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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Thursday, June 15, 2000

• 0908


The Chair (Mr. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): We're hoping we can reach the quorum, and because members have other commitments in other places, we can start to have a discussion very soon, at least a preliminary discussion until we have the quorum for the votes.

First of all, we have a very heavy agenda today. It ranges from water and sewage treatment here in Ottawa—sorry.

An hon. member: Mr. Chair, I think you should mention that we are in camera.

The Chair: No, we are not in camera. This is a normal meeting. This is a regular meeting of this committee.

Could we have some order, please? This meeting can be in camera if members wish to request that it be in camera. I thought it was public business that shouldn't be dealt with in camera.

Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): The notice said we're going to be in camera.

The Chair: The notice may be wrong.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes.

The Chair: It can happen. It happens in the best families.

So unless members insist that it be in camera, I would proceed in a normal fashion. It is public business and it's very legitimate business.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Excuse me, Mr. Chairman.


The Chair: Yes?


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I would like the two motions I tabled three weeks ago to be considered in a public session.


The Chair: Yes, of course.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Okay. I just wanted to clarify that.


The Chair: Then we're on the same wavelength.

Could we please have some order over there in the unruly benches and some attention towards what is being said?

• 0910

Madame Girard-Bujold has asked that this meeting not be in camera. We don't have a quorum yet, but we can still discuss the fact that we have a heavy agenda, as I was saying, ranging from water and sewer treatment, a visit to the local plants here in Ottawa for interested members of the committee in September, a possibility of calling the Speaker to appear before this committee to discuss the greening of the Hill and the fact, as many of you have mentioned in private, that there is some slippage in greening on the Hill, which might be brought to the attention of the Speaker in September, and then we have two motions by Madame Girard-Bujold and one motion under section 108, which I will explain later.

So without undue delay—and we are still short of one for a vote—I would invite Madame Girard-Bujold to put forward and explain her motion—

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.): We don't have a—

The Chair: —and start our discussions.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: No, point of order, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Excuse me. May I be allowed to finish my sentences and then recognize those who wish to raise a point of order? Thank you.

Madame Kraft Sloan on a point of order.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, if we don't have quorum for making decisions, how can we discuss motions? People will come in at the last moment and they won't be able to understand what it was we discussed, and then we will have to discuss it again.

It was also my understanding that this was an in camera meeting.

The Chair: If Madame Kraft Sloan were to listen carefully and not selectively, she would have learned some minutes ago that it is the wish of Madame Girard-Bujold to have the meeting not in camera, to which there was no objection when that statement was made.

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): No, we weren't even told that she didn't want it in camera. We were told it was in camera.

The Chair: I repeated that point twice a few minutes ago, and if members are too busy talking to each other and don't listen, that is the reason why they didn't hear it.

Ms. Aileen Carroll: It would have been a lot more helpful to have heard it before this.

The Chair: Now we have a quorum, so we can proceed with the matter that Madame Girard-Bujold wishes to put to the committee.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: There was an objection to in camera.

The Chair: If there is an objection to in camera, then let's hear it.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I object, Mr. Chairman.


The Chair: Madame Girard-Bujold wishes it to be an open meeting. I think if Madame Girard-Bujold wants a public meeting, there is no reason to have her matter dealt with in camera. So unless I hear some very strong reasons against it, we will proceed with the motion. Considering that we owe this, as a courtesy, to the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who is a welcome guest to the committee and who has other committees to attend, therefore we would like to get this matter resolved and dealt with.


Ms. Girard-Bujold, you have the floor.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, I have two motions to introduce this morning, one dealing with the riding of my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry, and the other dealing with the St-Lawrence River.

If I may, Mr. Chairman, I will give the floor to my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry, who will outline the purpose of his motion.


The Chair: Could we have order, please?


Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and committee members for agreeing to hear the motion that I asked my colleague Jocelyne Girard-Bujold to bring before the committee.

I asked fir this to follow up on a request from the priority action committee, the Comité ZIP du Haut-Saint-Laurent, and the people who are actively working on the committee to protect the environment of the St-Lawrence River and lake Saint-François, which is one of the most beautiful waterways in my riding.

These people are concerned because a PCB incinerator in Cornwall, the Canadian city that is the closest to Quebec and borders on my riding, is incinerating high concentrations of PCBs. This situation has given rise to concern, because no impact studies were conducted by the Ontario government prior to issuing and upon issuing a licence to authorize this company to incinerate PCBs.

• 0915

We would like an impact study to be undertaken, because if the Comité ZIP and its main proponents are concerned, so are the local residents. You know that lake Saint-François...

The Chair: It is noisy here and I can hardly hear you. I would urge committee members to listen to what Mr. Turp is saying.

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): I simply wanted to know what we were doing.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Daniel Turp: Colleagues, I am trying to explain why we should adopt this motion, which is designed to ask the Department of the Environment to conduct an environmental assessment to measure the pollutants that will potentially emanate from a PCB incinerator in Cornwall, which is very close to my riding. There are lots of local residents and several cottages, in addition to many aquatic activities, in my riding around lake Saint-François.

The local residents have pointed out that there could be serious problems with water contamination. The idea would be to request that the Department of the Environment conduct a study. In keeping with its mandate to ensure that the environment is respected and not contaminated, the committee could ask the department to undertake this assessment that has not yet been conducted by authorities in Ontario.

Moreover, the Canadian Department of the Environment recently admonished the Ontario government that, it would seem, does not always do its homework in terms of environmental assessments. The committee could send a clear message to the Ontario government by asking the Canadian Department of the Environment to conduct this assessment.

I believe it is justified, all the more so since it is an issue of transboundary pollution between Quebec and Ontario, which would justify action by the federal Department of the Environment as allowed under Canadian legislation.

We are all members of Parliament and it is our duty to follow up on requests that come to us from groups of citizens. That is why I am asking the committee to invite the Department of the Environment to conduct this work that has not yet been done and that should be done.

I think that my constituents and the members of the Comité ZIP would greatly appreciate it, Mr. Chairman, if your committee gave them a hand, as they want nothing more than to see their environment better protected.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Turp.

Ms. Girard-Bujold, do you want to read the motion?

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

The motion reads as follows:

    That the Committee requests the Department of the Environment to carry out an environmental assessment in order to measure the pollutant emissions which may emanate from the PCB incinerator in Cornwall.

