About this Committee
Mandate and Powers
The Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament derives its authority and mandate from several sources, including the Parliament of Canada Act, the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, and the Rules of the Senate.
Under the Parliament of Canada Act, the Joint Committee has a role in assisting the Speakers of both Houses to direct the operations of the Library of Parliament. The procedural rules of both chambers are a second source from which the Joint Committee may obtain a mandate through orders of reference issued by each chamber.
Legislative Mandate of the Committee
The Joint Committee is created under the authority of the Parliament of Canada Act. The Act calls for the establishment of a Joint Committee to be appointed by the Senate and the House of Commons. Its mandate is to assist the Speakers of both chambers, who are charged with the authority under the Act to direct and control the Library of Parliament and its officers and staff.1
The legislative mandate of the Joint Committee may, therefore, be said to derive from the Parliament of Canada Act, which authorizes the Speakers of both Houses to direct the Library of Parliament, with the assistance of the Joint Committee.
Subject to the approval of both Houses, the Speakers may make orders and regulations to govern the Library including the Library's expenditures of monies voted by Parliament.2
In effect, the Speakers of both chambers, assisted by the Joint Committee, direct the day-to-day functioning of the Library, and, with the approval of both Houses, may make orders and regulations to govern how the Library is managed and how moneys are expended. The Joint Committee, under this arrangement, plays a role in the direction of the Library of Parliament by supporting the Speakers as they provide direction to the Library.
Another significant role for the Joint Committee is contemplated in section 78 of the Parliament of Canada Act, which requires that Library officers and other staff are to discharge their official duties faithfully. The mechanism for defining what constitutes a faithful discharge of duties is a regulation to be approved by the Speakers of both Houses. That regulation, however, must be concurred in by the Joint Committee. This provision may reasonably be construed as an independent source of authority for the Joint Committee, quite apart from its function in assisting the Speakers of both houses and undertaking studies or inquiries on orders of reference from the two Houses.
Mandate and Powers Derived from Both Houses
In addition to the statutory basis for the Joint Committee's mandate to assist the Speakers of both Houses in their direction of the Library, the procedural rules of both Houses supplement the Committee's mandate. Both Houses may give an order of reference to the Joint Committee to inquire into any matter that would be appropriate for the Committee to study given the reason for its existence.
From the Senate
The Rules of the Senate of Canada gives all standing committees the mandate to exercise certain general powers. The Rules do not, however, define a specific mandate for each Committee.
Rule 86(1)(a) makes provision for a Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament as follows:
a) The Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament to which shall be appointed seventeen Senators.
Rule 90 gives committees the power to:
- inquire into and report upon matters referred to them from time to time by the Senate;
- send for persons, papers and records, whenever required; and
- print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them.
From the House of Commons
The Standing Orders of the House of Commons also grant all standing committees the mandate to exercise certain general powers.
Standing Order 108(1) gives all committees the power to:
- examine and enquire into all matters referred by the House;
- report from time to time to the House;
- send for persons, papers and records; and
- delegate to subcommittees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the House.
The specific mandate of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament is defined in Standing Order 108(4)(a) as:
"… the review of the effectiveness, management and operation of the Library of Parliament; … [p]rovided that both Houses may, from time to time, refer any other matter to any of the aforementioned Standing Joint Committees."
Standing Order 111.1(1) and (2) gives the Committee the mandate to review the appointment of the Parliamentary Librarian.
- Parliament of Canada Act, s. 74(1). The officers include the Parliamentary Librarian, the Associate Parliamentary Librarian and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The Parliamentary Librarian is the head of the Library and has the responsibility of its control and management (subsection 75(2)).
- Parliament of Canada Act, s. 74(2).