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Results: 1 - 30 of 112
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes. To answer your question, I agree with Mr. Richards' proposal. We need to have this good discussion together.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I am not sure whether it will be possible during this meeting, but I would like to be reassured about next fall. The parliamentary session ended with a lack of resources, particularly in terms of interpreters. I would like to be reassured that this summer and fall we will have all the resources that we need to resume our work.
We have had to cancel committee meetings in order to be able to sit in the House of Commons and hold parliamentary committee meetings at the same time. I would like to be reassured on that point, even if it does not happen in this meeting. I would like to make sure that, in the fall, we will have the number of interpreters we require to be able to do our parliamentary work, in the House, in committees and in parliamentary associations.
I don't know whether we were supposed to have news about this today. If not, I would like to see a very clear update at the next Board of Internal Economy meeting on the state of our resources and the state of the situation, which was very worrisome at the end of the session.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, Mr. Chair.
I assume that, when our colleague did that at the time, he knew the rules and regulations of what was allowed and what was not allowed.
My concern with requests for exceptions like that is that they can be used by others to break the rules. People could end up saying that so‑and‑so broke the rules, and all he had to do was go to the Board of Internal Economy and get what he wanted.
To me, the rules are the rules, and people have to follow them. It's unfortunate, but I see no reason for an exception in this case.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I agree with Mr. Rodriguez.
There also seems to be some confusion. The document before us indicates that the member did not have his salary taken. In his letter, the member says that it was taken. I would like to have that little confusion clarified.
I think everyone knows the rules. The arrangements for in‑house printing and the number of copies allowed are quite clear. For the time being, I'm not really in favour of granting this exception, unless you have other arguments to convince me.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to address two items of business arising from the previous meeting.
I would like to talk about the dashboards first. I read them carefully and they are very useful in my work as a whip. If I may, I would like to ask a few questions about the dashboard.
On page 3 of the report, it says that the preliminary tests are 96% done. Does this mean that 96% of witnesses have undergone a preliminary test? Is that what that means, Mr. Janse?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right.
Does what is written on page 4 mean that half of the witnesses did not have headsets that complied with our standards?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Good.
The last question I have on this part is about page 6.
When witnesses come to committee and they don't have headsets or they don't have the equipment, what happens?
Are witnesses automatically invited to reappear? Has there been testimony without headsets, and therefore without interpretation?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Fine.
Yesterday, at the Standing Liaison Committee, someone said that most committees have adopted housekeeping motions that ask the committee chair to tell members at the beginning of the meeting whether the tests have been done and whether the witnesses have the necessary equipment. This makes things easier.
It was noted that few chairs made this statement at the beginning of the meeting. Knowing in advance that witnesses do not have helmets or that they have technical difficulties can be helpful. It allows the committee to make a decision at the outset rather than finding that the witness does not have everything they need during their testimony. Members may be too uncomfortable to interrupt.
So committee chairs have been asked to indicate this at the beginning of the sitting. I encourage the whips to remind all committee members that it is important to know this at the beginning of the meeting so that good decisions can be made. This prevents witnesses from appearing without the right equipment, which has implications for our interpreters.
The other point I wanted to make is to you, Mr. Chair.
It concerns your ruling in the House on Monday, June 7, regarding the misconduct of the member for Pontiac and your willingness to ask the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to look into this matter. I had discussions with my colleagues prior to the Board of Internal Economy meeting. I had invited you to review the decision to put the April 14 incident on the agenda, and I note that this item is absent. So I wanted to thank you for listening to all the members of the committee.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
First of all, I would like to thank you for your presentation, Ms. Kletke.
The Bloc Québécois caucus really has no problem at all with Printing and Mailing Services. Although not everything is in place, we are rather impressed by the fact that, already, production times often better the standards. We are therefore very satisfied with the Printing and Mailing Services. We are very happy with the change in format that you are proposing for constituency mail. We think it is a much more user-friendly model.
Our only minor concerns relate to Canada Post services in the Upper North Shore area. The interface between the printing service, the post office and the delivery of mail to fellow citizens can mean five to seven weeks for mail delivery. We were wondering who we could talk to about this problem. Mail delivery is about the only problem we have, for example, in one area of the Manicouagan riding, where the post offices are further away.