The Chair: Thank you.


You heard the motion. Are there any comments or questions?

Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: I've taken a look at this. Like my colleague, Mr. Turp, I'm in the riding on the other side of Cornwall, so I share his sensibilities on this.

I'm going to propose an amendment, and I have the wording here. I discussed it with Madame Girard-Bujold, but essentially the environmental assessment process, as I understand it, is fundamentally a pre-project kind of process. So to say we want an environmental assessment done on something that's currently operating may give them a little too much wiggle room in terms of reasons not to do it.

So I would propose that we amend the motion to read as follows: That the committee request the Department of the Environment continue its environmental assessments in order to measure the pollutant emissions that may emerge from the PCB incinerator in Cornwall, and that the committee hold a meeting on the subject with departmental officials as witnesses.

• 0920

I think it's important that we find out what they are doing now in terms of monitoring emissions. What processes are in place? What mechanisms are in place? I think after a day of hearings on it, we might be in a better position to determine what we should do next. If we just go with this, it may be that the environmental assessment process isn't appropriate for an ongoing facility and then it just dies there. I think we should get the officials in, and let's find out what they, as the federal environmental authorities, do with this plant. Maybe they don't do anything, but let's get them here and find out what are the ongoing processes that are in place. Then I think we will be in a better position as a committee to decide what our options are.

The Chair: Is that an amendment you move?

Mr. Joe Jordan: I would move that.

The Chair: Would you like to read the motion again, please?

Mr. Joe Jordan: That the committee request the Department of Environment continue its environmental assessments in order to measure the pollutant emissions that may eminate from the PCB incinerator in Cornwall, and that the committee hold a meeting on the subject with departmental officials as witnesses.

The Chair: Fine.

Any other comments? Mr. Turp.


Mr. Daniel Turp: First of all, I would like to ask Mr. Jordan a question and make a suggestion, hoping that he will agree to include it in his amendment.

Here is the question. In your opinion doesn't the word “continue” suggest that there is currently an environmental assessment underway? You cannot continue to do something if it is already being done. To the best of your knowledge, is something being done?

My second point is a suggestion. Would you accept to broaden the hearings to enable us to hear from a number of groups, not only departmental officials, but also people from the Comité ZIP in my riding, for example, who would probably want to hear their concerns? So we could hear from the departmental officials and the groups involved so that they too can be heard during the hearings without adding thousands of witnesses.


The Chair: If I could comment on this before Mr. Jordan answers, it would be a bit premature to make a commitment now to tie down the committee to hearings with witnesses because of our heavy schedule.

Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: On the first point, I structured it that way deliberately because my understanding from contacting the ministry is that they do have an ongoing monitoring process in place. I don't know what that is, but I think in the motion we're assuming that's taking place, and if we find out it isn't, then I think we have a real problem.

The committee is master of its own schedule, but if, through the departmental officials and our discussions, our concerns aren't eased, then I think the next step would be to take a more detailed look. But I think it's a good first step to just get them in here and find out what's going on and what we are doing now.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Herron, Madame Torsney.

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): I'd like to echo the last comments that were made by Joe, that, Daniel, I think you have an opportunity here to make a first step. You probably have enough goodwill here in the room to carry the vote. If we make it too long, where it could jeopardize the schedule of the committee, you might have a little rockier road here in a few minutes. I'm suggesting you take Joe's suggestions.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madame Torsney.

Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.): My one question was that environmental assessment means something quite specific. I'm not sure if it should have been in monitoring, because an environmental assessment is a process that takes place before a project is planned or implemented. I think we should be a little more specific in our wording.

Mr. Joe Jordan: I think that's fair, Mr. Chair. So we'll say “environmental monitoring”, because we really don't know what they're doing now.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Lincoln, Madame Girard-Bujold.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): I was going to make exactly the same point as Ms. Torsney; I think she's 100% right. I don't think we should say “environmental assessment”. I think “monitoring” is more proper.

The Chair: Agreed.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: “An environmental control”.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: “Monitoring”.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: “Monitoring”?


The Chair: Surveillance is monitoring.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Mr. Chairman, I am very happy that Mr. Jordan has amended our motion. It is a start. I think that it is a good first step. If the committee agrees with Mr. Jordan's amendment to replace the words “environmental assessment” with, as Mr. “Clinton” said, the word “monitoring”...

• 0925

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Clinton? Jefferson Clinton!

Voices: Oh! Oh!

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I would be prepared to call the question on Mr. Jordan's amendment.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: [Editor's Note: Inaudible]

Mr. Daniel Turp: It depends if he likes cigars.

Voices: Oh, oh!


The Chair: The clerk will now read the motion as it seems to have emerged through these exchanges so that members will know what we are agreeing upon.

The Clerk of the Committee: Mr. Chairman, I'll read the motion as amended—as I understand it so far—in French and in English:

    That the committee request the Department of the Environment to continue its environmental monitoring in order to measure the pollutant emissions which may emanate from the PCB incinerator in Cornwall and that the committee hold meetings on the subject, with departmental officials as witnesses.


In French:

    That the Committee request the Department of the Environment to continue its environmental monitoring in order to measure the pollutant emissions which may emanate from the PCB incinerator in Cornwall and that the Committee hold meetings on the subject, with departmental officials as witnesses.


The Chair: All right. Are we ready for the question?

(Motion agreed to)

The Chair: Thank you.


Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, may I thank you and your committee colleagues for adopting this motion? It will be a pleasure for me to come back when we have an opportunity to discuss what is happening in Cornwall. Thank you.


The Chair: We're happy to see you, Mr. Turp. You're welcome any time.


Let's move on to the second motion.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Yes, Mr. Chairman. The second motion reads as follows:

    That the Committee undertake a study of the contaminated sediments problem in the St. Lawrence river and table a report of its findings, in the House.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, we have the St. Lawrence river in Quebec, which is our most wonderful legacy as Quebeckers. The Aboriginals called it, in French, “le chemin qui marche” (the moving path).

Mr. Chairman, since 1950, a lot of things have occurred. There have been spills in the St. Lawrence River. Dozens of beaches that used to be open along the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec and in Ontario, have all been closed.

We know that as a result of this waste in the St. Lawrence, sediment has settled to the bottom of the river and that the sediment contains PCBs and all kinds of other things.

