January 27, 2009        HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION      No. 14


The Management Commission met at 2:15 p.m. in the Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

I would like to welcome members of the Management Commission to a regular meeting of the Commission. We will start the meeting as we have every other meeting in the past, for the benefit of those who are watching us by the medium of television, by allowing us to introduce ourselves.

I will start with Mr. Osborne to my immediate left.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Tom Osborne, MHA for St. John’s South.

MR. TAYLOR: Trevor Taylor, MHA for The Straits & White Bay North.

MS E. MARSHALL: Beth Marshall, MHA for Topsail.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, MHA for St. George’s-Stephenville East.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Kelvin Parsons, MHA for Burgeo & LaPoile.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

CLERK: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk of the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: My name is Roger Fitzgerald and, by virtue of being Speaker of the House, the Chair of this Commission.

Prior to this particular meeting being broadcast, the Commission met in camera to discuss a legal issue. There was no resolve brought to the particular issue, so there will be no further discussion at this particular meeting. When the decisions are arrived at, it will be reported back to a regular meeting, as we are doing here today.

First on the agenda would be the Speaker’s opening remarks. The Speaker does not have any opening remarks, other than to thank members for participating, and the staff as well, and we will go right into the approval of the minutes for December 3, 2008.

Members have had an opportunity to read the minutes of December 3, and I ask somebody if they would be kind enough to move a motion that the minutes be adopted as circulated, if there are no errors or omissions.

Can somebody make that motion, please?

MS E. MARSHALL: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Marshall, and seconded by Ms Burke, that the minutes of the December 3, 2008 meeting be adopted as written.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The minutes are adopted.

On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item is the report of the Speaker regarding funding, and that was for extra funding put forward to two offices, two constituency offices. One is for the Bay of Islands, and the amount approved is $460 for an office that required and needed security issues. The $460 was for a security camera to that particular office. The other item, number 2, was for the Member for Port de Grave, who advertised for office space and decided to have his constituency office in his constituency. The price for that office space was $10,285 per year, and it was the lowest bid on public tender.

The next item would be the House of Assembly Management Commission briefing note regarding the pre-commitment of funds for the management certification process. This is a particular issue where, in the past, we have done a management certification process, and we thought that we should pre-budget this particular process, and pre-commitment of funds, to look after three consecutive years rather than to do it individually. It would allow the same person to do the management certification process, or the same company; they would come with some knowledge of what was done in the past. We could see it has been able to save the Treasury some money by putting the management certification process out for three consecutive years rather than doing it annually.

If the Clerk would like to expand on my Reader’s Digest version of that, then it would be welcome.

CLERK: You have summarized it well. Essentially, we need to put out an RFP to get an accounting firm to do this. This is required to be done annually. So, to go through the RFP process, receive proposals and evaluate and so on, there is a fair bit of time. We probably have a two month period before you will be in a position to award a contract. They have to do some work in the current fiscal year, and we have money in the current fiscal year in the month of March to cover that, but a lot of their work will be in April and May of the next fiscal year. The entire month of April is the write back period, so the fiscal year does not close until April 30. Then following the close of the fiscal year, they will have some work to do in the month of May for a couple of weeks.

So we cannot, under the FAA, enter into a contract for work in the next fiscal year when we have no budget for the next fiscal year, it is not approved. So the pre-commitment is required to do that. Now we only need the pre-commitment to actually enter into the contract, that is true, but there is little point in going through the request for proposal process and receiving responses and so on unless we know that the pre-commitment will be granted. As we looked at this we said maybe we should try for a three-year contract - you will see the same issue with the Office of the Auditor General audit - rather than doing this over every year. Now that is up to the Commission, but there may be some cost savings to do a three-year contract rather than one-year contracts year over year over year.

I do have to point out an error I made in the note on bullet five. The last sentence of bullet five says the audit must be completed by July 31. It is actually August 31, not July 31. This was one of the amendments, you may remember, in Bill 68. It was previously the end of June. We did not add one month to July 31, we added two months to August 31.

The $60,000 figure, that is not what is being requested to be approved today, that is a budget decision. All we are talking about is the pre-commitment up to $60,000. You will notice in the recommended minute on the next page.

