Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
 
 
 
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I apologize. I was a little bit late for this part of the meeting.
I have two things. As I recall, when the notion and the idea came up, I think I brought forward the idea that we would get representatives from each of the parties to reflect ideas and thoughts back to the building committee, or however it would be termed. This was in the context of the West Block renovations. Many MPs felt, for lack of a better example, that a house was built for them that they were going to be living in and using, but nobody had ever asked them what they wanted in the house.
In order to avoid that with the Centre Block renovations, we wanted a mechanism that was not overly bureaucratic and that wasn't going to be dragging or slowing things down, but one whereby our members could speak to that representative in their caucus.
Whether it was that we need to have more women's washrooms or a place where the media can't get to us when we're walking into the chamber or some of the other things that we've heard about, it was a mechanism whereby those thoughts, ideas and wish lists could be conveyed, not in anticipation that they would all be given, but at least that there would be a mechanism for these ideas to be communicated.
What I don't believe it was to be is a place where three colleagues are now being asked to make some pretty major decisions. If that has changed, I think we then need to know how that's going to work. I know that when we approached Ms. Block, for example, we did not convey to her that this was now going to be the requirement. I think we need some clarification on the role of our colleagues who are part of this group.
Second, I would be interested to know how some of the decisions like this are made, because they are very major decisions. On some of the ideas around what might or might not happen on the front lawn, I don't know if we know who is making the decisions and thus who's accountable for those decisions.
Those are the two things I'd like us to solidify: the role of this group—Ms. Sgro, Ms. Block and, I believe, Mr. Julian, who is on that as well—which I do not think should be making major decisions, and then where those decisions are made.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I have a couple of items.
I think, Mrs. Block, you are entirely right. It was never intended, in any way, to be a duplicate body. However, there was a sense that what PROC was looking at doing would not fulfill that mechanism. It would be more of a casual mechanism for our members to use in communicating some simple things. I think when the PROC report is tabled.... I don't know if it's public yet.
I agree with you. We do not want a body that duplicates what PROC is doing. I think we're in full agreement. Now we just have to fix that.
With respect to what Mr. Patrice was saying—that BOIE has made these decisions—it was before I was here, and I would like to know when that decision was made. I'll use the example of the front lawn of Centre Block, which was going to be excavated, and that whole plan.
Then, as to what you're saying, Mr. Speaker, who is making the decisions around how many committee rooms are to be in place, or what the layout is going to be, or...? We're not making those decisions. Again, who makes those decisions? Then we will know who would be ultimately held accountable for them.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Before you go, I just want to make sure we're clear now, though, as Mark requested, that we can have a flow chart so that we can understand who is making those granular decisions. Then we know, as we said, where we are going to insert ourselves.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
We are going on to the next item, the regulations respecting the non-attendance of members of Parliament by reasons of maternity or care of a newborn or newly adopted child.
We have some presenters here, and I will give the floor to you, Monsieur Dufresne.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I'll go to Mr. Holland then Mr. Strahl.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I'd like to weigh into the discussion. I may actually be on a completely different side from all of my colleagues in a few of the areas.
I think it's important that we recognize that this is not at all like a maternity benefit, and that we not try to compare it to such. We could very well have female members of Parliament who have a baby and literally a week later have events in their riding they feel they must attend, since not doing so could affect their chances of being re-elected. They don't have the opportunity to take a year off and just enjoy their child with no pressure: they know they'll either get their 66% or, in the case of a federal employee, a topped-up amount. These members of Parliament have to be working in their ridings. If they don't, they will be penalized and not be rehired for their jobs. I personally don't think we should be trying to compare the two.
That said, I don't think that members of Parliament should then get less time when they are having that time with their child. I like the 12-month approach, because I think that members of Parliament should not be penalized because they're members of Parliament, and they will already have to be working in their constituencies. We're just talking about the work they're doing away from their families and their newborns.
I would also suggest that fathers play a vital role. I think that male MPs whose wives are ready to have babies need those four weeks. Maybe they need those four weeks before that child is born; maybe they need to be at home. Maybe that baby's going to be born early. They don't know when that baby's going to be born. I think we should give some consideration to new dads who may need a bit of time before the child is born.
I think that maybe we should look at sending this to PROC, because there are a lot of questions that need to be discussed and that more fulsome conversations need to be had.
