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Results: 1 - 38 of 38
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:09
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Mr. Chair, I wasn't sure if this should be in the minutes or the business.
I asked a question at the last meeting when we were deciding on an exception for printing costs. I asked what the difference in the costs of the postage would have been for Mr. Waugh if he had used the House's preferred rate as compared to when he chose to do that mailing himself. I'm just wondering if that information has been found and if it could be shared with the group.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:31
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Thank you very much.
With apologies to Claude, who's in a very hot building, and Dominic, whose boat is idling nearby, I do have a number of questions about this. I think this is a very important decision point for us.
First of all, Bruce, you've indicated that you're not running again in the next election, and I would like to express my disappointment. This is my first opportunity to salute your great career. You will be missed whenever that happens—assuming, of course, I'm successful whenever that next election comes. We'll miss you when you do take your well-earned retirement. Perhaps Dominic can host you at his cottage.
I have a couple of questions on the proposed recommendations. It's interesting; these decisions, I find, are always presented with two terrible solutions and one “just right” solution that we seem to be funnelled into. We have that now with the medium option: The porridge is just right.
The medium option is referred to as being 32,600 square metres. Last year when we looked at this, the large option was 27,844 square metres. There is some talk here in the briefing about the net and gross building size, but it appears from the outside that the medium option is now bigger than the previous large option. What am I reading there incorrectly? Can you explain to me whether or not this entire project has grown since the last time we made a decision on it?
That's my first question, Mr. Chair. I do have more. I don't know whether you want me to just rattle off all my questions and have them all handled or do them one at a time.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:36
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Thank you for clearing that up.
This builds a bit on Mr. Julian's comments, I think. I understand the visitor experience that Bruce talked about, giving constituents the opportunity to learn more about Parliament when they're below ground, before they're actually brought up into the visitor gallery, etc. I still want to know what functions will be contained in this option.
The costing report prepared for the department this spring said that the recommended option had a number of things. It said it would include public food services, three committee rooms and a multi-purpose room for the Senate. Did that translate over into this option, what was prepared in the costing analysis for the department? Certainly, that would be an expansion of the visitor experience. I don't believe there are public food services.
Again, recognizing that this is a shared building between the Senate and the House, it seems to me that the parliamentary functions that are being proposed here are primarily on the Senate side. Am I correct on that?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:39
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Finally, I want to talk a bit about the costing.
The building and construction costs are estimated at $530 million, but a further $203.5 million in various contingencies and escalation has been added, which is about 38% of the cost. Is it normal for nearly 40% to be budgeted for contingencies and escalation? One of the line items, $54 million, is called “escalation to mid-point of construction”. I don't know what that means, and I'd like to understand that.
Again, is it normal for a procurement project to have a 40% escalation clause built into it, and what does that particular “escalation to mid-point of construction” mean?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:59
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Mr. Chair, did we actually say yes or no to the recommendations in item three? I just want to make sure we didn't have a long conversation for....
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 14:05
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I note that the House administration budget was $186.6 million. The actual spend was $190.8 million, so $4.2 million more than anticipated was spent, I guess because members spent less and the monies were available for the House administration. Perhaps you just did say it and I misunderstood it, but what caused that $4.2 million spending over the anticipated budget?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 14:15
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Thank you, I guess. That's a tough bill to swallow, but thank you.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 14:16
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Mr. Chair, I'm sorry to be this guy the whole time.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 14:16
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I support this. I would like, perhaps, the staff to come back. One of the provisions here that we are not extending is the ability to do printing in our constituencies, to have a local printer provide services. I would like to see a report on what the uptake was and what we found the cost differences were. I personally did two householders in that time frame, both printed locally, which helped a struggling local business and I had a great interaction with them. I've heard from a number of my colleagues as well who quite liked that arrangement. I would like to get an idea of how it went, perhaps for a future meeting.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 14:37
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Thank you.
I certainly agree with the previous two colleagues who agree with the recommendation from the House administration. I think if you go down this road, perhaps members who do not have patio space.... Obviously, under no circumstances would the House administration approve creating a patio space for an existing office. To say that your office has room and you could put a little patio in a courtyard or expand your space to the outdoors—I don't think that is a reasonable expense for taxpayers.
We had an example earlier today of where a new member had an additional cost of $6,400. It was absorbed within this member's office budget, so you could argue that there was no additional cost to taxpayers. It was still within the existing budget. It seems to me this may be where members believe they have more experience, or they believe they know the rules, or they believe they won't be captured by the members' allowances and services manual. We're dealing with a number of people who were here in a previous regime, when there was a lot more discretion given to members on how they spent their office budgets, or we're dealing with new members who either don't lean on staff or don't seek information from their whips early enough in the process.
