Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
 
 
 
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
My next question is about the palisade on the site, which looks pretty, from what I see. Have you consulted with the Mayor of Ottawa or Ottawa Tourism about this palisade, which does have a significant visual effect?
Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2019-06-13 12:30
We've been working very closely with the National Capital Commission, the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism to ensure the visitor experience remains front and centre, as well as with the parliamentary partners to ensure that the dignity of Parliament is adhered to as we move through that and we remain cost conscious.
We're trying to find the balance of all of those elements and make sure that we have a consensus as we move forward. On this element, I think we've probably achieved that consensus approach to make sure that we have a balance.
There is one critical thing that perhaps bears mentioning. This is different from the West Block, where we had the traditional wrought iron fencing. The construction yard was a bit off to the side, so it was not as visible as this will be, right in the front of the grand lawn. Covering that is probably a little more important, because it's the Centre Block and because it's the great lawn as well.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
You are saying that most stakeholders and people who are concerned, like the mayor and others, would be comfortable with one of the concepts. Okay. Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I apologize. I was a little bit late for this part of the meeting.
I have two things. As I recall, when the notion and the idea came up, I think I brought forward the idea that we would get representatives from each of the parties to reflect ideas and thoughts back to the building committee, or however it would be termed. This was in the context of the West Block renovations. Many MPs felt, for lack of a better example, that a house was built for them that they were going to be living in and using, but nobody had ever asked them what they wanted in the house.
In order to avoid that with the Centre Block renovations, we wanted a mechanism that was not overly bureaucratic and that wasn't going to be dragging or slowing things down, but one whereby our members could speak to that representative in their caucus.
Whether it was that we need to have more women's washrooms or a place where the media can't get to us when we're walking into the chamber or some of the other things that we've heard about, it was a mechanism whereby those thoughts, ideas and wish lists could be conveyed, not in anticipation that they would all be given, but at least that there would be a mechanism for these ideas to be communicated.
What I don't believe it was to be is a place where three colleagues are now being asked to make some pretty major decisions. If that has changed, I think we then need to know how that's going to work. I know that when we approached Ms. Block, for example, we did not convey to her that this was now going to be the requirement. I think we need some clarification on the role of our colleagues who are part of this group.
Second, I would be interested to know how some of the decisions like this are made, because they are very major decisions. On some of the ideas around what might or might not happen on the front lawn, I don't know if we know who is making the decisions and thus who's accountable for those decisions.
Those are the two things I'd like us to solidify: the role of this group—Ms. Sgro, Ms. Block and, I believe, Mr. Julian, who is on that as well—which I do not think should be making major decisions, and then where those decisions are made.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Ms. Bergen, I think you've perceived the role precisely. You've stated accurately and exactly what it was intended to be.
I see Monsieur Patrice, and I don't know if Mr. Wright wants to comment as well to give the perspectives of the administration and of PSPC.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2019-06-13 12:34
I'll provide my perspective.
Traditionally, the decisions in relation to the requirements—the LTVP and the development of Centre Block and the change and so on—were all approved by BOIE. It's BOIE approval that sets the requirements for the House. My reflection, in terms of past experience, is that these are important decisions. These are complex projects. On reflection, in terms of the time spent in reviewing the decision and the impact, I think often you did not do it justice in terms of your responsibility.
Obviously—and it was a lesson learned from the West Block project—as you entertained at the beginning, it was to provide a conduit whereby members could, as you explained, receive feedback from the various caucuses to make sure that your voice and your concerns were expressed. As you know, in recent times another committee, for example, has taken a particular interest in certain decisions that had been made, as well as in decisions for the future. Some members have written some of their preoccupations in terms of the need and so on, so for me it also reflected a lack of a sense of engagement by the members.
I believe this group wasn't well placed to receive the detailed information, not to make decisions, but at least to challenge and ask the tough questions of the administration and our partners, Public Works, in terms of whether we really need this, so that it's not administration-driven requirements, to be blunt, but members' requirements. Then the working group could also meet with PROC, for example, if they have an interest and it's a member-to-member discussion in terms of their perception of what the project would be, and also to provide more of a sense of engagement and involvement of members in the project.
I think Mr. Strahl said that it's a new beast and it's going to evolve and adapt based on your instruction, based on the needs of the members and the House, as well as in terms of the observations of the working group, and we're there to assist.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Then are you saying it's a way to ensure that members are involved and are being consulted as the process goes forward and the construction proceeds? Do I read you correctly as suggesting that the board ought to be inserting itself by giving its—I don't know if the word I want is “decision”—own input into certain aspects of this?
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2019-06-13 12:38
Certainly, because at the end of the day, it's the board that approves, and to be blunt, it's the board that could be accountable for the decisions that are made in terms of the requirements stated by the House of Commons.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
I see. We're the ones that state the requirements of the House of Commons, right?
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Can we compare that to what the role of PSPC is, and the executive?
Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2019-06-13 12:38
From our perspective, in managing these very large projects on behalf of Parliament, one of the most significant risks and most important elements is having clear decisions that are sustainable. That's probably the most important element for us. This type of engagement—ensuring that we are restoring and modernizing these spaces for Parliament and that parliamentarians feel that is the case—is critically important, and it's probably the best way to help ensure that these projects proceed in the best manner possible.
We also, from a PSPC perspective, have to find a way, especially with the Centre Block or the visitor welcome centre, to get to consensus with both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada. Making sure these projects are able to proceed as well as they can and that they respect timelines and budgets are an additional challenge for us.
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