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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, May 9, 2000

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The Chairman (Mr. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): Joe Jordan has just arrived. He is the chair of the caucus committee on the environment and sustainable development and a member of this committee, which is the committee on the environment and sustainable development.

Your chair tells me that in this limited time, you want to talk about auditing. We are glad. We can do that by way of a long and deadly boring monologue on my part or we can do that by way of questions. Which do you prefer?

Mr. John Horam (Chair, United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Conservative, Orpington)): We'll do questions.

The Chairman: Then we'll start.

Mr. John Horam: Should I just explain a little?

The Chairman: Sure.

Mr. John Horam: We're delighted to have Senator Spivak with us, as well as your colleague over here, Mr. Jordan.

The Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons was set up three years ago by the incoming Labour government, and we have two roles. One is to look at the policies of all government departments. That's why we're quite a large committee; we have to look at all government departments. There is also an environment committee that only looks after the environment department. Our second task is to audit the performance of the government against the targets they set themselves. So those are the two roles.

In the first three years, we have produced 16 reports. We've performed very well, to general satisfaction, our task of looking at the policies of government, criticizing in various ways and commending in various ways.

There's quite a big advance in government policy in the U.K., particularly as regards sustainable development. The government produced a sustainable development strategy last summer. We have actually taken evidence from John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, who is in charge of it, and we are in the process of producing a report on our own government's sustainable development strategy. So on that side, we've done well.

The problem has been that on the audit side, finding out what government has actually done in relation to what they say they've done has been much more difficult. First of all, they have not produced many targets for us to audit, and secondly, even if they had produced targets, we don't have the resources or the mechanisms to audit them satisfactorily. Therefore, we came to Canada because you have just such a mechanism in the case of the environmental commissioner, which you've created over the last five or six years. We thought that was exactly the right sort of body to fill the gap, as it were. If we could create such a body and it could report to us at the Environmental Audit Committee, we could then fulfil both parts of our role rather than just one part.

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Having met Rick Smith, the environmental commissioner, and talked to him and his staff at a very considerable length yesterday, what we are interested to see is how you view it as parliamentarians. We are parliamentarians like you. How do you view the way this system works? Is it satisfactory? What are the advantages and disadvantages of it and so on? That's what we'd like to know, if I may put the first question, as it were.

The Chairman: Thank you.

May I introduce David Chatters, who just arrived. He is a member of this committee on and off, depending on the moonlight and other combinations of planets. We're glad to have him here. He is very knowledgeable on agricultural matters in the west and a lawyer by profession.

Also, I welcome Senator Spivak, who is not a lawyer and is not knowledgeable on agricultural matters, but who is very knowledgeable on environmental matters.

Others will come. This is Marlene Catterall. She is our deputy whip and therefore we treat her very gently. She is a member of this committee as well and very keen on environmental issues as they relate to the workplace and the workers who apply and use dangerous substances.

For those who have just arrived—actually, only you, Marlene—the essence here is that the Environmental Audit Committee has existed in the U.K since 1997. It is a committee apart from their environment committee. So they have two committees, and this is new. They have a committee, which we don't have, but they don't have a commissioner, which we have, so that is probably the watershed. Yesterday they saw Mr. Smith, the acting commissioner, who probably has already told them everything about the legislation.

We don't need to tell you about the legislation, do we?

Mr. John Horam: Not really, no.

The Chairman: If you want a political perspective, we will be glad to give you plenty of political perspective. We'll go around the table rather than monopolize.

We'll start with you, Senator.

Senator Mira Spivak (Manitoba, PC): I think the commissioner for sustainable development has been a major step forward in terms of focusing on what is missing from government performance, but I don't see a great change in the enforcement, as I think we talked about. I don't see a great change in the willingness of the federal government to strongly enforce the environmental legislation that is in place. I say that advisedly, because there are matters that are in the minister's discretion.

As you know, the provinces own the resources, particularly in the area of forestry, for example, where there needs to be environmental impact assessment. In my own province, we have the largest grant to a company, which is about a fifth of the province. There was a recent case of the environmental impact on a small bridge that led over a small stream into this huge area that has millions of rivers and aboriginals and all kinds of birds that nest there and so on and so forth. There was an expressed interest on the part of the previous minister to go in there and do an environment assessment—and the trigger could be waters, fish, air, etc., which are all matters in the federal domain—and yet there has been no environmental impact assessment.

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So there's a great reluctance, given the federal-provincial set-up we have here, for the federal government to “intrude into provincial jurisdiction”, even though the environment is a shared jurisdiction. I don't know how that came about. I always thought it was global, and perhaps if not global, at least national, but now it seems to be shared provincially.

That's only one example. I'm not sure; it hasn't been a long enough time. Perhaps in time the commissioner of sustainable development, through persuasion or whatever, will begin to—How should I say it?—influence the actual enforcement of the areas in which the federal government can get involved. But so far it seems to me to have been a backward step for the federal government from where it was some years ago to now, when the government is very reluctant because of the atmosphere regarding provincial autonomy. That's my view.

The Chairman: Thank you, Senator, very much.

Mr. Chatters, please.

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): As the chairman said, I'm not a regular member of the environment committee, but I am vice-chairman and a regular on the committee on natural resources, so my interest in the environment committee overlaps with the natural resource issues. Certainly that's very relevant, with the Kyoto initiative going forward and those kinds of things. I have to divide my time and keep an eye on what's happening, certainly in the environment committee, and attend whenever I can, when there are issues that I think are also relevant to the natural resources development world.

In response to the senator's concerns about environmental assessment, we have for some time in this country been attempting to develop a joint environmental assessment program so that the provincial and federal concerns can be dealt with when we have natural resources development, so that you can't play the federal Department of the Environment against the provincial departments and drag the process out for years and years if you're developing a mine or whatever the project might be. Certainly we all want to see the protection of the environment followed to the letter of the law, but we should be able to do that through a joint process that meets the requirements of both federal and provincial governments and do it reasonable quickly so that these issues go forward.

No one can deny that environmental issues are becoming more and more important to every country in the world, not just Canada, but certainly they are a very important issue in Canada, because we have such huge uninhabited, pristine areas in Canada that need to be protected and looked after. At the same time, we enjoy the standard of living we do here in Canada in good part because of our ability to develop and exploit those natural resources. The secret, and I think what we all work for around here, is to find the secret of sustainable development so that you can have both to as high a degree as you possibly can.