Mr. Holland, you brought up a good topic, which is minority Parliaments. If we're in a minority Parliament.... We haven't even discussed this scenario. Maybe this is not part of the conversation, but I'm going to throw it out there. Imagine that we're in a minority Parliament and one of the parties, either the opposition or the government, happens to have more females are getting ready to deliver babies during that particular time. What if the scenario is that one of the parties now has four or five women who are on their maternity time and not able to be in the House? Are we actually going to ask that there be a pairing? Is that something we'd just leave up to the whips and to the goodwill of each of the parties?
You know, in politics, we could actually be talking about a government being defeated. I think there should be some discussion on that if we want to encourage not only females but also young people who might be at that age when they are having families.
I think we're having a very good discussion. I like the idea of the box. What we're doing is giving members of Parliament a legitimate reason to be at home. You don't have to just say, “Oh, I'm just at home doing constituency work”, or, “I'm not feeling well”, when in fact you're not sick, but looking after your newborn child. I really think it's important that we give it that validity, value, and credibility that it should have.
I think there are a lot of questions. I'm suggesting that we take the matter to PROC.
Mr. Holland, you have something more to add, and then it will be Mr. Julian.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
All right.
I have Mr. Julian and then Ms. Chagger.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Holland, you had something else you wanted to add.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
All right.
I would add that I do agree with Mr. Strahl. I know I'm the one who brought the issue forward, but I think we should keep it separate from this particular issue.
I do think, though, that PROC should be looking at this. I would still like them to look at the issue I brought forward with respect to MPs who are fathers possibly being able to access that four weeks before the due date.
I think there is consensus, then, that we refer this to PROC and let them look at it in greater detail.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Yes, we're supportive of the report and the proposal, and we'd like to send it to PROC. Is that correct?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: All right, good. Thank you.
We're going to suspend. We'll be going in camera.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I'm just thinking; PROC did the report prior to the legislation, and then, after the legislation, Ms. Chagger came here and asked if the Board of Internal Economy....
You wrote a letter, and then it was recommended that it go back to PROC. I'm just wondering if we're missing that PROC step right now, where PROC, subsequent to the legislation, will now look at what kind of recommendations they would suggest for changes, or whether it's felt that their report encompassed what the legislation covered. I'm wondering if we could get clarification on that.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Are there currently recommendations? What would the timeline be if that were the option that we choose, that you would prepare recommendations, we would form a consensus, and then send it back to PROC?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I think so. I think that, in order to accomplish what we want, there could probably be a bit of work as you're preparing those recommendations working with our teams, if possible, so that we'll discuss them here. I think it would be good to give you the time to prepare them and then bring them here. Give us time to look at them.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
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 Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you. I just have two points.
I would agree with Mr. Holland in this case. I can sympathize with Mr. Angus thinking that if his EDA is paying for it, then it would be okay to do fundraising, and it would just be looking at him linking it to his House of Commons resources. Certainly anybody who has a website paid for by the House of Commons, I think we all know you cannot get donations or memberships off of our House of Commons website. If any of our members don't know that, I think our whips should be clearly reminding us that you can't take donations out of your office, you can't sell memberships out of our office, and you can't be collecting from your House of Commons website. I think whips and parties need to remind their members.
On the issue that Mr. Holland brought up.... It's interesting. I survey my riding and I've been an MP for almost 11 years. Any time I've asked my constituents where they get the majority of information and news, up until the last two years, it had always been TV or newspapers. It is now primarily online. It's like Facebook...all of that's become a new community.
If I'm at an event that I have organized—it's not a political event; it's maybe a coffee meeting with constituents and stakeholders—and if during the course of that meeting somebody says to me, “I really like what you're doing and I want to help you or maybe help in a campaign,” I wouldn't take that information now, but we obviously don't say, “Don't speak to me about that,” just like we couldn't on Facebook. We're at a very odd place where we have to figure it out. We have now a new gathering place, which is Facebook, Instagram, the social media. How do we realistically—using some common sense, because it isn't all linear—reconcile that so we're not using House of Commons resources to do political work and at the same time we're not shutting out people? This is now their community. They're not coming and meeting with us in our offices. They're speaking to us via social media.
