May 13, 2009         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION           No. 17


The Commission met at 5:30 p.m. in the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Good evening. I would like to welcome members to a regular meeting of the Management Commission.

We will start as we do every other meeting, for the purpose of those people who are viewing us by the medium of television, to ask members to identify themselves.

I will start to my immediate left with the Deputy Speaker.

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

MS E. MARSHALL: Beth Marshall, Topsail.

MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

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

MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair District.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the staff to introduce themselves as well, please.

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

MR. MACKENZIE: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk.

MR. SPEAKER: My name is Roger Fitzgerald, Member for Bonavista South, and by virtue of being the Speaker, being the Chair of the Management Commission.

We will start our minutes by following our agenda. The first item on the agenda would be the Confirmation of the 2009-10 Budget Estimates.

If you look at the minutes that we have included there, the minutes are from January 27. Normally, we ask for an acceptance of the last meetings minutes but we do not have those ready because it was only last week that we met and with the rules that we follow, for two days after for changes to be made, it would not permit us to bring those particular set of minutes forward at this meeting.

The reason the January 27 minutes are here is my understanding is that they have already been adopted, except for the in camera session that was held where we talked about the Estimates to be brought forward for the Legislature and an in camera meeting for the Estimates for the Budget of 2009-2010.

That is the reason why the Estimates are brought forward at this particular point. I guess now, even after the fact, we ask for the Commission to accept the minutes as brought forward from January 27, 2009 and to confirm the Estimates as printed in the binder.

If there are no questions or comments we can approve that particular Commission meeting of 2009-009 for purposes of maintaining the proper records.

Moved my Mr. Parsons and seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is: Approval for Travel under Special Circumstances. This is a section 43 again, whereby members have to seek confirmation from the Speaker or from the Clerk when they cannot complete their journey back to their districts in one particular day.

Here again, it is for the hon. the Member representing the District of Torngat Mountains and the cost is $134.47, due to flight schedules where she had to stay overnight in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and for the meals and accommodations for that particular trip. That is for reporting purposes only.

The next item on the agenda is a resolution that was brought forward and introduced here in the House on January 27 by the hon. the Government House Leader, and prior to that the Minister of Justice announced on January 22 that he would request the Commission to endorse the introduction of a resolution in the House of Assembly calling for an independent review into the case of former Citizens’ Representative, Mr. Fraser March. The Government House Leader wrote the Speaker on January 23, 2009 confirming this particular announcement.

This particular item has been discussed at length and at in camera sessions and we have now brought it back to a public session for members to pass comment and for a vote to be taken whether the Commission is intending to endorse a resolution into the House of Assembly to allow for this review to take place.

I ask members for their comments and opinions, and we can vote on it at this particular meeting.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Thank you.

I feel that I should speak first as I was the one, as Government House Leader, who brought this to the attention of the Management Commission.

Basically, the request that I brought forward as evident in the press release there and the statement by the Minister of Justice, is that when Fraser March had been dismissed from his position he had the opportunity to present his case but chose to seek the advice of the courts regarding his concerns, and at the court process such a review was not possible.

So at this time – and I will continue, I guess here in our vote today, to support the fact that I would like to bring forward the resolution that there be an independent and impartial review into the circumstances of Frazer March’s removal from office and this review will include the opportunity for Mr. March to be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Just for the record, Mr. Speaker, I have abstained from any discussions involving this resolution or any circumstances or facts or information whatsoever concerning Mr. March as a result of a longstanding conflict that I had.

I just want to state that for the public record and I will not be having any commentary today in that regard either.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have given quite a bit of attention to this motion that is before us. I have read very, very carefully a lot of the documentation relating to the discussion that went on between Mr. March and the IEC of the day with regard to his appearing before them and also with regard to his request for a third party to look at his particular situation to have an outside body make a decision.

I actually at one point thought that I would not support this motion, and having read everything, I went back and read everything again. I do not know how much detail we need to give in terms of what changed my mind, but what has changed my mind, and I may have the date wrong, that the last communication between Mr. March and the IEC was left, as far as I can read it, wide open by him and after a period of time the IEC then continued on its path.

I really do not think that he did have a hearing. I am going to be quite blunt, and maybe some people do not like my being this blunt but I am going to be. Noting the period of time that we are talking about, noting other things that went on with that IEC at that time, I am not even sure that I can trust what I read from the IEC minutes. I will be quite honest. At this point in time my own decision is, and I will be listening to others but at this point in time my decision is, to support the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this one, too, and have been on two minds about it.

I was in the House at the time that Mr. March was dismissed. I do feel that this is an issue for the House of Assembly; that the Citizens’ Representative is an Officer of the House and that it is really a decision for the Legislature to decide upon.

I did initially question whether it is a matter for the Commission, or even whether the term endorse would be the correct word, but, after giving it a lot of thought, Mr. Speaker, I would be prepared to support it.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have had a look at the various documents that have been provided to me. When I look at the Minister of Justice’s comments that are attributed to Minister Marshall - I am referring to the news release of January 22, 2009, where there are actually quotation marks indicating Minister Marshall’s comments - asking the Government House Leader to request the Management Commission to endorse the introduction of a resolution during the spring session that will allow for an impartial and independent review into the circumstances of Mr. March’s tenure as Citizens’ Representative. Then he states a little bit further, in the last paragraph, "It is important, in the interest of natural justice…"

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware at this point of anything to indicate that there hasn’t been an impartial and independent review, but when I see comments like that from one of my colleagues, a colleague for whom I have great respect, it certainly causes me concern, concern to the extent that I think the matter should be reviewed.

The background information itself demonstrates that the case has a somewhat checkered history, and, like Ms Michael, I have no problem in saying that what went on in the House of Assembly - not necessarily in the House of Assembly - what went on in government and the Opposition, what went on with Members of the House of Assembly back in relevant time frames certainly caused me some concern in that we have seen a heightened sensitivity to the accountability of elected officials, and also of officials like Mr. March.

I looked at the act, Mr. Speaker, just to ensure myself that we had the authority to even consider this. When I look at section 4 of the Citizens’ Representative Act, the Citizens’ Representative is described as an Officer of House of Assembly. Then, when I go to the actual House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, and I look at the purpose of the act outlined in section 3, I see "3.(g) establish standards of conduct for members and for those charged with the responsibility for the administration of operations of the House of Assembly service and the statutory offices."

I am assuming, the way I read that, the "and" refers to the statutory office, the Citizens’ Representative would come within that. I then go, Mr. Speaker, to section 20 where it outlines the powers of the House of Assembly Management Commission, "give directions with respect to matters that the commission considers necessary for the efficient and effective operation of the House of Assembly service and statutory offices; review and approve the administrative, financial and human resource and management policies of the House of Assembly service and statutory offices."

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that in those sections of the act where the Citizens’ Representative reports to the House of Assembly, that it is something that the Management Commission can consider.

I looked, then, at the decision of Justice Orsborn, now Chief Justice Orsborn, to see exactly what he had said. In his decision dated April 26, 2007, he stated at paragraph 12: For the reasons that follow, I have concluded that in passing the resolution of December 12, 2005, to recommend March’s removal from office, the House of Assembly was acting in a sphere of activity protected by parliamentary privilege. Within that sphere of activity the actions of the House and its member are immune from civil proceedings. Within that sphere of activity the House is autonomous, as the master of its own proceedings is not subject to judicial review.

So, as my colleague, Ms Burke, has pointed out, the court cannot be used to review what has taken place to date.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly support the motion simply asking for an independent review, that the rules of natural justice allow for an individual to be heard. I understand - I read somewhere here - that Mr. March was offered the opportunity to attend before the Commission. I also understand - I think I read somewhere - that he was seeking, or there was a motion, an amendment, asking that he be allowed to address the House of Assembly, which was defeated.

Mr. Speaker, based on everything I have read here, I would certainly support the motion as put forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do have a different perspective than that being shared by the other committee members, and I will take an opportunity to voice that.

First of all, the Management Commission, under the Green act is no different than the Internal Economy Commission. It is a continuation of the same Commission which has dealt with this issue previously.

Also, Mr. Speaker, under the Citizens’ Representative Act the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has the right to remove the Citizens’ Representative from office on a resolution of the House of Assembly. That is indeed what happened in the case of Fraser March. At the time, the House was not in session and it was the IEC that recommended, I guess, or looked at this particular case and it was a decision of the government at that time to have Mr. March expelled from his job, but there were proceedings leading up to that.

First of all, there was some recognition that Mr. March was entitled to be heard and the IEC had afforded him, on three different occasions, to come before the Internal Economy Commission and to present his case. This was in advance of any court action or any decision by him, at least publicly, to proceed with the matter in the courts. In fact, Mr. Speaker, after he made that decision and the information, I guess, was tabled in the House, we had a debate around the resolution. It goes back to 2005, and the very government that is making this request today was the same government that voted down the resolution in the House of Assembly to allow Fraser March to have a fair hearing and to have an opportunity to be heard. I guess after he went to the courts, there was a recognition that the House of Assembly does have the autonomy to make its own decisions, and as a result of that, he was not able to proceed with the case in the way that he wanted to.

Mr. Speaker, if the Cabinet felt that this was unfairly done they have it well within their right to make some resolution to it. It was them that made the decision to fire Mr. March and they also have the ability to appoint those positions. It is not the Management Commission that appoints those positions. They also have the ability, as a Cabinet, to look at whether there was unfairness in this case and to undo that. I do not think it needs to come to the Management Commission. In fact, I think by asking the Commission today to take this matter on is really asking us to admit that the IEC did not operate appropriately at the time. I do not know that that is the case.

So, I think that this is not the place for this to be dealt with. This is a position of the House that is really appointed by the Cabinet. The individual was fired by the Cabinet. The individual, when the motion was debated in the House of Assembly and asked for fairness, it was voted down by the government. I think that if there is a recognition on their part that this individual did not get a fair hearing, then it is their place to deal with it. It can be dealt with through a number of avenues within government but certainly at any appointment that Cabinet wants to make to deal with this externally or independently in terms of a review, they have every opportunity to be able to do that.

I just do not think that it is being placed in the right arena right now and I think that because the Management Commission do have, I guess, some authority when it comes to looking at the financial operations of the Officers of the House of Assembly, we certainly do not have any authority when it comes to deciding who is appointed to those positions and when they are removed from those positions. That lies entirely with the government and with the Cabinet. That is why I think it is inappropriate that we would be looking at it here. I think if something the Minister of Justice wanted to do, he could have did it within his own department or through the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

I guess that would be my perspective, and for that reason I would vote against it, not because I do not think that he should get a fair hearing. I just do not think it is being done in the appropriate manner.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Clerk, I, too, would like to add a couple of words because I was a member of the Internal Economy Commission at the time that this action took place. The only other person sitting here was Mr. Parsons, who had continually abstained from taking part in any of the discussions.

