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Results: 1 - 15 of 508
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, gentlemen. I have several questions for you.
I've been a member of this committee for a few years now and I've had occasion to get frustrated. I'd like your remarks on this subject to go on the record. They'll be interpreted in one way or another by the committee. However, there's nothing unusual in that.
I read in the material distributed to new MPs that committees in general had a mandate to conduct investigations. The word “investigation ” appears in the manual that new MPs receive from the House of Commons. In his opening remarks, Mr. Malloy used the words “inquire and investigate”. I take that to mean that committees can conduct inquiries and investigations.
In my opinion, this committee has all too often limited itself to following up on the Auditor General's reports.
In your opinion, is it the primary role of this committee to follow up on the Auditor General's report, or can the committee also decide on its own to inquire into certain matters?
I'll give you some examples later.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
With your permission, I'll clarify my question. Mr. WIlliams can then venture a response.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
I'll give you two examples. I believe the committee's primary role is to follow up on the Auditor General's reports. However, if it did nothing more than that, the committee would always be reactive, never proactive. If the committee could occasionally, not regularly...
Let me give you an example. The federal government shelled out $16 million to host the World Aquatic Championships in Montreal. The Auditor General has yet to audit this expenditure. The entire board of directors was relived of its duties. A suicide has even been reported in connection with this matter and the expenditure of $16 million.
I asked the committee to begin an audit of sorts, to obtain internal documents from the Department of Canadian Heritage. I was told that this was not... Perhaps the committee could simply go over some of the material and steer the Auditor General in the right direction on this file. Far be it for me to do her job.
Consider a second example. We learned through the Department of Public Works and Government Services that the government has 450,000 surplus feet of leased office space. If we apply the rule of three, that would mean that $210 million is being spent, or wasted, each year by the federal government to lease unnecessary space. The Auditor General has yet to investigate this report. Should she look into this matter in three years and table a report six months later, that means the committee would have to wait four years before it has a chance to ask some questions and an additional $840 million would be spent. Why couldn't the committee take a proactive stand?
That's what I'd like to discuss with you, and with Mr. Williams as well.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Williams, the long-time chair of this committee. However, I would like to mention one small thing. When he says “the committee must”, with all due respect, that's his interpretation. He did not write the book on committee rules of procedures. I think it would be preferable to say ”the committee should” or “in my opinion, the committee must”. I say this with all due respect, Mr. Williams, and I had to muster all of my courage to say that to you.
However, having said that, I agree that we're conducting a political audit of sorts. We have neither the authority nor the resources that the Auditor General has. I will concede as much. I do not have Mr. Williams' experience or that of the other two experts who are here today to enlighten us. I'll admit to that as well.
In my opinion, following up on the AG's reports must be the committee's first priority. Nevertheless, I'm convinced -- unless someone can convince me otherwise and that won't be easy, although I'd like to think that I keep an open mind -- that on occasion and exceptionally, the committee can and must call in witnesses, if only once or twice, before referring some matter to the Auditor General.
For example, the Department of Canadian Heritage awarded $16 million to a particular organization. Certain internal, external and legal audit reports are not available or cannot be accessed readily. A special request must be made under the Access to Information Act.
As I see it, we should hold one or two committee meetings to see if indeed there is a problem or whether the media is really to blame. If we do discover that there is a problem and that we have neither the resources nor the mandate to resolve it, then the committee could recommend that the Auditor General conduct an investigation.
Should we be content with merely saying that we heard there was a problem and therefore ask the AG to resolve it? I'm not saying the Auditor General is at fault because studies are one or two years in the making. That's a very normal timeframe. In two years, the committee could revisit the issue.
All I'm asking is whether this once, the committee can and should undertake this kind of study.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Maybe I can try this in English. Sorry, Mr. Chairman. I never said that. I don't want to say that.
We have some internal-external reports in Heritage Canada available now--not in Montreal, not in Saskatchewan, but in Ottawa. We can take the report of the heritage minister and do the follow-up here in the committee.
It's one example.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Am I up now, or are we dealing with a point of order?
Before I begin, I'd just like to point out that it's rather difficult for the interpreters to do their job when two people are talking at the same time.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Good morning, Mr. Baird. Thank you for joining us and thank you for your brief presentation, and for the opportunity to ask you some questions.
I'll get right to my first one. In a few moments, we will be debating Bill C-2 in the House. Since this is the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, if Bill C-2 is adopted, what is it going to cost us to enforce the legislation?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
According to the Library of Parliament backgrounder distributed to committee members, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Flaherty, is also the Vice-President of the Treasury Board. Is that correct?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
What new responsibilities will the Vice-President of the Treasury Board have? The former Vice-President of the TB, Paul Martin, maintained that he didn't have any responsibilities, that a vice-president merely attended meetings and drank coffee.
Should a problem arise, will the new Vice-President be in some way held accountable?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Chair, I see that the new President of the Treasury Board has been quick to learn an old trick. He provides lengthy answers so that there is less time remaining for other questions. I mean no disrespect, but I'm familiar with that tactic. I'll ask you some brief questions and I'd appreciate brief answers from you as well. I don't doubt that he is making a positive and constructive contribution. However, I'd like to move on to other matters.
Is the Vice-President of the Treasury Board accountable in some way, yes or no?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
A document in which leased space is discussed notes that there are 450,000 feet of surplus office space in relation to the overall leased office space available. Is this a fairly accurate assessment of the situation?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
However, you are responsible for controlling the purse strings. According to a PWGSC document, there are 450,000 surplus feet of space. If the total budget for office leasing is $3 billion per year and we apply the rule of three, it would mean that we're overpaying to the tune of $210 million per year. You may not be responsible for leasing operations, but you are the one paying the rent.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
You control or audit accounts. How much longer will you agree to pay $210 million per year for 450,000 surplus feet of leased office space?
If you agree, as we do, that this situation is unacceptable, what do you intend to do about it, and when?
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to move this final amendment, the first proposed by the Bloc Québécois.
The word “accountability” appears on page one of the bill, in the English version of the table of provisions, while the word “responsabilisation” is used in the corresponding French version of the table. If we look at the Roman numerals on page one, we note the reference in the table of provisions in the English version to “An act providing for conflict of interest [...] oversight and accountability”. The French version merely notes: “[...] et de responsabilisation”.
The word “accountability” appears in the short title in the English version. The wording of the English version is therefore consistent. However, instead of “responsabilité”, the French version employs the word “imputabilité”.
So then, there's a mistake somewhere. There's no question about that. The error is contained, in our view, in the short title: “Loi fédérale sur l'imputabilité”.
We're proposing that the title of the act be changed to “Loi fédérale sur la responsabilité”, to ensure consistency with the word used in the table of provisions in French.
View Benoît Sauvageau Profile
BQ (QC)
Assuming Mr. Petit is correct, there is still an error in the title as it appears in the table of provisions.
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