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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.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP 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 NDP 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 NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you.

Mr. Butt, you have five minutes.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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—

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

That's good. I just wanted to make sure.

My last question has to do with the audit committee. As chair of the board, are you a member of the audit committee as well?

12:55 p.m.

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

Gerry Weiner

Yes, I am, but I do not chair the audit committee.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Okay, but as a member of the audit committee, can you tell me whether the issue of the former CFO, who is under question about whether or not he had proper credentials as a CA, was ever brought to the attention of the audit committee? Did the audit committee ever ask this individual whether he was still a member in good standing of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants?

12:55 p.m.

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

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chair, when those facts were revealed to the members of the audit committee, in particular, we acted expeditiously. We ordered an immediate investigation. We called, first, a board meeting with 12 hours' notice. We called in investigators. We had a forensic auditor come in at once.

Without trying to get into the specifics of the case, I'm proud of how effectively and quickly the members of the audit committee and the rest of the board acted to make sure we resolved the issue, which we weren't satisfied with.

That's as good as we could get when we were advised. When it was determined there was a problem, we acted immediately, as any good health care professional would do, and we excised it. We went on to the future from there.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you. You are out of time.

That concludes—

12:55 p.m.

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

Gerry Weiner

Mr. Chair, like a good health care professional, I should say that the best remedy for a cold is honey. We have some at the back, sir.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you, Mr. Weiner. Thank you for meeting with us today.

Mr. Del Mastro, do you have something to add?

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We did make a request of the previous witness for copies of the seven reports she has put together. I'd like to make sure that is sent to her in writing. I know we've requested it in person, but I'd also like to put....

I'll say to the members that these reports are already completed, and I'm wondering if there is agreement amongst the members to request that those be received by the committee not later than Tuesday of next week—before the next meeting of this committee.

Does that sound fair to the members here?

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Coderre, do you have something to say on the matter?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Ms. Benoit also said that the deputy minister already had those copies. It would be easier just to ask the deputy minister for them. They are trying to make a big fuss about it. The government already has the reports in hand. All we have to do is use the rule of three so he can read them, but as quickly as possible.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

According to the clerk's information and as far as I know, it would be easier just to go directly to the organization that produced the reports. They are the ones who wrote them, so it is easier for them to provide them to us. If we go through the department, they may not want to hand them over.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I move then that we request that the report be submitted to the committee not later than Tuesday at 9 a.m.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

All in favour?

(Motion agreed to)

1 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

We will get copies and hand them out as soon as they are available.

Thank you again, Mr. Weiner, for being with us today.

Meeting adjourned until Tuesday.