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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I had two items of my own, but I'm not sure if I misunderstood what Ms. DeBellefeuille said. Was she suggesting that we put something up for discussion?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
She's just confirming that she's agreed to that.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Thank you, I appreciate that.
I have two things to raise.
The first one is that we have been provided some information with regard to technical incidents, etc., at committees. That brings to mind for me that there has been some discussion around here about fairly significant technical upgrades that are required this summer that would make resources unavailable for a couple of different and fairly lengthy periods of time.
I wondered if we could get a bit more information on what those upgrades entail. Specifically, we've been operating in a hybrid manner and we've seen some challenges with the availability of resources as a result. Particularly in the last couple of days, we've seen the other three whips agreeing to cancel meetings to ensure that certain other committee meetings occur. Of course, that's not something I've agreed to, but it has happened, and obviously it's unfortunate to say the least when we are in situations where committees are not able to do the work they're supposed to do.
I would assume that with vaccination rates rising and whatnot, we'll probably be seeing an end to hybrid sittings of committees within a fairly short period of time, but I am curious about the technical upgrades being done this summer. Are some of them related to hybrid sittings? Are technical upgrades needed for other reasons? Maybe you could just elaborate a bit on what those upgrades are and why they're required. I'm not certain I have enough information.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I do have one other thing that—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
It's fine, we can—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
No, they're separate. I just want you to know that I still want the floor.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, I just have one very short follow-up. I appreciate the information, which is very informative and helpful.
You mentioned that if there were a need for the House to sit, you would make sure it could happen. That's obviously incredibly important.
Would the same apply if there were emergency committee meetings? Would you be able to find a way to make sure they can operate as well?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Sure. I appreciate.
I know you always have done everything you can, so I appreciate that. Thank you for the information.
I have another matter I want to raise quickly.
We have lost or will soon be losing three of the most senior procedural clerks in the House: Colette Labrecque-Riel, Beverley Isles, and as I understand now, André Gagnon. We're going to see his retirement soon. These are three of the most senior people we have. I think there's close to 100 years of combined experience there. One of them, literally, wrote the book on procedure.
First of all, we want to acknowledge and thank them for all of the work and the contributions they have made to this place. However, I suppose it also raises a question on which I want to see if we can get some information brought back to the board. I understand that each of them has at different times been on medical leave in the last few years and then have ultimately decided to retire early. They all strike me as pretty young despite their lengthy years of service, so it seems as though those retirements could be coming a little early. Losing even one of them is a huge loss to this House, but quite frankly, losing three of them is probably an immeasurable loss.
Can we get a report back on whether there has been any work done on determining whether there are any internal factors that have caused such a significant and unexpected turnover? Is there anything being done both to try to mitigate their loss and as to whether there's anything we need to correct to ensure that we're not finding something occurring that's causing three of our more senior people to choose to leave in what I would say seem to be early retirements?
Can we ask that the administration examine that and come back with something on that? If there's any comment now, I'd be happy to hear if anything has been done.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
That's unless there's anything to report now. If not—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Given that, I think it would be good if we could ask that there be.... Any time you lose three senior people, especially when they seem to retire earlier than what would be expected, it's probably wise to examine whether there's anything internal that is at play there. Maybe we need to examine those things and determine whether there's anything we can do to ensure that we don't lose other folks to early retirement like we have these three.
It could well be that, in this case, it's just coincidence that three of our most senior people have all made that decision, but it's always important. I know if I were to lose three senior people from an organization, I would want to examine whether there's anything we need to do to ensure that we don't have further occurrences.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I'll apologize in advance. I do have a number of questions. This has been a significant source of questions from my caucus, so I will apologize to all of my colleagues in advance. I'll try to keep it as brief as I can.
The first question relates to one of the cases that I brought forward, which was partially responsible for the request for this report today. Thank you for the efforts you made to try to find ways to improve some of the services and efficiencies. That is very much appreciated.
