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Results: 1 - 58 of 58
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Then we go back to what you say in chapter 1, about the monitoring issues that seem to be severely lacking. It's been going on for quite some time, where we really need to do a lot of catch up on monitoring of these programs to find out if we're getting the measured success that we so desire. Certainly, when it comes to procurement, such as ship building, or even other types of equipment of that size, and the right decision about options, it seems to me that it's prolific across many departments where we lack the amount of monitoring in order to make these decisions.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-29 17:14
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What would Stephen Harper have said about someone in the PMO giving a $90,000 cheque to a sitting parliamentarian?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-29 17:14
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What would Stephen Harper say, as president of the National Citizens Coalition, about accountability? Who would be accountable for those actions?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-29 17:19
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Mr. Taylor, when Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition, if a matter became before Parliament, wouldn't he be calling for more accountability and more openness and transparency, as is in Bill C-461?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 15:30
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Mr. Chair, I'd like to move the following motion before the committee:
That the Committee hold hearings on the conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process, and that the witness list include but not be limited to: Nigel Wright; Benjamin Perrin; Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister; Ray Novak;
And that, in the context of this study, the Committee table a report in the House asking that the House send a message to the Senate requesting the appearance before the Committee of the following senators: Senator Mike Duffy; Senator David Tkachuk; Senator Marjory LeBreton.
The reason I move this motion is that it is critically important that this committee be immediately seized with this issue, and the government has actually scheduled time allocation votes during our proceedings, which will block this motion before the end of the meeting. This is no coincidence. I'm also forced to move my motion now because the Conservatives will undoubtedly move the meeting behind closed doors to deal with my motion, as they do with most, time and time again, preventing Canadians from seeing Conservative MPs carry out orders of the Prime Minister to stifle dissent.
The conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process go to the heart and the trust of Canadians' need to have a democratic institution—
An hon. member: I have a point of order.
Mr. Scott Andrews: —and it seems that the Conservatives across the way—
An hon. member: Point of order....
Mr. Scott Andrews: —are somewhat bothered that this very serious issue, this situation, has the potential to undermine their confidence.
An hon. member: I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Scott Andrews: The issues raise very troubling questions, which have yet to be answered and which merit the immediate action of the committee.
Voices: Oh, oh!
An hon. member: Mr. Chair....
Mr. Scott Andrews: We are talking about the most senior officials of the Government of Canada—the chief of staff to the Prime Minister providing a substantial cash gift of $90,000 to a sitting parliamentarian. This raises a whole host of other terms as to whether this arrangement was fully compliant within the Conflict of Interest Act, the Parliament of Canada Act, the rules of the Senate, or the Criminal Code. There are many unanswered questions, and it's up to this committee to get answers for Canadians. There are 10 key issues that need to be addressed.
Number one, on Monday, May 20, the PMO told CTV News that they had forwarded a copy of this agreement between Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright to the Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson. On Tuesday, the Conservatives said this document couldn't be released because no such agreement exists. An e-mail, which in fact does exist, describes the secret agreement. The e-mail was dated February 20, 2013, and is currently in the possession of the Prime Minister's Office.
Will the government commit to releasing this and any other e-mails or documents, electronic or otherwise, that relate to the secret deal between the PMO—
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 15:34
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—and Senator Duffy, so that the review for the Canadian public—
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 15:34
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I never asked for a point of order. I just asked to have the floor, and you gave me the floor, so I'd like to continue with my motion.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 15:36
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Well, I think we should discuss how we're going to proceed with this meeting today.
We know there are two votes scheduled, and with all due respect to our witnesses, their time here today is going to be shortchanged. I think we should—
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 15:36
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If Mr. Warkentin would like to participate in the debate in public, we could have this discussion. Unfortunately, every time we get to a motion in this committee, the Conservatives will move that we go in camera.
In the interest of transparency and respect to our witnesses, I think we should proceed with this motion, as you did give me the floor to discuss it.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 16:21
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Now that I have the floor, I'd like to move the following motion:
That the Committee hold hearings on the conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process, and that the witness list include but not be limited to: Nigel Wright; Benjamin Perrin; Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister; Ray Novak;
And that, in the context of this study, the Committee table a report in the House asking that the House send a message to the Senate requesting the appearance before the Committee of the following senators: Senator Mike Duffy; Senator David Tkachuk; Senator Marjory LeBreton.
