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Results: 1 - 20 of 20
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Thank you so much, Mr. Stanton. Thank you for your report. Thank you for the work being done by the working group. I do support the recommendations.
My question isn't with respect to the recommendations before us today. This question is for the House administration and those involved on the staff side of the project. I'm wondering whether we could get a bit of an update on the implications of COVID on construction timelines. I know that there was some concern, when we were initially talking about this project, around the decisions we were making, the speed of those decisions, and their implications for the timeline of the project. I'm wondering if we could have a bit of an update on those items.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
It's not a question; it's a comment.
We make a lot of requests for people who make mistakes, and it's very uncommon that I would suggest a member bring this forward.
I appreciate that normally these matters wouldn't come forward, but after I spoke with Mr. Blois, I realized it was an honest mistake that was happening around wanting to get out information on COVID-19. We did change the policy a couple of weeks later, and in this case, the member is proposing that he charge his member's—
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll try to be very brief and to the point. I don't know if anybody can hear me. I'm not sure what's happened. I seem to have had a major technological malfunction here.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ajax could use better Internet.
I will try. I don't know what to say. Can folks hear me right now?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
I was just going to say that the member acknowledges that he made a mistake. I just feel that it was an honest mistake. It was an effort to communicate around COVID-19, and I know there was a lot of anxiousness that a lot of members had. The policy for external printing was changed a few weeks later.
The member is not proposing to charge the House of Commons central budget, but is suggesting that he charge his own MOB. Given that it would go against his own MOB, and given the fact that I think the error was made innocently, and having had conversations with him, I would seek approval from the board to provide support on that basis.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to be clear on that point. As I understand it, there is no flexibility in terms of what the board can do here. I am sympathetic to the fact that folks have concerns, but I am hearing that there is no flexibility in terms of what we can adopt.
Some of the matters that were being discussed are not even necessarily being changed, for example, the disclosure on designated travellers. It is my understanding that this matter before us is not amending that. I understand that members would have other concerns with it.
The only question is really about the discretion of the Speaker. Maybe I could ask the question more directly and it might clear it up a bit so that folks aren't left with the impression that this discretion is broad. While technically the Speaker could rule that there was an infringement of privilege or security, that ruling would still need to respect that any Speaker who was occupying the chair would be burdened with a need to respect the spirit of the act.
As I understand the spirit of the act, it is disclosure, and if there is a security concern, it's a bit hard for me to understand that security concern when the disclosure is not in real time. I could understand that there would be a security concern if it were in real time.
I think I'm hearing from folks that if there is an act, it doesn't make sense for them to belabour it and they have to accept it, and I think that's where we are. There are some specific questions as to the power the Speaker holds, and I think those powers would probably be defined as rather exceptional in nature and would still need to adhere to the spirit of the act.
There are some technical questions regarding the incredibly rare circumstances in which there would be an unforeseen security concern or infringement of privilege, in which the Speaker would have a ruling, but those would be very limited circumstances, I would think, would they not?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there have been very productive discussions among members of the board with respect to this item. I first want to thank my colleagues for those conversations, which have been very fruitful, and provide a recommendation. I thought it would be appropriate for me to start by summarizing as best I can the conversations we've had.
The intention would be to create a subcommittee, a working group, if you will, comprised of members of Parliament from all recognized parties that would be a subcommittee of the Board of Internal Economy, and would report its recommendations to the Board of Internal Economy. We've had some conversations on this to get the composition right. I'm proposing three Liberals, two Conservatives, one Bloc and one NDP for that working group.
From our own perspective, we'll be populating it with members of PROC to harmonize the process and the work PROC has been doing with the work we are doing.
The Senate would then choose its own working group format. It could have a conversation about matters specifically of import to the Senate, the Senate chamber, the Senate meeting rooms and that sort of thing. However, where there is overlap, those two bodies could meet jointly and try to find a way to get on the same page.
The Board of Internal Economy, though, and we would be seeking to do it at this meeting, would be looking to provide specific direction that the overriding principle be the preservation of heritage.
