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View Michael Barrett Profile
Thanks very much, Chair.
The reasons for the 106(4) letter that you referenced, which has us here today, are some concerning revelations that have been reported in the media, specifically The Globe and Mail, that deal with contracts involving Data Sciences, which is a company that was founded by an individual named Tom Pitfield. This individual is a personal lifelong friend of the Prime Minister, who is a member of the Liberal caucus. This individual is also a senior Liberal campaign strategist, and that organization, Data Sciences, has been an integral part, as publicly reported, of the Liberal Party of Canada's electoral campaigns and their voter contact database known as Liberalist. It helps with things like digital engagement for its campaigns.
Furthermore, NGP VAN is a company that the Liberal Party of Canada licenses to run its political database. NGP VAN and Data Sciences are reported by the folks who have been contacted by The Globe and Mail to do the same thing. We've seen the contract between the Liberal members who have signed and NGP VAN, and we know that Data Sciences is being contracted by Liberal members. The rationale once given by the company for the contract with Data Sciences is that it provides technical support for the services provided by NGP VAN. The problem with this is that the contract that was published in The Globe and Mail details the service-level agreement including technical support for its own software, which raises the question, what is Data Sciences doing for the Liberal members? What are they getting from this contract?
When asked, some members of the Liberal caucus responded—and here I'll refer to a June 21 Globe and Mail article entitled “Liberal MPs’ budgets pay same firms that help run party’s digital campaigns”—as follows. The article reads in part:
Mr. Easter [the member for Malpeque] was unable to explain what Data Sciences did for his office in managing social media. “I do my own,” he said. “I quite honestly don’t know what [Data Sciences] does,” he added.
Liberal MP John McKay also said he had no idea why money from his office budget was going to Mr. Pitfield’s company. “I haven't got a clue,” he said. “I can't explain it. I vaguely recall that once a year we write a cheque and it's always been explained that it is within the ethical guidelines, so we all kind of sign up for it and it just goes into some oblivion”.
The concern as it relates to this committee, Chair, is that this places some members of the government—members of the Liberal caucus—in a conflict of interest based on their relationship with Mr. Pitfield. We have individuals who have personal friendships with public office holders. They're then given contracts by those public office holders, and, what's more, those individuals, in this case a minister, are in a position to direct or coordinate other members to retain those services for purposes that the members are unclear about.
Certainly in the context of our fiduciary responsibility to manage the funds that are entrusted to us in the exercise of our role as members of Parliament and to dispense funds from what we know as our MOB, our members' operating budget, it's important that we first of all understand why we're retaining the services of others. I also think it's important for Canadians to understand that signing contracts is not something a member can delegate. Members have to personally sign and authorize those contracts. There needs to be an understanding and certainly a basic awareness of what a contract is for. That's exercising a basic fiduciary responsibility.
When there is all of this context of those personal relationships, of that connection to a political organization, and when in these contracts it's very clear that there's an exclusivity, that the company will only deal with members of one political affiliation, in this case Liberal members, it raises all kinds of questions. The functionality of the software also raises questions about whether there is an ability to engage in very specific voter-related activities.
It's for those reasons that we initiated the call for this meeting. It's very important, when there seems to be an inevitable election coming this summer.... I welcome the Prime Minister's proving the speculators wrong on that, because now is not the time for an election. I think it's important that we understand whether or not taxpayer money from members' budgets has been used to subsidize the political operations of a political party in Canada. It's very important that we know that there's been no misappropriation of that money and that we understand that there have been no conflicts of interest in members' and ministers' exercise of their duties. That's what brings us here today.
With that said, Chair, I would like to move the following motion:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vii), and in light of recent media reports, the committee undertake a study on conflicts of interest relating to taxpayer-funded contracts with Data Sciences Inc; and that the committee do invite Mr. Tom Pitfield to appear and testify before the committee at a time and date of the Chair’s choosing and no later than seven days following the adoption of this motion.
Mr. Chair, that motion is available in both official languages in paper format, and it's been provided in electronic format to the clerk, so it's whatever your comfort or members' comfort is with receiving that in paper. Once that's been distributed, I just have a few final comments to make before other members speak to or against the motion.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
That's the truth. Jim Flaherty was working on financial literacy. Do you know that I still receive emails from certain members sent from their Assistant 1 accounts? I made a donation to the party, but I receive emails from constituency offices. Interesting, isn't it? Perhaps we should look into that. I think it's very important.
