Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance

Issue 3 - Evidence - Meeting of December 11, 2007


OTTAWA, Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 9:29 a.m. to consider the estimates laid before Parliament for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. Subject matter: The implementation of the Federal Accountability Act.

Senator Joseph A. Day (Chairman) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

[English]

Welcome to the seventh meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I am Joseph Day and I represent the province of New Brunswick. I am honoured to chair this committee. The committee's field of interest is government spending and operations, including reviewing the activities of officers and agents of Parliament and various individuals and groups that help parliamentarians to hold the government to account.

We accomplish this through estimates of expenditures and funds made available to officers of Parliament to perform their functions and through budget implementation acts and other matters referred to this committee by the Senate.

Today, we examine the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act which, under the last session of Parliament, was known as Bill C-2. On April 11 of 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act, Bill C-2. The legislation creates or modifies a number of officers' and agents' positions.

Today, we have before us officials from Treasury Board Secretariat and the Privy Council Office to discuss aspects of the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act, and specifically to update this committee on the positions and offices created or modified under the act. This committee is familiar with Bill C-2 and is interested in knowing about the development.

I am pleased to welcome from the Privy Council Office, Cathy Hawara, Director, Appointments and Selection Process; and Marc O'Sullivan, Acting Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Special Projects. From the Treasury Board, and someone familiar with this committee and Senate committees, is Joe Wild, Executive Director, Strategic Policy, Corporate Priorities and Planning.

Thank you to each of you for coming. I understand Mr. Wild has a few introductory remarks. I am sure honourable senators will have a few questions and comments once you finish. The floor is yours.

[Translation]

Joe Wild, Executive Director, Strategic Policy, Corporate Priorities and Planning, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: Mr. Chairman, thank you for the invitation to appear before the Senate Committee on National Finance to discuss the government's progress in implementing the Federal Accountability Act.

[English]

At about the same time last year, I appeared before honourable senators on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-2. I understand this committee intends to hold several meetings to examine the government's progress in implementing the Federal Accountability Act.

In the interests of assisting the committee with this first meeting on this topic, and given that tomorrow is the one- year anniversary of the Federal Accountability Act receiving Royal Assent, I thought I would provide you with a brief overview of where we stand on the implementation of this important piece of legislation and answer any questions to the best of my knowledge.

I am accompanied today by Marc O'Sullivan, Acting Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Special Projects secretariat of the Privy Council Office, and Cathy Hawara, Director, Appointments and Selection Process of the secretariat. Mr. O'Sullivan will make a short opening statement after the conclusion of my own.

In terms of a year in review, as honourable senators know, the Federal Accountability Act amended 46 existing statutes and created two new ones. Some of these changes came into force with Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, while others were subject to coming-into-force dates, either set out in the act or to be established by order-in-council.

[Translation]

The introduction of Bill C-2 was accompanied by the federal accountability action plan which organized the various elements of the Federal Accountability Act along 14 themes as well as setting out related policy initiatives. The action plan set the legislative and policy agenda for the government and we have made significant progress in advancing that agenda over the last year.

[English]

To date, we have adopted 10 orders-in-council that have brought into force all but two elements of the Federal Accountability Act. I will return to the two remaining elements in a moment.

Over the last 12 months, we have also adopted three sets of regulations, with six more sets of regulations at various stages of development; received the results of four major reviews of government policies and operation; created or revised five policy instruments or guides with several more underway; made seven Governor-in-Council appointments and established two new oversight bodies; and ratified a major international treaty.

As I noted earlier, the action plan organized our work into 14 themes. I will now provide more detail to highlight the Government of Canada's progress in implementing the act and action plan along those overarching themes.

The first theme is reforming the financing of political parties. This element has been fully implemented. The relevant statutory amendments came into force on January 1 of 2007, and these measures are currently administered by the Chief Electoral Officer.

Banning secret donations to political candidates: This element has also been fully implemented. The final statutory amendments came into force on July 9, 2007, and these measures are currently administered by the Chief Electoral Officer and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Strengthening the role of the ethics commissioner: This element has been fully implemented. The new Conflict of Interest Act came into force on July 9, 2007, and on that date Mary Dawson was appointed to the new position of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

As also committed to in the action plan, on March 29, 2007, the government announced the release of a revised guide for ministers that includes ethical principles and political activity guidelines for ministers and Governor-in- Council appointees. These principles and guidelines form part of the terms and conditions of appointment for these positions.

The fourth theme is ensuring truth in budgeting with a parliamentary budget authority. The relevant statutory provisions under this theme came into force upon Royal Assent. The Library of Parliament is currently working with the government to establish the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, including making an appointment to this position.

The government also committed in the action plan to the provision of quarterly updates to the government's fiscal forecast and monthly financial statements in the fiscal monitor. This item has been fully implemented.

Next is making qualified government appointments: statutory amendments to provide parliamentarians with more say in the appointment of agents of Parliament, to revise the process for appointing returning officers under the Canada Elections Act, to provide for the creation of a public appointments commission and to remove entitlements to priority appointments within the public service for ministerial staffers have all come into force.

Theme six is cleaning up government polling and advertising. Most items under this heading have been implemented: statutory and policy changes have been made to require written reports as part of public opinion contracts; public opinion research contract regulations came into effect on June 7, 2007 to prescribe the form and content of contracts and reports, and to provide that reports be provided to Library and Archives Canada; and departments and agencies have been directed to conduct risk-based audits of their advertising and public-opinion research activities and processes.

In addition, as committed to under the action plan, an independent adviser was appointed by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to conduct a review of public-opinion research. He has issued his report to the Minister of Public Works, and the government is preparing its response.

Theme seven is providing real protection for whistle-blowers. The Federal Accountability Act amended the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, and that amended act was brought into force and operational as of April 15, 2007. Appointments have been made to both the office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal.

Theme eight is strengthening access to information legislation. All the statutory amendments under this element have been brought into force. The Access to Information Act has been expanded to include agents of Parliament, five foundations created under federal statute, seven additional parent Crown corporations and all wholly owned subsidiary Crown corporations.

Further, the government committed to tabling a discussion paper on additional proposed amendments to the Access to Information Act, and this paper was tabled with the appropriate committee of the other place last year.

Theme nine is strengthening the power the Auditor General. All the statutory amendments under this element have been brought into force. Regulations are being developed to support the Auditor General's authority to inquire into the use of funds under federal funding agreements.

Theme 10 is strengthening auditing and accountability within departments. Deputy heads have been designated as accounting officers under the Financial Administration Act. Statutory amendments have been brought into force regarding the governing structures of Crown corporations, and a new offence has been created for fraud involving public monies.

The additional remaining work largely involves the implementation of the new policy on internal audit, which we continue to phase in, and the development of a new compliance framework, which is currently under development.

Theme 11 is creating a director of public prosecutions. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was established as of the date of Royal Assent and it is operational. An acting director has been appointed pending a permanent appointment to that position.

Theme 12 is ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The item has been fully implemented. Canada ratified the convention on October 2, 2007.

Theme 13 is cleaning up procurement of government contracts. Several items under this element have been completed, including the incorporation of an overarching statement of principle with respect to procurement in the Financial Administration Act and the adoption of a new Code of Conduct for Procurement on September 19, 2007. Some items remain to be fully implemented. For example, work continues on the development of necessary regulations to bring into force the statutory provisions creating the position of the procurement ombudsman. A Procurement Ombudsman Designate was appointed on September 10, 2007 to assist in establishing the office and developing the regulations and processes and procedures necessary for the effective discharge the ombudsman's mandate.

This office is one of the two elements of the Federal Accountability Act not yet in force.

The second is the Lobbyist Registration Act. The government is developing needed regulations to set out the administrative measures necessary for lobbyists to comply with the new registration requirements to be included under the newly titled Lobbying Act.

We are also developing regulations to prescribe certain positions as ``designated public officer holders'' for the purposes of the new act. We are working with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, which is developing the online registration system to ensure that lobbyists can file their returns as efficiently as possible while providing the public with a user-friendly database of information.

