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Parliament opens up secretive committee, but some topics remain off limits

20 Oct 17
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The deadly committee of Parliament has finally opened its doors while still needing to talk about in public sensitive issues like rising security costs.

The all-party board of internal market (BOIE), which oversees spending in the House of Commons, has sat behind closed doors to make delicate decisions that influenced the fate of the room and MPs.

Under legislation adopted in June, the meetings of this committee will be conducted in public, with the first such open collecting happening on Thursday.

“You got to find the excitement that occurs at board meetings,” Conservative MP Mark Strahl said with a smile after the one-hour meeting had ended. “It is important work and it is good that it is open to the general public.”

The meeting began with a demonstration on the ambitious plans to reestablish Parliament Hill, as the House of Commons is set to move to a brand new interim room in the neighboring West Block building next summer. According to senior officials in Public Services and Procurement Canada, the renovations are on track and on budget, with the riskier components of the job with already been completed.

But a demonstration on the House funding was disrupted when Speaker Geoff Regan said the dilemma of rising security prices for Parliament could only be discussed in-camera.

Liberal House Leader Bardish Chagger said following the meeting that the BOIE will still have to talk about some issues privately, with the laws having carved out exceptions for safety, employment, staff relations or tenders.

“I feel that many discussions will take place in public, that’s the intention of opening up BOIE, and very limited reasons why they would not,” she said.

Previously, meetings of the BOIE were only publicized after the truth. Later on, Ms. Chagger said, the people “will always know when BOIE is meeting.”

There have been calls to open the meetings of this committee, which has been accused before of covering up possible scandals or participating in partisan politics behind closed doors.

The NDP criticized the committee for behaving like a “kangaroo court” in the last Parliament, over a series of disputes with other parties between spending on staff and advertising.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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