Hill Times Article on Need for Clarity in Senate Expense Definitions

Posted August 28th, 2013 in Article, blog by Doug Black

S040305E-018F_MED9Earlier this week, the Hill Times writer Laura Ryckewaert reported on the ongoing discussion about the need for a clearer definition of the role of Senators and the implications for the Senate’s expense rules.

In that article, Senate Internal Economy Committee chair Conservative Nova Scotia Senator Gerald Comeau correctly noted that “for the most part” it’s clear what constitutes Senate business and that Senate administration is available to provide some clarity upon request. Senator Comeau also suggested that Senators should discuss as a group the eligibility of certain kinds of expenses.

As noted in the same article, I recently called for the Senate to urgently move to ensure that our expense rules are clear and that there are consequences for any rules that may have been broken. We have to ensure that expense rules are aligned with the intended role of Senators and with public expectations. These rules must be stringent enough to protect the interests of Canadian taxpayers, but not so restrictive that they handcuff Senators to Ottawa and prevent them from getting out and listening to Canadians. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues this fall to give Canadians greater clarity around the role of Senators and what that means for the Senate’s expense rules.

To read the full article on the Hill Times’ website, please click here.


Upper Chamber should clearly define ‘Senate business’: Tory Sen. Black – The Hill Times (19/08/2013)

Posted August 19th, 2013 in Article, blog by Doug Black


Below are excerpts from an article that appeared in The Hill Times today (“Upper Chamber should clearly define ‘Senate business’: Tory Sen. Black”):

In light of auditing firm Deloitte’s inability to determine whether more than $20,000 of Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses were eligible to be reimbursed, the Senate needs to work to more clearly define “Senate business” and better understand what the full scope of the work of a Senator is supposed to be, says a Conservative Senator.

“The Senate needs to have a conversation around what is the work of a Senator. We understand that in Ottawa, we have an understanding of what that is, but not maybe as fulsome an understanding as we need as to what that work is in our regions,” Conservative Alberta Senator Doug Black told The Hill Times. “We need a broader understanding about what is it that a Senator can and should do to advance the role that he or she is supposed to be advancing, and that’s a conversation that has not started, but I think will start.”


“There’s a lot of talk in the report about was Senator Wallin on ‘Senate business,’ so then that brings up the whole question of what is Senate business? That is a conversation that we need to have. I don’t think it’s ever been defined,” said Sen. Black, who was elected as an Alberta Senate nominee in 2012 and appointed on Mr. Harper’s recommendation last January. “I have a pretty strong view, which is, as an elected Senator I need to understand the issues of Alberta, of course, but I also need to understand the issues facing other regions of Canada and where Alberta fits in that. I can’t do that by sitting in a bunker in Ottawa. I need to be out talking to people, listening to people and learning from people. That’s my view as to the role that I am to perform as a Senator, so we need to make sure that the rules reflect that ability.”

Sen. Black said he thought earlier changes to the Senate travel policy introduced by the Senate Internal Economy Committee last February in the midst of this Senate expense scandal, were likely “enough steps,” but said if more is deemed needed he’s ready to roll up his sleeves.

“Canadians have to have confidence that their representatives, whether Members of Parliament or Senators, are spending their money prudently. That’s the goal here. So the way to get to the goal, I think we’ve likely done enough, but I’m just saying, there may be more to do,” said Sen. Black.


Sen. Black said as an elected Senator, he’s been travelling Alberta throughout the summer to speak about the Senate and reform efforts. He said Albertans “are very concerned.” Sen. Black said the message to him about the Senate has been “very clear: fix it.” The appetite for Senate reform has “absolutely” been increased by the Senate expense scandal, he said.


Sen. Black also highlighted that he followed through on his commitment to Albertans to post all of his expense claims online last June.

 To view the full article, please click here.

To view Senator Black’s detailed quarterly expense reports online, please click here.


Senate Passes Bill Sponsored by Senator Black to Improve Certainty of Tax System and Close Tax Loopholes

Posted June 25th, 2013 in blog, Legislation by Doug Black

OTTAWA, June 25, 2013 – Today, the Technical Tax Amendments Act (Bill C-48) – sponsored by Alberta elected senator Doug Black – was passed by the Senate.

On June 4th, Senator Black delivered a speech in the Senate Chamber in support of the bill, which emphasized that it will add certainty and predictability to Canada’s tax code – something that will be beneficial to taxpayers and tax professionals alike. The legislation, which has been over a decade in the making, includes many miscellaneous tax changes that have been the subject of numerous open and public consultations.

Of particular importance are measures to close tax loopholes that will ensure that all Canadians pay their fair share. The Act will help to prevent schemes designed to shelter tax by artificially increasing foreign tax credits, and will also implement a regime for information reporting of tax avoidance transactions. These measures and others will make the tax system more fair and equitable for all Canadians.

At the bill’s third reading in the Senate, Senator Black expressed his appreciation for the uniquely non-partisan manner in which the bill was studied and debated.

More information on the bill and to read Senator Black’s speech in the Senate, please click here.


Budget 2013 Passed by the Senate

Posted June 25th, 2013 in blog, Legislation by Doug Black

Budget 2013Today my Senate colleagues and I passed the Government’s 2013 Budget. With an eye on balancing the budget, Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 also introduces, among other things, a bold and innovative skills training initiative, the largest and longest federal infrastructure plan in Canadian history, and significant new investments to support manufacturing and innovation in Canada.

As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance, I have closely scrutinized the contents of Budget 2013 and it contains many worth initiatives that I believe will put Canada on the path to greater prosperity and competitiveness.

For more information on the budget, please visit the Ministry of Finance’s website by clicking here.

Senator Black Sponsors Bill in Senate to Validate Marriages of Non-Resident Same-Sex Couples

Posted June 20th, 2013 in blog, Legislation, Press Release by Doug Black

OTTAWA, June 19, 2013 – Yesterday, Senator Black spoke on An Act to Amend the Civil Marriage Act (Bill C-32), which was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The Committee reported the bill back to the Senate today and it will now move to third reading.

Bill C-32 will remedy the unfortunate situation created in January 2012, when thousands of same-sex couples around the world found that their Canadian marriages were not valid under Canadian law. This was due to rules in private international law regarding marriage.

This bill will not only validate marriages performed in the future, but also for those performed in the past. It will also give couples and individual spouses access to a process to undo their marriages. As Senator Black noted in his speech, “Canada is breaking new ground with this legislation to alleviate hardship.” This new process recognizes the different needs of non-resident couples, including both heterosexual couples and same-sex couples.

“Although this bill has no effect on same-sex marriage laws in other countries, it is symbolic of Canada’s commitment to marriage equality,” says Senator Black. “It sends a clear message to those who have come to Canada from other countries seeking to express their commitment to one another in marriage. It demonstrates that Canada believes all couples should be treated with dignity and respect for their choices.”

The full text of Senator Black’s speech in the Senate can be found online here.

The full text of Bill C-32 can be found online here.