Mr. Speaker, as I said in my answer of May 30, the Board of Internal Economy does not normally deal with issues relating to the Library of Parliament. However, in the hope of clarifying this issue, I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond, on behalf of the board, to the member's question.
On May 30, 2001, the hon. member for Ottawa--Vanier raised the question concerning a request for proposal, which in fact is a call for tender, issued by the Library of Parliament for an electronic news monitoring service and which had been referred to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.
P&L Communications filed a complaint with the trade tribunal related to the library's procurement process, arguing that the library was subject to the agreement on internal trade and was therefore subject to the authority of the tribunal.
As the library's original deadline for the filing of proposals for the tender was June 1, it appeared unlikely that the trade tribunal would hear the case prior to the deadline. Therefore, at the request of an hon. member, the co-chair of the Standing Committee of the Library of Parliament, the parliamentary library agreed to extend the bid until June 31, 2001.
After several exchanges of arguments by the parties, on July 24, 2001, the tribunal informed the Library of Parliament that it had ruled in favour of P&L Communications and that it would issue its reasons for the determination at a later date.
According to the library's legal adviser and pursuant to the CITT act, the library had the obligation to inform the tribunal of its response to its decision on or before the deadline of August 13, 2001.
In light of this situation and based on an article of the library's request for tender, which stipulates that the Library of Parliament may at its discretion cancel and/or re-issue this RFP at any time, the library decided to cancel the request for proposal immediately to ensure that it would respect the reasons for determination of the tribunal.
The decision by the library was based on the following reasons.
First, as a result of the tribunal's decision the library had incurred legal costs. It was required to pay both the petitioner's and its own legal costs and, therefore, had insufficient budget to proceed with the project.
Second, since the request for proposal was posted the library has been able, with the technical assistance of the information services directorate of the House of Commons, to make improvements to the existing electronic news monitoring service, allowing the library to maintain these services for the foreseeable future.
In a memo dated September 25 and addressed to both chairs and to the members of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, the parliamentary librarian said that the library never intended to defy the tribunal. He also said that all parliamentarians could be assured that, from now on, requests for proposals from the Library of Parliament would comply with procurement rules.