I am well aware of the procedures of what happened and what took place. I am well aware of the effort that was put forward in allowing Mr. March every opportunity. I am well aware of meetings that were changed. I am well aware of invitations that were sent to allow him to come before the IEC at the time to allow him to be heard, and at each time a phone call was made or a piece of correspondence provided, it was refused. So there was no intention of Mr. March ever coming before the IEC and asking and explaining his case.

The other thing I would like to add as well, is that I do not think the Management Commission - I do not see where the Management Commission has any part to play here. If the government of the day decides that they want to bring forward a resolution, then the resolution can be brought forward by a private member’s resolution or by a member of the executive introducing the resolution to the House of Assembly.

When you look at what is being asked here and what is being stated, it talks about the travel expenses of the Office of the Citizens’ Representative. Well, I can inform all members present and the members who are listening, that was the least that was involved in making the decision on Mr. Fraser March. It had very little to do with travel expenses. Most to do with carrying out other functions and other duties in violation of the Citizens’ Representative Act.

The other thing I would like to make members aware, if we are going to be asked to bring forward a resolution, then how can the Commission endorse a resolution when we do not know what the resolution is? How can we, as a Commission, sit here and say we are going to endorse a resolution to be brought before the House of Assembly when we have not seen the resolution? Are we willing to do that? If we are then, you know, I think we are putting the Commission’s reputation and everything that we were set up to do in jeopardy and probably revert to places where we do not want to go.

So, I just want to raise member’s concerns about this particular course of action, the road that we are going down.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few comments, some of which I will not belabour because you have mentioned them, but I do want to point out, lest the Commission does not understand. What this particular resolution says is this Commission would endorse a resolution, as the Speaker said. It is not this resolution.

So, if we simply approve the endorsement of a resolution, well, who will draft it? What will it say? It is, in essence, a blank cheque. It is not this resolution. I guess the thought would be, it would be very similar. The recital and so on would try to make the same case, but the fact remains, it is not this identical resolution it is simply a resolution.

There are a couple of matters through the recital that I think I should point out. There are some factual errors – but leaving that aside. The overall tone, which seems to echo from the press release of the Minister of Justice, suggests that natural justice was not delivered here and Mr. March did not have an opportunity to be heard.

As Ms Jones said, the facts contradict that, and if you go through the affidavit of John Noel, every phone conversation and every correspondence is documented. Now, he chose not to state his case. So I guess one could say he was not heard, but the record shows that was his choice.

What Mr. March insisted upon was the House of Assembly. He did not recognize the authority of the Commission to deal with the matter. I have to echo Ms Jones’ comments, section 18 of the Accountability Act says: the IEC is continued as this Commission, this is the same body. So this would be, even though a different composition there is no distinction in the bodies statutorily.

The recital also, and the press release, talk about the need for an independent, transparent and impartial review, which to me suggests that whatever process transpired in 2005 was neither independent nor objective nor impartial nor anything else.

I think that is a very strong statement to make. The Commission, this body, had a role in it, it is true, but the larger issues were decided by the House of Assembly and by Cabinet. We will also have a situation here where this Commission, whether it should or should not be involved – Minister Kennedy is right, it certainly has the authority, but the question is, the ultimate decision of this dismissal was Cabinet’s. That was followed upon a resolution of the House, which was required, but Cabinet’s decision to dismiss was discretionary. The LGIC may, upon a resolution of the House, dismiss, so it was not mandatory for Cabinet to do this. The House could have decided either way.

What we are now faced with is the Management Commission, which is not a committee of the House. It is not established through Standing Orders or anything else like Privileges and Elections, like the Standing Orders Committee, like Public Accounts. This is a statutorily-created body under the Accountability Act, so we have this body, this Commission, passing judgement on the wisdom of what the House did in recommending dismissal, and passing wisdom on Cabinet, that Cabinet proceeded with the dismissal. So this body, even if as individuals everybody agrees that the House and Cabinet erred in their decisions at that time, I am not sure it is appropriate for this body to pass that judgement on Cabinet or the House.

You may think it is not a big issue, but, leaving aside this issue about which there are obviously strong feelings, consider other matters. If the House were to pass a bill or any other matter, Cabinet were to make any other decision, would this Commission really feel it has a mandate to pass judgement on that through the acceptance of this?

Those are really the main points I want to say. The fact that we do not know the resolution that the Commission would be adopting is a serious matter, and would the Commission have any say in this resolution, or would government do it, would a private member do it? Right now we do not know the text of what this Commission would be endorsing.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It is a question, Mr. Chair.

I wonder if Ms Burke could speak more to her understanding of what was meant by the endorsing - that the Commission would be asked to endorse the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: It would be that at this time I was asked, as a member of the Management Commission, to bring forward a resolution that would say - as Ms Michael said, we would look for an endorsement of 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. So, basically, we would introduce a resolution into the House of Assembly asking for that.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael, on that same…?

MS MICHAEL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Just to be clear, I guess, two questions.

So it would be the Commission who would be putting the resolution together? Is that what your understanding is, number one? This is information we have not had before, so I really feel the need of getting all of this. Number two, who asked you to bring the request to us?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I was asked by Minister Marshall, as Minister of Justice at the time, to bring this forward. I can certainly read for the record, and it could be fixed up, but basically the text of the resolution for the Management Commission to bring this forward. It says:

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 the 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 Orsborne’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: Are you finished, Ms Michael?

MS MICHAEL: A further question.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: The issue began with the IEC. That is where it first was dealt with. I know that the dismissal happened with Cabinet, because that would be the only body that could do the dismissal.

Is there anything - and I have to admit that I did not do what Mr. Kennedy did; I did not look as carefully into the act with regard to our mandate. I think I know our mandate, but is there anything to say that this body cannot – because the body is not making a decision; it is making a request of the House of Assembly. That is what the resolution is doing. Is there anything to say that we cannot do that?

I do not think it is the same as saying that we could go to the House of Assembly and ask for legislation that they passed not to be passed. I think this is a different situation, because it is something that did start with the IEC. They were the first body to deal with the issue, so is there anything in that mandate - and I do not think there is - that would say that we could not revisit something with the House of Assembly that initially was in the purview of the IEC?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I am sure there is nothing in the act, as you said; it is simply endorsing a resolution. The Commission has all the authority it would need to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Osborne.

MR. T. OSBORNE: A couple of questions.

Who would be introducing the resolution into the House?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I guess anyone could; but, as Government House Leader, in all likeliness I would.

MR. T. OSBORNE: What exactly does it mean for the Commission to endorse the resolution? I mean, if the resolution is going to be introduced into the House by a member or a minister or a Government House Leader, why do we need the Management Commission to endorse that? What exactly does that mean to have the Management Commission endorse the resolution being introduced into the House? You could introduce that resolution to the House with or without the Management Commission endorsing that.

I am just wondering what exactly that means? If we really require the endorsement of the Management Commission, shouldn’t we be endorsing the resolution itself as opposed to the introduction of a resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: We have been asked to endorse a resolution that will go into the House to the effect of what I had just read regarding Fraser March and setting up an independent review. We have been asked to do it. I have certainly brought it to the Management Commission. We have had our discussion on it. I read in the resolution. We will draft a resolution for the House. That would be drafted appropriately, based on those lines with this intent.

So, as it came forward to the House it would certainly not be substantially different from what I read here today. I guess, right now, we have looked at it. We do not have to do it. It is certainly within our authority to do it. I have been asked to bring it before the Commission. I have done just that, and I guess at some point this evening, or very shortly, we will probably vote to see if we do endorse a resolution to bring forward and the actual resolution will be drafted and shared with the Management Commission prior to entering it into the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, if I could speak to that last issue.

I would feel more comfortable with going this way because we are dealing with an officer, or former officer. The Office of the Citizens’ Representative, as outlined in the act, reports to the House of Assembly. We have to set up with the Management Commission, which I referred to earlier, and the powers of the Management Commission - we do not want to be seen in anyway, I do not want to be seen in anyway trying to bypass the Management Commission. It started, as Ms Michael pointed out, with the IEC, which became the Management Commission. So it is another point to safeguard the independence of the Citizens’ Representative Office but also to allow for the Management Commission to have a look at it.

What Mr. March is asking for is a review, and that is all we are doing, endorsing a resolution that he be given a review. I do not see the difficulty with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Jones.

MS JONES: I am just going to make one other point on this. The point is that I do feel very strongly that it is not the job of the Management Commission to bring forward this resolution to the House of Assembly.

In fact, again I have said it, the IEC have dealt with this issue. It was an issue that was dealt with in the House of Assembly. It was the government of the day, the same members who sit here that made the decision to dismiss Mr. March, that made the decision to vote down an amendment in the House of Assembly that would have allowed him to come before the House and to express his case.

I just feel very strongly that if government today has had a change of heart on that issue, they have the right and the ability, either minister there, either member there or the Cabinet collectively, in whatever process they want, to come forward either in a resolution of the House of Assembly or to do it through the Department of Justice and through Cabinet to allow for another process for Mr. March to be heard. It does not have to come to the Management Commission and, in fact, I do not believe it is our role at this stage.

I will just leave my comments there.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further commentary before I call for the vote?

No further commentary.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was just a little unclear. We will vote on this now but we will see the resolution when it is finalized, was that sort of where this got left?

MR. SPEAKER: Here again, I am going to echo - and somebody can accuse me that I should be quiet because I am the Chair, but I do not see why – number one, I don’t see why we would vote for this or why we would play any part in this because it is not where it belongs. And number two, why would we continue with bringing a resolution back to the Management Commission for endorsement if it does not belong here? You know, we are continually looking at saying that the Management Commission is probably getting involved in things or going forward in a way in things that do not really concern us. We are always looking to define ourselves, and I think this is a step backward in taking on a responsibility or taking on something here that is none of our business.

What do the members want? Do they want a vote on the Commission to decide whether to endorse a resolution and to bring the resolution back? I will let somebody form it. The Government House Leader maybe could form it in a motion that she would like to have some clarification that would come from this discussion that we have had.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I can certainly draft the resolution and make sure that members of the Management Commission see that draft before it is introduced into the House.