The reason I move this motion is that it is critically important that the committee be immediately seized with this issue. I'm also forced to move this motion now because Conservatives will move that this meeting go behind closed doors to deal with my motion, as they do over and over again, hiding behind secret meetings to prevent Canadians from seeing how Conservative MPs carry out the orders of the PMO to stifle all dissent.
The conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process goes to the heart of the trust Canadians have in their democratic institutions. This is a very serious situation that has the potential to undermine this confidence. The issues raised are very troubling questions that have yet to be answered and merit the immediate action of this ethics committee.
We're talking about the most senior official in the Government of Canada, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, providing a substantial cash gift of $90,000 to a sitting parliamentarian. This raises a whole host of other issues, in terms of whether this arrangement was fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Rules of the Senate, and the Criminal Code. There are so many unanswered questions, and it's up to the ethics committee to get the answers for Canadians that they deserve.
There are 10 key questions that must be answered.
On Monday, May 20, the PMO told CTV News that they had forwarded a copy of an agreement between Senator Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright to Ethics Commissioner Dawson. Then on Tuesday, the Conservatives said this document couldn't be released because no such document existed. An e-mail, which does exist, describes the secret agreement. The e-mail, dated February 20, is currently in the possession of the Prime Minister's Office.
Will the government commit to releasing this and other e-mails, documents—electronic or otherwise—that relate to this secret deal between the PMO, Senator Duffy, and Nigel Wright so they can be reviewed by all Canadians?
Two former chiefs of staff to Conservative prime ministers have said there is no way that Stephen Harper, as Prime Minister, could not have known about this deal. How could Mr. Harper continue to say he had the utmost confidence in Mr. Wright one day, and nearly five days later say he's allegedly been kept in the dark about this serious undertaking?
Media reports indicate that Stephen Harper's former legal adviser negotiated an arrangement between Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright. That lawyer says he did not participate in this decision to write a $90,000 cheque, but has not denied drafting an agreement. Who drafted the agreement, and why?
The Senate committee's report on Senator Duffy was whitewashed. Who ordered the members of the committee to whitewash the Duffy report, and why did the majority of senators on the committee agree to this cover-up and cooperate?
Senator Duffy told the Prime Minister's Office he would repay his expenses as long as they went easy on him in exchange for his silence. What else did the PMO expect in exchange for that $90,000 cashed cheque and a whitewashed Senate report?
Conservative Senator David Tkachuk tipped off Senator Duffy that he had billed inappropriate expenses. Was Senator Tkachuk or any other Conservative senator ordered by the PMO to give Senator Duffy the heads-up as part of this deal to go easy on him?
Once Senator Duffy repaid the $90,000, he immediately stopped cooperating with the Deloitte investigators who were auditing him. Why? Was he ordered to quit cooperating on the advice of Nigel Wright in the PMO? Why is the Conservative leader in the Senate refusing to allow committee hearings into the whole affair to be held in a public, open, and transparent manner?
Why did Stephen Harper continue to have confidence in these senators who whitewashed a report and who are now being asked to review it for a second time?
The audit of Pamela Wallin's expenses is yet to be made public. Had the Duffy-Wright deal not come to light, would she have received similar treatment?
Despite being required to disclose a gift of over $500 to the Senate ethics commissioner within 30 days, Senator Duffy did not disclose a $90,000 gift from Nigel Wright. Why? There can be no more important issue for the House of Commons to ensure the integrity of our parliamentary institutions than this one. This is the reason this committee must look into this very serious issue and must get to the bottom of this, so that Canadians can have trust in their institutions.
This weekend on returning to my constituency, I heard over and over again: what went on? Who knew what, and who knew what, when? It's time for this government to come before this committee and discuss this important issue. This is a government that rode into government on a white horse of accountability and they should come to terms with this motion.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 16:28
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Now, I notice my time is up because the bells are ringing, Mr. Chair. However, as the Conservative government has moved sitting hours to 12 p.m., maybe the Conservatives wouldn't mind if we continue with this motion for the next 25 minutes or so. The House is only a two-minute walk down the way and the government has extended the sitting hours. They want to come here to work until 12 o'clock, so maybe they would like to proceed with this motion for the next 25 minutes.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-05-27 17:13
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I was getting to the end of my comments regarding my motion that this committee look into the Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy-PMO $90,000 cheque.