Efforts are also underway to appoint a Commissioner of Lobbying and my colleague will speak to this position in greater detail.

Since undertaking public consultations on the regulations and other aspects of the lobbying registration regime in March, we have been working diligently to prepare the regulations for pre-publication. As you may be aware, the president noted in the other place last week that pre-publication of these regulations will proceed next month, and the government is working along those timelines.

[Translation]

There has been a lot of work done since the Federal Accountability Act received royal assent just one year ago. Our commitment to implementing the act and action plan has not diminished, and we are continuing to work hard to implement this important piece of legislation.

[English]

On a final note, I take this opportunity to thank and recognize the efforts of my team, as well as the work and dedication of my colleagues at the Privy Council Office, Department of Justice, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Canada Public Service Agency and within the Treasury Board Secretariat.

This concludes my remarks and I would be pleased to answer questions after my colleague's opening remarks, which will focus on the specific actions that have been taken with respect to appointments.

Marc O'Sullivan, Acting Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel and Special Projects, Privy Council Office: I will provide a quick update on a number of Governor-in-Council appointments for positions that were established by the Federal Accountability Act. As my colleague, Mr. Wild, mentioned, the government has already made a number of appointments of qualified persons to these new positions. In particular, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, was appointed on July 9, 2007, following approval of her appointment by the House of Commons. As well, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, was appointed on August 6 following approval of her appointment by both Houses of Parliament. In fact, she appeared before the Senate as a whole. It was an interesting moment for an appointee.

Finally, and following an open and public selection process, on September 10 the government appointed the Procurement Ombudsman Designate, Shahid Minto, to assist in establishing the Office of the Ombudsman and in developing the necessary regulations. Once the regulatory process, as described by Mr. Wild, is completed, the statutory provisions establishing this new office will be brought into force and Mr. Minto will be formally appointed as Procurement Ombudsman.

[Translation]

Selection processes are currently underway with respect to two other positions established by the Federal Accountability Act, namely the director of public prosecutions and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The Director of Public Prosecutions Act provides for an elaborate selection and appointment process for the Director. In accordance with that process, the Attorney General has established a selection committee to assess the qualifications of a number of candidates identified following the publication of a notice of vacancy. The selection committee has now completed its assessment and provided its recommendations to the Attorney General for his consideration.

Brian Saunders became the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions when the Federal Accountability Act received royal assent on December 12, 2006 and is assuming responsibility for this office while the selection process, which is being managed by the Department of Justice, is underway.

Turning now to the Parliamentary Budget officer, that position is established through the Parliament of Canada Act as an officer of the Library of Parliament. The Governor-in-Council may select the Parliamentary Budget Officer from a list of three names submitted through the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, by a committee formed and chaired by the Parliamentary Librarian. We understand that a selection process is currently underway and that the Parliamentary Librarian is being assisted in the recruitment of the first Parliamentary Budget Officer by an executive search firm.

The Federal Accountability Act also established the position of Commissioner of Lobbying to oversee the new Lobbying Act. As Mr. Wild indicated earlier, the required regulations are currently being developed. The government intends to launch an open and public selection process shortly so that it may identify a highly qualified candidate to be considered for appointment to this position, following approval of both Houses of Parliament. The appointment of the Commissioner of Lobbying will be made once the regulatory process has been completed and the legislation has been brought into force.

[English]

With respect to the Public Appointments Commission, the Federal Accountability Act provides that the government may establish a public appointments commission to oversee and report on the selection processes for appointments by the Governor-in-Council to agencies, boards, commissions and Crown corporations. As you know, the commission was established administratively by order-in-council on April 21, 2006, prior to the passage and coming into force of the Federal Accountability Act, to ensure full implementation at the earliest opportunity. The government appointed three eminent Canadians, Hassan Khasrowshahi, the Honourable Roy McLaren, and Jacqueline Boutet as members of the commission, and nominated Gwyn Morgan, one of Canada's top CEOs, to be chairperson. On May 16, 2006 the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates of the House of Commons rejected Mr. Morgan's nomination, following which the three members of the commission tendered their resignation.

As part of the government's initial attempt to establish the commission, a secretariat was created to support the work of the commission and it has continued to do so. The government has followed through on its overall commitment to appoint qualified persons to head its various agencies, boards, commissions and Crown corporations. To this end, it has run over 80 open selection processes to fill these key positions since taking office. The positions are advertised at a minimum in the Canada Gazette and on the Governor-in-Council appointments website. In some cases, executive search firms are also hired as part of the recruitment strategy. Selection committees interview candidates to identify the most qualified persons for the government's consideration in making these appointments.

In the same manner, the government has recruited highly qualified individuals to assume the responsibilities of the important public offices established by the Federal Accountability Act.

[Translation]

This concludes my opening statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions members of the committee may have in this regard.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you Mr. Wild and Mr. O'Sullivan. For clarification, you talked about Mr. Morgan's appointment being rejected by a House of Commons committee. That was long before the bill was ultimately accepted by Parliament. Is that correct?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes, that is correct.

The Chair: That activity took place in or about May when the bill finally was accepted. I think Royal Assent was, as Mr. Wild pointed out, only a year ago.

Mr. O'Sullivan: In December.

The Chair: December 12 of last year.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes.

The Chair: Here we are a year later. We appreciate the background. Mr. Wild, can you tell us so we will all know, is there still a working group that follows the action plan to ensure that all the various segments are updated? Is there a joint interdepartmental group and if so, who is on it and who chairs it?

Mr. Wild: I have responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act as the Executive Director of Strategic Policy for the Treasury Board Secretariat. It is one of my main priorities and responsibilities to ensure that the system of government is aligned so that individual departments responsible for various portions of the act can move ahead as expeditiously as possible to implement their areas of responsibility.

I am responsible for coordinating; I track the implementation of all departments; and I provide updates to the President of the Treasury Board, who has political responsibility for the file. That is the role I play.

I had a committee of senior officials that I chaired to help coordinate and ensure that we made progress. That committee still exists but it does not tend to meet in person. We work through my requesting updates on their progress and then they call me whenever they have any particular issue or problem.

The Chair: If you see a certain area lagging, then through your president, you would bring pressure to bear on that particular area to move them along?

Mr. Wild: It all depends on circumstances as to exactly what steps would be taken. We ask people to establish their project timeline as to when they think they will complete certain items. We then track how their program against that timeline and inform the president. The president determines whether there is a sufficient issue to raise with ministerial colleagues.

Senator Stratton: It is good to see you people again. I know you did a superb job in helping us bring that bill to fruition, and I want to compliment you again. That was a lot of hard work and I see you still are running hard.

You can probably give me a simple answer to my first question. In some of these questions that I have, the package has not been finished. I would appreciate if Mr. Wild and Mr. O'Sullivan could perhaps go through your presentations and tell us, where an item has not been completed, if there is an anticipated completion date. That would be helpful.

Mr. Wild: Certainly: The two major items to be brought into force that are not yet in force in terms of the statutory provisions are the Office the Procurement Ombudsman and the Lobbying Act, both of which are going through a regulatory process. The timing depends upon when those regulations are pre-published, what sort of reaction Canadians have to those regulations during that consultation period, how long the government then needs to take into account whatever it hears from Canadians on those regulations and then the time to finalize them.

In terms of specific timing, it is difficult to give a definitive date on when regulations will be pre-published. As alluded to in the House of Commons last week, the President of the Treasury Board suggested that the Lobbying Act regulations would come forth for pre-publication next month. We are working on that timeline. I cannot speak to exactly when these regulations will be published. That matter is for cabinet to determine.

Senator Stratton: I appreciate that. The question is more or less to give Canadians an idea of the timeline. Is it six months out or is it two years out? I can see Senator Ringuette having the same questions, so even a ballpark figure would help.

Mr. Wild: Again, all I can say in terms of a target date is that we are working as hard as we can and as fast as we can to bring all these elements into force. The regulatory process takes a certain amount of time and that process will dictate exactly when things come into force.

