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Results: 301 - 330 of 570
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Dufresne, you have the floor.
Afterwards we will hear from Ms. DeBellefeuille.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-06-01 15:48
As I indicated, the act gives the final word on this to the chair. It's not reviewable in any other place. This is similar to when the Speaker makes a ruling in the House on a prima facie question of privilege. The fact that it's an unreviewable decision doesn't take away from the responsibility to apply the rule at issue, and the rule at issue is the chair must determine if the publication of any given information would constitute a breach of privilege. It is constrained by that definition of parliamentary privilege and it is constrained by the notion of threats to security and the requirement to consult with the PPS. It is the chair's responsibility to apply this, but there is a criterion. It's not a complete discretion to make that determination.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. DeBellefeuille has the floor.
We will then hear from Mr. Julian.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I'm listening to my colleagues and I'm not sure I understand their concerns.
I believe that members of Parliament should lead by example. If I am a young mother—or a young father—and a member of Parliament, I must make an effort to reconcile my parliamentary duties with my family life. If the House makes available to us a number of points that are well known and known to all, I believe that we must be able, as politicians, to explain the situation to the public and set an example.
I don't necessarily share Mr. Strahl's or Ms. Bergen's fears. There will always be people who find that MPs are expensive and overspend. When we talk about family travel—i.e., husbands, wives and children—it illustrates very well that we are in a different era, where female and male MPs have family lives. They are parents or even grandparents, and they need to live that balance that everyone wants. I think that we need to own that fact and defend it, not try to evade the law and put a defence under the rug for fear of being misunderstood.
I'm all for discussing it, but the law comes into force on June 21. If all members of the House make reasonable travel arrangements to balance work and family and rigorously perform their parliamentary duties, I find it fairly easy to defend the fact that one can perform one's duties while being a spouse or a parent.
I do not understand the debate we are having to ask the Speaker to exempt us from releasing this information. In my opinion, we must take the lead and set an example and say that, yes, it is possible to do a public, political job, to have children and a spouse and to reconcile everything. The act provides for travel points in that sense to allow us to be balanced political leaders.
That is my opinion on this issue.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I didn't hear a question. I think it was more of a comment.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Now we'll go to Mr. Julian, and then Ms. Bergen.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I don't think there's any contradiction. I agree with Ms. DeBellefeuille in principle, as I think everyone does. It's more a question of how this regulation can be applied. We will have to look into all these issues and, above all, provide recommendations to the Speaker on the kind of situation in which he could exercise this right. It could be in cases where threats have been made to a spouse or where children are targeted in some way, for example.
There are certainly exceptions to this principle. I do not think anybody is against it, but it is a power given to the Speaker, who is elected by members, and it will exist in the next Parliament; it is the duty of the Board of Internal Economy to determine under what circumstances it can apply. We are here precisely to provide a framework for these regulations. In my opinion, it is not clear in what kind of situation a member of Parliament could ask that this be applied, but I know exactly the kind of situation where this information should absolutely not be disclosed. My opinion will probably be different from that of the other members of the Board of Internal Economy.
So, I think it would be worthwhile to come back to this in the next session to discuss how best to frame these exceptions.
Again, I agree in principle. Personally, my son is an adult, so I have no concerns about that. I do not feel personally concerned, but I understand that other members may feel concerned or vulnerable with respect to this information. It would be good for us to have a discussion about the principles and how to apply the exceptions to privilege. That way we would all be on the same page.
I remind the House that when the Speaker of the House makes a ruling, it is part of the jurisprudence. Each Speaker refers to the decisions of his or her predecessors. For that reason, I think it would be a good idea to follow up on the discussions we have had today.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Now we'll go to Ms. Bergen, followed by Mr. Rodriguez.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I would reiterate a lot of what Mr. Julian said.
I do want to clarify for Ms. DeBellefeuille that I don't think any of us have issues with disclosing. I will say this though, just to give her a little context. You're fortunate, Claude, that you live fairly close to Ottawa, so you're not flying quite as much as some people who are in other parts of the country.
Also, and this is something else to take into context, all of the other parties really want to be doing work for their constituents and for all Canadians, so we do travel to other parts of the country. We meet to try to get a sense of what's happening in Atlantic Canada, to understand farming issues in Quebec, or to understand gun issues in Toronto or on the west coast. I know many of us, outside the Bloc, travel right across the country, because we do want to serve all Canadians. I also think that with travel there's probably more risk involved in terms of security issues or a privilege breach.
However, my biggest concern, and the question that has not been answered, as a number of us have now said, is just how the Speaker would be making those exemptions. How would that be publicized, and how would we go forward with that?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I now yield the floor to Mr. Rodriguez.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I wasn't planning to speak, but I think the debate is dragging on a bit and we're going around in circles. I thought it was all pretty clear. It brings openness, transparency and a certain balance, which I think is necessary, between the disclosure of this important information to Canadians and the discretion that the Speaker can exercise. I think that is why we should move forward. I did not think we would spend that much time on this, honestly.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think we've reached a point where we're going around in circles, as Mr. Rodriguez just said. However, I see that there is no consensus and that some people are not comfortable with this project.
I would suggest that we do more analysis and come back to this at the next meeting of the Board of Internal Economy. In the meantime, if you are agreed, we'll ask the clerk to provide us with more information. At our next meeting we'll discuss it further and perhaps everyone will be more comfortable and agree, or at least have a better understanding of the issue.
Let us therefore put this issue aside and continue with item 6, that is, the temporary extension of transition support for former members of Parliament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first speaker will be Mr. Pierre Parent, Chief Human Resources Officer. He will be followed by Mr. Daniel Paquette, Chief Financial Officer.
Mr. Parent, you have the floor.
