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Results: 1 - 100 of 1087
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you to our guests for being here to talk about this important legislation. I'm very happy it's included in the budget implementation act. I'm glad we have it here in front of the committee so that we're able to discuss the different aspects of it.
The first question I'd like to ask has to do with the purpose clause. You mentioned it in your opening remarks. I think it would be of interest to all members. I think the terminology that's been used in the purpose clause is terminology that all MPs have been seeking. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on that a bit.
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View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
I want to talk about the purpose clause for a bit. That's been a sticking point, because it was, as you said, omitted for whatever reason when the legislation came into effect in 2006. But in de facto terms, has not every government of every stripe since 1917 tried to live up to that clause, whether written or not? In my view, every government—Liberal, Conservative, it doesn't matter—has tried to do the best they can.
I mean, the clause is nice. If it gives people comfort, that's great; it makes it more clear, more specific. But de facto, have governments not been trying to live up to that forever, basically?
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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2015-05-11 15:44
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Thank you.
Mr. Minister, in the United States there's a vigorous debate going on among the President, Congress, and civil society concerning the TPP. In the interest of transparency, American legislators of all parties are permitted access to the negotiated text of the TPP upon signing confidentiality commitments.
Will you permit the same privilege to Canadian legislators so we can foster a similar level of debate in our country?
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View Jeff Watson Profile
CPC (ON)
View Jeff Watson Profile
2015-03-30 16:10
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Good.
The report, if I understand the conclusions, said with respect to the management of this particular file, Industry Canada did a good job in assessing the recovery prospects of the company, found on page 7, paragraph 5.24; that Industry Canada monitored the restructuring assistance, page 11; it monitored the production commitments, page 12; and it has been recovering the funds, page 13.
The critiques, if I understand them, are in the nature of how exhaustive the due diligence was, not that there was due diligence absent. Is that a fair assessment, Mr. Berthelette?
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View Jeff Watson Profile
CPC (ON)
View Jeff Watson Profile
2015-03-30 16:11
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At the time, it said there was no report for the public with respect to the bailout. Is that complete now, Mr. Jennings?
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View Jeff Watson Profile
CPC (ON)
View Jeff Watson Profile
2015-03-30 16:11
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You pointed out there was no “lessons learned” exercise. That is in progress, as I understand it. What is the expected completion date?
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View Jeff Watson Profile
CPC (ON)
View Jeff Watson Profile
2015-03-30 16:11
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Okay.
On the auto innovation fund—which by the way in 2008 saved Ford's Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, that's a good news story there as well—I note that the Auditor General's report says that risk assessments were completed. I think for the first time I've seen one where they said it was perhaps too exhaustive in the due diligence. We'll take that as noted.
The project risk and proponent risk profiles, the Auditor General points out, were not part of the risk assessment framework. Are they now, Mr. Jennings?
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
2015-03-30 17:14
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jennings, how and when do you plan to report the final cost of the financial assistance to Parliament?
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
2015-03-30 17:15
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Why do Parliament and Canadians have to wait until 2017 or 2018 to know whether the program achieved its goals? That's a long time.
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View Malcolm Allen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2015-03-30 17:26
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So in essence the government maybe needed to lend the company less money, based on.... Of course, there was $1 billion that GM eventually did need because they self-financed the pension plan. Perhaps they needed to give them less money because there were greater concessions given by the labour force to the company than we perhaps knew about because there was a bit of deficiency in the analysis—albeit it's difficult to do, Mr. Jennings; I understand the timeline you were up against.
Listen, some of us have a real vested interest in making sure that General Motors actually succeeds. I'm one of those people in this country. I happen to be a retiree from General Motors, so I have a vested interest. It goes beyond my general community. I have other colleagues around here as well who have folks in those communities and represent those folks—as Mr. Carrie said, “real” folks in those communities, and I agree with him.
On page 15, Mr. Berthelette, you talk about the lack of comprehensive reporting to Parliament.
I do accede, Mr. Jennings, that your department finally finished the report by the end of last year.
Mr. Berthelette, from what I'm reading at paragraphs 5.62, 5.63, and 5.64, are we talking about the sense that Parliament actually didn't receive any timely reporting in any succinct way, other than unless you chased three or four departments to figure things out, as to what actually happened with a report back on where the moneys were spent? Is that what I'm reading there?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:37
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This meeting has significantly changed. We were supposed to have here the new commissioner, who is nominated for a six-month period. It is fundamental to our democracy that commissioners appear in front of committees when they're nominated. This last minute decision not to appear is a contempt for the importance of our parliamentary institutions.
I also noticed that the Privacy Commissioner has not been allowed to appear in front of the committee on Bill C-51. This is a habit that the Conservatives are getting into, of muzzling commissioners. It is fundamental to ensure, when we make nominations of this importance to Canada and to Canadians, that we have a chance as parliamentarians to question the competencies and the quality of the nominee. I think it's unconscionable, Mr. Chair, that the commissioner is not here today.
