By ALTHIA RAJ, National Bureau
OTTAWA — MPs are set to tackle the thorny issue of whether they should take better notice when their colleagues play hooky.
A committee of MPs decided yesterday to study the attendance rules.
According to parliamentary rules, MPs are allowed to miss 21 days of work within one parliamentary session before they are fined. MPs are then to be docked $120 a day if they fail to show up to work without a good excuse.
MPs self report each month and are given a free pass if they are sick, working in their riding, or on “parliamentary business” elsewhere in the country or the world.
Conservative MP Joe Preston, chairman of a Commons committee studying the issue, isn’t aware of any chronic truancy but said the committee doesn’t have a clear picture because attendance records aren’t readily available.
Preston doesn’t know if there is a rule forbidding the publication of attendance sheets but said the committee would look into the matter.
The House of Commons’ Pay and Benefits branch would not allow Sun Media to consult MPs’ individual filings.
Heather Bradley, director of communications for the speaker of the House of Commons, said the information is not available publicly because it is considered a human resources issue.
“It’s never been a public document,” she said.
The Senate discloses attendance records each month. In 1998, senators voted to increase the fine to $190 a day if they miss more than 21 days, then bumped it to $250 in 2001.
In March, Sun Media scoured the Senate attendance records and found that Quebec Sen. Raymond Lavigne was still collecting a salary even though his colleagues had barred him from attending chamber proceedings after the RCMP charged him with fraud.