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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Wednesday, September 27, 2000

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The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.)): I call the committee to order.

I would like to welcome the witnesses to our hearing today. From the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development we have Bob Watts, who is the assistant deputy minister for lands and trust services; and we have Hiram Beaubier, who is the director general, natural resources and environment branch. Welcome.

The order of the day is pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), consideration of issues pertaining to the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada with respect to Bill C-33, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

If you would like to proceed with your presentation, we will have questions after. Thank you.

Mr. Bob Watts (Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Trust Services, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for the invitation to discuss the proposed Species at Risk Act. My name is Bob Watts and I am representing the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which, for the sake of brevity, I will refer to as DIAND.

It is important to note that DIAND is organized into two major separate and distinct programs: the northern affairs program, which manages lands and resources north of the 60th parallel, and the Indian and Inuit affairs program, which administers reserve lands. Although I will be making the presentation for DIAND, Mr. Hiram Beaubier, a director general in our natural resources and environment branch of our northern affairs program, is available to discuss and answer any questions the committee may have on issues relating to DIAND's jurisdiction north of 60 following my presentation. I am more than happy to respond to any questions you may have on issues with respect to DIAND's jurisdiction for reserve lands.

I would like to provide the committee with a brief overview of both the northern affairs program and the Indian and Inuit affairs program, taking into consideration the relationship of the proposed Species at Risk Act and our program mandates. I would then like to discuss the areas where DIAND has worked and will continue to work with Environment Canada to integrate the provisions of SARA into our northern environmental regimes and in support of partnerships with aboriginal communities.

A mandate of the northern affairs program is to manage the natural resources that come under DIAND's jurisdiction in the north until such time as these responsibilities are devolved to the territorial governments. Specifically, the resources that are administered are water, land, minerals, and oil and gas in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In the Yukon the department also administers forests but has transferred responsibility for onshore oil and gas to the territorial government.

Management of natural resources in the north is firmly based in legislation, which provides a clear framework for how these resources are to be managed and the obligations involved in their custody. Other ongoing DIAND responsibilities in the north relevant to the species at risk legislation are the administration of services for federal real property, claims resource legislation, and other claims obligations. In addition, DIAND acts as a northern advocate and coordinates federal activities in the north.

Wildlife management in the north is the responsibility of the territorial governments, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and institutions of public government, as established under land claim agreements. I trust the committee will be hearing the views of the territorial governments and institutions of public government directly. It appears that the Species at Risk Act fully includes provisions to consult with territorial governments and with wildlife management boards where such boards are authorized by land claims.

As for the Indian and Inuit affairs program, its mandate flows from the Indian Act. Our policies and programs assist aboriginal communities to meet self-determination in terms of self-government, economic, educational, cultural, social, and community development needs. The Indian and Inuit affairs program helps aboriginal communities build healthy, sustainable communities with basic services similar to those provided to other Canadian residents.

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It is in our role as land manager in both the northern affairs program and the Indian and Inuit affairs program that DIAND may be implicated in the implementation of SARA. DIAND has legislative responsibilities in the north and on reserve lands for administering land tenure, including issuing permits, leases, and licences. The proposed SARA provides for consultation through ensuring that the recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans for species at risk are prepared in cooperation with DIAND and the affected aboriginal communities.

Now I would like to turn your attention to how DIAND will continue to work with Environment Canada to implement the provisions of SARA as they relate to DIAND's mandate.

First and foremost, DIAND supports the strategy for the protection of species at risk as outlined by the Honourable David Anderson, Minister of the Environment. In recent years, protection of the environment has become a priority for all Canadians. Canada has an obligation and a moral responsibility to protect wildlife from becoming endangered or extinct as a consequence of our actions.

Over half of current listed species at risk can be found on aboriginal lands. This demonstrates the important role aboriginal communities have played and will continue to play in the stewardship of protecting species at risk. These lands are primarily undeveloped, and in some cases are the only remaining undeveloped lands in certain critical locales. Ensuring meaningful involvement of aboriginal communities is key to the act's success.

Environment Canada has actively involved DIAND in seeking input on northern and aboriginal community consultations. Environment Canada has made a concerted effort to ensure that aboriginal communities were and will continue to be consulted, and this is reflected in the proposed act.

SARA makes for provisions for consultation with aboriginal people affected by the act at each step of the process. This includes the integration of traditional knowledge or community knowledge into both the identification of species at risk and the development of recovery plans. Also, the act provides for the creation of an aboriginal subcommittee to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to ensure the active participation of aboriginal people in the decision-making process. All these initiatives have the support of DIAND.

The proactive approach of Environment Canada has gone and continues to go a long way toward renewing partnerships with aboriginal peoples, building capacity, and supporting healthy communities, which are components of Gathering Strength, Canada's aboriginal action plan and Canada's commitment to sustainable development in terms of meeting the needs of the present without compromising future needs.

