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Results: 1 - 30 of 34
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Stanton, thank you very much for the report.
Of course, I'm in favour of designating the chair of the working group to sit on the jury.
The coronavirus has had an impact on a lot of projects across the country, so I'm wondering if there are any updated figures that you could give us or if you can let us know when you think the working group would be able to do that.
Thank you.
My question is very simple: Are there any updated budget figures around the overall projects?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
When do you think you will be able to bring that to the BOIE?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This presentation matters. The number of francophones around the world is rising dramatically, so it's vital that we maintain these ties with countries that have the use of French in common. Not to mention, ours is a bilingual country, with an English-speaking population. I know a conference will be held next year for Commonwealth countries.
I have two questions. Are the budgets for the two conferences similar? For that conference, the budget is $1.3 million. In both cases, what happens if COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc come conference time? Should the conferences have to be cancelled, what would the financial repercussions be in each case?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
What would be the financial repercussions?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, but that does not quite answer my question. Let's assume that, in both cases, we have to cancel six months in advance. Will the financial consequences be to the tune of $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 or $1 million? Do we have a rough idea of the costs even if we were to cancel six months in advance?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Paquette. I would just like to compare apples to apples.
There are additional expenditures of $3.1 million on September 17, but we see that some of the spending was reduced because of COVID-19. Yet, this continues in the financial statement of June 30. If we compare the money saved up until September 17 with the additional costs, what is the impact of COVID-19 on parliamentary operations?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to know how many employees on Parliament Hill have been dismissed or laid off since the start of the pandemic.
How many regular full-time employees have we lost? How many aren't working because of COVID-19?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Could you provide the figures at the next meeting?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your presentation today. Having been part of the first iteration of the Centre Block working group, I appreciate all the time and effort that I know members of the working group are putting in.
I have a comment and then a couple of questions.
My comment is that I certainly appreciate that we're not going for what many of us considered to be the Cadillac option in terms of building the visitor welcome centre. The larger option was much more expensive. We're talking about over $110 million in savings, if my memory is correct, and I think that's very appropriate.
Mr. Stanton, perhaps you or one of the dedicated public servants here could explain what that means in terms of cutting back those requests that came forward. There were a lot of requests, as part of that larger option, around committee rooms for the Senate, which quite frankly didn't seem necessary. For the people who are watching today from the press gallery and from the public, it would be good to know, I think, what we're paring away.
Second, I don't see a recommendation around the House of Commons chamber itself. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you think the decision-making point is and will be around the House of Commons chamber?
Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
These financial statements are a bit like the economic update that would have been provided just before the pandemic hit. We're talking about March 31. On March 13, the decision was made to suspend parliamentary activities. I find this interesting. I don't have any issue with the financial statements. This seems very clear, including the significant decreases in committee expenses and parliamentary exchanges.
When I look at the largest and much smaller expenditures, I think that it would be worthwhile to hear how you think things will unfold this year. Since I'm in New Westminster and the other members are also at home, it seems that travel expenses are much smaller. There are no parliamentary exchanges either. The committees are meeting virtually. Does this raise or lower costs? I imagine that this lowers costs. In addition, many House administration employees are teleworking.
In your opinion, which expenditures will increase as a result of the pandemic and which expenditures will decrease significantly because of all the decisions made in the context of the pandemic?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I agree with Mr. Strahl.
In terms of the printing in the riding, normally, since we are on the other side of the Rockies, 5,000 kilometres away from Ottawa, printed material that goes out takes weeks to arrive in B.C. With local printing, it landed on the steps of people's homes in New Westminster—Burnaby five days after being printed. That's five days compared to often a month. I'd be very interested in seeing that report as well, because there is no doubt, for those of us who are far away from Ottawa, that it makes a huge difference in terms of our constituents actually getting timely information, and around COVID-19 that was extremely important.
I certainly agree with renewing this, and I would even suggest extending it in terms of printing. My concern is that we're putting these on MOBs. Again, for example, the cost of Internet access isn't the same in ridings across the country. In an urban riding like mine, it will cost a lot less than it might in a rural or northern riding. It seems to me, for fairness, so that all members of Parliament are treated the same way, that it would make a lot more sense to have those costs go onto the central budget than to have them assumed by members of Parliament, meaning that members of Parliament in certain parts of the country will have to pay more out of their MOB, which means they will have fewer resources to actually serve their constituents.
I'd like to put that out for the appreciation of the board. We'll also get a sense of whether the administration would have any opposition to having those Internet costs absorbed centrally.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Did the member contact the House administration before making the purchase? I don't mean through a formal letter, but did they make any sort of inquiry? It's clearly an unusual request.