MR. SPEAKER: So we do not need to vote on this at all tonight, is that what I am hearing? Or do you want us to vote to give you the authority to –

MS BURKE: I think we need to vote to give the authority to go ahead with that plan of action.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. Well, I guess the resolution is that the Commission is to endorse a resolution into the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Commission endorse a resolution into the House of Assembly respecting Mr. Fraser March.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It seems to me, I do not know if she is ready to do it, but Ms Burke read into the meeting the intent of the resolution. I would be voting with my understanding that that is the intent of the resolution. We are not just voting on five words. We are voting on the whole discussion that took place.

So, with the understanding of what was read in by Ms Burke to our discussion, which will be in the minutes. I think it needs to be fully in the minutes. Well, it is in Hansard anyway, it will be in Hansard.

I will be voting for the resolution with the understanding that the resolution that will be introduced will have the content of what Ms Burke read into this meeting here now. If that needs to be into a motion to make it absolutely clear, Ms Burke could make that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: So would the last be it resolved in the resolution, be one that we could vote on? Where it says:

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 Mr. Fraser March to be heard.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I just want to build on what Ms Michael said and to continue what you are saying there.

What I read in for the record, the resolution will basically be that as I read but the language would be cleaned up if necessary in order to introduce into the House, but for the record, I have read that into the House. The resolution as you just read then is substantially, I guess, the be it resolved part of that, but as Ms Michael said, what was read into the record is basically going to be the resolution. However, if there is language that needs to be cleaned up in that, that will be the only change, but substantially what I read out would certainly be what would be introduced into the House.

Just for clarity, that we understand where this is going.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As this is being drafted, I could ask the Government House Leader, I may be able to assist in the drafting of it. There are factual errors in this, and I think some matters which are not as comprehensive as they might be.

Referring just to travel expenses, this is not accurate in terms of the reasons for his dismissal. It should really refer to the very first item the Auditor General wrote about, which was violations of the Citizens’ Representatives Act, by carrying on a business, trade or profession. That is also what Michael Harrington gave his opinion on, and that was always the primary issue with Mr. March. So it would not be fully accurate just to say travel expenses. It should be more comprehensive; if, indeed, you have to say anything. It may be you do not have to put any of the issues like that. This could be a much condensed resolution in the House.

MS BURKE: You have already provided input along those lines that I was going to use.

CLERK: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

MS JONES: I just wanted to state for the record that, as a Commission member, we did not receive any copies of the resolution. In fact, I have not had an opportunity to study this resolution at all. Although it is going to be the premise of what the Commission would bring to the House, I want to make sure that is shown on the record, and that it was not drafted by the Commission. I certainly had no input into drafting this resolution, and was asked for no input into the drafting of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Just for clarification, the resolution was read into the record and was included in a former Management Commission meeting.

MS JONES: Okay.

I have not seen it. If it is in one of my packages, I certainly (inaudible) –

MR. SPEAKER: It would have been included in the minutes and it would have been included in this booklet as well, this latest binder, Ms Jones, just for information.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out that the document is in the booklet dated May 13, 2009. Perhaps just for clarification, before the Clerk leaves - this is only my second House management meeting. What is the role of the Clerk in these House management meetings? Is it set out anywhere here in the rules or procedure?

He is expressing commentary here. I just wonder, is it appropriate for the Clerk to be injecting himself into, essentially, the debate on a motion, telling us that the motion is not accurate? If it is, so be it, but I would like to see something here in the rules or procedures, something that tells me that is there.

MR. SPEAKER: That is the real role of the Clerk.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Minister Kennedy, you will remember the Speaker and I offered an orientation session for you, but you were unable to avail of it because of your schedule so we sent over materials. This is one of the matters it would have covered.

I am a member of the Commission. I am non-voting, but I am a member as well as acting as secretary, so I come to meetings, I express my opinion, I simply cannot vote.

MR. KENNEDY: Where? I would like to see something that outlines (inaudible) -

CLERK: Section 28 of the act.

MR. KENNEDY: Section 28 of the act allows you to….

CLERK: That is all of the duties of the Clerk. I would also suggest you read section 31. Sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 cover it all.

MR. KENNEDY: I will have a look at it (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to let you know that the resolution was (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

Is the House ready for the vote?

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.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Maybe we should omit from that "when it next sits"; so it would be the same resolution which you just read, without "when it next sits", because obviously that was written prior to the House of Assembly being in session.

MR. SPEAKER: To omit and go from "…the House of Assembly to appoint a retired Supreme Court Justice.…"

MS BURKE: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Members of the Commission have all heard the resolution.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

MS JONES: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda would be the House of Assembly Management Commission financial statement audits.

This again has been an item that has been discussed at great length. We have consulted with the Auditor General, and we have consulted with the Comptroller General. It is for the fiscal year statements, to recreate fiscal year statements for 1999-2000, 2000-2001. At the last meeting I think it was brought forward here, or the meeting before last maybe, and there was a vote that took place and it was decided that we would go back and seek further information on what it would cost in order to recreate those two outstanding years.

Since that time the Clerk has compiled some figures there of approximately how much it would cost to recreate those books and those figures for those years. The Auditor General, through numerous pieces of correspondence, had indicated that he had gone over those years in his reviews, he saw nothing substantial to be gained there, and thought that it was a situation where he would not be able to sign his name in order to portray it as being accurate figures because some of the statements are not even available so you would have to recreate a set of books.

The Clerk, in consultation with the Auditor General and the Comptroller General, has indicated here that it would cost $612,000. That is by hiring somebody at a junior’s rate of pay. It is my understanding that further conversations with the Auditor General indicated that this figure might be in excess of a million dollars. Here again, we would be recreating a set of books that there would be no great faith in, and a lot of the information we would be unable to find.

If the Clerk wants to expand on that and give further details then I certainly welcome his comments and we will seek guidance from the Commission.

CLERK: I do not think there is a lot to add, Mr. Speaker. We talked about it, I guess, at an earlier meeting and the request was just to get a little more detail on what it might cost to recreate these. It was acknowledged by the Commission that it would be an effort, and I think the Commission just wanted to get a greater sense of quantity, just what would it cost to put this together.

While I thank you for your praise, Mr. Speaker, it was actually Ms Lambe who put this together, not me. She is the expert on such matters.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I have had a look at the materials that have been provided to me, and I go to the Green report. I am looking at the Executive Summary and I know that this is something that Chief Justice Green dealt with in great detail. I have to tell you, I have concerns that something that encountered such criticism in the act - excuse me, in the Green report - we look at solely in terms of cost.

Now, obviously it is a balancing process we have to look at. We have to look at a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether or not this should be done, but I just want to read into the record, Mr. Speaker, page 7 of the Executive Summary of Chief Justice Green. He is talking about what took place between 1996 and 2001, and he makes a comment, "The House effectively exempted itself from the key control frameworks of government and instituted no replacement policies or controls. In this era of relaxed rules and increased allowances, reliance on the parliamentary doctrine of legislative independence, removal of the Comptroller General’s access to records, expulsion of the Auditor General, and procrastination over the audit process, all meant that, for an extended period, the only eyes to scrutinize the financial affairs of the House were those of the IEC and the administration that reported to it."

Those kinds of comments cause me grave concern, Mr. Speaker, when I go back to the pages that deal with what happened in the years 2000 and 1999, because the years that we are looking at here are 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

Now, I do not know if anyone can elaborate on the recreation of the documents, and what has happened to the documents, but I have to tell you, anything that happened in that time frame is something that in my opinion should be reviewed. I am certainly open to listening to what everyone has to say here, but this is one of the key time frames in the Green report and I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is a time frame that comes under extreme criticism from the Chief Justice.

So, while we certainly have to be cognizant of the amount of money it would cost to recreate, or to determine even if these documents can be recreated, I think we have to make all efforts that we can to ensure that this time frame is examined.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I point to the fact that we have one gentleman who has been convicted and sent to jail, we have a number of other people who are facing charges. I am not sure exactly the breakdown, but again, if this is the timeframe that we are looking at, I think we have to take all steps we can to give the public confidence that we are willing to look at this, that this is part of the accountability process, the openness and transparency; also, when we are looking at the act that we are dealing with, the accountability and integrity act.

Those would be my brief comments, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you.

Just one point to Minister Kennedy’s comments. What we are really speaking to here, of course, is recreating the statements and then audit them. It is not to say that all the individual transactions have not been scrutinized because the Auditor General went through a lot of this, the RNC has been through it, and so on and so forth. So a lot of the individual transactions have been under the microscope, but the financial statements have not been recreated to be audited. So that is the sort of issue. I do not know if the recreation of the statements will uncover a lot of new information or if the Auditor General and the RNC have already been through all of the individual transactions. It is almost a separate matter to rewrite the statements.

Ms Lambe, you are the expert on financial statements.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: The only thing I would like to add is that we have discussed this quite extensively with the Auditor General and the Comptroller General. They both feel that there is nothing to be gained by recreating the statements. The Auditor General has written several letters endorsing his opinion that he has done an extensive review of the transactions, as the Clerk said. Really, his opinion is that it will be near impossible, if not impossible, to actually recreate the statements and he feels that the work he has done really provides the support, or the confidence, or whatever it is that Chief Justice Green was looking for in his report.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I have not seen - obviously, all I have seen on this is what has been provided here, was essentially a briefing note. Have the letters of the Auditor General been previously provided to the members of the Commission? I am wondering, could I be provided with a copy of those?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Those all have been provided. The copies from the Speaker to the Auditor General, the Auditor General’s return letters stating exactly the concerns that have been brought forward here and what could be gained by doing this review extensively. The correspondence was probably – was that in the package that was provided, Mr. Clerk? If it is not, we can –

CLERK: (Inaudible) the last time we looked at it.

MR. SPEAKER: – certainly provide it to you, and by all means.

CLERK: Yes.

MR. KENNEDY: Just, I would like to have that feeling of confidence that every step that could be taken has been taken in relation to try to determine what happened, so that we can say well, here are the criticisms of Chief Justice Green, but the reality is that the spending of this much money –

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that is not provided in this manual that you have here. The correspondence is not there.

MR. KENNEDY: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Other members have had it and have seen it, and we can certainly provide it to you.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, this is another issue that has been very difficult to come to a decision on.

The issue I am grappling with is that Justice Green’s recommendations, we have accepted. I think we have implemented all of them, and this would be the one exception. My colleague here, the Minister of Finance, has already read into the record some of the comments of Justice Green. So I am grappling with looking at the information now, the Estimates that are provided, and also the comments of the Comptroller General and Auditor General, but I do have concerns about leaving one recommendation of Justice Green not implemented. So that is where I am at with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Jones.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I guess a couple of things, and also for Mr. Kennedy’s benefit.