I am not in a position to speak to specific dates as ultimately that question is for ministers to determine. I can say only that our instructions remain the same as when we were drafting the act and taking it through the House of Commons and the Senate, which is to do things as expeditiously as possible. We have dedicated all the resources needed on these files to move them forward as quickly as possible.

Senator Stratton: Finally, can you take us through the regulatory process briefly, so that we have a clear understanding, and Canadians have a clear understanding, of what that process is and why it takes as long as it does? In some instances, it takes a while.

Mr. Wild: It certainly can. Much depends on how involved stakeholders are in terms of how much interest they show in the regulations. It can take more time to work through the consultation period.

Generally speaking, with regulations, we look at a certain period for policy development — that is, to figure out what we want and how to articulate what will go into the regulation. Sometimes, as with the Lobbying Act, we have consultations at that phase, as we did in March. Sometimes those consultations can be more involved than others. Sometimes we can do them quickly through electronic means; sometimes it means focus groups and round tables in the country. The time it takes to develop the policy of the regulations varies considerably.

Once we complete that and we go through the internal approval processes, regulations are then pre-published in the Canada Gazette for a minimum period of 30 days. It can be longer, but that is the minimum period. That is the formal period in which Canadians can see what the regulatory proposal looks like and they have the opportunity, then, to provide submissions to the government on those regulations. The government then takes time to review those submissions. How much time is taken depends completely upon how many submissions are received and whether they raise significant issues that, perhaps, had not been considered. Then, the regulations go back through the internal approval process and are published in the Canada Gazette a second time, at which time they may then come into force or the date may be set for which the regulations come into force.

Typical periods of time to complete regulations vary considerably. It can take anywhere from six months to 12 months or 18 months. It is not unheard of to take years, depending again on how much controversy there is and how much stakeholder interest there is in the regulations.

Senator Cowan: Mr. O'Sullivan, in your opening comments with respect to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, you said that you understood a selection process was underway and that the Parliamentary Librarian is being assisted in the recruitment of the first Parliamentary Budget Officer by an executive search firm.

As the chair noted at the beginning of this meeting, this act has been in place for more than a year. How could it possibly take that long to select a Parliamentary Budget Officer?

Mr. O'Sullivan: The Parliamentary Librarian is responsible for establishing the office, the functions and the administrative apparatus around the office. I know they have been working on that. They have been running the selection process, as established under the act. They hired a search firm because of the anticipated difficulty in recruiting. Senior economists in this market will be difficult to recruit.

Senator Cowan: Can you tell us the stage? Are they at the short list stage?

Mr. O'Sullivan: They are at the stage of identifying candidates through the search firm.

Senator Cowan: What does that mean? I am familiar already with search processes. You winnow applications down from a large number to a longer short list and then, eventually, to a short list. Under the act, I think three names will be presented to the Governor-in-Council. Are they at that stage yet? If not, how close are they?

Mr. O'Sullivan: I will turn to Ms. Hawara on that question.

Cathy Hawara, Director, Appointments and Selection Process, Privy Council Office: The search firm has identified a number of candidates, and a selection committee has been struck by the Parliamentary Librarian. I understand that interviews will place as early as next week. The search firm is also looking at dates in the New Year for follow-up interviews. They are at a fairly advanced stage. They have done the initial search, they have presented findings to a selection committee and interviews will take place shortly.

Senator Cowan: Can you give us an estimate as to when that list of three will be presented to the government?

Ms. Hawara: It is difficult to say. I have been told by the search firm that they are also looking at dates in early January for further interviews. It will be in the New Year, but I do not have an exact time frame.

Senator Cowan: Leaving aside the identity of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, what steps have been taken to staff an office and structure an office for the Parliamentary Budget Officer?

Mr. O'Sullivan: We know that the Parliamentary Librarian has been working on this matter. We do not have the exact information in terms of whether they have staffed the office, but we know that they have determined the structure, the reporting relationships, and so on.

Senator Cowan: Perhaps Mr. Wild is the proper person to answer that question. He is tasked with monitoring the progress towards the implementation of this office. Perhaps he could shed some light on exactly where the Parliamentary Librarian stands on this matter.

Mr. Wild: Unfortunately, I cannot shed much light on exactly what the Parliamentary Librarian has undertaken with respect to establishing that office other than the information that my colleagues from Privy Council Office have already provided.

Senator Cowan: For the year ended March 31, an amount of $250,000 was allocated towards this office.

Mr. Wild: Correct.

Senator Cowan: Was that money spent?

Mr. Wild: I do not know the specifics of what has happened with the money that was allocated to the office.

Senator Cowan: If your job is to monitor this situation and you have identified two or three areas that remain yet to be done, why can you not tell us more about whether this money has been spent? Have you any idea how much money will be requested for the period beginning April 1, 2007? For the fiscal year ended 2007, it was 250,000, so we are already well into that year. What is the budgetary request with respect to the period that began seven or eight months ago?

Mr. Wild: I do not have information as to what the Library of Parliament has requested in terms of budgetary requirement. My particular relationship with the Library of Parliament is fairly removed. It is an institution of Parliament. I do not insert myself into oversight of that particular institution. It is treated differently than government departments where we have a direct role as the Treasury Board in overseeing what goes on within those institutions. With the parliamentary institutions, we are more removed. The Board of Internal Economy is the mechanism in place for overseeing and determining expenditures for those offices. I have not been involved in the allocation of funds or what the Library of Parliament may look for in the future. I do not have that information.

I think the best source for that information is the librarian himself. If you wish me to try to determine that information, I can do that, but it is not something I would normally deal with.

Senator Cowan: I would appreciate if you could send that information because it may be some time before we can have the Parliamentary Librarian before us. I would like information about the expenditure of the $250,000: what is anticipated to be spent and what has been spent since April 1, 2007; where do they stand with respect to the recruitment process; and what, if anything, is being done to staff the office in anticipation of the appointment.

The Chair: If you can give that information to the clerk, it will be distributed to all members of the committee.

Senator Nancy Ruth: I wanted to ask a question not about the Federal Accountability Act but about something I try to keep Canada accountable to, and that is gender-based budgeting or gender-based analysis. Canada promised this initiative prior to the Beijing conference in 1995, and we have signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, agreement. My understanding from Treasury Board is that there is no requirement for departments to do gender-based analysis although there is a suggestion they do it, except in the areas where there is a new policy or if there are changes to a policy or program that now exists. However, there is no overall requirement. My assumption is that this directive must come from the PCO for Canada to kick in and do what it said it would do. I am looking for help in understanding where this process is, how it can be moved forward and when will that happen? I would love to hear from both of you.

Mr. Wild: I wish I could be of assistance, but this area is outside my responsibilities within the Treasury Board Secretariat. I do not have any responsibility for the gender-based analysis file. I am not in a position to be of much assistance in terms of that particular question.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Can you suggest to the person who is responsible that this issue is one of Canada being accountable for what it has committed to internationally, and to half the population.

Mr. Wild: Certainly.

Mr. O'Sullivan: This matter is outside my purview. We work on Governor-in-Council appointments. I am not aware of the obligations that you are referring to and the measures —

Senator Nancy Ruth: My best guess is you are hiring at least 52 per cent women, if you can find them; right?

Senator Ringuette: He did not answer that.

The Chair: We will make note of the interest that Senator Nancy Ruth has expressed. Treasury Board is here on a regular basis, and we will ensure that we have someone here to answer that question in due course.

Senator Ringuette: It is nice to see you after a long period of time. For several months, this committee, in regard its review of Bill C-2, was tagged as ``those Liberal senators delaying our accountability act'' and so forth. Yet, it has been a year since this act was approved, and as I see it, the government has not been efficient in putting in place what it said it would.

I am looking at two particular issues of interest. One is the commissioner of lobbying, and the other one, as Mr. Wild will remember, is the change of name to Procurement Ombudsman to correspond to the scope of the mandate. These two positions, after a year, have still not been enacted. The ``rules'' have not been established.