What happened? I need to know what happened, first of all. This meeting has been cut in half, and something fundamental to the health of our democracy has been tampered with. I expect some kind of justification. The commissioner just cannot decide, “I'm going to wake up this morning, and Parliament doesn't matter.” He or she, depending on the commissioner, has a responsibility to come here when called upon and to be questioned.
I think this is a serious matter that we need to give full consideration to before we hear from our other invitees today.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-12 11:39
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Thank you, Mr. Ravignat. I understand your point. We did have a meeting scheduled to hear from the newly nominated integrity commissioner today, and at the last minute he has notified our committee that he will not be attending.
I have a speakers list.
Mr. Byrne, you wanted the floor briefly.
I'm going to ask—when you're done, Mr. Byrne, and perhaps Mr. Warkentin as well—the clerk to explain exactly what he was told by the office of the integrity commissioner as to why he can't attend.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Yes. This is getting murkier, Mr. Chair. If I understand it, the requirement under the Governor in Council is for an order in council to be issued for his nomination to be extended as the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Work with me, Mr. Chair, if you can, because I think we need to get this clarified. As I understood it, the nomination of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was forwarded to this committee because we have an opportunity as a committee to oversee and to make a recommendation about this particular appointment. The referral was required because the commissioner's former appointment had expired and he is being renominated. Is that—?
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-12 11:42
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No. The former commissioner, Mario Dion, is no longer there, and in the interim Mr. Friday was nominated to a six-month term to be the interim integrity commissioner.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Therefore, he is acting, so it's fairly clear that—
Has he not yet obtained the order in council? Has the order in council been authorized?
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-12 11:43
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No, he is interim commissioner for six months and he's about three months into that six-month appointment. But still, this committee is allowed to and in fact is obliged to vet that appointment.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
This makes absolutely no sense. That's why I wanted to work this through, so that we're communicating to Canadians that there is a new commissioner who has never been vetted by a parliamentary committee. The commissioner has been invited, we understand, under very specific directions to appear concerning the nomination itself, and the interim commissioner is saying, “No, I don't think so.”
Mr. Chair, with all due respect to those who have made a decision in this matter—and those decision-makers are not in this committee, but outside of this committee—we have had a very serious breach of trust already occur with a former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. That commissioner was never allowed to appear before this committee. That commissioner was never asked.... The report of the Auditor General was never allowed to be heard by the public accounts committee, which interfaces with the Office of the Auditor General.
Now we have an interim commissioner who holds a very important office—important not only to us as Canadians, but to our parliamentary system and to our system of governing the public sector in a fair and responsible way—and this person has just said he won't appear before us because he's a bit confused.
I am very confused, Mr. Chair. I would like to have the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner come before us so that we can meet him.
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-12 11:46
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Thank you, Mr. Martin. I appreciate that.
It is clear to me, based on what the clerk said, that that there was some confusion about the invitation. We are very confident in the ability of Mr. Friday, and I'm certain that when he does come before this committee we will all be satisfied that he has conducted and will continue—
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View Greg Kerr Profile
CPC (NS)
View Greg Kerr Profile
2015-03-12 11:48
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Mr. Chair, I know a lot of us have been through a lot of committees and a lot of processes before, and certainly know how to detect the bit of posturing that's going on. That's part of what politics is about, but I understand that if you are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, because obviously a lot of comments are being made without knowing some of the background....
I think what Mr. Byrne was suggesting is to let him know that we'd really like him to appear and that we expect him to appear, and leave the door open for him to respond back that the committee would like to hear what he has to say. I think we all would like to hear what he would say, but to put motive in that sort of way, I think, is just absolutely irresponsible. I'd rather give this individual the chance to explain to us in detail what he sees his position is and what's expected. To condemn him blind, I think, is just absolutely irresponsible.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:49
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Condemning him is not the issue here. The issue is that something went awry.
Why did he—and I haven't heard an explanation for this—confirm that he was going to come, knowing very well the content of the letter and that this was about him being appointed for an interim period? All I'm asking with the motion is that he come to committee to explain himself, and talk about his capacity as the commissioner during the six-month interim period. We have a responsibility to review nominations.
The motion is to ensure that the commissioner is at the next meeting and that we have the chance as parliamentarians to do our job and ask him the difficult questions that he needs to answer.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:51
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Who answers to whom? Do we answer to the commissioner? The commissioner answers to this committee. The message that needs to be sent to this commissioner and to all commissioners is that they are responsible and accountable to parliamentarians. This is just a fundamental issue about how our Westminster Parliament functions.
I understand the spirit of Mr. Byrne's amendment, but I think that we need to be clear about the nature of the relationship between commissioners and Parliament in the motion.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-12 11:52
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I think Mr. Byrne may have been pointing out as well that it's not quite as simple as saying this committee shall summon the witness. The process is such that I would have to report to the House that a witness was unwilling to attend, and the House—the Speaker in fact—would have to direct a vote in Parliament to compel that witness to attend. It's a multi-step process for the standing committee to exercise their extraordinary powers to compel the attendance of a witness who is otherwise unwilling to attend.