The case was about a colleague who ensured that he met all of the guidelines and jumped through the necessary hoops to make sure that he met all of the deadlines to submit a year-end mailing, which did seem to have to be submitted quite early, but he was able to do so. What happened was that the mailing ended up coming far before the end of the year. It was a Christmas-related thing, if I remember correctly, and it arrived way too early to be reasonably seen for Christmas. Obviously, that was a source of issues.
I'm wondering if these changes—I'm pointing to a couple of things you mentioned, like a more personalized approach to delivery times and greater submission flexibility—would apply in this case. I think that's been one of the challenges. What we're talking about there is finding ways for members to ask that it be delivered as soon as it's ready, or they can ask for it to be delivered on a certain date, etc.
Is that what you're driving at with personalized approaches and greater submission flexibility or is there more to that?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Perfect. That's great.
I've been there before, too, where, based on the average window, if I submit it here, it's probably going to arrive around there, and then sometimes it will come a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
In a case like that, a member could now say, for example, that they want this to arrive on November 15. You would tell them that it might not be possible given timelines, or that it was going to be early, that it would be November 15 exactly, or that it would be November 15 or later if you couldn't meet it.
Is that the flexibility we're talking about here? Members could say this is when they'd like it to arrive, and then you would have a conversation about whether or not it could be done?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Perfect. Great. I'm glad to hear it.
I have a couple of other things. I'm going to raise the issue of the elimination of paper proofs. I've heard it from others, but it's been an issue for me personally. I have had times when I've designed something based on the folds and what people will see when they open the first fold, etc. That's a fairly important part of the mailing.
I've had times when the way we've agreed to fold it, even with a paper proof, has not ended up being the way it has been sent, which has caused an issue. I'm concerned, actually, that not having a paper proof could exacerbate that problem. I understand the idea behind it—that it improves efficiency—but I would strongly argue that you should at least leave that option available to people. I know that I still want to see a paper proof to ensure that my fold is correct. I'm not sure how else to really ensure that, so I think you should at least leave the option for members to ask for that. It doesn't have to be an absolute requirement that's sent every time, but if a member wishes to have a paper proof, I think it should still be provided.
Is that something you'd be open to?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
That will be communicated to members so they're aware of that as well?
Okay. That's great. Thank you.
I have one last thing. In regard to the peak periods, when you get overburdened, you're talking about engaging with regional print shops to have some external....
What would be the process to determine which regional print shops those would be? Is that going to be a competitive bidding process? How will you determine when you need to engage the regional print shops?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
So on an ongoing basis you will monitor this, and whenever you see that you're exceeding the nine-day service standard, you will then engage regional print until you can catch up to that standard.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. That's great. Thank you. I really appreciate your report and your answers.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Are we just talking about the trompe l'oeil or are we talking about the presentation?
Okay. In that case, first of all, I will say that I appreciate the option that has been provided here for us. Mr. Julian mentioned that for many people it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come here to Ottawa. I know that certainly the last couple of years in particular have been incredibly hard on the tourism industry. Obviously, anything we can do to not take away further from visitor opportunities and experiences when and if they do choose to come to Ottawa is important. Often when they come to Ottawa, they'll go to other parts of the country as well, so I think it is important, and I appreciate that suggestion.
In regard to some of the other items, there were a number, the welcome centre being one, and there's the light court area, where the Senate seems to be suggesting fairly substantial additional expenditures to accommodate what they say are their needs. I'm not certain that there's agreement that those are necessarily needed. In fact, the minister even has indicated that maybe she doesn't feel there's a need for some of the things the Senate is suggesting.
I'm wondering about that. How does that get resolved? What is done there? It does seem that there are maybe some fairly substantial requests being made there on their part. If there's a feeling amongst many that they're not needed, is there something this board can do to help facilitate appropriate decisions there?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll stay on the list for my other items—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
—but I'll address this point quickly.