Let me start with the commissioner for lobbying. So far, budget-wise, we have approved over $2.5 million for a position that already existed. Lobbying registration already existed. It was a slight increase in the law to give teeth to that position. We are now 12 months down the road, over $2.5 million worth of taxpayers' money, and there is still no commissioner. That portion of the act has not been enacted. There is no regulation. It was only upgrading the regulation. Honestly, I have a hard time with the fact that it is 12 months later and it is still not done. What was the government rush, and why tag us with not doing our homework if we are 12 months further down the road and this issue is not resolved?

Mr. Wild: I cannot speak to how any minister may have spoken with respect to the role of the Senate during the legislative process. I clarify that, in terms of the budget increase for the office of the registrar of lobbyists, for this fiscal year, 2007-08, the increase is $1.24 million, and those monies are to allow the office to work through setting it up and making it ready for the lobbying act when it comes into force. A big part of that preparation is developing a new on- line registration system. Some of that funding is necessary to develop a new registration system that meets the requirements of the Lobbying Act, which is the monthly return system, as opposed to the current system where people register initially and then update when things change within their registration.

For 2008-09 and ongoing, there will be a budget increase of $1.18 million for the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists. That money is to hire additional investigators and staff to assist lobbyists with their registrations.

Those staffing measures and the amount of funding that is spent on any of those staffing measures, of course, will be variable depending on when the act comes into force.

The office needed to hire people to administer their information technology project to develop the new on-line registration system and to prepare for when the act comes into force: to develop educational materials and that sort of thing.

In terms of why it is taking so long to bring the lobbying act into force, the explanation is rather simple: The regulations that are necessary to bring the act into force have been controversial. They have been the subject of significant consultation with Canadians and stakeholders. The government needed to work through the results of those consultation processes, take them into account in developing the regulations and make sure this regulatory system properly balances all the considerations within the Lobbying Act. That is, they must balance the democratic principle of free and open access to government with the principle of ensuring that lobbying is done in an open and transparent manner.

Senator Ringuette: Is it possible for you to table those proposed regulations? In addition, perhaps you can give us an example of a regulation that has been so controversial that you seem to be indicating it is stalling this entire process.

Mr. Wild: I do not mean to suggest that controversy stalls the regulations; it simply complicates the process. When it is controversial, many views are provided to the government through consultation processes. Those views need to be taken into account, worked through, and assessed from a policy perspective as to how best to respond to them and what impact they have in terms of the development of the regulatory proposal.

In terms of tabling a proposal to this committee, I am not in a position to do that. The regulations become available when they are pre-published in the Canada Gazette. Until that point they are cabinet confidences, like draft legislation is.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Wild, since this committee has completed extensive work in regards to the accountability act and the new legislation, do you think we would be also a good sounding board for what kind of regulation would be acceptable or not? It is certainly not a cabinet document, and therefore I believe this committee should have a full report on those regulations and what is controversial.

Mr. Wild: Mr. Chair, it is open to the committee to call witnesses back, if the committee wishes to have a discussion about the regulations once pre-published in the Canada Gazette. The committee can provide views to the government —

Senator Ringuette: No, Mr. Wild —

Mr. Wild: — through a report on those regulations if it wishes to.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Wild, my —

Mr. Wild: The government regulatory process does not involve the Houses of Parliament in the development of the regulations. The Houses of Parliament are involved in overseeing those regulations and determining whether they accord with the legislative intent. A robust regulatory committee provides that input and reflection to the government after the government has issued regulations.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Wild, may I remind you that any committee, whether of the House of Commons or the Senate of Canada, has the power to subpoena and to request information that is not ``classified secret.''

The information we are talking about here is not classified secret. Therefore, I officially make the request that these proposed rules — that seem to be controversial and have delayed the establishment of a Commissioner of Lobbying for over a year, for which we have agreed to spend over $2.5 million worth of taxpayers' money — be tabled within this week.

You can take that as a motion. That is the power of the committee, Mr. Wild. I do not want to be difficult, but I want a clear understanding of what is going on with this position.

The Chair: We made note of the request and the steering committee will deal with that item.

In relation to appropriations, my understanding is that in 2006-07, $3.1 million was spent on this initiative and in 2007-08 in the Main Estimates and the supplementary estimates, there is over $4.5 million.

Mr. Wild: Those numbers are for the entirety of the office, not specifically for the implementation of the revisions coming through the Federal Accountability Act.

The budget of the Office of the Registrar has been around $3 million to $3.5 million. That is their standard set budget to administer the existing regime. What they requested in the 2007-08 budget was an additional $1.24 million. That amount is specific for implementation of the Federal Accountability Act changes brought to the regime.

The Chair: Thank you for that clarification.

Senator Ringuette: You will remember our discussion a year ago in regards to funding the Procurement Ombudsman; $3.5 million has been designated for that new office. I see we have an ``acting'' Procurement Ombudsman. However, the portion of the accountability bill for the Procurement Ombudsman is not enacted. There are no regulations. This acting ombudsman has no authority.

There is a great deal of inconsistency here. We have an acting position with no legislation or regulation in place. We look at the Commissioner of Lobbying, and a basic infrastructure was already in place in regards to registration of lobbyists. In contrast, we have no person, no act and no regulations.

For instance, since the act is not in force, and with no rule and no authority, the Commissioner of Lobbying, Shahid Minto, could not review the sale of seven federal buildings for $1.5 billion or the supposed rent for the next 25 years of approximately half a billion dollars.

We have a person in place, we are paying for him, but he cannot do anything.

Mr. Wild: Again, the Procurement Ombudsman designate was appointed by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services with the understanding that work could commence to set up the office, establish the administrative processes and procedures necessary to handle complaints or requests for investigations that may come in, as well as help the government drafting the necessary regulations to scope the mandate — how the complaint process will work. That is the focus of what Mr. Minto is doing today: helping the government to move forward on developing the necessary regulations needed to bring those provisions into force.

Senator Ringuette: Again, this person is not starting from scratch. Rules and legislation should be enacted to have this person fully responsible and fully responsive.

If you look at what has happened to the slate of procurement in the last year, and the situation with lobbyists and lobby registrations — we have a prominent Canadian who seems to be lobbying but has not yet registered — to what extent is it deliberate that both these positions have no authority?

Mr. Wild: With both these positions, regulations are required to establish administrative processes and procedures so whether to register under the Lobbyists Registration Act or to file a complaint under the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, regulations are required to establish how those mechanisms will work; the form and the nature in which a complaint must be filed or a registration must occur. In neither of those situations can the statutory elements operate without having the regulatory proposals in place. The government has been working diligently through the regulatory process to establish those regulations.

That is more or less where they are. As I mentioned earlier, the lobbying regulations should be prepublished next month, as the President of the Treasury Board mentioned. Again, we are working diligently on completing the necessary regulations for the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman and those regulations will be prepublished as soon as they are ready.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Wild, because the current procurement ombudsman has no teeth and because you are still attached to Treasury Board, I would like a copy to be tabled in this committee of the sales of those seven taxpayer- owned buildings that happened six months ago. We are talking about accountability. No one seems to be able to acquire a copy of the said deal.

Talk about accountability. We are looking at sales of Canadian-owned assets of $1.5 billion. I want a copy of that document, and I do not care if it is in French or English.

If need be, Mr. Chair, I will put forth an official motion, because of the powers of committees, that this document that is already in existence and has existed for the last six months, be tabled within the next 24 hours in this committee.

The Chair: Let us see if the witnesses can help us out in that regard and then we will take your request from there. I do not think the formal motion is necessary.

To clarify your earlier statement, Mr. Wild, did you indicate that Mr. Minto has been assured, as designate ombudsman, that he will become the ombudsman when all the regulations are in place?

Mr. Wild: Mr. O'Sullivan will speak to that question.

The Chair: Did I hear that earlier?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes, he was appointed under section 127.1 of the Public Service Employment Act as a special adviser to the minister, as Mr. Wild mentioned, to oversee the preparation for the regulations that are necessary to fulfill that function. As such, he has also been identified as the person who will be appointed as the regular Procurement Ombudsman once the enabling legislation is in force.