I believe Mr. Byrne's amendment may have been in that vein. It may be a more achievable outcome if we in fact rephrase it to inform him that his attendance is expected.
Mr. Ravignat, and then we really must move on, I believe.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:53
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Well, it may be more achievable, but what the official opposition is concerned about is that this is becoming a pattern. This isn't the first committee that this has happened in. In fact, the Conservative government has instructed the Privacy Commissioner not to attend the discussion going on in committee on Bill C-51.
If this is going to become a pattern, then there needs to be some commitment on behalf of the committee, and maybe this is the place to do it, that all the commissioners be reminded that they have a responsibility to be in committee and to defend themselves and their position.
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-12 11:54
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Yes.
This is getting absolutely ridiculous, to impugn motive without having heard from the interim commissioner. It's absolutely unfortunate and certainly below the office to which the member opposite has been called.
We expect and look forward to hearing from the commissioner, but this has turned into a bit of an unfortunate circumstance. We'll be voting against it, but we look forward to hearing from the commissioner in due course.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Chair, this is where we move into murky waters because those who would suggest that we should be careful about our relationships with officers of Parliament, and that we should understand that they are the masters of the House, not us, does no service to the work we do in this committee or as parliamentarians.
An alternative, a reasoned amendment, was offered to collapse the situation and provide some diplomatic resolution to this, which was refused by the government, clearly for a good reason, because while they may protest that this is inflammatory and unnecessary and that their motives should not be impugned here, it is clear to everyone listening to this and watching us and hearing our words that there's more to this than meets the eye.
Mr. Chair, the government was offered a reasoned solution to a diplomatic problem that has now morphed into something clearly much larger because now the government wants us to invite. We are going to the lowest common denominator now because a meeting was offered and rejected, and now this committee is left to simply invite an officer of Parliament to appear before us, as opposed to expressing the expectation that they must appear before us.
This has become escalated at this point in time, and unnecessarily so. I'm not very comfortable about the notion of inviting an officer of Parliament to come before us so that we can examine the nomination and offer a report to the House of Commons as to whether or not we agree or disagree with the nomination. It is our fundamental responsibility as a committee to examine this nomination and to report to the House, not to invite, to expect an appearance by someone who would assume such an office.
I'm not very pleased right now. I thought we had a reasoned opportunity to de-escalate the situation, but now I think we are getting very clear instructions from the government as to who is in charge. Is it the executive or Parliament? The government is telling us it's the executive.
I will not support this.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-03-12 11:59
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I fully agree with my colleague, Mr. Byrne. This has become about clarity, and it's about clarity to the Canadian public with regard to who has the right to call an officer of Parliament. Is it the officer of Parliament who decides, just on a whim, whether or not he's going to show up and be accountable to the Canadian people whom we represent? Or does the committee have the power to make sure that this person is accountable? This is just a fundamental issue of our democratic institutions.
I'm sorry that my Conservative colleagues don't see this. They were elected to represent their constituents. That's the fundamental role we play. That means that you have responsibility like I do to ensure that officers of Parliament are accountable. The relationship between the executive, the officers of Parliament, and committee, is a fine balance. That relationship is essential to the health of our democracy, and that's not an exaggeration. That's just political science 101. You have to make sure that there is a check and balance between the power of committee, the power of the executive, and the officers of Parliament.
The reality is that they are accountable to us. Whatever the executive would like to do to interfere in the nomination process—and that's a whole other issue, the transparency and accountability for the nomination process—but at a minimum you would think that when a letter is sent to a commissioner, that letter is positively received.
It stinks. Something happened. I think Mr. Byrne is right. These are murky waters and we have no clarity as to why, unless the clerk has more information as to why the commissioner decided to come, and then suddenly.... What was it, the day of the meeting, Mr. Chair? No, the day before, it was yesterday, right?
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View Greg Kerr Profile
CPC (NS)
View Greg Kerr Profile
2015-03-12 12:02
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Mr. Chair, because we have witnesses, we can get on with it. We could continue the hyperbole for a long time here.
What I suggest we do then, if you want, is to make a motion to reinvite the witness and give the witness a chance to come here and explain, as opposed to condemning him before he's even before us.
If it's in order, I will move a motion to reinvite the witness, and you set the date, as chair, as to when the witness appears.
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View Tarik Brahmi Profile
NDP (QC)
View Tarik Brahmi Profile
2015-03-12 12:05
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm trying to understand this motion and look at it from a French perspective. I feel that the word “invite”, which I would translate as “inviter”, does not express the agent's obligation to appear before Parliament. It does not remind him of his obligation to appear before Parliament.