We did have an opportunity to call the Auditor General in and to meet with him on this particular issue, and I know for me, I certainly understand where Mr. Kennedy is coming from. When you look at the investigations that have gone on in the Province and the results of some of those investigations, we honestly want to do everything appropriately as a Management Commission.

I have to say, from my own perspective, in listening to what the Auditor General had to say and in reading the correspondence that he forwarded to us, I feel very confident that he has done a thorough job in looking at all the information that existed for those years and in completing his audit. If there was anything at all that he had raised out of that audit that would have caused him some concern or raised any concern with us, I would certainly be very inclined to spend the money that is being assessed here to have that piece of work done, but I certainly did not get that feeling. In fact, the feeling I got was a very confident feeling in the work that he had done.

Also, we do have to realize, I think the Clerk raised it earlier, that all of these records as well, have been gone through by the RNC. I think if there were any issues that they would have raised coming out of those particular years, again I would be more inclined to say: well, if it takes a million dollars to go and do this, well maybe it is something we should do. For me personally, as a member right now, I feel very confident in the information that I have been provided both by - or in particular by the Auditor General.

The other piece to this, I guess, is that he has looked at all the information that is there. The only way that anything further could be done, as I understood it, was to recreate the entire set of financial administration ledgers that were required for that period of time. So if you have to recreate all of those books and you are doing it ten years out, I guess at that point we have to have some confidence in the information that is going to appear in those as well, to know that they are accurate and not all estimated. My understanding from him is that most of the information that would have to used would be estimated or incomplete in most cases, or some cases.

So I guess based on those particular factors, personally I do not feel that there is a need for us to take it any further. I understand what Ms Marshall is saying, as a Commission we wanted to be able to enact every single recommendation that came forward from Justice Green but I am wondering today if Justice Green was presented with the same decision to make that we are presented with, if he may not have looked at it differently as well.

So, based on what I know right now, unless there is additional information, I do not see any indicators that tell me that there is a justification to move forward and to spend the money to have this piece of work done. I guess my only question around this would be the piece of having an Officer of the House of Assembly who was prepared to sign their name to this in order for it to be valid. I guess that has to be a consideration for us, and if there is someone who is prepared to do that and if it is not, could these audits even proceed?

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to echo what Ms Jones said, I am not going to repeat it all. I know that Mr. Kennedy is at the disadvantage of just having joined the Commission, but as a person who has been sitting here, who has gone through all the discussions, our meeting with the Auditor General was a public meeting. It was here at a public meeting of the Commission. Every document that we have looked at is a public document that is there. I feel very sure myself that I can, with a sense of integrity, say that I just do not see what can be gained by doing any more.

Our decision, I guess, would be a statement - and Hansard is certainly going to show that, for those of us who are saying it - that we believe that we have not left any stone unturned. I have to saying, knowing the results of the AG’s work to date, knowing the work that he did that uncovered everything that we are talking about, and knowing what the RNC investigations led to, I just cannot see what else we can possibly learn.

I just want to put that on record. My position at this moment is that I cannot see asking to have anything else done.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I have one question.

Just reading the background material that has been provided, what would be envisioned if we decided that we really did want to attempt to get the audit done? Would we issue an RFP? Is that what you would have in mind?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, I think we would have to. We have no capacity; the Comptroller General has no capacity. This would be quite a big project when you consider, I guess, the number of transactions that would take place in any given fiscal year - posted, analyzed and processed over a twelve-month period - so that is the volume for each of the two years. We would have to send it out. That is why at the end we mentioned the accounting firm. We would really have to contract it out.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, the only thing, I still would like to see those letters. I am assuming the Auditor General’s comments would be on Hansard.

CLERK: Yes, we can get that.

MR. KENNEDY: Which is fine, if you could give me the date of when the Auditor General appeared here? I would certainly take into account the comments of Ms Michael and Ms Jones, but I would like to see these documents before I would make a decision.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the will of the Commission to delay the vote on this particular issue and bring it back to the next Commission meeting after our colleague has a chance to review what has gone on before? Is that the will of the Commission?

Ms Burke is indicating a comment.

MS BURKE: I will just speak to it for a second.

I guess, like everyone else right now, we have to bring this to some form of resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: We met last week on the understanding that we put it off so that Mr. Kennedy could have an opportunity to get updated. So, what I will recommend is that if there is anything that is available to him, can that be made available to him so he can review it?

What we intended, I guess, last week, was that the letters from the AG and anything that was said, it was my understanding that all of that would have been made available. I kind of thought there would have been a package put together, but I guess it was left to you to do a bit of research on it. So, if there is any information that the rest of us have had access to, I am wondering if that could be made available for him to review. I think we did postpone it on that understanding.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that was my understanding as well, but obviously it has not come together. It was just a week ago, but maybe we can put this together tomorrow. It exists, and you can have it tonight before you go home. It is not a big issue to compile it and put it together and get the Hansard report from when the Auditor General appeared.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I was just going to comment, as well, we will probably be meeting again shortly anyway before too long, and any member who is not informed and wants to be informed certainly has a right to be. The delay here is not holding anything up, put it that way. So, whatever time someone needs to get properly prepared, so be it.

MR. SPEAKER: I think everybody concurs with the same.

We will provide that to you, Mr. Kennedy. That way you can be brought up and know, when you are voting, exactly what it is you are voting on, and what you have comfort in supporting or not supporting.

We will move forward, and the next item would be a briefing note regarding our telephone policy. The issue was the cellular and land line phone service policy for Members of the House of Assembly and constituency assistants.

Some time ago, if I recall, the Commission had directed the Clerk to put together a policy regarding telephone services for Members of the House of Assembly and their constituents. The House of Assembly staff have put together a suggestion here for an accepted policy. Here again, it is put forward to ask for members’ input. If changes need to be made, then let’s make them. If there are deletions or additions that need to be put there, then by all means let us know. It is a document that we can put together ourselves, but this is an outline and a blueprint for maybe what we can contain our thoughts to.

Members have had an opportunity to read the policy, as suggested, and I ask for your thoughts and your comments.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have, actually, a question of clarification with regard to section 4.4 Cellular Phones. It is the fourth paragraph, "Users are not required to reimburse Government for incidental personal phone or data usage. Personal usage that exceeds what is considered "incidental" should be reimbursed to Government. Each user must set the threshold for his/her incidental usage…."

My understanding is - and if I am wrong then I need the clarification - I thought that for the non-long-distance use there was a flat rate and it did not matter how much usage there was for local, non-long-distance use of the cell phone, of the Blackberry. If that is the case, that it is a flat rate, then why is this needed? Because a flat rate the cost does not change, but maybe I am wrong.

Ms Lambe has her hand up. Maybe she has the answer.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Our old contract with Bell Aliant did have a flat rate. We actually paid for a block of minutes, and anything over the block was charged per minute, but on the recommendation of the Comptroller General we now use government’s standing offer, and government’s standing offer has a per minute rate, so it is thirteen cents per every local call.

MS MICHAEL: That is a change, because that is not the way it was.

MS LAMBE: It is a change. A review was done in the Comptroller General’s office and it was determined overall that it was more cost-effective to pay per minute; because some of the plans that were available were like 80, 120, there were different layers, the plans, and it was found that most of the users of the cellphones were using very few minutes and if they were paying per minute it would be much more cost-effective.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary or suggestions?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I had two comments. The first one was on that section 4.4. I was really surprised with the fourth paragraph whereby it indicated that it was okay for incidental personal phone or data usage. In fact, I did phone the Comptroller General earlier today to ask him what the government policy was, but my understanding - and the Clerk just handed out the government policy on it, so it appears that it is consistent with the Executive Branch of government, so that is the comment on that section.

On the land line phones, I would have thought that there would be something that would say explicitly that any costs associated with personal use should be reimbursed by the user - should reimburse government. It does not come right out and say that in section 4.5.

It seems like there are two categories; cellular phones, there is a provision there for some personal use, minimal, incidental, but with the land line phones that it would be black and white. That definitely, no personal expenses should be paid for by the public purse.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to add to that and then ask a question. I did have a note by 4.5. What I had down was: What about emergencies? If an emergency happens then how do I pay? By that, I mean, for example, I am sure it has happened to others. Most of my family are outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have had emergency phone calls put in to me in my office because of death, for example. I have had to return a call. I am in my office in the middle of the day and I have had to return a long-distance call. Do I report it and I pay it somewhere or what? That was the question that came with the land line, because there are times when you can have that kind of an emergency. You might say: Well, if you are near your land line what would be the emergency? That is an example of having to deal with a personal long-distance call when you are in your office. I do not mind paying it, but if it is then how do we do that?

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Osborne.

MR. T. OSBORNE: It is only a matter of identifying the call. I did make a personal call a couple of months ago using a land line here in the building. Now, in the meantime, having identified it and paying the Comptroller General, it was twenty-seven cents. It probably cost government more to process the twenty-seven cents than if I did not have to identify it. It was probably an eight or ten minute call and it was only twenty-seven cents. I was quite surprised. In any event, they can easily identify the cost.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, that is correct what the Deputy Speaker is saying, because I have reimbursed Newfoundland Exchequer Account for personal calls. You can identify them because we get our phone bills now.

I just want to make one final comment with the cellular phone, because my initial reaction to this policy when I read it, Mr. Speaker, is that anything remotely related to personal should be paid for by the person rather than the public purse. We have just been through a very difficult process with the Green Report and the police investigations and the court cases. Most things do not stand up under the glare of camera lights. I would be interested to hear what other members of the Commission have to say with regard to this policy on cellular phones, even though it is reflective of what is in the executive branch of government.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Osborne.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I can certainly see under 4.4 making provisions for personal use for non-long-distance calls. It would not make sense for every individual to be carrying around two cellphones, one for government and one for personal use. As long as the personal use was not excessive, and that is what is outlined there, if it does not exceed 10 per cent of the usage.

I do believe that any long-distance calls made on a cellphone for personal use should not fall within that 10 per cent category. The members should identify their own personal long-distance usage and pay for that.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Just for a point of information. Do members of the House of Assembly presently get their telephone bills?

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Part of the policy is that a formal process will be put in place so that each month a member will receive all the phone bills that are charged to that member’s allocation, and that would include the phone bills for the constituency assistant.

So it would be the land line phones, any phones that are in the Confederation Building, the constituency office, the member’s private residence. All the phone bills would be sent out each month in a package and the member will be asked to review it and sign a statement that they are in agreement with the charges. That is part of the policy in the last section, in 4.6.

MR. SPEAKER: No, the question is: Do members get them now, because I have not seen a telephone bill in about two years?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: We do.

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Some members may get them. It depends on the address that is shown on the bills right now. There is a big issue with Bell Aliant; they were bringing in a new system. Basically, now it is all electronic. I think some of the paper copies of the bills are going out but their new system will allow us to basically download all the phone bills electronically. Then we can either print them and send them out in a hard copy or send out the electronic copy.

MR. SPEAKER: So if we do not get them we should soon start receiving them?

MS LAMBE: As soon as the policy is adopted, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) a question. Maybe the answer is obvious, but I guess as Management Commission we deal totally with House of Assembly and constituency. I am assuming that is why, under 4.6, there is no reference to caucus offices. That was one thing that struck me, because it is not just a constituency assistant who has a Blackberry, but we have caucus office staff with Blackberries as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: We only adopted this policy for the members and the constituency assistant. It was the intention that we would follow government’s policy for all other staff with the House of Assembly service and the staff offices.

MS MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

I will ask the Clerk if he would read back the suggestion that was made with respect to the telephone policy and see if members agree, and if not, we can vote for the policy as written or to include the amendment or the revision as put forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Just one question, Mr. Speaker.

Will this policy be retroactive or begin with the passing of the policy?

MR. SPEAKER: I guess it would begin, because the –

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: It is our intention that it would be effective April 1.

MS MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Retroactive to April 1.

MS LAMBE: Retroactive to April 1, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, if I could comment on that.

I think that would make sense. It should be based on either the date the policy goes in, or up to a certain date in the near past. We obviously try to impose – we will lose so much time on people going back through bills and looking at bills.

I think, from a ministerial perspective, it has been there forever. Although, I was not aware that they had changed the block phone bill, that there was a block usage of time. I was under the assumption that – because how do you determine, e-mails for example, if they are personal e-mails versus – how much time do you spend on it?

MR. SPEAKER: I say to Mr. Kennedy, that is the problem I have with looking back because I think a lot of the members were of the assumption, including me, that it did not cost me anything to use my cellphone for making local calls. Now we find out there is a charge. I am wondering if it is fair to look back to April 1 and have members concerned about what they thought was right and proper when we never introduced a telephone policy until June 1?

MR. KENNEDY: I think it is engulfed in the date that we bring this policy in, really. Also, I would like to get some more information. I will check in the department tomorrow, but I would certainly like some more information on it.

I just can’t see how the block funding could be more expensive than individual costs.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: The permanent charge refers to the cell phone usage, not the data usage on your e-mail, on your BlackBerry. For the data usage, there are different packages that you can buy. Basically, down the line it will fit you in depending on your usage over a three-month period.

For example, for four megabytes a month or less, it is $21.25 a month. That is based on a monthly charge, the data usage, but the actual phone calls are permanent.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: When did that change take place?

MS LAMBE: I can’t recall the date, but it is, I would say, close to a year ago.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I just had one question. How much do we pay for these services in the House of Assembly? Would you know off the top of your head?

MS LAMBE: I think for the members it is about $170,000 a year.

MR. SPEAKER: That would be for the forty-eight members or would the ministers be separate? Do we pay for the ministers telephone charges, as well, through the House of Assembly?

MS LAMBE: We pay for the ministers’ cell phone or BlackBerry charges, but not the landlines.

MS E. MARSHALL: In all cases?

MS LAMBE: There were one or two exceptions, but I don’t think they exist anymore. I think we pay for all forty-eight members for their BlackBerries or cell phones.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe, would that be, to revert back to what Mr. Osborne said, about members carrying two cell phones? Is that the reason why we would pay members’ cell phone services rather than the departments paying them?

MS LAMBE: Yes. We have had some discussions with Cabinet Secretariat on the issue, of course, because the departments are paying for the landline charges and any long distance landline charges. It is just that administratively, for the executive branch and for us, it is very difficult to separate the calls for a member as a minister versus as a member. The practice has been that we would pay for the cell phones or BlackBerries for each of the members, and they would pay for the landline charges for the members who are ministers.

AN HON. MEMBER: But not constituency offices?

MS LAMBE: No, not in your constituency office, in the department.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Just to Minister Burke’s question, if your constituency assistant were located in your department then your department would be paying for those land lines, but if you are in a separate outside locations then yes, it is charged to your MHA allocation.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: So my telephone –

CLERK: Which one?

MS BURKE: - in my constituency office –

CLERK: In Stephenville?

MS BURKE: - not for my CA, but for me -

CLERK: In Stephenville?

MS BURKE: - we pay for it.

CLERK: We are paying in the House, yes, for all constituency office phones.

MS BURKE: Right, but the ministerial phone in the minister’s office, which is not for constituency business anyway, it is for when you are doing your ministerial work, is paid by the department.

CLERK: Yes.

MS BURKE: So you pay for two land lines for the ministers, one in their constituency office and one in their – well, in the minister’s office, the department pays for it.

CLERK: Yes.

MS BURKE: So you pay for the minister’s land line outside the Confederation Building?

CLERK: Yes, because that minister is, in fact, the MHA in his or her constituency office.

There is no clean way to do this, as Ms Lambe said. In your ministerial office, even though undoubtedly you are busy with ministerial business, occasionally constituency calls get made. It is very hard to separate the two, so the compromise we have come up with, with the Executive Branch, is we will pay the cellular phones; departments will pay ministerial land lines, even though there may be some constituency work done on them by the minister or by the executive assistant; or, if the CA were located in the department, the department would be paying for that line too, I think.

There is just no clean way to divide it for ministers and their staffs, who are both MHAs and ministers, so this is the split we have done.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I am getting a bit concerned when I am hearing the way that this is breaking down here. Obviously, we want to think the policies through, but we have seen the kinds of things that can arise in the Green report, and none of us certainly want to go through that again, so I am a bit concerned with this policy as it now stands. I was under a completely different impression. If I understand correctly, then, my constituency assistant operates out of the Department of Finance; that phone bill is paid for by the Department of Finance?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a land line.

MR. KENNEDY: But that is where she does most of – shouldn’t that go to my constituency allowance?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: It is just Ms Burke’s comment regarding the salaries.

There is a whole issue. I agree with Mr. Kennedy, that members who are ministers and their constituency assistants, because they are located in government departments and are employees of that department, are provided with all their furniture and equipment, all their supplies and their landline phones, by that department. Each department does have the budget to provide that for the constituency assistants for those members.

I guess we have had a number of discussions with Cabinet Secretariat on the issue. As regard to the phones, the issues we are talking about today, this is the decision we made, that we would pay for the cellular phones and they would pay for the landlines that are located in the government department.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Could I just make a comment, Mr. Speaker? I am going to have to leave. I committed to the meeting which was stated to be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and I made another commitment as of 7:00 p.m.. There are still, at least, three comprehensive issues on the agenda that won’t be addressed, so it is not like I think we are going to be five or ten minutes. It looks it could be another hour or more. Anyway, I have to take my leave. I don’t know if the committee is going to continue on or set it over to another meeting or what.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the Chair realizes we set to 7:00 p.m., but there is business not settled. If a quorum exists to continue, we will continue with the business of the Commission. When there is no quorum present, we will have no other choice but to adjourn the meeting. In the meantime, if there is something here that you want to have moved up on the agenda before you leave for a quick discussion to accommodate your views and your opinions, we could do that.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: No problem here.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

Further commentary on the telephone policy?

If there is not, then I ask the Clerk if he would read the addition as put forward. If members agree, we can make that particular addition and add it to our telephone landline cell phone policy, or is they disagree we can accept it as written.

CLERK: Under 4.5, Landline Phones, which was page 2 of 3, Ms Marshall wanted an explicit reference, I guess following that first sentence, where the user is responsible for the charges incurred by the user. Then I guess it would go on to say, a second sentence, personal calls would be expected to be reimbursed by the user.

Just an additional sentence to clarify, that personal calls should be reimbursed to Central Cash.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CLERK: Yes, there is nothing we can do with the local calls; that is just a monthly rate.

So we can add that with respect to long-distance calls.

MS BURKE: (Inaudible).

CLERK: On land lines.

MR. SPEAKER: That was the only change, I ask the Clerk?

CLERK: It was all I heard, unless I missed something.

MR. SPEAKER: If members are agreeable, we will accept and adopt the cellular and land line phone service policy.

I have not heard a clear, definitive answer of when we would make it effective. The Commission is open to hear a date.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Make it effective today?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: So we would make it effective as of the adoption date, which would be –

CLERK: Probably Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: Probably Monday. Would that be fine? Because there are a couple of days that the minutes cannot be anything done with, because of our own rules and regulations, in case of changes that need to be made.

So effective Monday, May 18? Is Monday the eighteenth?

MR. KENNEDY: Isn’t that a holiday?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it is.

So, do you want to make it valid Tuesday, May 19?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is a request to amend rule 43. This request came from the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains. It is a request that is certainly reasonable, and it is something that we have been dealing with here on a continuous basis.

While the request has only come in now from the Member for Torngat Mountains, I know that the request is very real for the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, and many other members, especially the members on the Northern Peninsula and on the West Coast.

So I am wondering if members want to make this change now or, in light of the situation where the committee is busy trying to structure the Members’ Compensation and Review Committee, and we have lived with this for the past two years, if we would like to have this request put forward for that commission to deal with, or is it something that we need to deal with ourselves right now?

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: I would like to hear from other members of the Commission, but my suggestion on this one: let’s deal with it now. There is no cost savings to the government. In fact, it might be cheaper to get a hotel somewhere on the way to your district as opposed to staying in St. John’s. I mean, I just saw Minister Pottle having to put in another request for reimbursement today.

I just think, Mr. Speaker, that in adopting the Green report we have to apply a common sense approach and be practical. This seems to be one that can be implemented immediately without breaching in any way the spirit and intent of the Green report. However, again, that would be my suggestion; I am open to other comments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have thought about this one, too, and I am in agreement with Mr. Kennedy. I know that there have been other requests that have come to us over the past couple of years that we have said we were not comfortable making decisions on, and that we would refer them to the committee that we are not in the process of setting up. I think, in all of the cases that I can think of, it is because they were not straightforward like this. They really were, in some ways, going against the spirit of what was in the Green report and in the legislation. With this one here, this one is such a common sense, practical thing that really does not, I do not think, go against the spirit of what the Green report is about. I think that I am ready to make decisions on this, actually.