You also know, Mr. Chairman, that there were 185 species of fish and 115 species of birds in the aquatic environment, as well as about 30 species of reptiles and amphibians in the St. Lawrence river, but this accumulation of sediments is having an adverse effect on aquatic life. The aquatic life in the St. Lawrence river is being asphyxiated.

Mr. Chairman, I even raised the matter with the Minister of the Environment when he appeared before us. This is an urgent matter for the committee to examine, and I am asking it to do so. If we do not undertake this study, Mr. Chairman, we will regret it later on. It is already a bit late, but like we say at home it is better late than never.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


The Chair: Before I recognize Mr. Reed, let me make the following observation. As for studies on contaminated sediments in the St. Lawrence River, there are already a stack of them, particularly in the area where the St. Lawrence River narrows near Cornwall, near the General Motors plant in Massena. This is a subject that has been treated quite intensively and in depth by the Department of the Environment over the years.

• 0930

It seems to me it would be desirable, before we launch the committee into a study that could take months, that first an examination of the existing studies take place—which do combine into quite a large number—rather than launching into an expedition that has really very little to add to what is already known, by both the Department of the Environment and the provincial departments, both in Ontario and in Quebec.

Mr. Reed, Mr. Lincoln, and Madame Torsney.

Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, this issue is probably one of the most serious issues that this committee might ever deal with. My feeling is that instead of studying the sediments in the St. Lawrence River, we should be moving to the next step beyond that: how that contamination gets there and what steps can be taken to eliminate that contamination.

A week ago, Dr. David Schindler of the University of Alberta said that roughly 50% of the endangered species in Canada were in water, not on land. The Great Lakes system is now populated by over 30 million people—I think it's over 35 million now around the Great Lakes—that are the obvious source of that contamination. That is increasing continually.

Here's my suggestion if we are going to undertake a serious look at this. A wealth of information has been collected already, but what has not happened are the next moves that can be taken. We are still, in our growth areas.... I think of where I live in southern Ontario, where we're still putting twin pipes into Lake Ontario and adding to that contamination. To me, that technology has to be stopped and changed. It was adequate in 1916, but it's not adequate in the year 2000.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Lincoln, Madame Torsney, and Mr. Jordan, may I invite short interventions?

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I'd like to say that of course the subject is of key importance. As you suggested, the worst sediment was outside of Massena, New York, which has become the subject of a Super Fund project between Environment Canada and the United States, involving the three plants, GM, Alcoa, and Reynolds, regarding PCBs in the St. Lawrence.

What I would like to suggest is exactly what you suggested, that is, that we perhaps carry out an inventory of what there is already, which is a massive amount of information. Perhaps, if time permits, we could get the people from the centre fleuve Saint-Laurent to come in and tell us what they've done about the reports and what current operations are being carried out under the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 plan, which is a project of the federal government and Quebec together.

At least we'll get a picture of it and it won't take very long. If we make a study, it'll be a year or two years. It's a massive job. A lot of it has been done already.

The Chair: The parliamentary research section could compile an inventory on contaminant sediments, which would be quite helpful to everybody, including you, Madame Girard-Bujold.

Madame Torsney, and then Mr. Jordan.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Mr. Chair, I was going to agree with “Mr. Clinton” and suggest that we have the officials come and give us a comprehensive briefing on the Vision 2000 initiative, because I think it's a third part of a five-year process. Then we could determine better whether we need to do more work or less work or what the nature of that work would be. If they came to a meeting and gave us the comprehensive presentation about what is going on, that would be most helpful.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Just to add to that, Mr. Chair, I think the Saint-Laurent Vision 2000 process is underway, but we also have a proposed water study by the IJC that Canada has yet to commit to. If we're going to bring the officials in to talk about Vision 2000, we maybe could bring a couple of them in to talk about exactly what the IJC is proposing in their $30 million U.S. 15-year study. I know contaminated sediments is part of that. Maybe after hearing them we'll want to put some pressure on the Department of Foreign Affairs to make that commitment.

• 0935

But if we're going to bring them in, let's bring in people who know about that as well, because I understand that is a process that's going to lead to some actionable outcomes. It includes the Americans, so I think it might be a much more comprehensive way to go.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Jordan.

Madame Catterall.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Chair, it seems to me we had a similar discussion, a month ago perhaps, with several suggestions coming forward as to what the committee might wish to undertake as its next work. I don't want to deal with this in a vacuum; I want to deal with it in terms of the other subjects that have been brought before us—and some, I think, as well by Madame Girard-Bujold—and make a choice among those things that have been presented to us as to what we think is the most important to deal with.

My personal view? Frankly, I'm not prepared to get into a major study that's going to take up all fall until we have dealt with Bill C-33.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madame Girard-Bujold, would you like to put the motion to a vote?


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Yes.


The Chair: Are you ready for the question as it is before you in the text presented by Madame Girard-Bujold?

(Motion negatived)

The Chair: In the meantime, Madame Girard-Bujold, you could write a letter to Mr. Finsten, director of the research bureau of Parliament, and ask him to compile for you an inventory of all the studies that have been carried out on this subject. I think you will find it very rewarding.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: That is an excellent idea.


The Chair: On the basis of that, we then will share that study. It will not take more than a month or two. We can all look into that eventually and draw some conclusions.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. I want to nicely respond to a side comment from Madame Girard-Bujold.

Look, I realize it serves her political purposes to put forward a motion and have it defeated. The fact is, as a committee we have to have some sense of responsibility. We can't say we want to undertake studies that we know we don't have time to do.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I would like to respond to Ms. Catterall. I have always said, Mr. Chairman, that when I come to the Environment Committee, my participation goes beyond political considerations. I try to advance environmental issues. Ms. Catterall, you weren't here in the past, but I have always said that. That has always been my principle and my party has always followed my way of doing things.

So Ms. Catterall, I would like you to withdraw your remarks, please.


An hon. member: Mr. Chair.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Mr. Chair, I'm trying to add something.

The Chair: Madame Torsney, please.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Could we ask officials to come and give us a briefing on Vision 2000 at some point in the fall, perhaps just one meeting, to get an update on what is going on?

The Chair: If it is the wish of the committee to hold a meeting of that kind, I can....

Would you like to put that in the form of a motion?

Ms. Marlene Catterall: For when?

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Well, after September.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: There's no point in saying we'll have meetings—

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Just one meeting.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: —if we don't schedule them.