I know that the word “summon” was initially proposed, and that would probably be translated as “convoquer”. However, I would translate “convoquer” as “convene” or “call”. The word “summon” may be too strong. It may be lacking the diplomacy and the respect due to the position, but I think the word “inviter” absolutely doesn't render the idea of a legal obligation to report to Parliament. I don't think that term is appropriate. That is why I will vote against the motion.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-12 12:07
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Thank you, Mr. Brahmi.
Just for information, we could not return to the word “summon” because it has already been voted down within the context of the same meaning. We can't vote again on the same issue twice.
Is there any further debate? Seeing none, the question is on the motion by Mr. Kerr.
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: The motion is carried and I believe the issue is resolved for the purposes of this meeting.
We will move on then to the orders of the day.
I offer my great apologies to the representatives here today from Shared Services Canada. First they were made to wait until the vote had finished in the House of Commons, and now they've had to suffer through a prolonged debate about committee business.
One of the witnesses was forced to leave already. Elizabeth Tromp, the acting senior assistant deputy minister and chief financial officer for corporate services, unfortunately had to excuse herself. Perhaps someone else can read her presentation.
Mr. Radford, if you wouldn't mind, introduce the rest of your panel and proceed with Ms. Tromp's presentation.
Thank you.
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-10 16:14
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Minister, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate the fact that you and your officials have made yourselves available to spend this next little while with us.
I was reading a national columnist this last week, and there was an expression of concern about the estimates process and the ability of the average Canadian and possibly of parliamentarians to understand it. Certainly he, as a member of the media, was confused by the estimates process. I think it's important for people watching this and for those who don't fully understand the estimates process that you explain in general terms how Canadians should look at the estimates. Maybe you can also explain some of the things that have been done to help people understand the estimates and some of the recent things that have happened.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-10 17:01
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I'm afraid that's not a point of order, Mr. Byrne, but you have made your point, and that does come close to the time that we have for the minister with us today.
But I just want to say before you go, Minister, that this has not exactly been a triumph of scrutiny and oversight and due diligence, in that 241 billion dollars' worth of spending just flew past under our noses with the most cursory overview of one hour with the committee, and one party with political standing got exactly five minutes to question all of the spending on the main estimates and the supplementary estimates (C).
It's a bit like walking a chicken past a pot of boiling water and calling it chicken soup. It hardly qualifies as oversight, in my view.
On a point of order, Mr. Albas.
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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
View Dan Albas Profile
2015-03-10 17:02
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I can challenge that notion if you like, but the point is, Mr. Chair, we all have the opportunity to hold government to account through many different vehicles. It's up to us, as individual members, to do that. While I totally understand that you do have your strong feelings on things like this, it should be done through the committee process. Therefore, if you'd like to ask the officials questions, you can give it up to the vice-chair, and I'm sure the vice-chair will gladly take the chair so you can fulfill your role and bring accountability in your way.
Thank you.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-10 17:03
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Mr. Albas, I'm not sure if you were a member of this committee when we did a comprehensive review of the way the committee deals with estimates, where we made 17 very robust recommendations and a commitment to the public that we would do a more comprehensive analysis of the estimates for the very reason that it's our obligation as an oversight committee, which happens to be called the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
A one-hour analysis of 241 billion dollars' worth of spending does not satisfy those—
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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
View Dan Albas Profile
2015-03-10 17:03
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It's up to individual members of Parliament to do that, Mr. Chair—
The Chair: Well, as the chair—
Mr. Dan Albas: —and there's still a whole other hour.
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-10 17:04
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That's very generous of you, Minister. Frankly, the buck stops with you, and it's you we would like to question.
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Brian Pagan
View Brian Pagan Profile
Brian Pagan
2015-03-10 17:09
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Very briefly, Mr. Chair, just by way of context and to pick up on some of the items from the last round, there was a great deal of interest in the issue of the budget and sunsetting, and the order in which information is presented, supporting, again, your point about the primacy of parliamentary control and approval of the estimates documents.
We are presenting information to you that has been approved by the Treasury Board based on an available source of funds, as confirmed by the budget. Generally, that source of funds is through the budget process. We have no control of or indication as to when that budget will be, but we do have regular intervals, regular opportunities, to update Parliament on the spending plans of departments based on the sources of funds that are provided through that budget process.
What we are presenting today in supplementary estimates (C) are all those authorities to close out fiscal year 2014-15 and the approved authorities to begin fiscal year 2015-16. We will update Parliament regularly through subsequent supplementary estimates as that situation changes with the budget and the economic update.
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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
View Dan Albas Profile
2015-03-10 17:30
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Okay.
Just on this whole topic, because criticisms are raised in this place quite often, and sometimes it's good to check in with them, would you say that you're well acquainted with the supply process and the need to check in with parliamentarians throughout?
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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
View Dan Albas Profile
2015-03-10 17:30
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With that in mind, because it was raised earlier that we have only this much time at this committee, I was left with the impression that people at home might think we spend only an hour reviewing these particular things. I know you probably spend much more than just that.