Let's get back to the information before us relating to the Liberal Party. We've had contracts with these two companies for years. The company with the odd name—what is it again? Here it is. It's called NGP VAN. That company provides the software. It's a long-standing contract. It's the same company we deal with for the Liberalist database, but there's what they call a firewall between the two systems. All the big IT companies have that because of all their different clients. If another party ever wanted to do business with the company, it could have the opportunity.
Nevertheless, we've seen all the attempts by the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes—what a lovely name for a riding, by the way. He and his party are going out of their way to find the name of every single business person who is a Liberal. It's actually not a crime to be a Liberal. We all have our political allegiances in life. We want people to engage in civic life. We want people to be politically active. That's what democracy is all about. According to Mr. Barrett, however, it is unacceptable to own a business and do business with our party. Clearly, this is yet another witch hunt. They have found nothing. Isn't that right? The Ethics Commissioner released his report, but the findings probably weren't what the opposition members were hoping for.
As I said earlier, I'd really appreciate having the clerk talk about the mandate of this committee and that of the Board of Internal Economy. It may not cover everything, but I have a snippet here.
This is what the Standing Orders say about this committee's mandate:
(h) Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics shall include, among other matters:(i) the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Information Commissioner;(ii) the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Privacy Commissioner;(iii) the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner;(iv) the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation, together with the operational and expenditure plans relating to the Commissioner of Lobbying;(v) the review of and report on reports of the Privacy Commissioner, the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner with respect to his or her responsibilities under the Parliament of Canada Act relating to public office holders and on reports tabled pursuant to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, which shall be severally deemed permanently referred to the committee immediately after they are laid upon the table;
That brings me to Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vi):
(vi) in cooperation with other committees, the review of and report on any federal legislation, regulation or standing order which impacts upon the access to information or privacy of Canadians or the ethical standards of public office holders;(vii) the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives which relate to access to information and privacy across all sectors of Canadian society and to ethical standards relating to public office holders;and any other matter which the House shall from time to time refer to the standing committee.
It's clear, then, that the committee's mandate relates only to the work of those four commissioners or a special project, such as the one on the security of personal information or the one on new technologies, which we tried to undertake and hope to have a chance to complete. Nevertheless, the parliamentary institution that deals with issues of a more political and partisan nature, and matters relating to the expenditures of members is the Board of Internal Economy.
We have all seen cases where members misused their funding and had to go before the Board of Internal Economy to defend themselves. They faced fines or restrictions as a result of their actions.
As we all know, the Board of Internal Economy is made up of members from every recognized party. That is one of the principles of Parliament: members are to settle issues related to the activities of other members.
Here we all are, meeting today. I'm not sure what things are like in your neck of the woods, but we are probably all trying to enjoy a bit of downtime with our families. In my province, things are good and we are able to go out. I've even participated in a few activities put on by not-for-profit organizations. Businesses have been able to hire students. Things are good, and we are able to serve our constituents. That is the whole point of using any software to manage constituency work. For instance, these systems help us identify where farmers who need to be consulted are. Right now, I'm consulting with stakeholders and organizations that work with people with disabilities. It's really important to have access to systems like these, which help us do our job. I hope no one here is going to dismiss the importance of having access to service in French as well. I hope everyone understands just how important it is to have this type of technical support available in both official languages.
It's hard to stop once you get going, but I will leave it there. Now I'll switch to English to explain what I'd like to do.
I will now move the following amendment:
Whereas section 52.6 of the Parliament of Canada Act states that, in relation to the BOIE, “the Board has the exclusive authority to determine whether any previous, current or proposed use by a member of the House of Commons of any funds, goods, services or premises made available to that member for the carrying out of parliamentary functions is or was proper, given the discharge of the parliamentary functions of members of the House of Commons, including whether any such use is or was proper having regard to the intent and purpose of the by-laws made under subsection 52.5(1)”, I move that the motion be amended by adding, after the word “That”, the following:
the issue of contracts related to Data Sciences be referred to the BOIE. That the issue of the CIMS system which facilitates partisan election related actions to be taken from constituency offices and parliament hill offices to determine if they are in compliance with the rules set out by the Board also be referred to the BOIE.
I have it in English only. Can I send it to you?
