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Message from the Clerk

Official portrait of the Clerk of the House of Commons
Charles Robert
Clerk of the House of Commons

The House of Commons Administration is dedicated to providing a range of quality services and expert advice to Members of Parliament to support them in their parliamentary duties. The organization includes dedicated professionals: procedural clerks; lawyers; financial, human resources and communications specialists; digital technology experts; and operational team members such as cleaning staff, cooks and tradespeople. As Clerk of the House of Commons, I am responsible for managing this large and diverse team.

For us, as for all of Canada, the past year has been unlike any other, marked by the evolving pandemic to which we had to swiftly adapt. The Administration already had a clear mission—to support the parliamentary work of Members by anticipating their needs—which helped us stay the course. Over the past few months, our main challenge has been to ensure that the work of the House of Commons continues, despite the constraints associated with COVID-19.

More than ever, it has been vitally important to protect the health and safety of Members, their employees and the employees of the House Administration whose physical presence at work was required for the House of Commons’ continued operation. To this end, several new preventative measures were adopted and have continued to evolve. Numerous teams, including labour relations specialists, communications staff, and tradespeople working both on site and remotely, rolled up their sleeves to carry out initiatives that became top priorities overnight.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, House and committee proceedings that would see numerous people gather in one room became impossible. Information technology specialists ensured that Members were well equipped to shift to a hybrid work environment and that the House’s infrastructure was ready for this significant adjustment. A technology solution including a specially configured, security-enhanced videoconferencing platform, as well as simultaneous interpretation and broadcasting systems was developed. A multidisciplinary team also ensured that the Chamber’s ability to sit and deliberate, shaped over the past 150 years, was effectively supported.

The past 12 months have been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to shake the world. However, I do not want to overlook the many other projects that the House Administration has completed over the past year. Among them are the support provided to Members following the coming into force of new public disclosure requirements; the rehabilitation of the Parliament Building, which is well underway; the creation of the Anti-Racism Subcommittee; and significant improvements to the security services provided to Members.

I invite you to read on to learn more about these initiatives and the past year at the House. I hope that this Report to Canadians 2021 will help you to better understand the work of Members of Parliament and the role that the House Administration plays in support of their parliamentary duties.

Charles Robert

Signature of the Clerk of the House of Commons