In the House of Commons today, the Minister of Canadian Heritage kept repeating that Mr. Wright acted alone. But if you look at Mr. Wright's statements, not once did he say he acted alone or that he didn't inform his boss of what he had done. So there are other actors in this particular case, and we need to get to the bottom of this. I have a lot of respect for the Conservative members over the years who fought for more accountability and more transparency in this place, and I'm hoping that they would support this motion to get to the bottom of this particular affair.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-04-24 16:00
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Do you feel that requesters quite often request information, get the information, don't effectively know the laws of the information they're allowed to have access to, and they don't lodge complaints because they don't know the difference, they don't know they are entitled to certain pieces of information under the act? Do you have any idea if that's a common practice? Is that a concern?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Scrimger, one of the concerns that was raised by the Office of the Auditor General in 2001 and 2006 was that the government was indeed moving more and more towards a granting system as opposed to the accountability of a contribution system. There was a criticism and a concern raised by the Office of the Auditor General at that time. In 2005, total votable grants and contributions totalled $27 billion. Now total grants and contributions, votable grants and contributions authorized by Parliament, are $37 billion per year. The Auditor General expressed the concern that the Government of Canada was moving more and more to the granting-based system as opposed to a contribution-based system. The concern was that grants do not have accountability built into them. Of the $37 billion now in grants and contributions, how much of that is grants and how much of that is contributions? Have we actually moved to limit the use of grants and moved more towards contribution agreements?
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
These are the festivals, maybe, and all those sorts of things.
Is there any way you feel you can improve the process of transparency within your own department when it comes to festivals, if certain festivals don't get their funding?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-03-18 16:00
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With the non-interference with judicial and quasi-judicial, are you suggesting that apply to all MPs, not just ministers and cabinet ministers?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like our witnesses to draw their attention to the issue of making long-term fiscal sustainability analyses public.
Ms. Cheng, you noted in your remarks that long-term fiscal sustainability analyses have been regularly prepared since 2010. Without prejudice, notwithstanding the issue of making provincial or territorial analyses public, which I'll defer because the issue is a bit contentious, regarding the federal fiscal long-term sustainability analyses, are you disappointed and is the Auditor General of Canada disappointed that the Government of Canada has failed to make public the long-term fiscal sustainability analyses that have been prepared since 2010?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Then I'll turn to Mr. Robidoux.
Would you be prepared, Mr. Robidoux, to make these reports available to the committee for our own analysis, since they are indeed referenced in the Auditor General's report?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Well, I think, Mr. Chair, that we have a hostile witness, because we're splitting hairs. If there was a report given, unless it was a verbal report, there must have been something on paper.
I'll now refer this, and provide a notice of motion to the committee, which I'll move later on, Mr. Chair, that the committee order the Department of Finance to produce the documents referred to in paragraph 7.50 of chapter 7 of the Fall 2012 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons, entitled “Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability—Finance Canada”, and which have not already been made public, namely, long-term fiscal sustainability analyses from 2010 to the present; and that the documents be deposited with the clerk within seven calendar days of the adoption of this motion; and that the committee defer the consideration of a draft report on chapter 7 of the Fall 2012 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons, entitled “Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability—Finance Canada”, until the documents are deposited with the clerk.
I give notice of that motion because, Mr. Chair, we do not seem to have a sense within this committee that you are committed...the Department of Finance of the Government of Canada does not seem in the least bit committed to honouring its 2007 commitments in the budget, wherein it was stated that you would provide this information on a public and ongoing basis.
If you're telling me now that these reports don't actually exist from 2010, 2011, and 2012, and that the Auditor General actually had it wrong when the Auditor General stated to us in his report to Parliament that “while long-term fiscal sustainability analyses have been regularly prepared since 2010” but “have not been made public”, would you like to re-craft your answer to this committee now?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Auditor General in his report to Parliament states: This lack of reporting means that parliamentarians and Canadians do not have all the relevant information to understand the long-term impact of budgets on the federal...governments in order to support public debate and to hold the government to account.
I'll note that the Department of Finance in its action plan that was tabled with the committee has indicated that they will indeed this year provide the minister with long-term fiscal sustainability analyses to budgetary proposals before the budget is actually drafted and tabled. That's a commitment that the department has given to not only the minister, but to us as well.
There is a presumption that in order for this information to be valuable to parliamentarians, it has to be delivered before a decision on appropriation is made by Parliament.