The request has come from Minister Pottle. It has been pointed out that there are other people in a similar situation. I thought about Ms Jones when I read this, and there are some others. I guess the question is: How do we write it? Because there might still be circumstances that this covers - that is the thing - so are we getting rid of all of it or are we allowing this to stand but recognizing that we have people living so far away, or the circumstances where the district is, would allow an exception to this rule without having to go for permission? I am not sure that we should throw the whole section out. That is my concern.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Because we have referred everything else to the review committee that will be coming up, I think that anything outside of the parameters as requested by the Member for Torngat Mountains should go back to the committee for review. Because, once we open it and we start looking at the scenarios, we can start talking about driving from the West Coast and the Northern Peninsula and doing all kinds of things. I think we could probably open it up with the best intentions but not be able to look at all of the different scenarios, although there are some very straightforward issues that some members will have: why they cannot stay in a hotel other than St. John’s on Thursday night and get closer to their home.

For the sake of what has been going on, particularly with the Member for Torngat Mountains, in that she is requesting approval so she can stay in Goose Bay when flight schedules or weather conditions require her to overnight in Goose Bay, I think we should make a simple rule change based on that.

There may be others, I suppose, in the same situation who have to get connecting flights. If you are in St. John’s, you are getting a flight over to Stephenville or Deer Lake and you are getting off at your destination if the flight is able to land. When you do connecting flights you can get caught en route, period. If you are at an airport waiting for a flight and the schedule changes, if you are not at your point of departure or destination and the flight changes or the weather puts the flights down, what can you do? You have no choice. Even when they phone you, as the Speaker, what choice do you have? You are caught in Goose Bay in a snow storm. What are you phoning asking permission for?

The rule, obviously, when it was established, I don’t think meant to prevent someone from doing this, it just didn’t necessarily take it into account. I don’t know if we need to go any further than what she requests. What is requested here by the Member for Torngat Mountains is absolutely fair, that if somebody is stuck because of weather conditions or flights cancelled they are entitled to accommodations at that place.

MR. SPEAKER: I have never, and I would not, refuse, whether it is the hon. the Member for the District of Torngat Mountains or some other hon. member driving up to the Northern Peninsula. If you get a call and they are in Gander, who am I to say, sitting in Musgravetown or St. John’s, that you must continue driving.

It needs to be dealt with. It is not something that should be there. I totally agree. If we change it just for the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains - most of the Labrador members strike me as probably being included in the same situation with weather conditions. It is not like you can drive, you have no other choice but to stay where you are.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I might be reading this wrong, Mr. Speaker, because I am not immersed in this, I am not processing the claims and that, but I had understood that under section 43 this was when people were required to be reimbursed for accommodations and meals when they wouldn’t ordinarily be entitled to it. I was under the impression – and I just want confirmation – that this is for Minister Pottle, this is for an additional night that she would not ordinarily be entitled to, but because she got stuck in Goose Bay or wherever, therefore she is making a claim for that additional night. Is this correct?

MR. SPEAKER: That is my understanding, yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: When we bring in this issue about other members – and I notice in the briefing note, and maybe I misunderstood the briefing note, but then we start talking about the other members. I had been speaking to some of the other members. I had spoken to Ms Perry and Mr. Kelly. Their districts are quite a distance away. They have been telling me that they cannot leave to go home on Thursday afternoons because they cannot claim Thursday night’s hotel. They have to be in St. John’s. Where in the rules does it prohibit them from claiming Thursday night?

If Ms Perry wanted to go as far as Gander, where in the rules - the way I was looking at it, and I know that Ms Lambe probably talked to my assistant today because I was asking him to check on something for me, but it seemed like this issue with regard to Minister Pottle in section 43 is not the same thing as these members that are talked about on the second page of the briefing note, where they cannot leave Thursday afternoon to go home because they cannot pay for their hotel if they are in Gander. I would have thought these are two different cases, or am I missing something?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe, would you want to give commentary on Ms Marshall’s question first?

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: On the same topic?

MS MICHAEL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I had not thought about it until Ms Marshall just said it, but 43.(1), what it does say - I just did not see it before. "Where it is unsafe or otherwise impractical…", then down to the third last line: "…the member is entitled to claim for additional expenses at the same rates…"

I did not think about that. Whether they are in St. John’s Thursday night or on the road Thursday night it is only one charge and it is not an additional charge, and I did not see that until Ms Marshall just said it. Now maybe we are wrong.

MS E. MARSHALL: (Inaudible) that the issue with regard to Minister Pottle is the same issue with regard to people who have to drive to the West Coast, but they are not. They are two separate things all together. So I do not know where it says – if we are addressing this thing on Minister Pottle it would be from Minister Pottle’s situation only, but it would not fix the problem that the members have that have to drive to the West Coast because they are entitled to that accommodation, Minister Pottle was not.

MR. SPEAKER: Maybe we can get an answer rather than all of us interpreting it.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Minister Pottle really has two issues. Sometimes, because of the flight scheduling, she needs to stop somewhere on her way to her district. Section 31.(2) of the rules say that you basically cannot claim for accommodations anywhere between the capital region and your district. So you cannot claim any accommodations on the way. You have to go directly there. So there are no overnight accommodations.

MS E. MARSHALL: What section is that in?

MS LAMBE: That is 31.(2), and if you look at the members rules manual, we did get an interpretation from the members of the Green Commission that said that was the intent of 31.(2), that a member cannot claim, and it originally was meals and accommodations, while travelling between his or her district outside the capital region, to the capital region, to attend sittings of the House or to come to St. John’s on business while the House was in session.

We had some discussions with them, because it did not seem fair or logical to us either, and they were quite definite about that was the intent of that rule. So that is how we have been interpreting, based on their advice, and they said that that was the intent.

MS E. MARSHALL: But I do not think that is what that section 31.(2) says. Even when I read it, I have a note here now, and I must have put it there quite a while back: What does this mean? I do not think that is the interpretation.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. Sorry.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, I hear what Ms Lambe is saying, but I would not interpret that section as saying that.

The concern I have is that these are two different circumstances. So, if we are addressing the issue with regard to Minister Pottle, it is because she is not entitled to those accommodations and there is special provision being made for it. Whereas for the people travelling to the West Coast, it is an entirely separate issue and should be addressed separately.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall, furthering with that discussion, if I recall, it was just a short time ago that we made arrangements where members could have a meal. Because it stated that they were not allowed, not only to have accommodations but there was no meal provision, and the Commission made a change in the rules to allow members to eat on their way home. So it was clearly everybody’s understanding on a go-forward basis, having made that change, that the accommodations between the capital region and your home still does not allow any overnight stay.

Those are some of the shortcomings, and it is the reason why there is a members’ compensation review commission that is going to be struck, and hopefully some of those shortcomings will be looked after.

Ms Jones.

MS JONES: I wanted to speak in support of making the amendment as this time as opposed to referring it to the committee, simply because I have had some experience with it myself and I know that it is a difficult one. Sometimes the circumstances are out of your control. You can leave here to drive to your district on the West Coast of the Island or the Connaigre Peninsula, the Northern Peninsula, or even where I live in Labrador and end up with any kind of a problem with your vehicle, highways, climate, and all the rest of it. I have had to do it, and you know that, Mr. Speaker, when I have had to call you and ask you if I am allowed to get a hotel room because it is way after ten o’clock in the night and you need to have somewhere to sleep.

I just think it is impractical, for one thing, to expect members to have to do that. We all have to get to our districts, we all have to get back, and there are times when things are going to be out of our control.

I have had incidences similar to Ms Pottle. In fact, you were on a flight with me not too long ago going into my district which was supposed to be an hour and a half flight that takes us into St. Anthony and into Blanc-Sablon. Well, we ended up in Goose Bay for most of the day. That has happened to me no less than three or four times a year, because of weather or because of flight problems and changes and so on. To have to be calling to find someone to see if you can get a hotel for the night really doesn’t make a lot of sense. The objective is to get to your district and to get back to where your base of work is.

I think it affects more than one member. In fact, I know it affect a number of members in the Legislature. If we were going to make the amendment I would suggest that it would be made to accommodate all those who find themselves in that position, and not just to accommodate Ms Pottle, although I do appreciate her taking the initiative to write the Commission and to bring that issue forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Again, it is only my second week here, so some of these things may or may not have happened. I appeared in front of Chief Justice Green for, I suppose, fifteen years as a lawyer and one of the things with Chief Justice Green is, he is an eminently practical man in terms of trying to look at things from a common sense perspective.

I guess, my question or query is: The issues that have arisen, the anomalies in the act, I will call them – I will go a little bit further, some of them are just impractical when it comes to doing the work of an MHA. I really have two questions. Was there an MHA – and I don’t think there way – was there an MHA or MHAs on the Green committee? Secondly: Has anyone approached Chief Justice Green by writing, and saying: Look, these are some of anomalies, some of the inconsistencies, some of the impracticalities, that have arisen as a result of your report, Chief. Is this really what you intended? That was my first question.

The example I want to use that really jumps out at me, Mr. Speaker, is that we have members saying in the Delta hotel. I think, this year, these members could spend $16,000, $150 a night to stay in the Delta hotel, yet that same member is not allowed to go out and rent an apartment, is not given an allowance to say whether or not - you can sleep in your car if you like, do whatever; the Hillview apartments.

It just seems to me that we can save the taxpayers money by adopting a policy that is common sense. Why? Because the members I have spoken to, the MHA for The Isles of Notre Dame, for example, the MHA for Lewisporte, they do not want to be living in the Delta hotel. They have to get up each week and take their stuff out. These are the kinds of things.

Has anyone ever approached Chief Justice Green and said: Is this really what you consider?

I guess I have two questions: Were there any MHAs on the committee? I know MHAs appeared in front of the committee. Second, has anyone ever approached Chief Justice Green?

MR. SPEAKER: No, no members of the House of Assembly served on the committee.

When Chief Justice Green’s report was first brought forward, I think it might have been before it was accepted – yes, I am sure it was - there was a committee that was struck to meet with Chief Justice Green and the Commission; not a committee, but there was a meeting convened. That particular meeting consisted of three individuals that are here, Minister Burke, Ms Jones and myself, plus other members. At that particular time, a lot of those shortcomings, and especially the travel where members were only allowed to spend twenty nights in St. John’s at the time, were brought forward to the Chief Justice and to his staff at the time.