I'm supportive of the way the administration has approached this. They've given clerks the option to be there in person if they choose or to be there virtually. I think all people need to be given the choice to do what they feel is safest. It sounds like that's what the administration has done, so I'm supportive of what they have suggested.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I do understand the clarification we received earlier allowing Mr. Holland the opportunity to speak to the matter, because it arose from previous minutes.
Now we're starting to get into some debate and discussion about potential remedies and things like that. I think we are now starting to get into where there would be potential during this discussion and debate about the motion—I don't know if he's made a motion to this effect or what has just happened—where we would be talking about legal matters. Even by establishing the very precedent that we have jurisdiction here as a board, we could be getting into where there are questions that could arise here about asking for legal opinions, etc. I do believe that then falls under what needs to be in camera.
I'm not certain, but my suspicion is that now, at this point, it probably is best to defer that to the in camera portion of the meeting. I'll seek some guidance on that, but it seems to me that it's probably the best course of action there.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm suggesting that we get some better guidance. At this point, because we need to establish.... It's actually a legal matter to even establish whether we have jurisdiction here. There are many questions that arise then that could, in fact, fall into what the law clerk was telling us would then be the in camera portion, based on the decision made before the meeting that that would be where the discussion should take place.
I'm not suggesting that we move in camera now, but perhaps that this be deferred to the in camera portion where it was originally intended to be discussed, because I think we are now getting into.... Mr. Holland was able to make his comments, because we weren't falling into the discussion about jurisdictional and legal issues. A lot of the discussion that might now flow, I think, would be a better fit into the in camera portion. We will start to get into some pretty grey areas otherwise, right?
That's what I'm suggesting, that we defer it until its scheduled as part of an in camera meeting.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
If I could add to that, because I think I still have the floor, Mr. Speaker, I can certainly imagine that there are some questions of a legal nature that I would have in order to establish where we should be going with this. I would imagine others will probably be in the same boat, because there are many questions about what we can and can't do that I would want to have answers to, and I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one.
That's why I made the suggestion that that's probably what we should be doing.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm, I think, almost completely in agreement with what Mr. Julian just indicated.
I understand that your thought, Mr. Speaker, had been potentially to go in camera to ask legal questions about Mr. Lemire's possible appearance here, and then come back and make a decision. However, I think that's a difficult way to approach it, frankly. Mr. Julian has outlined quite well how there are a number of different potential remedies, different aspects to this that are also tied together, and I think it's difficult to make a decision about potentially just one part of what the discussion would be. I don't see how that would work practically.
I think the administration suggested what they did for a reason, and I do think we have a number of other agenda items that we would deal with far more quickly than we would with this one. They have laid it out in such a way that I think it does work best for this meeting, and it would also allow us to ensure that we don't start to get into areas where.... It might be difficult to make this decision without getting into some of the other discussions about this matter, and there are a lot of legal questions related to this.
If you look at the section of the Parliament of Canada Act that governs what the term “in camera” means, one of the other matters relates to security. When we start to talk about some of the things that we would be looking to follow up with regard to Mr. Lemire, I think those delve into that area as well. So I think we're getting into a couple of different areas where we would have difficulty discussing this without being in camera—even to follow the Parliament of Canada Act.
I really do believe that, as Mr. Julian has indicated, we should follow the agenda that's been set out and recommended by the administration, rather than trying to differ from that and deal with one piece of one item separately. I just don't think it makes any sense, Mr. Speaker.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I do, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Holland asked at what point do we make a decision. Well, it's at the point where we've been able to gather all of the information that needs to be gathered, at the point at which we have asked all of the appropriate questions that we need to ask and are able to make an informed decision about what the appropriate course of action will be.
What all of us, other than Mr. Holland, are asking for here is that we have the opportunity to do that.
Putting anyone in a position of having to vote on something without having all of the information, without having all of the questions answered, and without having the legal advice that might be required to do so puts everyone here in a very unfair position. It puts everyone in the position of voting on something they're not prepared to vote on because they don't have all of the information required.
