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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

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Study on User Fee Proposal

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Statement made on 24 November 2010 by Senator Serge Joyal

Hon. Serge Joyal:

I would like honourable senators to concur with the report that Senator Wallace has tabled and commented on this afternoon. The only proviso I propose to concurring with the substance of the report is that the Senate was the only chamber that decided to study the issue.

When the other place was first seized with the proposal to increase the parole board fees, they decided to let the delay lapse and automatically, the fee increase was deemed adopted. The committee never called any meetings; never studied the impact of the increase on those who will have to pay the fees in the future; and never asked what consultative mechanism should be followed by the parole board before proposing that Parliament increase the fees. The Senate was the only chamber to take the issue seriously and to hear witnesses. We had four meetings to do so. We studied at length, and I should say at pains, to try to understand what the User Fees Act imposed on the parole board and what kind of monitoring Parliament should make of those fees. That is why there are provisos in the Parole Act to ask Parliament to look into those increases to better protect those who will have to pay the fees.

Honourable senators, I add that point for your own reflection because I think it is part of the mandate of our chamber to exercise due diligence when Parliament recognizes formally a role in the approval of fees. I commend senators on both sides of the committee who took that responsibility seriously and made efficient recommendations for the National Parole Board, especially next year, when they will return with a proposal to cover the full cost. We will want to satisfy ourselves that those who will be touched by that increase will have an opportunity to have their views expressed and taken into account by the National Parole Board because providing that opportunity has important social impacts on the kind of society that Canada pretends to be.

I thank you, honourable senators, and I thank the Honourable Senator Wallace for the report he made today because I think he exercised due diligence in carrying out the role of the Senate.

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