The Chair: Can we perhaps leave this for the end of the meeting, if we have the time?

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Sure.

The Chair: Could I invite you, then, to proceed in good fashion—

Ms. Aileen Carroll: Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. It may be that many of us have to leave the meeting early, so I would suggest that we deal with this now, while we have everybody here and we have a quorum.

The Chair: Deal with which aspect?

Ms. Aileen Carroll: The discussion of what we're going to do with our time in the fall.

The Chair: Well, this is where Bill C-33 is quite relevant. I was going to call a discussion on Bill C-33, and, depending on how that works out, then we will see a little bit more clearly where we are heading.

Madame Girard-Bujold.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Could we include Ms. Torsney's proposal in the future business, please?

The Chair: We could discuss that later, if you want.

• 0940


I would like to suggest to members of the committee that we move on in our agenda and hopefully come to a clarification on where we stand on Bill C-33. With that in mind, I would like to make a brief statement in the hope that you can give me the benefit of your attention, which I would appreciate very much.

As you know, the bill is in the House. The bill is the object of intensive debate, obviously. The input at second reading has been quite helpful, I would say, but it now runs the risk of becoming repetitive. As well, from reading Hansard I've noticed that many of you, in your second intervention, have made a specific effort to put on record new observations.

Now, we have to ask ourselves, colleagues, what is the wise course of action to adopt? I must say, on the debate on the hoist motion by Mr. Herron, a number of helpful points have been made, in particular by Madame Alarie, who made thorough analyses from clauses 8 through 31. She may perhaps not be correct on one point, when she said that the legislation will immediately take precedence over existing provincial legislation. This is a point that of course needs to be clarified.

Other points were made by the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, and others on the Liberal side as well, and by Mr. Herron. Everybody made a contribution.

Having said that, the crux of our discussion this morning is that it seems to me we should ask ourselves whether it is wise for our committee to keep the bill in the House instead of dissecting it here in committee, and, having done so, improving the bill.

Who is to say that the bill cannot be improved? First, we have to hear the witnesses, and the witnesses are many. A phenomenal list has been compiled and organized already, with which we cannot proceed to set out a plan, as some have urged us to do, until we know when and where, particularly when. Then, having heard the witnesses, we have to go through 123 clauses.

Now, I'm asking you, quite frankly, is there anyone in this room who would want to take the responsibility of having denied examination of the endangered species bill?

In case you have the impression that I'm happy with the bill, may I say to you that, if compared to my own private member's bill, of course, there are several flaws. This is why, on second reading, I put forward a few areas, three or four, for improvement, as have you. In that respect, we are on the same wavelength.

I'm asking, can we afford to become paralysed because we seem to think that provincial boundaries are more important than the survival of species?

Can we afford to go for another three or four years without legislation, as we have for the past four?

Is it really politically wise for us to deny the bill a chance to come to committee, and, by denying it, perhaps at the next election blame the government for its inaction?

I ask you, is that a wise course of action?

It seems to me that the course of action that is still before us, which still offers a ray of hope, is, number one, not to sit next week. Evidently it is not convenient to many, although I thought this next week, being still a green week on our calendar, would still be appropriate.

The second is to sit back to back for two or three days during the week of September 11.

The third is to try to hear all the witnesses by mid-October at the latest.

• 0945

Fourth—and it won't be easy—is to go clause by clause until the middle or, at most, end of November and report the bill before Christmas.

Now, unfortunately, the bill is not before us, as we all know. But if we approve the motion under section 108, we could examine it and call witnesses, as we did with the pesticide report. I would undertake, if the motion is passed, to visit the minister and urge him to be the first witness if we resume in September.

So this is the essence of what I'm anxious to put forward to you for your consideration; therefore, I invite someone on the committee to move to the effect that we adopt section 108 so that we can start, not in the name of the government, not in the name of any party, but in the name of what seems to motivate all of us, which is the protection of the environment. That is the way I would like to introduce this motion before you under Bill C-33.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Do we have the motion in front of us, Mr. Chair?

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Can I ask you a question, Mr. Chair?

The Chair: Yes, please.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Can the clerk tell us why there is not enough time between the resumption of sitting on September 20, I believe, and Christmas to deal with Bill C-33? It seems to me a lot of time. If before Christmas is your deadline to report, I don't see why we can't do this in two and a half months. I've seen bills that are much lengthier that are done in two and a half months of sitting.

The Chair: Christmas is not the deadline. I said we'd finish clause-by-clause by the middle or, at the most, the end of November, so that we could have it in the House and hopefully have third-reading debate before Christmas.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: That's exactly what I mean.

The Chair: Well, then, we don't have until Christmas in committee. We have until mid-November.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: No, I just said the deadline for the third reading in the House, so that all inclusive, you would have two and a half months.

The Chair: Well, with the additional list of witnesses that has been proposed by members, we are running into almost 60 witnesses. We can't do that in three or four weeks.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Chair, I think a lot of these witnesses are duplicated. I think that list could be pared down significantly. There's a huge duplication in that list.

The Chair: Mrs. Kraft Sloan, Mr. Benoit, and Madame Girard-Bujold.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I don't have a record of the exact number of meetings the last time we did endangered species, but I believe we did it in four or five sittings, clause by clause. So that was about two weeks.

Certainly, if there is will on both sides of the House, if people are interested in having a bill that makes biological sense, that's good for the environment and good for species, perhaps that process can go a lot faster.

We've had a situation this week where a bill was introduced on Monday and it's going to be passed on Wednesday. Okay? There was a bill that was brought in and dealt with very quickly in the House this week. So if people are concerned about the preservation of endangered species, the House can move at remarkable speed.

And the last time, Madame Girard-Bujold, there was controversy and dissension on the previous endangered species bill, but we did it in two weeks, clause by clause.

• 0950

The Chair: The clerk informs me that if we organized the witnesses into twelve panels—and some of those panels would be of more than four witnesses at each time, which is a pretty crowded panel—it would take us one month to do that. I see people saying no, but my recollection is quite clear that to go through and digest that number of witnesses is not something that can be done in two weeks.

Monsieur Benoit and then Madame Girard-Bujold.

Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm sure all MPs have scheduled work right through the summer, and it's unfair to deny constituents the attention they deserve during that period of time. The committee should respect the schedule of the House. We have a schedule that's been laid out for when House of Commons activities are to take place, and the committee should respect that schedule.

About fifteen years ago, I had a secretary who had a sign on her desk that said, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Leon Benoit: That's an idea that should be considered when considering whether to support this motion or not. You've had seven years as government.

The Chair: Madame Girard-Bujold.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I have listened carefully to your comments this morning. Ever since I have been in the House of Commons, there has been a normal process for considering a bill. There is first reading, second reading, and after second reading, the bill is referred to committee. Mr. Chairman, the bill on endangered species in Canada has not yet undergone second reading. So you cannot study the bill. You can only study the purpose. If witnesses can be included in the process, when the bill has been adopted in second reading, it will come to the committee.

I am very surprised by your motion on the possibility of calling witnesses over the summer. I do not think that many members will be here. It involves costs. As for me, I am not prepared to incur useless expenses for work that won't be considered once the bill has democratically gone through all of the normal stages set out for committee business.

With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, I think that these things happen. The bill did not make it through all of the stages it had to. So we will come back in the fall and put it on the committee's agenda if need be, once it has received second reading. We cannot act on assumptions, Mr. Chairman. We must act on the basis of facts. The facts are as they are and we must follow the established process.

Mr. Chairman, I cannot support your motion and I ask you to withdraw it. Thank you.


The Chair: Certainly I will not retire it, but I will certainly be grateful if someone will eventually move it. Let me say, Madame Girard-Bujold, nobody is suggesting to sit in the summer. You did not listen carefully and Mr. Benoit did not listen carefully. I was only suggesting we would start in the week of September 11, which is one week before the normal week.

As to 108, that clause has been used on a number of occasions in order to deal with the subject matter of a bill that was still in the House. In our case, in the case of Bill C-33, when we come back the week of September 18, unless a miracle happens, that bill will not go through that week. It may be two weeks or it may be longer.

So the start on Bill C-33 is very much in question, depending on the schedule of the House leaders and the House, and also the disposition of some parties that wish to give the bill further treatment on second reading or on the House motion, which we still have before us. So there is no indication that we will be able to start even by the middle of October at the rate we are going.

Madame Catterall.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: I too was quite concerned when I saw this motion, Mr. Chair, because we did have an earlier meeting where it was agreed that the committee would approve the work plan, and that has not happened. It's our lives. It's our meeting time, and we have a responsibility together to decide what that work plan is going to be. So far we have not dealt with it at committee.

• 0955

The bottom line here is none of the opposition parties are prepared to meet before the House returns, and I frankly am not prepared to vote for something I know is unacceptable to some members of the committee on the other side of the table.

I will say I had hoped yesterday and had spoken to the parties about recognizing that this would be a major work for us in the fall and trying to seek unanimous consent of the House to have second reading deemed passed, with or without a vote. It certainly can be done either way. I regret to say there was no agreement from the opposition parties.

I'm not sure why people are anxious to keep this bill in the House for debate. We all agree there are issues to be dealt with in the bill and the committee will have to deal with those issues. The committee cannot deal with those issues until the bill is before us. So I really regret what seem to me to be stalling tactics to keep it in the House rather than get it to committee.

Regardless, when it gets to committee, it is up to us, it's our responsibility, to develop a work plan and a list of witnesses that we can accommodate within the time available, not to invite everybody in the world to come as a witness when we don't need that, when we know we will hear the same thing over and over and over again, on several sides of the bill and on several points of the bill.

So I would encourage the committee, frankly, not to try to impose the wish of the majority on the opposition parties here today and to vote against this, much as I am anxious to see us proceed with the bill. But I'll also take this opportunity to ask the members of the opposition party to please give consideration to whether today we could not pass a motion to either deem Bill C-33 to be passed at second reading or to have it referred for a vote tonight so that when we get back in September, it will be before the committee and we will be able to get to dealing with all those issues that members have been raising in the House in debate, rather than continue to debate it endlessly.

I'm certainly prepared to say I won't support this motion, if the opposition members don't want to meet before the House resumes. I'm asking them to consider also though whether they really want to proceed with this bill, and if so, to consider what we can do in the next eight hours to do so.

The Chair: Thank you, Madame Catterall.

Well, it seems to me an eminently reasonable suggestion that Ms. Catterall has made to the members of the opposition. I hope they will reply to it in due time.

We have Mr. Gruending, Mr. Jordan, and Madame Girard-Bujold.

Mr. Dennis Gruending (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We had chatted briefly about your motion informally, and I had indicated to you that our caucus is having its retreat the week of September 11. That then left me to consider whether I would support suggesting you meet without my participation and without our caucus' participation. Upon reflection, I don't think that would be the responsible thing to do. So should your motion be put to the floor, I would oppose it.

However, I also had discussions yesterday with Ms. Catterall, as did other opposition members, and I suggested to you that I wanted to talk to my House leader. I have not spoken to you since. I would be prepared to support your motion, and I can discuss the reasons perhaps if we get to it.

Very briefly, if we back up and are honest about this, one of the things that has us concerned is we have heard the minister say at least two or three times this is as good as it's going to get. That seems to indicate there will not be changes in committee, which doesn't exactly send us into spasms of wanting to cooperate. That may be part of the problem here.

Having said that, I do believe the place to work on this is in committee, and if the minister is unprepared to accept any improvements, well, then that's going to fall on his head. I believe the place for this is in committee.

So it seems to me we're perhaps getting down to the following scenario. We wouldn't be considering it the week of September 11, but if there's a way to consider it one week later, that's something I would be prepared to support.

• 1000

The Chair: Provided it goes through the House, but thank you for your observations.

I neglected to recognize Mr. Lincoln some time ago. I apologize.

Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Jordan, Madame Girard-Bujold, Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Chairman, I've listened carefully to Mrs. Catterall and Mr. Gruending, and I think in this committee we've had a tradition in the past of having a very cooperative atmosphere between the opposition and the government party. I think it has lasted for a long time. And I agree with Mrs. Catterall that it will be a mistake to convene, if the opposition...and I know some government members feel the same way.

So perhaps there are compromises to be made. First of all, let's tackle the list, which is intrinsic to our work. I had a bill before the Canadian heritage committee, where we had a list of 37 witnesses, and we had to report to the House by June 15. I just reported. Sitting down with all the parties, with the witnesses themselves, we trimmed it down to 14. And the list was very representative. The others sent written briefs.