So, I do not know if there is anything else I need to go over; just take questions from the Commission, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Just for clarification, because I do not have a lot of experience with this type of thing. Is this approval of pre-commitment of funds a normal procedure? Do we have other examples?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, longer term contracts that would span over two fiscal years, for instance, perhaps an advertising contract for tourism, construction projects, maybe, that would take two or three years.

The thought is that the House approves its appropriations annually, and you only get money if the House votes on it. If the House has not voted on money for the fiscal year 2010-2011, then how could you ever enter it in a contract? So in the Executive branch of government, Cabinet is authorized to allow these pre-commitments for budget years for which the House has not yet appropriated funds. Once the funds are appropriated, then the Department of Finance always tables these pre-commitments in the House so that everybody is aware of it and we are not violating the sole authority of the House.

To decide appropriations, you are simply trying to assist matters to get these contracts done and then the information is tabled in the House.

So, in our case, we do not feel it should be Cabinet, it would be the House of Assembly Management Commission to decide pre-commitment.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I have one question: The RFP that we are going to issue, it is going to cover the audit work for the three years?

CLERK: The consulting services we have been calling it with the management certification piece, yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, okay. So it will cover three years.

CLERK: Now if the Commission has concerns that was simply our fault.

MS E. MARSHALL: No, I did not have a problem with it, expect when I read the briefing note I was thinking you were going to do them individually until you started to explain it. No, that is fine.

CLERK: Yes. We had meant to do a three-year contract with whatever firm wins the RFP process.

MS E. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: No further commentary?

It appears the Commission might agree with the action that is put forward. If it is, then a motion is in order. I will read the motion that could be entertained: The Commission approves the pre-commitment of funds up to $60,000 for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012 budget appropriations for consulting services for the management certification process.

Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Ms Marshall.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Motion Carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is exactly the same thing, but we are talking about the Request for Proposals for the pre-commitment of funds for the Office of the Auditor General. The Auditor General’s office is audited on an annual basis as well by an outside auditor. Here again, with the same rationale, this Commission is asked to consider if we would pre-commit funds up to $10,000 for the years of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012.

Any commentary? If not, certainly a motion is in order and the action required as suggested is the Commission approves the pre-commitment of funds, up to $10,000, for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 budget appropriations for audited services for the annual audits of the Office of the Auditor General.

Somebody make that a motion.

Moved by Ms Burke; seconded by Mr. Taylor.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is a change that we had brought about at a prior meeting regarding claims being submitted that were incurred more than sixty days prior to the claim being made. This has been a situation where some members, by no fault of their own, have been getting late claims and because the bills have been coming later, they have been over their sixty days since the expense was incurred before they can submit their claim for reimbursement.

Up until now, the situation has been that the claim would come to the Speaker and if the Speaker refused the claim, then the appeal could come before the Commission. The Speaker has no other choice with the way the particular clause is written in our legislation, in the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, because it clearly states that the Speaker cannot approve if the claim is over sixty days.

What we have allowed to do now is to have the Commission look at each claim individually and still have it brought back to the Commission whereby the claims are over sixty days but the stipulations are still as they were, that the claim has been incurred by the member and it is a permitted expense under the act and rules, it does not exceed an expense amount or allocation permitted under the rules and a denial of payment of the expense amount would, in the opinion of the Commission, be unjust. The Commission may approve the expenditure for the claimed expense to the extent that the Commission considers to be just and the decision of the Commission is final.

We have two particular requests here. One is from the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, and the other is from the hon. Member for The Isles of Notre Dame. I think there are five from the hon. Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, and one from the Member for The Isles of Notre Dame. The expenses have certainly been incurred by the member and certainly have been expenses that are well within the rules in the act.

Members have had an opportunity to review the expenses. The Chair will entertain a motion that we pay those expenses as incurred.

MR. TAYLOR: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Minister Taylor, seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda under Tab 4 is the Government Purchasing Agency Review of Leasing Practices.