Besides this committee, what other opportunities do individual members of Parliament have to hold the government to account when it comes to its spending, both informal as well as formal methods?
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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
View Dan Albas Profile
2015-03-10 17:33
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I just want to clarify. The reports on plans and priorities I think was what you meant to say, not the departmental reports. Is that correct?
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-10 17:33
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Thank you, Mr. Albas.
Just to take a second, I think it would be useful for new members of the committee to see the helpful chart that Mr. Matthews put together for us to help us understand the continuity of the flow of supply, which included everything from estimates to budget to DPRs. It helped me at least to have that graphically illustrated to understand that flow of supply.
Mr. Byrne.
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View Terence Young Profile
CPC (ON)
View Terence Young Profile
2015-01-27 17:17
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Thank you.
This committee just completed a study of Vanessa's Law, which is now the law of Canada and is all about transparency and openness with regard to keeping Canadians safe when using prescription drugs. That will empower researchers, doctors, and even patients to get the information they need to keep themselves safe or keep their patients safe. What has the PMRA done to increase transparency and openness to help keep Canadians safe?
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View Charmaine Borg Profile
NDP (QC)
I have 30 seconds left.
I was going to ask you about the open government action plan and the fact that it lacks an important component, measures to modernize the Access to Information Act.
I don't have much time remaining, but could you comment on the fact that the plan is missing such important measures?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:11
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Madame Legault, for being here.
I would tend to agree. I think Canadians would find it pretty bizarre that something that they're supporting with their taxes, something that is theirs, which is public information, needs to be wrestled out of the government with high fees or fees that may be unreasonable.
Not too long ago, the Conservative government did announce that it might consider or would consider making cabinet confidence subject to review of the Information Commissioner. Has that happened?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:11
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On the cabinet confidence redacting, are you even allowed to study the issue?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:12
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Is it possible to determine if those cabinet confidence redactions have increased in number in the last couple of years?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:13
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Well, I would definitely be interested to know. I'd also be interested to know how much the $1,300 per request is actually due to cabinet confidence redaction, in some of the costs. But I understand you probably can't answer that question right now.
Another thing that they promised was to ensure that all exemptions from the disclosure of government information are justified only on the basis of the harm or injury that would result from disclosure, not blanket exemption rules. Has that also happened?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:13
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Right now we are dealing with a system that has blanket exemption rules.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:34
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On the open government plan, you've said—and I'll quote you so that it's fair—
...I remain of the view that the current commitments in your Plan will not achieve the stated objectives of the Government to effect a fundamental change in government culture, one that will drive the release of federal information and foster transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.
It's like a contradiction of the positive attitude you had when you were speaking to Madame Borg. With such a damning statement, what gives you any confidence that this is going to be successful?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:36
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Maybe it is. I just don't share your positive outlook. A lot of comments have come out, but when the government recently announced some of the open government stuff, there was more about what was missing than what was in it. The government rejected comments from your office. It rejected public consultations, experts, and even your own advisory panels regarding the need to update the Access to Information Act.
Michael Geist said that the consultation process was a farce, that basically decisions were made in advance of it. Do you agree with his assessment?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-12-04 16:37
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One way of making sure that it is actually about the release of information would be to oblige public officials to recreate records necessary to document their actions. You could also provide a general public interest override for all exemptions. Are we headed in that direction?
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View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2014-12-04 17:14
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Okay, thank you.
I understand that your office is not allowed to review any access to information complaints regarding redactions that are deemed to be cabinet confidences. Is that a hindrance to you in terms of fulfilling your mandate?
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View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2014-12-04 17:14
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Thank you.
Are there any other methods that your office would like to implement that Parliament could assist you with to reduce delays in reviewing redactions?
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View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ted Hsu Profile
2014-12-04 17:15
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Perhaps I can ask the question in a different way.
If your budget were not increased—and we've heard about the pressures on your budget—what might you have to cut in terms of services to Canadians?
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View Gary Schellenberger Profile
CPC (ON)
Okay.
According to a report by the National Autonomous University of Honduras, between January 2011 and November 2012 police killed 149 civilians, including 18 individuals under the age of 19. The government did not respond to calls by the university to provide information on how many of those killings have been subject to investigations or have resulted in criminal convictions.
Under President Hernández, has there been any increase in the complete lack of police transparency?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The main purpose of the proposed amendment is to give more powers to the minister in situations related to class 1, class 2 and class 3 aerodromes and even private airports. Is that correct?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Okay.
I would like to use as an example the airport in Neuville, a private airport, I believe. In fact, this matter has come up quite regularly in question period. The airport is in a colleague's riding, not my own.
How does the minister's current authority compare to the authority he would have with this amendment?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Okay.
