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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay.
During question period in the House of Commons, I asked you a question about the $237 million contract awarded to Frank Baylis, and you answered that there was no contract between the federal government and Baylis Medical.
Do you still maintain that position?
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
A few weeks ago, during question period, I asked you a question about Frank Baylis and you answered that there was no contract between the federal government and Baylis Medical.
Do you maintain that position?
View Anita Anand Profile
Lib. (ON)
As the Minister for Public Services and Procurement, I can say that we oversaw the build-up of domestic industry, and that process was initiated with ISED. The contract that was ultimately signed in this regard was with a company called FTI. That is the contract I was referring to in the House of Commons when we were discussing it at that time.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
I have here, in black and white, a document from the Government of Canada confirming that the government awarded a contract to Baylis Medical. The document comes from Health Canada. I can forward it to you if you wish.
You are new. You were elected last fall. So you may never have met Frank Baylis. However, when the contract was awarded, when you learned that FTI Professional Grade was created a week before the contract was awarded and there was a scheme to award a contract to Frank Baylis, did you, as Minister of Public Services and Procurement, feel any discomfort, or did it seem natural to you?
View Anita Anand Profile
Lib. (ON)
I really appreciate the chance to have a conversation about this, because I have no idea who Frank Baylis is. I've never met him. I've never seen him. I couldn't pick him out of a crowd.
The point you are making is well taken. This process of choosing the ventilator companies, which would stand up domestic production at a time when Canada had no domestic production and there was global demand for ventilators, was initiated by ISED under its made-in-Canada initiative.
After an independent process of experts reviewed proposals and chose five suppliers, those suppliers were told to...our department at PSPC, and they continued to go forward with the contracts in this regard. Our government's priority was to build up domestic capacity, and that is exactly what we have done in this area to stand Canada in good stead, to have supply chains for ventilators, in response to urgent needs of the provinces and the territories.
I'll ask my deputy minister if he has anything to add.
Robert Czerny
View Robert Czerny Profile
Robert Czerny
2020-08-10 16:24
Thank you very much.
Thank you for this opportunity to address you on important matters of proper relationships and conduct of work in Canada's national government.
My strong interest in federal government matters dates back nearly half a century. I was a public servant from 1973 to 1994. After that, much of my work as a management and communications consultant was for federal government clients, including Parliament itself. I have been very active at the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada for the last 10 years, including five years as president. We have workplace and retired members from the public and private sectors, and our educational activities have been much appreciated by public servants wishing to reflect on the ethical dimensions of their work.
This background allows me to highlight various dimensions of ethical conduct of public servants in relation to Parliament, ministers and cabinet, but I'm not an expert in conflict of interest legislation, structures and procedures or in the details of the present case. Rather, I hope to elucidate the context of the work done by public servants in a professional and ethical manner.
I'll end with five recommendations.
First, trust is essential to a successful public service. The public must trust the government in order to have smooth, constructive relationships between government and society. Without trust, you can't have peace, order and good government any more than you can have an efficient commercial marketplace. This is why it is essential to keep private interests out of government decision-making and operations. Conflict of interest, whether real or merely potential or apparent, can destroy the public's trust in the government to act in its interest. Therefore, avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest is no less important than avoiding its actual occurrence.
Second, non-partisan public servants and elected representatives must collaborate in the work of government. There needs to be clarity about their complementary roles and operating principles. That relationship was articulated in a careful and inspiring manner in “A Strong Foundation”, a 1996 report on public service values and ethics. Besides stating values that you want to find in every workplace and pursuit, such as integrity and respect, it sets out what it means to be a professional in public service within Canada's democratic system.