The Clerk has done some work on this. I will ask the Clerk if he would explain this particular briefing note, please.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You may remember, back in April the Commission decided to have the GPA, Government Purchasing Agency, have a look at our practices for leasing members’ constituency offices. Currently, we follow section 20(8) of the members’ rules, and that is the section that Chief Justice Green wrote on the process to select office space, and so on and so forth.

I think the Commission expressed some concern that might not be in keeping with the provisions of the Public Tender Act. Now, it does not have to be. It is the way Chief Justice Green wrote the rules and said this is how members can select their office space, but the Commission was concerned to get, I guess, a comparison: Is it in keeping with the Public Tender Act?

If you have had a chance to read the review that the GPA did, essentially we are in keeping with the provisions of the Public Tender Act if the estimated value of the lease is less than $10,000. If it is less than $10,000 you get three quotes - which is what we do under 20(8) - or establish a fair and reasonable price under the circumstances. That is what the Public Tender Act says about purchases, leases, under $10,000.

I suppose, based on the allowance allocations established by Chief Justice Green, where he had a $7,000 annual allowance for office accommodations, he anticipated that most of these rental agreements would come in less than $10,000 annually. The rules, 20(8) in particular, support that.

What we have been finding is, while some have been under the $10,000 threshold, more are over. When they started this review back in May or so there had been ten leases signed. Four of them were under the $10,000 threshold but six of them were over. When we apply the process in the members’ rules for leases that are over $10,000, we come up short.

We are not as rigorous as the Public Tender Act when you go over $10,000 in that the rules do not require a public tender call, where they would require a public tender call if the Public Tender Act was in force.

So, what the GPA is recommending is, for the over $10,000 estimates – and we do not really know what a given lease will be, but practice is suggesting that we are always going to be over $10,000 for an annual lease - that the rules should be amended to reflect the provisions of the Public Tender Act. If we are going to estimate that in a given community a constituency office lease would be more than $10,000, we should rewrite the members’ rules that a public tender is required.

I should say that in recent times most members have been publicly tendering, but they are not required to in the rules.

There is one other piece and it is not a big matter. Because we have an allowance maximum of $7,000 for the office accommodation we are starting to discover that is, in many cases, not enough. Maybe at some point we should up that annual allocation of $7,000 to $10,000 or $12,000 or something more in keeping with the rents based on our experience. However, to do that, to change an annual allowance, is a much more cumbersome process than just amending the rules on a given expense item. It is covered by a different section of the act.

To increase the $7,000 office accommodation allowance annually is similar to increasing – I am going to speak with HST included – the $15,000 office operation, the $3,000 constituency allowance. To change any of those annual allowances requires a resolution in the House. So, the Commission would deal with it but it then has to go to the House. It is different than the individual expense items that we have amended previously in the rules, because it is an annual allowance.

Whether the Commission feels it is worth pursuing that or not, the Speaker is authorized to allow greater than $7,000 on a case-by-case basis; so it is not a big issue and we could postpone that, Mr. Speaker, and deal with it in subsequent years.

We are not anticipating a lot of new leases, now that the initial rush is over, so we can leave that if you do not think it is worth pursuing increasing the allowance in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Most of those allowances have already been signed for the four year period. Four years or five?

CLERK: Four – to the next election date.

MR. SPEAKER: To the next election date.

I think we have had one that I just referred to from the Member for Port de Grave, and there may be one other that I am aware of, but for the most part I think most of the agreements have already been entered into and it is not something that is going to be needed now because the leases are signed. In order for it to be brought back there has to be an action created whereby they have to go to public tender again, so we can deal with them at that particular time.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: The only question I have with this is - I know we started out under the Green Report, and having constituency offices and the rules around them was new for everyone at that point - I am just wondering, would it be worth our while, or can we do this without putting a prescribed amount to it, saying $7,000 or $10,000? Could we look at it and say that any office space that would be leased would be subject to the Public Tender Act? Then they would all go up on public tender without putting a dollar figure to that amount.

MR. SPEAKER: My understanding is that we can, if we want to go that route, but we have no obligation to. We are operating under our own rules with Chief Justice Green’s report up to $10,000. If we go over $10,000 then - we are still operating within our own guidelines, even if it is above that, but what we were hearing is people thought that they wanted another level of comfort that if it was over $10,000 that we would not only go by Chief Justice Green’s report or the Accountability Act, but also engage the Public Tender Act as well.

