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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would also like to thank our witnesses for joining us today.
Let me go back to what you were saying about the fact that it is time to take action right away to improve the New Veterans Charter.
Since we are conducting a comprehensive study and we are going to produce a report in several months in the wake of which the minister will prepare a bill, would it not be desirable for the minister to start right away to improve the new charter given that everyone agrees with the ombudsman's recommendations?
Would it be in the minister's interests to start right now to improve the new charter based on the ombudsman's report, granted that it may involve other changes in a year after the comprehensive study?
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View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Manon Perreault Profile
2014-03-06 9:38
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to briefly go back to the roadmap. I know that your predecessor announced, last year, that the roadmap would not contain any accountability measures.
In light of that announcement, Commissioner Fraser recommended, in his 2012-13 report, that a management framework be established for the roadmap. Has that recommendation by Commissioner Fraser been followed?
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View Manon Perreault Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2014-03-04 9:45
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I appreciate all of this, and it's helping to give some definition as to what type of information will be put up for open.... If the default is to be openness, that's an important directive. Currently the default seems to be secrecy. It's like pulling teeth to get sensitive information out of the government through the access to information regime. Even though you say this is not set up to replace or to do the job of ATI, you mention in the opening page of your website, data.gc.ca, that this is really an extension of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Access to Information Act.
I'm still suspicious and I'm still interested, but you didn't answer my question as to who screens. Who ultimately gets to say what goes up and what stays down in terms of the portal? Is it the minister, is it the government of the day, or is there some overarching, independent authority, such as the Information Commissioner, who says that cutting the hair of Afghan detainees should be public information and should go up on the portal, and that you shouldn't have to wait a thousand days and go to court to find out whether or not you cut the hair of the Afghan detainees?
Who is your boss who says what goes up and what does not go up?
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View Anne-Marie Day Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a few questions to ask.
In my opinion, and going back to what Mr. O'Connor was saying, a good example is cartography in the High Arctic. I believe that the cartography for that region is on the website in question and that it would be enormously useful to companies that wish to do business, move forward, or develop something in that area. This makes it possible, among other things, to know where deposits are and where local population groups live. This also makes it possible to know the environment, the ground plan and the whole area, which means that if someone wants to invest, thanks to this open data, they have a great deal of information at their disposal. That is one of the goals of this study, to highlight the impact of information on economic growth.
Now, in terms of accountability, how do you check this? Is it done annually or biannually? How do you know if you are heading in the right direction, that you are respecting the five initial goals and the eight others that will be added in the context of the G8? What do you analyze to determine if you have the right goal relative to what you should meet and if you are on the right track to meet the goals set by the G8?
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View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
The government is saying that it recognizes that duty and that it is included in the new charter.
Can you comment on that?
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View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Yes. I am talking about the government's sacred duty to take care of wounded veterans.
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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you.
Just at the outset, I would like to say that I'm not going to dwell on the particular issue, the particular employee that Mr. Regan spoke to, but I do want to raise with the minister—he doesn't have to worry about responding, but he could—the concern about ministerial responsibility, and perhaps a word for the wise, given a recent court decision in Alberta about ministerial accountability for the conduct of senior staff.
In that case, the court ruled that the energy regulator had erred in law because senior officials had suggested behind the scenes that witnesses on energy projects shouldn't be heard if they were opposed to such energy projects. It goes to the conduct of officials, so it would be our understanding.... It's a big theme over the last year on what's going on in the House about ministerial accountability for what goes on in staff, so probably all ministers should be taking heed of that recent court decision.
My first question, Mr. Minister, goes to vote 1b and more dollars—$750,000 essentially—being spent to “streamline...import regulations border processes for...trade”. I'm raising a concern on that because it is actually a violation of both NAFTA and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation for any of the parties to that agreement, which of course includes Canada, to downgrade environmental measures for any kind of economic benefit.
I had the privilege at working at the NAFTA environment commission. At that time, there was a big issue of fuel cocktailing, and there was an issue of a lot of illegal trade in endangered species and so forth, so we were trying to step up inspections at the border. Since then, there's a big push to fast-track movement at the border. I wonder if you could explain what you mean by “streamline”. Does that mean to deregulate and downgrade at the border any inspections for environmental reasons?