Third, key mechanisms have grown in this area since that time. There are, for instance, mechanisms for accountability, conflict of interest of both politicians and public servants, and protecting individuals who disclose wrongdoing from reprisal. There is also a solid set of best practices to encourage ethical conduct in organizations. Some of these are the articulation of values and codes of conduct; training and dialogue; counselling and mediation services; and how to manage conflicts of interest in, for instance, small communities where officials frequently have to deal with friends and relations. Ethics officials throughout the federal government have a network through which they share insights on all of this. Our association gives them the opportunity to do the same and to learn from the experiences of those in other sectors.
Fourth, an organization can have a code of conduct, a statement of values, or both.
Codes of conduct spell out a bottom line of rules and norms. Compliance is the issue, and we ask if this or that behaviour passes or fails a norm, if it obeys or contravenes a rule, and what the sanctions or consequences are for transgressions.
Statements of values, on the other hand, articulate the aspirations of an organization. The right questions to ask for these are about how well this or that behaviour embodies our ideals, and how we could do better. This is the realm of learning, improvement and celebrating excellence.
To my mind, an organization needs both. Being serious about ethics requires having a bottom line of acceptability and sanctioning what falls below that line, but organizations must aim higher than mere legality; otherwise, they won't inspire initiative and excellence in their personnel.
Fifth, what happens in an organization reflects its culture. Culture exists at all levels and is constantly shaped by behaviour at all levels, but the key factor is leadership, the tone at the top. Culture cascades; the ethics of senior leaders is signalled by their actions even more than by their words, and it filters down throughout the organization.
Sixth, a key spot where the ethics rubber meets the road is in speaking up, in raising an issue that could meet with resistance and could make the speaker unpopular or worse. A teacher and researcher in the United States named Mary Gentile discovered that people often know what's right and want to do it, but feel awkward about speaking truth to power even if the culture accepts it. Her “giving voice to values” practice involves a person reflecting on their moral courage, developing personal scripts for speaking up, and then rehearsal and practice. Her approach has a worldwide following, including in some business schools and in other uptake in Canada. The capacity to speak truth to power is needed at every level from junior staff with supervisor problems to interaction between a minister and his or her deputy. By the way, I have nothing personally to gain in publicizing her work.
Seventh, speaking up is necessary for cleaning up. Secrecy allows things like bullying and fraud to continue in the dark. However, secrecy is entirely different from confidentiality. Confidentiality is an absolute necessity for public servants to be able to give honest advice to ministers and for ministers to seek it.
Now I will share my five recommendations. The first two are specific to conflict of interest.
Number one, lest conflict of interest ever be overlooked, it should be standard procedure for all cabinet meetings that the chair of the meeting begins by raising the issue of conflict and inviting recusal.
Number two, there could be a similar process at the departmental level. When helping the minister to prepare for a cabinet meeting, the deputy minister's written or personal briefing of the minister could include a reminder along the lines of “please assure yourself that you are not in conflict of interest regarding these agenda items”. This should be seen as part of the deputy's support to a minister.
Number three, requests to a department from a minister or cabinet can be as broad as “provide feasible options for achieving x”, but the request can also be as narrow as “conduct due diligence on choice y for achieving x”. In order to give the best possible advice, in order to speak truth to power and protect ministers from possible risks, the deputy's response to a narrower request could add any other pertinent intelligence that departmental staff can generate.
Number four, public servants sometimes feel inappropriately pressured when making decisions or providing information or analysis. Of course, they should respect their values and ethics code and resist pressures to contravene it. At the same time, other parties should also respect the code and not try to have public servants deviate from it. A statement should be added to the code addressed to anyone who deals with the public service to the effect that “it is a violation of this code to pressure a federal public servant to contravene it.” This is compatible with current instructions to ministers and ministerial staff.
Number five, an ethical culture is sustained by constant dialogue concerning “the good” as well as specific instruction on norms, values, structures and processes. Senior leaders should provide the tone from the top by supporting and participating in such dialogue and training constantly.
In conclusion, I believe that Canada's public service has the capacity to provide expert and ethical service. If that is what parliamentarians want, they should support it, they should insist on nothing less, and they should never ask for anything else.