As for the rest, sincerely, I think you are proactive. I like your professional service. Your whole team really cares about producing high quality publications. Unlike my colleague, we like to receive digital proofs that we have to approve. For us, it speeds up the processing and printing, and satisfies us.
I wanted to congratulate you on finding ways to get our publications out as quickly as possible, as always.
I do have one small suggestion for you, though. You said you would make short videos to educate MPs or their staff about the new operation. I would add a video that could demonstrate the difference between a constituency letter and a group letter. MPs have a hard time grasping the difference, the rules around these two publications and their different time frames, among other things.
We know that between a group mailing and a constituency mailing there can be less than 30 days, but this notion has not yet been absorbed. So you could take the opportunity to add that to your videos. For our part, as whips, we would direct our MPs and their staff to this short learning video so that they are familiar with the distinction between these two important parliamentary tools that are framed by different rules.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have a question. We've noticed that over the past two weeks there have been significant technological problems with interpretation, whether in the House of Commons or in committees. Last week, we were having difficulty going from French to English or English to French. This week, we're noticing that it's difficult to go from French to English.
Can someone explain the nature of the problem? Is it a technological or specific problem?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
If I may, Mr. Speaker, I'll ask another question.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
It's a question for Mr. Janse.
Mr. Janse, you sent all the whips' offices your desire, in response to the clerks' request, to hold virtual rather than hybrid meetings in committees. Some clerks would be at home or elsewhere, but not on site.
The Bloc Québécois made an effort to ask members who liked attending committee meetings in person not to do so, because you had asked us to. We found that it was not necessarily a directive or an instruction that was followed by the other parties. We've asked our members to do that, because we want to listen to the clerks, as you've asked. However, we see that members from other parties are physically sitting in the meeting rooms. It seems difficult for them to comply.
We in the Bloc Québécois have strictly respected what you asked for, but when we return from the break, some members will probably come and attend committees in person. I wanted to warn you of that. We've made our effort. I think that when we return from the break, some members will want to use their parliamentary privilege to be physically present in committee. It's not out of disrespect for the clerks, but in order to work better.
For them, it's a more efficient way of working. I wanted to formally notify you of this at the BIE. I'm proud to say that we made our effort when you asked us to.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
All right.
The Bloc Québécois will support you on this. No problem.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes, I have a point of order.
I don't understand. It's a very important matter, I agree, and I hope we have time to grant it the importance it deserves, but it's already an item on the agenda for the portion of the meeting in camera. So, I have a lot of trouble understanding why Mr. Holland is starting the discussion on this during the public portion of the meeting, because he is well aware of it.
So I'm asking you to rule on this, Mr. Speaker, because we're not following the agenda right now.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I feel like we're complicating matters. Mr. Holland is simply asking that Mr. Lemire appear in camera.
We all know that what happened is extremely serious, and that it had a huge impact on Mr. Amos's life. We have to be able to say that there are limits in politics as well and that the line has obviously been crossed.
We're not having a legal discussion today, or a discussion about solicitor-client relationships or anything of that nature. All Mr. Holland is asking is that the committee call Mr. Lemire to appear, and there is no question that he has the authority to do so. In fact, recently, on several occasions, the committee has called individuals to appear before the Board of Internal Economy to explain themselves.
I would point out that when an in camera meeting is recommended, it is done under section 3.1 of the Board of Internal Economy Rules of Practice and Procedure, which I will read to you:
The Board must hold a meeting or portion of a meeting in camera in circumstances where it considers:
(a) matters subject to solicitor-client or litigation privilege; or
(b)sensitive matters respecting the health or family situation of an identifiable individual.
This matter has nothing to do with either of those things. We're simply looking at whether or not we should call Mr. Lemire to appear in camera to come and explain himself. I feel we should vote on it.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I'd like us to exercise caution.
The April 14 incident is unprecedented, and it is an important matter that we need to address, I agree. However, we should not set any more precedents on the Board of Internal Economy, the BOIE.
Since I have been on the Board of Internal Economy, all the more personal discussions that involved members who had broken the rules have been held in camera. I don't want to minimize this event, but I have a lot of questions about Mr. Lemire's potential appearance before the BOIE. Mr. Holland says we need to define what his intent was, and a member's intent is a legal concept.