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View Malcolm Allen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2013-11-27 15:49
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the Auditor General and the department for coming.
I have a quick question regarding chapter 1. My friend across the way has been talking about that.
In your comments I think you stated that this actually is not a new audit of a similar situation, but an audit was done of this some time ago and the government committed to making immediate changes on how they do this. Is that a fair summary of what the last one said? I don't have it in front of me today, obviously. I don't think you do either, Mr. Ferguson, but it seems the gist of it was that this was done before and somehow it was going to get fixed, and it's still not fixed.
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View Malcolm Allen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2013-11-27 15:50
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I guess I would use the term.... I won't ask you to comment, but you can comment if you would like to, of course, Mr. Ferguson. I always love it when you comment.
It would seem when you did the audit the government made a commitment to complete something. You went back and checked, because they said they would do it quickly, and what you found in this particular case is that a couple of departments managed to make it, and a whole pile of them didn't get there at all.
I don't know if you want to comment on that. It's more of a comment from me. I recognize that's not a direct question.
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View Malcolm Allen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2013-11-27 16:52
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I would certainly concur with that, sir, in the sense that if you don't know what the dates are when you're recalling a particular product, you may be recalling stuff that doesn't need to be recalled, but that's on the plus safety side, in a sense. It's a loss to the producer or the processor. The problem is if you have the wrong date, and you were supposed to have recalled the tainted material the day before and it's now out there. That seems to me to be a glaring gap when that confusion starts.
However, I want to move on to chapter 7. You indicated that with a hard cap, if I can use that term, in the budget, which the government has talked about before in the House and you've identified, you suggested that perhaps they will be faced with some choices. What do you see those choices being if they, indeed, stay at the same dollar figure that has been proposed, if there's no movement in opening up that budget in the next number of years?
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View Malcolm Allen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2013-11-27 16:53
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Oh, sorry. Yes, it's chapter 3. I beg your pardon, Mr. Ferguson. You're right. I got ahead of myself; I want to go there next.
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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2013-11-27 17:06
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Thank you very much.
I'll jump right into it so we can get in a little bit more questioning.
Mr. Ferguson, in recent times you've expressed a concern.... We know how important the work of your office is. The public accounts committee is an important part of reviewing the work so that we can write reports that go back to Parliament and get responses from government to see some action moving forward.
Recently you've expressed some concerns that the committee is not studying as much of your reports as it used to. Your fall report has just come out. The spring report came out in late April and to date, this committee has studied only one chapter of it. To date there is no plan to go back and study more chapters of it, and some important chapters like those on search and rescue.
Because we have five or six months before your next report comes out, do you believe this committee should, over the next few months, go back and study more chapters from the spring report?
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2013-11-25 20:09
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I have to say, though, that I am grateful to you for coming here and putting in context what we are doing as a committee. You will be happy to know you are in good company. The radical organization, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, today also pointed out the inadequate time available to study such a complicated bill.
I'm grateful to you for pointing out that Stephen Harper railed against a 21-page omnibus bill and today we have to deal with a 308-page bill. This is the fifth hour. We will be here for five hours today to do it, as the government prorogued and took a month away from the scrutiny. Your points are very well taken.
I asked the Minister of Finance what the amendments to the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code had to do with a finance bill, and he said something like, “Well, mediators and the like have to take into account financial issues.” The Supreme Court amendments were an example where, really, I couldn't think of anything financial, but they threw that into the omnibus bill as well.
So thank you for bringing to the Canadian public's attention what I call “legislation by exhaustion” and the inadequate way to address these issues.
On a more substantive, not process, side, you talked about the under-spending each year. You talked about how the deficit looks smaller. You used a provocative expression; you said that it may be that the public is being gamed.
Could you explain what you meant by that?
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
I am now going to ask a question of Ms. Yalnizyan.
Your presentation was clear. You referred to the abuse by the government of 500- to 600-page omnibus bills that include just about anything when they should deal with budget measures.
Something else should be noted. Most committees, and the government in general, decided to prevent, to a certain extent, independent members from bringing forward amendments because they are not sitting at the table and they do not have a voice. Only those members who belong to an official party in the House can attend and fully participate in the procedures.