That's where I am and where I strive to be. Certainly there are members on both sides of the issues on either end, and we'll hear from them I'm sure as well.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Chatters.

Madame Catterall, please.

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): We're a long way from achieving the kinds of standards I think are important, and I'd be really interested, for as long as I can stay, in hearing what you feel having a special committee on this has accomplished. We're a far way from what I regard as the ideal situation, where everybody in government who's making decisions at any time considers the environmental implications of those decisions.

Charles and I go back a long way on the environment committee to when we were in opposition. One of my favourite phrases is that you start in your own backyard. So I feel the federal government, as the largest employer in the country, really should be integrating environmental considerations into all its operations. We're far, far away from doing that.

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To me, environmental audit and environmental assessment have tended to be seen as barriers to doing things rather than as an important planning tool. You do the environmental assessment to find out whether what you want to do is desirable from the point of view of the impact on the environment and how you have to accomplish what you want to accomplish in a way that doesn't damage the environment. We're still at the point where sustainable development as a concept has been corrupted, in that we tend to talk about concern for the environment as interfering with economic development and one battling the other.

We're far away from having the grasped the concept that if life can't survive on this planet, then the economy is going to hell in a handbasket. So let's put first things first. We have to be able to breathe the air and drink the water or we're not going to have an economy to speak of in any way at all. We're still in the framework of thinking we have to choose between having a strong economy and preserving the environment, and I don't think that's the message of sustainable development at all.

In any case, I'd be really interested in hearing whether you feel having a separate committee has achieved some progress in that area. But it gets back to this: every department and every individual working for government has to look at the implications of their own actions and their own decisions, and government in total has to look at the impact of its policies before it adopts them. Instead we tend to look for excuses to not do what we know needs to be done. You can always find excuses.

We're far from serious acceptance of the life-threatening implications of not being more respectful and more protective of the environment.

The Chairman: Thank you.

We have been joined by the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Paddy Torsney; by the environment critic, Madame Girard-Bujold, of the Bloc Québécois; and by Mr. Clifford Lincoln from Montreal.

The next speaker on my list is Joe Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll preface my comments by saying I was elected in 1997, so you're getting a rookie's view of this. But I have had some concerns about the environment commissioner's reports, and they were touched on with Mr. Horam's introduction.

The environment commissioner, when he reports to the committee, is essentially talking about various federal government departments and how they're doing against the overall directive that we should be moving towards sustainable development. What you end up getting essentially is that each department will play its trump card, such as reducing fuel usage by going to natural gas and so on and so forth. They've all done good things, but in a lot of cases we're comparing apples to oranges. We don't have a set of standards to evaluate these departments against. We need to work towards that, so that not only can we evaluate various departments, but we can compare department-by-department performance and maybe share best practices. That's one of the weak links in the environmental commissioner process.

Although, having said that, we have such challenges ahead of us that any movement at all should be seen in a positive way. But I think we could make great strides by coming up with a set of independently verifiable objectives that we can evaluate against. Otherwise, you know, figures can lie and liars can figure, and with a lot of leeway you can pretty much make anything look good.

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That's a critical component, because, picking up what Madam Catterall said, not only should government lead by example, but we have some very large federal departments, and I think we have opportunities to prove the economics of sustainability, whereas businesses may be facing timelines or payback periods that are much shorter, given the pressures of global forces.

So I think governments can maybe take advantage of proving that retrofit will work. It may not be a three-year payback; it may be a five-year payback. But at least we can demonstrate that environment and economy don't need to collide. Every time they collide, I know who wins, and it's not the environment.

On what federal departments are doing, in terms of the role of public policy and how we approach that, up until a few years ago we used to have a group of bureaucrats within the environment ministry who reported on the state of the environment. It was one of the things that got cut as we went through this deficit fight.

Thankfully, in the last budget the government has rededicated resources, so we're currently developing a set of sustainable indicators on which we will be reporting as a government to augment what the environmental commissioner is doing. Where his work is mainly internal, this will reflect externally.

I think we have to find some way of engaging the public, some way of rallying people around priorities and getting some sort of agreement on what the problems are, because right now I find that in environmental debate a lot of times we're arguing about what the problem is, and that's one step away from what we want to be arguing about, which is what's the solution?

So we have to find some way of engaging people and demonstrating that sustainability needn't conflict with economics, that through changes to the tax system, or whatever instruments we may have at our disposal, we can somehow align the economy and society and environmental needs. I think that's where we're headed with this.

To wrap up the first round, I think one of the flaws—and you've obviously already realized it when you're reporting on the performance of departments—is that without a set of clear, independent standards, really the information you're getting isn't of much value when you look at one department versus another. You're really getting a bit of a public relations report out of one department.

It's something on which I questioned the commissioner last year, and I'll probably question him again this year. We need to have some kind of yardstick, and that yardstick can probably be an international one. That's why these types of meetings are very useful. We need to develop international standards, because then the benefits of comparison are compounded.

I'll leave it at that the first time around, and we'll come back to it.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Our next speaker is the former Minister of the Environment of the Province of Quebec, Clifford Lincoln.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I think this is a very useful and auspicious occasion, on which we have a chance of exchanging with colleagues from Britain.

I think one useful way of working together in the future might be to compare notes on the various things this committee has done and what the British committee might have done in counterpart.

For example, recently we read reports on enforcement that showed that maybe our enforcement practices are not as good as they should be. We've had a long session on our toxic control legislation, which is a controversial subject. We're now looking at an impact assessment review of our main act. We've just finished a report on pesticides.

It might be interesting to find out how you tackle issues like that on your side and how we can benefit from your experience, because I found out when I was the environment minister in Quebec that whatever we tried to do, somebody else had done before, and sometimes you reinvent the wheel.

For instance, when we produced our pesticides legislation, we could have benefited from the experience of lots of other governments, especially the U.S. state governments, that had legislation and tested it under fire.

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You can short-circuit a lot of the work that one jurisdiction does by borrowing on the good ideas of others. So it might be fruitful for the future if we could exchange on certain key issues where we might benefit from your knowledge and experience, admittedly in a different context, but all the same, there are certain things that are common to us all.

