Attendance by Ministers and the Role of Officials

52 Committees can request but not require that a Minister appear before them. Only the House itself can compel members to attend a committee if they do not do so voluntarily.

53 Ministers may choose to attend a committee, particularly for its consideration of a bill. When the Minister in charge of a bill attends a committee he or she may take part in the proceedings of the committee, but is not entitled to vote on any question put to the committee. 22 Ministers sometimes attend committee meetings as replacement members, in which case they may vote. Officials will be in a secondary, supporting role to their Minister. The exception is when, in keeping with their enabling legislation or constitution, they may attend in the exercise of their functions independently of the Minister.

54 Officials and Ministerial offices should clarify with the committee clerk and/or chairperson the purpose of the Minister's attendance. They should also clarify the timing, subject, and scope of inquiry, ensuring that the Minister is well briefed in preparation for the hearing. Officials should check with the Minister what role they would play if they attend a meeting with him or her. The options include simply providing the Minister with information, responding to questions if asked by the Minister, or answering questions put directly by members of the committee. After the Minister has attended, questions unresolved or unanswered at the meeting may need to be followed up by officials.

22 Standing Order 212(2).

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