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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We have everyone here, so we'll get this meeting started. The agenda is before you.
This is meeting number 16 of the Board of Internal Economy. Welcome.
We'll start with the minutes of the previous meeting. Is everything in order? Are there any comments?
If everything is fine and we're all in accordance, we'll move on to item number 2.
Item number 2 is called “Business arising from previous meeting.“ Are there any comments or changes to be made?
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I just want to follow up briefly on the minutes, the appendix of which deals with the statistics for pre-testing of parliamentary committee meetings and all the efforts that are being made by the House of Commons Administration to make our meetings more acceptable in terms of interpretation in both languages, whether it is from English into French or from French into English.
On the one hand, I would like to thank the Administration for keeping this dashboard, which is very revealing for me. I am really happy to see that the pre-testing is leading to improvements. Over the months, thanks to the dashboard, we have been able to see that the Administration has achieved a very interesting degree of efficiency in facilitating the interpretation and the participation of witnesses, so that they are heard in both languages. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Administration for providing us with this data, which allows us to see the improvements.
On the other hand, since these improvements are so interesting, I would like us to be able to communicate them to the Liaison Committee so that the chairs are also aware of all the efforts that are being made, particularly with regard to the percentages of incidents or events that result in meetings being extended. All committee chairs must be made particularly aware of this fact. If the Board of Internal Economy agrees, I would propose that we make these documents accessible to the chairs of all parliamentary committees.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is everyone in agreement?
No one tells me otherwise.
Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I fully agree with sharing this data. We have indeed put in place some arrangements that have greatly improved the situation. There is still work to be done, of course, but I think it is important that this information is passed on to the chairs of the committees and the Liaison Committee. Indeed, this information is important.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Richards.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-04-22 11:08
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Thanks.
With the sort of analysis that was done, I noted that it was focused on instances and some of the numbers. I have two questions. First of all, I notice that the largest category was “not significant” as a reason. I'm not sure what would fall into that category. I'm curious what would fall under that category.
Secondly, I think the issue is more about the use of resources in terms of the amount of time that's used, rather than the number of instances. In many cases, when you're talking about an extended bit of debate, what you're talking about is maybe that you accommodated the full round of questioning, so the meeting went over by a few minutes. I don't think that's really what we're talking about that stretches the resources. We're talking about when there are filibusters or things like that, which drag a meeting on for hours beyond its end.
I would be really curious to see these categories broken down, rather than by instances where they have occurred, by the number of hours for which they've occurred. I think that would be far more telling in terms of what is actually a drag on the resources.
Is that something you could go back and do, to provide that information? I think that would be far more useful to both us as the board and to the committee chairs as well.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Who can answer that?
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-04-22 11:10
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I can perhaps answer that, Mr. Speaker, and Stéphan can jump in if he likes.
Absolutely, we could provide that information. It will take a little bit of time, but certainly we could by the next board meeting, Mr. Richards. It's not something that we can generate from the system. It's something we have to do manually, but absolutely, we could.
In terms of your other question, the other category, you're right. Even though we had provided to our clerks a number of categories they could check off as to why a given committee went beyond its two-hour expected adjournment time, in many, many cases, other reasons were given.
You're right. All totalled, it came up to a significant number—24%, I believe. There were things like the time it took to transition from one panel to the other and things of that nature. Each one of those was less than 1%, but we didn't put it in the chart or the chart would have had too many bars.
Again, in terms of your other question, providing stats as to the time, we can certainly provide that.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-04-22 11:11
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Thank you. That would be much appreciated.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
If there are no other comments or questions, we'll move on to item number 4.
Number 4 is for reimbursement of accommodations, meals and incidental expenses for self-isolation. Our presenter here will be Mr. Paquette.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-04-22 11:11
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I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Certainly, Mr. Richards, go ahead on a point of order.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-04-22 11:11
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Just on item number 3, I know it was removed. I just wondered why. I believe it was one party that asked. I don't know if someone could provide us an update, whoever it was who asked for it to be removed, as to why it was removed.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Certainly. I'll just pass it on to Mr. Patrice, who can comment on that.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-04-22 11:12
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Yes, there was a request by one party, the members of the Liberal Party, to remove the item because they were not ready to proceed. After discussion with the chair of the working group, Mr. Stanton, he agreed to defer the matter to subsequent meetings.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions on number 3?
