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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
All right, then?
Sorry, Mr. Clerk.
Mr. Charles Robert: I'm good with that.
Hon. Geoff Regan: We adopt and approve your recommendation on the strategic plan and move on to number five. This is the use of House resources with respect to a former member's secondary residence.
I will now give the floor to Mr. Paquette, Mr. Dufresne and Mr. Fernandez. 
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2019-05-02 11:50
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here to present the findings of the House Administration's review on the use of House resources by a former member. The review focused on the member's secondary residence and related expenses from 2012 to 2016, while he was still a member.
On January 23, 2019, the Speaker received a letter from a member asking the House Administration to review the use of House Resources by the former member.
The current policies allow the members whose constituency is not located in the national capital region to designate a primary residence in the constituency or in the national capital region, and establish a secondary residence additional to their primary residence. Expenses for the secondary residence may be charged under the travel status expense account. This allows members to defray some of their additional costs of maintaining that secondary residence.
Furthermore, in the current policy, a primary residence is defined as a residence ordinarily occupied by the member, available for the member's occupancy at all times, and its main purpose cannot be to generate income. The current policy also provides criteria to help determine which residency to declare as primary. That is, members must consider various criteria such as which residence they will declare on their income tax returns, in which province they vote, have a health card, a driver's licence and register their vehicle, and what living arrangements they will have for their spouse and dependants.
Although the current policy has been in effect since May 2016, the former member's secondary residence expenses were reviewed while considering the board policies and bylaws that were in effect during the period of 2012 to 2016, which is the period in question when he was a member. Prior to April 2013, the applicable bylaws and policies defined that primary residence as a residence other than a seasonal or recreational dwelling. They did not specify that members had to provide supporting documentation showing their primary residence was their ordinary place of residence or was available for their use at all times. Once having met the requirements outlined by the bylaws, it remained the members' discretion to decide the location of their primary residence.
In June 2015 the board approved several changes to that policy relating to secondary residence and per diem expenses. These changes modernized the residency policy by revising the definition of a primary and secondary residence. They required that members provide that supporting documentation clarifying ownership or rental of their residence. They required that members declare at the start of every parliamentary session any changes and which one of the residences is the primary residence and which one was a secondary residence, and allowed members to claim those secondary expenses only if they maintained a primary residence that meets the definitions that are in the policies.
Finally, at its meeting in 2016 the board approved the criteria to help determine which residency members would declare as their primary residence.
The House administration has reviewed this matter and can report that the former member claimed secondary residence and per diem expenses while in the national capital region, and claimed expenses for travel between Ottawa and his constituency during that same period. The House administration has reviewed all the relevant proof of the primary and secondary residences that supported the expenses claimed by the former member and is satisfied that they all met the requirements that were in effect during that period of time.
The board, however, does have the exclusive authority to determine whether the use of the House resources by the member is or was proper.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation.
View Mark Strahl Profile
First of all, I'd like to thank House administration for their review that found in all time periods and at all times Mr. Kenney abided by all the requirements that were in effect. Quite frankly, this board should be very concerned that this process was engaged for what can only be determined to have been partisan considerations to affect the ability of Mr. Kenney to conduct his campaign to become premier of Alberta, which he did with 55% of the vote in a historic victory in his province.
To think that any member of Parliament, currently sitting or not, could be subject to a partisan investigation request going back, in this case a number of years, based on the flimsiest of evidence by people with partisan interests, I think puts us all at risk, quite frankly, that at some point in the future someone will come to this board demanding an investigation, and that we're now a public body, damages the reputation of a member of Parliament simply being under investigation, a former member of Parliament who is no longer able to defend himself in the House. I think we should be very concerned with that.
Quite frankly, it also questions the integrity and the competence of our independent public servants who evaluate each one of our claims to have 12 or 13 years of those claims suddenly questioned for partisan political purposes. We count on those independent financial management officers to ensure compliance, and when there is not compliance, members are immediately informed and have the opportunity to come into compliance or to pay back monies they should not have charged to taxpayers.
Quite frankly, I think this was a very disturbing case, because we can all play this game. We can go back to times when members of the Liberal Party were found to have been illegally claiming housing allowances. If that's what we want this board to become, where these sorts of things come forward and we turn these things into an opportunity to settle old political scores, this will quickly devolve into a body that is not as it is intended, which is to be a consensus body that looks in a non-partisan way at the governance of this place.
I thank the House administration again for finding very clearly that Mr. Kenney did nothing wrong. I'm just disappointed that we arrived at this point where his name was intentionally dragged through the mud for a number of months for partisan political purposes.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 11:57
Mr. Speaker, I understand the concern. Particularly when in a public forum there are questions about expenses, there is an important need to verify the veracity of those expenses. Sometimes that process yields, as this one did, that the policies were appropriately followed. There's a question with secondary expenses in this instance, whether or not staying in your mom's basement constituted a principal residence.
I think it's important to explore the fact that those questions were out there. There have been instances where members have been found to have not utilized resources appropriately, so when things are raised in a public forum, I think it's important that those matters be vetted.
I'm satisfied with the conclusions here, and effectively those questions are answered in this matter, as far as I'm concerned.
View Candice Bergen Profile
I would concur with what my colleague Mr. Strahl has stated, and the fact that Mr. Holland just said what he did about Mr. Kenney and his mother is, frankly, shameful that we have come to this place at this really important body that has worked in a consensus. I think we have to think very seriously about what happened and how we were a part of it. I think we need to make a decision, regardless of the political party that is trying to attack their opponent, that we cannot go down this route.
I would caution everyone, because we could all play this game. We could start talking about Judy Sgro or Wayne Easter giving their condos to their kids and then charging the taxpayer rent. We could rehash a lot of things, but that is not what we are here to do. I think we need to have a very hard look at this and not go down this route again.
Thank you.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you.
There's no recommendation here. There's nothing else you require from us. I thank colleagues for their comments on this matter.
We now move on to item 6, the use of House resources with respect to a member's designated website.
Mr. Paquette, you may go ahead.
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