I see this list. It's a formidable list, and I can see how much duplication there is. If you ask, for instance, the environmental organizations, you could have.... I think we could trim down this list considerably, with the cooperation of the witnesses themselves and all the parties, by asking them to name representative groups, two instead of six. That's one suggestion.

The second suggestion is this. If by any chance the opposition parties—one or the other—can't reach the same kind of accommodation Mr. Gruending has suggested, which I hope will work, maybe there's some way whereby with the cooperation of the opposition parties, by September 25 or some date that is mutually agreed, the bill will be finished in the House and reported back to the committee...failing today. If today fails for some reason or another, that we had a deadline and it would come back by September 25 so that there would be an agreement among the House leaders that it would take precedence in September and come to the committee.... I am certain that if we trim the list, if we have an agreement amongst the parties to look at this bill in committee soon, we have plenty of time between now and November.

So I think there would be compromises there that can accommodate all of us.

The Chair: Thank you for those very valuable suggestions, Mr. Lincoln. We'll make due note of both. I also want to thank Madame Catterall for her intervention, which is also very helpful.

We now have Mr. Jordan, please, followed by Madame Girard-Bujold and Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Just picking up on the themes that Mr. Lincoln talked about, I share the concern about the list. The minister first went public with the direction and thrust of this in December, and I think the actual wording of the draft bill was available in early April.

These groups have already taken a look at it. They have some very strong opinions and views on it. So I think we can probably accomplish quite a bit through written briefs. In fact, a lot of these groups have already prepared them. I just went through this list. We've got 14 subsets of groups. I've had detailed briefings already from nine of them. I think I got a pretty good sense of their position.

I think if you look at this bill, the key issues of contention are emerging. We have a concern about the listing process. There's a concern about how the federal government treats endangered species on its own land. There is the critical habitat for migratory birds. Since Robert Kennedy's speech, civil suits have become an issue. And there are federal-provincial jurisdictional issues.

Why don't we organize our witnesses around those specific—and maybe there are more. But rather than have each of these groups go through their same proposals, which are probably not unlike the ones they did last time we looked at this bill, I think we can get a little creative with the witnesses, organize them around the areas of contention, and see if we can't get some movement on the bill or accept the rationale as to why it exists the way it does.

In terms of your motion, why don't we just decouple it from starting early? If we need to get the bill into committee before it's through the House, why don't we pass it so that we start it when the committee sits again under normal circumstances?

• 1005

I'd be prepared to move that, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Can you repeat that?

Mr. Joe Jordan: I would just say that I'd amend the motion to take out the reference to starting early. When the committee resumes its sitting—

Mr. John Herron: You can't amend the motion until it's moved.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Oh, okay.

The Chair: It would be helpful if someone were to move it at this stage.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Can I move it and then amend it?

The Chair: Well, you have to move the motion first and then move the amendment.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: No, he can—

Mr. Joe Jordan: Now move the amendment?

The Chair: There's nothing before us, so you can move whatever you like. It would be helpful.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: He can move the one he wants.

Mr. Nick Discepola (Vaudreuil—Soulanges, Lib.): You're going to have to move something and then amend it.

The Chair: Mr. Jordan, you have the floor.

Mr. Joe Jordan: I'm wondering if I could ask the clerk if he could suggest some wording to capture the essence of what I'm getting at here.

The Chair: You're skipping “prior to the resumption of the autumn sitting”.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: On resumption.

Mr. Joe Jordan: On resumption.

The Chair: Could you read into the record what you want to move?

Mr. Joe Jordan: I move that, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee—

Ms. Marlene Catterall: I think you only need 108(2) if you're meeting outside normal House times.

Mr. Joe Jordan: I would like to defer to Ms. Catterall and then she can move it.

The Chair: The motion is that, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee examine and hold hearings as of the first sitting of the committee following the summer adjournment on the issue of wildlife, etc.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Chair, can I seek some advice from the clerk? That's not my intention in the version....

The Chair: Please do.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: My understanding is that we only need to invoke 108(2) if we want to meet outside the normal times the House is meeting.

An hon. member: No. It's for a special study.

The Clerk: No. Mr. Chairman, Standing Order 108(2) is the general mandate that gives the committee the initiative and the right to initiate studies.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Okay. Then I would suggest that all we need to do, Mr. Chair, is say that the committee examine and hold hearings in September and take out “prior to the resumption of the autumn sitting”.

The Chair: That's what we have. That has been done.

Mr. John Herron: Am I still on the list, Mr. Chair?

The Chair: Yes, you are. At least we have a motion to remind us if we didn't—

Ms. Marlene Catterall: May I ask that we substitute that with “following the resumption of the autumn sitting”?

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Shouldn't it be “on resumption”?

The Chair: We have “as of the first sitting of the committee following the summer adjournment”.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: I think that's too specific. It doesn't necessarily need to be the first sitting. We still don't have a work plan that the committee has agreed to. I would prefer to leave it more general and just say “following the resumption of the autumn sitting”.

The Chair: All right. But “following the resumption” leaves it wide open. It could be anywhere between September and Christmas. It is very wide open.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: The intention is to start it without the bill.

The Chair: We have a motion to the effect that pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee examine and hold hearings following the summer adjournment on the issue of wildlife species, etc. Mr. Jordan, is that what you want to put forward?

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes, it is.

The Chair: All right, we now have a motion.

Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: I want to speak not just to the motion but more so to Madame Catterall's comments. My position is that I'm not going to support Madame Catterall's motion. There is a false pressure cooker here. If we can sort this out in the next eight hours, we can sort this out just as well in the first eight hours when the House returns, on the same issue.

For me to actually have any interest in cooperating in that fashion, I want to hear over the course of the summer, in very clear, specific language from the Minister of the Environment, that he will actually distance himself from the comments he uttered in a number of publications. He has made comments to a series of environmental NGOs with respect to demonstrating a very inflexible position in terms of what the role of the committee is going to be.

• 1010

So if I hear signals coming from the Minister of Environment, very clear language, distancing himself from his previous comments, then on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, I'm interested in getting a bill that actually protects species at risk. So that's our position on that aspect of it.

Also, with respect to hearing witnesses in advance, the whole intent of doing that is to speed up the process. I'll speed up the process. I think we should distil the number of witnesses in terms of who has been before us, but I'm not interested in doing anything that's going to fast track it until I hear some kind of language coming from the Minister of Environment with respect to his comments earlier.

