Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here to present the findings of the House Administration's review on the use of House resources by a former member. The review focused on the member's secondary residence and related expenses from 2012 to 2016, while he was still a member.
On January 23, 2019, the Speaker received a letter from a member asking the House Administration to review the use of House Resources by the former member.
The current policies allow the members whose constituency is not located in the national capital region to designate a primary residence in the constituency or in the national capital region, and establish a secondary residence additional to their primary residence. Expenses for the secondary residence may be charged under the travel status expense account. This allows members to defray some of their additional costs of maintaining that secondary residence.
Furthermore, in the current policy, a primary residence is defined as a residence ordinarily occupied by the member, available for the member's occupancy at all times, and its main purpose cannot be to generate income. The current policy also provides criteria to help determine which residency to declare as primary. That is, members must consider various criteria such as which residence they will declare on their income tax returns, in which province they vote, have a health card, a driver's licence and register their vehicle, and what living arrangements they will have for their spouse and dependants.
Although the current policy has been in effect since May 2016, the former member's secondary residence expenses were reviewed while considering the board policies and bylaws that were in effect during the period of 2012 to 2016, which is the period in question when he was a member. Prior to April 2013, the applicable bylaws and policies defined that primary residence as a residence other than a seasonal or recreational dwelling. They did not specify that members had to provide supporting documentation showing their primary residence was their ordinary place of residence or was available for their use at all times. Once having met the requirements outlined by the bylaws, it remained the members' discretion to decide the location of their primary residence.
In June 2015 the board approved several changes to that policy relating to secondary residence and per diem expenses. These changes modernized the residency policy by revising the definition of a primary and secondary residence. They required that members provide that supporting documentation clarifying ownership or rental of their residence. They required that members declare at the start of every parliamentary session any changes and which one of the residences is the primary residence and which one was a secondary residence, and allowed members to claim those secondary expenses only if they maintained a primary residence that meets the definitions that are in the policies.
Finally, at its meeting in 2016 the board approved the criteria to help determine which residency members would declare as their primary residence.
The House administration has reviewed this matter and can report that the former member claimed secondary residence and per diem expenses while in the national capital region, and claimed expenses for travel between Ottawa and his constituency during that same period. The House administration has reviewed all the relevant proof of the primary and secondary residences that supported the expenses claimed by the former member and is satisfied that they all met the requirements that were in effect during that period of time.
The board, however, does have the exclusive authority to determine whether the use of the House resources by the member is or was proper.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation.