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Results: 1 - 30 of 141
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, Mr. Chair, I will. Thank you very much.
Today I'm joined by my colleague Kelly Block, as well as Peter Julian, who is also a representative on this working group.
For your background information, the working group met on June 4 and June 11 to review the proposed governance structure and initiate engagement on the Centre Block rehabilitation project. The House of Commons administration provided an overview of the long-term vision project, or LTVP, and background on consultations and approvals to date.
The working group discussed the governance structure and agreed on the mandate. The working group was formed as requested by the BOIE with a view to provide engagement with members on requirements and oversight on the Centre Block project and LTVP. The working group will report to the board to provide updates on the rehabilitation project and make recommendations as required. The working group will help guide and inform consultations and engagement with members and stakeholders.
For the development and implementation of the LTVP, guiding principles that we will work under were developed at various milestones. We reviewed those established principles and we propose an updated set of guiding principles that are appropriate for Parliament with regard to the Centre Block rehabilitation. We would seek BOIE's endorsement of the following principles.
Centre Block’s primary purpose is to accommodate the two Houses of Parliament. It is first and foremost a workplace for parliamentarians, and the design and operational requirements of the building must take those needs into consideration.
The Centre Block rehabilitation—
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
My understanding was that you had received a fair amount of information on this project already.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
The Centre Block rehabilitation project will aim to enhance the operations of Parliament from a functional and technological standpoint to ensure that the infrastructure continues to meet evolving requirements for the proper functioning of Parliament.
The CB rehabilitation project will work to ensure public participation in the work of Parliament, with continued access to chamber proceedings, question period and committee work, as well as to enhance and expand opportunities for public outreach by creating spaces that complement the historic building.
The CB rehabilitation project will explore options for universal accessibility and interconnectivity between buildings on the parliamentary campus via an underground tunnel system and supporting infrastructure.
The CB rehabilitation project will continue to create a balance of accessibility to Parliament and a secure environment.
The CB rehabilitation project will strive to restore the significant heritage fabric of the building as originally designed and built, and to update all engineering and life-saving systems to comply with contemporary expectations of wellness, safety, sustainability and universal accessibility in support of parliamentary functions.
Decisions regarding the future of Centre Block will be guided by the principles of fiscal responsibility and the conscientious use of resources, while taking into account the value placed on restoring historical heritage spaces.
At our working group's initial meeting, we were provided with an overview of the project plan and the roles of the various stakeholders. This complex project is being delivered following a fast-track methodology consisting of many overlapping activities. In this process, early decisions need to be made while requirements are still being developed. This risk is managed through a process of layered decisions that allow flexibility.
Going forward, we will be looking at detailed requirements for key functions in Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre complex to ensure that building functions reflect the operations of Parliament and the members' needs in our workplace.
In terms of immediate activities for Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre, it has been determined that there are two items that require endorsement at this time: the excavation contracting strategy for the visitor welcome centre and the construction hoarding. The working group has reviewed the options and brings forward our suggestions for the BOIE's consideration.
The visitor welcome centre requirement, or VWCC, was established in the 1999 document “Building the Future”. The concept was established and approved by the BOIE, COIE and cabinet in 2006 and reconfirmed in 2009 and 2011. Requirements for the VWCC phase 2 are still under development and will require the working group's validation and further BOIE approval. To ensure that the CB project maintains momentum, an early decision on the excavation contracting strategy is required.
The working group was presented with three options for the excavation strategy for phase 2 of the proposed visitor welcome centre. All options considered the following implications: security, visitor experience, parliamentary functional requirements and cost.
While it was clear to us that excavation is required to accommodate base building requirements, we were of the view that other expressed requirements should be assessed and decided upon after the election.
Accordingly, the working group recommends going forward with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scaled down or up depending on decisions with respect to allow actual requirements beyond machinery and equipment.
The second item is the construction hoarding. This site plan indicates roughly the maximum area for the construction site, which includes the Centre Block; the anticipated approximation of where the VWCC will require excavation; and room for construction trailers, material laydown and heavy equipment mobility. The black line indicates the approximate location proposed for the construction hoarding, leaving approximately half the front lawn for public access and for activities to continue throughout the project implementation.
Installation of the construction hoarding is planned to start in the fall of 2019.
The working group was presented with three hoarding options for consideration.
The working group recommendation is a hoarding design that reflects the architecture of Centre Block, displaying images and interpretive text about the project and Parliament for visitors. This would be maintained over the lifespan of the rehabilitation project.
This option provides a cost-effective fencing for the construction site and a visitor experience while the Centre Block is rehabilitated.
The recommendations before you today from our working group are, first, to proceed with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scalable down or up, depending on decisions with respect to actual requirements.
The working group also recommends proceeding with hoarding on the front lawn with large monochromatic photos or illustrative drawings on the front face and with ornamental black fencing for the remainder of the perimeter.
Joining me and Ms. Block at the table here today are some of the appropriate people from the various departments working on this project.
Ms. Block, do you have anything you want to add?
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
I understand the rationale from departmental officials as to why it's important to move forward with the recommendations that we have before you today: in order not to lose time, and so on and so forth. It leaves us with post-election opportunities to reflect on ups and downs and so on.
Certainly I would like to see clarification on the roles and expectations for the three of us, who are representing different parties. I don't want to receive a complicated document and be asked for a decision in 48 hours and then go to you with a recommendation that we really haven't had time to be fully engaged in.
I love the suggestion. As Ms. Bergen said, these are the kinds of ideas that we thought we may be dealing with. We did not expect, with a limited amount of time, to be coming to you with recommendations to this extent.
I think we all understood why we needed to go forward today in a short period of time, but I certainly would appreciate some clarification of the role of the working group in the future and the board's expectations of us.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want you to know that we appreciate the board agreeing to include our recommendation for additional broadcasting resources and options for committees in the next Parliament as part of your agenda today.
I'm joined by Eric Janse, Stéphan Aubé and Ian McDonald from the House administration.
As many of you have known, there have been growing challenges around access to the limited resources broadcast committee proceedings on video. As a result, many committee chairs and members feel that committees do not always get the attention they would like for the important work they do on behalf of Canadians.
In addition, if additional video streams for committee meetings were added, closed captioning would be included, increasing access to committee proceedings for even more Canadians. As there have not been changes to the existing broadcasting resources since 2001, I think it's probably time.
As a result, the liaison committee recently saw a presentation on a web broadcasting option for committee meetings, and the committee fully supported this initiative as a way of increasing access.... Am I going too fast for you, Ian?
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:46
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I do think that the situation that was identified was very unusual, in that the job continues whether or not you're a parent. There's an expectation that you will continue to represent the riding. There are not really a lot of analogous situations where somebody has a child and is on maternity leave, but then is still expected to work. There isn't an apples to apples type of comparison that can be made here.
In a general sense, I think that the comments that we shouldn't have anything that would be seen to be greater than what would be available to our constituents are ones that I'm moved by. I don't know what exactly that number is. I'm open to proposals. I think Madam Chagger perhaps has an idea.
I think that we have to be careful about expectations. You can imagine that a minority government may only sit 18 months, and if you say that somebody has 13 months during which they can be absent from the chamber, that could be quite challenging in establishing an expectation. The numbers as they are, I think, are a little generous. I think we have to come up with something perhaps a little different than what's on the table.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-30 11:50
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Thank you for the comments and the work you've done in making your proposal.
I do know that in Ontario, the average working person who is paying into EI would receive their EI benefit at 55% or 60%—whatever it is. I know that we've now extended benefits so that the secondary parent, or however you want to refer to them, can also take up to six months.
I do believe that if we want to adhere to the logic—which I think is well received—that members of Parliament not be better off than our constituents, perhaps offering a time that is proportionate to that benefit would be suitable.
I know Minister Gould has written a letter with a recommendation of four months. I'd even be comfortable with five months, or five and a half months, less than six months, just on the point that Mr. Holland has made as well.
I would like to throw some numbers out, because I think it would be important for us to offer a recommendation in response to what PROC has asked for. I think that would allow us to take a step in the right direction. Currently, there are no benefits when it comes to paternity leave, which is not okay if we're really trying to change the dynamics of the House of Commons and so forth.
I really do like Mr. Strahl's idea of having a box added, regardless. I think that if it's additional time, they should be able to say that it's paternity leave. If somebody is needing to take a day off because of a sick child, they should be able to say that, because you're not ill when you're taking care of your children.