I don't have the answer for it, but I don't think it's as black and white as.... I can have my EDA pay for my Facebook page, or any advertising—because I don't pay for the page—but then if they're looking at the work that I'm doing as an MP, how do we separate that? I'm just suggesting it isn't entirely black and white, but I'm not sure where we land, where it's responsible but also where we have some common sense in the decision.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you for this.
I think it's really good that you're looking at this. I've heard from members of Parliament, especially those who lost. Obviously they were not expecting it. It's a terrible blow to members of Parliament. I'm hearing about the impact it has. It really is hard on individuals. In the spirit that we're all team players here, I know a lot of Liberals will be going through this after the next election. I'm joking.
Seriously, I'm wondering about two things. I heard some discussion previously around one of the problems. When an individual is defeated, their emails and their contacts get cut off very quickly. For a lot of MPs, their phone is their life. I wonder if there's some thought around that and how they could be helped in getting that important information. I know you mentioned you had talked with former parliamentarians. I think they're doing some work. I think Dorothy Dobbie is the new head of this. She's been doing some work on some practical things that could help parliamentarians who are leaving, but not because they want to be leaving. I wonder if a few more practical things might be added that would help individuals.
I wonder about the whole counselling part of it. People go through a really hard time when they lose an election. Imagine losing your job, getting fired by basically your entire riding. Your whole life has been serving these people, and a lot is wrapped up in it. I wonder if there may be some discussion, some counselling or some will to help former MPs who have lost their riding to transition back.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
We may need to come back to it. I'm not sure where we are with the bells.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I do have some issues around the whole 21 days in relation to our previous discussion around members who lose their ridings, so I think we should put this on hold and come back.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much, Chair.
Mr. Patrice, I want to begin by thanking you and congratulating you, and all of the people who I know have worked incredibly hard to make sure that this place is ready and then move us in.
I'll be honest; I was one of those people who had doubts. I wondered how you were were going to move us all in just a couple of weeks, but you did. As you said, there were some hiccups, but really, it has been a very smooth move and transition. You certainly need to be congratulated. I know we're very appreciative of everything and the way it's kind of starting to feel like home, which is nice. I thought about it the other day. I thought I was starting to feel a little routine in where I'm going and how I'm getting where I'm supposed to go. That's really good.
I have a couple of specific items about things as they currently are, and then I want to speak briefly about Centre Block and how we could maybe have some input in that.
One item I know we're still struggling with in terms of practicality is the number of washrooms that are available. There may not be an easy solution. We obviously don't want to cause any issues. If it's only our caucus that has this, that's fine. We know there are some kitchen areas in our offices that are aren't even being used. There may be some opportunities at some point for them to be changed into washroom facilities. That's just a suggestion.
The other issue I've thought about is that I really miss that MP entrance we had at Centre Block. There was a sense, if you went through the MP entrance, that the general public wasn't there, and there wasn't media necessarily standing right outside. Right now it seems like we don't quite have that. I'm not sure if other caucuses are feeling that, but maybe there could be further discussion in terms of security. You become accustomed to something. I think that's probably what I'm feeling; we were accustomed to that dedicated entrance. If that's something that could possibly be discussed and maybe some solutions for it brought forward, we would appreciate that.
In terms of having input for Centre Block, I'm glad that's something you've thought about. I thought that the way the restoration work was done around West Block kind of felt like we were told as MPs that we were getting a new home, but no one was going to ask us what we needed in our new home or what we would like to see in our new home. We weren't even really going to know what was in our new home, and when we got there, we were just going to need to adjust. That's okay. I think we can do that, but I think it would be beneficial if we had a method to bring some input. I know we've had some offline discussions. Ms. Chagger, Ms. Brosseau and I have had some discussions about this.
What we don't want to see is kind of a political or bureaucratic bog-down process. We would like to have a process whereby each of our caucuses could have one point of contact in their caucus whereby suggestions.... Some of those suggestions could be small—as a member of Parliament, I want to be able to have a certain amount of legroom, if I need it, at my chair, if that's possible—all the way to needing to ensure that we have certain access for MPs.
There are a lot of suggestions. I don't think we'd anticipate that we would get everything we want, but I think we would like to have an ability to get input from our caucus and then bring it to you in a way that we know will be addressed—with a “Yes, we can do this” or “No, we can't and here's why” or “ How about we do it this way?” Then there's actually a way, when we move to Centre Block, to be able to say, “No, it ended up that we couldn't have this feature, and here's why, but we knew that there was some discussion, and it was recognized that the whole discussion could have happened.”