However, they found a way around the system and told them that if they wanted to bring forward amendments, they could do that at the Standing Committee on Finance or other relevant committees. What that means is that if they have an opportunity to propose amendments in a specific committee, then they can no longer table them and speak to them in the House. Were you aware of this measure?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
And thank you, Madame Legault and Madame Bélanger for your presence here today.
I was quite amused by Mr. Lukiwski. After all the Senate scandals with the Conservative and Liberal senators, he's now promising to do better but in the same breath also seemed to hedge on the whole issue of what we've been mandated to do by Parliament, which is replace the Board of Internal Economy with an independent oversight body—not to study the question, but to do it. Mr. Lukiwski will have the opportunity, of course, Mr. Chair, in the coming days to prove that Conservatives will do better, after all of these repeated scandals and all these problems with transparency.
As you know, Madame Legault, the NDP is a strong ally of yours. We had Pat Martin just last week calling for a complete reform of what is a broken Access to Information Act. I know you've been a strong advocate for that. The NDP is your strong ally on it. Liberal and Conservative governments have broken the act, and the principle is that when taxpayers' money is being used, Canadians should have access to that information.
We also fully support your call to have the Access to Information Act apply to the administration of Parliament. I don't understand why the other parties seem to object to that; it's just common sense. And you said it so eloquently: we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money that the Conservative government just seems to want to keep beyond what citizens should be able to access.
So we're strong allies.
What I wanted to do to start off was ask you, in terms of the issue that is in front of us—the whole question of independent oversight.... We've had the Auditor General say very clearly that there needs to be an independent organization that is responsible for MPs' expenses. We support that fully. That's what the motion says that was adopted by Parliament.
You've referred to IPSA as well, to IPSA's process, which also allows for access to information at the same time as it applies the independent oversight that the Auditor General was so strong on just a few days ago.
My question to you is, do you agree with the idea of independent oversight of MPs' expenses, and do you agree with the approach that IPSA has taken, both in terms of MPs' expenses and independent oversight and in terms of access to information?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes, we appreciate that, and you're calling for changes to the Access to Information Act. I should mention to you that when the Auditor General appeared before us, he said that because of the cutbacks we've seen under this Conservative government in the Auditor General's department, he could undertake comprehensive audits of MPs' expenses, but it would cost Canadians, because he'd have to cut back on important audits elsewhere. As we have seen with the F-35s and military procurement, there is a whole range of issues on which the Conservative government has been appallingly irresponsible when it comes to managing public finances.
So the Auditor General's scope needs to be expanded. What he said is that he needs those resources in order to undertake a comprehensive audit of MPs' expenses at the same time as he does the valuable work of looking over all of the various instances of misspending that we're seeing from this current government.
In your case, you are saying that IPSA is a model. But do you have any specific suggestions, beyond having the Access to Information Act apply as well to the administration of Parliament, that would create an IPSA-like model?
Now we're getting into the details of how we transition to an IPSA-like model. Do you have any specific recommendations that you could make about how we can undertake that transition and assure access to information for the taxpayers who pay our salaries and who should know where that money is being spent?
Do you have any specific additions to what you had in your statement?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
And this is a concern with other independent parliamentary bodies. We're seeing those bodies starved of resources.
You are saying that you need more resources to adequately protect the taxpayers' interests.
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View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Thanks very much, Chair.
Thank you very much for your attendance today. We appreciate it. It's very helpful.
I would like to just give a clarification from this side of the House, notwithstanding Mr. Lukiwski's view of things. The actual motion that was passed unanimously by the House of Commons didn't just say, “Oh hey, take a quick look at that and see what you think.” It was far more specific. The unanimous mandate from the House was to “conduct open and public hearings with a view to replace the Board of Internal Economy with an independent oversight body”.
So this isn't just a drive-by hearing—this has meaning.
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View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
I'd like to just offer a bit of a vision of where this side so far is beginning to evolve to in terms of what we'd like to see. There's still hope that we'll all come to agreement, because that's still the best: if it's unanimous.
