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Results: 1 - 60 of 141
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, Mr. Chair, I will. Thank you very much.
Today I'm joined by my colleague Kelly Block, as well as Peter Julian, who is also a representative on this working group.
For your background information, the working group met on June 4 and June 11 to review the proposed governance structure and initiate engagement on the Centre Block rehabilitation project. The House of Commons administration provided an overview of the long-term vision project, or LTVP, and background on consultations and approvals to date.
The working group discussed the governance structure and agreed on the mandate. The working group was formed as requested by the BOIE with a view to provide engagement with members on requirements and oversight on the Centre Block project and LTVP. The working group will report to the board to provide updates on the rehabilitation project and make recommendations as required. The working group will help guide and inform consultations and engagement with members and stakeholders.
For the development and implementation of the LTVP, guiding principles that we will work under were developed at various milestones. We reviewed those established principles and we propose an updated set of guiding principles that are appropriate for Parliament with regard to the Centre Block rehabilitation. We would seek BOIE's endorsement of the following principles.
Centre Block’s primary purpose is to accommodate the two Houses of Parliament. It is first and foremost a workplace for parliamentarians, and the design and operational requirements of the building must take those needs into consideration.
The Centre Block rehabilitation—
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
My understanding was that you had received a fair amount of information on this project already.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
The Centre Block rehabilitation project will aim to enhance the operations of Parliament from a functional and technological standpoint to ensure that the infrastructure continues to meet evolving requirements for the proper functioning of Parliament.
The CB rehabilitation project will work to ensure public participation in the work of Parliament, with continued access to chamber proceedings, question period and committee work, as well as to enhance and expand opportunities for public outreach by creating spaces that complement the historic building.
The CB rehabilitation project will explore options for universal accessibility and interconnectivity between buildings on the parliamentary campus via an underground tunnel system and supporting infrastructure.
The CB rehabilitation project will continue to create a balance of accessibility to Parliament and a secure environment.
The CB rehabilitation project will strive to restore the significant heritage fabric of the building as originally designed and built, and to update all engineering and life-saving systems to comply with contemporary expectations of wellness, safety, sustainability and universal accessibility in support of parliamentary functions.
Decisions regarding the future of Centre Block will be guided by the principles of fiscal responsibility and the conscientious use of resources, while taking into account the value placed on restoring historical heritage spaces.
At our working group's initial meeting, we were provided with an overview of the project plan and the roles of the various stakeholders. This complex project is being delivered following a fast-track methodology consisting of many overlapping activities. In this process, early decisions need to be made while requirements are still being developed. This risk is managed through a process of layered decisions that allow flexibility.
Going forward, we will be looking at detailed requirements for key functions in Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre complex to ensure that building functions reflect the operations of Parliament and the members' needs in our workplace.
In terms of immediate activities for Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre, it has been determined that there are two items that require endorsement at this time: the excavation contracting strategy for the visitor welcome centre and the construction hoarding. The working group has reviewed the options and brings forward our suggestions for the BOIE's consideration.
The visitor welcome centre requirement, or VWCC, was established in the 1999 document “Building the Future”. The concept was established and approved by the BOIE, COIE and cabinet in 2006 and reconfirmed in 2009 and 2011. Requirements for the VWCC phase 2 are still under development and will require the working group's validation and further BOIE approval. To ensure that the CB project maintains momentum, an early decision on the excavation contracting strategy is required.
The working group was presented with three options for the excavation strategy for phase 2 of the proposed visitor welcome centre. All options considered the following implications: security, visitor experience, parliamentary functional requirements and cost.
While it was clear to us that excavation is required to accommodate base building requirements, we were of the view that other expressed requirements should be assessed and decided upon after the election.
Accordingly, the working group recommends going forward with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scaled down or up depending on decisions with respect to allow actual requirements beyond machinery and equipment.
The second item is the construction hoarding. This site plan indicates roughly the maximum area for the construction site, which includes the Centre Block; the anticipated approximation of where the VWCC will require excavation; and room for construction trailers, material laydown and heavy equipment mobility. The black line indicates the approximate location proposed for the construction hoarding, leaving approximately half the front lawn for public access and for activities to continue throughout the project implementation.
Installation of the construction hoarding is planned to start in the fall of 2019.
The working group was presented with three hoarding options for consideration.
The working group recommendation is a hoarding design that reflects the architecture of Centre Block, displaying images and interpretive text about the project and Parliament for visitors. This would be maintained over the lifespan of the rehabilitation project.
This option provides a cost-effective fencing for the construction site and a visitor experience while the Centre Block is rehabilitated.
The recommendations before you today from our working group are, first, to proceed with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scalable down or up, depending on decisions with respect to actual requirements.
The working group also recommends proceeding with hoarding on the front lawn with large monochromatic photos or illustrative drawings on the front face and with ornamental black fencing for the remainder of the perimeter.
Joining me and Ms. Block at the table here today are some of the appropriate people from the various departments working on this project.
Ms. Block, do you have anything you want to add?