The Chair: Mr. Herron, may we bring you down to earth. What you are asking is like asking that the moon be converted to frozen yogurt, at a minimum.

The minister, any minister, will be able to make a comment on amendments only once the minister has appeared, the witnesses have been heard, and the members of the committee have formulated the changes they want. That is the path to follow.

To expect the minister to make a blanket statement in a vacuum during the summer is asking the impossible—

Mr. John Herron: No. I'm not—

The Chair: Excuse me. Let me finish.

It is really denying the people of Canada a bill for the next three years. It will be just asking for something that cannot politically be delivered. This is why it is so important to have the bill in committee, so it can be dissected and analysed, proposals can be made, and the minister can then act upon or react to them. Right now he has nothing before him except speeches made at second reading, and second reading isn't even completed.

How can you ask a minister to take a stand if second reading isn't even completed? This is absurd.

Yes, please.

Mr. John Herron: The point I'm trying to illustrate is that the minister has already taken a position with respect to the work of the committee, and that was before the minister actually saw any amendments that we may or may not want to do.

I'm not looking for him to say “We will endorse what the committee wants on one specific point”. All I'm looking for is a little latitude, a little bit of friendly language. That's all I'm looking for. And I think, in good faith, I'll then put my shoulder to the wheel and sit in this committee and hear the witnesses, even if we do it over the course of some intense days, similar to what the government did with respect to Bill C-20—maybe not in quite the same fashion, mind you, but we can do those kinds of things. I'll participate in those kinds of things. But what I'm looking for is that our efforts in committee are going to be taken seriously.

The Chair: But first the bill has to be given second reading, sir.

Madame Kraft Sloan, Madame Girard-Bujold, Mr. Jaffer, and Mr. Jordan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I think first and foremost, Canadians deserve a good endangered species act, one that makes biological sense and can be enforced.

Second, I've had correspondence from the minister that has indicated a real reticence to make any changes on this particular bill. In fact, the reason I chose to make the particular intervention in the House on Monday, when I spoke on this interventions did not focus on the substance of this bill; my interventions focused on the parliamentary process.

Standing committees report to the Parliament of Canada. They are not organs of the government. We represent all parties of the House. We represent all Canadians. That is our role. That is our function. We hear expert witnesses, and if the committee deems that the expert testimony we have received informs us and suggests to us that the bill needs amendments, then we will put those amendments forward.

I think that's an important point to make, and I absolutely agree with Mr. Herron. I think members of this committee will work very hard and very diligently, and they will likely work around the clock, as indeed we have in the past—and Mr. Forseth has sat on this committee when we've worked around the clock. We will make a good bill for Canadians, and then the government can choose to do with it what it will.

The Chair: Thank you.

• 1015


Ms. Girard-Bujold, please.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Mr. Chairman, you told Mr. Herron that he was asking too much of the Minister, but now you are asking too much of the committee.

Mr. Chairman, I agree with Ms. Kraft Sloan: Canadians want a good bill. At present, your government, through your Minister, is not open to dialogue and to seeing this committee do good work. I also want to point out that I fully understood your proposal.

The House will resume in about the last week of September. It is up to you to pressure your House leader to bring the bill back on an urgent basis so that it can be read a second time. Mr. Chairman, despite what you were saying, many members are interested in speaking at second reading. Despite what you are saying and reading, everyone has the right to express himself the way he wants to. That's what democracy is about.

Mr. Chairman, I do not agree with taking members of Parliament as witnesses, because all too often, members on your side of the House say anything and everything when they speak on a bill. At least the members of the Bloc Québécois have read the bill. Perhaps they were very precise, but it is not up to you to pass judgment on members' speeches. I do not think I have ever passed judgment on any of the speeches you have made.

What is important, as a last resort, is respecting democracy. Democracy tells me that this bill has not yet undergone second reading. Ask your leader to bring it back to the House early in September, when the House resumes, and we will examine it in keeping with the democratic process.

As Ms. Kraft Sloan said, I am going to participate in the clause-by-clause consideration when the bill is before the committee. I will not put the cart before the horse. I will not do the opposite of what we have to do. As you have always had good judgement, I urge you to respect what must be respected. I also thought we were supposed to be dealing with the committee's future business and here we are going around in circles. I think it would be better if we moved on to something else.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Girard-Bujold.


In addition to the speakers who participated in the debate before Mr. Herron introduced his amendment two weeks ago, I noticed in Hansard of Tuesday, June 13, that the participation in the debate included: Madame Tremblay, questions by Madame Girard-Bujold, Madame Tremblay, Madame Picard, Monsieur Ménard, Monsieur Drouin, Monsieur Ménard, Madame Picard, Madame Alarie, Madame Guay, Madame Alarie, etc.

If there is any need to demonstrate that a democratic process has been given plenty of opportunities, this list should be sufficient. So don't come here, Madame Girard-Bujold, and give us a lecture on democracy and the system, because the democratic system has been served very well so far.

Now it is up to you to decide whether you want to take on the responsibility of blocking the bill or not. That is the responsibility you have taken on until now—part of your grand speeches about defending the environment.

The next one is Mr. Jaffer, followed by Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Thanks, Mr. Chair.

There are some things you just said that sort of concern me—my comments follow up on what Madame Girard-Bujold was talking about—especially when it comes to this particular position we're in with the bill being in second reading.

Obviously everyone here on the committee is expressing their concern for this particular bill. They would like to rush it through. Surely we're not opposed to that, in the sense—

The Chair: Nobody wants to rush it through—nobody.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer: But the problem is that we have a process that's going through the House and we haven't even addressed the fact that there are members who still want to talk to this bill in second reading. They're not going to have the same chance to scrutinize the bill here in committee—

The Chair: Of course they will have a chance to scrutinize it.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer: —because many of the other members have other commitments. In second reading—

The Chair: They are welcome to come any time.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer: Am I allowed to make my comments here? What's going on?

• 1020

In the meantime, what I'm saying is that I've had...there's no.... On our side, the official opposition does not want to stall this bill, but I have had requests from about four or five members who haven't had the chance to speak on second reading and who say it's very important for them to do so, because they're not going to be able to sit in committee and do what we're going to be able to do.

If there was a way that time could have been allowed for second reading debate, we would have put up only two or three more speakers and everyone on our list would have spoken to it.