The Chair: While we are talking about the Procurement Ombudsman, for the record, we recently handled Supplementary Estimates (A) in this committee, and there was $3.5 million for this particular initiative in those estimates.

Mr. Wild: I do not know the specific numbers.

The Chair: I have them here if you want to confirm them. It is important to have that on the record.

Senator Baker: I also want to welcome the witnesses here today. As Senator Stratton pointed out, they did a great job for us on the passage of the bill.

I am concerned, as I am sure all Canadians are, about the Friday announcements — and I will ask a question in a moment. The Friday announcements this weekend appeared in The Globe and Mail on Saturday, which says this about the appointments:

. . . a raft of Tories to federal boards, agencies and as citizenship judges yesterday.

. . . 11 appointments yesterday to the National Film Board, VIA Rail, the CDIC, two shipping agencies, and citizenship judgeships, went to people with Tory links. They include a former MP, a former Manitoba MLA who now works for a Conservative MP, a former Canadian Alliance candidate, and advisers to federal and provincial Tory ministers.

I imagine Senator Stratton must have been busy last week with the Prime Minister, but I distinctly recall, and each of the committee members will recall, that in this bill that we passed it said that the Governor-in-Council ``may'' establish — we suggested ``shall'' but it was rejected by the government — a public appointments commission consisting of a chairperson, not more than four persons to oversee, monitor, review, report on selection process and to make sure that appointments are made in a transparent manner and ``are based on merit.''

It appears as if the only people with merit are connected to the Tory party according to these announcements every weekend. I am wondering from the witness, therefore, what happened to that section of the bill we passed concerning the Public Appointments Commissioner? Has that bill now become law, and is what we are reading on the weekends the result of that process, which has now become a part of the law of Canada?

Mr. O'Sullivan: As I mentioned in my opening statement, the government had established the Public Appointments Commission prior to the passage of the Federal Accountability Act and had done so in demonstration of its resolve to proceed rapidly with it. It had done so by order-in-council. It appointed three members and it designated a chairperson for the commission.

The nominee, Gwyn Morgan, went before the House of Commons committee and his nomination was rejected by that committee. At the time, the three other members of the commission tendered their resignation and that initiative was brought to an end because of that incident.

The government has proceeded with making appointments and it has done so in an open, transparent manner, for heads of agencies. We run open selection processes, positions are advertised in the Canada Gazette and on the website and, depending on the nature of the position, at times they are advertised in other media. In some cases, search firms are hired to identify qualified candidates.

Selection committees are then struck to review the candidatures, interviews are held and the persons who are the most qualified nominees are submitted to the minister for the minister to make a recommendation to cabinet. We have proceeded in this manner since the government came into power to make appointments of qualified persons, and the government has made that commitment.

As this government has indicated, and as previous governments have indicated, affiliations to a political party should not be a bar to appointing a person as long as that person has the qualifications for the position. These rigorous selection processes for these positions are a way of ensuring that qualified persons are appointed — qualified persons who may or may not have various political affiliations.

In addition to these processes, agencies as well run a selection process for members of their agencies, for example, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, the National Parole Board and, more recently, the Citizenship Commission judges. Through these measures, the government ensures that qualified persons are appointed to these various positions.

The government has not proceeded with the public appointments commission — there is the expression, once bitten, twice shy — nevertheless, the government is making qualified appointments to these positions.

Senator Baker: Thank you for that answer. I expected a competent answer like that from you regarding this matter as far as the government and your position is concerned.

The bill has been in effect for one year. From your answer, I take it that the much-talked-about Public Appointments Commissioner and the office is not in existence. What is in existence is the normal way that appointments have always been made to these commissions and boards. Is that your conclusion?

Mr. O'Sullivan: No, the way of making appointments, notably for heads of agencies, has been improved by ensuring that open selection processes are run. This matter is a gradual evolution in the government. Initiatives were started first with respect to Crown corporations under a previous government, and those initiatives have been expanded to all heads of agencies under this government. That improvement leads to a more open, transparent process for the appointment of these heads of agencies.

I think the government can be proud of the appointments that have been made. We look at Konrad von Finckenstein at the CRTC, a well-established Federal Court judge; and Mary Dawson, the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Commissioner, an extremely qualified lawyer who is the only person in Canada who can say she penned the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Qualified appointments have been made. There is also Hubert Lacroix, at the CBC, a prominent Montreal lawyer.

Senator Baker: You can pick and choose prominent people who qualify for the position. I am anxious to hear Senator Stratton explain one day how 11 of the appointments on the weekend happened to be either prominent Tories or have connections with the Tory party. Senator Stratton says he cannot help it if all the qualified people, in the government's view, are Tories.

The office does not exist; the function does not exist. However, $2 million was apportioned to this function that does not exist for this financial year, as I understand it. Is that correct? Where did the money go?

Mr. O'Sullivan: When the Public Appointments Commission was established in the spring of 2006, a commission secretariat was established to support it. Four persons were hired, eventually, over the course of the following months, to lay the groundwork for the work of the eventually-to-be-established Public Appointments Commission. They undertook studies of what happens in other jurisdictions because the federal government is not alone in undertaking such initiatives. They are taking place in the United Kingdom and in provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, to varying degrees. The secretariat staff looked into these other jurisdictions. They started preparing the necessary templates of a code of procedure or practice that would be proposed for the eventual commission, and they consulted with agency heads about how the appointment process works with them. As well, they held a series of round tables to gather views on how the appointment process is working and improvements that could be made, to prepare the terrain. They looked into such matters as how the agencies function that run selection processes, such as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board and the National Parole Board, in order to compare.

Senator Baker: You may not want to comment on this virtual office that does not exist in reality, but it is there and is doing preparatory work, as I understand it, with a budget of $2 million a year. Do you think that if that virtual office is examined by the Auditor General, it will be found to have value for the money spent?

Mr. O'Sullivan: The work by the secretariat is extremely useful in terms of looking at how this type of function can be undertaken. We are looking at a large number of appointments in a year. They must design a system that will not create a huge backlog that prevents appointments to be made that are necessary to run these boards, agencies and commission. The work is important.

Senator Baker: Finally, regarding the Director of Public Prosecutions — and all members of this committee are familiar with what is happening in the various provinces we represent — it appears to me that the only thing that has changed is the letterhead. In other words, instead of having ``Crown for the Department of Justice,'' the letterhead now says, ``Director of Public Prosecutions.'' I do not think any other substantial change has taken place — at least, looking at the office from what is taking place in the courts and the function of these people.

The acting directing has a great reputation in our courts for the Supreme Court of Canada, representing federal agencies over the years — a young man, but well-qualified as an acting member — but what else has changed? What would justify the millions of dollars of additional money that has been spent under the name of the Director of Public Prosecutions when, in effect — at least on the face of it — nothing substantial has changed?

Mr. Wild: With respect to the Director of Public Prosecutions, it is probably a good thing that, within the courts, there is not this dramatic notice of a difference. I think it speaks to the fact that the employees of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are professional and they are discharging their prosecutorial functions in much the same way as the Department of Justice employees who used to carry out those functions discharged them. In that way, I think that situation is a good thing. It speaks to the fact that the transition was seamless to the new Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The substantive change is exactly as it was explained to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when Bill C-2 was reviewed; that is, the desire to ensure that the Minister of Justice would not appear to be involved in the day-to-day decision making on prosecutions, and if the Minister of Justice wished to become involved in a decision around a day-to-day prosecution, the minister would do so in an open and transparent manner that would require those decisions to be published in the Canada Gazette.

The idea was to avoid a potential problem that some jurisdictions had been grappling with, and therefore separate the function to make it appear as isolated from political influence as possible. That is exactly what the office was intended to do.

Senator Baker: Finally, I noticed that in the literature from the Department of Justice it says: ``This office replaced the former Federal Prosecutions Service of the Department of Justice and is independent of the Department of Justice.''