Would you agree, Ms. Cheng, that in order for this to be valuable, that information.... As the Auditor General says to us that there is a disconnect, that there is a problem that parliamentarians don't have this information, would you agree, and do you think the Auditor General of Canada would agree, that having this type of information available to the minister is important? Also, given the fact that parliamentarians are the ones who openly vote and appropriate these resources, would it be valuable for Parliament to have this information before such votes are taken?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much.
I'll ask our representatives from the Department of Finance, is there an intention of making this information available to Parliament before the votes on appropriations are made regarding the business of supply for 2013?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you.
I note in your opening statement, Mr. Campbell, when you were referring to the Bombardier CSeries program, that you said to this committee that both Parliament and Canadians do not know whether the program is meeting its objectives. You said that in the course of your audit you found that Industry Canada had not collected all documents required by the two contribution agreements to determine progress towards the program's objectives.
From the point of view of this committee, we're trying to establish whether or not benchmarks are being met. It doesn't appear that they are. This is a significant amount of taxpayers' money being provided to individual companies in this regard. I'll leave it at that, but I'm still left a little confused.
I'll ask this question. Industry Canada committed to providing Parliament and Canadians with annual reports regarding the SADI program. It was approved, and SADI was initiated in 2007, yet there has never been a report to Parliament, if I understand correctly. Is that your understanding as well? I'll ask the associate deputy minister.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
I appreciate that.
It sounds to me, and I think it sounds to most Canadians, given our support to the aerospace sector since around 1959.... You seem to be indicating to this parliamentary committee that you expect it to be around for quite some time; because other governments are doing it, our competitiveness is at stake.
It sounds like this is a structural subsidy to the sector, and could potentially be a cause or a reason as to why the industry is not being held in compliance with reporting under its contribution agreements.
It does kind of baffle the mind as to why, if someone's receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from the Canadian taxpayer, they're not being held to account to at least report, as per the contribution agreements, for those hundreds of millions of dollars.
Could you report to the committee your activities to actually get compliance from those who are receiving those types of taxpayer dollars?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
We've had an opportunity to go through the Auditor General's reports, so why don't we go right to you, Mr. Campbell, as assistant auditor general, and ask you, are you satisfied that the taxpayer dollar has been protected, or have the contribution agreements with industry, signed by Industry Canada, been satisfactorily achieved or enacted?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-02-06 16:14
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Thank you very much.
Ms. Turnbull, my first question is for you.
You've looked at other legislation. You've looked at other countries. There's been a suggestion that we merge our conflict of interest and our code for members and the code for senators. Is that a good suggestion? Is it practical, and would it result in anything better?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-02-06 16:16
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Mr. Conacher, let's have a little chat about the commissioner and what she reports on, and what she doesn't report on. She's made three recommendations, 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4, about being able to have a preliminary review of a request and making that public. The big one there, 6.3, is to publicly correct misinformation out there, and 6.4 actually suggests that members requesting an examination refrain from commenting publicly on that.
How do her three recommendations reconcile with your thoughts about what she comments on, and how, when, and what she doesn't comment on? I don't think she addresses anything that she doesn't comment on, if I'm not mistaken.
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2013-02-04 16:17
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That was one of my questions for you about administrative monetary penalties. I found your comments very interesting that the penalties that are there now are so small that one would say, okay, yes, it's the cost of doing business.
I agree with that, but let's talk about those substantive branches. I think you said that these should be put into some different categories of breaches of the act. What different categories would you look at, and what would be the corresponding penalties?
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Oh, good Lord. I wanted to talk about the Investment Canada Act.
Obviously, I'll throw it out to both guests here who spoke about it earlier. The transparency level in the Investment Canada Act, in your opinion, does not suffice. It's at the back end. Do you feel that transparency is nowhere near where it should be after a deal is made?
I'd like to ask Mr. Bergevin and Mr. Weir to comment on that.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My pneumonia is feeling top shape now.
Mr. Ferguson, you emphasized in your opening remarks the notion of life-cycle costs. This was a particular emphasis for you. During the course of your audit, which was concluded in the fall of 2011, were you able to confirm that the life-cycle costs of the F-35 were likely to be exactly the same as or similar to the life-cycle costs of the CF-18?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
The Deputy Minister of National Defence, Mr. Fonberg, said to this committee just two or three weeks ago that he and the department are still of the opinion that the sustainment costs, the life-cycle costs, of the F-35 will indeed be a one-to-one ratio with the CF-18.