Ultimately, then, I don't think I can commit to this type of motion, as I have an obligation to the few members in my caucus, who represent constituents, who want to speak to second reading before it comes to committee.

I mean, we have to back up here and address this process of democracy, which has to work.

I can understand your concern, Mr. Chair, but we have an obligation to Canadians, and I have an obligation to members of my own caucus.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

I didn't see anyone getting up on the part of the official opposition to speak on Tuesday, June 13, when there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

With regard to Mr. Jaffer's point, we're not saying get it out of the House early. We can go ahead and have second reading. We're saying start it in committee before that finishes. The members would still have...and I understand; people from the west are probably getting lobbied by the agricultural community and want to speak on it. That's fine. We're just saying let's allow the committee to start on it prior to getting it through the House. We're not saying curtail that—or at least that's what I understand we're not saying.

To Mr. Herron's point, I just want to say that I guess I share some of the concern, but I would say we should look at the committee's recent history. I think we were told on CEPA not to change a comma, and that didn't affect our work. I think we probably have some goodwill in the bank in terms of how this committee approaches these important pieces of legislation. We've demonstrated in the past that we're a pretty independent committee. That's one of the reasons I like being on this committee. I also think we've demonstrated that we're quite responsible and can be, in some cases, actually effective.

So I share his concern, but I think it might be a little bit of overreaction to try to get the minister to retract some kind of statement.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Jordan.

Are there any further speakers?

Madame Torsney.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to support the motion by Mr. Jordan and would like to see us take a vote on it, hopefully. If anything, to Mr. Jaffer's point, his colleagues could have more information on which to make speeches in second reading debate in the House, because we'll actually have testimony from real Canadians about what they like and dislike about the bill.

Secondly, I would also support Mr. Lincoln's initiative to pare down the list and encourage people to submit written submissions as well.

The Chair: Thank you.

We made good note of Mr. Lincoln's suggestions, no doubt, and that will certainly be adopted in the hope that it will not be resented too much by witnesses.

If there are no further speakers, I will ask the clerk to read the motion again.

The Clerk: The motion reads:

    That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee examine and hold hearings following the resumption of the autumn sitting, on the issue of wildlife species at risk in Canada and that all evidence heard be adduced to Committee study of Bill C-33, an Act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada after the said bill is given Second Reading and referred to the Committee.

The Chair: Are you ready for the question?

Madame Girard-Bujold.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I would like you to read the last part of the motion, because I did not understand it.

The Chair: Okay, we will repeat it.


Repeat the whole motion en français.


The Clerk:

    That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee examine and hold hearings following the resumption of the autumn sitting, on the issue of wildlife species at risk in Canada and that all evidence heard be adduced to Committee study of Bill C-33, an Act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, after the said bill is given Second Reading and referred to the Committee.

• 1025


The Chair: I'm informed by Monique that the correct language, for greater precision, is that it should read “following the resumption of sittings next fall”.

Are you ready for the question?


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I would like some clarification, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Ms. Girard-Bujold.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Mr. Chairman, I don't understand. Why have you put the words “after the said bill is given second reading” at the end of the motion instead of the beginning? I think it should say: “After the bill is given Second Reading in the House of Commons, that, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee examine and hold hearings following the resumption...”

The Chair: It is because the motion is different. We will read it once again, and then we will call the vote.

Ms. Catterall.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: It is very important to take a few moments to ensure that all members clearly understand the motion. We are proposing that the committee hold hearings in order to begin its consideration and so that after the bill is given second reading and referred to the committee, we can consider that the evidence that we have heard to that point will have been heard as part as our consideration of the bill.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Catterall.


(Motion agreed to)


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Allow me, Mr. Chairman, to tell you that what you did this morning is undemocratic. If that is how you behave at the Environment Committee, well, I will give my spot to someone else! Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: You must understand the motion. We will explain it.


Mr. John Herron: Mr. Chair, my apologies, I have a plane to catch, but I wish you the best for the summer holidays.

The Chair: The clerk will proceed and contact groups of witnesses in order to implement the suggestion made earlier by Mr. Lincoln; namely, to find representatives for groups so as to facilitate the process of hearing witnesses.

Madame Torsney.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Do I take that to mean, then, from the list that was circulated on May 30, for instance, the third item, environmental organizations, and this page that we got today, that they will be asked to self-select down into one panel?

The Chair: The panels have already been formed, but now it will be a question of, within panels, identifying an organization chosen by the panel to represent them—wherever possible, of course.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: I had some concerns about, for instance, that third group. You have some umbrella organizations and then you have each of the components of the umbrella organization, and I wasn't sure why.

So you're going to sort it out and that will be fine.

The Chair: Yes.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: The other question was—I thought I brought it up before, but maybe I didn't—the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has a lot of members across the country, and they asked if they could appear. I'm not sure if they failed to mention it to the clerk, but they approached me and told me they wanted to appear. They have a lot of individual owners of businesses and they seem to feel they have important things to offer. I don't know what their position on the bill is, but—

• 1030

The Chair: It would be better to wait for the business panel, probably.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: Okay. It's just because they're small retailers and things.

The Chair: Madame Catterall, then Mr. Reed.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Chair, I think you've heard very clearly from the committee, in this and previous meetings, that the committee wants the work plan pared down. It does not want this number of witnesses contacted. The panels have not been established. The committee has not agreed to this work plan. I think you've heard a very clear message that the committee wants to approve the work plan and decide which of these witnesses it can do without, frankly, or whether it just needs to receive briefs or—

The Chair: You have a list in front of you. Would you like to do that right now? Or we can tackle that after.

An hon. member: What are you going to do with the fact that most people are gone?

Ms. Paddy Torsney: The Minister of Environment—can he still be a witness?

The Chair: The Minister of Environment was invited to come first, and we rely on you as the parliamentary secretary to convince him to do so.

Ms. Paddy Torsney: He's ready to go any time.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: My first question, Mr. Chair, would be this: how many of these organizations listed here are members of the Canadian endangered species campaign? I don't want to hear from the Canadian endangered species campaign ten times through ten different organizations. The whole idea of having a campaign like that is to group—

The Chair: Because of the nature of this discussion, from now on it would be desirable, perhaps, that we go in camera to permit a free-flowing exchange of views on the selection of witnesses.

Are you in agreement that we go in camera for the next 25 minutes?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Proceedings continue in camera]