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Results: 271 - 300 of 570
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Can you confirm if the requirement for designated traveller expenditures being separated from...? I found it interesting that the House administration reporting requirement is a cumulative amount—that's what I understood you to say—that it will be a global number, or would it say, “Mr. Paquette took the following trips”?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:24
It will say, “Mr. Paquette took this particular trip.” There will be detailed disclosure for all employees. This is different from what we'll see in the rest of the public service, where it's all employees and not just senior officials.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay. I have been concerned, and I've raised this issue before. If we're bound by the act, then.... I don't think I probably voted in favour of it.
When we allow our disclosure to put targets on our families, I have real difficulty with that. We saw this during the last election, when members and their designated travellers were singled out, targeted and exploited for partisan gain. Quite frankly, I don't know if there's room in this presentation for us to take another look at that. Perhaps we need to have a greater discussion around it.
I am troubled by what is meant to be shining a light on what members do actually discouraging members from taking advantage of the opportunities to reunite families. We all claim, from the Prime Minister on down, that we want this to be a more attractive place for families, for young professionals to engage in the political process, and then we absolutely eviscerate them because of the disclosure rules we have. People simply won't use the travel, etc., because they know their political opponents will target them for it.
I know we're bound by the law, and we obviously need to do whatever is required. We should consider having a discussion in the future about whether there is an unintended consequence here that punishes people with families—young families, especially—and will discourage those folks from either travelling so that they can keep their families together, or will discourage those people from seeking office at all.
I will leave it there. I don't know if we can deal with it right now, but I would certainly want to have that discussion in the future.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe that Monsieur Dufresne has an answer for Mr. Strahl.
Monsieur Dufresne.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:27
I would add that we have reviewed the legislation. It is a broad legislation in terms of proactive disclosure. There are exceptions, as was indicated, in the Speaker's ability to invoke parliamentary privilege or invoke security with regard to the parliamentary precinct for expenditures of House administration.
We will look at the implementation of this. We will continue to monitor it to see if there are unintended consequences. This is something that can be looked at, monitored and possibly addressed. At this stage, this is the interpretation of the requirements as they stand.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Strahl, is everything fine? Okay.
We'll go to Ms. Bergen and then to Madame DeBellefeuille.
Ms. Bergen.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My first question is to follow up on the answer. I was under the assumption that this proactive disclosure was mandatory as per the act, and there wasn't necessarily room for interpretation. If there is, then I would suggest...because I agree very strongly with what my colleague, Mr. Strahl, brought forward.
Rather than wait to see if there are unintended consequences, I suggest we discuss those here, as well as any others, and try to address them now. If the act prescribes this to a T, then we have no choice. I guess you can elect a Conservative government and we could always change it again. I would rather that we try to deal with it at this point and try to make it the very best, so that we are complying with the act and we are disclosing what we need to disclose, but we don't have the consequences that we have identified here that could happen.
My other question has to do with the Speaker making these decisions. Is it prescribed in the act? I'm wondering how the Speaker would make the decision. Would it be at the request of a particular MP? What's the process and does the act lay that out, or how does the Speaker decide what doesn't need to be disclosed?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:29
I think there are two parts to your question.
First, what is being proposed here as a framework is the framework that, in our view, is required by the act as it stands. Now, there is the ability for the Speaker to make exceptions in specific cases, with respect to both parliamentary privilege and to security. On the specific process as to how that is implemented, if there are issues raised by members, they will be able to bring them to the attention of the Speaker.
It is provided explicitly in the act that the Speaker may make this determination, and if he does, on the basis of privilege, the information will not be disclosed. That decision will not be reviewable, whether in courts or before the Information Commissioner.
In terms of the exception for security, it deals with information disclosure for House administration and the parliamentary precinct, and it requires consultation with PPS.
Beyond that, there are more details that could be brought forward in terms of the documentation, templates and so on. However, those two specific exceptions exist and can be raised by members in individual cases, and that's something we'll be looking at.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. Bergen, do you have any follow-up?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I want to say thank you. It's good to see the templates of what the new disclosure will look like. It would be good if we could share those with our caucuses so they're aware, as well.
