetite to join the Senate in its audit and little interest in any audit at the instance and the initiative of the Senate. We should also be attentive to the Auditor General's peculiar and unique relationship to the Commons house. We should strive to uphold this relationship.

Honourable senators, most urgently, we should immediately ascertain whether Senator Downe sought and obtained the Auditor General's willingness to perform such audit on the House of Commons as joined to the Senate's audit, and also to the concurrent execution and publication, as Senator Downe's motion proposes.

This matter is far more serious than it appears. This is not a matter of free speech here. I am the biggest proponent of free speech. This is a matter of the intricate business of who has exclusive cognizance of what. I will submit that, since we know that the Auditor General Act contains no power to audit either of the two houses, any audit of either house by the Auditor General would be, and must be, the exclusive cognizance of that individual house.

It would be disturbing, colleagues, if the Commons house members formed wrong and bad impressions about our actions here. If Senator Downe has not obtained the consent and the agreement of the Auditor General, then, colleagues, I believe his motion is out of order ab initio and should be struck off the Order Paper forthwith.

Honourable senators, last June, on sound constitutional grounds, I had opposed Government Leader Senator LeBreton's government motion to have the Auditor General audit the Senate. On this very same ground, I am now opposed to Senator Downe's motion to order — and that's what a motion is once it's adopted; it's an order of the house — that the Commons house act in unison and lockstep with the Senate audit. I add that my arguments that the Auditor General Act holds no constitutional power to audit the Senate stand on solid ground because this act also legislates that there's no power in the Auditor General Act to audit the Commons house to whom the Auditor General reports. Such audit of the Commons is solely between the Commons, the Auditor General and the Auditor General Act.

We are not clear here. Many of these details have not addressed whether or not the Auditor General Act can be enforced on senators and in the Senate. These are the questions that were skillfully avoided last June, like a host of other important constitutional questions.

Honourable senators, Senator Downe's motion exceeds the limits of our ancient lex parliamenti, the law of Parliament. This law commands that each house be the master of its own proceedings and decisions and also that the two houses are coordinate institutions in a relationship of constitutional comity. This is our Constitution's parliamentary reality that we call the independence of the houses. This independence is absolute, well-established and inviolable. About this, I shall cite paragraph 4 of Beauchesne's sixth edition of Parliamentary Rules and Forms at page 4:

Beyond the vast legacy of tradition implanted in Canada by the preamble to the Constitution Act, one section above all affects procedure. Section 18 permits the adoption in Canada of all of the privileges of Parliament current in the British House of Commons. Few of these are of greater importance than the right to regulate the internal proceedings of the House, or more specifically, to establish binding rules of procedure.

Honourable senators, Senator Downe's motion encroaches on the independence of the House of Commons, the independence of the Auditor General and the unique relationship between the Auditor General and the House of Commons. This unique relationship is in respect of the Commons' constitutional powers in taxation and revenue — remember, the House of Commons has powers that we do not have in these regards — the public expenditure, and ministerial responsibility, being that Her Majesty's ministers hold office and their tenure at the sufferance of the house.

Honourable senators, there is a collection of principles hanging together here, which is why I am raising these issues, colleagues and Your Honour, because this question is far deeper than it looks on the face of it.

Senator Downe's motion is flawed, defective and out of order in its form and in its substance and, most particularly, in its reach into the House of Commons' powers to make its own judgments with respect to its own audits. The Senate is trenching on House of Commons' ground.

Honourable senators, last June, Government Leader Senator LeBreton, in full party and whip dress, moved a hasty government motion that was quickly adopted here on June 6, with little debate. This motion, which I opposed, by its adoption became an order of the Senate, supported, as all Senate orders are, by the Senate's penal and contempt jurisdiction, that body of powers. That is how you can enforce these orders. This motion read:

That the Senate invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses, including senators' expenses.

It is unclear to me, and has been for the past little while, how an invitation can be a Senate order, under the pain of the contempt power, to the Auditor General or anyone, because invitations, by their nature, contain the right to decline. Invitations are not commands as Senate orders are. It is clear why this order was engaged for senators, who would otherwise have the same right to decline as does the Auditor General, but it is unclear why such an order under the contempt power was engaged for the Auditor General, whose independence should preclude this. The Auditor General is not a servant of the government to be dispatched at whim as a lofty disciplinary agent to audit the Senate or the House of Commons, which is what happened here last June, colleagues. Make no mistake about that. Such action is neither intended nor contemplated by the Auditor General Act or by the Office of the Auditor General. It would have been far kinder if the Senate order had been directed to its own Senate Internal Economy Committee, ordering the committee chair to invite the Auditor General to audit the Senate. It would have been a far kinder thing to the Office of the Auditor General. I have not really understood why one would want to take the action of mentioning the Auditor General in a Senate order.

