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Results: 1 - 15 of 581
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Mr. Chair, my two amendments to Bill C-23 I think logically have to be considered together. IND-2 is on page 86 of the package and IND-1 is on page 1.
Simply, what I am attempting to do is, based on the evidence provided to this committee by Mr. Casey regarding the unlevel playing field between independent candidates and those associated with political parties, it proposes to change the amendment of what is a candidate by adding a new candidate definition in proposed subsection 67(7), which would be my second amendment on page 86. It would allow an individual not affiliated with a political party to apply outside of a writ period directly to the Chief Electoral Officer with the same requisite documents that a candidate would apply during a writ period, that is, $1,000, 100 nominators, and an official agent, and therefore could be declared a candidate outside of a writ period by a Chief Electoral Officer, thereby allowing all the rights and privileges of a candidate, including raising money and issuing tax receipts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
No, the amendments have to be read together. Combined they would, if passed, level the playing field between independent candidates and those related to political parties.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Currently under the Canada Elections Act only candidates, political parties, or electoral district associations can raise money outside of a writ period and issue tax credit receipts. My amendments attempt to amend the definition of a candidate to allow an individual who's not affiliated with an official party to apply outside of a writ period, or practically before an election writ is filed, and become a candidate, provided he complies with all the requirements that a candidate would have to comply with during a writ period and be declared a candidate directly by the Chief Electoral Officer, therefore assuming all the rights and privileges, including raising money and issuing tax receipts.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee for that indulgence.
Mr. Casey, first let me say how much I appreciate your advocacy on behalf of independent candidates. I listened with interest about the two sets of rules between party-affiliated candidates and independents, and I couldn't agree more.
In 2006, you were elected as a Conservative candidate in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and in 2008 you were re-elected as an independent. It’s conceivable, based on these differential rules, that the Conservative candidate who campaigned against you in 2008 was able to rely on a surplus you might have left him following the 2006 election.
Is that fair to say?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
You can appreciate that in 2015 I face the same dilemma where there'll be a Conservative candidate who will be running to unseat me with money that I raised in 2011.
Mr. Bill Casey: I'm familiar with that.
Mr. Brent Rathgeber: Based on your inquiries or your research, have you been able to determine any rational explanation for why Elections Canada and the current legislation prohibits non-affiliated candidates from raising money and/or issuing receipts between writ periods?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
You may be aware that in 2003 the Supreme Court ruled that the section 3 charter-protected right to vote extends to more than just the right to cast a ballot. The court indicated that a voter must have an opportunity to balance various ideas in his or her own mind before meaningfully participating in an election process.
In your mind—and I realize you're not a lawyer, Mr. Casey—does the prohibition and the clear handicapping of independent candidates promote fair elections? Or in your non-lawyer view, would that be a violation of the right to meaningful participation in an election?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Casey. I couldn't have said it better myself.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for your very interesting testimony.
I find the whole issue quite confusing.
My first question is for Commissioner Haggard. You indicated that in your view—and I agree with your view—that it's not the role of the committee to draw lines on a map. I think we all agree that lines on a map, in a perfect world, would be negotiated and there would be some sort of consensus.
But we live in the real world, and in the absence of consensus, in either your view or in the view of the commission, whose role is it to draw the arbitrary lines?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
In this specific issue with respect to overlapping lands, I understand there was a mediation process in place, and the mediator at one point walked away because it was hopeless, in his view; the parties were too far apart.
We all agree that consensus is the most desired outcome, but in the real world, where that can't always be accommodated, who, in your view, should be charged with drawing arbitrary lines in a situation when a meeting of the minds is just simply impractical?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Does the creation of that mechanism fall under the mandate of the BC Treaty Commission, or, in your view, does it fall—or ought to fall—under the authority of some other governing body?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you.
Chief Commissioner Pierre, we heard in the first hour that the Stó:lo community believes that Yale is actually a subset of the larger Stó:lo community. In fact, the words the Grand Chief used were that it is a small portion of a large family. Does the BC Treaty Commission accept that proposition?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
I accept that it's not your mandate to determine what is included in a first nation, but do you know, anecdotally or otherwise, if there's support through judicial decisions or through other...? Is there support for the proposition that Yale is a subset of Stó:lo in any other mechanism or judicial authority that you know of? Is that contention supportable?
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you for your answers, although I tend to be more confused than I was when we started.
Thank you.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and honourable members.
I am pleased to reappear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to answer further questions on my private member's bill C-461.
Bill C-461, the CBC and public service disclosure and transparency act, attempts to bring greater transparency to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and to salary disclosure in the federal public service generally.
As you know, your committee meetings have to some extent been derailed and interrupted by motions and several unscheduled votes in the House of Commons. Accordingly, I am pleased that the committee has shown interest in this legislative proposal and scheduled extra meetings to properly assess and vet this important legislative initiative.
