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OTTAWA, Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight met by videoconference this day at 1 p.m. [ET] to consider and report on issues relating to the nomination of its external members to the Senate; and, in camera, to consider and report on issues relating to the nomination of its external members to the Senate.

Senator David M. Wells (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Honourable senators, I declare this meeting in session.

I’m David Wells, a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador, and chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Audit and Oversight. This meeting is being held in public via video conference.

I’d like to remind all participants that the use of online platforms does not guarantee speech privacy or that eavesdropping won’t be conducted. As such, while conducting committee meetings, all participants should be aware of such limitations and restrict the possible disclosure of sensitive, private and privileged Senate information.

Colleagues, I’d like to seek agreement to have one additional staffer from my office, Noah Caza, to attend this committee meeting. He attended the last one, as well. Do I have agreement? Thank you very much.

Colleagues, I would like to share a few helpful suggestions that will assist the committee to have an efficient and productive meeting. Participants are asked to have their microphones muted at all times, unless recognized by name by the chair. Before speaking, please wait until you are recognized by name. I will ask senators to use the “raise hand” feature in order to be recognized. Please note that if you have upgraded your version of Zoom, this button can be found next to your “interpretation” button in Zoom. I would like to remind you to please pause for a moment before first speaking to allow the interpretation feed to catch up.

Should any technical challenges arise, particularly in relation to interpretation, please signal this to me or the clerk and we will work to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. If you experience other technical challenges, please contact the committee clerk.

I’d like to introduce the members of the committee who are participating in this meeting. First, we have the deputy chairs: from Quebec, Senator Dupuis, and Senator Downe from Prince Edward Island. For everyone’s awareness, staff from each committee’s offices, along with staff from the Senate Administration, are also participating in this virtual meeting.

Honourable senators, the mandate of this committee is to supervise and report on the Senate’s internal and external audits, to review the Senate Administration’s action plans, and to review and report on the Senate’s quarterly financial reports and audited financial statements to the Senate.

As members are aware, the membership of this committee includes two external members to be nominated by this committee. Our current order of reference is precisely to consider issues relating to the nomination of its external members to the Senate, including recommendations on remuneration and permissible expenses, and that the committee present a report to the Senate, as required by the Rules of the Senate.

Today, we are continuing our work on this order of reference with the assistance of representatives from Senate Administration to help us discuss various aspects of the current audit and reporting cycle in the Senate.

The first item, colleagues, is the consideration of a draft budget. Before we begin our consideration of future business, there is this one item to take care of, which is the adoption of the draft budget. You’ve received a copy of this budget already, which was prepared in accordance with our instruction and has been reviewed by the administration. The purpose of this budget request is to allow the committee to engage the services of a recruitment firm to create a pool of qualified candidates, which this committee can recommend to the Senate for appointment as external members of this committee.

Colleagues, I’ll open the floor if you have any comments or questions. If there are no comments or questions, we can go straight to the question: Is it agreed that the special study budget application, in the amount of $125,000 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021 — that’s the last quarter of the current fiscal year — be approved for submission to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Adopted. Thank you very much, colleagues. We will now pause for a moment to go in camera for the remainder of the meeting.

(The committee continued in camera.)