We'll move back to number 4.
Mr. Paquette, Ms. Laframboise, you have the floor.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:12
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With this submission, I am seeking the board's directions about the request made by a member for temporary exceptions to the board's bylaws and policies. The member is requesting that you temporarily allow for reimbursement of members' accommodations, meals and incidental expenses for voluntary self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically when travelling between the national capital region and the constituency.
Existing board regulations and policies do not generally allow for members to be reimbursed for the costs they incur in quarantining themselves near their homes. Guidelines issued by provincial and territorial public health authorities generally indicate that alternative accommodation is not necessary. However, guidelines can vary considerably from one province or territory to another and tend to change very quickly. For this reason, we are consulting with you to determine if a temporary exception would be appropriate during this exceptional period.
This concludes my presentation. We can answer questions from members.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions or comments?
Mr. Rodriguez, you have the floor.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have not analyzed this for hours, although I have talked to several people, but instinctively, I am opposed to this. I don't feel comfortable. It's like saying that someone can come to Ottawa, go home, rent a hotel room for a fortnight, come back to Ottawa, go home, and again, get a paid hotel room for a fortnight.
We are trying to discourage travel, that is, we are trying to limit the presence of members in the House. I think we are setting an example ourselves by limiting this presence to those who live in or around the national capital region.
I don't feel comfortable with that at all.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or comments?
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I agree with Mr. Rodriguez on this issue. I agree with his motives and I will tell you another reason why I, for one, feel uncomfortable.
In every riding, essential workers, including nurses and orderlies, leave their homes, husbands and children to work in a hospital, a long-term care centre or a health and social service centre, and return home at the end of the day. These people are at risk because they are helping potentially sick people. They can be contaminated.
I'm not comfortable with the idea that a member of Parliament has the privilege of sparing his family by quarantining himself in a hotel room for which he'll be reimbursed when thousands of essential workers do not have that privilege. That sort of adds to my refusal to support this request and to Mr. Rodriguez's arguments. I think it's a difficult situation for everyone, both for essential workers and for members of Parliament. It is not easy to do our jobs right now. It is difficult for all our families.
So I would be quite uncomfortable to respond favourably to this request and to be granted special status.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or comments?
From what I hear, this request is not approved. So we're going to set it aside.
Let's move on to item number 5, the reimbursement of voluntary carbon offset credits.
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:16
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am making a submission to obtain direction from the board on a request that has been submitted by three members of Parliament regarding the reimbursement of voluntary carbon offset credits.
Last month, the board received a letter stating that the new regulations of the Assemblée nationale du Québec allowed for the reimbursement of carbon offset credits purchased for travel between the constituency and the Assemblée nationale as well as for the energy consumption of their premises related to constituency office activities.
In their letter, the members ask the board to consider adopting similar practices for members of the House of Commons.
Under the current board bylaws and policies, members and their authorized travellers may only use travel resources provided to them in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions. Although travel is necessary to carry out these functions, the purchase of carbon offset continues to be a voluntary measure that is not imposed by any legislation or regulation and is considered to be a traveller's personal choice.
Also, current bylaws and policies do not allow members to use goods and services provided by the House to donate to any cause or benefit, or support a third party. In 2015, the board considered a similar request at which time it determined that the purchase of carbon offsets for travel did not constitute an auditable use of House resources and would be deemed a donation. The House administration has been applying this decision since then.
Following this recent request, we are seeking the board's direction on this matter. Should the board direct the administration to consider the reimbursement of voluntary carbon emission offsets purchased by the members, then the administration would perform the needed analysis and consultation and come back to the board with the appropriate recommendation to be able to do so.
This concludes my presentation. We are ready to answer questions from members.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
Are there any questions?
Are there any comments?
We have Mr. Julian and Madame DeBellefeuille.
Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is worthwhile, I believe, for these issues to be considered and recommendations to be made within the Board of Internal Economy. The climate crisis affects everyone. So far, I think we have not addressed the way in which members travel. This travel will likely start again later this year, once the third wave has passed.
It would be a question of determining how we can improve our policies on these issues. I think it would be important to do that analysis and to discuss it in the next few weeks or months.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Now we'll go to Mrs. DeBellefeuille, followed by Mr. Rodriguez.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I agree with Mr. Julian's intervention on this subject.
Today is Earth Day. What a great day to discuss a project like this! I understand the arguments and I have read the documentation. I think it is worthwhile. Between 2015 and today, the climate change situation has evolved a lot, and I think we should allow ourselves to analyze it a little more thoroughly.
For example, the members who wrote the letter mention the decision of the Assemblée nationale du Québec to certify, through a call for tenders, two or three credible organizations, within well-defined limits, to allow for the reimbursement of carbon offset credits for all travel in ridings and on Parliament Hill.
You know that the current government has promised to plant trees as a way of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. This is just one of many ways. Many organizations can currently offset their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees.
I know that for today, we did not have any expectations, and I do not think that members expected us to settle the debate, but rather to start a discussion to come to a good decision in future Board of Internal Economy meetings, to see how everyone can do, as a member of Parliament, to also participate individually. One way is to offset our greenhouse gas emissions. The Assemblée nationale du Québec has made a decision. We could study it carefully. There may also be other models among Five Eyes members.
I am therefore in favour of continuing our reflection on this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Rodriguez, you have the floor.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to be a bit of a killjoy today, but at the outset, I have to say that I'm uncomfortable with this. The act of buying voluntary carbon credits is beautiful and noble, but I have always seen it as a personal sacrifice, that is, a personal initiative.
I decide to buy carbon credits because I believe in the environment, and I do. There are a lot of things that each of us does. That said, passing the bill on to the government is a bit odd. I decide to do it, I take all the credit, but it's the government that foots the bill. Do you understand what I mean?
I'm sure there are many members of the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, and the Conservative Party who take various measures. I think it's a very personal commitment. For this gesture to have value and really count, it has to mean something; there has to be money coming out of our own pocket.
Right now, we are looking at flying the flag for fighting climate change, while passing the bill on to Canadians. That is what makes me uncomfortable, Mr. Chair.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other comments?
So how do you want us to proceed? Opinions are divided. Since we don't have a consensus, do we leave it or do we ask for a little more information?
I see shrugs, but no more than that.
Mr. Julian, you have the floor.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I believe that doing an analysis and gathering more information is not making a decision. It is a search for information. I think that is normal in this case.
All our decisions are taken by consensus. I fully agree with this. It is up to the administration to seek more information. I personally would like to have more information on this.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Thank you very much for your guidance.
So we'll wait to get a little more information for next time.
Thank you very much, Mr. Julian.
We will now go in camera.
We will take five minutes for a break, and then at 11:30 we'll start again in camera.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We're going to start the agenda, item number one, the minutes from the previous meeting—I just want to check—from February 25, 2021.
Are they okay?
We are in order—I see heads nodding—so we will move on.
Let's proceed with item 2 on the agenda, business arising from the previous meeting. For your information, we are looking at resource utilisation for parliamentary events, audio headsets for virtual Parliament, and technical observations on hybrid proceedings and information concerning committee witnesses.
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
First, I would like to thank those who worked on the dashboard requested at the last meeting. I read it carefully. I would like to thank Mr. Janse's team, who probably worked with the IT team to compile the data. The dashboard shows that 90% of the witnesses now participate in technical tests, and this has certainly had a positive impact on the work of the committees. There are far fewer technical difficulties and interpretation issues. So it's satisfying and reassuring to see that, when we make an effort to put a solution in place, it pays off. So I think it was a good decision to ask for technical tests, and we see that it is a success.
I'd like to ask a quick question, for personal interest, regarding the headset purchases. A lot of headsets were purchased initially and given to members and staff. However, how many witnesses were there, and how many of them received headsets?
The dashboard says that headsets cannot always be delivered on time because witnesses are often called at the last minute. Perhaps I missed it when I looked at the tables, but I would like to know how many headsets were purchased and how many reached the witnesses on time.