I would say this simply as a global measure. It seems to me that when the House administration is onboarding people, clearly, with the number of cases we're dealing with where people are printing and mailing householders on their own or buying patio furniture, there almost needs to be a “do not” circled in bright red ink. There's clearly some disconnect between what members believe they can do early on and what they can actually do. Ignorance of the rules should really not be an excuse here. We're here to make those judgment calls, but it seems to me that perhaps we can review this with the goal of avoiding these kinds of discussions in the future. I know that this is rare and is not a huge percentage, but clearly there are some members who believe they can do things that they clearly should not be doing. I'm hoping we can find a way to avoid those situations in the future.
I just make that as a broad comment, perhaps for the team that looks at onboarding. I wonder whether that needs to occur before the member is sworn in, almost as soon as they're announced as preliminary winners from Elections Canada, almost a “spend no money, do nothing, until you've talked to House administration financial management”. I throw it out there as maybe a way we can improve that system.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:07
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I'm sorry, but just going back a bit—we kind of cruised through this—I don't believe I signed off on the “communicating with constituents” part. We moved quite quickly through this, and I'm trying to follow along on my iPhone. I have a question on this part of the agenda.
I guess printing and mailing services restarted today. The previous policy allowed us to print materials in our ridings until June 30. I just want to make sure we're still being allowed to print materials in our ridings until June 30. I'm a little unclear as to whether or not that's allowed for all products. Is it still strictly for COVID-19-related communications? How strictly is that being interpreted?
I know that a lot of our colleagues will want to move ahead, but I just want to make sure we aren't being too restrictive on printing in the ridings scenario. I think it will help clear the backlog right now if we do allow some flexibility for printing to occur in the ridings. I just want clarification on how that clause is being interpreted.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:15
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I apologize for jumping ahead, Mr. Rota. Clearly, I should have just waited for item number four. I appreciate Rebekah's presentation.
Again, we're extending the policy until March 2021, but we are only extending the external printing exemption until June 30. Is that what we agree to?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:15
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Thank you.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:23
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First of all, Mr. Paquette, can you be clear that everything you're proposing here is required by the act? Is there any flexibility, or did the ship sail when royal assent was given to this bill?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:23
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Can you confirm if the requirement for designated traveller expenditures being separated from...? I found it interesting that the House administration reporting requirement is a cumulative amount—that's what I understood you to say—that it will be a global number, or would it say, “Mr. Paquette took the following trips”?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:24
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Okay. I have been concerned, and I've raised this issue before. If we're bound by the act, then.... I don't think I probably voted in favour of it.
When we allow our disclosure to put targets on our families, I have real difficulty with that. We saw this during the last election, when members and their designated travellers were singled out, targeted and exploited for partisan gain. Quite frankly, I don't know if there's room in this presentation for us to take another look at that. Perhaps we need to have a greater discussion around it.
I am troubled by what is meant to be shining a light on what members do actually discouraging members from taking advantage of the opportunities to reunite families. We all claim, from the Prime Minister on down, that we want this to be a more attractive place for families, for young professionals to engage in the political process, and then we absolutely eviscerate them because of the disclosure rules we have. People simply won't use the travel, etc., because they know their political opponents will target them for it.
I know we're bound by the law, and we obviously need to do whatever is required. We should consider having a discussion in the future about whether there is an unintended consequence here that punishes people with families—young families, especially—and will discourage those folks from either travelling so that they can keep their families together, or will discourage those people from seeking office at all.
I will leave it there. I don't know if we can deal with it right now, but I would certainly want to have that discussion in the future.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:39
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I just want to be very clear. When I was first elected, all of the travel that occurred for my office, which was for me, any of my family and any of my staff, came under my name. It was all disclosed and it was a global figure. Now, obviously it's per trip. That decision, as I recall, was not a legislative one. It was a board decision made in 2012 or so.
Am I right that it was an internal Board of Internal Economy decision to parse out dependant and designated traveller expenses so that they were separate line items on our public disclosure statements?
I think it's very critical that we understand this. We might be going back in time here, but I think we need to look at it. Is it required that my designated traveller information is revealed by this act, or does that reference back to a Board of Internal Economy decision made a number of years ago?
Second, I don't know if anyone has done this work, but it seems to me—and I say this for the public more than anything—that the requirements now for an opposition member of Parliament are much more detailed and much more stringent than they are for members of cabinet. The requirement for disclosure for travel and other expenditures is much lower for cabinet members than for members who are not even public office holders, in terms of that part of the act.