The Chairman: Thank you.

To complete the round, I would invite Madam Torsney, if she wishes to make an intervention.


Madam Girard-Bujold, please.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): I would like to welcome our witnesses. This is the first time that I have had the opportunity here at the Environment Committee to receive parliamentarians from the House of Commons of another country. My comments will be along the same lines as those of Mr. Lincoln.

Canada must be receptive to experience in other countries so that it does not have to start from scratch with what has been done elsewhere. Canadians and Quebeckers are increasingly concerned by all environmental issues, and it is becoming increasingly expensive to conduct studies. That is why linkages are so important and why information that can be shared between countries or continents can contribute to meeting the sustainable development commitments we made in Kyoto. As Mr. Lincoln was saying, we must avoid reinventing the wheel, and focus instead on implementing processes that will promote exchanges of information. The people are complaining that they don't know what is going on and they are very concerned about environmental protection. I don't think they have enough information about what we are doing in this area. Everything happens behind closed doors.

I do not know if this is the way things are back home, but that's the way it is here. I hope that we will be able to introduce a transparent process that enables us to inform the people, which should in turn help governments make progress in environmental research. Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you, Madam Girard-Bujold.


To complete this first round, let me add the following observations or questions.

Is the legislation we have in place working well? You may want to know. I would say that by and large it is working well.

What are the duties or purposes of the commissioner? The commissioner has six or seven purposes. I will read them very quickly. The first one is the integration of the environment and the economy; the second is protecting the health of Canadians; the third is protecting ecosystems; the fourth is meeting international obligations; the fifth is promoting equity; the sixth is pursuing an integrated approach to planning and making decisions that take into account the environmental and natural resource costs of different economic options and the economic costs of different environmental and natural resource options; and then, preventing pollution; and finally, respect for nature and the needs of future generations, a hint of which was mentioned already by Madam Catterall.

The commissioner, certainly in his reports—and I'm sure you have already seen the most recent one—tries hard to fulfil that purpose. There is a lot to read in each report.

Is the commission independent? Yes, it definitely is. It was purposely located in the Office of the Auditor General, and there is a very strong parliamentary tradition in Canada—as I suppose there is in the U.K., too—for a very independent Auditor General. I think that doesn't bring you news.

Does the legislation include the crown corporations? The answer is no. In the legislation, the commissioner reports only on departments, not on crown corporations, and that is definitely a drawback.

Does the government act on the commissioner's reports? Well, it's perhaps too soon to tell. We need different views on that.

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Do the media pay attention to his reports? Definitely. The media pay a hell of a lot of attention to them. The government does not look forward to the day, as it will be at the end of this month, when the next report is due.

The legislation defines sustainable development according to the Brundtland definition. I suppose you're familiar with it. The definition is in the legislation word for word and copied entirely from the report entitled Our Common Future. There is not one comma missing.

Finally, since 1993 in Canada we have the Environmental Assessment Act, which is not auditing; it is a completely different thing. But I just thought I should mention to you that it exists in addition to other pieces of legislation relating to the environment.

As far as auditing is concerned, there is only this piece of legislation.

Therefore, without having a special committee such as you do, we have the material on which to work and from which to draw the comments.

The departments are asked by legislation to prepare their plan. Each department, from Public Works to National Defence, you name it, is asked to prepare and give to the commissioner their plan for sustainable development in the coming year or years, or strategy, as the clerk says. Having done that, the commission then measures the performance of the department against its own plan. This is what Joe Jordan was referring to. It is within the limits set by the department itself, not by any other agency. It has certain deficiencies, no doubt, and Joe was very articulate on that.

We are very new in this business because we have had this legislation only since 1995 or 1996. We are just beginning to see the results. So it's a bit difficult. When we had hearings, we looked at the New Zealand model, which is quite impressive, but it does not fit into a federal system. So we felt that we would design a system that is typically Canadian, and so far, so good, in a sense.

What Senator Spivak referred to is political will. You can have 100 commissioners, but you need also political will to implement what the commissioners say. That is another discussion, of course.

In pure technical terms, this is the picture to the best of our knowledge.

If you like, we can have a second round.

Mr. John Horam: Yes, it would be very useful. Perhaps some of my colleagues can contribute, now having heard from our Canadian colleagues.

The Chairman: Sure. Mr. Savidge.

Mr. Malcolm Savidge (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Aberdeen North, Labour)): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

As our chairman has already expressed, we're very interested in the idea of a commissioner within the department of the Auditor General and the reports you and Mr. Jordan referred to. We understand that the reports go to Parliament and that they're then remitted to your committee. As you said, usually they get a great deal of attention during the period they're being discussed.

Do you often in fact then follow that up by revisiting the report say a few months later to see what action has been taken in remediation and to discuss the policy issues that have been raised? Is that a usual pattern? What experience do you have from that? Obviously we would be very grateful to learn from your experience there.

By the way, I think that we, like yourselves, have found—to go back to Mr. Jordan's comments—that this whole question of what are clear indicators and clear benchmarks is a difficult one, which at present is being looked at by a number of countries around the world.

The Chairman: Briefly, to answer your question, we have not yet revisited the report a second or third time.

Mr. Loughton.

Mr. Tim Loughton (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (East Worthing and Shoreham, Conservative)): Mr. Chairman, let's talk in general terms.

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The short time here has posed me with something of an anomaly in the work of environmental structures. We're told on the one hand that the environment is the number one issue, or certainly in the top few issues, in this country. We've been tremendously impressed with these structures and the infrastructure that has been put in place since 1995 with the commission, with the rest of the bodies coming together to influence government. I think we've been impressed that there's a high awareness of environmental issues within government circles.

But on the flip side of the coin we're constantly told that nothing has happened on the environment because the government has other priorities, mostly economic ones. We're told that the Prime Minister goes to negotiate a carbon tax reduction without any reference to the provinces, which then reject it out of hand. We're told that a significant piece of environmental legislation has been stuck in committee for some four years. So there seems to be some sort of anomaly there.