Is that figure available?
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We will ask. I don't know who has that information.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:10
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I can give the answer, Mr. Speaker.
We sent out 834 headsets and there were a total of 2,120 witnesses.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Can you tell me the percentage?
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:10
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Let me do the math quickly.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
You say 844—
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:10
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It's 834, which is almost 40%, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
So, 40% of the witnesses received headsets.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:10
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That's right, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
So, 40% of the witnesses received their headsets on time. However, the technical tests have helped us understand that the key is not only the headset, but especially the quality of the microphone. This means that some witnesses who did not receive headsets are encouraged to use their personal microphones to have better sound for the interpreters.
Is that correct?
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:11
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That is correct, Mrs. DeBellefeuille. The technical tests enable us to check whether the microphones the witnesses will use are good enough for them to participate in our meetings. That's what the technical tests allow us to do. We can identify those issues, and if we do the technical tests early in the day, we can notify the witnesses if their microphones do not meet our standards. For example, Apple AirPods are not suitable. We are not saying the microphone is not good, but Bluetooth technology is less recommended for our meetings because we want to protect our interpreters.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Okay.
Thank you very much.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any comments on the second item?
Mr. Richards, do you have a comment on item number two?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:11
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There are two things. I have a follow-up to some of Madame DeBellefeuille's questions.
In regard to some of the incidents you had with the interpreters with injuries and whatnot, I notice that 65 incidents were reported in the first six months and there have only been 16 in the last six months.
Has that decline continued? Has the number plateaued? What do we attribute that to? Is it just better use of the headsets?
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe that's for Monsieur Aubé.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:12
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Basically, Mr. Richards, we did some in the fall—in September and then October. We started this process in July. We replaced some of the audio consoles in the interpretation booths to ensure that the interpreters had better protection. The new consoles are meeting higher standards for hearing protection. This is the major factor in why we have seen the number of incidents go down. I would say that the number of incidents is not going up. The number of incidents has really gone down and are staying down, sir.
We're also working on many other factors, as Madame DeBellefeuille talked about. We're ensuring that we have the proper microphones. We're working with the Translation Bureau to do more testing and to validate if we need to increase the norm as it relates to microphones.
We're doing many things, sir, to ensure that the quality is there in the audio chain, from the user participating in Zoom right up to our interpreter's booth and that health and safety is respected for the interpreters.
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-03-25 11:14
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Could I add one thing? I'm sorry, Mr. Richards. I have one quick point.
You should also bear in mind that over the past various months, the number of meetings and events has increased. While we see a decrease in injuries—which we hope will continue—we have to keep in mind that it was in parallel with an increase in the number of meetings and activities.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:14
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On a percentage basis, it's an even better decrease. That's good news.
The other thing I wanted to touch on is the resources for committee meetings and other items. In that area, you've expressed some concerns about arriving at a point where we may get to a bit of a breaking point, for lack of a better way of putting it, in use of resources. I'm really concerned about that. I wanted to probe a little bit about it.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and probably even more so after prorogation, we've seen a bit of a trend toward longer meetings and ones that are running more than 15 minutes, or even longer, beyond the projected time they would end.
I'm wondering if you've done any analysis of the reasons behind that increase or trend toward longer meetings. We've noticed a lot of Liberal filibusters at committee, for example. Have you tracked that and done an analysis on how much of that is being driven by the Liberal filibusters that are happening at committees to try to delay business?
If those filibusters were to end, what kind of a difference would that make to resource allocations and making this a little bit more manageable?
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll go to you on that, Mr. Janse.
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-03-25 11:16
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I'm a bit reluctant to comment on the issue of filibusters, but what I can mention, Mr. Richards, is that before the introduction of the voting app, votes in the House took a considerable amount of time and would delay committee meetings. By the time people went from voting to logging on to their committee meeting, it took a bit of time, delayed the start of committees and resulted in committees going longer. In general, just the time it takes to log in is slowing things down and accounts for why a lot meetings are going a bit beyond time. There's the time to log the witnesses in as well.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:16
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I appreciate that.