Candice, I know you had some specific thoughts about some of the pieces, some “thou shalt not touch” provisions: Thou shalt not touch the chamber. Thou shalt not touch the Hall of Honour. Thou shalt not touch the entrance for members. Thou shalt not touch la Francophonie. We would place specific direction to restore these elements of heritage and not contemplate any amendment or potential destruction of these elements of heritage.
I don't think this needs to be part of a motion, but it's important to state that the assistant deputy minister for parliamentary infrastructure of the Department of Public Services and Procurement, or his or her designate, would operate as liaison to the working group to make sure there's that connection between the ministerial side and the work of the parliamentary group. Obviously, it would be led by the parliamentary group, and the minutes of the working group meeting would be recorded and made public 30 days following a meeting.
Mr. Speaker, that builds on the conversations we had at the previous meeting, where we really heard from all members around the importance of—
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, that is my understanding. I'm looking at Charles to see if this has been circulated to members.
I think the text is available in both official languages.
Members should have that in front of them. I'm suggesting that as a framework for the motion that we can hopefully proceed with today.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm open. My thinking would be that we would allow that body to make a determination. The parameters are fairly tight. If the committee wanted to hear representation on public use of the front lawn and the implication on the design....
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
With officials.
Again, if we want to be so prescriptive as to say that body wouldn't hear from anybody outside of officials and parliamentarians, I'm a little loath to place that restriction on them. I'd rather have them come to that conclusion as part of their process. I'd be interested in hearing you expand upon the....
If I could, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the officials, my understanding is that by placing the “thou shall not touch” provisions and the overall directive of preservation of heritage, it takes away some of the time pressure that was previously discussed. One of the biggest concerns was the decision on the size of the chamber, as an example, and that impeding the ability to proceed with construction in the summer.
Is that correct?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, if I could just finish the point, I think we have more time as a result. If this direction is carried out, we have considerably more time than we had previously. The urgency is lifted a little. Therefore, my suggestion would be to leave it to that body to make a determination on how best to comport itself and how best to come to the conclusions for the recommendations they're going to give to this body.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a reflection, but I'll wait for my turn.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you. Let me just go through a couple of little points that were raised.
On the first point raised by Mr. Strahl, Mr. Speaker, I think it is certainly the intention of this document and reflective of the conversations that we had that this would create a body, not three, so that it would give very clear responsibility for the adjudication of recommendations to this body, that the body would then be reporting back to BOIE. The intention really of doing this is to ensure that we don't have multiple different channels for the House administration to be dealing with, which is also partly the reason I don't want to be too prescriptive about how that body conducts itself, but ultimately it would be recommendations that would be coming back here.
If there wasn't clarity here, hopefully that clarity will be reflected in the conversations and will therefore be carried in the spirit of what is created. I'm comfortable with adding additional words, but I think that the unanimity of this body probably is sufficient. I wouldn't be uncomfortable with additional words if that made people more comfortable.
What I think would be sufficient to start with, to answer the question posed by Madam Bergen, is that we have some immediate ones that we've already agreed to as a group in our conversations that should not be touched. On the “thou shall not touch” list we have the chamber itself, the entrance at West Block and the Hall of Honour.
Then I would say that the list will certainly be more expansive than that, but I think we can start there and stay those categorically today.
Then, my recommendation would be to ask the House administration to come back to us with a list of heritage features that we can take a look at and potentially add to that list. I can tell you that when the chamber was closed and they had the opportunity to lock hallways, when all the doors were open and nobody was in the building, there were some rooms that I walked into that I didn't even know existed. They were just magnificent, and it would rip my heart out to see them transformed. I may not—or this body may not—even be fully cognizant of all of the heritage features that decisions have to be made on.
Through you, Mr. Speaker, to Mr. Patrice, would it be sufficient at this point to give you that specific direction on the pieces of heritage that I have identified, to come back with a more expansive list of heritage features that we could review for our next meeting and then make a decision whether or not to add to that list?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I believe we are simpatico, if I'm reading the room correctly.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, obviously, we are waiting, but I think that some of that conversation would be beneficial even earlier, perhaps. Rather than suspending the meeting, I would make a suggestion that we break for a couple of moments and move in camera.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair/Mr. Speaker.