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
I understand the rationale from departmental officials as to why it's important to move forward with the recommendations that we have before you today: in order not to lose time, and so on and so forth. It leaves us with post-election opportunities to reflect on ups and downs and so on.
Certainly I would like to see clarification on the roles and expectations for the three of us, who are representing different parties. I don't want to receive a complicated document and be asked for a decision in 48 hours and then go to you with a recommendation that we really haven't had time to be fully engaged in.
I love the suggestion. As Ms. Bergen said, these are the kinds of ideas that we thought we may be dealing with. We did not expect, with a limited amount of time, to be coming to you with recommendations to this extent.
I think we all understood why we needed to go forward today in a short period of time, but I certainly would appreciate some clarification of the role of the working group in the future and the board's expectations of us.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want you to know that we appreciate the board agreeing to include our recommendation for additional broadcasting resources and options for committees in the next Parliament as part of your agenda today.
I'm joined by Eric Janse, Stéphan Aubé and Ian McDonald from the House administration.
As many of you have known, there have been growing challenges around access to the limited resources broadcast committee proceedings on video. As a result, many committee chairs and members feel that committees do not always get the attention they would like for the important work they do on behalf of Canadians.
In addition, if additional video streams for committee meetings were added, closed captioning would be included, increasing access to committee proceedings for even more Canadians. As there have not been changes to the existing broadcasting resources since 2001, I think it's probably time.
As a result, the liaison committee recently saw a presentation on a web broadcasting option for committee meetings, and the committee fully supported this initiative as a way of increasing access.... Am I going too fast for you, Ian?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:46
I do think that the situation that was identified was very unusual, in that the job continues whether or not you're a parent. There's an expectation that you will continue to represent the riding. There are not really a lot of analogous situations where somebody has a child and is on maternity leave, but then is still expected to work. There isn't an apples to apples type of comparison that can be made here.
In a general sense, I think that the comments that we shouldn't have anything that would be seen to be greater than what would be available to our constituents are ones that I'm moved by. I don't know what exactly that number is. I'm open to proposals. I think Madam Chagger perhaps has an idea.
I think that we have to be careful about expectations. You can imagine that a minority government may only sit 18 months, and if you say that somebody has 13 months during which they can be absent from the chamber, that could be quite challenging in establishing an expectation. The numbers as they are, I think, are a little generous. I think we have to come up with something perhaps a little different than what's on the table.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for the comments and the work you've done in making your proposal.
I do know that in Ontario, the average working person who is paying into EI would receive their EI benefit at 55% or 60%—whatever it is. I know that we've now extended benefits so that the secondary parent, or however you want to refer to them, can also take up to six months.
I do believe that if we want to adhere to the logic—which I think is well received—that members of Parliament not be better off than our constituents, perhaps offering a time that is proportionate to that benefit would be suitable.
I know Minister Gould has written a letter with a recommendation of four months. I'd even be comfortable with five months, or five and a half months, less than six months, just on the point that Mr. Holland has made as well.
I would like to throw some numbers out, because I think it would be important for us to offer a recommendation in response to what PROC has asked for. I think that would allow us to take a step in the right direction. Currently, there are no benefits when it comes to paternity leave, which is not okay if we're really trying to change the dynamics of the House of Commons and so forth.
I really do like Mr. Strahl's idea of having a box added, regardless. I think that if it's additional time, they should be able to say that it's paternity leave. If somebody is needing to take a day off because of a sick child, they should be able to say that, because you're not ill when you're taking care of your children.
It is really important, and we do need to shed some positive light in that world. So, I will throw out a number that's closer to Minister Gould's recommendation. I would be more comfortable with a period of between four and five and half months, but less than six months.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:52
I completely concur with that timeline. I'd just make the observation that—because I also agree with Mr. Strahl—on the surface of it, you could leave the policy as was and it would seem as though the policy would be equal to what employees have today. In other words, the penalty is not all that large—8% is not that significant.
The real issue is what we're broadcasting as acceptable. When you're charged, it isn't necessarily about the fact that you are having a reduction; it's kind of broadcasting that you're doing something wrong—that you're not attending the House and, therefore, you're being penalized.
Conversely, if we say that you can have a year, then people are going to think that it is—excuse me, it's not a year; we're talking about 13 months.... People are going to come into the job, become pregnant and then say now they can disappear for 13 months—if we put the policy in—and I don't think that's appropriate, given the nature of the work and the demands of the House, particularly if there's a minority government time frame.
I think having that period of four to six months—which is recommended as a minimum by international labour standards—is appropriate. It broadcasts that we do want to encourage members to be able to have children and families while they conduct this work. But it gives some parameters around what those expectations are, so that if somebody decides to take on this employment, then they will know what they're facing and what those expectations would be.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:57
I think you raise an excellent point with respect to the position that a party could be in, and not only in a minority situation. You could have a very thin majority situation where the numbers would be impacted by members' having families. Therefore, as much as we have a policy in place, the policy effectively becomes irrelevant because the party's going to exert enormous pressure on those individuals to come back and be present for votes that might precipitate an election.