My constituency office has an outdoor space. Would I be allowed to buy patio furniture? It's clear from looking at the file that there weren't any formal inquiries, but did someone from the member's office or the member, himself, reach out to finance services about it?
Once I know that, I'll comment further.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
All right. Thank you.
This is a member with considerable experience, not just at the federal level. I think reimbursing a member for the purchase of patio furniture would set the wrong precedent. Had the member made some sort of attempt to contact the House administration, or had there been some ambiguity as to whether the expense was eligible, I'd be more inclined to consider the member's request.
The Board of Internal Economy should advise all members, especially new ones, that if they want to make an unusual purchase, they need to submit a formal request beforehand to make sure it's an eligible expense.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to be sure I understand. Is the House administration recommending that we not allow the expense to come out of the member's office budget?
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?
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 Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I completely agree with Ms. DeBellefeuille. It is important that we have simultaneous interpretation in the executive committee meetings. I myself have noticed that, during meetings of the Standing Committee on Finance, this has not been the case for several weeks. I am therefore pleased that Ms. DeBellefeuille has raised this issue. It was important. It's easy to resolve, and it's fundamental to the functioning of Parliament.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I feel that the text reflects our discussion quite well.
However, I would actually write that the government will have three members, the official opposition two members, and the third and fourth parties one member each. This would ensure that the subcommittee's work can continue if we have an election, whether scheduled or not.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I am suggesting replacing the reference to the Liberal Party by “government” and the reference to the Conservative Party by “official opposition”, and so on.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
[Inaudible—Editor]
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I looked carefully at the entire document. I want to thank you for providing all this information. However, I don't see the budget figures. Is it because Public Works and Government Services Canada didn't provide approximate amounts for each option?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you for that.
There's no doubt that this is important to Canadians; it's the centre of Canadian democracy. At the same time, among those at this table, I represent the riding that's farthest away from Ottawa and most of my constituents will never come to Ottawa. They'll never see the House of Commons and Parliament Hill.
It's about making sure that we do justice to the Centre Block and to the importance of Parliament, but I would certainly disagree with any Cadillac approach where we're putting excessive funds into the building. I think, coming back to the comments that Ms. Bergen and Mr. Holland mentioned—I would agree with both of them—that we need to establish those principles as a starting point so that going into this, we know that we can provide direction. Perhaps, since we don't have the figures in front of us, it's very difficult to even imagine the scope of the project right now, but putting those principles into place can make a real difference.
As Mr. Holland mentioned, moving forward quickly is important because there's also a cost element to not making those decisions. I was part of the building committee that met prior to the election. We basically went with the stripped-down option, but that allowed for some flexibility about decisions post-election. The longer we delay the decisions, the more costs there are for the taxpayers. It's about finding that balance, moving forward immediately with the principles—I agree with Mr. Holland on that—and meeting in a couple of weeks.
I also agree with Mr. Holland on his real reservations about having a joint process with the Senate. We're the elected members. We're the ones who will have to justify decisions back to our voters, perhaps in a few months, perhaps in a few years, so I think, because of that, that there is a principle to our hearing from them but also providing the leadership on that. Moving forward quickly will be important. We'll move forward with principles so we can get this right and in a way that is reasonable to people across the country, including in New Westminster—Burnaby. People will say that we got it right on the House of Commons and Parliament Hill. It's a good building, and we didn't spend excessively to preserve the heritage and the symbolism that is the Parliament building.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much. This is an important and interesting discussion.
Coming back to Mr. Holland's original comments about being concerned about a joint Senate process, I think it's fair to say that we would all agree that there needs to be consultation with the Senate, but ultimately, the issues around some of the proposals, including the additional Senate meeting rooms, is something that I think we do need to examine as we go through this process and set principles that Ms. Bergen suggested earlier.
Ultimately, if we come up with recommendations, it's up to the government to make that decision and make that call. If the Senate comes up with different recommendations, again it's up to the government to make that call. Hearing from you—and thank you very much for your feedback—consolidated in my mind the idea that we move forward not with a joint process, but in consultation with the Senate and putting forward what we think is best for preserving the Centre Block, ensuring that we can function in a modernized Centre Block but without going into additional luxuries, I would say, that taxpayers are not willing to pay for and that really aren't needed.
If we govern with those principles that way and move forward, consulting with the Senate but not necessarily integrating all of the requests, we may end up with two slightly different proposals. Ultimately, it would be up to the government to make that decision.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Paquette, thank you for your presentation.
Compared to last year, computers, office equipment, furniture and fixtures have almost doubled.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to know whether there's anything pending. I know that we're in the process of upgrading the computers. Will there be an increase next year as well?
My other question concerns a snap election. I don't want this to happen, but we never know. If it were to happen in the next few months, what would be the financial impact?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Amazingly convincing; we have nothing to say.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes. I want to be on the list.
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