We would like to see a working group—not bureaucratic, not political, but just where we can have feedback and be able to make sure that our issues are at least being heard. I'll let the others weigh in, but those were the two things I wanted to bring up.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I won't add a lot to what Mark said. I agree fully with everything he articulated.
On the issue of changing ten percenters to a maximum number of mail-outs, I think we should err on the side of making sure that those 8% can still do what they've been doing. If 92% are going to do fewer than six a year, then why wouldn't we say you can do 10 a year, with the knowledge that that probably won't happen? Budgets are increasing, and there's more and more. All of a sudden now, to go back to our caucus and say that their ability to communicate with their constituents is going to be scaled back, when the only argument we can give is that we might not have the ability to pay for it, first of all, I think that probably wouldn't be the case, so I think we should rather look at this and expand that.
I would add to what Mark talked about. I agree. When I get up every day, the work I do is to do two things: to move out what I believe is a government that is not good for Canadians, which is what my constituents elected me to do, and to put in a government that I believe is good for Canadians, which means I'm going to ask them to support me. I'm going to ask them to listen to my arguments. I think the measurement should be that if we can say it in the House of Commons, we should be able to say it in our communication with our constituents. If it is slanderous or defamatory, then we will be held accountable for that, and we will be held accountable by our electorate, in whether they vote for us again.
I wrote a letter, and I said, “That's why, in 2019, Conservatives...”, and I was told I wasn't allowed to say that. It became unbelievable. We are partisan; that is what we do. We are political, and we're having more and more restrictions from people when we don't even know who they are and who they're accountable to. I think it's something that has to be looked at. That way we would all have the same freedom and ability to communicate in the way we believe we should.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you as well, Mr. Stanton and Ms. Riel, for the work that you've done on this issue.
My concern, as I articulated a week ago, is that I think these associations have by and large served the purpose for which they have been created. They have been non-partisan and a very positive part of what we do here in Parliament for many, many years. I think this is good.
I don't anticipate that we'll see what we saw happen at the end of October, which was disgraceful. I don't think we will see that happen again—hopefully—because we're going to be able to operate as we always have in these situations, and not in a partisan way. That doesn't mean that we won't see chairs moved out because the party they represent is not the party that's in government. We all understand that happens. However, there are rules around that, and they should be respected.
When we're in government after the next election, it will be a different makeup of JIC. That will be a check and a balance for us, to ensure that even though we are in government and we will maybe have the majority on some of these committees, we can't use that to lord it or enact tyranny over the group.
I think this is good. This was created, unfortunately, for an extreme circumstance that is not the norm, but it has given us all the assurance that this won't happen again.
My only regret is that we can't go back and right the wrong that was done. This obviously isn't retroactive, and I understand that, but at least we know it won't happen again, and I'm happy for that.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I Just have one question.
If an MP, though, just recently spent a portion of their MOB to upgrade or purchase new printing equipment, is there a little bit of leeway for them? Is there going to be a problem with some who have spent, and now that they've spent that money, they don't need another printer? Are they going to be short?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I was going to ask the same thing. I think right now, with the renovations going on and finishing at West Block and starting here at Centre Block very soon, it's interesting how many times, when people tour they ask about the cost and how things cost so much and seem to always cost more here in government than they do in the private sector. Thinking about these numbers, I think it would be really helpful if at some point we could come up with a plan. What is the best way to incentivize savings?
It's a little more difficult here because we aren't the private sector, where profit matters, whether we have shareholders to pay or we have to make a profit for our own benefit. That's not what's driving us here. We don't have that. What we have to think about is that our shareholders, the people we're accountable to, are taxpayers.
I'm sure this is a question that all governments ask themselves. My comments are in line with what Mr. Strahl was talking about. Maybe it would be beneficial at some point, when we don't have a full agenda as we do today, to have a discussion around what we did in 2011 and 2012; where that took us; where we are today and what we could do to ensure we are being the most prudent and efficient as possible in using these taxpayers' dollars most wisely.
I also want to say thank you. You did come back with a much more detailed report. Thank you for the work you did on that. I know we all appreciate that.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
First of all, thank you both, Ms. Fry and Ms. Ratansi, for being here and for your presentation.
