Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
Add search criteria
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We all appreciate the efforts of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and his office, as well as their support to members and Parliament. As far as this report is concerned, the Prime Minister has thanked the commissioner and accepted his report. This matter has been thoroughly studied. As we all heard, the justice committee heard from 10 witnesses for a total of 13 hours of testimony over five weeks.
In addition, we now have this detailed report from the commissioner. It represents months of work for him, and it’s 63 pages long. The Prime Minister has stated unequivocally that he was only trying to protect the jobs of thousands of Canadian workers the whole time. I would think all workers and all Canadians would expect that if their jobs were in jeopardy.
We also have a guide by the Honourable Anne McLellan. She spoke with all the former attorneys general. Her guide helps clarify the relationships between—
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I will start over. We also have a guide by the Honourable Anne McLellan. She spoke with all the former attorneys general. Her guide helps clarify the relationships between attorneys general and their colleagues in cabinet. The Prime Minister has already pledged to all Canadians that he will act on Ms. McLellan’s recommendations.
The combined processes of the justice committee and the commissioner, which took many hours, months and pages to complete, were detailed and thorough. It’s obvious to me, after hearing my honourable colleagues speak, that the opposition’s real objective is simply to play politics.
We're all thankful for the work of the commissioner's office in support of all members of the House at all times. The commissioner's report is quite detailed and Canadians have had a good opportunity to familiarize themselves with the content. The Prime Minister has thanked the commissioner and accepted the report.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Steve MacKinnon: Though he disagrees with the conclusions, especially when so many jobs were at stake—which is no laughing matter—he has already announced that steps will be taken to ensure that no government goes through a similar situation in the future.
This government, as any government, should take seriously the responsibility of standing up for jobs and growing the economy. It's the responsibility of any Prime Minister to stand up for people's jobs. In fact, it's the responsibility of all members of Parliament. People whose jobs are on the line should expect no less of their elected representatives.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
No.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Steven MacKinnon: Nor is that a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
That member, with his rich experience in Canada's private sector, we'll have to look at his views with some skepticism too.
It's the responsibility of any Prime Minister to stand up for people's jobs and livelihoods across the country, and that should also be the job of all members of Parliament while upholding, of course, at all times, the rule of law.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chairman, where I come from, we listen to folks and then get to speak and have a healthy exchange.
I've now been interrupted three times by things that were not points of order. I hope the committee will indulge in hearing the rest of our statement.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm just expressing it through you, Mr. Chair—
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
I appreciate your chairmanship today, Mr. Chair.
The Prime Minister's objective throughout, as he stated, was to protect thousands of jobs in Canada, all the while ensuring the integrity and independence of the justice system. As has been confirmed on multiple occasions, no direction was ever given to the former attorney general.
Also, former attorney general Anne McLellan has authored a report after speaking with all former attorneys general, as well as constitutional scholars, and has offered recommendations, including a process and a set of principles to guide the relationship between the Attorney General and the government. Both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General have already stated that they will be looking at how to best implement those recommendations, such as the protocol on interactions with the Attorney General and better education for all parliamentarians on defining the role.
The matter before us today has been studied quite extensively. The justice committee heard over 13 hours of comprehensive testimony from 10 different witnesses over a five-week span, and we now have a very thorough 63-page report by the commissioner.
The opposition's claim to simply want the facts is contradicted by the fact that what they seek is found in the commissioner's report. It is already public, on top of the 13 hours of testimony that I just referenced, so the only conclusion that I and members of this committee can come to is that the opposition seeks to prolong this process for political reasons and partisan games.
It is for that reason, Mr. Chair, that we will be opposing this motion.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am honoured to appear before you today to talk about very important issues within the department, and within the government in general. I will then be pleased to answer your questions.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss the disposal of surplus federal real property and lans, as part of your review of the implementation of Part VII of the Official Languages Act.
I would also like to take this opportunity to report on what we are doing to improve the workplace safety of parliamentary interpreters.
I am accompanied today by the people who have just introduced themselves.
I assure you that Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Official Languages Act and helping promote linguistic duality in Canada.
Our commitment extends to all of the department's service areas and includes the disposal of land, buildings and other surplus federal property.
Under Part VII, we have integrated positive measures into our disposal process to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities in Canada, and to support and contribute to their development.
Our department plays two key roles in the disposal process. First, as one of the largest property owners in the Government of Canada, PSPC is responsible for disposing of real property assets efficiently and responsibly. Second, as a common service organization, we provide optional support to assist other federal departments and agencies with the disposal of their surplus property.