I don't know, and maybe it's a question I could ask, because I don't think we can force pairing. You could have a sort of gentleman's agreement or an agreement in principle, but I don't believe there's any way to compel parties to observe that. For example, I think it would be entirely appropriate to have mandatory pairing, but I don't think there's any way of enforcing that. Am I correct in that?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:59
The point that would make, first of all, is there's an expectation at PROC that we're going to give them some sort of direction. I think that's important.
I'm very sensitive, Ms. Bergen, to the points you're raising. I think that the issue of pairing, of being able to assure that you're not creating a precarious situation in the chamber as a result of these policies, has to be considered. In its absence, it would frankly render this policy irrelevant, because it doesn't matter whether or not we say that somebody can be on maternity leave if there is a circumstance where their vote is demanded or there's going to be an election. We know what's going to happen.
I don't think that any policy we recommend....There has to be something, and if we can make it in such a way that we can be assured that it would be enforced, I think we should look at it.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just to confirm, Mr. Julian, you're stating that you're comfortable with this recommendation in its entirety.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think that's great as well, then.
I just want to say that I do think this work has been done. PROC has studied this matter. They've asked this table, this board, for a recommendation. I think a unanimous recommendation should be offered to members of PROC. Then they would be able to table their report and it could be concurred in with all-party support and we would have movement.
I think we're recognizing that this is definitely a conversation that has many different layers, and those conversations have to start somewhere. This is a step that I think needs to be taken. I think it speaks volumes. Those other conversations can definitely take place. I would totally support Mr. Julian's comments in saying that this should be the recommendation that we offer to PROC.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 12:06
Yes, I concur with that. I'm comfortable moving forward on that basis.
I don't want to slow this down because I understand the need to make a recommendation to PROC and that it can make a decision quickly, and that we have a limited amount of time in our calendar. Perhaps in the future, however, I'd like to be able to address the issue of pairing and gaining assurance that there's actually a means to protect that leave. That also is in a situation of serious illness, right? We've seen this before when somebody is in very poor condition and they're being brought back into the chamber to vote because otherwise it would precipitate an election. To me that seems to me an unfair circumstance, and it's certainly unfair that somebody would be pulled. It makes sense that they're going to be doing work in their riding and are continuing to be in the riding, but to be pulled back in that period, I think, is problematic. I think if we could have that looked at and perhaps have something come back to us, then we could make a recommendation to PROC—
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 12:07
Okay. My problem is that I don't know what that mechanism is. I don't necessarily want to slow this process down, but I would be interested in understanding what tools would be at our disposal to be able to effect that—so that people who are on a serious medical leave are not in a situation where they're being dragged out of a hospital bed and into the chamber. If we could have something that assured that pairing were present.... I think it's a good time to have that conversation, frankly, because we're not in a heightened situation at the immediate moment with a minority government where there could be a very tight vote.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I want to raise the issue of maternity and paternity leave for MPs. On March 1, I wrote to you in your capacity as chair of the board and asked that BOIE be seized with this issue. Members of PROC had released a report in November 2017 entitled “Support for Members of Parliament with Young Children”. The committee recommended that changes be made to the Parliament of Canada Act to add that pregnancy and paternal leave be reckoned as a day of attendance of the member.
We took action with Bill C-74 and the budget implementation act. The PROC report was basically asking for guidance from the House of Commons administration for the purpose of implementing new rules, terms and conditions and/or modifying the current rules, terms and conditions that apply to members who are pregnant or on parental leave.
I'd also like to acknowledge that there was a supplementary report from the official opposition to the PROC report, which recommended that politicians not be put in a better position than their constituents. I think it would be appropriate for the House administration, when developing options, to factor in both the report and the supplementary report.
I'm hoping that the board will agree to ask the House administration to prepare some options that could be considered by both the board, as stewards of the House of Commons, and the committee on options for members who are pregnant or on parental leave.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I appreciate that.
PROC has already released a report asking for recommendations. That's why I'm bringing it back to this table, to ask the House administration to prepare those options now that there has been a report by PROC members as well as the supplementary report. I think both reports should be considered when preparing those options, but I do believe that options should be prepared, being mindful of the situations and the legislation passed.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
PROC released a report in November 2017 asking for recommendations.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
There has also been a supplementary report to ensure that members are not put in a better position than constituents. I believe that should be factored into providing recommendations to the board as stewards of—
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
To clarify, if I may, Mr. Chair, yes, PROC has asked for recommendations. I, as a member of this board, would also like to see those recommendations.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would say that the legislation responded to the request of PROC. Now we just need options as to how we proceed.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would definitely consider that. I do believe, since PROC is asking for recommendations, that they should be responded to. Since BOIE is a consensus body, if we could look at the recommendations, we might be able to develop consensus and be able to move this along, which I think is important to do.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
To reference Ms. Bergen's comments, if, as they're being prepared, they want to keep our teams in the loop, it might make for a smoother process to see if we're close or not.
