Sunday, January 1, 2017

6) If the money generated is in excess of what is required and the department doesn't even serve Canadians abroad then does this mean that there is a slush fund of sorts in the department? I mean if the money isn't being used to provide consular services to Canadians abroad such as the kidnapped Azer kids what then is the role of your department? Is it to serve only corporations wishing to expand to other nations or to serve foreign corporations that wish to invest in Canada? Does your department serve the people of Canada or the corporations? Or does the government only serve select citizens as in the case of Brenda Martin? Is there discrimination involved in the treatment of Canadian nationals abroad? Is this the reason why the Azer kids are still not home? http://www.rideauinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Canadians-Abroad.pdf Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda Gar Pardy Of even greater import in the provision of consular services to Canadians are the changes, over the past decade, to some of the fundamentals in the consular policies of the Government of Canada. These changes have largely resulted from the difficulties specific Canadians have encountered in foreign countries. In a number of cases, decisions by courts (mainly the Federal Court) forced the government to assist a Canadian when clearly it was not inclined to do so. As many of these cases involved new Canadians, there were legitimate fears of selective and discriminatory assistance. The Canadians involved were subjects of considerable public comment and their names alone illustrate the basis on which charges of discrimination were made: Ahmed Said Khadr, Muayyed Nurredin, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Khadr, Maher Arar, Ahmad Elmaati, Abduraham Khadr, Abdullah Khadr, Abdullah Almalki, Aly Hindy, Abousufian Abdelrazik and Suaad Mohammed. In comparison, the press also reported closely on the case of Brenda Martin, who had been detained by the Mexican authorities on fraud charges. In that case the government provided extraordinary assistance, even providing for an aircraft to return her to Canada after she was ultimately freed. Unfortunately, the standard of service available to Ms Martin is not available to all. ********************* If all Canadians are equal and all Canadians have the right to equal treatment by the government why did the federal government send a plane and get Ms. Martin home and not the Azer kids?

While reading about the problems of Canadians abroad in obtaining help from the federal government I came across an interesting bit of information about the use of money generated from passport fees:
http://www.rideauinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Canadians-Abroad.pdf
Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda
Gar Pardy

Consular services are part of several unique governmental services that are financed wholly by the users of the services. Each year the government collects around $100 million through the Consular Service Fee which is paid at the time a person applies for a passport. Over the past several years, efforts have been made to obtain greater transparency in accounting for this aspect of governmental finances, but so far complete accounting is not available. However, it can be stated with some certainty that the consular fees collected exceed by millions of dollars the cost of the services provided. This is contrary to the law establishing Consular Services Fees, which states that the monies collected are to be used exclusively for consular services



Consular Service Fee

In 1996 the government of the day implemented a policy whereby those needing consular protection would pay for such services. The Consular Service Fee was created requiring adults applying for a Canadian passport to pay a fee of $25, which would be used to support the services needed as they travelled abroad. The level of the fee was based on the cost of delivering consular services at the time—approximately $35 million—and would grow as more Canadians purchased passports, now an almost universal requirement for travel outside of Canada. As well, fees are charged for such other consular services as notarial acts, financial transfers and several administrative functions. Over the years since 1996, well over a billion dollars has been collected in Consular Service Fees, while the cost of providing services is considerably less. The Auditor General in a March 2008 report noted that in 2006–07 the government collected approximately $1.9 billion in service fees. In the section of the report devoted to the consular service fee, the Auditor General wrote that the department of Foreign Affairs collected more “in consular fees than the cost of providing the related services.” The report went on to note that Foreign Affairs agreed that “its costing methodology for consular services fees needs to be reviewed.” Global Affairs Canada website Travel.gc.ca continues to proclaim that “All the fees collected are used to maintain and improve Canadian consular services around the world.” Unfortunately, there is no annual test of the accuracy of this statement. Recent reports have indicated that, in the last fiscal year $104 million was collected in consular fees, while the departmental performance reports to the Treasury Board stated Global Affairs Canada spent only $50 million on consular services in 2014–15. The performance report for 2015–16 states that expenditures were expected to be approximately $49 million. No detailed accounting is available for the fees collected in excess of the expenditures. This situation has existed since the fee was implemented in the last years of the previous century. Over the four-year period from 2009 to 2012 the collected fees sequentially were $86.6 million, $95 million, $86 million, and $94.5 million. The sale of passports through that period remained relatively constant; however, no reasoning is given for the variances. During the same period expenditures for consular services ranged in the mid to low sixty-million-dollar range. Apart from the Auditor General’s request for better bookkeeping for the Consular Service Fee, nothing of any consequence appears to have been done. The government did not undertake a survey of the public to ensure that the fee and services were appropriate. However, on several occasions the government has asserted that the cost of providing consular services exceeds the fees collected. An equally troubling aspect of the delivery of consular services is the previous government’s steadfast assertion that such services are discretionary, forming part of the Crown Prerogative. There is a touch of irony in this as the government is collecting fees for a service that it has no legal duty to provide. It would be appropriate for the new government to review the amount Canadians are paying for consular services through the Consular Service Fee. Such a review has never been undertaken, and to do so would provide Canadians with a better understanding of why there is a discrepancy between the fees that are collected and the stated cost of providing consular services. The review should be submitted to Parliament.