What I think all of us are asking for here is to have the proper opportunity to have those discussions and to get the legal advice we're asking for. Nobody is necessarily seeking to deny the request; it's simply to make sure that we have the appropriate information and answers before us before we make a decision. Otherwise, everyone is put in an incredibly difficult position.
I certainly would agree with what Mr. Julian said earlier: That is the way this board operates. It's the way it should operate, and we should all be taking our partisan hats off. I think if everyone were to really look at that principle, they would understand that it is exactly what everyone here is seeking to do. I think calling for a vote when you are fully aware that people are not prepared to make a decision because they haven't had a chance to get all of the information they need to do that, not having had the in camera portion of the meeting, cannot be seen as anything other than partisan, Mr. Speaker, and that's really unfortunate. It would put us all in the awkward position of going to a vote on which we would much rather be fully informed, and of making an unfortunate decision.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I know that I was—and I believe others were—speaking to that very point.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I understand and I think what we're saying is that there are pieces that tie all together. I think to make a decision about one element of this just won't work. I appreciate the suggestion and I know you're trying to get there, but I don't think—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker.
Again, I find myself in agreement with Mr. Julian here.
On the suggestion being made now—and I have spoken of this a couple of times—the problem is that we're taking one element of a discussion and pulling it out of the discussion, and it just doesn't work that way. There are implications for other parts of the discussion on this. To try to pretend that you can pull out the one element and have a discussion about it and then vote on it, and then come back later to what the administration has suggested we do—which is to have the full discussion in camera, with the ability to ask the legal questions, etc., and then make decisions about the matter more fulsomely—I don't see the logic in that. It doesn't do this important matter justice.
I noted the examples used, I think by Mr. LeBlanc, from previous Parliaments, where there were in fact some votes that occurred. I believe I know the circumstances, and it was simply a matter of one party seeking to avoid being sanctioned, I guess, for what the board was finding as wrongdoings.
When we're talking about something like that, I can understand and appreciate why there might be a need to remove the principle of consensus that we operate, if it's just a matter of someone trying to protect themselves. We're not talking about something like that here. We're talking about three parties all agreeing that we need to follow the suggestions that the administration has made and have a proper discussion about a matter and move forward with the agenda as presented by us.
That is very different from what those examples were. To differ from the idea of consensus here on something like that, where you have three parties all in agreement that we need to do things the way they've been suggested by the administration, and one party is suggesting we disregard the advice we've been given and proceed to break up a matter into little chunks and deal with it separately, is not the same thing, in any way.
It puts everyone here in a very difficult position, because we all want to try to do this in the appropriate way, have all the facts, and to make sure that all of the questions are answered and deal with this fulsomely. We're being put in a position here where the expectation is to do otherwise. I just think that's very unfortunate, and not a good precedent.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. With all of the extended debate that occurred around that, I actually had my hand up to deal with something related to the business arising from the previous meeting.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I think I just got lost because of the fact that there was such a long discussion there that flowed from the first person to put their hand up.
If you don't mind, it really is a brief comment and a quick question.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
From the previous meeting, I had made the suggestion that we seek to have you send letters to Quebec and Ontario ministries of health to make sure that we can have vaccinations for essential workers here in Parliament.
I see that what you have done is written to the federal Minister of Health, which so be it, I suppose. However, I wonder if you had a response to that letter and if you can share that with us.
Obviously it's critical that we ensure that these workers who are essential to the functioning of our Parliament and our seat of democracy here have the opportunity to be considered essential workers and get their vaccinations so we can keep them safe.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker.
I have just a couple of questions. I'll start first with the area of mental health and wellness and then I'll move to professional development.
On the mental health and wellness front, maybe it's in the evaluation you've done here and I missed it, but it's a fairly extensive list of mental wellness initiatives that are available to employees and to members.
