Foreign Missions: sudden calls for transparency

Missions à l'étranger: soudains appels à la transparence

Political leaders quebec, as the minister Pierre Arcand, have invited, on Monday, the president of the national Assembly, Jacques Chagnon, to more transparency about its missions abroad and those of the parliamentarians in general.

They have done so, for some of them, with a certain restraint because of the separation that must exist between the “executive power” and the “legislative power”.

They reacted to a series of the Journal de Québec and the Journal de Montréal on the transparency of the quebec government, which has, in particular, zoomed in on the missions-parliamentary.

Policy makers cannot, however, pretend to discover this situation. The Sun and other media have repeatedly written about the missions of the inter-parliamentary deputies of the national Assembly and none of them had never really raised questions up here about it — nor called for more transparency. Not even when the opportunities are presented — at the annual studies of the appropriations of the institution, for example.

Will be there otherwise in a few days, when Jacques Chagnon will have to defend himself before the parliamentary budget of nearly $ 140 million of the national Assembly?

“It is with Mr. Chagnon responding” on these issues of transparency, said the president of the treasury Board, Pierre Arcand. “We want all management to be the most rigorous possible.”

The leader of the parti québecois, Jean-François Lisée, the mna caquiste Eric Cairo have also claimed, but more firmly, more transparency and better accountability to this chapter.

A budget increased…

Remember that the former president of the national Assembly Yvon Vallières had reduced the budget of the foreign missions of quebec mps from 33% in 2010. His successor, Jacques Chagnon, was subsequently restored.

The budget of the international missions of the members of the national Assembly has increased from 486 700 $ 733 000 $ in 2013. To this sum, it was necessary to add $ 300,000 to the home of the parliamentary foreign in Quebec. The total budget for this allocation was $ 1 million.

It is not a question here of government missions or ministerial organized by the government of Quebec. But trips of deputies organized by the national Assembly.

Parliamentarians have always walked on eggs when the subject has been broached. They have never much liked talking about it. They have always publicly estimated that it is too easy, “by far, for the general public”, to consider that these missions serve no purpose, or that the expenses allocated are too high.

In private, a few have regularly agreed that they were not all necessary or relevant.

If he is reluctant to speak on the subject, Jacques Chagnon was even made in 2013, by saying that “these exchanges contribute to the influence of culture and political institutions in québec”. Himself takes part every year in several missions.

… before being reduced

For the past few years, the leadership of the national Assembly makes available a number of documents on the missions of the inter-parliamentarians. The total budget of each mission is listed on the website of the institution, but it is very poorly ventilated. It does not provide any detail.

In 2016-2017, the last fiscal year for which information is available, a fifty missions of all kinds were held, either in New York city, Antananarivo, to Geneva, to Phnom Penh, Brisbane, London, Paris, Dakar, etc., This is what we reported last June.

Jacques Chagnon, member of parliament liberal Maryse Gaudreault, his colleagues André Drolet and Jean Rousselle, the member pq’s Carole Poirier, as well as the caquiste Benoit Charette, for example, have taken part in the 42nd session of the parliamentary Assembly of the francophonie, Antananarivo, Madagascar. Two officials accompanied the group. The cost of the mission amounted to 74 528 $, of which 62 816 $ for travel.

“They have reaffirmed the role of the leader of the Quebec national Assembly in the parliamentary Assembly francophone and contributed concretely to the promotion of a quebec perspective on the major issues of the Francophonie multilateral”, one can read in the summary sheet ad hoc.

For the past few years, the amounts spent for these tasks are lower than those initially budgeted. Last year, for the missions abroad, the expenditure amounted to 533 628 $, then the projected budget was $ 632 000 $.

The national Assembly pays in an account that belongs to the unexpended funds.

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