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 Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:04
Mr. Speaker, I have some sympathy for this because I think the rules are somewhat opaque right now. Things have evolved such that there's a number of different online fora that people can advocate for the work that they're doing in Parliament. It becomes complicated when you have something like a free website or a website that is paid for by an electoral district association, or a Facebook page which is provided completely free, or an Instagram page, where you're talking about your work. But then, when you drive traffic to it, I think that becomes the issue.
I think we're going to have to be clear on where that boundary is. I recommend setting in place fines but on a prospective basis once we've made these rules very clear. I'll suggest to you where I think the difference lies.
If your electoral district association pays for your website and that website simply talks about your work as a parliamentarian and it can also talk about your work in the constituency on a partisan basis, I think there's no problem. When you put that into a householder or when you use House resources to advertise that, then you're using House resources to promote it and therefore to drive traffic to something that could raise money, drive people to fundraisers or things of that nature. I think that is the concern here, if I understand it.
If I were to go one step further—and I think this a more salient point that isn't addressed here—if we take a look at a medium like Facebook and you use your House of Commons resources to buy targeted Facebook ads to get more people to like your Facebook page, then you subsequently use the people who have been added to that Facebook page as a result of House resources targeting those people to then invite them to a fundraiser or invite them to a nomination meeting or a rally for an election purpose, then this is where I think we have a problem. If you're using House resources to promote something, that then pulls it into the domain of being a vehicle of your job as a parliamentarian and therefore it has the usual restrictions around not being able to use it to promote fundraisers and things of this nature, it's an important boundary to keep. This is particularly in view of the fact that a lot of advertising is moving in that direction.
I don't think it's particularly clear to members, as it would not have been to Mr. Angus, that, hey, look, my EDA is paying for their website so no one should be hassling them about this. The answer is that they're using House resources to promote it. I think we have to be very clear with that, and it has to extend beyond websites. Giving anything in the way of a punishment up to this point would be unfair because it is not as clear as I think it needs to be. On a prospective basis, we need to be very clear and we should have fines. I suggest that they be escalating because if the fine is small enough, then somebody can say that it's worth it. If they can add 10,000 people to their Facebook and they can do a lot of fundraising off it, then frankly, it's worth some small fine.
That would be my recommendation: to come back with fines on a prospective basis that would be escalating and a policy that would relate to more than websites but also include Instagram, Facebook or other digital channels that people could use, where they would use House resources to promote it. That line has to be drawn exceptionally clearly.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:13
I'll try to cut the line. I agree that it's difficult. I think that members of Parliament who are going to have Facebook pages are going to have other sorts of digital presence, and that's fully appropriate, and it's obviously fully appropriate to be partisan as well, including fundraising and organizing of events, so I'm not suggesting that at all.
The line that I'm drawing, and I'll just be very explicit to make the point, is, let's say I took $5,000 of House resources, advertising, and paid for targeted Facebook ads to drive up the number of people who are following me on Facebook. Then I work with my EDA with those new people who have just been added as a result of the budget that I've taken from the House of Commons to drive up my numbers to promote a fundraiser in my riding. I'm then deriving a direct benefit from the utilization of House resources.
The line I would draw is to say that, if you use a Facebook page or a digital medium, and you drive traffic to it, so in other words, you buy that traffic or you promote it in a householder or a ten percenter, then you are converting that into a House asset. If you make the decision as an EDA to purchase the eyeballs using EDA dollars, it's different.
You're absolutely right, Candice, that in the course of our business.... Let's say I have a particular image—and this may be hard for members to believe—or I have a particularly eloquent speech in the House of Commons, and I post that online, and it drives a lot of traffic, and it drives a lot of people to like my page, which I then subsequently use to raise money. It's not a perfect line, but I think that we need some kind of line because—I don't do it—it would be a remarkably effective strategy for me to take all of my advertising money, spend it on Facebook, and then work in conjunction with my EDA to capitalize that for fundraising purposes and for electoral purposes.
Today, as I read the rules, there's really nothing stopping me from doing that. That should worry us a lot more than whether or not a householder is driving somebody to a website. Maybe I shouldn't even say this out loud, because it would be such an effective strategy, but the fact that this strategy exists on the table today could be capitalized with enormous effect. I'm not sure that we want to leave that out there, because I think that it's really not the intention of what the allocation we're given is for.
Let's face it. If the rules don't block something, somebody with more ambiguous morals who is industrious will fill that grey space in utilizing this. That's why I'm saying that this is an opportunity in the ambiguity of where we are today to cut clearer and more defined lines here before it becomes a larger problem, and there's a greater move towards this digital world than a smaller one. I think we all acknowledge that. That's why I think it's incredibly important for this body.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to echo some of the comments as to the rule we hear often that you can't do indirectly what you can't do directly. I think that's where the concern is being raised. Are we ensuring that there is some guidance available?