It is really important, and we do need to shed some positive light in that world. So, I will throw out a number that's closer to Minister Gould's recommendation. I would be more comfortable with a period of between four and five and half months, but less than six months.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:52
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I completely concur with that timeline. I'd just make the observation that—because I also agree with Mr. Strahl—on the surface of it, you could leave the policy as was and it would seem as though the policy would be equal to what employees have today. In other words, the penalty is not all that large—8% is not that significant.
The real issue is what we're broadcasting as acceptable. When you're charged, it isn't necessarily about the fact that you are having a reduction; it's kind of broadcasting that you're doing something wrong—that you're not attending the House and, therefore, you're being penalized.
Conversely, if we say that you can have a year, then people are going to think that it is—excuse me, it's not a year; we're talking about 13 months.... People are going to come into the job, become pregnant and then say now they can disappear for 13 months—if we put the policy in—and I don't think that's appropriate, given the nature of the work and the demands of the House, particularly if there's a minority government time frame.
I think having that period of four to six months—which is recommended as a minimum by international labour standards—is appropriate. It broadcasts that we do want to encourage members to be able to have children and families while they conduct this work. But it gives some parameters around what those expectations are, so that if somebody decides to take on this employment, then they will know what they're facing and what those expectations would be.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:57
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I think you raise an excellent point with respect to the position that a party could be in, and not only in a minority situation. You could have a very thin majority situation where the numbers would be impacted by members' having families. Therefore, as much as we have a policy in place, the policy effectively becomes irrelevant because the party's going to exert enormous pressure on those individuals to come back and be present for votes that might precipitate an election.
I don't know, and maybe it's a question I could ask, because I don't think we can force pairing. You could have a sort of gentleman's agreement or an agreement in principle, but I don't believe there's any way to compel parties to observe that. For example, I think it would be entirely appropriate to have mandatory pairing, but I don't think there's any way of enforcing that. Am I correct in that?
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 11:59
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The point that would make, first of all, is there's an expectation at PROC that we're going to give them some sort of direction. I think that's important.
I'm very sensitive, Ms. Bergen, to the points you're raising. I think that the issue of pairing, of being able to assure that you're not creating a precarious situation in the chamber as a result of these policies, has to be considered. In its absence, it would frankly render this policy irrelevant, because it doesn't matter whether or not we say that somebody can be on maternity leave if there is a circumstance where their vote is demanded or there's going to be an election. We know what's going to happen.
I don't think that any policy we recommend....There has to be something, and if we can make it in such a way that we can be assured that it would be enforced, I think we should look at it.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-30 12:02
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Just to confirm, Mr. Julian, you're stating that you're comfortable with this recommendation in its entirety.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-30 12:02
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I think that's great as well, then.
I just want to say that I do think this work has been done. PROC has studied this matter. They've asked this table, this board, for a recommendation. I think a unanimous recommendation should be offered to members of PROC. Then they would be able to table their report and it could be concurred in with all-party support and we would have movement.
I think we're recognizing that this is definitely a conversation that has many different layers, and those conversations have to start somewhere. This is a step that I think needs to be taken. I think it speaks volumes. Those other conversations can definitely take place. I would totally support Mr. Julian's comments in saying that this should be the recommendation that we offer to PROC.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 12:06
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Yes, I concur with that. I'm comfortable moving forward on that basis.