***************************
What this information indicates to me is that we are being charged for passports, this money is more than what is required for the provision of consular services. The extra money is put where? We don't seem to have any requirement by the government to do anything when Canadians such as the Azer kids are kidnapped. Instead we have no information on where the excess money goes. Let me go ask the government about this matter.

This is the department:

http://www.international.gc.ca/international/index.aspx?lang=eng
http://www.international.gc.ca/gac-amc/index.aspx?lang=eng#minister

Corporate information

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of International Trade
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

http://www.international.gc.ca/department-ministere/contact_us-contactez_nous.aspx?lang=eng

The Honourable Stéphane Dion MP

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Represents the riding of Saint-Laurent (Quebec)

Contact information

stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-996-5789
Fax: 613-996-6562



So what will I ask them? And who do I write to? Best to write to the top dog. Mr. Dion.

Let me think


From: Julie Ali <
Date: Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 6:17 PM
Subject: -Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda Gar Pardy-----Consular Service Fee --------It would be appropriate for the new government to review the amount Canadians are paying for consular services through the Consular Service Fee. Such a review has never been undertaken, and to do so would provide Canadians with a better understanding of why there is a discrepancy between the fees that are collected and the stated cost of providing consular services. The review should be submitted to Parliament.
To: stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca, infomedia@oag-bvg.gc.ca, justin trudeau <justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca>


Dear Mr. Dion,

While working on the return of the Azer kids I wanted to find out what the Canadian government does for Canadian citizens who have problems abroad. I was shocked to find out that the Canadian government has no responsibility to do anything about the fate of Canadians abroad.

This should change in my opinion. It would not have changed with Mr. Harper and the anti-democratic crew of we just fired but it should change with the Liberals. I hope you will begin the work required as outlined in this publication:

Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda 
Gar Pardy
********************
Based on the omissions outlined in this publication it appears that Mr. Harper's crew was responsible for the failures to ensure that Canadians abroad and even in Canada receive equal treatment and help when in need.
I have also noted in this publication something that interests me with reference to the fees collected for passports. In this publication there is information indicating the following troubling matters that need remedy or at the very least explanation by your department:

1) Citizens pay for passports and other services that are supposed to cover the costs of these services only.  But the costs of providing these services are actually less than what is being taken in. What happens to the rest of the money?

 Is the excess put into general revenue for use by the federal government?  If so why then is the government telling us that this money is only to be used to provide these services? Why is your department issuing inaccurate information when the actual facts are that we have no way to prove that "All the fees collected are used to maintain and improve Canadian consular services around the world?  Can your department provide the audits of the use of this money since the Auditor General of Canada cannot?  It is very odd that the Auditor General of Canada can't determine where the excess money went so surely there must be internal department expense sheets to explain where the money goes? 


Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda 
Gar Pardy

 The Auditor General in a March 2008 report noted that in 2006–07 the government collected approximately $1.9 billion in service fees. In the section of the report devoted to the consular service fee, the Auditor General wrote that the department of Foreign Affairs collected more “in consular fees than the cost of providing the related services.” The report went on to note that Foreign Affairs agreed that “its costing methodology for consular services fees needs to be reviewed.” Global Affairs Canada website Travel.gc.ca continues to proclaim that “All the fees collected are used to maintain and improve Canadian consular services around the world.” Unfortunately, there is no annual test of the accuracy of this statement. 
***********
2) Although the sales of passports remained constant over years, the revenues generated seemed to have fluctuated as noted here:


Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda 
Gar Pardy

 Over the four-year period from 2009 to 2012 the collected fees sequentially were $86.6 million, $95 million, $86 million, and $94.5 million. The sale of passports through that period remained relatively constant; however, no reasoning is given for the variances. During the same period expenditures for consular services ranged in the mid to low sixty-million-dollar range.