Honourable senators, speaking frugally and sparsely to her motion, Senator LeBreton said:

Today, I am moving forward on this promise of accountability by introducing this motion calling upon —

This is a buzzword now — "calling upon." Everybody is calling.

— the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses.

The Office of the Auditor General is a respected body...

Senator LeBreton's unfortunate choice of words insinuates that the Senate is not a respected body. We know that many government ministers daily repeat the mantra that the Senate is not a legitimate body, not a legitimate institution, seemingly to habituate the public mind to Senate illegitimacy as a public fact. Sadly, that day I observed that many senators, on both sides, rightly sensed that her motion violated and hurt something deep inside of them. I spoke against that motion on June 6. I note now, as then, that no Senate motion and no Senate order can alter, amend or set aside the Auditor General Act, which, by its nature, does not contemplate that the Auditor General should be auditing either of the two houses of Parliament.

He should not be auditing this house. He should not be auditing the other house. That's why I am taking the same position on this motion as I did on the previous one.

Honourable senators, we must be mindful that the Auditor General Act is the statutory framework for the Auditor General's audits of the government's many departments, expenditures and charges on the public purse. We call this the public accounts. This statute clearly enacts that the Auditor General report his findings to the House of Commons. This is important because the Commons is not subject to any superintending power, any audit or any other power of the Auditor General.

In fact, neither the Senate nor the Commons, as the sovereign houses of Parliament, are constitutionally subject to any power of the Auditor General. To his great credit — and I admire this — the Auditor General has not sought or claimed any such power. The point is, colleagues, that Senator Downe's motion is claiming a power for the Auditor General to audit the House of Commons, but the Auditor General has never claimed such power.

Honourable senators, this is the nature of the sovereignty of Parliament and of Canada's Constitution, yet, daily, we see and hear these principles diminished by many who call it reform. Their offerings are unmistakably clear that the Senate should be treated as a mere government department. Some of them even conduct their own public wars with the Senate. The Senate and the Commons are constituted to administer efficient and effective, independent internal and external audits, despite the fact that successive governments have consistently kept the Senate starved of financial resources.

Honourable senators, the House of Commons now, and for over a century, has had a long constitutional and statutorily defined relationship with the Auditor General who, in the earliest years, had been the Deputy Minister of Finance. That's a very important piece of history, Your Honour, being when the Government of Canada decided to separate the function of audit from the Department of Finance. It is an interesting thing and relevant here.

The Senate has no such relationship with the Auditor General. I'm making this point again and again. The Senate does not have the same relationship with the Auditor General that the House of Commons has.

The Senate should be respectful and should defer to that particular relationship, which is the Auditor General's relationship to the House of Commons. We cannot step into that relationship and we should avoid doing so.

Honourable senators, as Senator LeBreton's motion was without precedent, so now is Senator Downe's. For these reasons, I say that Senator Downe's motion is out of order because his motion grants the Auditor General, and his act, a superintending power and control over the houses of Parliament, as did Senator LeBreton's motion last June. Senator LeBreton's motion was limited to the Senate though, but this motion goes much further. I will not support Senator Downe's motion for the same reason that I did not support Senator LeBreton's motion. His motion subjects the houses, and the unique House of Commons relationship with the Auditor General, to actions and audits that are not authorized by the Auditor General Act, and may not be desired or agreed to by the Auditor General himself.

Honourable senators, Senator Downe's motion is also out of order because it proposes to speak directly to the House of Commons. I would like to say to you, Senator Downe, with full respect and due respect — and you know I think highly of you — that your 2008 example isn't relevant. I didn't hear the whole thing and I haven't been able to get it yet, but according to what I heard, the motion included a message. I heard Senator Downe say, I believe, that a message be sent.

I believe I heard Senator Downe say — and feel free to correct me, Senator Downe — it was something to do like "that a message be sent." The situation that he described is not even comparable to this situation. There is no message being sent to the House of Commons by his motion. I am coming to messages in a very few seconds. As I said, Senator Downe's motion speaks directly to the House of Commons.