DIAND strongly supports the inclusion of aboriginal traditional ecological knowledge or community knowledge in the act. The traditional knowledge of aboriginal people regarding many species is a valuable source of information. The inclusion of traditional knowledge, along with western scientific knowledge, will benefit Canada's endangered species as well as ensure the involvement of aboriginal people in the listing process.

We are committed to continue to work closely with Environment Canada, aboriginal communities, and northerners to coordinate our responsibilities and to provide advice on northern issues.

In some instances, as a last resort, it may be necessary to limit the use of land in order to adequately protect species at risk. In consideration of the rights of aboriginal peoples and the rights granted to develop permits under our legislative authorities, we agree that compensation provisions and adequate funding in this area are a crucial component of the act.

In conclusion, DIAND supports the principles underlying Bill C-33. The challenge facing DIAND is to ensure that we will not only fulfil our responsibilities under the proposed act, but that we also continue to work with Environment Canada to support partnerships with aboriginal communities and northerners in meeting their needs.

That, Madam Chair, concludes our presentation. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

On our first round we will be taking five minutes of questioning by each member, which includes the response from our witnesses, and we will start with Mr. Abbott.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Canadian Alliance): I'd like to speak directly to the last paragraph on page 7 of the English version of your speaking notes, where you say:

    In consideration of the rights of Aboriginal peoples and of the rights granted to develop permits under our legislative authorities, we agree that compensation provisions and adequate funding in this area are a crucial component of the Act.

This, of course, is a concern to the non-aboriginal community as well.

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Is it the judgment of DIAND that there is sufficient weight in the legislation as written to ensure that adequate and fair compensation to the aboriginal communities does take place, if and when that issue comes up, and for resolution?

Mr. Bob Watts: At the present time, our view is, first of all, that we recognize this as a matter of last resort, and that in fact it may be necessary to limit the use of land in some cases to adequately protect some species at risk. We think that in fact is everyone's business, and that also seems to be echoed in the consultations that have taken place with aboriginal communities.

We also concur with the position of Environment Canada that compensation provisions not create incentives that might inhibit voluntary habitat protection measures. We are satisfied with the work done to date, and the consultations reflect that satisfaction.

Mr. Jim Abbott: I wonder if you can offer us your perspective on the overall aboriginal attitude—recognizing that of the hundreds and thousands of communities and nations each one governs itself and has its own attitude—particularly since the Marshall decision. It strikes me that your presentation on behalf of DIAND, and hence on behalf of the aboriginal communities, is that they would be part of the process. Are you satisfied, overall, that the aboriginal community would be satisfied with that proposition, that in fact they might not be looking for more say and more power in this process?

Mr. Bob Watts: Reflecting your preamble that it's difficult to speak on behalf of the varied communities across the country, there has been, I think, a great deal of consultation with aboriginal communities across the country. Environment Canada has played a lead role to ensure that significant consultation has happened. There has been feedback and input from communities right across the country, and their concerns are reflected in the legislation as drafted.

Mr. Jim Abbott: On balance, DIAND is satisfied with the consultation process that has taken place, recognizing that DIAND has a fiduciary responsibility to the aboriginal peoples.

Mr. Bob Watts: We are very satisfied with the consultative process.

Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Mr. Abbott.

Mr. Gruending, please.

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

When this legislation was introduced into the House, and a bit before it and a bit after it, we had a lot of contact with the various groups. One of the problems pointed to was that, even on its own lands—and particularly north of the 60th parallel—the federal government would have the discretion to protect species and habitat, but wouldn't necessarily have to.

A fear was expressed that there were a lot of departmental turf wars. In fact, we were told that in the old days you might expect “environmental groups” to be on a certain side and the logging or pulp and paper industry to be on another, but in this particular case they were under one umbrella pushing for stronger legislation. The fear was expressed that one of the biggest impediments to good legislation was the turf war between various government departments.

I'm curious to know, as someone who works in a government department, do you think that fear is justified?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier (Director General, Natural Resources and Environment Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): I'll answer that in the context of the north.

We work on a daily basis in a jurisdiction that has a whole range of different interests that need to be brought to bear on decisions relating to resource and environmental management. Currently, we are under the federal legislation, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, etc. Those need to be blended in with the normal legislation that we operate relative to land, forests, oil and gas, and mines and minerals.

There's always a challenge to make sure the various interests of the departments are reflected in decisions that are made. We would see that this legislation is a further addition to that. We don't see any particular impediments in the legislation or in the processes that are outlined in the legislation that would lead to the kinds of impasses that may have been discussed with you earlier.

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We think the processes of consultation and decision-making that we have in place will allow the decisions that we need to make as a department in resource management to fully account for and to be integrated with the intent of this bill.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: An analysis of the legislation previously, Bill C-65, and this legislation seems to indicate that what was often described by the word “shall” in the previous legislation, in this legislation is described as “may”. In other words, discretion is now the word of the day.