***************
I am curious why would there be variations in the revenues generated if the number of passports requested remained the same. Can you explain this anomaly? I mean did the government increase and decrease costs for issuing passports every alternate year? If so why? 

3) The Auditor General has asked for better book keeping. Why is it that the government not followed the suggestion with better book keeping?
 If citizens are required to account for all their revenues and expenditures why is the federal government exempt from these same requirements?

Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda 
Gar Pardy
Apart from the Auditor General’s request for better bookkeeping for the Consular Service Fee, nothing of any consequence appears to have been done. The government did not undertake a survey of the public to ensure that the fee and services were appropriate. However, on several occasions the government has asserted that the cost of providing consular services exceeds the fees collected. 
***************

4) What is the role of the Auditor General in the failures of your department to follow up his recommendations? 

Does the Auditor General not issue a follow up report indicating to citizens the non-compliance of the federal government with reference to his recommendations? 

What is the legal requirements of a Minister with failures to meet the obligations to follow the recommendations of the Auditor General? 

Can the federal government get away with not following the recommendations? What then will citizens do to get government to follow the requirements? 

5) Does the Minister do audits of the money generated from the passports? If so where are these audits so that the public might know where their money went?

6) If the money generated is in excess of what is required and the department doesn't even serve Canadians abroad then does this mean that there is a slush fund of sorts in the department?

 I mean if the money isn't being used to provide consular services to Canadians abroad such as the kidnapped Azer kids what then is the role of your department? Is it to serve only corporations wishing to expand to other nations or to serve foreign corporations that wish to invest in Canada? Does your department serve the people of Canada or the corporations? Or does the government only serve select citizens as in the case of Brenda Martin? Is there discrimination involved in the treatment of Canadian nationals abroad? Is this the reason why the Azer kids are still not home?

Canadians Abroad A Policy and Legislative Agenda 
Gar Pardy
Of even greater import in the provision of consular services to Canadians are the changes, over the past decade, to some of the fundamentals in the consular policies of the Government of Canada. These changes have largely resulted from the difficulties specific Canadians have encountered in foreign countries. In a number of cases, decisions by courts (mainly the Federal Court) forced the government to assist a Canadian when clearly it was not inclined to do so. As many of these cases involved new Canadians, there were legitimate fears of selective and discriminatory assistance. The Canadians involved were subjects of considerable public comment and their names alone illustrate the basis on which charges of discrimination were made: Ahmed Said Khadr, Muayyed Nurredin, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Khadr, Maher Arar, Ahmad Elmaati, Abduraham Khadr, Abdullah Khadr, Abdullah Almalki, Aly Hindy, Abousufian Abdelrazik and Suaad Mohammed. In comparison, the press also reported closely on the case of Brenda Martin, who had been detained by the Mexican authorities on fraud charges. In that case the government provided extraordinary assistance, even providing for an aircraft to return her to Canada after she was ultimately freed. Unfortunately, the standard of service available to Ms Martin is not available to all.
*********************
If all Canadians are equal and all Canadians have the right to equal treatment by the government why did the federal government send a plane and get Ms. Martin home and not the Azer kids?

I believe we need answers to these questions. I also believe we need changes to the response of our government to the plight of Canadians abroad such as the kidnapped Azer kids.

Sincerely,

Julie Ali

According to the report "Canadians Abroad: A Policy and Legislative Agenda" the federal government has no obligation to help Canadian citizens abroad and can do what it likes. It can offer extraordinary help to some citizens and do nothing for others--all quite legally. It's a situation that needs to end. We should also know what happens to the money we pay for passports. There is supposed to be full accounting but the Auditor General of Canada has not been able to tell us what the department of Global Affairs Canada does with the extra revenue. It seems odd to me that this sort of failure to disclose where the money goes is tolerated in government and it seems very unfair. We should have the money trail. I mean if the federal government is not doing anything for Canadians experiencing difficulties abroad like the Azer kids why should we be paying for services we are not getting? #AzerKidsNeedMum
LikeShow more reactions
Comment


No comments:

Post a Comment