I swear, before this minority parliament came into being, I went years without ever having to look up the process for subpoenaing witnesses for any reason other than to feed my own geeky amusement. Now it seems to come up every few months, and not in a purely theoretical sense, either:
Anyway, here’s the Standing Order that gives committees the power to “send for persons, papers and records”:
108. (1)(a) Standing committees shall be severally empowered to examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House, to report from time to time and to print a brief appendix to any report, after the signature of the Chair, containing such opinions or recommendations, dissenting from the report or supplementary to it, as may be proposed by committee members, and except when the House otherwise orders, to send for persons, papers and records, to sit while the House is sitting, to sit during periods when the House stands adjourned, to sit jointly with other standing committees, to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them, and to delegate to subcommittees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the House.
To give an idea of the possible wording of any order/request/pointed invitation/subpoena that could be issued by the committee, here are few examples, taken from the Annotated Standing Orders. (The summons issued by Agriculture and Agri-food on February 25, 2004 seems like the closest match to the Couillard situation):
It is proposed, -That “Following repeated refusals by the President of the Air Canada Corporation to appear before the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages, the said Committee formally orders Mr. Robert A. Milton, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Air Canada Corporation, to appear on Monday, December 3rd, 2001, at 3:30p.m., Room 253-D, in the Centre Block of the Canadian Parliament Building, in Ottawa. “
Minutes of Proceedings of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, June 12, 2003, Meeting No. 52;
It was agreed, — That George Radwanski be summoned to attend and give evidence before this Committee on Friday, June 13, 2003 at 10:00 a.m..
Minutes of Proceedings of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, February 25, 2004, Meeting No. 5;
It was agreed on division, — That Lakeside Packers Ltd. (a division of Tyson Foods) of Brooks Alberta, Cargill Foods of High River, Alberta, and XL Beef of Calgary, Alberta and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan having been invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on Monday, February 23, 2004 and having failed to appear, this Committee send for these companies, persons, their relevant papers and records by summons and that the summons be for the first available hearing date to be determined by this Committee .
Minutes of Proceedings of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, April 11, 2005, Meeting No. 28.
That, in relation to its study of Chapter 5 of the November 2003 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Terrie O’Leary, Warren Kinsella, David Herle and Peter Daniel be summoned to appear before the Committee on Monday, April 18, 2005 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Room 237-C, Centre Block.