MPs should disclose gifts and “other benefits” worth $200 or more, rather than the current $500, says a report from the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, which reviewed the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. Currently the code states that MPs should not accept a gift or other benefit unless they “are a normal expression of courtesy or protocol or within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the member’s position.” This rule applies regardless of the value of the gift. MPs must publicly disclose, however, all acceptable gifts worth more than $500. In her testimony to the committee, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson noted that “amisperception persists among some members that a gift is automatically acceptable so long as it is valued at less than $500.” In its report, the Procedure and House Affairs Committee said, “to address this misperception, she recommends that a new lower threshold for disclosure of acceptable gifts be established.” Former House Speaker Peter Milliken, pictured left, appeared before the committee on May 5 and said he was comfortable keeping the $500 threshold. “He indicated to the committee that he understood members were invited to numerous receptions and meals almost daily; in his view, these were social situations that had a negligible impact on a member’s perception of an issue. Token gifts if received at such events were intended, in his view, to remind members of that event, as opposed to serving as influence on members that would affect how they voted,” the committee wrote. “He stated that, in his view, lowering the threshold could create a number of issues, including that ascertaining the value of a gift is often difficult, especially at first glance, as well as inconvenient and time consuming generally, and it would create an increased number of gifts that would need to be declared by members, thereby increasing the administrative burden both for members and the commissioner’s office.” The committee recommended the threshold be lowered to $200 to match the threshold under the Conflict of Interest Act for public office holders. The committee also recommended that all sponsored travel costs be disclosed, regardless of the portion paid for by MPs or the third party. Additionally, the committee recommended that all sponsored travel worth more than $200 be publicly disclosed, to match the gift threshold. “On the topic of sponsored travel, Ms. Dawson recommended amendments to the current exemption for sponsored travel from the code’s gift provisions. She noted that it seems anomalous that sponsored travel, which can be very costly, would not be subject to the same requirements as gifts of much lower value. She also suggested amendments to require public disclosure of any third-party funding of travel,” the committee wrote. The Procedure and House Affairs Committee noted in the report that it was unable to do a comprehensive review of the Conflict of Interest Code and also recommended that the committee undertake one in the next Parliament. For more information on gifting issues, The Lobby Monitor has published a book on the various rules. On the agenda (all times local) Events Canadian Armed Forces Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross will meet with non-commissioned members and officers in Montreal, Que., to explain the stages of her action plan related to sexual harassment and misconduct in the Armed Forces. She will speak to media at 11:15 a.m. Montreal Garrison, officer’s mess. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt (Halton, Ont.) will speak to the Economic Club of Toronto at a luncheon. 11:45 a.m. Toronto, Ont. Justice Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, N.S.) will meet with middle school students to discuss cyberbullying. 9 a.m. Riverton, N.S. He will later make an infrastructure funding announcement at 12:30 p.m. in Trenton, N.S. Announcements Science and Technology Minister of State Ed Holder (London West, Ont.) will make an announcement regarding an investment to help businesses develop innovative solutions to bring new products to the marketplace and create jobs. Conservative MP Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga, Ont.) will make an announcement regarding support for Canadian sheep farmers. 10 a.m. Wallenstein, Ont. National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Delta-Richmond East, B.C.) will make an announcement regarding the White Spot – Delta Road Race. 2 p.m. Delta, B.C. Conservative MP Greg Kerr (West Nova, N.S.) will make an infrastructure funding announcement. 2 p.m. Greenwood, N.S. Photo of the day i2 Ideas & Issues Advertising hosted a “Don’t Take It Personally Party” for MPs, media, staffers, lobbyists and other politicos to mix and mingle for one last time before they all head off on the campaign trail. The party took place at Fatboys in Ottawa’s Byward Market on June 9. Party goers included Global's Laura Stone, U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman and CTV's Don Newman. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright Editor's note Politics This Morning will return on Tuesday, June 16. 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