But here's where we are. We agree with the idea of a stand-alone, independent, arm's-length agency, as referred to in the motion, and we do like the IPSA model. We had them here the other day. We asked them questions.
It's our thinking that it allows for the kind of.... If we go with that model and accept the principles they have, it seems to us that it would satisfy some of the requests and requirements that you're putting forward on behalf of the Canadian people to allow access to information to be a part of IPSA, a Canadian version of it. Also, the Auditor General has said that he very much likes the idea that IPSA is subject to audits by the National Audit Office, which is his counterpart. So for two of the biggest legislative concerns, not from an insider old boys' club of MPs, but from the public point of view in terms of what they would like and need, we see this model as allowing and requiring at least those two changes to legislation to give IPSA access through the AG and through your office.
We believe that a stand-alone mandate by Canadians...and IPSA goes so far as to regulate the process of who gets hired. It's an open competition. Their stand-alone mandate is to be accountable to the British people for the supervision of MP expenses and their claims, so it removes some of that conflict that does happen when MPs are sitting around and it's MPs' interests versus public interest, and guess what? Guess how it's going to go and who's going to get the benefit of the doubt nine times out of ten? Whereas we think that if there's an independent mandate of Canadians who are accountable to Canadians for the supervision and accountability of our expenses, that kind of benefit of the doubt to the insider is not going to happen.
Lastly, it still allows BOIE to continue, because their work is not just MPs' expenses, and most of that work can then be done in public because there's no need for privacy concerns: they've all been removed to the IPSA shop.
That's kind of where we're evolving. We'd very much appreciate your thoughts on that.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm going to reiterate by following up on Mr. Christopherson's comments about what we're actually mandated to do, because I sense from the other side—and we've seen this in the House with the Prime Minister refusing to answer questions about the Senate scandals—there's a move away from what is actually written.
Mr. Chair, I know people in places like Regina and Burnaby and other places across the country will be wondering what exactly happened here. I want to make sure that we have on the record the motion itself, which is to conduct open and public hearings with a view to replace the Board of Internal Economy with an independent oversight body. It follows that we will propose modifications to the Parliament of Canada Act and any other acts as deemed necessary, propose any necessary modifications to the administrative policy and practices of the House of Commons, and report its findings to the House no later than December 2 in order to have any proposed changes to expense disclosure and reporting in place for the beginning of the next fiscal year.
It's very clear, Mr. Chair. What we are asked to do is to replace the secretive internal self-policing Board of Internal Economy, and folks in Regina and North Vancouver Island and Burnaby and Newfoundland are expecting us to do that. With that, I'll turn my time over to Madam Groguhé.
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View Sadia Groguhé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
2013-11-21 11:45
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Legault, for your comments.
Clearly, the issue that concerns us above all is rectifying the lack of transparency and accountability. We firmly believe in the need to entrust that accountability function to an independent agency, ideally.
You talked mainly about the Access to Information Act, which you believe should be amended in order to ensure that transparency and accountability.
Aside from the United Kingdom, which you already mentioned in your opening remarks, could you give us some examples of other countries with access to information laws that are working optimally?
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View Sadia Groguhé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
2013-11-21 11:48
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With respect to proactive disclosure, you say it's not enough and has its limitations.
Do you think that, like IPSA, an independent agency could significantly improve the state of disclosure, including, of course, as it relates to MPs?
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View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2013-11-21 12:10
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks so much for being back, Ms. O'Brien and Mr. Watters.
I want to set the scene. What we'd like to discuss, as much as we can, with you is what the transition to a more independent structure could look like. Let's leave aside the policy debates the other side seems to want to continue to have on whether we're going to have such a body.
I would note that Mr. Opitz, who is no longer with us, really did mistake the nature of the motion. He said that we're here to study “as an option”, which is language that does not appear in the motion. The motion says that we are to conduct open and public hearings with a view to replacing the Board of Internal Economy, and so that is the spirit in which we'd like to continue the rest of our questioning.
What would it take to transition to a more independent organizational structure, like IPSA, while not necessarily losing all the benefits we see with how the BOIE works? My colleagues are going to ask more specific questions.