Honourable senators, parliamentary law and practice dictate the form of social intercourse between the houses. This motion is not in the correct form. In short, the houses of Parliament do not communicate by calling upon each other. They communicate by the form and process in Parliament that is called messages, to which Senator Downe just referred, and also the rarely used conferences.

Messages are the form in which the houses speak to each other, just as addresses are the way the houses speak to the sovereign. Our current Rules of the Senate contains a section headed Messages Between the Houses and Conferences. Rule 16-2(1) states:

The Clerk shall arrange for the sending of messages from the Senate to the House of Commons and for the receipt of messages from that house.

Rule 16-2(2) states:

The Speaker shall read messages received from the House of Commons at the earliest appropriate time.

Honourable senators, no message is found in Senator Downe's motion. For example, his motion didn't end with "and that the Senate send a message," or something like that. The message is a very real thing and it's the most frequently used form of communication between the houses.

Honourable senators, everyone is calling upon someone. It seems that "calling upon" is the current buzzword. Senator Downe's motion calls upon the members of the House of Commons. I would think that perhaps a whisper might be better, but the fact of the matter is the houses communicate by messages. That is the parliamentary form. Beauchesne's sixth edition of Parliamentary Rules and Forms describes the well-established parliamentary practice of messages under the heading "Intercourse Between The Two Houses," at paragraph 743. Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, eighteenth edition, defines messages thus:

A message is the most simple and frequent mode of communication; it is daily resorted to.... for communicating all matters of an ordinary description, which occur in the course of parliamentary proceedings.

Honourable senators, the Speaker rises here daily and reads messages to us and daily, when we adopt bills at third reading, we send messages to the House of Commons to that effect. But somebody has given careful thought for centuries as to how the houses speak to each other and it is not calling upon.

Honourable senators, the houses of Parliament are separate and independent and simply cannot, and I would suspect would not, unite in a concurrent audit. They make their distinct decisions by their own separate and independent proceedings. Senator Downe's motion is flawed and defective because it reaches from the Senate into the House of Commons' decision making. It wades right into it. By so doing, it presses upon the Commons a false duty to do something concurrently, as the Senate is doing it. The house has no duty to do that. The Senate had no duty to bring in the Auditor General either. Senator Downe's motion is creating a power of the Auditor General to audit the House of Commons. It is unfortunate in a way that this is before us.

Honourable senators, this motion is of some gravity in its well-meaning but mistaken efforts, because the House of Commons holds the special constitutional power to control the public purse, which is vital to ministerial responsibility. For these reasons, this motion is out of order. But it is out of order for another reason, and an even more serious parliamentary reason, of which many here seem to be unaware and, if they are aware, they are choosing to ignore. The constitutional fact is that the power granted by Senator LeBreton's motion of last June for the Senate audit is now spent. It is an exhausted power, because the Governor General prorogued both houses last September 13. By prorogation, all incomplete orders and proceedings are terminated. It is an extremely bad position that the Senate has now placed the Auditor General in. The fact of the matter is a prorogation has happened. Prorogations quash and terminate.

About the legal effects of prorogation, Alpheus Todd, in his 1887 edition of On Parliamentary Government in England, Volume I, wrote at pages 387 to 388:

The deliberations of Parliament may be cut short at any moment by the exercise of the royal power of prorogation, which quashes all proceedings pending at the time....

Alpheus Todd then goes on to identify the proceedings that aren't quashed, being judicial-like proceedings, impeachments and that sort of thing. He continued:

... By a prorogation, all resolutions, bills and other proceedings, pending in either House, are naturally terminated, and cease to have any further effect, except in so far as they may be continued in operation by the express authority...

The Senate had a duty to renew the motion to allow the Auditor General here.

Alpheus Todd continued:

The only apparent exception to the rule concerning resolutions is in the case of standing orders.

I shall read this again carefully:

The only apparent exception to the rule concerning resolutions is in the case of standing orders. By the custom of Parliament these are accounted to be in force, in succeeding sessions, until rescinded. They are considered as being declaratory of the law and practice of Parliament; and, without relying upon their absolute validity, the House agrees to adhere to their observance....

Honourable senators, there has been a practice since the institution of standing orders and standing rules that they are the exception and the only resolutions that continue to stand. That is why we do not have to renew our rule book every session, but we have to reconstitute committees and committee members.

Honourable senators, I think we have been quite unfair to the Auditor General and his people, who are now operating, doing audits in this place, without proper legal and constitutional authority for their presence and work on audits here in the Senate. The motion authorizing the Auditor General's people to audit the Senate has expired, as I said. It ended by prorogation last September 13. This is not good. In fact, it could be an injury to some very fine and diligent people. The fact that the Senate has allowed this is unacceptable, and it seems to me that we have been insensitive, inconsiderate and unconstitutional.

