Laurie Watt photo
Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament because the legislative cupboard was bare, not because the government was ethically challenged with the ongoing Senate scandal, Treasury Board president Tony Clement said.
After a Barrie business roundtable Monday, the Parry Sound – Muskoka MP focused on government waste and cutting costs, pointing out he cut civil service travel budgets by $40 million.
“We have video conferencing and tele-presence capabilities throughout the government,” he said, adding bureaucrats should learn to use those effectively.
“It increases efficiency of the civil service to get the job done.
“We (also) cut the back office. Why does each department or agency have their own payroll or IT department? You can save money, increase efficiency and not impact unfavourably on the delivery of services.”
As Treasury Board president, Clement is responsible for managing government, as well as making it more transparent and accountable.
“I’m the guy who cuts red tape for small business,” he said, adding he is stopping Statistics Canada from surveying small business, because business owners say “it’s not a good use of their time”.
He lauded a requirement that Canada Revenue Agency staff give callers their names when they phone. “You have their name, so it’s not a nameless, faceless bureaucrat. That’s accountability.”
But accountability didn’t play into Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament as the Senate spending scandal was grabbing headlines, the MP said.
“We needed a Throne Speech after passing 37 bills into law, a new record for a Parliament. Our cupboard was bare. We needed to reboot,” he said.