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Results: 1 - 15 of 29
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Duly noted—and will do, I'm told.
Are the minutes approved otherwise?
They're approved. Okay.
Is there any business arising from the previous meeting?
Not seeing any, we will now move on to the modernization of policies related to communicating with constituents.
During the board's meeting on February 28, 2019, changes to the ten percenter program were presented for approval. Members discussed the introduction of a limit on the number of mailings that an MP can distribute under the proposed new program.
The initial proposal included a limit of six times the number of households in a member's constituency per calendar year. It was agreed that further examination of this limit was required. It's my understanding that since the last meeting, a revised proposal to establish the limit at eight times the number of households in a member's constituency per calendar year has been put forward and is supported. If this is indeed the case, the administration will monitor volumes and financial forecasts and return to the board for direction in any given year, if required.
Is it the will of the board to approve this revised proposal?
I think I'm seeing “yes”, so that's agreed.
That finishes point number three. You guys are really good.
Mr. Strahl.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Perhaps we could just have some clarification. I have the package of the different constituency mailers that are now available. Obviously, the 30-day rule now comes into effect, which we're used to having with our householder package.
Could you maybe just describe for our members, who I'm sure will be watching and also reading this transcript later, the differences between a constituency mailer and a householder, and whether or not the 30-day exclusionary period will apply just for certain types of mail? For instance, could you do two householders 30 days apart and a constituency mailer in between? Is there a coordination of those printed pieces, or are they on separate tracks?
Benoit Giroux
View Benoit Giroux Profile
Benoit Giroux
2019-04-11 11:47
Thank you, Mr. Strahl. Indeed they're on separate tracks. They are two different programs and they will remain two different programs. The main difference is the householder. You use one year of your allocation of a householder and you can cover your full riding. If you decide to do less in the householder, then it's your allocation. You use your allocation even if you do less.
For constituency mailings, you can break it out. Let's say you have a riding of 50,000. You can decide to send 5,000 in a given area of your riding, the next day 10,000 somewhere else, and so on and so on, up to your full household. That resets every 30 days. You can indeed do one householder and a full constituency mail at the same time, because the counter is for each program. They are not dependent on each other.
Benoit Giroux
View Benoit Giroux Profile
Benoit Giroux
2019-02-28 12:08
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The communications that MPs send to their constituents represent an important part of their duties. This is why several services for this purpose are chargeable to central funds. MPs may also charge external printing costs to their office budget.
In order to ensure that members' needs continue to be met, the House administration proposes changes to modernize the ten percenter regime.
In addition, other policy changes are proposed regarding external printing and advertising services.
Let's start with the modernization of ten percenters. In line with the 2018 changes to the householder program, our consultation revealed that members wanted colour and simplified processes. We propose to replace the current ten percenter program with what would be named constituency mail. It consists of eight formats, which include four new formats. All formats are available in black, two-colour and full colour. The formats are available for your viewing in the sample kit prepared by the printing and mailing services group. It consists mainly of flyers, reply cards and postcards.
Of importance is the proposal to simplify the overall planning and submission process by eliminating the 50% content difference rule and introducing a limit consisting of a maximum of six times the number of households in the member's constituency per calendar year. As for shipping, the member can continue to mail through unaddressed Admail or use the new option provided for addressed Admail.
Finally, it is proposed to allow for the display of third party community resources and not-for-profit website addresses.
In conclusion, the proposed changes provide additional benefits to members while removing rules that were no longer in compliance.
I will now turn things over to Mr. Paquette, who will explain changes related to certain policies.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:13
I'll say very quickly, Mr. Speaker, that I very much support these changes. Dealing with ten percenters since I was elected in 2004— with an involuntary break—has been a major challenge. You're constantly trying to MacGyver a solution to get correspondence to your constituents and, as a result, they were abused in all kinds of bizarre and strange ways.
Creating a uniform process for that makes a great deal of sense to me, so that, on the one hand, people don't get too frustrated to use it, and, on the other hand, people don't use it excessively in a way it wasn't intended to be used. I'm very supportive.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Obviously, a major change is the maximum of six times that a member can put out one of these new constituency mailers. What is the rationale for that? What are the projected savings by limiting members to that number?