John Milloy
View John Milloy Profile
John Milloy
2020-06-19 15:10
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First, I would like to thank you for inviting me to join committee members to discuss the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I come to this question from a variety of perspectives. I spent eight years on Parliament Hill as a political staffer, including five in the office of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. I spent 11 years at Queen's Park as an MPP, seven in cabinet, including four years as Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
I retired from politics to academia. I am currently the director of the Centre for Public Ethics at Martin Luther University College, the founding institution of Wilfrid Laurier University. I also serve as the practitioner-in-residence in Laurier's political science department, and I teach in the University of Waterloo's master of public service program.
From all these different perspectives, let me briefly make four observations related to the question before you.
The first involves jobs. As Canada begins to emerge from COVID-19, there is little question that we will face a jobs crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Many jobs lost during the pandemic are simply going to disappear. Youth have been particularly hard hit. The most recent job numbers out of Statistics Canada have been bleak for both non-student and student youth. [Technical difficulty—Editor] parents' basements on a temporary basis to ride out the pandemic are now asking themselves whether this is a permanent situation. So what do we do? Creating the right economic environment is crucial, but we also need to make sure that job seekers have the necessary skills.
During the 2008 recession, I was the minister who brought in Ontario's second career program, which still exists. It was fairly successful in supporting certain categories of laid-off workers in upgrading their skills. We're going to have to go much further than second career and adopt an “all hands on deck” approach, where all of our post-secondary institutions work much more closely with potential employers to ensure their programs correspond to the needs of a changing economy. Continuous intake, micro-credentialing, year-round learning and mandatory experiential learning should all be part of the post-pandemic dialogue.
We can do it. COVID-19 has taught us that, if pushed, our somewhat sluggish post-secondary and training sector can become nimble and creative in altering the way we do business. Just ask all those who had to quickly transform their in-class courses into distance learning due to COVID-19. This doesn't mean the end of literature and theology programs, but there's plenty of room to teach subjects like these in a way that builds needed competencies and gives students practical hands-on experience.
Although the Government of Canada has a key role to play in this transformation, it needs to recognize the leadership of the provinces and territories in this area, which is my second point: Respect jurisdictions. Many Canadians, particularly those in Ontario, often look to Ottawa for leadership in a time of crisis, even in areas that fall under provincial or territorial jurisdiction, and there's a temptation within the federal government to respond by encroaching upon that jurisdiction.
As a former provincial minister, my plea is for the federal government to recognize the leadership of our provinces and territories in areas like post-secondary education and training. Support them, but don't try to create capacity and programming federally that is duplicative. Provinces and territories know their needs. They know their educational institutions and training providers. Yes, by all means, act as a convenor and reshape EI programming, federal support for students and federal tax policies, but do it in direct partnership with our provinces and territories. There is remarkable energy out there, and governments at all levels need to harness it, which leads to my third point.
As the director of a centre at a faith-based institution concerned with public ethics, my advice is not to forget Canada's faith communities as you develop and implement policies and look for partners. Religious voices have something to offer our current public debate. Collectively and individually, they are anxious to see our world transformed into one that focuses on those on the margins and challenges the consumerism and indifference of our society. Canada's faith communities have a long history of involvement in progressive issues and have been active during the current crisis in supporting the lonely, the poor and the vulnerable. They have also turned their attention to what happens next.
I think of the work of Joe Gunn, the executive director of “Centre Oblat – A Voice For Justice” at Ottawa's Saint Paul University, and Sister Sue Wilson, director of the Office for Systemic Justice for the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph in London, Ontario. Their thoughtful commentary on the need for an ethical framework for the post-COVID-19 world is but one example of many voices of faith calling for real change when it comes to issues like income inequality, the environment and indigenous reconciliation, voices that include 43 Lutheran and Anglican bishops who have collectively voiced their support for a guaranteed annual income. Engage and involve these voices.