View Patricia Lattanzio Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Following up on the intervention of my colleague Mr. Dong, and quite recently my colleague Mrs. Shanahan, I think Mr. Dong was making his points, and from your intervention, Mr. Chair, I understand that it was going beyond the scope of the amendment. Therefore, the question was, could there be a subamendment?
In light of everything that's been discussed this afternoon and to be able to cover what we've sent from this side of the fence, we're saying that if we want to be transparent, then let's look at the data from all members of Parliament. We want to be transparent. Let's look at it all, because today we came in with one idea, and as we keep talking we keep discovering more and more information that perhaps Canadians ought to know.
I mean, we want to keep it very brief but I'm sort of coming to the conclusion that there's so much more information out there that maybe could be of interest for the Board of Internal Economy to examine.
Here's my subamendment, Mr. Chair. You will recall the paragraph that my colleague, Ms. Shanahan, seeks to amend. If you want to follow in the second paragraph, where it says “that the issue of the CIMS system”, I would add, “and all providers of data services to members of Parliament”, then I would continue, “which facilitates partisan election-related actions to be taken from constituency offices and Parliament Hill offices to determine if they are in compliance with the rules set out by the Board also be”, and I would add “examined and” before “referred to the BOIE”, the Board of Internal Economy.
Is that okay, Mr. Chair?
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay, so that's interesting for all members to know that we're still dealing with a public component of the study as well. I find this subamendment, again, very interesting. To take that study of all the different political parties and the software we use and the practices we have in our constituency offices and on Parliament Hill would, I think, be very useful. There would be one part in public and then part of it at the Board of Internal Economy.
I think, as we know, different committees will work on different aspects of a problem, and it can inform another committee when the work has already been undertaken elsewhere. I'm not always in favour of that. I like everyone to stay in their lane, but we can see there's that flexibility in the parliamentary system, right, and that we are authors of the work we do here, as are other committee members when they are there.
On that note, and in the interests of time, I move that this meeting do hereby be adjourned.
View Chris Warkentin Profile
That would be final, and this meeting would cease to happen. A suspension would allow the committee to come back at a later period of time, but it is an adjournment vote, so we will ask the clerk to read through the roll call with regard to the adjournment.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 6; nays 3)
View Peter Julian Profile
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I think we probably have about 45 minutes. I believe that Mr. Ste-Marie wants to come back to an issue as well.
I've already circulated the motion and I'll read it for the record and then add an amendment just to facilitate things. This is following discussions with Mr. Sorbara. I move:
That the Committee request that the government initiate a public inquiry under the Income Tax Act—
I would add “or the Inquiries Act”.
—to investigate tax planning by KPMG, or any of its subsidiaries, in the Isle of Man, the possible involvement of the sword companies Shashqua, Katar, Sceax, Spatha and Parrhesia corporations, and to investigate tax fraud in the Cinar, Norshield and Mount Real cases and any possible links with the KPMG Isle of Man tax planning and/or Isle of Man's sword companies, and that this be reported to the House.
I'm adding “or the Inquiries Act” because that gives the government the scope to use either tool, and since there is some dispute around the use of the Income Tax Act, my interpretation—and I would certainly agree with Mr. Ste-Marie and Mr. Lareau on that—is that it gives the government a broader scope to use the tool that is most appropriate.
The most important thing here is that we know from the testimony we had from Janet Watson, from the really important journalism we've seen both with Enquête on Radio-Canada and also from The Fifth Estate on CBC that thousands of Canadians were defrauded. That money was taken overseas. We have a responsibility and we've undertaken to get to the bottom of it as much as we can, but to date, we have asked KPMG many questions and have received often evasive or incorrect responses or no responses at all.
Therefore, I believe that given what we know and that we all share an interest in getting to the bottom of this and we all share an interest in seeking justice for the victims of these colossal frauds—half a billion dollars, and people losing their life's savings. You can only imagine somebody who saved up, like Janet Watson did, $68,000 of her life savings and lost it all due to this fraud.
I believe we have a responsibility to pass this motion. Ultimately, it is a request, but it does seek justice for the victims, and I believe that's what every member of this committee wants to see as well.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Perhaps it will be the case that folks on the committee will have what they need in order to participate in the discussion by the time I'm finished my remarks.