En passant, I have met with some of those auditors, and I encourage senators to meet with them and if they have questions to be in touch with them.

I conclude, colleagues, by saying that Senator Downe's motion is out of order in substance and in form. In addition, on a very grievous ground, the audit that the motion is inviting and calling upon the Senate and the House of Commons to join concurrently, is now without legal and constitutional authority because the resolution that authorized it is now expired because of prorogation.

Honourable senators, in conclusion, Senator Downe's motion is out of order in substance and in form. The present audit of the Senate now lacks legal and constitutional authority. Therefore, Senator Downe cannot put a request to this house or to the House of Commons to join the Senate's audit, which is now ongoing, I believe, without parliamentary authority.

Colleagues, I hope that this has been helpful to some here. I say, time and again, these matters look so simple on the surface. Senator Downe is a well-informed and, I would say, a well-meaning man and a competent individual.

I had planned to speak against his motion, but a senator raised a point of order. I myself find the question out of order. Your wisdom, Your Honour, will carry the day.

I thank you very much, and I thank all senators who have contributed. I say to senators again and again that we have to stay with the law of Parliament. We have nothing else but that. That is the foundation of all the rules, of the law, and it has been bequeathed to us by section 18 of the 1867 Constitution Act, the British North America Act, which received into Canada the ancient law of Parliament and these constitutional practices.

Honourable senators, we must understand that it was a very difficult matter for the Fathers of Confederation to obtain the name "the House of Commons" for the chamber here in Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald and others thought it was one of the great achievements of the Constitution when London agreed that our House of Commons would be called the House of Commons.

Let us not believe for a moment that the powers of the two houses in respect of the Auditor General's relationship are the same. The House of Commons has a unique relationship. The Auditor General's reports go to the House of Commons. As we will recall, that question was in issue here some months ago when the Auditor General first came to the Senate. The question was: To whom will he report? Many senators here shuddered at the thought that the Auditor General might report to the House of Commons about Senate expenses.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Senator Cools, I listened to you very carefully, and I think that your speech was addressing two different issues.

A point of order was raised on the motion from Senator Downe, and you yourself raised another point of order with regard to the Senate standing rules and the prorogation effect that happened last year with regard to a motion that was passed in this house but that upon prorogation seems to be null and void. If that is the case, did I hear you correctly in the second part of your comments that you were raising a point of order with regard to the Senate standing rules and the fact that the motion entertaining activities right now is null and void?

Senator Cools: No, I raised no new point of order. I was speaking to the point of order that was before us. That is the matter before us.

I raised the effect of prorogation on the motion, because Senator Downe's motion is founded on the existence of Senator LeBreton's motion last June which invited the Auditor General in to audit the Senate.

Therefore, Senator Downe's motion is calling upon the members of the House of Commons to join the Senate in transparency and accountability, to be expressed by acknowledging the various requests of the various auditors general.

So, no, I did not raise a point of order. Besides, Senator LeBreton's motion only enters this debate by virtue of the fact that Senator Downe is relying on her motion for the authority of the Senate audit.

As Senator Downe's motion is reliant and dependent upon Senator LeBreton's motion of last June, I am saying that his motion would have to be rethought and voided in a way — I didn't use the word "void"; that is your word — and is certainly undermined because currently there is no constitutional power for the Auditor General to be at work in this place; and that should bother us a lot. This man is an important office-holder and these are important questions. I don't understand why this is happening. I have merely noted it; and I did not raise a point of order. That was in the context of my little treatise on Senator Downe's notice of motion.

One could go on — it depends how much time you have. At any given moment you could raise 10 points of order on any give question before the house.

For example, this particular motion has within it as well quite a few complex, different propositions, but that's beside the point.

Senator Ringuette: Honourable senators, I read in the media — this was quoted material — that the Auditor General had asked the Public Accounts Committee to audit members' and senators' accounts. That includes a summary of the individual expenses of each member and senator at once.

 

I would also like to reply to comments on the form and content of the motion, which seem to have raised some questions. If someone invites me to dinner, I am perfectly free to accept or decline the invitation. The motion says "call upon," which means "invite." I don't have a problem with the form.

 

We have to focus on the content, and there is precedent for this. You may recall that, a few years ago, the former auditor general, Ms. Fraser, asked for an invitation to conduct a simultaneous audit of both the Senate and the House of Commons. That was done. The whole process began under Ms. Fraser and continued under the current Auditor General.