I would like to make a distinction. Right now, we are talking about the minister's authority, which falls under Transport Canada. The authority over these aerodromes, be they class 1, 2, 3 or private, is still in the hands of the department without necessarily being at the discretion of the minister. Am I mistaken?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Basically, right now, any decisions related to building or expanding an aerodrome do not need to be approved or authorized by anyone, whether at the provincial or federal level. Is that correct?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
After the bill is passed, an authorization will be required. The words “at the discretion of the minister” mean that the department itself can provide authorization.
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-05 16:31
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Thank you.
This is just a quick follow-up. The issue is whether it's likely to adversely affect aviation safety or not in the public interest. Is there any structuring of that wide-open discretion as regards public interest? Is there any documentation or guidance that's provided in how that discretion would be exercised?
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-05 16:32
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That go beyond simply public safety, obviously, or you wouldn't have put that there. It's something beyond that, yet it must relate to aeronautics policy.
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-03 16:37
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Building on what my colleague, Mr. Chan, said, it seems to me this points to a larger problem about the failure of the government or refusal to provide adequate data to you to do your job. That would seem to be pretty self-evident, based on that.
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-03 16:38
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I'll go back again to information management. Six months ago the Federal Court strongly upheld the right of your predecessor to take the government to court should it refuse to provide requested information. It was recently reported that you were still struggling, Mr. Fréchette was struggling, to obtain information on the impacts of the massive spending and staffing cuts announced more than two years ago, and you were thinking of going back to court to obtain that information.
Could you update this committee on the status of those efforts?
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View James Rajotte Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Rajotte Profile
2014-11-03 17:10
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Okay, thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Adler.
I'm going to take the next few minutes here, as the chair.
The issue of access to information was raised, responsiveness of various departments. You mentioned that some departments are better than others. Which are the best departments and which are the worst ones?
Voices: Oh, oh!
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View Frank Valeriote Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Frank Valeriote Profile
2014-10-07 13:21
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I think as well there's probably some sufficient difference between the actual wording—and I know where you're coming from—of the motion of which you speak and the wording and the requirements of this. There's a point where it diverges from exactly what the motion was, and I think this diverges sufficiently from the motion that it makes it different in its requirements.
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View Eve Adams Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you all for joining us today.
In the recent CMHA article that all of you co-authored, the subject of clinical trials was the main point that I took away, where you suggested that we really needed to improve this legislation regarding clinical trials.
Can you provide a comprehensive overview of what elements you feel are the most important aspects that we amend in this legislation to get that aspect right?
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View Terence Young Profile
CPC (ON)
View Terence Young Profile
2014-06-10 10:01
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Thank you.
I'd like to give my next question to Professor Herder.
Professor, a big issue we have in clinical research is that the drug companies, their game is to start a clinical trial and ask the researcher to sign a contract, essentially a gag order, that if they order the trial to be stopped at any given time they must never talk about it again, that it will never see the light of day. That's because many of their trials will show that their drug is not working better than a placebo or that their new drug is actually harming patients and they want to cover that up.
Your recommendations for transparency, would they address the issue of where a trial is registered and stopped? Are you insisting or asking that even the partial evidence from that trial or the partial clinical data be published as well?
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View Brad Butt Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Welcome, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to start by congratulating you, your executive team, and really all of the MPs in the House for the cost savings and expenditure reductions that have been achieved. I think it has been a real team effort. I think we're setting the benchmark and setting the trend for the reality of the world and certainly Canada today that you live within your means, and that expenditures are reasonable and according to appropriate rules and within appropriate levels. I want to congratulate everyone involved in that. It's great to see a 7.2% reduction over the past two years, so kudos to all of you for that great work.
I would like to talk about the $1.4 million that you are requesting with respect to the new MP disclosure system. Can you give us more of a breakdown of the $1.4 million? Is it software-related or capital-related? Is it for employees who need to be hired to administer the new enhanced disclosure system? I think all MPs are looking forward to this, because it will be a uniform system across the board for every MP disclosing expenditures in a similar way throughout. I think it's a great initiative. I'd just like a better breakdown of the $1.4 million, please.
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View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2014-05-29 11:47
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Thank you very much.
The next question may go through you, Mr. Speaker, but Mr. Watters might be in a better position to answer it.
We had some questions from Mr. Butt about the amount of extra budget that will be needed to have a properly functioning office with respect to higher transparency of MP expenses. It was indicated that a fair chunk of that would be towards personnel.
I'm just wondering, have we gotten to the point where...? Are there any issues around health of employees related to stress due to workload flow in any departments, including in finance? Are we absolutely content that we have the right number of personnel, or are we actually getting to the point of losing efficiencies because of stress issues?
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View Dave MacKenzie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dave MacKenzie Profile
2014-05-15 10:30
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Okay. I thank you.
The another area that we see frequently, certainly in my home province of Ontario, is that money in health care has not necessarily gone to health care. The federal government does not have controls over the province in the administration of delivery of its health care system. When we look at what we could do with innovation and research with money, how do we better work together with our provinces on the delivery, which is their responsibility? How do we better work with them to try and provide some direction or guidance?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-05-13 9:32
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My first question would be for Madam Francoli.