I'm a member of both of those associations, and I think that conferences such as these are very important. I think it's also, as you articulated, really important that Canada play a role. Although I think we already do a lot of heavy lifting, we want to continue to play that role.
Unfortunately, and through no fault of your own, there is an underlying issue right now that has not been resolved, which means, for me—I don't know how other members of the board feel—that I don't feel I can proceed with approving these funds.
There was an issue that arose at our last BOIE meeting four weeks ago. JIC came to us to present their annual report. At that time, I or my colleague tried to raise an underlying issue whereby these very important associations that have been operating successfully here on Parliament Hill for many years had been turned into a political mechanism. We felt that we needed to address that here, at this BOIE, because we are asked to approve these funds. We were not allowed to discuss it. We were told it was out of order and, to my knowledge, those issues still have not been addressed and there's no resolution.
Unfortunately—and this is the taint that has now come to be borne on these really good associations—until we can find a resolution so that these associations are not allowed to be politicized and the rules broken.... I don't even know now where we can discuss it. If the ruling is that we can't discuss JIC at BOIE, perhaps there is another place to discuss that, but I have not been informed as to where that is.
My thoughts are that I want to see these initiatives go forward, but the underlying issue has to be addressed so that type of thing doesn't happen again.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you all.
I have a couple of items. Mr. Holland's comments, I think, are proof as to why this has to be rectified. Because of the way we view what happened and the outcome and the ramifications, not only to individuals whose rights were trampled on by the tyranny of the majority that night, but also to the rights of future members who could be at risk of having that happen, I think it's clear this has to be resolved.
If it's not resolved here, then where? This BOIE has been made public so that issues like this could be discussed and rectified in a transparent and open way. This is where it should be discussed.
I would suggest that we probably should have discussed it four weeks ago, but the decision was taken and was respected that it was not in order for some reason. Clearly, it needs to be discussed, and it needs to be discussed openly. The reason is that we can then proceed in carrying out the good work that we're doing and have done in a non-partisan way.
My other point is that not only does it have to be rectified for the future, but someone has to be held accountable for the wrong that was done to individuals that night. It is clear to everyone. I believe it should be clear to everybody that it won't ever happen again.
Here's the truth. This time the majority happened to be the Liberals. Next time the majority could be the Conservatives, who could then exert tyranny over the minority. Whoever is the victim, it's not right, and it needs to be fixed.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much.
Thank you for your presentation. Building on what Mr. Strahl talked about, when I saw the heading “New Human Resources Services for Members as Employers”, my initial thought was to wonder if our whips were consulted on what our members are expressing. Are there challenges when it comes to how they manage their employees? It sounds like that hasn't been done. That might be a good place to start. It looks like $2.5 million a year will be spent on helping our members be better employers. I think we should go back and find out what their unique challenges are and what services they're looking for.
Mr. Holland's description was very, very different from my own personal experience and from where I think I have challenges. I'm from a rural riding. My biggest challenge is with my employees who aren't here in Ottawa. Having somebody here in Ottawa that they're going to phone...? They can barely get IT dealt with. There are other challenges there may not be an easy fix for. That's one example.
Another example is the whole idea around setting goals. There may be some appetite for members of Parliament to have a template developed. For example, how do you sit down and do goal-setting with your employees? That's a template. It's like when we have to give letters to our employees; we go to legal services and they say, “Here's the template.”
There's another great parallel example in the ten percenter services. We can use House of Commons services to develop our ten percenters or we can use entirely our own imagination and what we know is good for our own riding. That's where I could see this possibly going, but it would need to start with us knowing that this now is a new thing. Probably before that's even established, let our members know what the new requirements will be under the new legislation. From that, they can have discussions with our whips as to what they believe they will need. Out of that, this could then be developed, whereby needs are actually being addressed.
It may end up being something like our resource services—for us it's the CRG, for example—where it doesn't come out of House administration. It's just a budget amount that's given to each of the parties. Those parties work with their members in order to address that. I'm not suggesting that would be the solution, but what I'm seeing is that if this is meant to be services for members as employers, we have definitely put the cart before the horse. I'm afraid that the goals will not be met at all, which I don't believe would be satisfactory to anybody.