I can see how it might appear that I'm trying to get partisan here. That's not the case. A lot of filibustering is taking place. My concern is that when that happens.... You're telling us that resources are sort of at a breaking point. I'm trying to figure out how much of that is actually a result of the filibusters and how much of that is just an issue of not being able to keep pace with the committees. If it's not being able to keep pace, it's a different issue than if it were as a result of filibusters, which are avoidable and preventable.
I'm trying to get a sense of this. I'm hearing that maybe you haven't analyzed how much of it is actually due to filibusters and how much of it is due to the sheer volume of meetings. Is that what I'm hearing?
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-03-25 11:18
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No.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:18
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Is that something that you, maybe, would analyze? I would suggest that it might be a good idea to analyze that because, obviously, it's a different.... We're looking at a different problem if it's literally just that we can't keep up with the number of meetings—because we have to ensure that we can do that—versus if it's an issue of filibusters. That's a little less inside your control. That's why I suggest it.
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-03-25 11:18
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It's a fair point. We can do a bit of an analysis of that and come back with some information for the next board meeting—or before.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:18
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Great. That would be appreciated. Thank you.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Our next person on the schedule is Mr. Julian, followed by Mr. Holland.
However, before I go to Mr. Julian, Mr. Richards mentioned the microphone being...the quality and the health of our interpreters. I just want to remind all of the people who are on today that it's best if the arm is about halfway between your nose and your upper lip so that we can avoid the popping sound. That will take into consideration the health of our interpreters, whom we care about so much.
Monsieur Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:19
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Sorry, Mr. Speaker, could I interject before we move on?
To be clear, they've asked me to put it closer to my mouth.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
You're doing fine, Mr. Richards. Actually, I should say that that's standard, but depending on where your breath goes, you could hold it lower between your lower lip and your chin. These are things that I observe while I'm sitting in the chair and watching you guys speak. Now you know what I do with my time.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:19
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No, no, I appreciate that.
I had a phone call. They asked me to put it closer, so I moved it based on that. I just wanted to make sure that I hadn't moved it to the wrong place.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, the big concern is when it's directly in front of your mouth. When your breath comes out, it pops on it, and it's very difficult on the interpreters' ears.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:19
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Okay. I'll try to adjust it just a little bit.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, you were fine. Don't worry about it. I just notice it being there for some.
Anyways, Mr. Julian, you have a comment.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Since we want to discuss a lot of topics today, I will start immediately.
First, I want to mention that I am very pleased with the progress we have made and especially with the fact that we have more and more equipment that reduces the injury rate of interpreters. Interpreters do a lot of hard work and reducing the number of injuries helps them tremendously.
Second, I would like to ask Mr. Aubé a question. While we are pleased with the progress, there are still some problems. What will it take for us to reduce the incidents affecting our interpreters to zero?
I have experience working in factories where you go days, weeks or months without an injury. It's part of the workers' health and safety program.
What do we need to do to reduce to zero the incidents that cause problems and injuries to our interpreters, who are doing an outstanding job?
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2021-03-25 11:21
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Mr. Julian, thank you for the question.
First, we have worked very hard to address the major problem of acoustic bursts. We did so by investing in consoles for the interpreters.
Now our job is to make sure that the chain from the participants in the meeting to the interpreters is good. As you saw in January and February, the first thing we need to do is the technical tests. Before people participate in the meeting, we need to have the opportunity to check that the microphone is positioned correctly, that the environment in which the person is going to participate is good, and that their connectivity is good. These three major factors affect the quality of the sound and, consequently, could cause problems for the interpreters. That's what we are working on.
Finally, we are examining the equipment in the committee rooms, in the House of Commons on an ongoing basis. If we are able to increase the quality by making modifications or changes to the configuration, we will do so.
For example, in the last three weeks, we have conducted some tests with the Translation Bureau, because we noticed that, in committee, the sound quality was slightly lower than in the House. We are in the process of checking whether this is the case through extensive tests to compare the sound from those participating on Zoom to the committee room and the interpretation booth. We have put a lot of effort into this. In addition, we have a number of people on site. As you can see, a lot of people are present in the committee rooms to make sure that we are able to address any issues that may arise with our interpreters. So those are the different things that we're looking at to improve the situation.
