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Parliament and Courtesy

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Re: Parliament and Courtesy

Post by Riddick on Thu 11 Jun 2015, 14:13

Mr. Gray, once again thank you for representing us veterans.

I must add that you seem surprised that they wouldn't bat an eye at spending thousands of dollars in travel expense for witnesses yet not provide more financial support to the veteran community. As it was all over the media about how the government spending hundreds of thousands in legals fighting us veterans!

They simply do not care about us, we are low-life's to them, except when it comes to protecting them when there is a possible terrorist threat. 99% of them hid when a lone gunman entered the parliament building, imagine them in trenches....OMG the thought actually makes me chuckle just picturing it.....rotfl........Hey Aaron........what is this thing in your arms......it's called a rifle Steve......lol
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Parliament and Courtesy

Post by Teentitan on Thu 11 Jun 2015, 11:06

I was asked to appear as a witness recently before the Commons Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Senate Sub-committee on Veterans Affairs. In both cases, I was less than impressed with the operation of these committees.

In the way of background, the following is provided so that you understand the role of witnesses:

“Witnesses appearing before committees are usually asked to make a brief opening statement, summarizing their views or the views of the organization they represent, on the subject of the committee’s inquiry. Following this opening statement, there is a period for questioning. The Chair may, on occasion, participate in the questioning of witnesses.

There are no specific rules governing the nature of questions which may be put to witnesses appearing before committees, beyond the general requirement of relevance to the issue before the committee. Witnesses must answer all questions which the committee puts to them. A witness may object to a question asked by an individual committee member. However, if the committee agrees that the question be put to the witness, he or she is obliged to reply. On the other hand, members have been urged to display the “appropriate courtesy and fairness” when questioning witnesses. The actions of a witness who refuses to answer questions may be reported to the House.”

Both meetings were limited to one hour, which was not enough time to adequately discuss the budget omnibus bill. Both meetings started late, five minutes for the Commons committee and 10 minutes for the Senate sub-committee.

There were four witnesses including me in the Commons session and we each had seven minutes to give our opening statement, which left 27 minutes for questions from the committee members. One of the members decided to digress from the subject and discuss his family history. After several minutes, I interrupted him and asked if he had a question. This elicited several outcries from other members and I was admonished by the chairperson. Witnesses are limited to answering questions as stated above; however, members are required to ask relevant questions. Some prefer to indulge in making speeches, which means that few questions are asked.

Since the Minister of Veterans Affairs was in attendance (which is unusual as ministers are normally represented by their parliamentary secretaries who are fellow MPs), I wonder if some of the Conservative MPs were more interested in speaking indirectly to the minister than asking questions.

The meeting was terminated early so the actual time allotted to questioning of witnesses was less than 27 minutes. This was disappointing as several MPs still had questions and one of the witnesses had travelled from BC to attend. Given that there were several sessions scheduled by this committee to review the budget, the committee could have divided the number of witnesses in a more equitable fashion as well as adding more time. Travel expenses for the witnesses were estimated at $12,800.

This may seem like a small amount compared to the federal budget, but it is a lot for a five minute speech plus a few minutes of answering questions. If the federal government can afford thousands of dollars to pay for witnesses, then why is it so reluctant to provide better financial support for the Veterans Community?

The senate sub-committee invited only two witnesses and all but one of the senators had a opportunity to ask questions. The only input from the uninvolved senator was to ask when the meeting would end as he had two more meetings. Since this session was televised on CPAC, it was not necessary to show his lack of respect for the witnesses on national television. His comments resulted in an end of this session again with a few minutes before the official end of the one hour limit.

In my opinion, the amount of time and resources spent on reviewing just the Veterans Affairs section of the budget reflect poorly on the administration of Canada. Thousands of dollars spent with only minutes spent considering future benefits.
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