Can you enlighten us as to exactly what influence on government, both federally and in the provinces, there has been from the commission and from this committee? Is it simply true that at the end of the day environmental progress in this country has to wait on what happens on the other side of the border in the United States, or that you're stuck in this rather straitjacket of not being able to enact any legislation that prejudices one province against another? Therefore, the whole question of the environment is like a ping-pong between the federal government and provincial governments.

The Chairman: I don't know if I can enlighten anybody, but I will try to answer the question.

There's no carbon tax that the Prime Minister has spoken of or negotiated. He actually rejected the carbon tax, period, and therefore there hasn't been—

Mr. Tim Loughton: You won't have a carbon tax, I gather, but you negotiated a 6% reduction at Kyoto.

The Chairman: The Kyoto agreement was arrived at, but the notion of a carbon tax was rejected immediately by the Prime Minister. It has not been negotiated because it's not on the table.

In the 1980s Canada went ahead on acid rain and the reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions without waiting for the United States. Canada went it alone. Then in the early 1990s, under the Reagan administration, the Americans adopted their program. So certainly there was none of what you have described.

The same can be said about lead in gasoline. Canada removed lead in gasoline very early.

In relation to climate change, yes, there are signals, also not confirmed, to the effect that Canada will ratify Kyoto only when the United States will do so. So there isn't a very consistent pattern. In some cases it is felt that Canada should wait for the U.S., being the stronger, larger, and more influential economy. In some cases Canada has gone ahead alone in the hope—and it has worked—that then there would be a follow-up on the part of the U.S. That is the best answer I can provide you.

As to federal-provincial relations, the provinces are very jealous of their jurisdiction. They claim that they're doing an adequate job. We know that some of them aren't. Nevertheless, that is the claim. In the province of Ontario the environment has been relegated to last place by the Ontario government, so much so that in the case of fisheries we had to do something that is totally unusual and diametrically opposite to the present trend in federal-provincial relations—namely, we have reversed the devolution of power to the provinces on certain aspects of the Fisheries Act and resumed that responsibility because the Province of Ontario was not discharging it, which is unheard of. The pattern varies, of course, from province to province. There is no cliché we can offer you. Sorry.

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Senator Mira Spivak: I just want to comment. I appreciate what you're saying. Here's what I think, in view of this legislation for the Auditor General.

Everybody says that command and control is not the way to go, yet the areas where I think we've had major successes were exactly that. Let's take the reduction of sulphur dioxide, which as you know will hopefully force the oil industry to refine their oil and gas differently.

The Auditor General also has a lot more clout at the moment than the commissioner of the environment, because one can see actual costs and waste. Business as usual cannot be the answer. Since I come from the west, I witness what is happening out there, and it isn't what one would like to see. It seems to me that a more drastic approach needs to be taken. If you have a commissioner of the environment who does an audit, somehow the results ought to be binding. More than just persuasion is required.

I don't know what the mechanism should be. We're talking about the structure. There's no doubt there's no substitute for political will and the desire to actually do something, but a structural solution sometimes aids that political will. It seems to me that some kind of mechanism would be very helpful.

The Auditor General has the hammer in pointing out what money has been wasted, or where you haven't received value for money, and that catches everybody's attention. The commissioner of the environment is a one-day wonder, and unless there is a cost element or some sort of hammer, it might very well be business as usual for quite a while. I don't know how much time there is before you can't repair the damage. Just look at our fisheries on both coasts.

The Chairman: Now we have Madam Walley, and Ms. Brinton.

Ms. Joan Walley (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North)): I'd just like to thank all the members of your committee for the opportunity for us to actually join with you today.

It's very interesting to see your set-up, because you have things that are good and we have things that good. If we could get some kind of ongoing dialogue going, it could perhaps really help us all tackle the problem of sustainability, somehow or other, and sooner rather than later.

In terms of what Ms. Catterall was saying about it being important to do things in your own backyard, I think we would all subscribe to that. We're also very much aware that you need to have the global international framework as well.

One of the things that struck about what your auditor has done is we should draw up a list of all the international agreements that in one way or another involve the environment. Maybe that is an area where we could find some common cause, through our committee and your committee. We could look to see how we were making progress on that.

The other thing that's different, which is of interest to me, is that your committee, as I understand it, is at the same time making legislation, formulating legislation, and scrutinizing. In the House of Commons in our country, we just have one committee that scrutinizes, as we do, across the departments, but we have separate standing committees for particular pieces of legislation. So you don't have all the expertise on the environment in one place, when it comes to making legislation. I just point that out.

The thing I really want to say is I don't yet understand who is championing the environment in this country. I don't really understand. If you've ever really made progress on the environment, like you did on acid rain and sulphur, I don't understand who the champion of sustainable development is. Who is it?

Senator Mira Spivak: Mr. Caccia, and the non-governmental organizations.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Mr. Caccia.

Ms. Joan Walley: Perhaps that's why it's more important that we're here today. In a way, if we're going to bring the public behind us so we don't have this debate you're having, where perhaps there's a fear of taking the agenda further forward because some of the provinces aren't perhaps in line, it does need to be championed at every level. It's how we do all that.

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I'm just wondering, in terms of progress and the different structures you have, whether or not the Commonwealth might be a forum where we could look more closely at getting some kind of ongoing dialogue on sustainable development going. Given that we're in Europe, we have meetings with other European environment committee members, so it's easy for us to make contact with them.

There's an organization called GLOBE International, which has a European dimension. They're at conferences. Then as parliamentarians, we've met up with other European parliamentarians on environment committees. For example, Denmark is streets ahead of where we are in the U.K. We're all isolated in what we're doing. So I just wonder, through the Commonwealth, your work at the UN, or the infamous special relationship you have with the U.S., what opportunities there are for forging alliances and actually managing to do the local and global at one and the same time.

The Chairman: Ms. Brinton first, and then Mr. Keetch.

Ms. Helen Brinton (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Labour, Peterborough)): Thank you very much.

I would like to thank everybody for coming here to talk to us today, and indeed that remains true for the whole of our visit. I think we very much appreciate the chance to talk and share ideas.

I would very much like to echo everything Joan has said, particularly on the idea of sharing ideas and not making it just a sort of three- or four-day one-time visit and then that's that. In fact, some of the people we were talking to last night expressed interest in coming over to the House of Commons, perhaps later next year or whatever, on a return leg so you could see things from our point of view.

I really want to make two points. The first one follows the first speaker, who was talking about the reports that came out from the commissioner. I found that interesting, because yesterday we had virtually the entirely opposite view on the reports from the assistant commissioner. I was the one who took up your point, I believe. I asked, in terms of all the departments having to run their own agendas and make their own standards and targets, why they didn't all have external ones. He thought that very much wasn't the way to go. But he mentioned a dissatisfaction with the committee and said there were quite a lot of issues that were raised in some of his reports. He felt that perhaps you didn't see it as your role to take up those issues and run with them in Parliament. So perhaps there is need for more of a coming together in shared objectives on that score. Perhaps you definitely don't see it as part of your agenda, but I think we'd like to know.

The final point is I'd like to ask your opinion on green taxation. That came up slightly yesterday, and is something our committee has been very much involved in examining. I think it's fair to say that when you really try to go into it and make a case for it, it's very hard indeed. That's particularly true when you have a situation, as with our government, where they really have set their faces against having any sort of independent body, as we had recommended—a sort of green tax commission—to actually make the case in the public of changing the tax base. We found that every single green tax, either ones we've recommended, ones we've set our faces against, or ones the government has come up with—because no general case has been made—has caused outrage. I just want to know your views on that.

The Chairman: Senator Spivak.

Senator Mira Spivak: I just want to say there is a non-governmental group here in Canada that has met with the finance minister—in fact, I think he implemented some of their recommendations—to look at the whole situation of green taxation. The most recent case has to do with reduced sulphur in gasoline. The suggestion is not to increase the tax, but to reduce the tax on the cleaner gas. I think there are many ways in which this can be done. My own view is it's not the principle, it's the money, so if you can get financial incentives, this is really where it's at.

• 1615

There are many ways of doing that. An immense amount of money is given here for biotechnology research, and not enough money is given to all of these energy-saving devices. Just recently I was at GLOBE 2000, which is a huge trade forum, and I saw there are millions of companies looking at all different kinds of alternative fuels, for example, and various kinds of enterprises. That's a $700 billion business across the world, and it is about a $4 billion business here. Those avenues of exploration could be very fruitful.

The Chairman: Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Just to pick up on the notion of green taxation, it also comes back to what the senator was saying about the amount of clout the environment commissioner has versus the Auditor General. The Auditor General falls back on a very clearly global set of accounting principles that everybody understands, and his report is very black and white: things are either right or wrong. People just accept that premise, and the discussion moves a lot further along than the environmental discussion.

One of the hurdles faced by green taxation, or tax shift or full-cost accounting or whatever you want to call it, is that as a science, it's in its infancy. If we could develop this whole notion of full-cost accounting so that the environmental commissioner could report in those terms, then it would start to reinforce that in the public's mind. There are economic costs to everything we do; we just have to find a way to quantify them.

The senator talked about this, and let's use gasoline for an example. We sell high-octane traditional gasoline, we tax it, and the pricing structure is the same as our ethanol blends, which on the surface would seem to have lower environmental costs. You have to factor in the environmental costs of growing the corn, if there are any, but there are ways to do it. We just haven't done it. That's a critical first step. We have to start talking in terms of the costs associated with our actions, and I think we'll get the same amount of respect the Auditor General gets.

A massive education campaign needs to take place with the public. If you just simply go to tax shift, you raise the fear of environment at the cost of economy. I don't want to oversimplify the federal-provincial situation, but generally what happens is the province is closer to the economic.

You're going to go to Ontario tomorrow, and you'll find out that Ontario is very proud of its economic activity in the last ten years. They have certainly capitalized on that on the ballot box. But that's where their focus is, and they would see environmental legislation as perhaps hindering that, rightly or wrongly.

Every province is different. Quebec is a province that has demonstrated leadership on the environmental file. They've got around that. But Ontario has a very short-term economic mindset right now.

We have to get the whole sustainability file into some kind of economic framework, because people relate to that. If we don't talk in terms of dollars and cents—what are the costs of these actions—we're always going to come back to the same problem.

And as you say, this is nothing new. The idea of environmental accounting, green accounting, or full-cost accounting is really taking off, and we need to adopt some of those principles.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Keetch.

Mr. Paul Keetch (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Liberal Democrat, Hereford)): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As our chairman said, the environmental audit committee is a relatively new committee, and I'm the newest member of the committee. The reason we are here—and I've just checked in the aims of our visit as we actually declare them ourselves—is to examine the difference between the Canadian system and our system. The principal difference is that you have the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Bearing in mind that fourteen of us have come over here and it's cost the taxpayers of the United Kingdom a great deal of money to do that, with some expense indeed to the taxpayers of Canada, I want to try to answer in my mind the question, the very simple question, should we have a commissioner or not?

I have to say when I came over here, I was thinking yes, we should. But I'm getting very conflicting answers as to whether we should have one. I want to leave Canada in two days' time with a fairly clear yes or no.

• 1620

Now, it seems to me.... The commissioner, for example, yesterday stated that 28 of your government departments have had to produce returns as to how many of their sustainable development criteria they have actually met. He didn't know in his own department, actually, how well he'd done in that. I suspect that most other government departments don't know how well they're doing in that list of returns.

We've actually heard this afternoon about a number of great things that Canada has done on the environment—on sulphur dioxide, on climate change, on cod stocks—but those are all internationally related. Those haven't come about because you have a commissioner. They've all come about because of international events.

Indeed, when we actually spoke to the panel of external advisers, they said to us that in fact what was happening in Canada was that if there was going to be a major move forward on the environment there would have to be some big international thing that would push that. The Prime Minister wasn't pushing it, there was no political pushing for it, and therefore it would be an external thing pushing it.

Indeed, Mr. Chairman, committee members have said that you've been pushing it yourself.

I wonder, then, what has this office, what has this commissioner—and I'm not being critical of the individual—done in Canada? Really, can any of the Canadian members here put their hands on their hearts and tell me two things that are different in Canada today because you have this commissioner, just two things that would not have been different had you not had the commissioner?

The Chairman: It's not for us to tell you what you should have in the U.K., in the first place. Secondly, nobody claims anything around this table. We can only tell you that we have had this commissioner only in the last five years. We can only tell you that these are the powers of the commissioner, and these are the reports he has produced.