I put out ten percenters in my riding. I thought it would be important for me to share with everyone that I was hosting a blood drive so people could come and donate blood, which I thought was great, but the rules did not permit me to ask people to come and donate blood, because it was asking for donations. They were not political donations. It was for blood, for the good of the people of the country and for saving lives.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I don't know how your blood bank works.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ours doesn't work like that, not in Waterloo at least.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:18
It's the mind of a Speaker.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think it's important that there are systems in place and perhaps have a mechanism where if there is a little bit of grey, to be able to vet. I think what we're seeing here is colleagues will put out these letters and then people are being challenged and the system and the rules are changing. Even though this MP has been around for a long time, social media is a new norm that we're trying to grasp and come to terms with.
How do we ensure there are some parameters and some guidance available so that members of Parliament can do their due diligence? That might be to ask, like we do with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, is it appropriate for me to write such a letter or not; is this appropriate for me to post or not. Perhaps there should be some system in place where there is a resource that you can ask to confirm, and rather than be reactionary, be proactive.
I think our world is going to become more and more social media-focused. Technology is going to lead to new realities. New tools are going to become available. How do we ensure that our rules are in the 21st century and we're mindful of where the country and world is going when it comes to communications?
We've just brought our calendars and householders into full colour. That took time. How can we make sure that this conversation is not just about this issue but as to the direction of where we're going so perhaps we can be ahead of the challenges we will be facing? I really do think we might want to check out if it's okay to donate blood or not and was that the intention of the rules or are the rules perhaps casting a net into greater areas than we intended. It might be worth checking that out.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:24
Thank you.
For the purposes of this discussion, dividing this into two parts makes a great deal of sense, further to Mr. Strahl's point.
I think we can say this matter is closed. The members advised this shouldn't be done, and that we send a reminder of the existing policy to members and encourage whips to have conversations with their caucus to ensure compliance, but it raises a very important issue, one which I think we have to draw a line on.
To make the last point on this, my view, just as Mr. Strahl said, is that it shouldn't come into force until a new Parliament, just to make it as clean as possible, but ideally, this body would deal with it before, if possible, so the new Parliament could start immediately with a fresh slate.
I'd make the following types of distinctions. I have about 30,000 followers on Facebook. If I decide to use my House of Commons budget and House of Commons resources to promote that Facebook page, it gets converted to a House of Commons resource. If that Facebook page is only ever paid for by my EDA, I can do whatever I want with it. I can fundraise on it. I can be politically active on it. I'm not suggesting that we have this full debate today, but I am saying that we have to have an understanding because, frankly—and I'll end on this point—the amount of traffic you're going to get from putting your website on a householder, the number of people you're going to get to donate is really not a big deal compared to using a medium like Facebook with your advertising dollars to drive traffic to it and to monetize that thereafter.
It's a completely different tactic and it would be highly effective. Right now it's the Wild West on that, and I don't think people have realized the extent to which that's the case. I agree changing the rules midstream...but I think that we need to have some rules for when this place comes back, because that digital world is moving at a very rapid pace, and right now this is a big hole.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:30
Not to belabour the point, but I think it's an important one. Let me ask the question directly.
Let's say I decided to spend $5,000 today on targeted Facebook ads to increase the number of likes on my Facebook page. Does that, under the rules today, mean that the Facebook page is then effectively a product of the House and I would no longer be able to advertise political partisan events on it? I don't think there's a member in the House who knows that it's the rule today.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:32
I'm sure there has been no audit of whether or not this activity is occurring. Whether the public wants it or not, I think it is inappropriate. However, the reality, as I understand it today, is that there are no rules against it. For all I know, it's happening today in the absence of rules. I'm not hearing that there is any validation of what's happening there, which means that this could very well be a widespread practice today. I don't know, and we don't have any guidance on it.
The only suggestion I'm making is that recommendations on this matter come back to the BOIE so that we can provide clarity in this respect.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-04-11 11:55
I, too, Mr. Speaker, enjoyed an involuntary sabbatical and so speak with some experience on this.
I agree absolutely that it is an incredible shock for people who go through it, because it consumes all of your life. It becomes more than a job; it becomes almost your identity, so it becomes a very trying experience. I think the extension of the employee assistance program from six months to a year is very important because of the fact that in the first six months people are often still just absorbing what happened. It can take some time to do that, so I think ensuring that people are in a good mental state is incredibly important.
I agree, as well, on the point about contacts. The cellphones that are allocated come from a central bank. When you arrive here, you have to give up your cellphone number and get a new cellphone number. For people who are trying to establish themselves thereafter, to lose that phone number is particularly challenging when they are making a transition. I can understand when you're coming in that you're trying to guard a certain number, but I wonder if there's a way of releasing those numbers on the other side so that members can maintain the same contacts.
Similarly, I can understand that we don't want people advertising that they have a parl.gc.ca email address, but there should be a way, when emails go there, because they're effectively dead, for the server to reroute them. In other words, for at least a period of time, that email traffic coming through their P9 and only their P9 could be rerouted in some way, because that's limited and personal traffic. I think that's a very key point. After two or three weeks suddenly all of your contact information is gone, and it becomes hard for people to maintain contact.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Just to build off that, I agree with, prior to the dissolution of Parliament, being able to share information. I think it's also important that we perhaps request a next of kin or somebody else. As somebody who got to see a colleague who did not get elected again, I understand that the experience can be quite isolating.