It must have been a typographical error in yesterday's newspaper when it said, ``New counts were added and others dropped'' — again, this is a case against some of the accused in the new indictment — ``signed by Brian Saunders, acting director of public prosecutions and deputy attorney general of Canada.'' This must be a typographical error in this news story. He cannot be the Deputy Attorney General of Canada, can he? He is in the function of Director of Public Prosecutions which, as you stated, must be clearly separate. I thought Mr. Sims was Deputy Attorney General.

Mr. Wild: To my knowledge, yes, John Sims is the Deputy Attorney General.

Senator Baker: So that is an error.

The new money, $15 million, that has been spent on one-time transition costs and the permanent transition costs of $7.8 million a year to establish a corporate services within the office of the department's director, are extraneous expenditures signifying a new function that, in reality, has not been created.

Mr. Wild: I do not think that is true. The new function has been created in that we now have an Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that requires its own corporate services since it is no longer part of the Department of Justice. In terms of the discharge of its mandate, that mandate was carried out formerly by the Department of Justice. That mandate is no longer carried out by the Department of Justice and is now carried out by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Is there anything new to that mandate? No, it is simply carried out by an independent office separate from where it used to be carried out. The creation of that independent, separate office required the creation of corporate services so that that office could operate independently.

Senator Baker: Did you increase the salaries of your Crown attorneys in the process? Did they receive new designations that signified an increase in salary that they deserve?

Mr. Wild: Not that I am aware of: As far as I am aware, those who are classified as lawyers in the government receive the same pay they received before the office was created.

The Chair: You indicated that Mr. Saunders is acting only. There is no director other than the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions at this stage. Is that because we have not gone through that elaborate appointment process? Why is he only acting?

Mr. Wild: He is acting because, as you may recall, the creation of the office of the Director of Public Prosecution occurred on Royal Assent, so we put in transitory provisions to deal with that fact. There was no time to go through the search process to have someone in place before it came into force. Accordingly, it was always determined that someone would be acting as the Director of Public Prosecutions for a period of time until a director could be found using the search process set out in the act itself. Mr. O'Sullivan may have something to add to the specifics of that search process.

The Chair: He has been acting for a year now.

Ms. Hawara: The Department of Justice has been managing that selection process. Notice of vacancy was published in the Canada Gazette and on the Governor-in-Council appointments website, as well as through other media. It was widely publicized. Applications came forward and were considered. The selection committee provided for in the act was struck, and it has completed its work. As you will recall, the committee was to provide three names to the Attorney General, and it has done that now. Those names are with the Attorney General for consideration. The next step will be for the Attorney General to refer one name to a parliamentary committee, which will be a committee of both houses that be will established or a joint committee that already exists. That name will be referred for consideration. Once the committee has given its approval, assuming it does, the Governor-in-Council may then proceed with the appointment. We are in the middle of that rather complicated process.

The Chair: As we carry on with our study, we will obtain more specific timelines, but I appreciate your letting me know you are in the process now.

Senator Eggleton: I want to ask about the Public Appointments Commission. Senator Baker has already asked some questions, but I will ask a few more. As I understand the status of this entity at this point, there are no commissioners. The ones who were previously appointed resigned, and one was not accepted by the House of Commons. However, there is a secretariat, and I think you said there were about four people. According to the notes, they are spending about $1 million a year. Is that correct? There is no head of this entity, as I understand it. The person who was executive director left earlier this year, so there is a vacancy at the top. Can you clarify exactly what there is, in terms of an operation, people and money?

Mr. O'Sullivan: You are absolutely right. Peter Harrison left earlier in the year. Right now, there are two persons in the secretariat. There is someone, not at the top position but a lower level, with a support staff. I believe in 2006-07 the secretariat spent roughly $700,000 when it was at full complement with a larger number of four staff. This year, the number will be much lower since it is down to two staff at this point.

Senator Eggleton: Who do they report to in terms of the advice they give about applicants for various appointments to boards, agencies and commissions?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Under the structure, they report to the Chair of the Public Appointments Commission. As I said earlier, they are completing preparatory work now. They are not involved in approving selection processes right now. They are laying the groundwork for all the work that needs to be done with a Public Appointments Commission in terms of establishing a code of practice and putting systems in place to deal rapidly with numerous selection processes.

Senator Eggleton: They are not vetting any applications for appointments?

Mr. O'Sullivan: No, because that is the responsibility of the commission.

Senator Eggleton: I see. Who hired these people?

Mr. O'Sullivan: As a detail, the commission's mandate is to review the selection processes, not the appointments per se. The idea is to ensure that open selection processes are run for these appointments. At the end of the day, the discretion to make the appointments resides with the Governor-in-Council.

Senator Eggleton: That is, the Prime Minister and cabinet. How does public disclosure work for this operation? In many other operations we have talked about this morning that arise from the Accountability Act, there is a reporting procedure to Parliament. Does this commission or its secretariat have authority to report to Parliament about its work?

Mr. O'Sullivan: The commission, under the legislation, has the authority to report annually to the Prime Minister, and to make any specific reports it may wish to make. Those reports are to be tabled in both Houses. The commission itself has the authority.

Senator Eggleton: There is no commission at the moment. What was your understanding of the government's intent with respect to appointing a new commission?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Having attempted to establish the commission in the spring and failed, then —

Senator Eggleton: We know that. Now what?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Now we are proceeding on the basis of making appointments in the most open and transparent way possible, pending the establishment of the commission.

Senator Eggleton: You say the employees are not vetting the applications, but they are looking at the procedures that are followed. I am not sure what they are looking at, then. How do they suggest a qualified person be determined? Is this a system where 20 people apply and they may say, ``Okay, 10 people meet the basic qualifications — you decide, government,'' or is the test higher than that, with maybe a point ranking system? Do they suggest something along lines of, ``Here are 10 qualified people, and here is the ranking order,'' picking Person A as top, and et cetera down the line? How onerous will this test be?

Mr. O'Sullivan: My understanding is that the notion is to ensure that qualified candidates are identified and appointed, but that is for the commission to determine. The idea is to ensure that, for all positions, there is an appropriate selection process. They take into account the level of the position. If we are talking about a part-time position to a board that meets only three times a year, they will not hire a head-hunter firm. If talking about the CEO of Canada Post, they may say it is worthwhile to hire a headhunter to look not only nationally but internationally. Depending on the nature of the position, the scope of the selection process will vary. They need that gradation within the selection processes. Part of the work of the secretariat is to establish what I call templates. These templates will enable them to say that for this type of position, they need the full-blown search process with national advertising and media, and so forth, and for these other part-time positions, notice on the public appointments website is sufficient. It will vary according to the nature of the position.

Senator Eggleton: I understand that, but many boards and agencies are local. These people would be sitting on the board as opposed to running the whole corporation or being the CEO. The test is obviously not as high. This secretariat would suggest that, if there are 20 applications and 10 people qualify, the commission picks from those 10 people. Conceivably, that could be how it would work.

Mr. O'Sullivan: There are instances as well where the commission will focus on ensuring they have a selection process in order to have a significant pool of qualified candidates. Sometimes they are not appointing only one person to one position; they are looking at boards that have numerous positions.

Senator Eggleton: It may be to select two or three from these 10. Of course, the government looks it over and asks, ``Who are the friends of the government here?'' It does not sound like much will change in this regard. I know one board where all the board members were doing a competent job, but as their time came up, absolutely none of them were renewed. I do not know what kind of process that involved. All new people were brought in. Of the new people, who were friends of the current government, only one person was left from the old appointed list — of course, appointed by us; I understand that. They said this person is qualified to be chair, so they made him chair. These are the Conservative friends. They made him chair and a few days later he was told his time was up.

For a government that says it will do things a new way or differently, I do not think the way they are handling this Public Appointments Commission will lead to anything.

Senator Stratton: I have a supplementary question.

The Chair: I have been trying to avoid supplementary questions.

Senator Stratton: This is beyond the ken. Remember the problems your government had with appointments who were not qualified.