My question wasn't quite answered, and it could be because this is a new process. My point is that if there's any way that we can try to address the issue around our designated traveller, where our partner or spouse could be targeted for political gain, we want to try to mitigate that.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We will continue with Ms. DeBellefeuille.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I think the transparency that this law promotes does encourage greater disclosure than before. I agree with Ms. Bergen on all the templates and on how to make it user-friendly and fairly easy for citizens to consult. I think it is quite a remarkable piece of work.
If members of our caucuses are to be more transparent and enter their data properly, the source platform and financial portal must be better adapted to reduce the time spent in front of screens filling out travel statements, among other things.
Both as a senior officer and as a member of Parliament, I'm experimenting with the portal. I do it on-screen as a member of Parliament, then I do it by hand as a senior officer. I was wondering if, when the act comes into force, the source platform and the financial portal will be adjusted and changed with respect to travel reports.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:32
Thank you.
The member's portal platform will be adjusted to ensure that all information required for disclosure is obtained. With respect to the paper process for senior officers, we do not anticipate any immediate changes, but we are currently reviewing this.
In light of recent developments, we need to update our processes to better collect information and submit it electronically. I am already meeting with the business process teams to carry out a project, in the not too distant future, to update our practices to reduce the administrative burden on members. We are working on it and it is certainly on our radar.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Also, you talk about training for MPs in your work plan. How do you plan to organize the members' training? Will you be delivering it to caucuses? How do you plan to deliver this important training to the different caucuses?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:34
The communication plan is ready. We will use all available platforms. We can meet caucuses in groups or online. Documents with instructions will be sent out. We have even prepared videos. All possible options have been considered to accommodate the needs and preferences of members.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right, thank you.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll continue with Mr. Julian.
Mr. Julian, you have the floor.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I agree with my colleagues Mr. Strahl, Ms. Bergen and Ms. DeBellefeuille. When I look at all the forms that will be available online, I see the level of detail for partners and children. It talks about the exact location where the trips were made. Members can go to the Speaker and ask that this information not be made available to the general public. I understand the reasons one might have for doing that, but it seems to me that it also creates a certain imbalance. As Mr. Strahl said, we do not have time to go into this in depth today, but it seems to me that we need to take a closer look at the rules on how the Speaker could withhold information on the basis of privilege.
I understand there's some concern. I also understand the law we passed. It seems to me that we need a clearer framework to define how a member of Parliament could get out of this obligation. Members of Parliament may have very good reasons for doing so. As we know, some of their constituents may be engaged in some really unhealthy activities. Having access to all of this information about MPs' travel can be a cause for concern. I understand that.
At the next meeting of the Board of Internal Economy, could we determine in what situations this information could be withheld on the basis of privilege?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:37
The exception to privilege exists in law, and the Speaker will have to apply the interpretation of privilege as interpreted by the courts, that is, the rights of members, the immunity of the House, or a disclosure that would impede the proper functioning of the House.
With the exception of the security exception, it is limited to the security of persons and buildings within the parliamentary precinct. There is a framework that exists in the law. I indicated earlier that the template and the technical implementation of this will be clarified, but the content of the obligation and the content of the exception exist in the law, as well as the disclosure obligations, including expenses for travel of dependants and spouses.
What we are presenting here is really the template for the implementation of compliance with these obligations that are in the law, but there will be a case-by-case application by the Speaker if it can be established that the disclosure of a given piece of information from the House Administration will infringe either on privileges or on security in the precinct.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions?
We'll have Mr. Strahl, followed by Ms. Bergen.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
I just want to be very clear. When I was first elected, all of the travel that occurred for my office, which was for me, any of my family and any of my staff, came under my name. It was all disclosed and it was a global figure. Now, obviously it's per trip. That decision, as I recall, was not a legislative one. It was a board decision made in 2012 or so.
Am I right that it was an internal Board of Internal Economy decision to parse out dependant and designated traveller expenses so that they were separate line items on our public disclosure statements?
I think it's very critical that we understand this. We might be going back in time here, but I think we need to look at it. Is it required that my designated traveller information is revealed by this act, or does that reference back to a Board of Internal Economy decision made a number of years ago?