Do you have any information that may confirm or contradict that in an immediate or current context? I'll just give you the example of the Congressional Budget Office or other accounting bodies or other information that may have been received by the primary driving force behind this, which is the U.S. government. Have we received or should we be aware or consider that the costs may not actually be a direct one-to-one ratio with the CF-18?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you.
Would you be able to task officials within your office, if they have information assembled through outside sources concerning what the potential sustainment costs would be—such as information from the Congressional Budget Office or other sources—to provide that information to the clerk?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you.
Finally, on the notion of what are the life-cycle and sustainment costs that should be presented, not only to cabinet but to Parliament and to Canadians, we often talk in this committee about lessons learned. There have been lessons learned.
I'm approaching this from the point of view that there were lessons learned through the Chinook helicopter purchase. Chapter 6 of the Auditor General's report from a couple of years ago basically did say that the life-cycle costs should be complete and should carry forward the following types of information. That was agreed to by the government, I understand.
Also, the Standing Committee on Finance included specific references in a report that they prepared for Parliament indicating that full life-cycle costs should be included in the cost estimates, which were agreed...by the government.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
If we were to use that as a basis of what we now should expect--recognizing that twenty years ago we probably did things differently, ten years ago we did things differently, and even three years ago we did things differently--if we were to use that as a basis point, that just a couple of years ago we had the Chinook helicopter purchase exercise, to say that this is how we will report—
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Health Canada has a minimum of eight years of understanding exactly what the appetite of Parliament is in terms of this issue. It has had much longer than eight years to understand the appetite of the pharmaceutical industry to want to limit disclosure and transparency. It has had much more than eight years of understanding the Canadian public's appetite to want to expand transparency.
I would like to have this included in our report, as to whether or not Health Canada's meeting what the broad objectives were originally within the Health Canada study of increased transparency.
Would you be able to explain to us or provide and maybe table to this committee not just that you have an action plan and are committed to it, but spell out to us exactly what is in the action plan? When will disclosure occur, not only for clinical trials but for marketed drugs? What information will be disclosed? How often will that information be disclosed? Can you tell us, how is it disclosed, and quite frankly, whether or not it is done in a routine and regular basis, and how inclusive it is—whether or not all drugs are being summarized or being posted or published on a regular basis, and not just whether or not intermittent inspections are being published?
Would you commit to being able to table to the committee that comprehensive form of information, providing us with exact, full details—full disclosure—of how Health Canada is going to approach this in the future?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2012-03-27 12:29
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No, but the Prime Minister seems to say that there was no substantial harm done, and that is defined nowhere in the act.
Do you think that there should be mandatory minimum penalties in the Conflict of Interest Act, and if so, that government ministers can't ignore them?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you.
I'll ask Mr. Campbell, then. You suggested to us to specifically ask our witnesses about what were the plan and the timeframe for reporting to Parliament on the delivery and economic impact of the economic action plan. What specifically have they left out that you suggest they need to be more forthcoming with?
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View Scott Andrews Profile
Ind. (NL)
View Scott Andrews Profile
2011-12-13 9:14
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That's where I was going to go, because the onus in all lobbying is on the lobbyists themselves. I know we've asked questions about whether there should be a reverse onus on the public office holders. I know when the Conservatives promised open accountability, they promised that ministers would report who they were meeting with, and that hasn't happened.
Would it be helpful to have ministers and certain levels of office holders do some reporting to you as well, so that you could see who's meeting with who, and if something is missing you would see that, and you could cross-reference? If both parties knew they were being reported, they would be more open to telling and be more upfront about their meetings, because if one party reported it and one party didn't, then that would raise a red flag. So it's opening up a whole new area of onus. Should we be moving the onus to both parties?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Perhaps we could begin with a fair representation costing of the justice proposals. That would be a fair way to get an analysis of what Parliament is reviewing in terms of legislation and policy and expenditures, but I don't think we're going to see that any time soon, Mr. Chair. That's perhaps a good idea already thrown out.
I want to zero in on what the public accounts of Canada do and what they do not do. I want to zero in specifically on the recording of the G-8 legacy fund. An analysis by the Office of the Auditor General found that spending occurred for the G-8 legacy fund in an unlawful fashion. The purposes for which it was intended were not approved by Parliament, which is contrary to the Financial Administration Act. The interim Auditor General submitted a report to that effect. There was a mea culpa by the government, but I'm having trouble finding anything in the public accounts of Canada, which were published after the Auditor General's report, that would indicate this type of expenditure, done outside of parliamentary authority.