Pierre Parent
View Pierre Parent Profile
Pierre Parent
2020-06-01 15:59
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The objective of this submission is to seek the Board of Internal Economy's approval of temporary exceptions to some of its bylaws and policies regarding transition support services for members who are not seeking re-election or were not re-elected in the 43rd general election. I will refer to these two groups as “former members”. This is naturally due to the COVID-19 situation.
The existing transition support provisions have been put in place to help former members transition out of their roles as members. Former members who wish to pursue new career opportunities and entrepreneurial paths or to transition into retirement have access to a transition support budget in the amount of $15,000, which can be used for counselling, education, training, other eligible career transition expenses, as well as accommodations, meals and incidentals for four round trips in Canada.
The situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of educational institutions and the partial suspension of air travel by several carriers. As a result, former members of Parliament have contacted the House Administration to request an extension of the transition period so that they may receive their career transition services or begin or complete an education or training program. Some of them have received notices of cancellations of study programs that would have been started in the spring or summer, while others have already begun to take advantage of transition support services but will not be able to complete their program within the established timelines.
In light of these impacts, it is recommended that, as part of the response to this unusual and exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both the transition period set out in Standing Order 113 of the Members' By-Laws, during which Members of Parliament may avail themselves of transition support services, and the time limits set out in Standing Order 113.1(3) and Standing Order 114 of the Members' By-Laws, within which Members of Parliament may be reimbursed, be extended.
Details of the proposed extensions can be found in the table on page 3 of the submission.
We are happy to answer any questions board members may have.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions or comments?
I'm not seeing any. I believe we can proceed with this. Everybody is nodding.
We will move on to item number seven.
There's been a request for an exemption, so I'm going to ask Mr. Paquette, Chief Financial Officer, to explain it to us.
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present a request for exception pertaining to a member's expense claim for external printing. The submission provides a summary of the timelines and the facts of the situation.
The expense claim is for external printing in excess of the 5,000 copy limit allowed in the current member's policy. The member incurred these expenses during the period after the internal printing facilities were closed and before the board approved its alternative measures during the COVID pandemic.
The member's policy requires that all printing in excess of 5,000 similar copies must be done through our internal printing facilities to ensure conformity to the policy and, very importantly, access to the preferred mail rates. The current policy also makes the member personally responsible for any amount in excess of the allowed limits.
Given the current situation, the member is asking the Board of Internal Economy to consider a departure from existing practices. The administration proposed two options in the submission. The first option would be to maintain current practices and have the member be personally liable for the excess amount. The second option would be to allow an exceptional waiver and that the excess amount be charged to the budget of the member's office.
We are seeking direction from the Board of Internal Economy on this matter.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Holland, do you have a question?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-06-01 16:03
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
It's not a question; it's a comment.
We make a lot of requests for people who make mistakes, and it's very uncommon that I would suggest a member bring this forward.
I appreciate that normally these matters wouldn't come forward, but after I spoke with Mr. Blois, I realized it was an honest mistake that was happening around wanting to get out information on COVID-19. We did change the policy a couple of weeks later, and in this case, the member is proposing that he charge his member's—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe we have a problem with the bandwidth on Mr. Holland's line. It's breaking up. I know I'm struggling, so I could imagine what an interpreter would have to go through. I'm not sure now we solve that.
Mr. Holland, maybe you could try again, and we'll see if we can hear it.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-06-01 16:05
I'll try to be very brief and to the point. I don't know if anybody can hear me. I'm not sure what's happened. I seem to have had a major technological malfunction here.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
The government should come up with a program to get high-speed Internet to Toronto.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-06-01 16:06
Ajax could use better Internet.
I will try. I don't know what to say. Can folks hear me right now?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We can hear you. There is some kind of breakup in there. I can make out what you're saying, but I can understand that an interpreter would have a hard time taking it and translating.
I'll ask you to continue and maybe you can repeat it in French, if you like.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-06-01 16:06
I was just going to say that the member acknowledges that he made a mistake. I just feel that it was an honest mistake. It was an effort to communicate around COVID-19, and I know there was a lot of anxiousness that a lot of members had. The policy for external printing was changed a few weeks later.
The member is not proposing to charge the House of Commons central budget, but is suggesting that he charge his own MOB. Given that it would go against his own MOB, and given the fact that I think the error was made innocently, and having had conversations with him, I would seek approval from the board to provide support on that basis.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay, that time everything went smoothly. I don't know what you did, but it almost seems like a light came from your computer. You lit it and we heard you. I'm not sure if it was divine intervention.
We'll hear from Madam DeBellefeuille, and then Mr. Strahl.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Mr. Paquette.
Are many of the members who inadvertently made this mistake paying for the expense without having requested an exception from the Board of Internal Economy?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:07
I am currently aware of only one case, but it is not at all on the same scale. We are only talking about a few hundred dollars. It is not on the same scale as the situation we are talking about.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Now we'll go to Mr. Strahl.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Quickly, I know what we're going to do here is to charge the member's office budget. It didn't take a lot of work to figure out that a lot of the staff members had come over from Mr. Brison, so I'm a little unsure. I've been involved in politics at the staff and MP levels for a number of years, and you've never been able to do what he did, certainly not without the approval of PAMS.
He was a month ahead of where the policy was, but there was apparently enough COVID stuff in there to allow it. Was the printing expense within the acceptable range? I know that issue was raised in our previous document. The cost for some external suppliers was way too high and PAMS had to go back and either say no or negotiate. Was the range acceptable?
I certainly have never heard of members going out on their own and mailing things under anything other than the negotiated frank rate or the rate for unaddressed ad mail. What was the additional cost because the member went outside of the contract for unaddressed ad mail that the House of Commons has with Canada Post?
Results: 301 - 330 of 570 | Page: 11 of 19

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