What I'd like to say is that I don't think the amendment really contributes to the best spirit of the motion. I think many of my colleagues on the committee will be familiar with the debate around a referendum that was had in a very fulsome way—and I know you are, Madam Chair, having sat on that Special Committee on Electoral Reform.
The referendum was one of the hot topics, if you will. I'm sure colleagues on the committee who bore witness and participated in that process will know that the Special Committee on Electoral Reform did in fact recommend a referendum as part of a way forward. That was a compromise that was forged among many different parties at that time for a parliamentary-led process.
I've always been of the view, and I think New Democrats largely have been of the view, that if a party has an electoral mandate to change the voting system, then a referendum is not necessarily required, and that's part of the [Technical difficulty--Editor] and mandate building that happens in a general election.
In this case what we're talking about is a study of how a citizens' assembly would work. In fact, I think one of the questions the citizens' assembly ought to pronounce itself on is the process for moving ahead with changing the voting system, and that includes the question of the referendum. I think that's a discussion that needs to happen again. I think it should happen in a forum that's less politicized. That's the proposal, anyway, of a citizens' assembly. It's to allow that conversation to happen in a forum that is not led by partisan political actors.
For as much as there was a bit of a compromise forged on the committee last time—and I think we saw a willingness by political players, as it were, to lean on a referendum or to incorporate a referendum in order to get buy-in from many different parties about how to move forward—the citizens' assembly is an alternative way of moving forward. I think if it's going to do its best work, it's important not to prejudice the outcome of that process. I think the nature and of the selling features of the citizens' assembly is that it is an open-ended process, where citizens get to engage directly in the policy-making process.
Not only at the outset of launching a citizens' assembly, but if in the very idea of this committee of Parliament studying the notion of a citizens' assembly we're going to already pronounce on a foundational question about what that process looks like, I think we would be making a mistake. There will be lots of time to discuss the value of a referendum. I hope that a citizens' assembly discusses that. There will be need for parliamentary action even after a citizens' assembly, and I'm quite confident there will be an appropriate parliamentary forum for that debate to be had.
I don't think that at this committee at this time, while we're looking at simply studying what a citizens' assembly would look like, it's the appropriate time to already be setting those kinds of constraints on the [Technical difficulty--Editor] to get the most value out of the process. We won't get the most value out of the study on what that process would look like if we've already set tight parameters on key outcomes.
That's why I'm not enthusiastic about this amendment. I wanted to offer those thoughts.
View John Nater Profile
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I see that the translated amendment is now out and into the inboxes of our fellow members. I just want to say a few brief comments about this amendment and why I believe that fundamentally it needs to be included.
First, for some background, we can look at different regions and provinces that have employed a citizens' assembly. I am obviously more familiar with Ontario. It was my home province in the 2007 referendum that was held in conjunction with 2007 provincial election. The recommendations from that citizens' assembly were included as a referendum as part of that election.
Fundamentally, I believe that no changes to the way we elect parliamentarians, to the way we go about electing a government in Canada, should be done without first having the approval of the Canadian public. The obvious way of doing that is through a nationwide referendum, which is why I fundamentally believe that if we're going to go down this path of looking at or studying a citizens' assembly, I think there need to be a few markers in place now, at the beginning, for what we fundamentally believe should be included as part of that process.
From a Conservative perspective, I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone that our position hasn't changed significantly since we studied this as part of electoral reform—that is, any change needs to be done through a referendum. That's where we stand. That's where we're putting down our markers and that's obviously why we introduced this amendment.
We're not opposed to the motion. We're not opposed to having a comprehensive study of citizens' assemblies. Frankly, I think it's a worthwhile enterprise to have this review, but we are laying the groundwork. We are laying markers at the beginning that as the Conservative Party we believe in Canadians having a say on how they do that. That's where we're coming from.
Again, as I said, I don't want to take too much time on this, because I'm sure that I see a few other hands up, and I know that the amendment is now in the inboxes. I will yield the floor and we will carry on.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-22 11:18
I want to say just briefly that I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Mr. Blaikie's assessment. I feel that this amendment foreshadows or predicts an outcome to an open process that's supposed to be deliberative.
In these types of deliberative processes, I think there are probably many ways at the tail end of a national citizens' assembly to verify, validate or gauge the public's overall reception to recommendations or solutions that are put forward as a result of the process. I think this binds that group, through their deliberations, to an outcome that may not be the best possible result or outcome from all of their deliberations. I think it's counter to the national citizens' assembly and the objectives that I think they normally have.