I do not consider the Board of Internal Economy to be a court of law and it has no authority to define an individual's intent. I myself would like to ask a lot of legal questions. This isn't a refusal or a desire to hide anything on my part. To suggest otherwise would be to imply very bad intentions on my part, and I sensed some suggestion of that earlier. I simply want to ensure that the BOIE does not become a body used for political and partisan purposes. I want to ensure that we maintain our usual working methods when dealing with important and confidential matters involving members and their personal lives.
Of course, this event has had an impact on Mr. Amos's personal life, and I can assure you that it has also had an impact on Mr. Lemire's life. So I would prefer that we avoid setting a bad precedent and get to the bottom of this event in camera. Like Mr. Richards and other colleagues around the table, I also have legal concerns about the implications of this appearance and the nature of the questions that might be asked. So I feel this appearance should be in camera. I am cautioning us against turning this committee into a tribunal. That would set a precedent, and when future events occur, it will be difficult for us to sort out what should be dealt with in camera and what should be dealt with in public.
I understand Mr. Rodriguez's comments, which are based on the Board of Internal Economy's Rules of Practice and Procedure. However, as we have been saying all along, we're managing a new and exceptional situation and we need to be open to the possibility of managing this incident in a new way. I strongly suggest that we meet together at the end of the meeting, as planned, to have a substantive discussion in camera. That way, we can ask all our questions to the law clerk, to the IT staff, to all the people around us who are providing support and advice. That's what I encourage us to do.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
My counterpart on the government side, Mr. Rodriguez, said something that I agree with, that we are complicating matters. We are complicating matters because we have been called into this meeting today which includes an in camera portion for us to address this issue. Let's follow the agenda for the meeting to which we have been called.
Presumably, we are complicating matters by trying to find a way to deal with a matter that obviously raises some very important legal issues. The Bloc Québécois whip, the official opposition whip and the NDP House leader have raised questions that need to be addressed.
In closing, I urge all my colleagues to be cautious. When I say cautious, I also mean refer to the facts. Earlier, Mr. Holland drew a parallel between the incident that occurred and someone taking a picture of a member of Parliament snoozing in the lobby with their tie askew. The parallel is null and void. The lobby is the lobby. However, in hybrid Parliament, when a member turns on their camera, their location becomes an extension of the House, with all the consequences and responsibilities that implies. The lobby is not an extension of the House.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As you know, for as long as I have been part of the BOIE, I have always sought compromise and tried to mediate when there were opposing suggestions or positions. So I am deeply saddened by Mr. Holland's request to force a vote. I know he has an important job. I understand that. He knows that I am empathetic and understanding of the fact that he has that job and that the incident that happened on April 14 deserves to be discussed by the BOIE. I don't deny that.
I am deeply troubled by the fact that he is trying to use the BOIE for political purposes to make these discussions public, when all opposition parties have already made it very clear to the BOIE that they want to thoroughly discuss this issue in camera. How will the Chair decide that this discussion is legal in nature, but another is not?
We need to take the time to discuss this incident in a portion of the meeting in camera that is on the agenda. There is no question of hiding anything. The incident is well known. An apology has been made to the House. The Speaker has made his ruling. Now we want to study the incident further. It is scheduled on the agenda; that shows that the BOIE wants to discuss it.
It is not appropriate to call for a vote and break with the important customs of the only body in Parliament that is supposed to be non-partisan, to remain calm and to handle difficult situations. I repeat, the incident is very important, I am not denying that.
I call for calm. I, for one, wish to discuss this thoroughly during the in camera portion. I don't want Mr. Holland to think that I'm trying to hide anything. However, even faced with the incident of April 14, we can't afford to set precedents that would be detrimental to the proper functioning of the BOIE and its performance. Even though we have strong opposition in the House of Commons, strong government, and good debate, the BOIE is our non-partisan bulwark for dealing with the toughest things.
I call for calm. Please, let's stop this discussion, let's not go to a vote, and based on the agenda, let's go in camera to discuss this item, as it was scheduled. No one is refusing to discuss it. No one is refusing to make decisions. What is being refused, and it seems pretty clear, is that we handle this matter in this way, because it involves all kinds of issues, some of them legal.