We can do whatever the Commission deems needs to be done, by going through the process of doing it.

The Clerk.

CLERK: It is really two separate issues.

There is the Public Tender Act process – do we want to follow that as prescribed in the act - and then, what do we want to do about an annual maximum?

Even with any annual maximum, the Speaker is authorized to always allow, on a case-by-case basis, the increased costs.

So, while there is this annual maximum – the annual allowance of $7,000 - I guess Chief Justice Green understood there are going to be cases where it will be more, so the Speaker is authorized to allow that.

MS BURKE: I guess my point is, would it not just be cleaner if it was the Public Tender Act?

MR. SPEAKER: If it is the wish of the Commission to use the Public Tender Act on a go-forward basis with all new leasing, then certainly the recommendation can be made and we are not weakening our own act at all. In fact, we are engaging another process. I think maybe that was the reason that it might have been brought up in the first place, and why this appeared on the agenda.

Further commentary?

MS BURKE: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall?

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I may have been one of the people who suggested this review, to see that it complies with the Public Tender Act, but I agree with Ms Burke. I think that we should have a requirement there that we comply with the Public Tender Act.

For the second part, increasing the $7,000 to $10,000, I don’t have a problem with that, but I would defer to the other members on the Commission.

The issue regarding the Public Tender Act, I think that, yes, we should follow the suggestion there that is made by Mr. Day from the Government Purchasing Agency and have a requirement there.

MR. SPEAKER: For all leases, is what the hon. member is saying?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: I see other members agreeing. What we can do is just park this for the time being – Mr. Clerk, is that the right procedure? – and bring it back at another meeting with a clear directive to be voted on.

CLERK: I guess we would get the Law Clerk to draft up some amendments to the members’ rules. I am not sure whether we just delete a bunch of the sections now and simply say, follow the Public Tender Act, or if there is some adjustment she would need to make. The Law Clerk could provide some amendments to the rules and bring them back for next time around.

With respect to the dollar figure, I don’t know. I guess Chief Justice Green put these maximums there. There are no maximums, in terms of square footage and other elements, in our rules for the members’ offices. While we have a standard approach to a member’s office - I think it is around 400 square feet or something with public space and space for the assistants - that is not in the rules, I don’t think. The only sort of limit, I guess, that has been imposed on these was the dollar limit. Maybe he felt he had to put something there as part of an annual allocation.

I haven’t really given thought to removing it altogether, the dollar maximum, I mean. The focus was really more on the Public Tender Act and then it just said: well, the $7,000 has proved insufficient in most cases, do we need to revisit it.

I think I would rather give a little consideration to removing the dollar figure altogether, but certainly we can apply the Public Tender Act to the process. I just don’t know if I am missing some ramifications of taking the dollar maximum out.

MR. SPEAKER: I think that is what I am hearing.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Are you talking about the $7,000, where we are talking about increasing it to $10,000?

CLERK: Yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: You are saying not have a maximum there at all?

CLERK: No, I am not arguing that. I think Ms Burke was just asking the question: how would that fit? I am saying, I think to remove it altogether and just use the Public Tender Act, as, say, a government department would do, might be a little difficult and bears a little more thought, because we have a maximum now which is just inadequate. I think I would want to give a little more thought before removing it.

MS E. MARSHALL: That is fine.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Taylor.

MR. TAYLOR: The $7,000 is irrelevant anyway. It does not matter if it is there or if it is not there, the Speaker has the authority to allow it to proceed anyway. I do not need to know that we need to get into anything on $7,000, and I certainly do not see where we need to bring in – if that is the only reason we would have to bring in a piece of legislation in the spring sitting, then I would think that that would be a - we must have better things to do than be discussing that when there is – so you know, public tender for everything and whatever it is, it is.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, there has been - I do not recall the numbers, but there are probably eleven or twelve, I would probably reason to guess, offices in constituencies now. There have only been two that have come forward with $7,000 or less. They have been fortunate enough to get them into some building where they have been fortunate enough to get it for that price, but every other office has been over the $7,000. We have gone through the process, as members know, to have it brought back here and reported and brought forward in that way.