The media pay attention to what they say. The public reads them. Editorials are written. Evidently in any democratic society that kind of transmission of messages has its own impact.

You know your society better than we do. You are the only ones who can determine whether this kind of chain reaction, starting with the powers given to a commissioner by a parliament, the existence of a special committee, as you have it, the legislation, the reports, the media, the triggering of public awareness, and the triggering of pressures on the politician, which form a broad and continuous circle, may eventually produce results. That is for you to decide. We can only tell you how it is set up and how we see the process.

Sometimes results come from the most unexpected source—for instance, the pressure comes from a municipality or from an NGO or from a committee, if you like, or from the commissioner. In a complex society such as yours and ours, it's very difficult to pinpoint where the action really began with the historical, gradual evolutions that bring the issues to a certain momentum, or kill them, in the reverse.

So don't expect in your visit to Canada to hear from us about what you should be doing. You are the ones who have to determine, on the strength of what you have analysed, what your future ought to be.

But I'm blabbering on too much here.

Mr. Chatters, please.

Mr. David Chatters: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think the position of the office of an environmental auditor is a wonderful concept. It can never reach the potential envisioned for that concept simply because of the structure of this country. The shared federal-provincial responsibility in environmental matters is probably the biggest roadblock, and I think we'll be a long time wrestling that one through.

If the federal government had sole jurisdiction over environment, they probably would still need shared responsibility, at least in the natural resource sector, and they don't have that. Those jealousies of jurisdiction go back a long way, and in many cases are well founded in past history. The provinces are somewhat sensitive when the federal government appears to be heavy-handed in areas of either sole jurisdiction or shared jurisdiction.

• 1625

Only you can judge how it would fit into your system and who has responsibility for environment. If you have a single authority that has sole jurisdiction, I think the concept would work much better than it does here in Canada.

We may make it work better here, but as Mr. Caccia says, we're just beginning. We have a lot of things to work through. We're a long ways apart from having the provinces and the federal government come together on those kinds of issues. There's a lot of conflict there.

You know, you bring up memories of the national energy program and such things, which don't sit well in the west.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Gerrard, followed by Mr. Shaw and by Mr. Grieve.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Labour, Walthamstow)): Chairman, I think you yourself said a little earlier in the discussion, in terms of looking at the consequences of having a committee or a commission or whatever, that political will mattered, whatever the structures were, and we shouldn't confuse the two.

I think a colleague raised the question of whether or not we should have a commission. I think we should be very careful about blaming the structure in terms of whether there is action or not at the end of it. It's the politicians who are responsible for the action.

As far as the structures are concerned, I think the questions we should be asking ourselves are whether we're providing the best structures to give ourselves the tools to do the job we want to do. Mr. Jordan raised this point about the developing demand for some type of accountability assessment or environmental audit. At the moment we don't have a structure to do that, and I think those are the issues we really wanted to look at in terms of your experience.

I'd like to ask a couple of practical things about the way you work in relation to the commissioner. You know, we're not a legislative committee. Our function is purely to scrutinize. I would say it's probably true at the moment that we are very often acting in a reactive way, that we are following, that government has, say, done something, and we are then reacting to that by saying what we think of what the government has done.

We have this problem of not having the capacity ourselves to carry out audit. I think if we want to develop that audit function, then as politicians I think we perhaps need to have the ability to have some say in what is actually audited.

One of the things I'd like to know about the way your system works is whether you are able as a committee to influence what the audit commissioner does. If you thought there was something he should be looking at, how much influence would you be able to have on that, or are you, again, simply being driven along particular paths by what the commissioner chooses to do rather than what you as the politicians choose to do?

Second, when you are looking at the reports that the commissioner delivers to Parliament and that come to you, I'd like to know how far you then simply examine the report or how far you go on to maybe call witnesses, to bring people from other government departments other than the Department of the Environment, in order to look at what they said in relation to what the commissioner was recommending about their department?

The Chairman: Those are very practical questions, Mr. Gerrard.

Very briefly, do we influence what the commissioner does or will do? Because of the independence of the office to which he belongs, certainly not openly by way of a meeting in which we tell the commissioner what he ought to do. By definition, the Auditor General does not take direction from anybody.

• 1630

That doesn't mean you can't have informal discussions, make suggestions, have lunch, and say, “Well, Fred, perhaps next year, if the weather is favourable, you might want to look at such and such” and you leave it at that. This is how many things get done in any political system, as you know.

How far do we act on the commissioner's reports? That was the last question that was asked earlier. Definitely we do not act enough on the commissioner's report. If we had a committee, as you have, definitely we would do a better job and the commissioner would not have complained with you yesterday. Actually, you raised that point. So we have certainly been remiss in this.

However, last year the commission devoted a tremendous amount of ink to the issue of pesticides. As Joe Jordan or Clifford Lincoln told you a few moments ago, we are producing a report next week on pesticides, which started the month after the commissioner produced his report.

Mr. John Horam: Can I just intervene on one thing?

The Chairman: Sure.

Mr. John Horam: When we had the meeting yesterday with the environmental commissioner, it was not he who complained about this committee.

Ms. Helen Brinton: It was somebody else.

Mr. John Horam: It was somebody else. He was not complaining, just for the record.

Voices: Oh, oh!

The Chairman: All right.

Mr. Shaw.

Mr. Jonathan Shaw (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Labour, Chatham and Aylesford)): Thank you very much, Chairman.

I've been quite impressed with the commission and the institutional apparatus that it has set up.

You're talking about pesticides. Mr. Jordan made the point about being absolutely certain and having all the information. We understand that 17,000 hours went into this report. We as a committee simply wouldn't have anywhere near those resources to be able to make such an in-depth inquiry.

The Chairman: The 17,000 hours refers to which report?

Mr. Jonathan Shaw: Toxic substances. They audited themselves, which is quite incredible. Obviously when they arrive before this committee or when they put their report to the House, it's absolutely certain that they've covered everything and can speak with confidence and great authority. It seems to me that's what's needed in order to tackle the types of problems Joe Jordan was referring to. If someone in Canada is going to advance the issue of carbon levels, there has to be a debate.