Have you identified anything, when you compare it to what would typically be available in either the private sector or elsewhere, that you would see as typical mental health resources that members or members' employees wouldn't be eligible for, either by being reimbursed through their MOB or through their employee health plans, etc.? Have you identified anything that are gaps based on comparable options available to the private sector?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I was going to ask that question, because I think that's a problem that is not just specific to us. It seems to me I hear that from people, whether they are constituents or other folks I talk to. Getting access to those services seems to be a general problem across this country. That certainly isn't specific to us. I do appreciate that.
With regard to the mindfulness sessions, I don't know about the other caucuses, but obviously Mr. Holland indicated that his caucus has engaged in them. Are those currently something that can be paid for under parliamentary budgets or by the individual MPs or caucuses to have their employees involved through some kind of House officer's budget or otherwise? Is that something that is currently able to be paid for? How are those being conducted?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I know you're not the ones offering it, but Mr. Holland has indicated that at least their caucus has in fact conducted these sessions. Have they been able to use parliamentary budgets to pay for those? Is that something that would be eligible under a parliamentary budget currently?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
If you can answer it, Mark, that's great.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
So those are parliamentary resources you're able to access now, or not?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. I just wanted to know whether or not that was something that could be done currently.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you. I appreciate that, Mark.
On the professional development side, I would assume that other caucuses do this as well, but I know that within our caucus we do provide pretty extensive professional development for our members and employees—different professional development training sessions, briefing sessions, etc. I'm wondering whether in your survey of opportunities currently available to members and their employees some of those robust offerings, of which you have given us some examples here, were taken into account.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Maybe it's unique to our caucus. I don't know. I'd assume and hope it's not. Certainly there are a host of professional development opportunities provided within caucuses themselves. You've laid out some examples of professional development opportunities. I'm just wondering if that's been factored in and taken into consideration in that survey you've done.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I think I was hearing from you that you believe there's a pretty extensive list of things that are available. Possibly, it might be a good thing occasionally to come to this board and seek suggestions for things that could be added to your list.
Setting that aside for a second, there seems to be some suggestion that maybe we add a dedicated portion of the MOB for professional development. I'm not clear on whether the issue of getting professional development opportunities to people is in fact a lack of financial resources available to members. I would assume, given there's an extensive list of opportunities that you provide that, from my understanding, can be charged to the MOB.... Is there a financial barrier to MPs to provide these things or is there some other reason they're not being provided to employees?
The question would be how many MPs are spending right to their cap? Maybe that's why they're squeezing these things out. How many MPs are squeezing within $10,000 of the cap of their MOB? I'm trying to determine if a financial barrier actually exists or not. It may not be a need to provide more dollars to the MOB in order to facilitate these things. There may be another problem.
I understand the problem that we're trying to fix. I certainly support the idea that we would want to try to ensure that professional development opportunities are available to employees and members where needed. I'm trying to determine if we're actually hitting the right problem in the way we're trying to solve it. I don't know if you have that kind of information. If you don't, maybe we can get it.
How many MPs are currently squeezed right up to the cap on their MOBs? How many are within $10,000?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess it depends on what part of that range they'd be in, if it's closer to the $18,000. We're talking about less than 25%, obviously. It could be 10% or 15%. I'm just trying to get a sense of whether that's the barrier here.
I think I'm hearing that it may be a barrier for some members. We all have to make choices about how we use our resources. I guess that's no different than anywhere else. It doesn't sound to me like it's a huge issue when you have less than a quarter who are.... It would be a barrier in those cases. It could be a matter of prioritizing.
That answers my question. Thank you.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I hear Mark's point that unless there are dedicated resources for something, it doesn't happen. We do have, within our MOBs now, dedicated portions for certain things. We're not talking about an extensive problem of MPs who cannot seem to do anything within their budget. That's not the issue. It's the idea of dedicating funds toward it.