I want to put paid to another possible misunderstanding. Ms. Legault, who was here earlier, suggested that we really have to look at the cost. Of course we have to look at the cost, but she cited the £6 million figure that IPSA cited, but at the same time, we were told that amount was either less or roughly the same as what the same functions had cost before. Whether or not that's going to be as easy for us to make it a wash in the future is something to discuss, but it's inaccurate to leave the impression in people's minds that the IPSA structure somehow cost an extra £6 million. It didn't.
Before we start the questions, I want to end by getting back onto the consensus point to see how that might work in an independent structure. The reason this NDP motion is here is that we believe not only with Madam Legault that the Access to Information Act should apply more broadly to the parliamentary administration, but also that we need much fuller disclosure of MP expenses, and we want this to be non-selective. Parties don't get to decide which expenses to disclose; just travel or just hospitality, for example, which is what the Liberals have done. It should be full disclosure, and here's the key: we believe that not only must the rules apply to everybody, and that's why we're trying through this multilateral process, but also that independent third-party verification adds to public confidence and to the accuracy of the information. Accuracy and completeness of information is much easier if the body tasked with it has an arm's-length relationship to those who are being reported upon; us, the MPs.
We have a fairly clear view: we want to see everybody move in this direction. Now, the two other parties keep hammering us to say that we want rules applicable to everybody, and at the same time, the Conservatives haven't done a thing. They keep talking about the fact that they plan to do something—we haven't a clue what it is—and the Liberals have completely botched what they planned. We have the leader of their party putting out one expense, when we know he travels all around the country. Whether he's hiding behind the leader's office, I don't know. The Conservatives have done nothing.
If we don't get to the point where we have everybody’s agreement that we go to a multilateral system with new rules, and that everybody knows what fully disclosed expenses will be necessary, then we're going to have to see if we can come up with our own, better system for ourselves.
Here is my question. Consensus doesn't mean unanimity, correct?
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View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2013-11-21 12:14
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Okay, without asking you to reveal anything at all about what goes on in current decision-making, would it be possible in the current system—and therefore be something we'd have to look at in the new system—for the presiding officer to simply declare a consensus if half the members in the room were firmly in favour and the other half did not want to go in that direction? Is it the prerogative of the chair to be able to define “consensus” in that way?
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View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2013-11-21 12:16
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Maybe I'll start with Mr. Watters, as this is now transitioning more to what my colleagues will be asking about, which is what it would look like to keep everything that's good about the BOIE and the way it functions now—effectively, it functions because of professional and highly qualified staff—but layer in the independence of the decision-making structure. Rather than the committee being made up of six members, or whatever it is now, who are MPs and are appointed by their parties, we would have a system of independent representatives who are appointed or otherwise selected.
Do you see it as possible to layer that level of independence onto what we already have?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am quite amazed by some of the Conservative comments by Mr. Opitz and Mr. MacKenzie about expenses. Mr. Opitz was critical of the fact that I've been posting, for seven years now, and that all NDP members actually post direct links from their websites to their expenses as members of Parliament. The reality is I've been doing it for seven years. People do talk to me about them at Tim Hortons, because they can access them. The NDP is the only party that does that. Every single NDP MP has that direct link.
I looked for that for Mr. Opitz and Mr. MacKenzie. They don't even have links to their expenses, so their constituents have no idea what they're spending. It's a little sad and a little unfortunate, so I'm certainly hoping they'll follow our lead on accessibility.
I want to come now to the issue of transition, which Mr. Scott raised.
We are really happy to have both of you back, Madam O'Brien and Mr. Watters. We really appreciate your kicking off and finishing up the study portion.
We do have the mandate to put in place independent oversight. The Auditor General says, “Bring in independent oversight”. The public is saying, “Bring in independent oversight”. Conservatives and Liberals may not be in agreement, but Parliament mandated us to do it, and, by golly, that's what we are supposed to do on behalf of Canadians. I'm wondering then what the transition to independent oversight might look like. I'd like your recommendations or comments on the model of putting in an independent oversight body, a little bit like what is done in Manitoba, which then follows up on administration that takes place through the House, or an IPSA model such as we see in the United Kingdom, which certainly has the advantage of not costing more but actually costing a little bit less than the existing House of Commons framework around finances.
