Evidence of meeting #38 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was old.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Claude Benoit  President and Chief Executive Officer, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.
  • Gerry Weiner  Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

12:45 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chair, I am going to continue to repeat that you can examine the five members of the board and their qualifications and their experience and their track record. It's one of success.

I do this because of my admiration and my joy in helping develop and promote Montreal and Quebec. This is why I accepted to be a member of this board. I am fully involved in daytime activity that is way beyond anybody's expectation. I think this has given me the experience and the expertise. All of us know how to read a balance sheet. All of us are being very vigilant in what's taking place, and as I said, in 2009 we put in the travel guidelines. Any trip of 1,000 kilometres or over has to be authorized by the president. I can tell you that any activity is going to be very carefully screened.

I'm not the day-to-day manager. These are operational expenses. The budget is prepared, we have an audit committee that goes over that budget very carefully, and once approved by that committee it's then approved by the board. That is then submitted to the government and the minister responsible for the developed plan with a vision, and only then, when that is accepted, are we free to carry on and have the operation run by the CEO and monitored constantly by the audit committees.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

But you're the one who's supposed to give us a sense of accountability.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

You have just enough time for a quick question.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

My rapid question is this. We have an RCMP investigation into connections between Tony Accurso and attempts to get favours at the Port of Montreal. That's an ongoing investigation. It's happening under your watch. You present yourself as a small, simple pharmacist. Where's that sense that we can trust that the decisions being made at that port are going to protect the taxpayer and ensure that we don't have people who are unqualified or people who shouldn't even be close to the Port of Montreal getting their foot in the door?

12:50 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

I don't know any of the people he's talking about dealing with some investigations. I've had—

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

It was December 6, 2011, in a Globe and Mail article. Do you not read? It's about what's happening under your watch. I can get you the article. Did you not know that?

12:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Angus, your time is up. But I will give Mr. Weiner the opportunity to respond.

12:50 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chair, there are newspaper articles that I read and peruse and take cognizance of, but that doesn't mean there are any facts in all the articles.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you.

Mr. Butt, you have five minutes.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Weiner, thank you for being here. You and I go back about 25 years. I remember when you came to Mississauga when you were Minister of Multiculturalism for an event with our late colleague, Dr. Bob Horner. I appreciated meeting you at that time, and I'm glad you're still involved in public service and that you're giving something back.

It appears as if this whole protocol around the trips and so on changed after you were appointed to the board. Can you tell us why it was a decision of the board to change the protocol, to update the protocol, on these kinds of trips? What facilitated that? Was it this one particular trip in question, or was it just a general review that you thought you needed to update that policy?

12:50 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

No. Mr. Chair, we did a general review of all the criteria under which the board was operating and under which we were being vigilant on how the budget was being spent and overseen. We felt this was something necessary. We built it into a guideline at that time.

By the way, we keep examining the criteria because we'll pick up any helpful suggestion. We're always willing and anxious to even tighten the criteria by which we operate.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Many organizations I'm familiar with from the private sector, where often employees go on business trips but they want to tack on some vacation time as well, have very clear definitions, very clear lines as to what is designated as the business part of the trip and the personal vacation part of the trip, whether spouses are also attending, children, etc., as part of that trip.

Do you now have a very specific policy that lays out what defines the business part of a trip and what defines the personal or vacation part of a trip?

There are two reasons I think that's important. One is obviously the responsibility in this particular case for taxpayers' money. The second is that part of that is also a benefit to an employee, which is really a taxable benefit, so if we're not categorizing parts of the trip properly, we're actually cheating the tax system as well.

Does the Old Port now have a very specific policy for any of its employees as it relates to any trips they may take where part of it is business and part of it vacation?

12:50 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chairman, first I thank the member for the question. It's a very useful question, a very helpful one.

I've indicated clearly that the policy now is complete authorization by the president of any travel over 1,000 kilometres. Whether the criteria really define very carefully the business part versus the pleasure or vacation part, I would guarantee we'll have another look at it and even be prepared to respond more fully once we've examined what it says completely. If it's not there, we'll make sure we have a look at how it can be improved.

I know in my own personal case, in all my years in public life, I've managed somehow to never tack on a vacation to anything that was strictly business, and it is often difficult when you go to Africa and you tell your wife you can't spend another week on a game reserve because the business part is at four or five days.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I have two quick questions at the end, if it's okay with you, Mr. Chairman.

How often do you do the CEO performance review process, and generally what's entailed in that? I think Madame Benoit indicated she's worked there for 10 years now. What's the frequency for the board to undertake that, and what general elements are part of the CEO's performance review to make sure that person is living up to your expectations?

12:55 p.m.

Chairman of the Board, Old Port of Montréal Corporation Inc.

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chairman, it's an annual review. It's every category of her management, dealing with her relationships with the officials and with the rest of the staff, and in the program area, dealing with how the program is being delivered. It has very specific points that are granted in every single category. I can tell you that each of the three years I've been privileged to do the evaluation with members of my board, she's received almost perfect commendation in her evaluations. Those documents—