In closing, we are in the process of implementing an ongoing improvement program. Every week, we look at the statistics and assess what has caused difficulties. We try to fix those problems so that they don't happen again the next week.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Now we will go to Mr. Holland.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-03-25 11:23
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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
First, let me thank you and the entire team for your efforts. There has been a marked improvement in the quality of the interpretation, but also in the health of our interpreters. Thank you very much for your efforts.
I have just a quick note. If we're going to talk on the issue of resources, then I really do want to raise this point. It is the opposition's right, of course, to troll and look for anything it might find useful for itself. Hopefully its principle purpose in that is what's useful for the country. It's the government's right to disagree with what it is trying to bring forward and say that is not what is of most importance to the nation right now or for the advantage of Parliament.
I do think it's a good opportunity to talk about the use of Standing Order 106(4). I do think it's a good time to talk about all of the creation of new committees and work that is being placed on interpreters and to ask who is creating that work. Who is demanding all of these additional resources and all of the additional time that is being taken? Of course, that is a rhetorical question. I would never actually ask that of House administration because that would be an incredibly partisan thing to do and this is not supposed to be a partisan environment.
I do think it is worthwhile for us, as we think about the people who work with us and who do an incredible job of supporting us as we pursue our individual agendas and what we are trying to take care of, to think about the work that they have to do and how much time they have to spend to do it.
As the opposition creates new committee meetings under Standing Order 106(4) and decides to continue to press issues that are not being talked about in the national dialogue and demands that Parliament spend all of its time and energy on those issues, perhaps the opposition members could give some time and consideration for all of the people they are putting out along the way.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I have said this before at the Board of Internal Economy. I believe firmly that we have to put our partisan hats aside at the Board of Internal Economy. I certainly prefer that we not have these kinds of debates. I don't think they are appropriate for the board where it is strictly non-partisan and where we put aside whatever party, whether we represent the government or the opposition. This is not the place nor the role for the BOIE. I feel uncomfortable with a couple of the comments that have come up so far today.
I just wanted to raise that.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay, how about we leave it at that?
Everybody has made their comments.
Before moving on to the next item on the agenda, I propose, with the agreement of the members, to distribute the briefing documents on the committee proceedings in the item on business arising from the previous meeting of the Liaison Committee.
Is everybody is okay? Good.
We will continue with item 3.
Number 3 is the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors, CCOLA, and the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committee, CCPAC, 2022 conference.
Our presenter is Ms. Sgro, and we have Mrs. Block as well.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
I believe Mrs. Block was going to go first in the presentation, but since you have called me, I will move on—
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I didn't want to mess up your order here. I'm just reading what I have before me. I read half of it, anyway. I'm sorry about the second half. You two can decide who wants to go first.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Good morning, members of the board.
I want to thank Mrs. Block, who is going to do a presentation in detail on the conference for which we are seeking your approval today. Mrs. Block gave a presentation to the subcommittee on committee budgets—SBLI—on behalf of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, on March 12. Her request was approved unanimously by the members of the subcommittee. I now present the request, of course, to the board for approval, as is the process.
The budget before you is based on the participation of 110 delegates and 25 accompanying persons. The conference will take place basically over two days, from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday afternoon when folks would depart.
The cost of the conference is shared between CCPAC and CCOLA in an approximate sixty five-thirty five split, depending on the participation of each group, with CCPAC absorbing the greater percentage because there are more CCPAC members participating than the CCOLA members. That also means that the revenues generated by the conference fees are split in the same way.
You'll see in the budget document that the global cost is $97,785. The PACP's share of that cost is $27,000 once the conference fees are calculated.
The committee is asking that a maximum of $42,000, including anticipated revenues for registration fees, in temporary funding be provided for the organization of the conference in 2022.
I believe Mrs. Block wanted to now speak to the issue, as well.
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View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Ms. Sgro.
Good morning, members of the board. I am pleased to join you today.