I would note that there are many examples of national citizens' assemblies or citizens' assemblies not at a national level that have not concluded with a referendum of any kind. There are quite a few examples of those. It's not like it's necessary per se. It may very well be necessary, but again, the whole point is that in this citizen-focused deliberative process those citizens are coming to that conclusion themselves through the process, and if they were to recommend a national referendum, I suppose that would carry a lot of weight through the integrity of that process.
That's the way I see it. I just wanted to express my point of view. Thanks.
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much.
We read our colleague's amendment.
A national referendum may certainly be necessary in some cases. However, when it comes to collecting recommendations to improve the electoral reform process, I believe that if we create a professional, rigorous national committee that has all the expertise and resources needed to gather information and take Canadians' pulse on the issue, we wouldn't need a referendum.
I agree with Mr. Blaikie. We aren't properly evaluating the impact of the results of a referendum held today, when compared to referendums in the past. The technology and communications means that we have today—just look at how we created a hybrid Parliament—make it possible to take Canadians' pulse by creating a committee. I believe that this would give us a very clear idea of which recommendations to implement.
That said, we will return to Mr. Blaikie's motion to make comments on it. The important thing now is to settle the debate on Ms. Vecchio's motion. Then, we can perhaps suggest more detailed amendments to Mr. Blaikie's motion for the benefit of Canadians and our democracy.
I'll now give the floor to someone else.
View Alain Therrien Profile
My position has slightly changed following Mr. Blaikie's presentation.
Personally, I wasn't firmly opposed to the idea of having a referendum. However, after hearing how people reacted, I realized that it wouldn't go forward. That's why I thought that Ms. Vecchio's amendment should include the notion of conditionality. [Technical difficulty—Editor] ask for a referendum, so that we can gain public support for it.
That said, Mr. Blaikie told us that he didn't disapprove of having a referendum. He can correct me if I'm wrong. To be honest, I must admit that I would support the mover of the motion, because I think that it is an appealing idea. I believe that it would boil down to further democratizing our democracy. I don't know if that's the right way to put it or if that is possible, but I like the idea.
If Mr. Blaikie has no issues with passing Ms. Vecchio's motion, it would be very ill‑advised for me not to support it.
That's what I had to say about this topic.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
On behalf of the group, happy birthday, first and foremost. Thank you for sharing your birthday with us, with the PROC family members.
I have a quick question. When I was listening to Mr. Blaikie's opening statements about this amendment, my first inclination [Technical difficulty—Editor] outcome of the study by including the referendum. Then from there, we had further discussions, and you've clarified in indicating that we are really going to be studying the issue related to a national referendum, but I'm still really unclear with respect to the language that's presented, and I fear that we're opening a door here that we don't even know that we're opening. I don't want to put the Conservatives or Karen on the spot, but I'm wondering if we could get a bit of clarification on that. I'm not opposed to moving forward, but I want to make sure that we know exactly what we are agreeing to right now, so perhaps we could ask for a bit of clarification if that's okay, and then from there, we can continue this conversation.
Thank you.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
Well, I was first. Anyway, I don't brag about that.
I wanted to speak to the amendment, but now I'm speaking I guess to the subamendment moved by Mr. Turnbull.
I don't think it changes what I want to say. I just want to reassure colleagues that there's nothing really here if we leave the wording as it is. The citizens' assembly is going to do what it's going to do, but based on the terms of reference which are set out in paragraph (a) of this motion of Mr. Blaikie's.
All we're doing, as Conservatives, is asking the question of whether or not we should have witnesses appear before this study to speak to whether or not there is a need for a national referendum on something as significant as changing how we elect people. I am presuming, by the wording in this motion, that it's how we elect people in the House of Commons only.
Maybe Mr. Blaikie can answer my questions on this. I have some concerns about only proposing to change one part of a bicameral Parliament. We've seen the unilateral change to one part of our bicameral Parliament implemented by the government now. If people were being honest with themselves around this table, how is that working out? It's not necessarily working out the way that people predicted it would.
I think we should be asking the question, as members of Parliament, to witnesses who appear before the committee as to whether or not a national referendum is actually needed. Everything we do is an option, so using the word “option” is like using the word “the”. It actually makes the words meaningless. We either need one or we don't. It's yes or it's no.