His remarks were that his report was the report, but he had given us clear indications if we wanted to change it, how to change it. One was to change it here, and it was structured how it should be changed. It has to be brought forward one day, it has to be duly published, it has to be brought back to the House of Assembly, and there has to be a certain amount of time before it goes to be gazetted and before it becomes law. It has to get three readings with some of the things that are brought forward. He said: It is clear the way it was set out to change, I have left it with you to change, but the report is the report. He was not about to change any of the report other than give you the options of doing things to change it yourself.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Has he ever appeared, or been invited to appear in front of the Commission, or has anyone written a letter saying: Is you view still the same, Chief Justice, after two years of the implementation of the report? We can show that it is not working in several ways, and the one we are talking about today is an example.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that we are all living in a highly sensitive and sensitized political world where we are afraid to do anything. There comes a point in time, though, when we have to, again, apply common sense and be practical. All I am wondering is: As opposed to going through this whole approach that we have to, might it not be worthwhile to approach him by letter or phone and say are you willing to (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The Commission has implemented a fair number of changes but we have been very cautious as Commission members that we would not be seen to then meet as a Commission, members of the House of Assembly, and change the report to suit ourselves. Every member here has been very cognizant and very sensitive to Chief Justice Green’s report. That is all I will say right now and I will pass it on to other members to comment.

Minister Burke.

MS BURKE: When we accepted Chief Justice Green’s report, at the time it was done following extensive consultation, review and analysis. I think, in fairness, it lacked a rural analysis because most of the issues are hitting members from our rural areas. In fairness, at the time it was the best available document that we had to set the parameters as to the rules. Whether or not we liked them was not the debate at the time. It was: Here it is, there is structure here now, go live with it, go live within it and do what you have to do. It wasn’t like we took it and we debated whether or not it looked good in this situation or not.

What Chief Justice Green did in that report was he also recommended that during each Session of the House we have a Compensation Review Committee stuck to look at the issues. Chief Justice Green knew that just because these were the recommendations, that there would be changes. The changes should not be coming from a haphazard way, from us looking at it having accepted his report and then going in and saying: We accept it, but we do not like this, we do not like that, and here are the changes. What he has recommended gives us that arm’s-length way of reviewing it. There will be a committee struck that members will have the opportunity to have their issues heard and there will be an independent analysis done and a report back to us. We are not, then again, writing rules for ourselves.

As much as there has been frustration with the rules up to this point the positive part is, they are there and we know where we stand - whether we like it or not here is where you are - and that we will be having a committee struck very soon, hopefully, in this Session. We are certainly in the process. It was brought up here last week and we are trying to move towards that so that all of the issues can be laid out again, and then, from an independent review, whether or not the recommendations come back that there should be changes or not. I think there is sufficient flexibility in the rules and the laws, if we follow the procedure appropriately, which is to go to that review committee. There have been some frustrations.

The other point is: Once it goes through the compensation review committee, we might get recommendations back that do not change anything. We might even have more dislike for the rules after the fact than we have now, but that is what we will have reported back to us. We will have to do our analysis and make our decisions as to how we proceed. Just because we are having a review does not mean everything is going to fall and change.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: I accept everything that Minister Burke has said, but when it comes to the difficulties that I am hearing and Ms Marshall has outlined, and we are hearing from our rural MHAs, I certainly do not think – myself and Ms Jones may not agree on everything on a daily basis, but I do not think that she should have to phone you, Mr. Speaker, at ten o’clock at night to say: Can I stay in a hotel room in Gander tonight? I just think that lacks common sense.

MR. SPEAKER: And I totally agree.

Enough discussion on this particular issue, I think.

Does somebody what to make a motion, either to enlarge on the request as put forward by Ms Pottle or to make the motion regarding the request that she has put forward? The commission is ready to hear it now.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: The motion is for all MHA’s, though, correct?

MS BURKE: If they are trapped due to flight changes or weather or whatever.

MR. KENNEDY: The travel to their districts?

MS BURKE: To and from their districts.

MR. SPEAKER: What I am hearing is that the motion would be to approve, on a continued basis, for all members of the House of Assembly, when flight schedules or weather conditions require them, en route to and from their districts or their home, to stay overnight.

Properly moved and seconded.

Comment on that particular motion, Ms Marshall?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

Mr. Speaker, now these are going to be amendments. The Clerk is going to draft amendments, I understand, and he can bring back the amendments, because if he is going to amend section 43 to rectify the situation with regard to Minister Pottle, I would like also to have an option to change section 31 for the rural members who live quite a distance away from the capital city.

MR. SPEAKER: Any comment?

I don’t think Ms Marshall correctly quoted what the motion was, because there was no need of referring to Ms Pottle. It was for all members. What she has done is expand on it and ask that members traveling to and from their districts might be able to stay overnight en route rather than having to spend the night in the capital city.

MS BURKE: The motion that we are dealing with deals with flight schedules and weather as opposed to regular travel.

MR. SPEAKER: Flight schedules and weather.

MS BURKE: That is why you brought up the additional rule.

MS E. MARSHALL: That is why I bought up the two issues, that is right. The first amendment would be when a person isn’t entitled to that night, but the second group would be a group who are entitled to that night but can’t use it when they are en route or in transit.

MS BURKE: Or can only use it in St. John’s.

MS E. MARSHALL: Right.

MR. KENNEDY: Do we have to make sure they are allowed to have breakfast too?

MR. SPEAKER: That is already done, I say.

The Clerk.

CLERK: They could have toast.

MR. SPEAKER: Any red flags to be raised?

CLERK: No, the rule making process, of course, involves us drafting something, the Commission addresses it, and it comes back a second time to the Commission. We could do both of these. The Commission would be free to decide at the next meeting which or all, however the Commission might want to do it. We could bring both forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Both of those resolutions will be brought back to the next meeting for confirmation and then go through the procedure of allowing that to happen.

The next item on the agenda is probably one that we can move pretty fast through. It is the House of Assembly Audit Committee Handbook. I refer to Ms Marshall to lead us through the Audit Committee Handbook. It is open for –

MR. KENNEDY: I have to go too, Mr. Speaker (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. member leaves we will still have a quorum.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be brief, and I will put it back on the agenda for some other time.

This is the Audit Committee Handbook that has been drafted and the Audit Committee has approved it. In discussions with the Clerk, we felt that it would be appropriate to bring it forward to the full Commission for approval.

I won’t go through the handbook. I will assume that people have read it already. There are a couple of issues there that I would like to raise and I refer you to page 4. I want to make the point that the Audit Committee is a committee of the Commission, so we are doing work of the Commission and we have to report back to the Commission.

There are some requirements there in the legislation with regard to how the Audit Committee should function. Then it is further elaborated upon when you get into the manual. Most of the requirements we are complying with. For example, on page 4 it indicates we should meet at least four times a year; we did that last year. Meet separately and periodically with certain officials; we have done that. Report to the Commission with respect to its activities at least twice a year; I did table two reports the past year, and I am preparing an annual report.

One of the issues that I am concerned about relates to the detail of reporting to the Commission. What I am trying to do is balance sufficient information for the Commission, so they will know what is going on, but not to overload the Commission with information. So what I have decided to do is, once the Audit Committee meets and the minutes are approved, I was going to table the minutes of the Audit Committee. That would probably keep you in the loop as to what we are doing.

I know that Ms Michael does have some questions there, but I will just make a few brief other comments in that we have about a year under our belt now at the Audit Committee. As I indicated, we are preparing the annual report and we are going to undertake a self-assessment because that is required as part of our policy. As I indicated, I would like for the Commission to approve the manual today. Also, I will start to table the minutes so that you will be more aware on an ongoing basis what is going on in the Audit Committee.

I would like to indicate that the reports that I have received both from the Auditor General and the Comptroller General are discussed thoroughly with the Comptroller General and the Auditor General, and also with the staff of the House of Assembly, with the Clerk and with the Chief Financial Officer.

I will be indicating in my annual report of the Audit Committee that I do feel that the reports and the recommendations are being adequately addressed. Having said that, it is based on discussions so I do want the Commission to be aware that the Audit Committee is very diligent with regard to following up the audit recommendations, but we do not know if the recommendations are actually being implemented until the next audit is carried out.

The last point I would like to make before I ask for questions is that I would like to thank the Comptroller General, Mr. Ron Williams, and David Hill and Brian O’Neill for the work that they have done on the audit manual and also on the internal audit reports that they have done.

Mr. Speaker, that is just a very brief commentary. I would like the approval of the Commission for the manual, and I do understand that at least some of the committee members do have questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First of all, to congratulate Ms Marshall and her committee on a great document, it is well thought out and I am not surprised at that. I just have three points, and one is just to get a clarification.

On page 4, section 4.1(b) I am not sure exactly what you mean by, "Meet separately and periodically (minimum of twice per year each) with the Clerk of the House, the personnel responsible for the internal audit function and the external auditor…"

MS E. MARSHALL: What we would do, what the process is when you receive an internal audit report, we do meet separately with the parties involved. For example, we would meet with the internal auditors separately. For the Auditor General’s management letter we would meet with the Auditor General’s office separately. If we want to hear the Clerk’s response to the issues that have been raised in the audit report we meet with the Clerk separately.

We do not bring them all into the room together. We meet with each of them separately and we do meet with them periodically.

MS MICHAEL: Okay.

MS E. MARSHALL: Ms Lambe has been in to meet with the committee. The Clerk has been in to meet with the committee. The Auditor General and his staff have been in at least twice, as well as the internal audit group.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It was just the way I was reading it, or not reading it, because the way I read it sounds like there are times you meet with all of them together, but that is not the case. They are not part of your regular meetings together, are they?

MS E. MARSHALL: No.

MS MICHAEL: No. Okay, fine.

The next one is not a question or anything; it is just a little typo in section 5.2 – if you don’t mind my picking up a typo - on page 6, the last sentence. "The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Commission; it is then the Commission that makes the decisions." I read that incorrectly. It is right! I am sorry. I must have been asleep. I thought it was written incorrectly but it is not.

MS E. MARSHALL: I would be surprised if there was a typo (inaudible) gone over the manual several times.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible). For some reason, I was reading that wrong.

On page 10, section 6.1(b) "obtain outside legal or other professional advice…" which is quite understandable, is there a budget for that?

MS E. MARSHALL: No, there is no separate budget for the Audit Committee. If we do need to incur expenditures for any reason we would request the approval from the Speaker, and we did on one occasion; we have done that. There was an internal audit course or program that one of the members took the opportunity up, because we do have to provide professional development, and made the request to the Speaker, and that was approved.

MS MICHAEL: That would come from the budget of the House management for legal and professional, is that correct?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, okay.

That is all, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, a motion is in order to accept the audit report handbook as distributed.

Would somebody make that motion?

Made by Ms Michael, seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The resolution is approved.

