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Results: 1 - 30 of 38
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I want to start by congratulating and thanking today's interpreters for the quality of their work and for their considerable expertise. We hear many interpreters, but I can say that today we have an all-star team. They do their work at practically the speed of light. I want to thank them for this.
Mr. Paquette, thank you for the quality and thoroughness of your presentation. I'm a good student and I do my reading. During my preparations, I ask questions. Today, I want to congratulate you for being very transparent, especially because you clear up matters that are sometimes complex. Thank you for this.
My questions will focus on what happens next. By this weekend, the entire province of Quebec may enter the red zone, probably for several weeks or even months. I'm thinking about all our decisions regarding certain expenses that weren't necessarily routine. I'm thinking of the disinfection equipment, the layout of the offices, the extension of the permission to advertise beyond the percentage allowed by the by-law, and all the changes made along the way to authorize members or their offices to incur expenses related to certain budget items.
At the next board meeting, do you plan to propose an extension of certain measures or other measures that could help members better handle their work?
I'm quite concerned because not all employees in our constituency offices have the furniture, ergonomic chairs and other work tools needed to carry out their work in compliance with health and safety standards. To date, for example, the finance services is still refusing to allow the purchase of a chair for one of our employees who must use the chair at home, since the chair is normally the property of the House of Commons. As employers, we recommend that all our employees work from home, so I wonder about our limitations. How can we better manage and support our employees from a health and safety perspective?
Also, as you may recall, the budget for Internet access increased because, in some rural areas, teleworking incurs exponential costs in this area. Members were allowed to claim these costs back from their main budget.
If the situation continues over the next six months, wouldn't this significantly affect the budgets of some members?
Wouldn't some members be adversely affected by the fact that they must pay more for Internet access than a member who lives in an urban area, for example, where this additional expense isn't included in their MP budget?
At the next board meeting, or at subsequent meetings, will we be looking at ways to help members carry out their duties in their constituencies in compliance with the health rules and the guidance provided by their governments? In our case, we're talking about the Quebec government.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
If my colleagues don't object, we could ask for an analysis, but not immediately, since the analysis is comprehensive. However, the Board of Internal Economy could provide an overview.
I believe that most permissions expire on March 31, 2021. So before Christmas, we could be presented with an overview.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I want to start by thanking the interpreters who have been translating the comments made by my English-speaking colleagues for the past hour and 10 minutes. I must say that they're excellent, and I applaud them. I hope that they have air conditioning in their booths, because it's hot.
Mr. Speaker, I find the report presented to us today very transparent. I can see that a number of expenditure increases have been funded through the authorized budgets.
I have just one question.
One reason for the increase in staff expenditures, which total $17.3 million in 2019-20, is the hiring of additional employees to work on the major Centre Block renovation project.
How much of this increase is related to staff expenditures in comparison with the other items identified in the document, such as information technology, advisory services and support for members? Are more human resources directed toward providing advisory services to members than toward the major Centre Block renovation project?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Did you give me the floor, Mr. Chair.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Sorry. I didn't hear you.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Daigle, how do you pronounce your last name?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
My name shouldn't be pronounced the English way. Whether we're speaking in English or in French, my name is pronounced the French way. I'll pronounce your last name the French way. Does that work for you, Ms. Daigle?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I studied your report carefully. I want to congratulate you, because I find the report very clear. I have some questions regarding your level of satisfaction.
Have the new practices and resources put in place, such as the support provided by the human resources advisers that you added to your team, affected the number of complaints regarding psychological or sexual harassment or abuse of authority? Has this made a positive impact, or is the impact still difficult to measure?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
The added staff has made a difference. Specifically, I'm referring to the HR advisers assigned to each caucus to support members in their roles as employers. The advisers work proactively, before workplace conflicts turn into the formal complaints classified in your report. That's my understanding.
I'd like to take this opportunity because public servants are often criticized. They aren't always depicted in a positive light, so I'd like to point out how outstanding the HR advisers assigned to the Bloc Québécois caucus are. They are competent and do an excellent job. They have shown the utmost professionalism. They are very committed to supporting members in their roles as employers.
As someone who spent much of her career as a manager in Quebec's public sector, I can say that those two people from your team have all the necessary skills and professionalism to support members in their roles as employers. Not only do I want to thank them publicly, but I also want to commend you. They say good leaders or managers surround themselves with good people. That's a compliment for you as well, Ms. Daigle.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I have one last question for you. I don't think I heard the total number of members who took the three-hour training course on sexual harassment prevention.
Did you tell us already? Did I miss it?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I see.
As whips, we play a vital role in mobilizing our party members. Finding time in their schedules can be challenging. As far as the Bloc Québécois is concerned, I can say I'm quite proud of our results.
Can you tell those following the proceedings how many Bloc Québécois members have completed the training?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I'm quite pleased.
Rest assured that, by the end of August, we'll be at 100%.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Once again, kudos to you on the great job you're doing.