You began your presentation by saying that open data is only one part of open government. This is a rather narrowcasted study but I would still like to ask you about it. Regarding the relationship with other segments of open government and open data, it's hard to view open data and only open data without talking more broadly about open government.
Do you have any thoughts with regard to other principles of open government and the relationship to open data?
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View Joyce Murray Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Joyce Murray Profile
2014-05-08 12:31
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I'm going to ask about a different set of issues.
Mr. Robertson, you mentioned, I think, the key aspects of defence: land, sea, air, space, and cyber. In terms of defence of Canada and defence of North America, I want to ask a bit about cyber.
There has been some controversy recently that Communications Security Establishment Canada has been tracking Canadians through their IP addresses as part of creating a framework for analysis. Also, there has been some concern that there are large amounts of data that are being gathered by the government without warrant, and potentially under ministerial authorities. There's also controversy that there is not really a mechanism that's accountable to the public through Parliament for the activities of CSEC.
In our attempts to have a good balance between information privacy, so people don't feel that Big Brother is watching over their every move, and having security so the kind of intelligence gathering that we need to do for real security needs can happen, are there improvements needed in reporting and in authorization?
What are the pros and cons of allowing this system now that is so much an outlier compared with the other five eyes, in terms of no need for a warrant and broadcast authorizations and lack of clear accountability to the public?
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View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2014-05-05 16:53
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If I'm not mistaken, we've spent $1.2 billion building a building for CSEC and 2,000 full-time employees to spy on Canadians, and we're spending $1.6 million a year to provide access to information.
Thank you for that answer. I'm very surprised to learn that, actually.
Can I ask a specific question? What's the relationship between the Treasury Board's open government steering committee and the advisory panel on open data?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-05-01 9:37
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I have to interrupt you to ask another question.
Has the government shown more transparency in that area? Has data been used effectively to protect the public and reduce the number of conflicts of interest?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for joining us and for your presentation, Mr. Fréchette.
I would like to turn to the report you wrote about the main estimates. You came back to a problem that seems to me to keep happening. I am talking about the lack of accountability and the significant differences between what are called the main estimates and the budget announced by the government.
You pointed out that the two processes are moving further and further apart and that we are now in a situation where only 85% of the budget is explained in the main estimates, a percentage that is constantly going down.
You also pointed out the different accounting methods used in the main estimates, where general accounting per se can be clearly seen, and in the budget announced by the government.
Could you tell me what purpose parliamentarians currently serve? Is it possible for us to properly analyze government expenses or is this an exercise that is becoming more and more futile?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-04-10 10:01
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Ms. Ubaldi and Mr. Stirling.
When the decision was made to centralize access to data and to take the data away from various departments, we saw some concern being expressed, by the scientific community in Canada, in particular. Their concern was that this might be a move to make it easier to control which data would be open and which would not.
Could you give us your comments on the need for a healthy relationship between those in power, particularly those in cabinet, and those responsible for ensuring open data. If you have any examples of best practices in your political system, I think it would be very useful for us to hear about them.
Let's begin with Ms. Ubaldi.
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View Anne-Marie Day Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. You have to wait your turn.
Mr. Stirling, my question is for you.
The Open Data Institute—ODI—is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan company. According to its website, the ODI has secured 10 million pounds sterling from the UK Government and $750,000US from Omidyar Network. The ODI is working towards long-term sustainability.
How much does this kind of free market for data cost? What costs might that entail for all of the G8 countries? And what structural safeguards have been put in place to ensure the non-partisan and transparent flow of data?
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View Gordon O'Connor Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
The Government of Canada has identified 14 areas for data that they're supposed to produce, and I think when we talk about government, I believe we're talking about the bureaucracies because they're the big monsters out there that make the data. I'm a bit skeptical. For instance, one of the areas chosen is government accountability in democracy. I can't imagine any government of any stripe is going to pour data out on that, but maybe they will.
We're talking about the government because I don't think private industry provides much information in the sense that they're commercial. My problem with all this data is what compulsion can we give to a government to make them produce data? Because as I said, there are 14 areas here: education, justice, energy...it goes on and on. Governments are only going to provide the data they want to provide.
I'll ask each of you in turn to answer the question. I'll start with David.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I was interested to hear, Mr. Eaves, one of your comments. One of the objectives, I guess, of this study would be to assist the government in moving the initiative along. You mentioned that there was one practice, at Industry Canada, that you found contrary to the spirit of the G-8 commitment that Canada was making.
Are there any other circumstances or practices that you may be aware of that you could share with the committee, where you sort of question or want to raise whether or not the Government of Canada is running contrary to the G-8 charter or to the spirit, generally speaking, of what an open data portal, an open government, is supposed to be about?