As Ms. Sgro has outlined, today we are seeking approval and funding to host the 2022 conference of the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors and Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees. I know you have received a submission in detail, so I just hope to give the broader context.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts, of which I am the chair, is a member of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees. This council and the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors host an annual meeting to discuss best practices and provide information sessions on issues related to the study of public accounts.
The CCPAC was first created in 1978 and has held joint meetings almost every year since 1979, with each jurisdiction taking its turn to host. The federal committee has never hosted this event.
Discussions have been ongoing since 2017 to have the federal committee host the meeting in November 2020. The PACP adopted a motion to host the conference in 2022, once the appropriate budget had been prepared and adopted and the necessary permission from the host had been received.
I'll just repeat that first part. Discussions have been ongoing since 2017 to have the federal government host the meeting, and in November that is when the PACP adopted a motion to do so in 2022.
I would simply also state that the chair at that time, in 2017 up until 2019, was Mr. Sorenson. He was a firm supporter of the committee participating in these conferences and of the federal committee taking its turn to host in Ottawa.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do we have any questions from the board? Is everyone in agreement?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Anthony Rota: Very good. We'll move on to item 4.
Item 4 on the agenda is the Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States.
Mr. Janse has the floor.
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-03-25 11:32
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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I will be brief. Whenever a special committee is created, the funding comes directly from the Board of Internal Economy, not from the funding for all standing committees.
Members have before them a submission that seeks a start-up budget for the recently created Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States, with a recommendation that the funds required for this committee, nonetheless, come from the global envelope for standing committees.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
Is everything clear? Are we okay with the recommendation? Is everybody in accordance with it?
Okay.
We will continue with item 5.
It's the Joint Interparliamentary Council.
This is the Parlement francophone des jeunes of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, whose 47th annual session will be held in Montreal, Quebec, from July 7 to 12, 2022.
Our speaker today is Mr. Drouin.
Mr. Drouin, you have the floor.
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View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Members of Parliament, as chair of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), I would like to thank you for receiving our request to add the Parlement francophone des jeunes to the annual session of the APF scheduled for July 2022 in Montreal.
The explanations for holding the event and the reasons for this additional request are detailed in the note that accompanied the letter sent to you on February 12. We are all interested in educating young people about parliamentary action, and approval of this request would support that goal. Finally, we will be pleased to invite you, when the time comes, to participate in this major francophone event, so that you can see for yourselves the vitality of the Canadian francophonie.
I will be pleased to answer your questions.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions or comments?
Mr. Deltell, you have the floor.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Drouin. I am pleased to speak to you.
Clearly, we agree on that, but I wanted to know if your game plan calls for the event to be held in person or in another form.
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View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
We are currently planning an in-person event. Mr. LeBlanc will be able to give you more details, but I know that the contracts include force majeure clauses in case the meeting cannot be held in Montreal in 2022.
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Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2021-03-25 11:35
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Yes, Mr. Deltell, I see what you are getting at in terms of the possibility of holding the meeting in a hybrid or virtual format. It will be up to the International Executive Committee of the APF to make the decision. However, we are ready and we have begun negotiations on how to adapt if the event is held in hybrid or virtual form.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Are there any other questions or comments?
Are we in agreement on the recommendation?
Everyone agrees, that's great. We'll continue with item 6.
Number six is the distribution of certain mailings to members' constituents living outside Canada.
The presenters today are Ms. Kletke and Ms. Allard.
Please begin.
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Rebekah Kletke
View Rebekah Kletke Profile
Rebekah Kletke
2021-03-25 11:36
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am pleased to present a submission seeking approval from the Board of Internal Economy to amend certain regulations and policies. As a result of a request from a member of Parliament, the House Administration has reviewed the Board's policies regarding the distribution of householders and mailings to constituents residing outside Canada. The Members By-Law currently provides that householder and constituency mailings may be distributed only within the member's constituency.
The restriction of householders and constituency mail to within the constituency of the member means that members' constituents living outside of Canada do not receive these mailings. Constituents who reside outside of Canada and are registered to vote with Elections Canada are recorded in the international register of electors, which is provided to members annually by the Chief Electoral Officer. After the general election held in October 2019, there were 167,392 electors in the international register of electors.