I recognize the difficulties with America, but in North America, Canada and the U.S.A. are huge contributors to meeting the Kyoto protocol. I think that offers an opportunity, but before that can happen, there has to be the political will for the commission to have the remit, and that's not going to come at the moment.

I have a question. Obviously one of the difficulties, whether it's Kyoto or other environmental issues on taxation, is getting the agreement of the provinces. Do you do any work with the environment committees in the provinces? Are there any quarterly meetings or looking at particular issues?

The Chairman: First of all, there is a federal-provincial council of environment ministers at the executive level that attempts to harmonize, as you say. There is a process that was launched two years ago aimed at achieving a better integration of federal and provincial legislation and measures. At the parliamentary level, though, there is no coordinating effort at the present time between the territories, the provinces, and this committee.

• 1635

Mr. Jonathan Shaw: If that's not happening, when we're talking about what Mr. Jones said.... You know, it's great; let's all get together internationally. But if your own country isn't speaking, then it's backyard time.

The Chairman: Madame Torsney may have a better answer. She would like to comment.

Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.): It's not uncommon for us to hear testimony from various provincial ministers or people who would be elected officials at a provincial level about the implementation or potential implementation of a certain bill. But recognize that we have specific jurisdictions, so we wouldn't necessarily need to have the same kind of integration. There are separate responsibilities.

Mr. Jonathan Shaw: But it's not going to happen unless you—

Ms. Paddy Torsney: The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meets on a semi-annual basis, I think it is—two times a year.

The Chairman: You have a great advantage over us; you don't have a federal system and therefore you can achieve much greater things in a much shorter time than we can. So you have no excuses for not doing it on that strength.

Dominic Grieve is next.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (United Kingdom House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (Conservative, Beaconsfield)): Thank you, Chairman.

Speaking personally, I found the institution of the commissioner and what was being achieved impressive. Quite simply, whether it's 1,700 hours or 17,000 hours, we have neither in terms of our ability to provide input into producing a report. The result is that as a committee, we are dependent on a very small staff, on bringing in certain outside advisers, on hearing from NGOs, on hearing evidence. In terms of our reports, therefore, the tendency must be to shoot from the hip, because our ability to be masters of the detail of briefs simply isn't there.

What interested me and what I wanted to try to get some clarification about was this. Historically our committee has worked or has seemed to work well partly because it has operated on a non-partisan basis. We've never had a vote. We have succeeded in producing unanimous reports and we have tended to look at the remit of our brief, which is to examine the government's performance by the standards that the government has set itself and then to pronounce on whether it's succeeding or not.

The impression we had, certainly from our meetings yesterday, was that your committee's views might be rather more diverse in terms of response to reports. What interested me is whether that is because you have such a wide remit that goes well outside audit. Is it perhaps because by the very nature of having the commissioner there to provide you with the information, the harmony begins to break down when you move from the general to go down to the particular?

This is something that is of interest to us because so far as it's humanly possible, we would like to maintain our non-partisan approach and the discipline of looking at audit whether we had a commissioner or not. Is a commissioner going to help us to do that or is a commissioner going to hinder us? On that, we need your point of view as to how you see your committee operating. I don't know whether anyone can help us on that, but it seems to me it's quite an important question that we have to go away and ponder.

The Chairman: Perhaps we should have another meeting tomorrow for a couple of hours.

Voices: Oh, oh!

The Chairman: That is a big question. Maybe someone else will want to tackle it. If not, we'll see.


Madam Girard-Bujold, please.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I will certainly not be able to answer your question, but I can tell you that the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development reports to the Auditor General, who used to submit studies on environmental matters.

As you know, in Canada, environment is divided among several departments, including Agriculture and Health. The Auditor General's report pointed out that public servants in these various departments did not speak to one another and acted unilaterally, and that there was no form of cooperation even though their activities focussed on a very specific set of problems. It was as a result of the concerns mentioned by the Auditor General over the years that the position of commissioner of the environment and sustainable development was created.

• 1640

As Mr. Chatters mentioned, Canada is a very large country, and what happens in British Columbia is different from what happens in Newfoundland or Quebec. Not everyone has the same environmental concerns. It is important for Canada to pay attention to the specific features of each province and region. Although many people may claim otherwise, I believe that there are advantages to the situation, because the strengths and weaknesses identified in each province may lead the Canadian government to comply with the commitments it made in Kyoto.

As you know, we in Quebec have placed a priority on hydroelectricity. Because of our approach, the cost of electricity is very low here. Hydro-Québec has encouraged Quebeckers to switch from oil heat for their homes to electric heat. That is one of the measures we have taken in Quebec.

In other parts of Canada, there are other concerns. I believe that it is very important for us to be able to sign federal- provincial agreements. It is also important that the commissioner should be independent. The commissioner is very well connected and knows full well what is happening in the public arena. The concerns stated by the commissioner sometimes match our own concerns very closely. We examine his report, refer to it and support it in order to deal with the matters he brings to our attention. We can intervene and help to solve problems that the commissioner or anyone else may have identified. I believe that this procedure is beneficial to both Canada and the provinces, who do speak to one another. Even though some may claim we do not speak to one another here, we certainly do speak to one another and we speak to Canada. However, we demand that Canada respect provincial areas of jurisdiction. Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you Ms. Girard-Bujold.

Madam Torsney, Mister Jordan,


and then we'll wrap it up.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: I think part of the issue is how we're organized across departments and in our parliamentary system.

The commissioner of the environment mentioned in his report a great concern with pesticides. This committee did a report. The changes in the legislation are over in the health department, in the health minister's hands, and in all likelihood a bill will end up at the health committee. That's a bit of a challenge, but it doesn't mean that various members will be paying attention to what's happening in the various committees. So how you organize and how we organize is perhaps completely different.

We also have.... You talked, John, a bit about understanding how things work vis-à-vis the United States, but I wonder if you really understand how integrated our economies are. There are a billion dollars of trade every day across our borders—every day. And in my part of the world, the warehouse of the nation is the highway, so we have trucks zooming along all the time. All the highways are jammed. Our economy is chugging along like crazy, but we don't necessarily have the infrastructure. So that's creating some challenges.

