The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (the Committee) is established by the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Standing Order 108(2) gives committees the power “to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of the department or departments of government which are assigned to them.” The department and agencies under the purview of the Committee are.
The Committee examines, enquires into and reports on matters referred to it by the House of Commons. These may include legislation, departmental activities and spending, reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and other matters related to the general subject matter of the environment and sustainable development. Legislation administered by the above department and agencies, which therefore falls under the purview of the Committee, includes:
For a more detailed overview of parliamentary committees, please consult the Our Procedure.
The predecessor to today’s Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development was not created until 1986. Prior to that time, environmental matters, such as acid rain, were largely dealt with by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry and its subcommittee.
As it became increasingly clear that the environment was a distinct subject matter, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry was split into two new committees: the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the Standing Committee on Environment and Forestry. In 1988, forestry was dropped from the committee’s mandate, and it became known simply as the Standing Committee on Environment in 1989.
The name by which it is now known, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, was adopted in 1994.
In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committees’ Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of committees.
The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the committee. They are part of the committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED
Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, parliamentary counsel (Legislation) are available to assist members who are not in Cabinet with the preparation of private members’ bills or of amendments to government bills or others.
At various stages of the legislative process, members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the committee stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the report stage, once a bill returns to the House.
Once a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides the name of the parliamentary counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the members.
The legislative clerk serves all members of the committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee with any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of report stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.
The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.
Further information on the PBO may be found at: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/
In addition to considering routine matters such as the main and supplementary Estimates, reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and order in council appointments, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI) has undertaken the following studies in recent years:
Studies of Existing Environmental Statutes
Other Substantive Studies
Studies of Bills that were under Consideration by the House of Commons
42nd Parliament, 1st Session •
41st Parliament, 1st and 2nd Sessions
40th Parliament, 1st to 3rd Sessions
Matters Referred to the Committee Pursuant to a Statute