Perhaps $10,000 is the right dollar amount to start with, or maybe it's $5,000 or $2,000 that Claude is suggesting, whatever it might be. Rather than adding to the budget, we would dedicate a portion within the existing budget. That would sort of deal with the issue of making sure that something is dedicated, without adding to the budget. It doesn't sound like there's a need to do that in order to accomplish this. As Mark said, it's a matter of dedicating funds toward it.
Whether it's a percentage of the budget or a dollar figure, however we want to do it, perhaps we can do it that way, where we make the suggestion that it's $5,000 or 1%. Whatever it is, that amount would be dedicated from the existing budget toward professional development.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Is that to allow this discussion to finish? Is that what you are saying?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Just for this item, yes.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks.
I'm not opposed to the idea here, as I think I've indicated already. It's something that I know I certainly do within my office, and I think it's a great thing for others to do. I'm also aware that, as employers, we make our own decisions. I sort of hate the idea that we start to get prescriptive about how people spend their office budgets. I like the idea of enabling this. I don't even mind the idea of dedicating funds, but I think that if we start to say, “Okay, we're going to add this much to your budget for this", then what comes next, right? It gets to the point where we're starting to be very prescriptive about how people spend.
All MPs make decisions accordingly. For example, we have a dedicated portion of our budget for advertising now. I choose not to advertise; I don't spend that money. I believe there are better ways to utilize my MOB. Others make different decisions, and that's fine. I just don't like the idea of our starting to get into dedicating a bunch of things to....
I like the idea of professional development. I don't mind the idea of considering setting it aside, because I agree that sometimes if it's not set aside, it doesn't get used for something, but I don't like sort of, “Here's a pool for this, and here's a pool for that”.
My thinking is that I maybe just don't have quite enough information at this point. I understand where Mark's coming from with people in areas where constituency lease costs are high in large ridings where they have to have more than one office and things like that. Often, then, people are spending to the cap. That is why they're doing it. If that's the problem, perhaps we need to look at that and whether those supplements for some of those areas are done appropriately or in the right way.
I would just like to get a bit more information before I make a decision on this. For the 25% that are more than 95%, can we break that down a little better? How many are within $5,000 of their cap? How many are within $10,000 of their cap? Then we'd have some sense of what we're talking about there. I'm not suggesting that I'm opposed to this. I just don't think I have quite enough information to make a decision that I would want to add to MPs' budgets at this point.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, I just have one quick comment, Mr. Speaker.
I had a very brief conversation with Mark about this, and certainly, as I indicated at this meeting, I think it's a good discussion to have. I'm supportive of the idea of making sure that professional development is provided, but we never did get into any detail.
I'm happy to do that, but I'll still ask for the the information I've just asked for. It would be helpful to me in knowing the appropriate way to approach this. If we could still ask the administration to provide the information about how many MPs are spending right to the cap, how many are within $5,000 of the cap and how many are within $10,000, that would be very helpful to me.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks.
With the sort of analysis that was done, I noted that it was focused on instances and some of the numbers. I have two questions. First of all, I notice that the largest category was “not significant” as a reason. I'm not sure what would fall into that category. I'm curious what would fall under that category.
Secondly, I think the issue is more about the use of resources in terms of the amount of time that's used, rather than the number of instances. In many cases, when you're talking about an extended bit of debate, what you're talking about is maybe that you accommodated the full round of questioning, so the meeting went over by a few minutes. I don't think that's really what we're talking about that stretches the resources. We're talking about when there are filibusters or things like that, which drag a meeting on for hours beyond its end.
I would be really curious to see these categories broken down, rather than by instances where they have occurred, by the number of hours for which they've occurred. I think that would be far more telling in terms of what is actually a drag on the resources.
Is that something you could go back and do, to provide that information? I think that would be far more useful to both us as the board and to the committee chairs as well.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you. That would be much appreciated.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Just on item number 3, I know it was removed. I just wondered why. I believe it was one party that asked. I don't know if someone could provide us an update, whoever it was who asked for it to be removed, as to why it was removed.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
There are two things. I have a follow-up to some of Madame DeBellefeuille's questions.