Benoit Giroux
View Benoit Giroux Profile
Benoit Giroux
2019-02-28 12:15
Well, we've looked at the volumes that the members were sending as ten percenters for the last two fiscal years, which we believe were good baseline years. With respect to the limit of six times and the number of households in your constituencies, 92% of all members are actually within that limit, sending within that limit. We have 8% who are high flyers and would be outside that limit, so we believe we've covered the vast majority of members sufficiently. The other consideration is that we are confident that with those limits we would still be operating within the current budget, which was looked at as well.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Right, so the question is.... There will be some push-back. What was the impetus for the 8% who are doing more than six times a year? What are you trying to prevent here? I guess that's the question. Why have that limit? I can tell you that for some members it will be like waving a red flag in front of a bull: “You're telling me that I can't communicate with my constituents.”
I guess I'm trying to understand the rationale. If 92% of MPs are not going to go over six, why are you limiting it to six?
Benoit Giroux
View Benoit Giroux Profile
Benoit Giroux
2019-02-28 12:16
The other thing we looked at is our production capacity. By introducing full-colour products for this new constituency mail, we also had to make sure that we're sufficiently able to produce on an efficient basis. That was also part of looking at establishing the limit at six. It's to make sure that we can continue to support members in their communications in an efficient way within the production limits and production timelines that we currently have established.
If we augment that limit, then we're putting ourselves into a situation where we could go overbudget or where we would have way too much demand that is going to extend the production time for those constituency mailings.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I won't add a lot to what Mark said. I agree fully with everything he articulated.
On the issue of changing ten percenters to a maximum number of mail-outs, I think we should err on the side of making sure that those 8% can still do what they've been doing. If 92% are going to do fewer than six a year, then why wouldn't we say you can do 10 a year, with the knowledge that that probably won't happen? Budgets are increasing, and there's more and more. All of a sudden now, to go back to our caucus and say that their ability to communicate with their constituents is going to be scaled back, when the only argument we can give is that we might not have the ability to pay for it, first of all, I think that probably wouldn't be the case, so I think we should rather look at this and expand that.
I would add to what Mark talked about. I agree. When I get up every day, the work I do is to do two things: to move out what I believe is a government that is not good for Canadians, which is what my constituents elected me to do, and to put in a government that I believe is good for Canadians, which means I'm going to ask them to support me. I'm going to ask them to listen to my arguments. I think the measurement should be that if we can say it in the House of Commons, we should be able to say it in our communication with our constituents. If it is slanderous or defamatory, then we will be held accountable for that, and we will be held accountable by our electorate, in whether they vote for us again.
I wrote a letter, and I said, “That's why, in 2019, Conservatives...”, and I was told I wasn't allowed to say that. It became unbelievable. We are partisan; that is what we do. We are political, and we're having more and more restrictions from people when we don't even know who they are and who they're accountable to. I think it's something that has to be looked at. That way we would all have the same freedom and ability to communicate in the way we believe we should.
Thank you.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to thank Mr. Giroux and Mr. Paquette for their presentation.
I would like to say that the comments that I have gotten back from my constituents, after we went to colour, have been very positive. I think people appreciate getting news from their members of Parliament, and I think the way we're doing it is a lot more interesting to them.
Given the concerns raised by Candice and Mark, I don't know if there's an appetite from other members of the committee to see what it would be like to review some of the ten percenters or householders that have been refused, or ads that have been refused. I don't know if that is a possibility. I don't know what a review would look like. I don't know if there's an appetite from other members to look into this. I think this happens frequently. It hasn't been a big concern for our caucus. I don't know if there's an appetite from members of the board to look at this. I would like some more information, maybe some feedback, if a review is requested, on what that could look like.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2019-02-28 12:25
If I may jump in, I think that if there is a lack of consensus at this time to approve this recommendation, and there are some questions about the criteria that are being applied in approving or not—and ultimately, the approval can always be brought to the board—we could put these examples, and these issues could be looked at and some examples given, in the revised note that would come back for your consideration at our next board meeting. That would be part of the discussion about whether there are concerns about the criteria being used, whether these criteria flow from the bylaw, whether there is a need for a change in the bylaw, and whether the bylaw is being interpreted too strictly.