The next item, and the last item, actually, under New Business, would be the advertising policy. Here again, this is a fair amount of work that has gone into coming up with a policy, where we have asked the staff of the House of Assembly to develop a policy as it relates to advertising.

It has always been pretty loose on what members can do. Again, in the atmosphere that we operate under, I guess everybody is looking inward at themselves and wondering if what they are doing is right or proper and, when it comes to cost, how much are they allowed to spend, and what should be included. So there is a fairly extensive and, I think, very clear suggestion here for an advertising policy for Members of the House of Assembly.

I ask members now to put forward their thoughts, and ask their questions to see if what we have put forward here – because it is only a suggestion. When we so those kinds of things come forward, it is not written to persuade anybody to do something different from what they believe. It is a suggestion to talk about and to add or subtract from.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I guess, Mr. Chair, it is an observation and a question.

In 4.1.1, looking at Print Media, it says, "The standard "business card" format is the most appropriate form; advertisements should be in black and white…."

Then, when you go to 5.1 and you have the types of messages: Notice of Meetings; Messages of Welcome; Messages of Greetings, et cetera, I do not think that the content outlined in 5.1 is going to be able to fit on a business card format, because the card has to have the contact information on it. If you are doing a notice of a meeting for example, even a welcome, it is one thing to just be advertising contact information, and then the business card format fits, but if you are going to do the kind of message that is outlined in 5.1, then I do not think that the card allotment fits. Now maybe that was not meant, but I am putting that out because I am reading the two of them together.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, I think you are right. In the standard sort of business card landscape, I guess it is two-and-a-half times as long as it is deep. It would be hard to put all of the messages down. We struggled with all sorts of measurements, ways to describe ad size, quarter page, eighth pages, sixteenth page, all these sorts of things, and there is no one way to sort of capture it all.

The notice about the standard business card form of being most appropriate is not meant to be exclusive, it is common. It is what most members do to provide their contact information, but I think you are right. As you get into other sort of messages, the depth of that ad is probably going to increase, you may end up with a square or what have you, and that would all be acceptable. There was just no way for us to put firm definitions around it, but we did want to make the point that the business card format would be the typical and should probably be the most common recurring type of ad.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I did not have any problems at all. I did not have any concerns, what was there is acceptable to me. The description you have with regard to the message content and the lay out, that is basically what I am doing anyway. So, for me, the policy is fine.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: To save you getting phone calls from MHAs, I think that you maybe should just add to the bullet under 4.1.1: The standard business card format is the most appropriate form, though there are times a message may require a larger size. Something like that, or else you are going to get phone calls. I think it should be clear so that that does not happen.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Yes, it might be more - to clarify it. The standard business card format is the most appropriate form for recurring messages. In most rural offices outside the St. John’s area and in our local paper, in the back sheet there is an ad that runs every week that is basically a business card size, and I think that is probably what it reflects. So maybe we say for recurring messages.

MR. SPEAKER: Would that suit your thoughts, Ms Michael?

MS BURKE: Then if things are not recurring as a one-time, it is recognized as probably not the business card format.

MR. SPEAKER: When I looked at it, I just made some comments because I thought I might have some problems with it that I need to bring forward, but I understand the theme of this is keeping with the Legislature and not things on the outside.

Like under 5.3, use of dominant party colors. I could not see why it was all right for Ms Burke to use orange and Ms Michael to use blue, but Ms Burke could not use blue or Ms Michael use orange. I thought that was a little bit – something that we probably should not get involved in, but maybe if it is green or black and white then that is neutral and it sticks with the House colors.

The other one that I made a note of here is the Newfoundland Brand. I know a lot of members, including me, have social cards done with the Newfoundland Brand part of it. I think it is rather nice. I think it is why we have gone out and tried to bring in one thing to sell the Province. Now I also realize that it has very little to do with the Legislature. The Legislature is the Coat of Arms. So I guess that is what we are doing here, is keeping in sync with what is happening at the Legislature.

The other one there was references to other roles, like minister or parliamentary assistant. Many people, I am sure, have lots of business cards and like to put the position they hold in the House of Assembly on their business card. I am not sure what other members think about that. I have no problem one way or the other but I thought it should be just talked about and see if members agree with what is written or wanted to look at the possibility of making changes. I can live with it either way, but just for information.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: (Inaudible) the last couple of things you just mentioned there, and we could probably go through the non-allowable allowance. Name or logo of a political party is obviously a no-brainer; that would not go there.

The use of dominant party colors, I do not even think we should get into making that judgement here. If someone picks it up because some people can use blue and some cannot, and some can use red and some cannot, and we are going to have Christmas cards and some of them are going to have red on it and they may be the Liberal color. So I do not know if we have to say the Liberals have to have blue on their Christmas cards and we cannot have blue on ours because it might – so I would like to take that right out of it. That is getting us into doing an analysis and an assessment.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) black and white labels.

MS BURKE: (Inaudible) got a blue theme to it or a red theme. I just think we are getting ourselves into something that is not necessary. Statements of a partisan nature, yes, that is fine, that should not be there.

The next one; advertising which advocates a particular position or attempts to influence public opinion on a matter before the House of Assembly, fair enough. Thank you to the constituents for voting for electing the member. Okay, not allowed, that is fine. Advertising to solicit funds, not a problem. Content that disparages any political position or member, fine.

References to other roles of the member, minister or parliamentary assistant, sometimes parliamentary secretary or caucus position or Opposition critic, if any; sometimes that is not as easy to separate, saying you are an MHA but you are not a minister.

I will just speak to that, or you could be other roles that people hold here in the House, or parliamentary assistant, or Speaker, whatever it may be. So, I do not know what others think of that, but if you say you are an MHA and that is in fact part of the ad or whatever you are doing or whatever you are writing the message for. I do not know if it is necessarily inappropriate to have your other titles there.

I will go on to the next, and then references to programs within a department, government agency or commission, advertising on articles of clothing. I do not know if you would get a shirt and put your MHA name on it. Is that what you are talking about there? Okay, fair enough.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Brand; a lot of us, like as minister, send out Christmas cards that will cross both and the logo probably goes with our name tag, as who you are and you are minister of whatever on the back. A lot of times, some people who have their constituency offices in their departments, that is their address, is the department, probably, of wherever. So I do not know if we are getting into some of these where we are getting, somebody has to take the Christmas cards and assess them to see if the logo is on the back cover, or –

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is restricted now just to sort of paid advertising in various media. So we would not apply this to Christmas cards, necessarily, business cards or so on. Some of the particulars might well apply, but the policy itself is really just focussing on the ads.

Some of these things, as Minister Burke says, we are currently allowing. We allow ministers, parliamentary assistants and so on, we allow that in the ad. If it is just - you will remember, this is about the third or fourth time staff have been directed to come back with policies on this matter but when we have come to the Commission, there has not been a lot of clear direction. The last time we came, which was back last July – the only sort of direction, if you check the Hansard, was limit the number of placements or the amount of money to spend on ads. So we were operating somewhat in a vacuum.

When we go back to the Members’ Resources Allowance Rules, and indeed the act itself, it focuses on the consistency business, the various principles and purposes as a member doing constituency business. If you adhere to that rigorously, then the ministerial duties or Opposition House Leader or Party Whip, these duties are not germane to the constituency business as defined in the rules.

Having said that, Minister Burke is right, it is very hard to separate your personality from other offices you hold. She is the Member for St. George’s-Stephenville East, she is the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, and it is very hard to distinguish the two. As I say, we put this in in the absence of other direction from the Commission. I do not know if it is that serious of a matter.

Similarly, the Brand, the Coat of Arms, of course, is the standard symbol for the House of Assembly and all forty-eight members accept that. We use that on our business cards, ID cards, and so on and so forth. There is nothing uniquely wrong with the Brand it is just it may not have been adopted unanimously by all forty-eight, whereas the Coat of Arms is adopted by the Coat of Arms Act, it is a given by Statute.

The party color, I agree with Minister Burke, it is very hard to cover that. The various hues, tints and gradations of red, blue or orange are hard to distinguish. Again, it was just trying to make the point in Green, because he talks about the partisan elements and should not show up in business cards and so on. None of these are crucial matters. It was just a way of trying to capture those principles that Green had.

We found this a very difficult exercise, to draft guidelines for ads. We had a lot of debate on it. I lost most of them, and Ms Lambe won. It could have been worse.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further comments? If not, then we are open to make changes or to accept the policy as written?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Can we accept the policy, make some of the changes in the non-allowable and just take it out of the non-allowable as opposed to spelling it out in allowable? If we eliminated from the allowable, the second bullet -

MR. SPEAKER: From the allowable?

MS BURKE: No, from the non-allowable, 5.3. Eliminate the second bullet there, the use of dominant party colors. Take out eight and take out the last one, the Brand.

We are not saying they are allowable. We are not encouraging people to go out and do blue or orange or red ads with the Newfoundland and Labrador Brand on it. What we are saying is that if it does show up on an ad, it is not –

MS E. MARSHALL: It is not an offence.

MS BURKE: Yes, you are not going to be hauled in front of the staff here and brought to task for it, if there is blue in the background of the ad or the booklet or something.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael, you were going to add? Take away?

MS MICHAEL: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

If members are okay with that, to eliminate three items from the non-allowable, then somebody can move the motion that we accept the advertising policy as put forward for the members of the House of Assembly. When we pass this, we will make sure that the House of Assembly members get this ad, the telephone ad, and also the Audit Committee Handbook. Members should be made aware of that as well.

Moved by Minister Burke, that we accept the advertising policy as written for the House of Assembly, seconded by Ms Marshall.

All those in favour?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against?

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Being no further business, I think –

MS E. MARSHALL: I would just like to ask one question.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Could the Clerk just advise us as to the year end financial statements? There is a requirement in the legislation that we be right on top of those financial statements and that we get them quarterly, so perhaps he can just give us a two second update.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Of course. The fiscal year ends March 31, but the write-back period includes all of April up to April 30. So, in fact, before you can start to compile the statements - that was actually twelve days ago, thirteen days ago - it takes us perhaps about three weeks following the conclusion of the year. More? Three weeks?

MS LAMBE: Three weeks, yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: So we should look for them towards the end of May?

CLERK: Towards the end of May or early June. The next meeting we should have those.

MS E. MARSHALL: Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Being no further commentary, we do not have a date set for the next Management Commission meeting, but we will need to have a Management Commission meeting certainly before we break for the summer.

I thank members of the House of Assembly for attending the meeting. I thank the House of Assembly staff and the Page for being here.

With that, this meeting is now adjourned.