I don't want to slow this down because I understand the need to make a recommendation to PROC and that it can make a decision quickly, and that we have a limited amount of time in our calendar. Perhaps in the future, however, I'd like to be able to address the issue of pairing and gaining assurance that there's actually a means to protect that leave. That also is in a situation of serious illness, right? We've seen this before when somebody is in very poor condition and they're being brought back into the chamber to vote because otherwise it would precipitate an election. To me that seems to me an unfair circumstance, and it's certainly unfair that somebody would be pulled. It makes sense that they're going to be doing work in their riding and are continuing to be in the riding, but to be pulled back in that period, I think, is problematic. I think if we could have that looked at and perhaps have something come back to us, then we could make a recommendation to PROC—
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-30 12:07
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We should make the recommendation now.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-30 12:07
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Okay. My problem is that I don't know what that mechanism is. I don't necessarily want to slow this process down, but I would be interested in understanding what tools would be at our disposal to be able to effect that—so that people who are on a serious medical leave are not in a situation where they're being dragged out of a hospital bed and into the chamber. If we could have something that assured that pairing were present.... I think it's a good time to have that conversation, frankly, because we're not in a heightened situation at the immediate moment with a minority government where there could be a very tight vote.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:36
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Mr. Chair, I want to raise the issue of maternity and paternity leave for MPs. On March 1, I wrote to you in your capacity as chair of the board and asked that BOIE be seized with this issue. Members of PROC had released a report in November 2017 entitled “Support for Members of Parliament with Young Children”. The committee recommended that changes be made to the Parliament of Canada Act to add that pregnancy and paternal leave be reckoned as a day of attendance of the member.
We took action with Bill C-74 and the budget implementation act. The PROC report was basically asking for guidance from the House of Commons administration for the purpose of implementing new rules, terms and conditions and/or modifying the current rules, terms and conditions that apply to members who are pregnant or on parental leave.
I'd also like to acknowledge that there was a supplementary report from the official opposition to the PROC report, which recommended that politicians not be put in a better position than their constituents. I think it would be appropriate for the House administration, when developing options, to factor in both the report and the supplementary report.
I'm hoping that the board will agree to ask the House administration to prepare some options that could be considered by both the board, as stewards of the House of Commons, and the committee on options for members who are pregnant or on parental leave.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:38
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I appreciate that.
PROC has already released a report asking for recommendations. That's why I'm bringing it back to this table, to ask the House administration to prepare those options now that there has been a report by PROC members as well as the supplementary report. I think both reports should be considered when preparing those options, but I do believe that options should be prepared, being mindful of the situations and the legislation passed.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:39
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PROC released a report in November 2017 asking for recommendations.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:39
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There has also been a supplementary report to ensure that members are not put in a better position than constituents. I believe that should be factored into providing recommendations to the board as stewards of—
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:40
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To clarify, if I may, Mr. Chair, yes, PROC has asked for recommendations. I, as a member of this board, would also like to see those recommendations.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:41
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I would say that the legislation responded to the request of PROC. Now we just need options as to how we proceed.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:43
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I would definitely consider that. I do believe, since PROC is asking for recommendations, that they should be responded to. Since BOIE is a consensus body, if we could look at the recommendations, we might be able to develop consensus and be able to move this along, which I think is important to do.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 11:45
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To reference Ms. Bergen's comments, if, as they're being prepared, they want to keep our teams in the loop, it might make for a smoother process to see if we're close or not.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 11:57
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Mr. Speaker, I understand the concern. Particularly when in a public forum there are questions about expenses, there is an important need to verify the veracity of those expenses. Sometimes that process yields, as this one did, that the policies were appropriately followed. There's a question with secondary expenses in this instance, whether or not staying in your mom's basement constituted a principal residence.
I think it's important to explore the fact that those questions were out there. There have been instances where members have been found to have not utilized resources appropriately, so when things are raised in a public forum, I think it's important that those matters be vetted.
I'm satisfied with the conclusions here, and effectively those questions are answered in this matter, as far as I'm concerned.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:04
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Mr. Speaker, I have some sympathy for this because I think the rules are somewhat opaque right now. Things have evolved such that there's a number of different online fora that people can advocate for the work that they're doing in Parliament. It becomes complicated when you have something like a free website or a website that is paid for by an electoral district association, or a Facebook page which is provided completely free, or an Instagram page, where you're talking about your work. But then, when you drive traffic to it, I think that becomes the issue.
I think we're going to have to be clear on where that boundary is. I recommend setting in place fines but on a prospective basis once we've made these rules very clear. I'll suggest to you where I think the difference lies.
If your electoral district association pays for your website and that website simply talks about your work as a parliamentarian and it can also talk about your work in the constituency on a partisan basis, I think there's no problem. When you put that into a householder or when you use House resources to advertise that, then you're using House resources to promote it and therefore to drive traffic to something that could raise money, drive people to fundraisers or things of that nature. I think that is the concern here, if I understand it.