In general, the policy and orientations in this area are provided by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, in the Directive on the Sale or Transfer of Surplus Real Property.
Recognizing the sensitive nature of surplus real property and the various interests of stakeholdes, the Directive sets for the expectations regarding the management of surplus real property.
The Directive is implemented through a comprehensive process, the various stages of which are found on page 5 of the document that we have just given the Committee.
In July 2017, PSPC implemented a new procedure for reminding provinces, territories and municipalities of their responsibility for considering the interests of official language minority communities when assessing the possible use of surplus property and in the priority bid process.
Our department is committed to working with official language minority communities to better identify their potential real property needs.
In cooperation with the Treasury Board Secretariat, PSPC strives to strengthen and clarify the orientation given to custodians regarding the disposal process in relation to official language minority communities. We would particularly like to hear this Committee's suggestions regarding changes that could be made to the Directive on the Sale or Transfer of Surplus Real Property established by the Treasury Board.
PSPC also ensures that documentation regarding the sale of surplus real property is available in both official languages.
I turn now to the involvement of the Canada Lands Company, CLC, in the disposal of properties which have been deemed strategic. These tend to be larger, more complex, properties where development and joint ventures may be required. Although CLC reports to Parliament through our minister, Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, it is a Crown corporation and it operates at arm's length from the government. Under the Treasury Board's directive, CLC buys strategic surplus properties that have the potential to derive further value. It oversees their orderly disposal and their reintegration into communities.
Let me talk briefly about the Heather Street property in Vancouver.
The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, or CSF, has expressed considerable interest in this strategic property, which it felt was a potential site for a new French-language school.
The Canada Lands Company worked closely with its First Nations partners and with the CSF to resolve the issue of the school's location as part of the municipal planning process. Their collective efforts bore fruit.
First, the Vancouver city council unanimously approved a policy statement for the Heather Street project, which included a school under the CSF. Then, the parties involved signed a memorandum of agreement for a long-term lease for the school. I can announce that that lease, which makes the site of the school official, will be established once the city council has approved the necessary zoning change for Heather Street, which is the next step in the approval of the municipal plan.
Let me now turn to the other topic of today's meeting, concerning simultaneous interpretation.
I want to recognize, as we all should, the very hard work, great efforts and expertise of our world-class interpreters here in the Parliament of Canada.
Just over two years ago, our government announced a new vision to position the translation bureau as a leader in providing high-quality linguistic services to the government and Canadians. This is a role that I have taken on with great relish and something that I am very proud of, particularly regarding the turnaround at the translation bureau.
Under the direction of its new Chief Executive Officer, Stéphan Déry, and his team, the Translation Bureau has made significant progress in implementing this vision.
Until recently, simultaneous interpretation was always provided in carefully controlled conditions, in a booth, with specially designed equipment to capture and process sound.
The Translation Bureau offers two interpretation services, one for Parliament and the other for the Government of Canada.
Technological progress in recent years has allowed a greater number of people to attend meetings virtually. This has led to a significant increase in the demand for teleconference interpretation and for over-the-phone interpretation.
Government of Canada clients rely a lot on conference telephones, cellular telephones and hands-free devices in their daily work. However, those devices do not meet the ISO standard required for simultaneous interpretation.
Consequently, over the last two years, there has also been a significant increase in the number of health and safety incidents, including many due to the poor quality of sound over telephone lines.
When the quality of sound is deformed, interpreters tend to turn up the volume on their headphones to better make out what is being said. In such cases, when there is noise, such as paper being rustled or a file folder falling next to a microphone, there can be a sudden increase in volume, resulting in what is known as acoustic shock.
We also know that prolonged listening, under acoustic conditions, that does not capture the entire range of voice frequencies can cause a continuous ringing in the ears, commonly known as tinnitus. This issue has been observed in countries and organizations around the world that have also seen a rise in over-the-phone interpretation services.
The translation bureau has worked with clients, stakeholders, international interpretation service providers, universities, professional associations, and, of course, the union, to develop a way forward.
The Translation Bureau adopts measures to ensure that all interpreters, regardless of their workplace, carry out their duties in a safe environment.
First, the audio element from the telephone is no longer sent to the interpretation console or the conference room. Consequently, for clients of conference interpreting services, participants who take part in teleconferences must send their questions or comments by text or email.
Secondly, we require that all clients upgrade their simultaneous interpretation systems to comply with the ISO standard.