Second, I don't know if anyone has done this work, but it seems to me—and I say this for the public more than anything—that the requirements now for an opposition member of Parliament are much more detailed and much more stringent than they are for members of cabinet. The requirement for disclosure for travel and other expenditures is much lower for cabinet members than for members who are not even public office holders, in terms of that part of the act.
I would like a response to the previous question especially.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:41
Mr. Strahl, with respect to the proactive disclosure for travel expenses for members, the act, in section 71.05, indicates explicitly that it must include “the total cost for each of the following classes of expenses, including the costs for any other person such as a spouse or dependant who participated in the travel”. There is an explicit reference in the legislation, which is distinct from the situation prior to the legislation.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Strahl, did you have a follow-up to that? No.
We'll go to Ms. Bergen.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Just to follow up on that, I think the report that we will now be required to put is the name, which I know is public, of the designated traveller or staff member. It looks like there are some additional requirements we have put in that have not been necessarily explicitly asked for by legislation.
My question goes back, though, to the Speaker's decision. In your answer to Mr. Julian, Mr. Dufresne, I'm still not clear on a number of things. Would a member go to the Speaker ahead of time and say, “I took this trip with my spouse, and I feel that if it's disclosed my privilege would be breached or there would a security risk, and can you decide?” The Speaker would make the decision, and the Speaker might agree with that individual MP, so their expenses would not be disclosed and nobody would know about it.
What's the process according to the legislation? Would we know if Ms. Bergen's expenses had not been disclosed because the Speaker had deemed it a security breach on this particular trip, or is nothing said about it? I think we need just a bit more clarity, and if we don't have that, again, that might be something we need to discuss.
How does the Speaker decide? I'm just wondering. When the Speaker makes a decision in the chamber, he or she rises and gives their decision—there might be a point of privilege—and it's all very public. I know that you can't be public if you're trying to protect someone's safety and security or privilege. I just feel that we don't have enough answers, and you may not know those exactly either, which is fair, but I think there are some questions around how the Speaker makes those decisions.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:44
What I can say, Ms. Bergen, is that the legislation creates the exception, so it creates the regime for proactive disclosure and then it indicates that the regime does not apply to information that has been determined by the Speaker to constitute a breach of privilege if it's disclosed or to constitute a threat to security of persons or infrastructure in the precinct for disclosure of information for the House administration. It then indicates that a determination on this by the Speaker cannot be challenged, that it is a final decision for the purpose of this part, subject to the rules of the Houses.
In terms of how and to what extent thee Speaker's decisions would be made public and the level of detail that would go into them, I understand that detail has not yet been fully determined, but as you indicate, obviously if you disclose publicly information that you're determining you can't disclose publicly, that wouldn't make sense. In terms of how to determine and disclose that the Speaker has made such a determination, that is subject to being corrected by the chief financial officer. The details have not been determined there, but certainly the exception exists and this is something that could be raised by members by bringing information to the attention of the Speaker.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or is there any follow-up?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I may be the only one. I don't know what my other colleagues feel. I appreciate that the act is fairly general, then, but I think that's something we need to be talking about and setting some parameters around. We're setting the stage for what could be many years with many different Speakers and different parties in power. I think that even puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on the Speaker. Even today, we discuss requests from MPs for exemptions, and that's all done in public when those decisions are made.
I don't know how the others feel, but I do feel on that part that there are a number of things that will be new for our members of Parliament, and to be informed that you will be disclosing your information and your colleague may not actually have to because the Speaker could decide and nobody will know, I think that's problematic. If the act doesn't provide for clarity on that, I think we need to have some clarity on that before we move ahead on this.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
On that, Mr. Dufresne, is there anything preventing the chair from exempting members of Parliament entirely? If the chair says he believes it's a breach of all members' privileges to have individual trip information disclosed because of, for instance, what Mr. Julian raised, it puts the security of all members in peril, or he believes there's a greater than zero chance that it doesn't, and then the chair says he's exempting everyone from that requirement—and I'm sorry to get into it here, but that's what our job is—are you saying this is not challengeable? Would that not pass a reasonable person test?
I'm trying to figure out if a chair could essentially run for office at the beginning of a Parliament and say, “As the chair, I will exempt all of you from providing this information because I believe it is a violation of your privileges to do so.” It raises questions that I don't feel we have answers to yet.
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