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View Jay Aspin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Jay Aspin Profile
2014-04-01 10:20
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Very good, and would you see the release of all this data as a step towards transparency and openness? How would you characterize it?
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View Stephen Woodworth Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to Mr. Ferguson and Ms. Sachs for attending today. It's always extremely interesting. I want to again commend you on the necessary and good-serving function you provide in allowing government to continuously update its processes.
I want to begin with some things that are probably obvious to all of us sitting at this table, but may not be so obvious to those who sit at home. That is with the raison d'être of your department, your agency. As I read it, there are a couple of important functions that your audits and studies provide. One of them is to provide objective information, advice, and assurance to Parliament, territorial legislatures, governments, and Canadians.
Do you consider that as the prime function of your agency?
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View Stephen Woodworth Profile
CPC (ON)
Also, as I understand it, your office assists parliamentarians and territorial legislatures in their work regarding the authorization and oversight of government spending and operations. This too is a very important function and reason for your department.
Is that correct?
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View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2014-03-31 16:12
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You talked about the fact that you had been requested by the Senate to do an audit of the Senate.
Do you want to tell us a little bit about the particular aspects you will be looking at in that audit and what timeframe it will cover?
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View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
So if human resources were used for partisan activities, you would investigate. An analysis would be done of the performance of Senate staff. Is that right?
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View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
Let's talk about resources. You can meet your obligations with the budget you have, as long as departments co-operate with you, open their books wide and hold nothing back.
I remember a report that was presented by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development on greenhouse gas emissions. He showed us the tables. I pointed out that he could not make a connection between the budgets spent annually and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions sought, which was the government's objective. He basically told me that the departments themselves had provided approximate objectives in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. He could not do better because he did not have the relevant information.
Does the fact that the information for some files is not accessible influence your ability to prepare your report within the confines of your budget envelope?
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View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2014-03-31 16:42
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Have there been any other particular audits that have been done like that more recently and would not have been done in the past that have been added to the work of your office?
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View Glenn Thibeault Profile
Ind. (ON)
View Glenn Thibeault Profile
2014-03-31 16:52
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Well, I would state that with all due respect, if you move the goalposts, it's easier to make the numbers look like you're fulfilling your mandate. We need to ensure, especially in this time of transparency and accountability that all parties are saying.... I think all parties want to see more of this. So how can we tell Canadians to rest assured that the Office of the Auditor General is able to do the audits it needs to? Because to quote what Mr. Ferguson said, there is “no shortage” of doing performance audits. That was his quote. There's no shortage of doing those. But what we have right now according to the statistics is a shortage of resources and a shortage of staff.
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-03-25 9:06
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for being here. It's always a pleasure to see you. To the other witnesses as well, thanks for coming.
I'd like to start off with a general concern which should be a concern all Canadians and all parliamentarians have, and that is the ability for us to do our job, to ensure oversight on expenditures. It seems you get a failing grade when we listen to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Fréchette, who kind of kindly slams you, Minister, for reducing significantly parliamentary oversight. For example, the Parliamentary Budget Officer says that nearly two-thirds of expenditures here are only getting cursory oversight.
How do you answer the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Canadians with respect to the decrease or lack of transparency in these particular mains?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-03-25 9:08
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Why is the Parliamentary Budget Officer saying that almost two-thirds of expenditures are only getting cursory oversight?
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View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2014-03-25 9:08
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I understand that, but there's still less information given to Canadians publicly about what's going on with expenditures.
I don't have a lot of time. Five minutes is not a lot of time.
You've removed EI spending from the estimates. We're talking about 85% of projected budget spending that is not reflected. What's the motivation for removing EI expenditures?
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View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Yes, sir.
I have a couple of things for you, sir.
Mr. Jenkins mentioned the number of recommendations that your organization and a number of others made with the Gerontological Advisory Council a few years back. He noted the number of recommendations that have been put forward and how very few of them have actually been accepted. I'd just like your view, the Royal Canadian Legion's view, about why there has been a reluctance to accept some of these recommendations...the other ones that have been there. Also, I have another question and it's for both of you. I'll ask the Legion first and then, Mr. Jenkins, you can answer second.
In the Equitas lawsuit, the crown attorneys who were representing the Crown—and I'm paraphrasing them—stated under oath that there was no moral obligation for the crown to care for veterans. I'm paraphrasing more or less what they said. Basically that moral obligation applies only to the aboriginal community.
Obviously many veterans organizations across the country were quite concerned when they heard this. The judge hearing the case indicated that there was an obligation to care for those veterans in that regard. My question, which I've been asking quite repeatedly, is this. Does the government have a moral, legal, social, and financial responsibility to care for those they asked to put themselves in harm's way? I haven't gotten an answer on that question even though this is now the eighth time I've asked it. I'm wondering what the Royal Canadian Legion's view would be on that as well.
I thank you again, you and all the other veterans groups, and especially Mr. Richard Blackwolf, an aboriginal veteran who is here today, for being with all of us. I thank you.
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