I think people oftentimes contact their member of Parliament more because of the position than because of the individual. During the time served here, you learn quickly who your friends are and who they are not, so I would agree with that.
I do believe that the two transition teams—incoming and outgoing—should have some communication, so that when it comes to pressures of vacating an office and so forth, they understand the reality of the individual. If we're bringing compassion into the system, I think it's important that there be some communication regarding who's in and who's out—that kind of thing. How do we perhaps cater to them a little bit more? I hope you have the resources, looking at the fact that the number of members of Parliament has increased to 338.
On the emails front, when you graduate from post-secondary school, you have an email that's part of your post-secondary institution, and then you become an alumnus. As alumni, we could have a way of transitioning it. I think we have to be mindful of the role of a member of Parliament versus someone who is no longer a member of Parliament, and to have respect and regard for the institution.
I think it could be quite a seamless process to provide someone an email address and transition them there so that correspondence or information gets forwarded on. I know when I graduated from the University of Waterloo, my UWaterloo account automatically got moved into an alumni account. My emails continued, and it was quite a seamless transition. I have confidence that Stéphan and his team will be able to do that.
Thank you.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-04-11 12:07
I have one other thing—and I'll raise this with the Association of Former Parliamentarians—but what happens when somebody loses? Only somebody who has lost can really understand what that process is and what it means.
I think it would be very helpful if, in a volunteer capacity—and I'm sure it can be arranged—there was some sort of proactive reach-out after a certain period of time from former parliamentarians to connect with people who've lost, to talk about their experience and how they were able to successfully navigate it.
Maybe you could work with them to formalize that process, because I think it's a unique experience. For me, having contact with people who had lost, and who navigated that, was enormously helpful. I didn't find anybody else who quite understood what I was going through. I think some sort of formalization of that would be important.
I think that those of us who remain after these events—and I've gone through many events where I've lost a lot of colleagues—realize that the madness of the job continues. We're continuing to be pulled between our ridings and Parliament here in Ottawa. To carve out the extra time to reach out to colleagues is incredibly difficult. Former parliamentarians, I think, would be the right group. You get a letter saying, “Welcome to Former Parliamentarians”. A lot of people don't really want to be in that group. It's not an exciting email or letter to get. Reaching out differently, I think, would benefit them as an organization and would benefit members as well.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
When I made the point about the next of kin, I was thinking that sometimes the individual may not recognize that they require some assistance, or that they feel isolated. It would be nice just to have a check-in with someone else. I recall an experience when the people around the person also felt isolated. So maybe someone could check in to make sure the family's okay or whatever.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-04-11 12:26
On that point, though, if I could very quickly.... Perhaps we could converse immediately before the vote, and hopefully come to some sort of consensus on that point. If we do come back for 10 minutes, perhaps we can clear up this item before we come to the next meeting.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-04-11 12:26
Can we just canvass if we have consensus? If we have consensus, then we can clear this item and go.
Hon. Candice Bergen: Why don't we come back to it?
Hon. Mark Holland: We'll come back, and we'll make that decision right after.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would like to go to some of Candice's comments.
Michel, you and your team have been a delight to work with. I know that we've had some challenging times. I think that any time we have a move, it's exciting, but there are growing pains. It's true that it's been quite pleasant to see everyone working together to ensure that we are able to satisfy the needs of members. What I appreciated the most out of your comments was that you recognize that they're buildings that belong to all Canadians but they are workplaces for parliamentarians, so it's important that we are part of the processes.
I'm not sure how many MPs here have had the opportunity to actually weigh in. Yes, public input is necessary, but I think MP input is also necessary. I think that the procedure and House affairs committee, PROC, is also looking a little bit at this work, and they should continue to do so. I think the other avenue should be this table right here.
What I would like for myself is to have caucus be able to provide me with input, whether there's a person we have as a point person and so forth, and then we would bring it to this table so that we can have this discourse. We can also discuss amongst ourselves. It's similar to some of the things that we've had to do to this new building. Sometimes it's repetitive because we're all experiencing the exact same thing, and we've been able to have some of those conversations with the Clerk and actually have them dealt with sooner, now that we've created a system.
I don't think there's a need for another entity to be created. I think that between PROC and this table we have the opportunities to do that. I think it's important that we do have MPs' voices heard, to make sure that it is smooth.
The last thing I will say is that I think Centre Block needs to be kept as similar to Centre Block as possible. As much as I know restorations are important—it's important that we bring the building to the 21st century—I really do hope that the look and feel of it is what the plans are. I hope we are documenting. I know there were some visions for this building, in the restaurant and so forth, that have not come to fruition for one reason or another, so I would also raise that on the public record.