I would very much like to see Mr. Holland reverse his decision and not call a vote. It would be really distressing if the BOIE were used for political reasons. I'm sure that is not his original intent, so I would ask him to reconsider his request.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am both troubled and saddened that members would link what is happening right now to partisanship. Mr. Amos is not a Liberal. He is first and foremost a human being, a father, a son and a husband. I would say the same thing about anyone else. What happened to Mr. Amos should not happen to anyone, regardless of their political stripes. We should be basing our discussion on that premise, rather than following our party lines.
He is a human being first and foremost. The photo was taken and distributed, and it changed his life. Mr. Lemire has admitted to taking the photo. That's the only information we need in order to decide whether to call him to appear or not. We don't need to have partisan discussions. If that's not enough for you, I wonder what it is you need in order to decide whether or not to call someone to appear in camera to explain themselves.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The current debate in this major meeting is whether or not to respect the consensus. A consensus is a consensus, full stop. We can sometimes give qualified support to a consensus, but a consensus is black and white. You either accept it or you don't.
The reality is that the Board of Internal Economy has always operated by consensus. You mentioned the legal knowledge of the people around you; let me mention the historical knowledge of the people around me.
On June 18, 2015, a similar situation occurred here at the board. I will read an excerpt:
The Board discussed the current policy of allowing annual and compensatory leave to be taken by Members’ employees during a period of dissolution. There being no consensus on possible modifications to the current policy, the status quo was maintained, with Messrs. Duncan, LeBlanc and Van Loan and Mrs. Ambler noting their disagreement.
So a consensus is a consensus. You either agree with it or you don't. If some people have a problem with it, let them say so, but we feel that there is no consensus on this.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have some experience, but I don't have as much as all the people gathered around the table.
To my knowledge, everything is done by consensus. I would like to call to witness Mrs. DeBellefeuille, who always works in a spirit of consensus, by the way. I recognize her professional background in the field.
You mentioned earlier that it was a tradition and not a rule. What I understand is that we would be breaking with tradition. Before proceeding to a vote, I would like to be told when there was a vote at the Board of Internal Economy for the last time.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Laframboise, I would also like to add my voice to that of Mr. Holland to tell you that your entire team was able to offer support and, above all, adapt to the particular context of the pandemic.
I dare to name Ms. Mercier, from your team, who is the human resources advisor for the Bloc québécois. We asked her for specific training on mental health, because the employees needed tools and intervention strategies to detect or screen for signs of distress among our fellow citizens who call our offices, who call for help, and who may even resort to suicide.
Many citizens in our constituencies phoned our offices. Our staff were completely overwhelmed because they didn't necessarily have the professional foundation or skills, or haven't developed clinical skills to be able to take these kinds of calls.
Frankly, I did not experience this during my first terms of office. This is the first time that such a large number of citizens have called us and expressed distress and great despondency. This requires our teams to be informed about mental health resources in their respective constituencies. They also need to develop first-line intervention skills, to be able to assess the seriousness of the call and the level of distress. Our staff need to be able to make connections to protect the person and offer a little more support than is usually available in the constituency offices.
I wanted to thank you, because you offered the mental health training to all caucuses. About 60 people, members of Parliament and staff, participated, including 26 members of the Bloc teams, whether members of Parliament or staff. That training was great. It was so well designed that after only one hour, everyone came out 100% satisfied, with better tools to intervene.
I think it shows that your organization is very nimble, very flexible, able to adapt to changing needs, and able to deal with the issues that our teams face in Ottawa or in our constituencies. So, I know this is a long speech, but we don't take enough time to thank you for the really important work you do.
I now turn to another subject.
When I read your presentation, I realized that there are several services that I didn't know existed, even as a whip. You know, we don't always have time to go to the House's Source site and to look at everything you offer. I was surprised to learn a lot of things that I couldn't share with my caucus. I'm sure they're not even aware of this, nor are the staff of all our teams.
So, with your permission, I would be grateful if you would make the summary of your presentation available so that I can first promote what is being offered free of charge, what is being done by your teams, so that we can find a better way to disseminate this information in our caucuses. I don't have as much experience as some of the other people around the table, but I do have some experience, and I have learned things that I want to share with my caucus and my team members. If the members of the Board of Internal Economy agree, we could make a summary available, which you could share with us, and we could make a presentation to our own caucuses. This is my first request.
On another note, I understand Mr. Holland's request to support the professional development of our teams, our workers, our caucus members, and our employees on the Hill or in our ridings. I completely agree. Personally, I am currently on leave without pay, for civic duties, from the Quebec public service. All employees had about $1,000 or $1,200 a year to upgrade their skills and get additional training. I wonder about the $2,000 and $10,000 amounts, because I know that a lot of training is offered free of charge.