Senator Eggleton: No.

Senator Stratton: The intention of the new legislation is to ensure we have qualified people. The vetting process involves obtaining applications and vetting them to ensure they are qualified. That fundamental principle is behind the legislation, not to pick only your friends out of the wilderness and put them on boards, as Liberals did.

The Chair: We are moving into political matters. Nothing has been done yet. We have already heard all that. We are going down a slippery slope with supplementary questions.

Senator Ringuette: I have a question on the same issue that Senator Baker and Senator Eggleton have taken up, in regard to the Public Appointments Commission, where $2 million has been allocated and four people have been hired. Who are these people? How have they been hired? Where do they come from? What are they doing right now that requests their presence there without even having a Public Appointments Commissioner? Second, I want to know which headhunting firm has been hired by government, at what cost and to do what.

The Chair: Have you made note of those questions?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes.

The Chair: Senator Ringuette will have an opportunity to pursue those and other questions in the second round. It is unfair to those senators who have not had a chance on the first round. I will ask you to hold those questions.

Senator Di Nino: I will go back to the Procurement Ombudsman issue. There was some suggestion that Mr. Minto has not been doing his job. When was he appointed?

Mr. O'Sullivan: He was appointed on September 10, 2007.

Senator Di Nino: That is three months ago, correct?

Ms. Hawara: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: His mandate at this point is to assist in establishing the office. Is that correct?

Ms. Hawara: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: Can you tell us what that means?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Overseeing the preparation of the necessary regulations is probably biggest piece, as well as setting up the office and the structural and administrative procedures required.

Senator Di Nino: Is that hiring staff and things of that nature?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: That is what he has been mandated to do and that is what he is doing. Is that correct?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: The other question is on the sale of the seven buildings that one of our colleagues brought to our attention. Will Mr. Wild answer that question?

Mr. Wild: It depends on the question.

Senator Di Nino: Were these seven buildings sold in a public and open process?

Mr. Wild: That is my understanding, but I am not the public servant most familiar with the sale of the seven buildings. I was not involved in the file, but that would be my understanding.

Senator Di Nino: As I understand it, that is the way these things are handled.

Is that not in your purview either, Mr. O'Sullivan?

Mr. O'Sullivan: I am afraid not, senator.

Senator Di Nino: I am impressed with how much has been accomplished. Two of the 14 themes are not yet completed, and one is because the House of Commons rejected the suggested people who would dealing with those issues. Otherwise, on complex and important issues, considering the extensive process required, much has been accomplished.

From your perspective, and this question is directed mainly at Mr. Wild, do you believe these measures that have been established, these departments that have been created, are working? From your perspective, are they doing the things they should be doing?

Mr. Wild: From an overview perspective, as I tried to bring out in my opening remarks, I believe that significant progress has been made in implementing all the measures in the 14 themes. I noted the two major exceptions where work is in progress and we have not yet brought those elements into force, but as I mentioned, overall, given the number of departments involved, the number of acts that were amended and the creation of two new pieces of legislation, significant progress has been made. The departments that have been involved have all treated this matter as a priority and have moved forward in implementation as quickly as possible. Overall, the government has done an effective and efficient job in moving forward on implementing these initiatives.

Senator Di Nino: For instance, the position of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, and an issue being raised here today is the integrity of the government, is operating and doing its job effectively?

Mr. Wild: Yes, and it has been as of April 15.

Senator Di Nino: The same thing applies to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner?

Mr. Wild: Yes, as of Ms. Dawson's appointment on July 9.

Senator Di Nino: That, in effect, means they have a responsibility throughout the whole Government of Canada to look at offices of Parliament and politicians, et cetera, to ensure they perform their duties in an ethical and professional manner?

Mr. Wild: Ms. Dawson's mandate is specific to senior public office-holders, certain types of Governor-in-Council appointments, as well as ministers and their political staff. Her authority does not extend to senators and it extends only to members of Parliament insofar as administering the code that has been adopted by the House of Commons, which is under her jurisdiction. Yes, she has been working diligently to ensure that the provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act are implemented and that those public office-holders subject to the act are aware of their obligations, and file their reports in a timely manner.

Senator Di Nino: Have you come across any concerns in establishing these new bodies that you would like to make us aware of so we can make our own recommendations if need be?

Mr. Wild: I do not have any concerns from my perspective. I do not have any significant concerns with the progress being made. I am not aware of any resource issues or major impediments to bringing all the elements of the Federal Accountability Act and action plan into force and implementing them.

As I said, certain elements take a bit longer than others, because they are more complex and involve more stakeholders. They are going through regulatory processes that require consultation and take time to complete in a way that is appropriate.

Overall, from my perspective, I think that the work of my colleagues has exemplified the professionalism of the Public Service in implementing this priority of the government of the day.

The Chair: We still have some time.

Thank you very much, Senator Di Nino. You are setting an example for all your colleagues here. I appreciate your attention to the importance of all senators having an opportunity to question the important witness we have here today.

We will have a second round now.

Senator Cowan: As we have discussed regarding the various officers and officials today, some appointments have not been made, some have been made, and then we have this category of official designate and someone else acting.

Why would there not have been either a Parliamentary Budget Officer designate or an Acting Parliamentary Budget Officer appointed by now?

Mr. Wild: Those issues are for the Parliamentary Librarian. The librarian is the one who is responsible for the selection process for the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That position falls within the librarian's office. I am not in a position to speak to exactly what the decision-making process is that the librarian is involved in.

Senator Cowan: Is that because of your reluctance to interfere.

Mr. Wild: Again, it is an institution of Parliament and I have to be careful in terms of oversight.

Senator Cowan: Let us go to the Public Appointments Commissioner. As the chair pointed out in his earlier discussion with you, this incident took place before the House of Commons committee prior to the implementation of the act. Surely, it is no excuse now for the government to say that because something took place prior to the enactment of legislation, that is a reason for not doing something mandated by the legislation itself.

So you can deal with the whole of my queries in this regard, Dr. Harrison was the Executive Director and Deputy Head of Public Appointments Commission from April 21, 2006 until January 2007, so for almost a year that post has been vacant. Who is running that shop?

Mr. O'Sullivan: A person who is not at the executive director level but one level below it arrived recently and is now taking charge of maintaining the operations of the secretariat.

Senator Cowan: Who was in charge from January 21 until this ``recently'' that you speak about?

Mr. O'Sullivan: After Mr. Harrison's departure, the position was vacant for that period.

Senator Cowan: So it was business as usual. Who is the person appointed now?

Mr. O'Sullivan: It is Christine Miles, a public servant.

Senator Cowan: Is she the person who could answer some of the questions that Senator Eggleton asked earlier about the rigour or lack thereof with respect to the processes that would be followed with respect to Senator Baker's Friday announcements?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Ms. Miles is working at laying the groundwork for the work of the commission. She is not involved in overseeing the ongoing selection processes that lead to appointments right now.

Senator Cowan: So it is in the hands of the government to do that now?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes; in response to your previous question, a distinction is to be made between positions that were enhanced, given new responsibilities, under the Federal Accountability Actor that were fulfilled under an administrative code, as was the case, for example, for conflict of interest and ethics and which was then legislated. We have an apparatus that is already in place and is given a new mandate or a new status under legislation, as compared to the creation of a totally new office that did not exist in any form prior to the legislation, which is the case with the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Senator Cowan: I understand. However, if the government had been so minded, it could have selected someone to act in that position for the purposes of establishing the procedures within the office and conducting preliminary staffing, while awaiting the appointment of the person who emerged from this process that we discussed earlier.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Yes, and that is what was done in the case of the Procurement Ombudsman.

Senator Cowan: Absolutely.

Mr. O'Sullivan: As Mr. Wild said, the Parliamentary Librarian would be able to comment on that.

Senator Cowan: By the same token, there is no reason why someone could not have been appointed to take office January 21, 2007 to head up this appointments commission, pending whatever the government decides to do. As you say, once bitten, twice shy. We will see whether they will come back or whether they will leave it as it is.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Following the rejection of Mr. Morgan's nomination, concerns were expressed about the situation of a minority government and also the challenge of recruiting someone at as high a level as Mr. Morgan to this position after that incident. Those were the concerns.