Those things could be brought back for your consideration and direction.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:26
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have two items. One is that perhaps we can divide the two matters that are here. I'm hearing that there are two separate matters: one is relating to the number of mailings that can be sent out, which is a more scoped issue; and then there's a broader conversation that I'm hearing around what sort of material can be sent out or what the boundaries are on that.
I would hate to entangle those two items. I think one can move forward separate from the other, and one is a more detailed conversation that we have to have. That would be my first suggestion.
On the volume, I hear what members are saying, and I think that communication is incredibly important. However, I would point out that 10 times a year is an extraordinary number of mailings. There is a point at which perhaps people need to work on their brevity or how succinct they are. There are serious costs involved in mailing, and if you want to mail more than 10 times a year to your constituents, to me that starts crossing the line of being relatively excessive.
This was exactly the problem with the ten percenter program. There were no rules or boundaries on how it was used, so theoretically you could be putting out ten percenters every single day. I think it's moving to some kind of uniformity and giving some kind of clarity to members.
Again, we can have that conversation. If there's a slight upwards adjustment, for example, if 92% of people are covered by 10, and we can get up to 98% by doing 11, then let's do 11 and move on with it. That's the one point.
On the second point, I just have to put it on as a matter of record that I think there's a material difference between the debates we have in the House and the materials that we send out to constituents. I say this as somebody who has spent nearly six years in opposition as well and agrees with the general thrust of what's being said. However, we don't want to be in a situation where we're effectively funding partisan undertakings.
If you get to a point where you're unable to distinguish between a campaign flyer and a householder, that's a serious problem. I think that matters of debate around policy, around issues, are of course fair game. If we're talking about keeping that line between a difference of opinion and policy, I think that's a fair boundary, but I get concerned if we're drawing in the use of House resources to fund essentially partisan propaganda. We all have it; we all have a particular partisan message that we're disseminating, but I think that line, that wall, is important. It's a judicious line, and it's one that I would defend rather vociferously.
If we're going to have a conversation on that, I would want to extricate it from this particular matter. I think if the two are entwined, it could lead us to a circumstance where we don't change this, and then if we don't change it, we're left with the continuance of something that has been in long need of overhaul.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
To Mr. Holland's point, though, I think that's exactly what I'm trying to raise: who is making those determinations. Who determines if something is too partisan? Who determines if something crosses over from a member's role to a partisan role, and if that is being done, where is the direction coming from? Who is monitoring that to ensure it is consistent?
That is an increasing frustration. We have members who.... I sent out a particular ten percenter; another colleague tried to submit the same ten percenter, and it was rejected. This is what I am concerned about. There are people who are making these determinations. I don't know who they are. I don't know who is giving them direction. I don't know where the feedback mechanism is for that, and I think it's incredibly inconsistent. That's why I would err on the side of allowing more products to go out and allowing our constituents, who pay for them and receive them, to make the determination as to whether or not they are acceptable.
That is my concern. When the deciders are not known and we don't have control over that process, I would suggest that it becomes extremely arbitrary. I don't want that to be the case. I would like us to have broad interpretations as to what is fair comment, and I think we have strayed away from that into where there is now an arbitrary determination. One member to the next can submit the same item for printing; one gets printed and sent, and the other one gets held up for weeks.
On matters that are currently before the House especially, something may be before us only for a matter of days or weeks, and if we are going through a cumbersome appeal process to try to get something out, and whether it meets the requirements, no one will do it. It won't be timely, and we won't get that feedback in a timely fashion.
I appreciate what Mark is saying, that we don't want to turn this into printing houses for our parties. At the same time, we want it to be broadly interpreted, from our side anyway, based on certain principles that allow us to make those determinations as much as possible.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
To his other point, about getting certain things passed or not, other than recommendation number 2 in this list, we can talk about going through 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 if you want to separate this out.
I would commit to coming back in a timely fashion. I recognize that this needs to be decided prior to the dissolution of this Parliament, but I simply need to go to my caucus with these very specific proposals to ask for their feedback.
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