 

To those who say that the form, the substance and the content of the motion are unjustified, I say that there is definitely a precedent. The auditor general visited both houses simultaneously to conduct a performance audit.

 

To those who say that some members of the House of Commons are anti-Senate, I say that we should find out if that's true. Some statements were made. Remarks made last weekend during the Manning conference in Ottawa included statistics showing that most people share the same opinion about Parliament.

 

I think it would behoove all politicians to accede to the wishes of the people and have the same auditing standards, just like what was done three years ago by the former auditor general, Ms. Fraser.

 

To sum up, Mr. Speaker, I believe that, as an independent chamber, we are entirely free to issue invitations.

 

[English]

 

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Have honourable senators covered all the opinions?

 

Senator Fraser: No, I have a point of information that may be of interest to colleagues and to His Honour, as well as one small further point that I hoped to make and forgot to do so in my earlier remarks.

 

In response to your question about the factual nature of the motion, I would first observe that this point of order is not about the factual nature. It is about potential interference with the other chamber and I suggest that it would be the responsibility of senators in debate to examine the factual underpinnings of the motion.

 

However, if I may, I would draw to Your Honour's attention the third report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is now under debate before the House of Commons. On page 9 of that report, the committee says that on November 19, 2013, the Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Michael Ferguson, appeared before the committee:

 

The Auditor General also suggested that comprehensive financial, compliance, and performance audits of the House of Commons be conducted. He suggested that the Committee may consider an amendment to the Auditor General Act to allow his Office to conduct such audits at his discretion.

 

He wasn't even asking for invitations to be issued; he was asking to be allowed to conduct these comprehensive performance audits at his discretion.

 

If Your Honour checks the record, you will see that previous requests have been made by previous auditors general.

 

The point I wish to make is that Senator Tkachuk had observed when raising this point of order that the House of Commons had that very day denied unanimous consent to a motion by one of its own members — a motion very similar to the one to call in the Auditor General — and so he said, "I think Senator Downe's motion is moot."

 

However, I repeat, this report from a house committee — as distinct from a motion by an individual member of the House of Commons — has been adopted by the House of Commons committee and is now before the house for debate, and it contains the following recommendation:

 

That the Auditor [General] be invited by the Board of Internal Economy to conduct audits with greater frequency.

 

The question is not "moot." The report has been neither adopted nor rejected; it has not even been amended by the House of Commons. "With greater frequency," colleagues, is a pretty vague term, given that in living memory the Auditor General has never conducted an audit of the House of Commons similar to the one he is doing here, but that is a separate issue.

 

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I've recalled my thoughts. They are very much in keeping with Senator Fraser's.

 

The question was raised whether the Auditor General has asked to audit the House of Commons and, indeed, to audit this place. I think it's common knowledge in the public domain that previous auditors general — Auditor General Ferguson, Auditor General Fraser — have in the past asked repeatedly to be able to do audits of both chambers.

 

To make it as part of the argument that they haven't asked — they have consistently asked. They have been trying to do this for years. I think that part of the argument is indeed irrelevant to the discussion of Senator Downe's motion.

 

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Thank you.

 

Senator Cools: Perhaps I should clarify.

 

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: A little clarification?

 

Senator Cools: A little bit. There is some sort of misunderstanding here. All of that information from the Procedure and House Affairs Committee and so on is not part of the record here and has not been put before this house. It's not really relevant.

 

When I raised the question about the Auditor General's agreement, I was speaking in terms of his name being used and proposed in this motion — not about anything actually said in the House of Commons. In other words, I do not think it's a good thing that we should make offerings of motions before the houses, using people's names and positions without their knowledge and agreement. That was how I posed the question. I said that such should have been ascertained.

 

Also, we keep forgetting: We speak of audits. Let us be crystal clear that the audit done two or three years ago under the former Auditor General Fraser is not the same kind of audit that is being conducted now in the Senate. At the time, that audit was of the Senate administration. This is a different audit. This one includes senators' expenses. It's not quite the same thing, so we should not act as though it is.

 

On the last question that you pose about validity and looking at the motion itself, I think Your Honour should look at whatever you need to look at in order to be able to come to a wise decision. My concern with Senator Downe's motion is that it was putting words into the House of Commons' mouth. It is not as though the Senate took a decision and then sent a message saying that the House will concur. The motion was pressing its own words and its own decisions upon the House of Commons.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here