Senator Cowan: Surely, no one would pretend that only Mr. Morgan is qualified to fill this position.

Mr. O'Sullivan: No.

Senator Ringuette: This question is in the same vein, Mr. O'Sullivan, as your discussion with Senator Cowan. Realistically, we understand the difference between setting up a totally new system and enhancing an existing one, such as is the situation for the Commissioner of Lobbying.

This portion of the act is still not enacted and it is only an enhancement. After a year, it is hard for us to say that it is acceptable in regard to this situation.

It is also hard for me to understand, on the other hand, that there is an acting procurement ombudsman that is totally new in the system. That person is in place, but the act is not.

In regard to management of putting in place the requirements of this bill, I would like to see a work-in-progress tabled with the firm objective and timeline that certain items, in order to move forward, must be established.

The bottom line is that there are issues of major concern. The concern lies in regard to management and the political will that needs to be determined. Since we started this meeting, I have requested information for a better picture of the current situation and what we can look for.

May I conclude by saying that this information I have requested is already there. It only needs to be put in an envelope and delivered to the clerk so that the clerk can deliver a copy to each member here. I want to reiterate that I want all that information within the next few days.

The Chair: We made note of the two areas of information that you requested, but you also had two questions earlier that Mr. O'Sullivan made note of. Do you wish Mr. O'Sullivan to respond to those points as well?

Senator Ringuette: Yes, please.

Mr. O'Sullivan: I have given a partial answer already to Senator Cowan. Right now, the Public Appointments Commission secretariat has two staff, Christine Miles and a support staff whose name I do not have in front of me.

Your other question was with respect to headhunting firms. I have a list here. Rather than read off the 15 items that I have on this list, perhaps I could give the list to the clerk, if you wish.

The Chair: Yes, the clerk will circulate it to all honourable senators.

Mr. O'Sullivan: I caution only that these search firms are the ones we are aware of that were hired in the selection process for heads of agencies in which we were involved.

There are some instances in which organizations, notably, Crown corporations, run their own selection process in proposing a CEO to the government. We have not compiled that information. We are not aware of what Crown corporations or other organizations may have done on their own accord, without going through us.

That list is of firms we are aware of. We warn you that other organizations such as Crown corporations may have hired through firms we are simply not aware of.

Senator Ringuette: Earlier you said that four people had been hired within the secretariat of the Public Appointments Commission, and a minute ago you said two. Is it two or four people that were hired?

Mr. O'Sullivan: Four people were hired initially, and it has whittled down to two at this point.

Senator Stratton: Perhaps I can address this question to Mr. O'Sullivan.

With respect to the Public Appointments Commission, I will quote from your statement:

The government appointed three eminent Canadians, Hassan Khosrowshahi, the Honourable Roy McLaren and Jacqueline Boutet, as members of the Commission and nominated Gwyn Morgan, one of Canada's top CEOs, to be chairperson. On May 16, 2006, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates rejected Mr. Morgan's nomination, following which the three members of the Commission tendered their resignation.

To refresh people's memory, because I think this is rather important, can you provide us, if you can recall, the background of Mr. Morgan? As I understand it, when you say ``top CEO,'' people out there in TV land do not recall that. In my view, I did not see a reason for his rejection at all.

The Chair: Senator Stratton, is this question relevant? It pertains to a time when the law was not even in force.

Senator Stratton: I understand that. The question is, why has this position not been filled? I think you have to understand it by going back to determine who this person was who was rejected.

The Chair: Maybe we should know why the government proceeded with this legislation at all. Is that not really the question?

Senator Stratton: No, it is not.

The Chair: Mr. O'Sullivan, are you able to answer that question?

Mr. O'Sullivan: I do not have Mr. Morgan's CV with me, but the reason I referred to him as one of Canada's top CEOs is because he had been named as such by one of the business magazines. I do not remember which one.

The success of EnCana speaks for itself in terms of his corporate leadership. He has also made a name for himself on issues of governance. He is one of the key advocates on governance issues in corporate Canada and has been for several years. He is seen as one of the top persons on governance issues, which are now in the forefront of the private sector as well as the public sector.

Senator Stratton: Can you dig out that CV and send it to us so we can refresh our memories with respect to that background? I disagree with his rejection.

The Chair: We will circulate that information to members if you can find it for us.

Mr. O'Sullivan: I have it right here.

Gwyn Morgan, from Calgary, Alberta, is one of Canada's most distinguished business leaders. A petroleum engineering graduate from the University of Alberta, he led the building of one of the world's leading oil and gas companies and Canada's largest energy company, EnCana Corporation. Mr. Morgan was founding President and Chief Executive Officer of EnCana from 2002 until stepping down on January 1, 2006. Mr. Morgan has been recognized through numerous awards and honorary distinctions, including being named Canada's most respected CEO in 2005 in a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid of 250 business leaders in Canada. An inductee to the Alberta Business Hall of Fame, he has served on the boards of a number of organizations in the private and not-for-profit sectors, including HSBC Bank of Canada, the SNC-Lavalin Group, Alcan Inc., the Public Policy Forum, the Fraser Institute and the Calgary University Hospital. Mr. Morgan was also co-chair of the Calgary Fundraising Committee for the Northern Alberta Children's Health Centre, co-chair of the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference and is an honorary Colonel (retired) of the 410 Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Air Force.

Senator Ringuette: Can you remind us why he was rejected by the House of Commons?

Mr. O'Sullivan: At the hearing in front of the House of Commons committee, there were numerous questions about a declaration he had made in a speech dating back, I forget how long, relating to, I believe, the Jamaican community. There was vigorous debate in the committee about the nature and consequence of those comments.

Senator Ringuette: Were they related to ethics and human rights?

Mr. O'Sullivan: I believe they were about violence in the Jamaican community.

Senator Di Nino: Mr. Wild, with respect to polling and advertising, the independent adviser has made a report to the minister, and we have not seen that report yet.

Mr. Wild: No, we have not.

Senator Di Nino: Is the report in the minister's hands?

Mr. Wild: My understanding is that it is in the minister's hands and is currently being reviewed to determine the government's response.

Senator Di Nino: Do you expect this response will be forthcoming in the near future?

Mr. Wild: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: Does your mandate extend beyond the implementation to include the follow-up on the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act?

Mr. Wild: My mandate, as I understand it, is to coordinate implementation. I am not sure exactly what you mean when you ask about follow-up.

Senator Di Nino: After the action plan has been implemented and completed, do you still retain some responsibility to oversee any of this act, or does your mandate cease at that time?

Mr. Wild: With respect to the overall management agenda of the government, as the executive director of strategic policy for the secretariat, my job is to help inform what that agenda should be and to assist in the development of that agenda to determine how it should be implemented.

With respect to management and accountability issues in government, those issues are part of my ongoing responsibilities. The Federal Accountability Act is, if you will, a specific segment or project part of it.

From an overall government and public sector management regime perspective, I have an ongoing responsibility to provide advice to the secretary and president of the Treasury Board on issues related to those questions.

Senator Cowan: I have a short question prompted by Senator Stratton's intervention and your enumeration of all the good qualities of Mr. Morgan.

I think it is important to remind ourselves that this incident in the House of Commons took place in May of 2006. I find it hard to believe that anybody would accept that if the government was serious at all about this process, they would not have found somebody equally competent to Mr. Morgan amongst all the competent corporate CEOs, if that is the pool they were fishing in, between May of 2006 and December of 2007. It is more a statement than a question. Thank you.

The Chair: Does anybody wish to reply to that statement? No reply is necessary. I have no further names on my list. Coincidentally, we have run out of time. I thank honourable senators for being here.

On behalf of all honourable senators and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, I thank each of the witnesses for coming here. Thank you for the continued good work you are doing for the people of Canada and the public service.

The committee adjourned.