Mr. Chair, with your consent, I would like to briefly summarize the evidence that the committee has heard thus far, and then I will take any questions the members might have.
Members, what you have not heard as evidence is as telling and as interesting as what you have heard. For example, not a single witness has supported the government's dubious proposition that the benchmark for specific salary disclosure for federal public servants should be raised to $329,000. Both the National Citizens Coalition and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have testified that the proposed benchmark of DM-1 or $188,000 is too high and ought to be lowered to $100,000 to mirror Ontario's sunshine list.
Moreover, although the CBC and the journalist guilds oppose the provisions that allow the Information Commissioner to review access decisions of the CBC based on a prejudice or injury-based test, neither of them expressly supports the government's signalled intent to introduce an amendment providing for an exclusion for journalistic source documents.
The Information Commissioner meanwhile is firmly opposed to the prospect of another exclusion to replace the currently much-maligned exclusion in section 68.1 of the Access to Information Act. She seemed incredulous that the government would replace an exclusion subject to an exception with a discretionary exemption thereafter subject to an exclusion. Clearly this would constitute, to use the words of the Federal Court of Appeal, “not a model of clarity...[and a] recipe for controversy”, all of which Bill C-461 is designed to prevent.
Moreover, the Information Commissioner reiterated that journalistic source privilege has never been raised—not a single time—in a dispute between the CBC and someone seeking documents, and that journalistic source privilege, according to the Supreme Court of Canada in Regina v. National Post, is not absolute and must be examined on a case-by-case basis to determine its applicability.
Finally, and this is important, Mr. Chair, as personal information is exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Privacy Act, concerns that names of confidential sources will somehow be disclosed to the public through access requests are entirely unfounded.
We did, however, hear some interesting evidence that could prove helpful. I would ask the committee to consider amendments that will ultimately improve this legislation.
There has been some admittedly credible evidence that Bill C-461's attempt to protect the independence of the public broadcaster is inadequate and will lead to excessive disclosure. Perhaps. However I remain convinced that excluding documents merely relating to activities is much too broad and has led to such questionable results as CBC's refusal to release how many vehicles are contained in its vehicle fleet.
It has been suggested that freedom of expression could be added to independence to provide a greater comfort level. I would support that, provided the Information Commissioner is allowed to review contentious decisions to ensure the protections and exemptions are being applied appropriately.
As indicated, both the National Citizens Coalition and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have testified that the salary disclosure benchmark of $188,000 is too high and ought to be lowered to $100,000. I agree with their first submission but suggest that $160,000 is a more realistic benchmark. As members know, $160,000 is the approximate salary of a member of Parliament. Although any chosen benchmark will be arbitrary, I would submit that an MP's salary is as defendable as any other proposed benchmark would be, because Parliament would be requiring no greater disclosure from federal public servants than its own members are subject to.
A related issue, Mr. Chairman, is the use of the words “specific salary” in Bill C-461. It is uncertain whether the term “specific salary” includes the up to 39% performance variances, otherwise known as bonuses, that the top mandarins may be entitled to. It is certainly the intent of the bill that such bonuses be disclosed. Accordingly, the committee may wish to consider an amendment to clarify that all executive compensation, that is salary and bonuses, ought to be subject to access to information requests.
Finally, what hadn't occurred to me until I heard the Information Commissioner last Wednesday was that she believes that the transition provisions contained in the current version of Bill C-461 are inadequate, as rejected applications for disclosure might subsequently be resubmitted under the new, more transparent rules. The current wording of Bill C-461 suspends operation for 90 days to allow there to be a mechanism to deal with applications that are in the queue.
But she's quite right that if the rules change, rejected applications for access could simply be resubmitted. So she advised that it be made expressly clear that all under-review matters be adjudicated under the new rules to prevent resubmissions.
Mr. Chair, I am pleased with the totality of the evidence presented to this committee and the divergent opinions on what is and what is not appropriate access to information held by government. These are important matters and I did not expect the witnesses to be unanimous. However, debate and discussion is necessary as Canada attempts to modernize its clearly outdated access to information legislation.
I trust that upon reflection, members of this committee will reject proposed amendments that remove Bill C-461's attempts to achieve greater transparency, but will adopt and approve amendments that clarify and strengthen Canadians' rights of access to information held by their government.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I look forward to the questions by committee members.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
I do. However in fairness I must point out, Mr. Angus, that nothing in this bill extends the applicability of the Access to Information Act to the houses of Parliament. So if you work for a government department or agency or crown corporation, my bill would cover you. But the Access to Information Act generally does not apply to either houses of Parliament or to the Prime Minister's Office.
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