Evidence of meeting #47 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was parties.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ian McCowan  Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Governance), Privy Council Office
  • Natasha Kim  Director, Democratic Reform, Privy Council Office

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

There is two and a half minutes.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I want to get into process a bit. You're aware that the procedure and House affairs committee has been studying the Chief Electoral Officer's report for some time now. I think if we look at how much is left, we have a good 20 or 30 meetings left on it, and possibly more. There's an awful lot to do.

It's been in camera. I can't go into the details with you, but I know that it's within your mandate and your job to bring in more legislation on democratic reform, on changes in general.

I wonder if you can give us a sense of timelines, if you have any idea of when you're expected to do stuff and if it be helpful for us to get our reports to you, or if you want us to get interim reports out. Do you have any comments on that?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Burlington, ON

Yes. Thank you very much.

I appreciate that the committee is currently reviewing the recommendations from the CEO of Elections Canada following the past election. I appreciate that there are 132 recommendations, so this is quite a big task nonetheless.

I really look forward to receiving your input on those in terms of the direction as we move forward. Of course, we have an election in three years. We don't want to push it too long, because we want to make sure that those recommendations can get in ahead of time and with enough time for Elections Canada to implement those.

If there is a possibility for interim reports, which I believe the chair had maybe commented about in The Hill Times, I would welcome that. The depth and the breadth of the study you're undertaking is very valuable.

I hope I can count on you to get those to the public and to me in a timely fashion and that we can get to work on implementing legislation that will be in effect for the next election. I know that for many members of this committee it's very important that we make sure we get this done, so that ahead of 2019 we don't face some of the issues we faced in 2015.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Laurentides—Labelle, QC

How much time do I have?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

You have 20 seconds.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Thank you.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Larry Bagnell

Mr. Reid, go ahead.

February 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, thank you for being here. Thank you, as well, to your very competent staff and your parliamentary secretary; it's good to see you here.

Thank you also for making time to meet with me on Tuesday of last week.

I want to ask you a number of questions. I submitted a letter to you yesterday to assist you, recognizing that some of these things are matters on which you might not be prepared if you didn't have a bit of advance time to work on them. I apologize for the fact that they came to you with only 24 hours' notice, but we only learned you'd be here Friday afternoon—not quite after work hours, but after I had departed, at any rate.

I have a series of five questions. I might just read from the list and then ask you them. If you don't mind, I'll start with the third question. These all relate to the MyDemocracy.ca survey or instrument. The third question on that list is, has the government retained or destroyed the data produced by responses to the field test and the final MyDemocracy.ca survey?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Burlington, ON

Thank you so much.

I appreciate the fact that you sent the questions so we could be prepared for them. I have brought two technical staff with me today who are prepared to answer these for you.

12:25 p.m.

Ian McCowan Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Governance), Privy Council Office

Mr. Reid, I'll start, and Ms. Kim can add in as she sees fit.

In terms of the data elements, Vox Pop still has the data set. There are two data elements that have been generalized, the year of birth and the postal code, simply because the analysis around those has already been done. Other than those two elements, the data set is with Vox Pop.

I'm not sure if Ms. Kim has anything to add.

12:25 p.m.

Natasha Kim Director, Democratic Reform, Privy Council Office

No, I don't, other than to say that the final report has been published on the website.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Okay. This allows me to move to questions four and five, which were really alternatives. Given that the data hasn't been destroyed, will you commit to sharing it with Parliament or with the general public, while obviously excluding information that could be connected with specific individuals?

12:25 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Governance), Privy Council Office

Ian McCowan

Mr. Reid, you've just gone to the heart of the issue. You'll be aware from the Vox Pop survey and final report that the government has indicated publicly that they would only be receiving data back in aggregate form. That has been clearly stated.

We just got your request yesterday night, so we are going to have to review it, but it's going to be reviewed in the context of what I just said, namely that there is a commitment on the part of the Government of Canada to get only aggregate data back in this exercise and, obviously, to ensure that all privacy requirements are met. What I would say, if it's satisfactory, is that we'll take that one away. We just got it last night. The concern is the one that you yourself have identified.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Right. The fact that the minister is coming back for a second meeting will allow us to deal with this further. We'll pursue it at that time. Let's just leave it there.

I'll turn now to question number one. Did the government exclude from the final MyDemocracy.ca survey any questions that were included in the November 2016 field test for the survey or that were recommended for inclusion by Vox Pop Labs' academic advisory group?

12:25 p.m.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Governance), Privy Council Office

Ian McCowan

I am going to need Ms. Kim's help on this, but let me just start by describing the overall response. As for why the field test was done, there were a number of objectives. One was to ensure that in the end survey we would have a limited number of questions—obviously, you get a higher response rate when that's done, making sure that usability is high—but another was specifically for the purpose of developing the archetypes, groupings, or clusters that were fed back as part of the response to the survey.

As for your question about what was different in the field test versus the final one, I think there were six factors at play that led to changes between the two. First, as I said, there was an effort made to use the pretest to determine what the best clusters were. There was some analytic work going on in that regard. Second, there was an effort to see how the survey length could be brought to an appropriate size in order to maximize the user experience and response rates.

The third thing was trying to avoid unnecessary duplication. There were a number of questions that were in a similar kind of space. Fourth, a few questions were removed, as they were perceived as being too sensitive in our effort to ensure that the questionnaire was well received by Canadians writ large.

Fifth, some questions were used to assess user satisfaction, whether there were issues encountered, and how users responded to them. Finally, as was noted in the media, there were a few questions that were accidentally included in the pretest, and that obviously was not replicated in the final survey.

I don't know if Ms. Kim wants to add to that, but that's a quick summary.