So am I hearing that we will leave the figures as it is but go through the Public Tender Act to keep whatever the amount is that – advertise through the Public Tender Act in order to acquire office space? We will bring that back, I say to the Clerk, for a decision when – to give the opportunity for members to see what is written and we can vote on it at that time.

The next item under Tab 5 would be the Transfer of Funds for the Caucus Operating Grants. I will ask the Clerk to explain transfer of funds as well.

CLERK: Members will remember when we reviewed the caucus resources issue and the miscellaneous, the operational grants we provide to caucuses for small purchases, it was increased as a result of the independent consultant’s advice. We had not budgeted for that because, of course, that was not decided until some time this fall. So this was not known when the budget was done last April. We have managed up to now but there are insufficient funds to do the last two months of the year within the grants and subsidies main object.

Now in the transfer funds policy, which the Commission adopted, the Clerk and the Chief Financial Officer are not delegated authority to transfer funds into grants and subsidies and a couple of other main objects. I am not sure if they were listed there, but there are some main objects that we have not been delegated authority to use to transfer funds nor would we want it.

The grants and subsidies main object is the main object that is used to disburse funds to outside groups and so on. So, it is treated a little differently within the executive branch of government and it is treated a little differently within our transfer funds policy. So to put the $11,600 required for the last two months, the Commission actually has to approve the budget transfer and not the Clerk and Chief Financial Officer. So as you will see on the second page of the action required, from the Purchased Services main object where we have savings, we proposed a transfer into the Grants and Subsidies, which is short the $11,600.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

If not, would the Commission approve to facilitate the disbursement of operating funds to the three caucuses for February and March of 2009? The Commission approves the following transfer of funds: from subdivision 1.1.03.06, Caucus Operations and Members’ Expenses - Purchased Services, $11,600 from that particular heading to subdivision 1.1.03.10, to the Caucus Operations and Members’ Expenses - Grants and Subsidies, the same amount of $11,600, the transfer of those particular funds?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Ms Marshall.

The next item on the agenda would be exactly the same thing, other than there are two transfers from the Office of the Auditor General. I will ask the Clerk to go through those two particular adjustments as well.

CLERK: This is somewhat different; this is just for information purposes. You will remember at our December 3 meeting we brought forward a bunch of the budget transfers that had been done and the Commission decided they wanted to see these for information purposes, even though the Clerk and Chief Financial Officer or statutory officer has the authority to affect the transfers. When we brought these forward in December we missed these two from the Office of the Auditor General. So it was our oversight and it should have been included in the package we brought forward last December. It is really just for information purposes and it is tied into the December 3 report we brought forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Duly been reported.

The next item is an agenda item that was added and passed to members, which is the election subsidy payments to deal with the two by-elections that were held in 2007-2008. It was for the by-election in Cape St. Francis and the by-election in Baie Verte-Springdale.

Ms Lambe, maybe you can explain that particular agenda item.

MS LAMBE: It is similar to the one for the caucus operating grants. Again, the Transfer of Funds Policy requires the House of Assembly Management Commission approval for any transfer of funds into the Grants and Subsidies main object. Due to the by-election and some of the late filings, I think there is a lap over from the general election. There are insufficient funds in their Grants and Subsides to pay all the amounts required. So they had savings in Professional Services and they are asking to move it into the Grants and Subsidies in order to pay their amounts due.

MR. SPEAKER: The briefing note clearly explains that with The Elections Act, whereby members are entitled to receive one-third of their election expenses, and sometimes up to a maximum amount if you get more than 15 per cent of the popular vote. Sometimes it is a job to know what that is because nobody knows what a member’s ability is to raise money or what the campaign expense will be that is acceptable.

The action required is: To facilitate the dispersement of campaign and auditor subsidies relating to the August 2008 by-elections held in the electoral districts of Cape St. Francis and Baie Verte-Springdale, the Commission approves the following transfer of funds: From: Subdivision 3.1.01.05., Office of the Chief Electoral Officer - Professional Services: $14,000; To: Subdivision 3.1.01.10, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer - Grants and Subsidies, for a total of $14,000.