If a survey of members of all caucuses showed that many of them wanted mindfulness training, I am sure that your team would be able to develop it and to offer it at no cost. Training like that would clearly come under the central House budget.
I am not opposed to having our constituency budgets increased so that an additional $10,000 can be allocated to professional development for our staff, and I don't want Mr. Holland to see this as opposition to his suggestion. I feel that the need is justified. However, would it be $10,000? How would it be managed?
I have a lot of questions. Actually, the range of services and the expertise in your department are so great that I want to ask you instead whether you have courses that our teams could take and that your teams would develop, to meet the needs that Mr. Holland has identified.
I do not want to oppose an increase in the budget for staff training, development or even co-development. I would just like to find out whether your service has the flexibility required to increase the range of your offerings, which could perhaps meet the needs. I will be able to tell you what I decide after I hear your answers.
For the moment, I am still a little undecided about Mr. Holland's request. I still have to be convinced that $10,000, or $2,000 per staff member, is a good expense.
However, if your service cannot provide that kind of training, I would be quite inclined to agree to Mr. Holland's request.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I don't want us to leave with Mr. Holland's proposal unresolved. In my view, it is really worthwhile. I am not opposed to additional funds coming from places other than our budgets. I have to tell you sincerely that I do not really agree with the money coming out of our budgets and being set aside for this, as Mr. Richards suggests. This is because our budgeting for the year is already done.
Mr. Holland's proposal is a good compromise. In fact, if we agree and if Mr. Paquette can show us that it's financially possible to add a fund specifically for the professional development of our employees, starting this year, the suggestion could be really helpful. We would need to document the process, showing whether the budget was used, what training was taken, and so forth. We would also need to evaluate it in order to come to a better decision, given how the budgets are to be allocated and used by April 1, 2022.
In that way, we would be looking out for our employees who, as was previously mentioned, are going through really difficult and unprecedented situations. We could set this up this year, the one that started on April 1, and use the amounts set aside for it, as well as our operating budget, to help our employees meet the new professional challenges. We could use it as somewhat of a pilot project, evaluate it at the end of next year, determine whether it met the employees' needs and whether it is a workable solution. We could then decide whether we were going to continue it.
I am quite in favour of that compromise proposal, which meets the needs of our employees. So I am in favour of Mr. Holland's initial proposal.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I would like to make one final comment on this, Mr. Speaker.
If you are letting the human resources people do the analysis that Mr. Richards is asking for, I believe that last year must not be used as a reference, because it's not representative. Because of the pandemic, we spent less in certain areas, so we have to use a wider reference than just last year. In that way, I feel that the analysis would be more accurate.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I just want to follow up briefly on the minutes, the appendix of which deals with the statistics for pre-testing of parliamentary committee meetings and all the efforts that are being made by the House of Commons Administration to make our meetings more acceptable in terms of interpretation in both languages, whether it is from English into French or from French into English.
On the one hand, I would like to thank the Administration for keeping this dashboard, which is very revealing for me. I am really happy to see that the pre-testing is leading to improvements. Over the months, thanks to the dashboard, we have been able to see that the Administration has achieved a very interesting degree of efficiency in facilitating the interpretation and the participation of witnesses, so that they are heard in both languages. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Administration for providing us with this data, which allows us to see the improvements.
On the other hand, since these improvements are so interesting, I would like us to be able to communicate them to the Liaison Committee so that the chairs are also aware of all the efforts that are being made, particularly with regard to the percentages of incidents or events that result in meetings being extended. All committee chairs must be made particularly aware of this fact. If the Board of Internal Economy agrees, I would propose that we make these documents accessible to the chairs of all parliamentary committees.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have not analyzed this for hours, although I have talked to several people, but instinctively, I am opposed to this. I don't feel comfortable. It's like saying that someone can come to Ottawa, go home, rent a hotel room for a fortnight, come back to Ottawa, go home, and again, get a paid hotel room for a fortnight.
We are trying to discourage travel, that is, we are trying to limit the presence of members in the House. I think we are setting an example ourselves by limiting this presence to those who live in or around the national capital region.
I don't feel comfortable with that at all.
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