Let's just move ahead with the mandate this committee was given. What is the transition period you foresee? What are the measures and the steps we need to take? What kind of model do you see for independent oversight so we can do away with the secretive, self-policing of the Board of Internal Economy once and for all?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I apologize, Mr. Watters, but it's more the transition, because Mr. Sills testified that there was a reduction in terms of overall expenses. I am interested in the transition process.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Watters, I'd like to come back to the issue of transition. I'd like to get your thoughts, then, on how we put together the transition. Madame O'Brien spoke of a measured approach, and we certainly understand that. But we'd like to know, in terms of the transitional measures to take and in terms of the model, what suggestions you have for us.
Putting aside the debate around it, I think the motion is very clear, and I think the public has been very clear. We really need your forethought in terms of how to achieve this independent oversight, which is clearly what the Auditor General is calling for.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
But certainly between now and the next election, this is very doable, this actual list that you've put out. Having set up organizations, I certainly understand what you're saying about a measured approach. This could be in place and voters could see it in time for the next election, perhaps not for the immediate next fiscal year, but certainly for the fiscal year after that.
On the audit regime you're speaking of, the Auditor General, who is a strong proponent of independent oversight, has said as well that he wants to be involved in comprehensive audits. That's certainly something we support, and that's something that he would require some additional resources for. But he's been cut back by this government. I think there's a strong mood in the public for the Auditor General to be given those additional resources, because it's taxpayers' money, after all. The Auditor General, on behalf of the public, is ensuring that expenses are accurately undertaken.
I'll go to both of you, then, Madam O'Brien and Mr. Watters. Do you have a preference in terms of the Manitoba model with a commissioner, or the IPSA model? Do you have any thoughts on either of those? I'm saying that those are the two choices. You may have another choice, but I'm saying that with the presumption, of course, that the mandate Parliament has given us is that we're doing away with the secretive self-policing and the bureau of internal economy. Given that we're doing away with that, what is your preference in terms of model?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, Speaker Fraser and Speaker Milliken, for being here today.
I just found out, Speaker Fraser, that you're in Squamish. I'm glad you were able to find the studio, but I'm not sure why you were sent there. It's good to have you both here with us, and thank you very much for your contribution to Parliament and to our country. You have many years of service.
I'm going to go first to questions to Speaker Milliken, and then I'll come back to you, Speaker Fraser.
Speaker Milliken, you spoke of your past history with the BOIE. I'd like you to just tell us the parliament where you had the maximum number of parties around the table, because I think you were Speaker in a period when there was what some people called the pizza Parliament, when there were four or five parties. What was the maximum number of parties you had around the table?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
You referenced two or three votes that were held during the period that you were on the BOIE as Speaker.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Do you recall any vote where it was the government members on one side and the opposition members on the other?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay.
Now, as Speaker, you did reference looking for consensus and unanimity. In that kind of situation, even when there are four parties around the table, would you be looking to have some consensus across the aisle, where the government and the opposition, or at least one or two of the opposition parties, are in agreement?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay.
That comes to the issue of majority vote. I know the government members are a bit defensive on this, but we did learn from Madam O'Brien that there had been a recent move to the government basically having a majority vote around the BOIE.
I'm wondering, with that kind of situation, would you feel—
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam O'Brien said there was a recent vote; it was a majority vote. It is true that I used the word “move”.
But my point is, and I'll come back to you, Speaker Milliken, if we have a vote where a majority that is just on the government side establishes policy or a decision, do you see that as a precedent that makes it more difficult to establish consensus later on?
Where you have a situation where a majority imposes or decides, then implicitly there is the fact that it could be used in the future. Would you see that as a negative precedent, or an unfortunate precedent?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes. But as you said earlier, your job as Speaker is to establish a consensus and to try to have that bridging between the majority—
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Speaker Fraser, I'd like to ask the same question to you.
Can you recall a situation? You, as well, were in a number of different situations as Speaker where there was a vote where the government was on one side and the opposition on the other. That was as opposed to, as you mentioned in your testimony, looking for a consensus and having sensitivity for the opposition and the opposition point of view.
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