Update on my roles as MP and with Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.February 6, 2023
This is an update on my message, following a Toronto Star interview, in 2018. The original response is posted on my website, HERE.
Back in May 2018, the Toronto Star searched through the public postings on the webpage of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and was thereby able to establish that about a dozen of Canada’s 338 MPs had in the previous year reported employment income from a source other than their House of Commons paycheques. (This is distinct from unearned income from investments, pensions, etc., which was reported by many MPs.) The newspaper therefore sent a list of six questions to the dozen MPs. The purpose of the questions was to determine how, exactly, each MP is able to balance two jobs—and in particular, to determine whether each MP could demonstrate that having another source of income was not causing the MP to neglect his or her responsibilities to the Canadian public.
The newspaper was raising a valid concern, so I chose to answer the six questions in considerably more detail than the newspaper was seeking, and to make sure that my full answers would be publicly available, I published them on my website.
Five years have now passed, and it therefore seems like a good time to do an update, answering all six questions de novo. Readers will be able to compare the new answers to the ones that I gave back in 2018.
Question 1: Are you still receiving this income?
Scott Reid (SR): Yes.
Question 2: Can you tell me about the job for which you’re being remunerated?
SR: Back in 2018, I was the Vice-Chairman at Giant Tiger Stores, Ltd., the family-owned company that my father founded in 1961. I had assumed the position of Vice-Chair in 2015. My father, who was 84 at the time, continued to serve as the Board’s chair.
In August 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, my father stepped down as Giant Tiger’s chair, and I took over this role—after first confirming with the Ethics Commissioner that this would be permissible under the terms of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.
The role of Chair involves considerably more work than did the role of Vice-Chairman. But it is still true (as I wrote in 2018), to say the following:
It is not the role of a board member to be involved in day-to-day management of the enterprise. However, I devote considerable personal time to Giant Tiger—particularly on weekends and when away on holidays.
I also wrote at the time that although I am not present at the company’s Head Office on a regular basis,
I … articulate my views on key management decisions at the company’s Board meetings, and via memoranda to executives.
This continues to be true, but my memoranda now take a more structured form. I submitted my first Chair’s annual letter to the Giant Tiger Board of Directors on July 31, 2021, and a second one on July 31, 2022. These letters are substantial documents; the first one was fifteen pages long, and included several appendices. I also make written submissions to the Board’s quarterly Board meetings.
The subject of these letters tends to be on the need for the Board to focus on key metrics for the company’s long-term success. Such considerations are sometimes ignored by Management in the effort to maximize short-term profitability, and especially in a family-owned company, it is the role of the Board, and particularly the Chair, to focus on the long term.
Question 3: How many hours per week do you spend on this?
SR: It is still true, as it was five years ago, that on weeks when the House of Commons is sitting, I try to spend one day at my office at GTHQ. In the pre-pandemic period, this day was usually Friday, as this is a shorter-than-normal and low event day in the House of Commons. As we emerge from the pandemic and private enterprises function once more on an in-person basis more than was true in the 2020 – 2022 period, the specific day varies more than it did in the pre-pandemic period. For this reason, it is possible that I will be at the office on different days, depending on the week.
It is also possible to participate in the business remotely, in a way that was not possible prior to the pandemic. I now regularly attend meetings of the Board, and of Board committees, by means of videoconference. So I think it is likelier than not that for the foreseeable future, I will divide up my Giant Tiger time in a pattern that will vary from one week to the next, without increasing or diminishing the total time commitment.
I feel confident in restating the following part of my 2018 remarks in exactly the same words that I used then:
On weeks when the House of Commons is not sitting, I can devote a greater amount of time to Giant Tiger, although how much time varies, depending upon a variety of considerations. In addition to working at the office, I spend some time in the field visiting stores, our new warehouse, or visiting competitors. As noted in the answer to question 2, I also use some time that is outside of what would be thought of as ‘normal work hours.’
Question 4: How do you balance that with your duties as an elected politician? When do you find the time to do this additional work?
SR: In 2018 I provided a detailed, six-point response to this question. I think all the points I made then are still valid.
In addition, I should note that during the pandemic, videoconferencing became a normal method for MPs to interact with their constituents. This makes it much easier to meet with constituents while I am in Ottawa on weeks that the Commons is sitting. The fact that I no longer need to delay such meetings until I can get back to the riding means that some additional time in non-sitting weeks has become available for other uses. Thanks to this technological advance, I am now able to provide better service and more prompt response times than was previously possible (along with all other MPs).
Question 5: Why do you do it?
SR: My answer from 2018 is still valid.
Question 6: How do you ensure that none of your office resources as an MP are used in the performance of your other job(s)?
SR: My answer from 2018 is still valid, but a small update is needed: Back then, I was making use of a teleconferencing service called “Calliflower.” Today, I make use of MS Teams, which provides both videoconferencing and teleconferencing.
Question 7: How do you avoid conflicts of interest between your role as an MP, and your role in your off-the-Hill job?
SR: My answer from 2018 is still valid, but I’d like to add a few updates.
In my 2018 posting, I noted that I had made a general inquiry to the Commissioner on the subject of whether it might be permissible for me, at some future date, to assume the role of Chairman of the Board at Giant Tiger.
I should note here that upon learning in May 2020 of my father’s intention to step down as Chair, I made a second, very direct, inquiry to the Commissioner, as to the permissibility of assuming this role. On May 27, 2020 I received a confirmation from the Commissioner’s office stating, inter alia, “We have also confirmed that there was nothing in the Code that would prevent you from taking on this role as long as you would be able to fulfill your obligations under the Code.”
In the same correspondence, the Commissioner’s office made a request for further information regarding the role, including the precise date on which I would be undertaking the role, and over the course of the next few months I subsequently provided them with answers which they regarded as being satisfactory.
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