The last point I would raise is that I think we've learned heavily that there are two processes to a move. We know the building is going to be built by the department, and Public Works will have to do that, but then the House administration has an essential role, and enough time has to be provided. As we provide timelines moving forward, I would like to ensure that the time that the House administration needs is always taken into account and that we actually provide you with the time that's needed so that if we do have to change doors and whatever else, it's possible.
You know that we see some doors that need to be replaced, and I know we're finding solutions. It's just a matter of how we ensure that we have as smooth a transition as possible for when members do move back to Centre Block.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:06
I'll just say thank you for the work that's done on an ongoing basis and for what's proposed here.
My reflection is that caucuses use these services differently, depending on what internal policies they actualize. My anticipation is that we'll use these additional resources a lot, not because I necessarily anticipate a lot of HR problems—although I do think these things arise—but it's more because good HR policy is about being proactive, about creating environments where there is a network of support to be able to catch and remediate issues early, before they advance.
I've expressed concern in the past, but I won't belabour the point now. There probably will be more needed as we modernize our HR practices overall, but certainly this is a step in the right direction and I am favourable.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:13
I'll say very quickly, Mr. Speaker, that I very much support these changes. Dealing with ten percenters since I was elected in 2004— with an involuntary break—has been a major challenge. You're constantly trying to MacGyver a solution to get correspondence to your constituents and, as a result, they were abused in all kinds of bizarre and strange ways.
Creating a uniform process for that makes a great deal of sense to me, so that, on the one hand, people don't get too frustrated to use it, and, on the other hand, people don't use it excessively in a way it wasn't intended to be used. I'm very supportive.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:26
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have two items. One is that perhaps we can divide the two matters that are here. I'm hearing that there are two separate matters: one is relating to the number of mailings that can be sent out, which is a more scoped issue; and then there's a broader conversation that I'm hearing around what sort of material can be sent out or what the boundaries are on that.
I would hate to entangle those two items. I think one can move forward separate from the other, and one is a more detailed conversation that we have to have. That would be my first suggestion.
On the volume, I hear what members are saying, and I think that communication is incredibly important. However, I would point out that 10 times a year is an extraordinary number of mailings. There is a point at which perhaps people need to work on their brevity or how succinct they are. There are serious costs involved in mailing, and if you want to mail more than 10 times a year to your constituents, to me that starts crossing the line of being relatively excessive.
This was exactly the problem with the ten percenter program. There were no rules or boundaries on how it was used, so theoretically you could be putting out ten percenters every single day. I think it's moving to some kind of uniformity and giving some kind of clarity to members.
Again, we can have that conversation. If there's a slight upwards adjustment, for example, if 92% of people are covered by 10, and we can get up to 98% by doing 11, then let's do 11 and move on with it. That's the one point.
On the second point, I just have to put it on as a matter of record that I think there's a material difference between the debates we have in the House and the materials that we send out to constituents. I say this as somebody who has spent nearly six years in opposition as well and agrees with the general thrust of what's being said. However, we don't want to be in a situation where we're effectively funding partisan undertakings.
If you get to a point where you're unable to distinguish between a campaign flyer and a householder, that's a serious problem. I think that matters of debate around policy, around issues, are of course fair game. If we're talking about keeping that line between a difference of opinion and policy, I think that's a fair boundary, but I get concerned if we're drawing in the use of House resources to fund essentially partisan propaganda. We all have it; we all have a particular partisan message that we're disseminating, but I think that line, that wall, is important. It's a judicious line, and it's one that I would defend rather vociferously.
If we're going to have a conversation on that, I would want to extricate it from this particular matter. I think if the two are entwined, it could lead us to a circumstance where we don't change this, and then if we don't change it, we're left with the continuance of something that has been in long need of overhaul.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:32
Just very quickly, my suggestion is that it's totally appropriate, and I think that Mr. Strahl should have an opportunity. If we're going to hold this item down so that we can have an opportunity for consultation, maybe we can also get a clarification of whether, if we take that dial a little bit higher, that encapsulates 95%, 96% or whatever the percentage is.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:33
If we could look at that data, that would be helpful.
The simple point I was making is that it sounds to me like there's a discussion that's worthwhile around ensuring a policy that is consistently applied, transparent and understood by all as to what constitutes fair ball for sending out these constituency mailers or householders. To me, that shouldn't be examined in the same item. That's all I'm saying.
If we could have a separate conversation as a body on that matter as a different agenda item, it would allow this item to move forward expeditiously. I just don't want to hitch that issue to this wagon.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:41
Before we go in camera, I'm looking for a quick update on two items that I know were brought to the attention of the board. I believe they were looked at. One dealt with the secondary expenses of then minister Kenney during the period he was saying he was living in his mother's basement, from 2013 to 2015. I'm wondering if there's an update on that. The second was with relation to Charlie Angus. I know there was an issue with his website and solicitation of memberships and also with ads for his federal election nomination being placed, which I believe was done in error.
I'm just looking for an update on those two items.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, everyone.
I feel sometimes that I'm here way too often, but I appreciate all the good work you're doing on this. I'm pleased to be back in respect to a matter arising from the NATO Parliamentary Association meeting that was held on October 30.
