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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)
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)
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
I'll go to Mr. Holland then Mr. Strahl.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
Ms. Chagger.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you.
Mr. Holland.
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)
Thank you.
Madam Chagger.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Holland, you had something else you wanted to add.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
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.
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