I think we need to go back to the drawing board, find out what the challenges are that our members are having in terms of their employees, and then be able to address them through our whips.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
My suggestion was going to be that we approve this. If there are further questions, maybe we can have Mr. Aubé come back at another time for just general discussion. I thought our time was running out and that we could approve this.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
That was going to be the beginning of my first comment. I'm glad that we got that done.
Because we're not going to have time to go through the other items, I would like the committee to consider two points.
Next week when we come back, I think on item 5, financial matters, I know we are looking for more details on those proposals. We would like a more detailed report. I think subsequent to the discussion around the services for MPs in terms of employees, that probably would need to be revised anyway.
Second, we were wondering if maybe we should try to meet a little earlier so that we can get through everything. We have a number of issues in camera that will need to be addressed before we rise for Christmas.
Should we possibly meet a half an hour earlier to give us enough time?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Very respectfully, BOIE does not operate as we operate in the chamber. This is an open and public meeting. If this now becomes a place where we can't.... If Bruce and Colette don't have answers, they can tell us that and I think we would accept it, but I think, Geoff, it's going to make things even worse if you now do not allow Mark to ask about this when literally it is what we're seized with and it is the elephant in the room and this is our job.
Why don't we talk about it and let the folks who are at the head of the table here give their answer? I think for you to shut it down right now is going to be very concerning on a lot of levels.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I have just a couple of points. My colleague, Mark Strahl, actually mentioned a lot of what I was going to mention.
I think the reason we want to make changes and make some of these things more, as we said, family-friendly is that we want to attract good people, including women, to politics. We want them to feel that their lives will not be completely disrupted and that they won't be isolated from the people they love.
I would just say that we're fixing some of the rules so that it's easier. However, I think that what we're doing is still making it so that people—as you said, Mark—are still thinking that maybe they shouldn't have their family member come. In the case where maybe they're individuals who aren't married or who don't have a partner and maybe their children are grown, they also need to have some support from family and people they love.
I'm not sure how we address that so that this system isn't abused, but I think that in the spirit of what we want to accomplish, maybe we need to give thought to how we help people to be able to be supported and do the job, and it's not just directly their immediate children or family members. That's something that we can maybe think about.
With that in mind, I am wondering why we need to define the designated traveller as typically the spouse or partner of the member. I know there have been previous times where a single person maybe has made a parent a designated traveller. I think that's happened. I just wonder if there is a reason why we want to say that it has to be spouse or a partner. That's my one question.
Then, back to my original point, I would still say that when ministers or parliamentary secretaries are out doing their jobs, that is a parliamentary function. I understand that you're saying that we're just going to ask them. However, there have been actual cases where ministers have been given a lot of problems because they brought their children on a trip, and they apparently weren't given the correct definition of “parliamentary travel”. I'm still concerned about that. I think that, again, in the spirit of what we're trying to do, we need to either change the rules so that it makes your job easier.... However, if the minister or parliamentary secretary is actually travelling with their portfolio, that is parliamentary work. They are a member of Parliament. I think we need to clarify that.
Thank you.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I don't know why we have to add it. I'm not sure what the purpose is. Unless there's been a reason, why are we adding it?
I don't know what everyone else—
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I guess I'm just wondering about the thoughts of my colleagues. From what I'm hearing—and I'd like to be corrected if I'm wrong—the chances of our being able to move in the summer of 2018 are very low. There is still a lot of work to do.
Thinking realistically, if we can't move in 2018, would we move in the summer of 2019? If we are two months away from an election, that would be unrealistic as well. There could be changes or there could be movement happening after the next election.
I wonder whether we should have a realistic discussion about that. That's one thing I wanted to mention.
Second, to Mark's point, again, unless there is even a reasonable expectation that there are going to be changes in the next couple of months before you would come back to us before we rise for the summer, why wouldn't we just make that call now? What's the reason for coming back?
I'm just wondering about these two things.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
You know what? You're right. I was thinking there would be MPs' offices, but there won't be MPs' offices, will there?
A voice: That's right.
Hon. Candice Bergen: Then that's fairly consistent. It would be whoever the House leader is, whoever the.... Yes.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you for your presentation and the good work you've done.
I do have a question. I am scheduled in, but I haven't taken the course yet. Can you tell us a bit about what's in the course? I'm thinking that for a lot of people, as they're guiding their employees or wanting to get their work done, they want to do it in a respectful way, and sometimes there is a fine line between giving orders or asking somebody to do something and being disrespectful.