Thirdly, the Bureau now requires that its clients confirm in writing that a sound technician will be on-stie throughout the event and that compressor-limiters will be installed on the interpretation consoles.
For parliamentary interpretation, the translation bureau is working closely with the parliamentary multimedia service to improve audio quality, thereby ensuring the safety of the working conditions for interpreters. Both of the two new legislative chambers have simultaneous interpretation systems and consoles that meet the ISO standard with built-in compressor limiters to protect interpreters from acoustic shock injuries. This summer, all of Parliament's committee rooms are scheduled to be fully upgraded to ISO-compliant consoles. Until then, we have provided all interpreters with portable sound limiters.
We are convinced that these measures will improve the safety and well-being of our interpreters.
In this regard, management at the Translation Bureau will continue to work closely with the union and the professional association representing conference interpreters.
We are also looking for longer-term solutions to these concerns. In particular, we have launched a request for proposals from Canadian companies interested in finding innovative solutions in this area.
We challenge those companies to develop, for the purposes of remote simultaneous interpretation, a modern digital platform that fully complies with the ISO standard and that meets the changing needs of our clients.
At the same time, we remain abreast of emerging technologies and monitor efforts in that regard by other organizations around the world.
We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our interpreters, who provide an important and high-quality service, like the one we are receiving today in the Committee.
I want to mention the progress made by the translation bureau to modernize its internal systems and better serve client departments and suppliers. Those efforts reached a major milestone with the recent awarding of a contract for developing and implementing a new web-based platform that enhances the capacity of the translation bureau to provide timely, high-quality linguistic services.
I will conclude by saying that PSPC is committed to promoting and supporting official languages and bilingualism in Canada in everything it does.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, and we can be proud of our efforts to serve Canadians in the official language of their choice.
We know that we must continue to improve our relations, particularly with our official language minority communities, to better support the vitality of those communities and help build a better future for all Canadians.
I am fully prepared to answer your questions, and am pleased to continue working with this Committee to promote linguistic duality in this country.
Thank you.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Exactly. We expect the municipal process to be completed, and we expect a lease to then be signed.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, absolutely. It was a long haul of more than 10 years. It took too long, in my opinion. However, we are happy with the results that we are about to achieve.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll ask Mr. McBain to tell you about it.
This process was begun by the Canada Lands Company, as the land in question was in the hands of that company, and then its partner.
I would therefore ask Mr. McBain to tell you more about the efforts they made.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I suggest that you consult page 5 of the document that we provided you. In it, you can find the list of steps to follow, which you call the hierarchy, when we decide that any surplus land belonging to the Government of Canada is to be sold. That comes from a Treasury Board Secretariat directive that we must follow.
In late 2015, the Treasury Board Secretariat in fact stated that official-language minority communities had to be explicitly consulted. Afterwards, our department updated its procedures and policies.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
If they were not, it is because it is clear that, based on this hierarchy, those communities must be consulted by the provinces.
That said, as I mentioned in my opening statement, we are very open to the idea that the Committee should inform us about any specifications or suggestions regarding how we can improve upon this offer.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Nothing shocks us more than mistakes in one or both official languages, whether as part of a call for tenders, on our site Buyandsell.gc.ca or in another context. I think that Mr. Déry will confirm it. This message was sent loud and clear to all affected departments.
Public Services and Procurement Canada provides services to other departments, including procurement services. Other departments often send us the parameters and wording for calls for tenders that have mistakes and, given the volume, they will go directly up on the site. Departments themselves even have the right to upload them to the PSPC Internet site. In such cases, the contents of call for tenders is not certified beforehand by the Translation Bureau.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I am certain that Mr. Déry will confirm that the quality of work is always a priority at the Translation Bureau and that this is still the case today. When the Translation Bureau has the time to do so when reviewing a call for tenders or any other document, priority is given to the quality of the work.
I can let Mr. Déry tell you about it.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Alright. We'll come back to it.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would like to make a personal remark before answering your question, Mr. Samson.
I am old enough to remember that without the intervention of the Government of Canada, there would be no Francophone schools in Saint John, New Brunswick or Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island or other places.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
You can be certain that I am always seeking to strengthen the federal government's role in minority-language education in Canada.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I think that I have been clear in my comments. We are looking for suggestions from this committee to find out how we can strengthen the Government of Canada's role in promoting official languages.
Results: 1 - 30 of 636 | Page: 1 of 22

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|