In recognition of the need for members to communicate with all of their constituents, including Canadian Forces and other Canadians living outside of Canada, the House administration is proposing updates to the board's policies on householders and constituency mail.
First, the House administration proposes that the policy regarding householders be changed to allow members to send householders as addressed mail to their constituents living outside of Canada whose information is included in the international register of electors provided by the Chief Electoral Officer. Costs for additional copies of householders would continue to be charged to the members' office budget, and envelope costs and costs for international postage would also be charged to the MOB.
Second, the House administration proposes that the policy regarding constituency mail be changed to allow members to send a portion of their original constituency mail allocation as addressed mail to their constituents living outside of Canada, whose information is included in the the international register of electors. Envelope costs and international postage for constituency mail sent to constituents living outside of Canada would be charged to the MOB.
These recommendations, if approved, will allow members to use householder and constituency mailings to communicate with all their constituents, including those living outside of Canada.
This concludes my presentation. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
For questions and comments, we'll start off with Mr. Richards.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:39
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Thanks for the presentation, and I appreciate the attention this has received. I think an important matter was raised. I'll ask a question and make a suggestion at the same time.
I'm wondering if this fully captures the aspect of military personnel and their dependants. I assume that in your consideration this would include military personnel outside of Canada. That's a question. But what about those within Canada who would be stationed on a base outside of the constituency where they are electors? I'm wondering if this captures them. It doesn't seem that it would.
I have a suggestion to make. In points one and two you talked about adding addressed mail, the householder or constituency mailings for constituents living outside Canada. That's how you've termed it. I wonder if we could make it “constituents living outside of the electoral district” or something like that, because although it would capture, I assume, military members and their dependants who are stationed outside of Canada, I'm not certain that it would capture those posted on a base within Canada who are electors elsewhere. I want to make sure they are captured as well. I think it's important to ensure that all of our military personnel are receiving the same opportunity to get communications from their MPs.
Would the suggestion I've made capture all of those people, or do you believe you've already done so?
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Monsieur Patrice will respond to that question.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-03-25 11:41
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Thank you, Mr. Richards.
You're totally right. The proposal as presented right now is about Canadians living abroad, but it doesn't capture constituents who may live outside a riding. To reach those types of constituents, they would need to modify it. If it's the wish of the board, we could definitely make that change to the submission to capture Canadians outside of a riding who are registered abroad and those within Canada.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:42
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Do you think the suggestion I'm making would capture all of them, or do you have another suggestion?
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-03-25 11:42
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We would look at the wording to make sure it captures what you addressed, but there are also other constituents. For example, it could be students who are registered in a riding but studying, for example, in another....
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-03-25 11:42
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Yes, good point. I'd like to see us capture that. I'll make that suggestion. If other members are willing to consider that, I think it's important to include those people as well.
I have something else, but I think what I'm going to do is lower my hand, Mr. Speaker, and raise it again so that we can deal with this particular aspect. I have a question that relates to printing and mailing, but I think it's better that we have this discussion first. I will raise my hand to bring that up afterwards.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
We'll now go to Madame DeBellefeuille.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I understand the proposal, but I cannot give my support to my colleague Mr. Richards at this time. I don't have the information for a comprehensive analysis. For the time being, I am in favour of adopting the submission before us and reflecting on this proposal at the next meeting.
I have other questions, but perhaps they are not appropriate for this meeting. I would like to understand the full implications of this proposal before we add it. I'm not opposed to it, but I would like to have more analyses and recommendations from the House Administration before deciding on this issue.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We will now continue with Ms. Petitpas Taylor. After that, it will be Mr. Richards' turn.
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View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.
In the same vein as the previous speaker, I wasn't planning to speak to this, but I'm wondering how we would capture students within our ridings who are in other areas, or military personnel who perhaps are not living at home and are at another base.
With respect to the proposal that's been brought forward, there's a registry in place, an international registry. How would we be able to capture people who are living outside of their riding if they're not registered in a specific area? I'm just looking for a bit of clarification on that.
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