Can you let me know how we've developed our harassment policy training so that we aren't kind of guessing on that, but that we actually have professionals and best practices and we can give very clear guidelines to our members on what's appropriate and what is not appropriate?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Just to be clear, where did we pull the information? How did we come to the material that's part of the training session?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I wonder if it would be wise if we come back to this and talk about it.
Even in your suggestion about maybe withholding funds from them to hire somebody, we would be penalizing an employee, and that is not what we would want to do. If legitimately with this person there are real reasons they haven't taken it, we also would never want to embarrass them, because it's hard; you can't take that back. We have to think very long and hard about it.
My hope would be, and I think we will see from what happens with this initial training, that everybody wants to do this. We should be planning that we'll have 100% support. If somebody doesn't, we'll work with them and find out why and find ways to mitigate whatever reasons there would be that they're not taking it. We should go on the presumption that all members of Parliament want to do the right thing for the right reasons, as opposed to us punishing them because they're not behaving the way we want them to. Maybe we should think of it in those terms and then look at what we can do.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you. I have two things.
First of all, to Mark's point, I think he brought forward a very valid question. We should maybe decide that at least as of today, it will be for current MPs and current employees, but then possibly come back with some recommendations. Geoff, to your example of somebody who is defeated in an election, but whatever may have happened would have happened very currently, that's a different scenario than....
There are all kinds of different scenarios that are worth us looking at and then coming back with some recommendations.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I just have one question and forgive me if this has already been discussed.
This is an employee to MP. What about employee to employee? I'm thinking many times in our ridings we're not around all the time. There could be staff to staff issues. Can you just remind me what the policy is on that?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
We want to make sure Pablo's happy.
Thank you very much for that presentation. I was one of the members. I think we were all concerned about additional money being provided when the increase had already been so substantial. After hearing your presentation and the option that you've given to us, I would be very supportive of that. That way, we're not seeing additional money spent, and the money that has already been given to JIC will be used to help with the additional staff.
On the visa issue, I'm wondering if it would be considered that the three options that each association is going to be asked to consider might be a little bit more prescribed. My concern, based on my personal experience, is that when you have a country that doesn't allow its own citizens to express dissent, when you have a country—in this case it is China—that abuses human rights, that doesn't have freedom of the press and the freedoms that many of the other countries that we visit do espouse, I would say that these associations have a greater responsibility to look at the reason that a visa might be denied and to take that into consideration.
To Peter's point that a certain MP may be targeted because the MP spoke out against that country's human rights violations, that may be part of the consideration for sending a strong signal and cancelling the trip altogether as opposed to a situation where, due to an administrative error, for example, the member himself or herself felt that the denial was justified, that, I think, should be taken into consideration. However, when the member, a duly elected member of Parliament who is elected to that association and chosen for that trip, feels that his or her rights were denied and privileges breached, I would think that should then be part of the decision.
Maybe the instructions to the association should be a little more prescribed and more direct, so that there is no room for interpretation. I think that those factors need to be taken into consideration.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I have a brief question, but before that, I guess I want to be the contrarian.
Thank you for your presentation, and I reiterate that we are a bilingual country and that you have the right to present in English, French, or both. I appreciate that. I wanted you to know that's how I feel.
My question has to do with the new position, the deputy clerk. Thank you for your explanation. Absolutely, the service that is provided helps us to do our jobs.
Are there additional responsibilities that were newly undertaken? I'm still not quite clear why this position had to be created with an additional, it looks like, $1 million. I'm just wondering if there was something—
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Sorry. Clearly, it was done before. Everything was done previously without that position.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much for that explanation.
I have one other question. Can you anticipate that there's going to be additional money asked for later on in the year, more carry-forward?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I have just a very quick question, and I've actually had this for a while.
It's around designated travellers. Is that something you would have some flexibility on when you want to be able to have these special accommodations for members? I think one of the examples I'd heard was if a member has some small children and needed to have additional people travelling with them.
Overall can you just explain to me the whole policy that you can only change your designated traveller once a year? I'm thinking specifically for members who don't have a spouse and they have grown family members—children, for example, or a parent. They are not able to have those family members come to see them because they obviously aren't covered under dependants' travel points. They can't actually have them as a designated traveller because they can only make that happen once a year.
Can you explain to me the whole policy around that?
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