Evidence of meeting #12 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was charity.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ian Shugart  Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office
Gina Wilson  Deputy Minister, Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Department of Canadian Heritage
Benoît Robidoux  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development
Mary Dawson  As an Individual

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

I'll just ask the cameras to clear the room, please.

Mr. Kurek.

August 11th, 2020 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair. On a point of order, I would ask that the witness be put under oath.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Okay, so be it. We will proceed under that direction.

Welcome. As you know, Mr. Shugart, we are discussing the motion that was passed on July 22 at this committee:

That, pursuant to Standing Orders 108(3)(h), the Committee review the safeguards which are in place to avoid and prevent conflicts of interest in federal government procurement, contracting, contribution and other expenditure policies;

Mr. Shugart, you have been asked to come testify today as you currently serve as the Clerk of the Privy Council. In just a moment I will give you 10 minutes for opening remarks, and then we will proceed to questions from members around this table.

I would ask that we be aware of the time. I will interrupt and stop questioning at the [Inaudible—Editor] minute. Please bear with me. I do not mean to be rude, but certainly I mean to be fair and to use our time wisely.

With that, Mr. Shugart, I would—

Yes.

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Chair, there's no interpretation at the moment.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

I'm just going to suspend for one moment.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

I will bring the meeting back.

Mr. Shugart, you have 10 minutes to give opening remarks. Then we will proceed to questions from the members.

Yes, Mr. Gerretsen.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

On a point of order, now that the meeting is back in session, I have a question on the issue that was raised by Mr. Green, who has now been replaced by Mr. Angus, with respect to asking the Clerk of the Privy Council to be put under oath.

I want it to be known that I believe some other members of this committee misunderstood the manner in which the chair handled it, by assuming there was unanimous consent—

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Chair, the interpreter can't hear the remarks.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Sorry, Mr. Gerretsen, just wait for one moment.

I understand, Mr. Fortin. Thank you.

I will suspend. We still have an issue with the interpretation.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

We're ready.

Mr. Kurek.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

I'll withdraw the motion. It seems like this will take unnecessary time, so I will withdraw my previous motion.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Thank you so much, Mr. Kurek.

With that, we will proceed to testimony from Mr. Shugart.

Mr. Shugart, you have 10 minutes.

12:50 p.m.

Ian Shugart Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Madam Chair, I don't have an opening statement.

Perhaps the only comment I would make is that I first began engaging with members of Parliament 40 years ago this summer. As a public servant, I have many times appeared before parliamentary committees. I understand absolutely the sacred rites of the House of Commons. Whether I were sworn or not, members of the committee would hear exactly the same thing from me.

Thank you.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Mr. Shugart, thank you very much.

With that, we'll proceed to questions from the members. Our first round is six minutes for each member who is asking questions.

Mr. Barrett, you may begin.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Shugart, I believe that the documents submitted to the finance committee would be useful for our study as well. Would you be able to provide them to this committee?

12:50 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I certainly would make them available to any committee of the House. I'm not familiar with the procedures across committees, but I would be absolutely prepared to make the same material available.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Thank you.

You supplied those per the deadline to the committee. I understand they are being vetted at this time. Are members of that committee able to see the documents in the same state they were submitted by you?

12:50 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

As far as I know, Chair, again, I believe the law clerks of parliamentary committees do some examination of the documents. I gather there are still some translation issues, so what will be provided and has been provided is entirely in the hands of the committee, at that point.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

The Prime Minister testified that he pushed back against your recommendation on May 8 before the cabinet meeting, saying that you hadn't ensured that i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed and that he demanded due diligence be done. Did that conversation happen electronically or in person?

12:50 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

It was in person, but I would mention that during this entire period, because people have been working at a distance, typically in our briefings of the Prime Minister, certainly by the time he was no longer in isolation, it would have been a mix of people in the room and on the phone.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Is there a recording? Would those meetings be recorded if they're by Zoom or by the Government of Canada teleconference system?

12:50 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I can't be definitive; I assume not. I do know that in one case where I was asked to provide a Zoom recording of a particular meeting and I undertook to do so, if there were a recording, it transpired that there was not a recording. So to the best of my knowledge, there were not recordings of meetings.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Thank you.

Did the Prime Minister ask for hard proof that the public service could not deliver the CSSG?

12:55 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

Well, the questions were specific, and the answers, I think, were taken as honest and true answers. It was a serious question and taken as such. Officials gave their best answers.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

But did he ask that question specifically? Because—