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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you very much.
With apologies to Claude, who's in a very hot building, and Dominic, whose boat is idling nearby, I do have a number of questions about this. I think this is a very important decision point for us.
First of all, Bruce, you've indicated that you're not running again in the next election, and I would like to express my disappointment. This is my first opportunity to salute your great career. You will be missed whenever that happens—assuming, of course, I'm successful whenever that next election comes. We'll miss you when you do take your well-earned retirement. Perhaps Dominic can host you at his cottage.
I have a couple of questions on the proposed recommendations. It's interesting; these decisions, I find, are always presented with two terrible solutions and one “just right” solution that we seem to be funnelled into. We have that now with the medium option: The porridge is just right.
The medium option is referred to as being 32,600 square metres. Last year when we looked at this, the large option was 27,844 square metres. There is some talk here in the briefing about the net and gross building size, but it appears from the outside that the medium option is now bigger than the previous large option. What am I reading there incorrectly? Can you explain to me whether or not this entire project has grown since the last time we made a decision on it?
That's my first question, Mr. Chair. I do have more. I don't know whether you want me to just rattle off all my questions and have them all handled or do them one at a time.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you for clearing that up.
This builds a bit on Mr. Julian's comments, I think. I understand the visitor experience that Bruce talked about, giving constituents the opportunity to learn more about Parliament when they're below ground, before they're actually brought up into the visitor gallery, etc. I still want to know what functions will be contained in this option.
The costing report prepared for the department this spring said that the recommended option had a number of things. It said it would include public food services, three committee rooms and a multi-purpose room for the Senate. Did that translate over into this option, what was prepared in the costing analysis for the department? Certainly, that would be an expansion of the visitor experience. I don't believe there are public food services.
Again, recognizing that this is a shared building between the Senate and the House, it seems to me that the parliamentary functions that are being proposed here are primarily on the Senate side. Am I correct on that?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Finally, I want to talk a bit about the costing.
The building and construction costs are estimated at $530 million, but a further $203.5 million in various contingencies and escalation has been added, which is about 38% of the cost. Is it normal for nearly 40% to be budgeted for contingencies and escalation? One of the line items, $54 million, is called “escalation to mid-point of construction”. I don't know what that means, and I'd like to understand that.
Again, is it normal for a procurement project to have a 40% escalation clause built into it, and what does that particular “escalation to mid-point of construction” mean?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, did we actually say yes or no to the recommendations in item three? I just want to make sure we didn't have a long conversation for....
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
As long as there is something in here, or there is some direction from us.... My worry is that we create a third body as opposed to creating one. Right now we have BOIE and PROC—we're not even talking about the Senate—and now this. As long as we are clear that this body, this group we are creating, is to replace the current work that is being contemplated by this body and by PROC, that we are not making it so that now PROC will hear from officials, we will hear from officials and the working group will hear from officials.... As long as we are making it clear through the motion and clear in public here today that this group is designed to take those functions away from BOIE and PROC and concentrate it here so there are not now three groups discussing this....
I've expressed this privately, but my worry is that when you get into a subcommittee as opposed to a working group, then you become another.... Subcommittees have rules and procedures and when as opposed to a working group it becomes a subcommittee, I'm worried that we might lose some of that streamlining that we're attempting to get to here.
If there's a way in the motion, or a way for us to make it clear that what we're trying to achieve here is efficiency and not duplication, we'd be in agreement with that.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
I'm worried that using certain terminology, although we might understand what it is, would in effect create more problems than it would solve. A working group is what I would like to call it and then we can be more flexible in how it is structured.
That would be my suggestion.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you very much.
I appreciate the comments by my colleagues—none of whom have senators in their caucus—about how we should just simply tell the Senate how it's going to be.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Mark Strahl: I think that will be challenging, quite frankly.
On that note, who is in charge? Who has the final say on the common elements? For instance, though it is a shared building, we wouldn't have a situation in which we on the House side would say that whatever we need to do, we want six floors. I heard rumours about having to use one of the floors for services, as was indicated previously, and how difficult it would be to run the appropriate wiring and all the rest of it. We couldn't have a situation in which, at the Peace Tower, it went from six to five, or six to seven. Who is in charge of the common elements? I guess that would be the exterior. I don't assume that the interior fixtures will change in the Hall of Honour. Maybe I'm wrong there.
If we know there are common elements, who is making those decisions? I know that senators are very particular about what they want to see. For instance, we've heard that they would like 10 committee rooms on the Senate side. I just pull that out as an example.
I have two questions.
Who ensures the common elements? Will that be coming back to us, or is it going to be that we recommend and they look at it? Is that a whole circular discussion?
Then, is there a challenge function at either the department or somewhere else where, if it is deemed that one of the two occupants of the building is making requests that are simply outside of what is reality, Public Services and Procurement Canada would have a challenge function to say, “You might want that, but it's not going to happen”, or is it always deferring to parliamentarians to have to make those decisions?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
I'm not sure if it's appropriate to ask, Mr. Chair, if you have met with the minister. Have you talked to the minister about this project, the long-term vision and plan? Perhaps at a future meeting it would be productive, while we're discussing this, to have.... As Mr. Patrice has said, this is a government decision. There's a minister responsible for this file. It might be something we discuss. I don't want to put someone on the spot here, but we work through all of these officials, who are doing great work, but the minister is accountable for her department as well. Perhaps she would come here either to give her perspective on this project, as one of her files, or to hear from us once we have developed this working group or the plan from this side, so that we are all on the same page as members of Parliament and the minister.
I think it would be productive. I just throw that out there, as Mr. Holland has, about the timing of a meeting. I think it would be good for us to hear from the minister and to include her and her office as much as possible in this process so that we're not running at cross purposes.
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