I am going to change my focus a bit for my final point and address the role of committees like yours.
I was the government house leader during Ontario's last minority government. I recognize the important role committees play in listening to Canadians, advising Parliament, and reviewing legislation and programs. I also understand the power of committees to send for persons, papers and records, virtually unchecked in a minority government situation. Yes, this power can be used to hold the government to account. Unfortunately, it can also be used to go on wild fishing trips and exploit gotcha moments by demanding an endless supply of documents and witnesses from government simply in an effort to make them look bad.
I have witnessed committees paralyze governments as scores of public servants drop everything to hastily respond to a complicated committee request dreamt up on a whim by opposition research, neglecting the needs of citizens and being forced to remove flexibility and nimbleness from programs in order to escape committee scrutiny.
Yes, hold the government to account, but recognize that decisions over the last few months were made quickly in uncharted waters. Lots of mistakes were undoubtedly made by people working in good faith. Resist the temptation to make them the focus of your work.
This is not partisan advice. I would offer the same advice to the Liberals if they were in opposition.
That brings to a close my presentation today, with four admittedly different points: focus on education and training, respect jurisdictions, engage faith communities, and resist the temptation to use the power of committees in a minority parliament to undermine the work of government.
I look forward to any questions.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2020-06-09 14:13
The Prime Minister doesn't seem to respect our parliamentary system. That seems to be in line with his stated admiration of China's basic dictatorship.
Speaking of being above the rules, is it true that the Prime Minister has been found guilty of contravening federal ethics laws?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I do not see where my colleague wants to go with this.
One thing is clear: every day, the current system allows members of Parliament from across the country, including via videoconference, to ask questions and debate issues fundamental to Canadians. That is what we call democracy.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2020-06-09 14:13
Is it true that no other sitting Prime Minister has ever been found guilty of breaking ethics laws?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Once again, I do not know where my colleague wants to go with this.
The important thing is we are here to debate the issues—
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Chair, I'd like to read my motion.
I believe that it's going to be circulated, and it was read into the record at the start of my remarks. I know there's a speakers list, and I'd like to give the chair the opportunity to recognize my colleagues who've asked to speak, and I am conscious of the fact that we do have the lobbying commissioner—she's expected in 25 minutes—and I want to be respectful of that.
I'll read my motion in English, and it's provided in both official languages:
That the Committee commence a study on the report by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner entitled Trudeau II Report, published on August 14, 2019. That the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner be invited to appear for no less than two hours to brief the Committee on his report and that he be given 20 minutes for a prepared statement followed by questions from committee members. That the Committee invite other witnesses as required and that the Committee table a report in the House of Commons no later than May 29, 2020.
Madam Chair, I want to be mindful of the time that we have in this committee. I hope that I'm demonstrating that by bringing my remarks to a close in just a moment. I'd like to again underscore that May 29 date. I'm not talking May 29, 2023 or 2024. I mean this year, this spring. Let's put this issue to bed, because it has not been. We have a report from an officer of Parliament who has not reported back to the committee on this issue. We have an opportunity to deal with that today.
I look forward to hearing from all colleagues on this issue. When you do come to call a vote, Madam Chair, I will ask for a recorded vote at that time.
Thank you very much.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
I thought perhaps I saw some hands up here earlier. I want to make sure they aren't missed.
You guys are good? Awesome.
Having heard from everyone, then, I will call a vote on the motion that is before the committee.
Before doing so, I want to take a moment to caution members. Based on principle, I have ruled this motion in order. However, let this caution stand: If this motion or a motion like it were to come forward to simply change a date, I would have no other choice than to rule that out of order. At that point in time it would be getting silly. I'm putting that out there as a caution to the committee. There have to be sufficient changes made to motions in order for them to come forward.
With that, I will proceed to a recorded vote.
(Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 4)
The Chair: At this point in time I will suspend, and we will prepare for our first witness.
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