In responding to your board's request on this matter arising out of your last meeting, the JIC met yesterday afternoon at a public meeting. It considered potential responses and, frankly, resolutions to the concerns that were raised here. With the help of our clerks—Colette and her team—we were able to put forward and ultimately agree to a resolution that we hope will meet that test. We'll circulate it in a moment.
Essentially, it does two things.
First, it addresses the issue of a motion having been put forward by the association that involves non-confidence in the chair of the association. There would be a neutral chairperson—i.e., one of the two JIC co-chairs would chair that meeting and the deliberations on that particular motion.
Second, it provides a process of appeal. Should a specific number of members feel that there was a contravention of the constitution as it pertained to that particular meeting, within a certain number of days, if they wished to, they could give notice of appeal and have that process taken up by the JIC itself.
If possible, we'll circulate the motion and go through it briefly, and then I'll be happy to take any questions.
While those are being circulated, I should say that the JIC adopted this motion at its meeting yesterday, and it is prepared to follow through with it.
The motion is as follows:
That, notwithstanding any provision in association constitutions or usual practice, effective upon the adoption of this motion, when a matter relating to the confidence in the Chair of an Association arises at an association general meeting, the following procedure shall apply:
a. One of the JIC Co-Chairs shall preside over the meeting during the consideration of the matter;
b. Ten (10) percent of the membership but no less than ten (10) members of the association may appeal a decision of the general assembly relating to the confidence in the Chair to the Joint Interparliamentary Council, by notifying the Clerk of the Council in writing within 10 sitting days following the meeting of the general assembly; and such notice shall cite which provision of the association's constitution has been breached;
(c) The Council shall meet to consider the appeal within 15 sitting days following receipt of this notice;
(d) The general assembly's decision which is the subject of the appeal will take effect unless the JIC co-chairs, upon receipt of the notice of appeal, instruct that it be suspended until the appeal is resolved definitively by the JIC.
That all associations be informed of this new procedure.
That's essentially it, in a nutshell. It achieves the two things.
As a final point, I'll make a brief comment.
There was considerable discussion about the notion of suspending the decision of the general assembly. As a compromise, we were able to come to an agreement that there would be a stopgap provision there. For example, if the decision taken by the general assembly was aggrieved by the given number of members, and if the infractions of the constitution were sufficiently egregious, the co-chairs could effectively suspend that decision. They would take a look at that. The appeal would still go through, one way or the other, but there was considerable discussion on whether a decision taken involving the confidence of a co-chair and subsequently appealed should require that the association's decision be suspended until the appeal had taken place.
I think we resolved that by putting that interim step in place as an option. The JIC chairs would simply review what the appeal was about, look at the substantive aspects of it, and then make a decision as to whether that decision should be suspended or not pending the appeal.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for that.
You're right. This was discussed yesterday as well. In the same way that this board functions, the JIC also does.
The Speakers' rulings—particularly the House Speaker's ruling—were incredibly informative in terms of strengthening, underlining, and stating to what degree the JIC is given authority, frankly, by the two boards here in Parliament, and the responsibility it has to be the regulator should the constitutions of the association fail to provide the kind of fairness that those constitutions should. We're there as a secondary stop for that.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
Those are good points, all.
It should be noted that once the associations are provided with this mechanism, of course they still have the tools that are given to them in their constitution and can still in fact request special general meetings. That tool is still available for them. Nothing in here impugns that ability for the associations.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2018-12-06 10:44
Very briefly, obviously we view events as they transpired differently, but I'm glad that we were able to find an accommodation that allows us to move forward.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
For the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, on that particular conference the total budget is $1.5 million. The total hospitality on that is roughly 30%. That involves a welcoming dinner reception, lunches, a second dinner reception and a farewell dinner. It's mostly food—health breaks and that kind of thing—but it represents about 30%. I am given to understand that it's the usual kind of proportionate aspect of a budget for this kind of conference.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We like having you here, Mr. Stanton.
I asked last week if there was historical data, because we think that if we keep some of that kind of information, we should be able to be better informed future ones. I know that the information has not been received, so although I said last week that I would like to see this move forward, I would like some of that information to be provided so I can see what kind of records we keep and that it's in line.
Thank you.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I recognize that it's hard to compare it with 1995, but I think we should recognize that, yes, there are increased costs, and we understand that. That's exactly why those comparisons take place. It should be line by line, and we should be able to see what.... If we're taking out the hospitality, the rooms and whatever else that we no longer have to cover, it should not be.... I think Excel existed in 1995, so to take those lines out and to be able to deal with that, and then....
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
In the main estimates, I see the House administration is higher for 2019-20 than the previous year, and then the main estimates funding for members and House officers is lower year over year. I'm just wondering why that might be, or what's anticipated—what you see that we might not know.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for your work, as always.
In regard to the satellite phones, because you have a little bit of a sample size, how many are you anticipating? How many members will need to be considered for that, and do we have an idea of the overall expense?
Then, where did the 16 kilometres come from?
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