Report of the committee
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The Subcommittee on the Senate Estimates of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its
On April 21, 2016, your subcommittee was given the following mandate:
That the Subcommittee on the Senate Estimates be re-established with an expanded mandate to examine the funding allocations for House Officers and Caucuses as defined in Chapter 6 of the Senate Administrative Rules (SARs), notably with respect to the additional office allowance for the Leader of the Government in the Senate;
That the following six (6) senators be named as members: Senator Wells (chair), Senator Jaffer (deputy chair), Senator Tkachuk, Senator Downe, Senator Tannas and Senator Campbell; and
That the subcommittee submit a report to CIBA regarding funding allocations by May 12, 2016.
It became clear early on in the subcommittee’s work that the issue was complex, and the situation fluid. The subcommittee also recognized that this decision should be lasting given the necessity for the Leader of Government in the Senate to be able to plan and operate in that capacity. Your subcommittee requested and was granted a short extension to present its report to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (CIBA) by May 17, 2016.
Your subcommittee held four meetings and heard from a number of witnesses. The subcommittee began by hearing from Senators Cowan and Carignan, P.C., to learn from their experiences, both past and present, in managing and allocating the budgets of various leadership offices. Senator Harder, P.C., also met with the subcommittee to discuss both his earlier submission to CIBA and answer questions about his new role as a leader in the Senate. Your subcommittee then met with the Clerk of the Senate who provided a historical overview of our parliamentary system of government and opposition. Finally, Senator McCoy shared her views with the subcommittee as the facilitator of the independent working group.
During the course of the meetings, a consensus emerged amongst members that the situation in the Senate is evolving and therefore accommodation should be made for this new circumstance and that past budgetary precedents do not apply in this case. While it is understood that the Leader of the Government does have immediate budgetary needs, the subcommittee believes these needs can be met by the funds currently allocated to the Leader of the Government, the additional allocations to the Leader’s team and other accommodations previously made by CIBA.
The funds currently available to him are as follows:
|• $185,400||as Senator — approved by CIBA as part of the Main Estimates.|
|• $250,000||as Leader of government — approved by CIBA in January 2016.|
|• $150,000||as Leader of government — approved by CIBA in April 2016.|
|• $7,000||the incremental allotment for Independent Senators — approved by CIBA in January 2016.|
For an initial total of $592,400.
Senator Harder’s submission to CIBA on April 14 listed a suite of tasks that he proposed would be covered under his office and therefore his budget request. On May 3, Senator Harder issued a release appointing a Legislative Deputy and a Government Liaison in the Senate. The suite of tasks assigned to these positions has overlap with what was presented in his initial funding request, thus adding to the already granted amounts for Deputy Leader ($75,000) and Whip ($100,000), as set out in the SARs.
For example from Senator Harder’s CIBA request;
“A whip function more complex by independents and other parties but still the need to know where the vote will be and how it might be influenced.”
“Identifying sponsors for some government bills and ensuring that they are properly supported with briefings and materials from relevant departments”.
From Senator Harder’s announcement of a Government Liaison and Legislative Deputy in the Senate;
“Engagement with independent senators and party caucuses alike to solicit support for government bills”.
“Supporting sponsors of bills by ensuring that they receive the required input, briefings, and materials from Ministers and government officials to present bills effectively”.
The subcommittee believes this indicates that the tasks as envisioned and budgeted for in Senator Harder’s request to CIBA would be covered in the budget allocations that the Deputy Leader and Whip would receive upon appointment.
In testimony and background research the subcommittee learned that although the $185,400 allocated for a Senator’s office budget is a different envelope from any leadership funds, previous leaders indicated that practical and economic efficiencies could be found as employees were able to provide support in different areas. In essence and in practice, the leadership combined their various allocation envelopes under one operational umbrella.
Thus, it can be presumed that the Senators in the government leadership would benefit from proceeding in a similar manner. This would provide an additional $185,400 x 3 = $556,200 in addition to the $75,000 for the deputy leader and $100,000 for the whip for staff in these leadership offices.
Finally, each of the independent Senators in the leadership of the government in the Senate are due $7,000 by virtue of their claim of being independent Senators ($21,000).
Amounts available to the Government in the Senate leadership team:
|• $250,000||granted by CIBA January 2016|
|• $150,000||additional granted by CIBA April 2016|
($185,400 x 3)
|leadership team combined office budgets|
|• $75,000||Deputy Leader budget|
|• $100,000||Whip budget|
($7,000 x 3)
|Independent Senator research allocation|
|• $1,152,200||Total available to the leadership team|
Evidence gathered by the subcommittee clearly separated other senators from the Senate government leadership team, thus the amount provided by the Senate based on caucus size would not be applicable or required. The comparison made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate that his budget proposal be based on the budget of the previous Leader of the Government in the Senate did not take into account the difference in resources required for caucus management. This was supported by the recent direction from 15 independent senators regarding committee assignment requests as outlined in their letter of May 5, to the Chair of the Selection Committee, and by the evidence provided by Senators Cowan and Carignan.
As such, your subcommittee makes the following recommendations:
• That the annual $400K approved by CIBA on April 21, 2016 for the leader of the government office budget rests;
• That CIBA decides whether the financial needs of Government Leadership in the Senate should be reviewed in the next budgetary cycle once Senator Harder’s role has become clearer and requirements have been identified.
The budget allocated to House Leaders, caucus and the incremental allotment for Independent Senators resulting from the above decision, the changes approved to SARs by CIBA in January 2016 and the increase in the number of independent senators represent $3,042,348. The related allocation from the main estimates for these budgets represents $2,264,100, creating a pressure of $778,248.
Your subcommittee is mindful that a source of funds be identified or a strategy implemented to address these pressures. Following a comprehensive review of the current financial situation and anticipated membership trend, we believe that these funds can come from existing envelopes that may not be fully subscribed.
DAVID M. WELLS