I would like a response to the previous question especially.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 15:46
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On that, Mr. Dufresne, is there anything preventing the chair from exempting members of Parliament entirely? If the chair says he believes it's a breach of all members' privileges to have individual trip information disclosed because of, for instance, what Mr. Julian raised, it puts the security of all members in peril, or he believes there's a greater than zero chance that it doesn't, and then the chair says he's exempting everyone from that requirement—and I'm sorry to get into it here, but that's what our job is—are you saying this is not challengeable? Would that not pass a reasonable person test?
I'm trying to figure out if a chair could essentially run for office at the beginning of a Parliament and say, “As the chair, I will exempt all of you from providing this information because I believe it is a violation of your privileges to do so.” It raises questions that I don't feel we have answers to yet.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 16:06
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The government should come up with a program to get high-speed Internet to Toronto.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 16:08
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Quickly, I know what we're going to do here is to charge the member's office budget. It didn't take a lot of work to figure out that a lot of the staff members had come over from Mr. Brison, so I'm a little unsure. I've been involved in politics at the staff and MP levels for a number of years, and you've never been able to do what he did, certainly not without the approval of PAMS.
He was a month ahead of where the policy was, but there was apparently enough COVID stuff in there to allow it. Was the printing expense within the acceptable range? I know that issue was raised in our previous document. The cost for some external suppliers was way too high and PAMS had to go back and either say no or negotiate. Was the range acceptable?
I certainly have never heard of members going out on their own and mailing things under anything other than the negotiated frank rate or the rate for unaddressed ad mail. What was the additional cost because the member went outside of the contract for unaddressed ad mail that the House of Commons has with Canada Post?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 16:11
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That's my question. Are we allowed to use our MOB for bulk mailing? We're trying to retroactively cover him a bit here because of what he did. He made a mistake, but does the mistake ever extend to...? What is the cap on postage? Is that the 5,000? Is that where that comes in? I'm trying to understand this.
We want to give some grace when mistakes are made, even though we might have questions about them, but the mailing part is concerning to me because we have never had a policy allowing us to contract for bulk mail, not that I'm aware of. That is what I'd like to know. What was the difference in cost between what he did and what would have been done had he waited a month and been approved?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 16:12
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I would just say, if we take members at their word that it was an honest mistake, and obviously the buck stops with those of us who sign of on these things, so, if it's charged to his MOB.... We don't want to put a member out $13,000 or whatever it would be, but I would simply say I hope that when other members come with the same honest mistake type of defence, that we extend similar grace in those situations and not simply act based on what colour hat we wear around the table.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-06-01 16:18
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Obviously, if things need to be done to meet legal obligations, we're not going to stand in the way while awaiting more information on that interpretation, which I do not think is extremely narrowly defined. I think it's fairly broad. As we've seen, privilege in the House can relate to everything from being on a bus caught behind the Prime Minister's motorcade to someone being denied the ability to speak during S.O. 31 statements. Privilege is broadly defined, so I don't think we can say it's going to be narrow here.
My point is we've entirely glossed over a request for new funds or an FTE or 70% of an FTE. I don't want to gloss over that. To me, we have no.... I'm a little concerned right now. I believe that's for.... Is the JIC getting the extra money? No one is travelling right now and won't be for the foreseeable future. Is this FTE necessary because of new expertise that is required? It would seem to me that the workload of the unit would likely have been reduced. Do we have the ability to shift that, or is it entirely...?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-03-12 11:28
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
As long as there is something in here, or there is some direction from us.... My worry is that we create a third body as opposed to creating one. Right now we have BOIE and PROC—we're not even talking about the Senate—and now this. As long as we are clear that this body, this group we are creating, is to replace the current work that is being contemplated by this body and by PROC, that we are not making it so that now PROC will hear from officials, we will hear from officials and the working group will hear from officials.... As long as we are making it clear through the motion and clear in public here today that this group is designed to take those functions away from BOIE and PROC and concentrate it here so there are not now three groups discussing this....
I've expressed this privately, but my worry is that when you get into a subcommittee as opposed to a working group, then you become another.... Subcommittees have rules and procedures and when as opposed to a working group it becomes a subcommittee, I'm worried that we might lose some of that streamlining that we're attempting to get to here.
If there's a way in the motion, or a way for us to make it clear that what we're trying to achieve here is efficiency and not duplication, we'd be in agreement with that.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-03-12 11:30
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I'm worried that using certain terminology, although we might understand what it is, would in effect create more problems than it would solve. A working group is what I would like to call it and then we can be more flexible in how it is structured.
That would be my suggestion.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-03-12 11:31
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Efficiency is what we are looking for here.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 11:19
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I do appreciate how rushed the December meeting was for reasons that the Conservatives certainly remember. I did ask a question that I wanted to get some clarification on, just because when I went back I couldn't make the numbers work. Again, I know we were very rushed.
