Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
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View Candice Bergen Profile
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
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
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
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
Thank you.
I'll go to Mr. Holland then Mr. Strahl.
View Candice Bergen Profile
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
All right.
I have Mr. Julian and then Ms. Chagger.
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