Is there anything anyone can point me to, in volume I, volume II, or volume III--there are literally hundreds of pages here--that actually refers to the fact that unlawful spending occurred, spending that was outside of the Financial Administration Act, and that describes it in fairness for Parliament?
Mr. Ralston, would you be able to take that one on?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Ralston, I think you just nailed some of it. That is the trouble. As parliamentarians, as members scrutinizing the estimates documents, unless we had some sort of notion within the estimates that the border infrastructure fund was going to be used falsely to promote the G-8 legacy fund or to convey payments or contributions agreements under the G-8 legacy fund.... If it weren't for the Office of the Auditor General we wouldn't have been able to uncover that, because it's just too buried.
So there's nothing in this document, which was tabled and published after the Auditor General's report, that clearly defines that this $50 million in expenditure, along with a specific amount during fiscal year 2010-2011, was done outside of the normal envelope. It's not detailed in the public accounts, is it?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Ralston.
I'll go now to Madam Cheng, if I could.
One of the things that caused a little bit of a stir and excitement here is that I've tabled a motion before the committee to ask the Auditor General to appear before this committee on the G-8 legacy fund--
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
I appreciate the opportunity to reply to the points of order. Perhaps if we continue to do that, there will be fewer points of order offered by the government.
Madam Cheng, thank you again for appearing before us.
My line of questioning on public accounts is a correctional measure. The Office of the Auditor General found that spending on the G-8 legacy fund was unlawful, was contrary to the Financial Administration Act, because money was spent for purposes--
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
The reporting of expenditures is really what the public accounts is. It's an after-the-fact reporting of how funds were spent, not how they were intended to be spent. Is there anything you would recommend that the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Government of Canada should consider, by way of a reporting standard, to establish whether money was spent without parliamentary authority? You are aware that a notice of motion was tabled before the committee to call the Auditor General before us, because we have not yet heard a stand-alone testimony from the Office of the Auditor General on the G-8 legacy fund.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
—if my motion was out of order because it was held in camera, it should have been ruled out of order as it was tabled.
Madam Cheng—and Mr. Ralston, if you would like to jump in—would you be able to advise the committee as to how the public accounts of Canada could be improved so that parliamentarians receive a better, fairer, and more exacting representation of how moneys were spent?
Right now all we know is that there were moneys spent under the Canada border infrastructure fund that the Office of the Auditor General did indeed find were spent inappropriately because they were not spent for the purposes for which Parliament was informed; they were spent for different purposes. Yet there's no outline of that within the public accounts.
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to follow up on your expression, Madam Cheng, about the lawfulness or unlawfulness. Spending has to occur within the context of the Financial Administration Act--is that correct?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Wiersema, you indicated that you have a strong desire to stay on after November 31. I detected that.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. Gerry Byrne: I detected that.
Given that Parliament, both the House and Senate, has to review this and appoint someone accordingly before that date and that we have not yet had an official nominee, I'd welcome you back in December to the committee.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. Gerry Byrne: I'd like to move to Mr. Matthews and Mr. Ralston. I want to talk a bit about the challenge function. You both talked a little in terms of examples, giving specific examples of how the system works, and you talked about the process.
One recent example that strikes me is the G-8 legacy fund. What should we as a committee know? Obviously things did not happen the way they were supposed to, and those who were in a position--I think almost a statutory authority position—to
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
That's good. Thanks very much.
That's helpful because it allows us as a committee to be able to say that, maybe, the CFO would be someone who we might want to ask to appear before the committee. So thank you very kindly.
I want to talk to Mr. Wiersema about the importance of this committee. You place a lot of value in this committee. Every time you've appeared, every time you have spoken in public, you always talk about the importance of your relationship with Parliament, in particular the PACP. Convince me that this relationship is important. More importantly, convince Canadians. What value does the PACP offer in terms of transparency and accountability?
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View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much.
It strikes me that increased comptrollership improvements to the internal audit functions were not able to pick these things up. In fairness, they were probably not designed to do that. Would you be able to inform the committee as to whether or not the government, in this act of contrition, noting its failures and shortcomings here, has communicated to you and your office any specific measure, standard, or procedure that it is now instituting across government to prevent this from happening again?
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