I did ask a question about the reduction in the allotment in the estimates for the Office of the Deputy Clerk. There's a reduction of nearly $200,000 for the personal office of the Deputy Clerk-Procedure, André Gagnon. At the time, I was told that this was because of a reallocation of the Press Gallery Secretariat to the Office of the Deputy Clerk-Administration. However, looking at that, it happened in the previous year.
I would that either to be clarified now or for it to be flagged so that someone can give me information on what that difference is, because I believe we were talking about different years when the Press Gallery Secretariat was explained as the reason for that. I'll just flag that. I don't expect that the clerk was expecting that question today, so if I can just put it on the record that I would like to get some more information on that, I'd appreciate it.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 11:21
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Thank you.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 12:10
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Thank you very much.
I appreciate the comments by my colleagues—none of whom have senators in their caucus—about how we should just simply tell the Senate how it's going to be.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Mark Strahl: I think that will be challenging, quite frankly.
On that note, who is in charge? Who has the final say on the common elements? For instance, though it is a shared building, we wouldn't have a situation in which we on the House side would say that whatever we need to do, we want six floors. I heard rumours about having to use one of the floors for services, as was indicated previously, and how difficult it would be to run the appropriate wiring and all the rest of it. We couldn't have a situation in which, at the Peace Tower, it went from six to five, or six to seven. Who is in charge of the common elements? I guess that would be the exterior. I don't assume that the interior fixtures will change in the Hall of Honour. Maybe I'm wrong there.
If we know there are common elements, who is making those decisions? I know that senators are very particular about what they want to see. For instance, we've heard that they would like 10 committee rooms on the Senate side. I just pull that out as an example.
I have two questions.
Who ensures the common elements? Will that be coming back to us, or is it going to be that we recommend and they look at it? Is that a whole circular discussion?
Then, is there a challenge function at either the department or somewhere else where, if it is deemed that one of the two occupants of the building is making requests that are simply outside of what is reality, Public Services and Procurement Canada would have a challenge function to say, “You might want that, but it's not going to happen”, or is it always deferring to parliamentarians to have to make those decisions?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 12:14
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I'm not done.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 12:14
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Mr. Patrice was going to speak, too.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-27 12:15
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I'm not sure if it's appropriate to ask, Mr. Chair, if you have met with the minister. Have you talked to the minister about this project, the long-term vision and plan? Perhaps at a future meeting it would be productive, while we're discussing this, to have.... As Mr. Patrice has said, this is a government decision. There's a minister responsible for this file. It might be something we discuss. I don't want to put someone on the spot here, but we work through all of these officials, who are doing great work, but the minister is accountable for her department as well. Perhaps she would come here either to give her perspective on this project, as one of her files, or to hear from us once we have developed this working group or the plan from this side, so that we are all on the same page as members of Parliament and the minister.
I think it would be productive. I just throw that out there, as Mr. Holland has, about the timing of a meeting. I think it would be good for us to hear from the minister and to include her and her office as much as possible in this process so that we're not running at cross purposes.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2019-12-12 12:43
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Thank you very much.
Certainly, as members of Parliament and senators, we want to ensure the health and safety of people who are working for us. I think we have to recognize the strain that has been put on this group. However, again, in the last Board of Internal Economy, we had this discussion about there having been an increase of 60% or so in the activities of associations in the last number of years. Is there any cap in place? As the whip, I can tell you that members of Parliament do like to travel internationally, and obviously they've done that more and more over the last number of years.
While we do have to support that function, is there any cost control on that other side to prevent the growth rate from being 33% or 27% a year? Obviously, if the travel is happening, we need to have support staff, but what are we doing to ensure that this number doesn't just continue to increase exponentially year over year?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2019-12-12 12:50
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I understand that the four additional positions are currently paid for out of the carry-forward for the House administration, so you're asking for those four to come into your budget line, plus an additional three.
Do we know how much money that will then free up for House administration, and do we know what that will then be allocated to?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2019-12-12 12:54
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I have two questions. One is regarding the Office of the Clerk. It does appear, just looking at the numbers themselves from 2019-20 to 2020-21, that there is a significant reduction in the internal audit funding. Maybe you could just address this and assure us that the internal auditing is not being cut and that maybe there is a reorganization there.
Then, I would also ask about a similar reduction in the office of the deputy clerk, year over year. It looks like a 20% reduction in the office of the deputy clerk, procedure. Could you explain that reduction as well? What is the reason for that?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2019-12-12 12:55
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That's all the power.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Daniel Paquette: That's right.
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