If I were to go one step further—and I think this a more salient point that isn't addressed here—if we take a look at a medium like Facebook and you use your House of Commons resources to buy targeted Facebook ads to get more people to like your Facebook page, then you subsequently use the people who have been added to that Facebook page as a result of House resources targeting those people to then invite them to a fundraiser or invite them to a nomination meeting or a rally for an election purpose, then this is where I think we have a problem. If you're using House resources to promote something, that then pulls it into the domain of being a vehicle of your job as a parliamentarian and therefore it has the usual restrictions around not being able to use it to promote fundraisers and things of this nature, it's an important boundary to keep. This is particularly in view of the fact that a lot of advertising is moving in that direction.
I don't think it's particularly clear to members, as it would not have been to Mr. Angus, that, hey, look, my EDA is paying for their website so no one should be hassling them about this. The answer is that they're using House resources to promote it. I think we have to be very clear with that, and it has to extend beyond websites. Giving anything in the way of a punishment up to this point would be unfair because it is not as clear as I think it needs to be. On a prospective basis, we need to be very clear and we should have fines. I suggest that they be escalating because if the fine is small enough, then somebody can say that it's worth it. If they can add 10,000 people to their Facebook and they can do a lot of fundraising off it, then frankly, it's worth some small fine.
That would be my recommendation: to come back with fines on a prospective basis that would be escalating and a policy that would relate to more than websites but also include Instagram, Facebook or other digital channels that people could use, where they would use House resources to promote it. That line has to be drawn exceptionally clearly.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-05-02 12:13
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I'll try to cut the line. I agree that it's difficult. I think that members of Parliament who are going to have Facebook pages are going to have other sorts of digital presence, and that's fully appropriate, and it's obviously fully appropriate to be partisan as well, including fundraising and organizing of events, so I'm not suggesting that at all.
The line that I'm drawing, and I'll just be very explicit to make the point, is, let's say I took $5,000 of House resources, advertising, and paid for targeted Facebook ads to drive up the number of people who are following me on Facebook. Then I work with my EDA with those new people who have just been added as a result of the budget that I've taken from the House of Commons to drive up my numbers to promote a fundraiser in my riding. I'm then deriving a direct benefit from the utilization of House resources.
The line I would draw is to say that, if you use a Facebook page or a digital medium, and you drive traffic to it, so in other words, you buy that traffic or you promote it in a householder or a ten percenter, then you are converting that into a House asset. If you make the decision as an EDA to purchase the eyeballs using EDA dollars, it's different.
You're absolutely right, Candice, that in the course of our business.... Let's say I have a particular image—and this may be hard for members to believe—or I have a particularly eloquent speech in the House of Commons, and I post that online, and it drives a lot of traffic, and it drives a lot of people to like my page, which I then subsequently use to raise money. It's not a perfect line, but I think that we need some kind of line because—I don't do it—it would be a remarkably effective strategy for me to take all of my advertising money, spend it on Facebook, and then work in conjunction with my EDA to capitalize that for fundraising purposes and for electoral purposes.
Today, as I read the rules, there's really nothing stopping me from doing that. That should worry us a lot more than whether or not a householder is driving somebody to a website. Maybe I shouldn't even say this out loud, because it would be such an effective strategy, but the fact that this strategy exists on the table today could be capitalized with enormous effect. I'm not sure that we want to leave that out there, because I think that it's really not the intention of what the allocation we're given is for.
Let's face it. If the rules don't block something, somebody with more ambiguous morals who is industrious will fill that grey space in utilizing this. That's why I'm saying that this is an opportunity in the ambiguity of where we are today to cut clearer and more defined lines here before it becomes a larger problem, and there's a greater move towards this digital world than a smaller one. I think we all acknowledge that. That's why I think it's incredibly important for this body.
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-02 12:17
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I want to echo some of the comments as to the rule we hear often that you can't do indirectly what you can't do directly. I think that's where the concern is being raised. Are we ensuring that there is some guidance available?
I put out ten percenters in my riding. I thought it would be important for me to share with everyone that I was hosting a blood drive so people could come and donate blood, which I thought was great, but the rules did not permit me to ask people to come and donate blood, because it was asking for donations. They were not political donations. It was for blood, for the good of the people of the country and for saving lives.
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