In regard to some of the incidents you had with the interpreters with injuries and whatnot, I notice that 65 incidents were reported in the first six months and there have only been 16 in the last six months.
Has that decline continued? Has the number plateaued? What do we attribute that to? Is it just better use of the headsets?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
On a percentage basis, it's an even better decrease. That's good news.
The other thing I wanted to touch on is the resources for committee meetings and other items. In that area, you've expressed some concerns about arriving at a point where we may get to a bit of a breaking point, for lack of a better way of putting it, in use of resources. I'm really concerned about that. I wanted to probe a little bit about it.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and probably even more so after prorogation, we've seen a bit of a trend toward longer meetings and ones that are running more than 15 minutes, or even longer, beyond the projected time they would end.
I'm wondering if you've done any analysis of the reasons behind that increase or trend toward longer meetings. We've noticed a lot of Liberal filibusters at committee, for example. Have you tracked that and done an analysis on how much of that is being driven by the Liberal filibusters that are happening at committees to try to delay business?
If those filibusters were to end, what kind of a difference would that make to resource allocations and making this a little bit more manageable?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I appreciate that.
I can see how it might appear that I'm trying to get partisan here. That's not the case. A lot of filibustering is taking place. My concern is that when that happens.... You're telling us that resources are sort of at a breaking point. I'm trying to figure out how much of that is actually a result of the filibusters and how much of that is just an issue of not being able to keep pace with the committees. If it's not being able to keep pace, it's a different issue than if it were as a result of filibusters, which are avoidable and preventable.
I'm trying to get a sense of this. I'm hearing that maybe you haven't analyzed how much of it is actually due to filibusters and how much of it is due to the sheer volume of meetings. Is that what I'm hearing?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Is that something that you, maybe, would analyze? I would suggest that it might be a good idea to analyze that because, obviously, it's a different.... We're looking at a different problem if it's literally just that we can't keep up with the number of meetings—because we have to ensure that we can do that—versus if it's an issue of filibusters. That's a little less inside your control. That's why I suggest it.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Great. That would be appreciated. Thank you.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Sorry, Mr. Speaker, could I interject before we move on?
To be clear, they've asked me to put it closer to my mouth.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
No, no, I appreciate that.
I had a phone call. They asked me to put it closer, so I moved it based on that. I just wanted to make sure that I hadn't moved it to the wrong place.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. I'll try to adjust it just a little bit.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks for the presentation, and I appreciate the attention this has received. I think an important matter was raised. I'll ask a question and make a suggestion at the same time.
I'm wondering if this fully captures the aspect of military personnel and their dependants. I assume that in your consideration this would include military personnel outside of Canada. That's a question. But what about those within Canada who would be stationed on a base outside of the constituency where they are electors? I'm wondering if this captures them. It doesn't seem that it would.
I have a suggestion to make. In points one and two you talked about adding addressed mail, the householder or constituency mailings for constituents living outside Canada. That's how you've termed it. I wonder if we could make it “constituents living outside of the electoral district” or something like that, because although it would capture, I assume, military members and their dependants who are stationed outside of Canada, I'm not certain that it would capture those posted on a base within Canada who are electors elsewhere. I want to make sure they are captured as well. I think it's important to ensure that all of our military personnel are receiving the same opportunity to get communications from their MPs.
Would the suggestion I've made capture all of those people, or do you believe you've already done so?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Do you think the suggestion I'm making would capture all of them, or do you have another suggestion?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, good point. I'd like to see us capture that. I'll make that suggestion. If other members are willing to consider that, I think it's important to include those people as well.
I have something else, but I think what I'm going to do is lower my hand, Mr. Speaker, and raise it again so that we can deal with this particular aspect. I have a question that relates to printing and mailing, but I think it's better that we have this discussion first. I will raise my hand to bring that up afterwards.
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