We are also integrated in terms of air quality and pollution issues. Fifty to eighty percent of the smog in Ontario is from the Ohio Valley. Atlantic Canada has all the smog from New England. We happen to send some down into upper New York State, and some in the Vancouver area, perhaps. But generally, we're getting a lot of stuff from them. So sure, we can have unilateral action on various things, but it doesn't make any sense if the problem is across the border.

The most bizarre example of that is Detroit. It was one of the cities that had special measures for air emissions. They had this for a while, then they did an evaluation. They tested the air quality and they said “Great. You can pull all those controls off.” Yes, well, Detroit's air is in Windsor, Ontario. So Windsor was saying “Not on your life. We finally have some clean air. Don't measure your air there. Measure the air here.”

So there are some jurisdictional issues, and it's a bit of a challenge.

I don't think that on implementing Kyoto or whatever you can ignore the fact that there are lots of companies who do business on both sides of the border, and that there is a push back. In terms of evaluating progress, I think you also have to look at where you were, where you are, and where you want to get to. Obviously that first 50% or 75% reduction is easier to accomplish than the last bit. A lot of companies tend to push back when governments talk about environmental issues, but in fact they're delivering on a lot of it. So they'll yell and scream, but back at the plant they're delivering on what they need to deliver because their own employees and their customers are asking for things. So we tend to have a lot of noise, but we actually have a lot of accomplishments as well, I think.

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I represent a very pretty bedroom community that is opposite the steel mills, and traditionally they were very polluting. The water quality and air quality were quite rough. Now, all the industries are environmental technology industries. They are meeting the challenge in exporting all of it, so they're very interested in government regulations and environmental legislation. But when people, and government in particular, think about what industry thinks about this, they think about the other industries—the resource industries and the polluting industries—instead of the environmental technology industries.

The other thing is that we also have in Canada a lot of power in the municipalities. I don't think people have necessarily recognized that. A lot of them.... In Toronto, it's about 15% of the country. So that makes a big difference.

The other thing is that in our party system, the caucus plays an incredible role—in our party anyway. The other parties can speak for how they operate. Joe Jordan has a caucus committee that he chairs. The caucus members speak out on issues and they get listened to, by and large. A lot of that takes place behind closed doors, so it's hard to see some of the impact, but there is a lot of work done on that level.

Lastly, last year we implemented into the Canadian Environmental Act the way we manage toxics and how we deal with some of our international agreements, whether it's Basel or whatever else. That was a bit of a struggle, but it has been passed and they are working on implementation. Hopefully, the commissioner of the environment will tell us it's going well.

That is a little bit of background that will help you make your decision, but your economy and your way of governing is so completely different from ours that you'll have to make your own decision.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Mr. Chair, I want to make an attempt at addressing what Mr. Grieve was saying, because I think it was a very interesting concept.

We have the Auditor General's stream to compare to. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that federal departments live in fear of falling under the gaze of the Auditor General. Opposition members feed on the information the Auditor General provides. That works quite well in terms of holding the government's feet to the fire.

Currently in this country, we have.... Were you at question period today? I would say—I'm guessing—80% of the questions you heard in the chamber today go right back to something the Auditor General uncovered. It works rather well.

The problem with the environmental audit process is that when all the environmental auditor's doing is evaluating departments on a set of internal standards that they developed themselves, you know, we have so far to go that any movement's nice. As the environmental commissioner increases his capacity to identify specific areas of incompetence on behalf of the government, I think there's no way you can prevent that from becoming partisan. There's no way you can prevent that from getting sucked into the political arena. So that's the trade-off.

I think the partisan nature of it isn't necessarily a bad thing. When opposition parties are given specific examples by an independent review, but then confront the government on it, it's one way of moving the agenda. It's not the only way, but it's one way.

What it comes back to for me is the whole issue of the environment and what we do—how do we make the changes that, if you project ahead, you know we're going to have to make? I think it comes back to having to engage the public. I come from a riding that has three major chemical companies, and if I start going around publicly hugging trees, I run the risk of losing the next election.

• 1650

We have to engage the public so that they'll demand these sorts of actions from politicians, because I don't think you're going to find a lot of leadership kicking around on the issue, since you run the real risk of falling on your own sword.

But the trade-off is that as the environment auditor profile increases, so will the partisanship around it. I don't think there's any way you can prevent that, but knowing that will happen may direct the impacts in a more positive way.

My final thought, though, in truly Canadian fashion, is I don't think it's either/or. With a select committee, you have a committee that can focus on the audit end without being interrupted by legislation. One of the challenges we face here is this. We did a pesticide report, but we managed to fit it in because we were in between pieces of legislation. Legislation on species at risk is going to come before us in the next week or two, so we don't have time to go back to the environmental commissioner's report.

So maybe what we should take from your model is this select committee that doesn't have a legislative agenda, to make sure what the Auditor General says is followed up on, and maybe what you should take from us is that the Auditor General should do a lot of the front-end legwork. Maybe there you have a bit of a solution.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Grieve, your question was whether the commissioner could be a divisive force or a cohesive force within the environment committee. A corollary to what Joe Jordan just said—and I agree fully with him—is that probably the reports of the commissioner are controversial in the House of Commons, particularly in Question Period, but by and large they are a cohesive document within the committee, because the committee attracts people, by and large, who would be sympathetic to the role of the commissioner. If you have people on the government side of your committee who can exert a positive influence in their caucus, then of course the commissioner can become a force for constructive change and for improvements.

So it very much will depend on the composition of the committee itself. Your question can be answered in many ways, depending on the composition of the committee per se, but by and large, because a committee on environmental audit will attract a certain type of parliamentarian, it is more likely to be a cohesive force than a divisive force.

Sir, over to you.

Mr. John Horam: Thank you very much indeed, and thank you to all the Canadians who came along today to inform us. We are very glad to have the views of the parliamentarians. Please look us up when you're in the United Kingdom. We'll be very glad to see you and exchange views on our side of the pond.

The Chairman: All right.

The clerk informs me that the proceedings of this committee will be available in two weeks. Or are they on the parliamentary website already?

The Clerk of the Committee: In two weeks, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Malcolm Savidge: What's your website?

The Clerk: It's

Mr. Malcolm Savidge: Very good.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.

The meeting is adjourned.