Comments? Suggestions? If not, would somebody make a motion?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I am curious about the - I guess education more than anything, I guess. The total subsidy paid for two by-elections estimated at $32,400. It is my understanding that the maximum you are allowed to get the subsidy for, is it one-third?

MR. SPEAKER: It is one-third of what you spend, what is considered under an eligible expense up to the maximum amount that you are allowed to spend.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I did not know there was any district in the Province that could spend any more than, say, $30,000. So assuming they both spent their maximum of $30,000, that would be $60,000, so if they are only allowed to get back one-third of the $60,000, that would be $20,000, but yet –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Oh, okay (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I say to the hon. member, there were two successful candidates.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: That is right, and there may have been three.

MR. SPEAKER: But every candidate is entitled to the same pleasures.

Any further discussion or information gathered?

If not, would somebody make the motion?

Moved by Mr. Parsons, seconded by Mr. Taylor.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I had indicated to the Management Commission, I wanted to introduce a resolution today with regard to the dismissal of Fraser March as the Citizens’ Representative. I do have a resolution here today that I will submit, and it will be discussed at a subsequent meeting of the Management Commission.

I am looking for some direction. Will I read the resolution into the record, or will I simply table it at this point?

MR. SPEAKER: By all means, if the member feels like reading it into the record, maybe we should for the sake of television. While it will be made available to anybody who wants it, for information purposes, yes, by all means, read it.

MS BURKE: WHEREAS in December 2001 the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, on resolution of the House of Assembly, appointed Fraser March as the Citizens’ Representative, pursuant to Section 3(1) of the Citizens’ Representative Act; and

WHEREAS in 2004 the Auditor General advised the Speaker of the House of Assembly of concerns relating to travel expenses in the office of the Citizens’ Representative and in the following months the Internal Economy Commission conducted a review of the Auditor General’s concerns; and

WHEREAS on December 1, 2005, the Government House Leader in the House of Assembly gave notice that he would be introducing a resolution recommending Fraser March’s removal from office for cause; and

WHEREAS on December 12, 2005, during debate on the resolution, a member moved that the resolution be amended to provide Fraser March with "an opportunity to state his case to the House of Assembly before a vote is taken regarding his removal…." Following debate the amendment was defeated, and the House of Assembly by a majority then passed a resolution that Fraser March be removed from the office of Citizens’ Representative. By Order-in-Council, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council removed Fraser March from office, effective December 12, 2005; and

WHEREAS on April 6, 2007, Justice Orsborn of the Supreme Court, Trial Division, dismissed an application by Fraser March and concluded that the resolution and the manner in which it was debated was immune from judicial review due to parliamentary privilege; and

WHEREAS Fraser March has requested that there be an independent and transparent review of the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, and that as a result of Justice Orsborn’s ruling, such a review is not possible through the judicial process;

BE IT RESOLVED that this Commission endorse a resolution in the House of Assembly, when it next sits, to appoint a retired Supreme Court Justice to conduct an independent and impartial review into the circumstances of Fraser March’s removal from office, which review will include the opportunity for Fraser March to be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms Burke.

As has been our practice and our adopted procedure when items are raised during a meeting of the Commission, when it is done under New Business, the Commission does not entertain debate on that particular issue at the time.

This resolution will be added to the agenda, to be brought back for further discussion and debate at our next regular meeting.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, for the record, I would like it recorded that I have always, in consideration of any issue involving Mr. March, abstained from any discussions as a result of some perceived conflict when I was Minister of Justice. For that reason I have never taken any involvement in this issue, and I will continue to be absent from any and all in camera or other discussions concerning this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

That is for the record.

There being no further business on the agenda, the Chair will now entertain an adjournment motion for the Commission now to go to an in camera budget meeting, where there is still some business relating to the budget that has not been finalized.

I ask members if they would join us now in the Opposition caucus room to continue in camera with the budget debate, and such deliberations again will be brought back here to be reported on a camera session.

The adjournment is to be entertained.

Moved by Mr. Taylor, seconded by Ms Marshall.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

I thank members for attending, and staff.

This meeting is now adjourned.