I am confused about which title to use.
I have a couple of things. First, thank you for the work done to date. This is a project that I think is near and dear to the hearts of all parliamentarians, but really Canadians. It is the symbol of our democracy in this country and it's not only an enormous expenditure of money, but this building represents a critical piece of heritage that I think all Canadians are invested in.
On that basis the consultation that is going to take place is exceptionally important, not only for the stakeholders who are going to be using the building—members of Parliament, staff, House officials, media and the public—but also, I think, because that heritage represents something important to people who never step foot in the building. We shouldn't lose sight of that.
When we're trying to think about how it functions for the purposes of our work, what that heritage means to the nation, I think, is incredibly important and, therefore, I have particular opinions. I won't go into them for long, but my viewpoint is that not a lot should be changed, and we have to try to work within the existing heritage.
I think a body does need to be created. A couple of things concern me on that. One is that we don't want to have two parallel processes with PROC and BOIE where we have two decision-making bodies where there is confusion.
I think the solution to that...and I am not suggesting we do it today, but I think we are probably going to need to do it very soon, is to have have a meeting of the Board of Internal Economy in the week that we're back to make sure that we get this issue done.
When you start working back in those timelines, I'm hearing that we have to have a decision on the size of the chamber before we leave for the summer. If you think about our setting up the committee and that committee having its meetings and hearing from people, then it has to take that decision to BOIE. We don't have a very long timeline, even if you triage those decisions on the basis that they need to be made on a prioritized basis.
I think one of the answers could be to have a committee that's populated with members of PROC and if there are people from BOIE who want to be on it, fine. We'll have to talk about its size and composition, but it would report back to this body, as the decision-making body. There would have to be a body that makes recommendations as opposed to just hearing input, because my fear would be that they would have all of these consultations and then we'd just get data dumped back at BOIE and we'd be left trying to thrash out all of this and we simply don't have the time or enough meetings to be able to do that work.
It would be my hope that the body would make recommendations to BOIE. It could be composed of members of PROC; therefore we'd have one decision-making channel. But given the timelines involved—and maybe we could flesh those out—am I correct in stating that without incurring costs and significant delays, we need to make a decision on the size of the chamber before we leave in June?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay, so just draw that backwards. That's not a lot of time.
I haven't had a chance to speak with my colleagues around the table, so I'm not suggesting that we make that determination today. That said, given the calendar and how it looks for March, I don't think we can put this off until the end of March when we meet because, by the time, we then constitute a committee and won't meet until mid-April. That gives it a couple of weeks to have consultations; that's not acceptable.
I have outlined my thoughts on it. I am open to other ideas, but I think we have to come to a determination and create that body when we come back after the constituency week in two weeks' time.
The only other point I'll mention is a question related to the relationship with the Senate, because some people are saying that we need to have this be a joint body with the Senate. I have some concerns with that because I think it's going to slow down the process.
In your conception, if we had two different bodies that were making recommendations, how would that input be consolidated into one decision? Is there a need to have that consultation on a joint basis, or if it were done separately, how do you metabolize the recommendations from both those bodies in such a way that they're not contradictory?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
My thoughts are that this is so big that we can't get very deep into any of the details or we're going to get lost and never out of here. As expeditiously as possible, we need to create the body that is going to be responsible.
We need some time to talk among ourselves about what that body will look like. I have really big concerns about having a joint process with the Senate, but I don't necessarily want to get into that discussion now.
My thought would be to have a special meeting of BOIE the week we come back, two weeks hence. That would give us an opportunity to talk about exactly how that body would be composed, and then come back and make a determination in two weeks.
That would be my recommendation.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it, you'll find unanimous consent to dispense with the presentation. Not because of its quality, but because I think there is consent to move forward.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I think it's an important item. My suggestion would be to put it off until the next meeting.
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