Mr. Chair, investing in HR advisers is smart spending. It makes for even better members who are more respectful employers.
Thank you, Ms. Daigle.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I listened to what my fellow members had to say. They seem to be focusing on the patio set, not on the item or its purpose. I more or less agree with them. I know this won't change the outcome, but it's still worth explaining.
Yes, he's an experienced member, but it didn't occur to him that the expense would be denied, because he was focused on the opportunity to meet with constituents in a safe outdoor setting with sturdy furniture made in Quebec of recycled materials. The furniture can also be used indoors. You saw the photos in the file. It's not a conventional patio set any member of the public can buy. It's special.
The Board of Internal Economy also needs to consider the fact that members in the regions can practise politics differently than those in heavily populated areas. More and more, members have office spaces with access to areas where they can meet with constituents outdoors. For example, my office is in a heritage building with a beautiful large gallery. I might've decided to buy chairs so I could meet with constituents outside, while still on the property where my constituency office is located. I think the member was under the impression that, if he furnished the space, it would give him a place where he could meet with more constituents or where people could eat, while adhering to physical distancing, especially during the pandemic.
Given the cost and the unusual nature of the expense, I see why he should have sought permission first, which he didn't. Nevertheless, I don't think we should be closed to the idea. I'll come back to what Pablo Rodriguez said about setting precedents and members buying barbecues. Let's not forget how much many members spend to put on barbecues for their constituents. It might save taxpayers money if we organized our own barbecues.
All that to say, it's not an idea we should reject out of hand. I don't think the Board of Internal Economy should take an overly conservative view of the matter. It should focus on the fact that practising politics differently also means providing access to spaces that may not have been available a few years ago.
Be that as it may, I realize I'm probably the only one who thinks we should broaden our view of a member's role and the ways they communicate with their constituents.
I know this request is going to be denied, but I want to make clear that I agreed with my fellow member's rationale. We will accept the Board of Internal Economy's decision.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Actually, I want to make sure I understand what this is all about. You're proposing to extend until the end of the fiscal year, March 2021, the suspension of regulations and policy that were supposed to end on June 30.
You also suggest that members of Parliament could communicate information related to COVID-19 through advertisements for food banks, or solicit donations that are related to COVID-19. Having said that, will we also be able to communicate content that is not related to COVID-19 in future parliamentary mailings?
Before the House was suspended, several members had already sent business cards or stationery to the printing department. Will the work of the printing department resume where it left off or will requests related to other aspects be set aside altogether?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
In short, if members have put work on hold, work which was delayed because of the suspension, that work will resume. Do I understand you correctly?
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 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?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right, thank you.
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 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 Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I see the meeting's winding down, Mr. Chair. It's 4:20 p.m., and we had planned to go until 5:00 o'clock.
After your conclusion, would you allow me to ask Mr. Patrice a short question regarding the interpretation of parliamentary subcommittees?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
In fact, according to the last motion adopted last week, parliamentary committees have recovered their usual powers, that is, they can discuss matters other than COVID-19 and other motions, and the subcommittees are back. During the adjustment and transition period, parliamentary committees were instead setting up informal committees, which were the equivalent of subcommittees. Simultaneous translation was also discussed. Even the Bloc Québécois members agreed not to have access to any interpretation.
In light of last week's motion, you will understand that, if committees regain their usual powers, all members must also be able to regain all their privileges in subcommittees, that is, to be able to communicate and be heard in their own language and to hear the language of other members.
Is the House prepared to extend that welcome to all members of Parliament?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I think we've scheduled a meeting of whips this week to come to an agreement on these various organizational matters, because for us it is preferable, and even required, to hold subcommittees with access to interpretation.
There may be some provisions that need to be discussed with the whips so that the committees can be held with access to interpretation this week. So there may be some changes. That's what I understand.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Excuse me, Mr. Rodriguez, you meant to say “interpretation,” didn't you?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
If I may be allowed to draw a brief conclusion, Mr. Chair, I trust the Liberal whip, Mr. Mark Holland, and Mr. Mark Strahl to inform the committee chairs that committee proceedings must now be interpreted.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I have looked over the document that was provided to us. I find that it reflects all the discussions we have had. Above all, it clearly defines the parameters that Ms. Bergen, Mr. Strahl or the rest of the committee wanted, in order to give the team led by Mr. Patrice some direction and guidelines.
I understand the confusion we see in the French version—I don't know the situation in English—from the use of the words: “le BRI créera un sous-comité”. So let's take that out and put “le BRI créera un groupe de travail” instead. With that change, I feel that Mr. Strahl will be more comfortable.
After that, in my opinion, the mandate and the description of the objectives in the French version answer all of our concerns and cover all the guidelines that we would like the House of Commons administration to abide by. So I find the document to be quite complete. If we have forgotten anything, Mr. Holland can add it. Personally, I am very comfortable with it.
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