I just think that we're losing the value of the amendment by changing the word from “need” to an “option”, keeping in mind, like I said, that this isn't predetermining any of the terms of reference, should this committee actually adopt this motion and pursue a report. That's clearly laid out in paragraph (a) in Mr. Blaikie's motion, “the terms of reference for such an assembly”. That will be where we need to have that conversation.
As a member of Parliament, I would like to think that we would, as a procedure and House affairs committee, be studying the impacts, not only of the significant proposed changes that might come about for the House of Commons.... I'm not predetermining any of those outcomes.
Look, the reality is that I'd be a member of the governing party right now if we had proportional representation in the last election, because we had the most votes. The notion isn't lost on me. I just think we should be able to ask very direct questions, have witnesses summoned before the committee to talk about the establishment of this national citizens' assembly and talk about how we get to that determination. I want witnesses to appear before the committee to talk about whether or not we need a referendum on this.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Thanks very much.
I have just a couple of things on this one. First of all, I think what it's doing is taking Daniel's motion and talking about even doing a second report. I'm actually wondering if he is trying to bulldoze through Daniel's first action, because Daniel has said that what he wants to do is focus specifically on electoral reform, and that is exactly what this motion is about. This amendment is taking it from doing something very specific to something extremely grand.
When I look at what the mandate of this committee is, I can't find a single thing that goes with what Mr. Turnbull is saying here. This has nothing to do with it when it comes to the procedures and affairs of the House of Commons. I recognize that these are all important issues. I too have many concerns when it comes to security, child care and a variety of very important social issues, but I think those issues need to be addressed in places where they are a part of the mandate, such as the human resources and skills development committee.
I recognize that you're trying to look at a procedural thing when it comes to the assembly, but this is way outside the scope of the House of Commons, as well as outside the scope of this specific committee. I would even question, when we're talking about this, how we would even have a second report and if this is actually even procedurally correct to be doing right now, as we are focused on one, and Mr. Turnbull has put in a request for a second report. Should we not actually just do one report rather than coming up with two?
There are just a few things. I just find that this was.... I feel like I'm back to 101 days of filibustering.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I just want to say that I think the amendment makes a lot of sense in that what we're going to be hearing in the course of this study, should it proceed.... Of course, we would need the motion to pass today, but we also need for there not to be an election in the summer, which is an important point to make as well. My hope would be that if the best thing doesn't happen, which is to not have an election, we might at least see a future procedure and House affairs committee take seriously the intention of this committee to study this issue. However, in the course of the study as it unfolds, we're going to be hearing, for sure, a lot about electoral reform, but I would expect that we are going to hear a lot about citizens' assemblies because the motion is very much about how you would proceed with a citizens' assembly in order to tackle this issue. It would be an alternative to the attempt in the last Parliament that was very much a parliamentary-led Parliament that didn't get the outcome that I know many people who would like to see electoral reform in Canada want.
In the course of that, the committee is going to hear a lot about citizens' assemblies in general, as well as citizens' assemblies for the purpose of electoral reform, having a mandate to file that information in a separate report and share it with Parliament so that it isn't lost. It often happens that, by the end of a study, committee members are something like subject experts, although maybe not to the degree of those who do it for a living. Certainly, one of the great privileges of this job is the opportunity to broaden and deepen our understanding of a range of issues that come before us in our duties as members of Parliament, and members who are part of this study at the end of it will know a lot more than they already do.
Not all of us have done these kinds of citizen engagement processes for a living in the way that Mr. Turnbull has, so at the end of that, we'll probably have some more general reflections on how citizens' assemblies might be able to be used. It's value added for Canadians if we can compile that information and some of those reflections and submit them formally to the House for the government's consideration and the consideration of Canadians at large who are thinking about how government can make better policy in a way that's more citizen-led.
I think this is information that the committee is going to accumulate in the course of its study in any event, and having a way to codify that and make it useful for more people is a better way to proceed. That's why I'm happy to support this amendment.
The other thing I appreciate about this amendment is that it leaves intact all of the important components about the electoral reform piece, and it allows for a detailed report to be submitted on that particular issue, which I know is very important to all of those of us in Canada who really do want to see a different voting system implemented and would appreciate some straightforward recommendations from this committee on that matter specifically.
Thank you.
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