I'm curious to know from your point of view, looking at this from a northern end and other perspectives in Canada, if you think this retreat is harmful to the legislation.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I don't think so. I think the legislation is fairly clear with respect to the intent of government. It vests powers in the ministers who are so named: Fisheries, the Minister of the Environment, and Heritage. Those powers and authorities will be reflected through the common decisions of government. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which is the landlord of the north, is part of that government. I think there's full capacity there to come together and avoid the kinds of conflicts you're talking about and to make sure that the general intent of this legislation is fully implemented.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: I realize that I'm perhaps putting you in a bit of a spot when I ask a question like this of someone who actually works for the government, but I thought I'd try anyway.

Regarding first nations groups—and we're certainly going to get to ask them this when they appear—from your work with them, Mr. Watts, how do they perceive this legislation? Do they look at it as something they have to fear in terms of what the federal government wants to do, or do they look at it as something that is welcome?

Mr. Bob Watts: Again, sir, I think it's difficult to generalize, but the feedback that has been received through the consultative process I think indicates that this is welcome. I think it's something many first nations communities have wanted to see. They are keen to be partners in protecting species, in particular species at risk. They welcome the opportunity to be recognized as partners in this stewardship role that they will have to play with other governments.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Mr. Gruending.


Ms. Girard-Bujold.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Good day, sirs, and welcome. I listened to you speak, although I did miss a portion of your presentation. I read through your brief quickly and I find rather odd your claim that this bill will provide additional rights to northern and native communities.

Currently, we have in place a pan-Canadian agreement on the protection of endangered species. Provincial and territorial governments along with environmental agencies are parties to this agreement. The stage is already set. The necessary steps have already been taken and wildlife officials meet on a regular basis to improve all aspects of endangered species management. In response to a question from the NDP member, you stated that the bill will improve the situation and grant additional powers. In what way?

You also state in your submission that most of the species at risk currently listed can be found in the far north. Governments, territories and agencies are also represented on COSEPAC, a committee that has already established a list of 323 species at risk. The government is unwilling to include this list in the bill. It wants to start the process over again, thereby further delaying having to provide financial resources to those involved in protecting species that are endangered or at risk. It is a step backward, given that the list will be re-evaluated and it will be up to the minister to either accept it, or reject it.

I'd like to hear you views on the matter, in light of what I read quickly in your submission.

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Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'll try to answer, Madam, for the north, and that is just to reflect that the bill, while it's comprehensive in its application, specifically identifies federal land. So it's a statement of the federal government with respect to lands that are under its custodianship and its management.

It steps in when necessary to deal with species at risk, but it does so in a manner that is cooperative and collaborative with the other jurisdictions in Canada, particularly in the north. It makes specific references to those boards and agencies that are set up under land claims, where there is a requirement to consult and engage with those boards and agencies. It then presents a plan of action on the species at risk in consultation with those boards and agencies and with the territorial governments. If necessary, there are other powers to do this unilaterally. The lands in the north are federal lands.

So it doesn't detract, it doesn't step away, from that commitment; it just provides an additional tool to work closely with the provinces and the territories and with the boards and agencies that are established through claims.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: You say that this provides additional tools. As you know, the federal government is currently responsible for Crown lands. You say that the far north will be made up of Crown lands. The Sierra Club gave the federal government a grade of D for its internal management, while all environmental groups gave it an F grade. I would not have been satisfied with marks like that.

What you need is funding to take quick action. However, this bill will prevent you from acting immediately with respect to federal Crown lands. I fail to understand why you are here defending this draft legislation, since you claim that the necessary structures are already in place. What you really need is the funding to act quickly. You don't need additional legislation or structures, but rather money to help protect endangered species or species at risk. You have already made your requirements very clear.

Therefore, I fail to understand why representatives of Indian and Northern Affairs have come here to ask that we adopt the legislation and put off, perhaps for two years, funding the measures set out in the proposed legislation.


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you, Madam.

A short response, if that's possible.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Yes, certainly.

To step back and just understand what the legislative framework for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in the north is, one has to understand that we have laws that deal with the disposal of land, with water and water management, with oil and gas, and with mines and minerals. We have land-use permits that speak to how those authorities will be conducted. But the powers and authorities over wildlife and wildlife management are vested in the territorial government, and it's a complex interplay now between our permitting authorities and our licences and authorizations for the protection of the environment and wildlife.

I think this bill actually adds to that capacity to better deal with the issues of species at risk. It's difficult now within our current legislation to deal with that.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: You're telling us that this bill gives the government the power to...


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): On a second round, Madam, please. Thank you very much.

Mr. Lincoln.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Regarding north of 60, which is really your main domain as DIAND, one of the big priorities for you is all the territories of the Arctic. You made the point right now to a colleague from the Bloc Québécois that one of the reasons it's structured this way is that the jurisdiction over wildlife rests with the governments of the north. When Bill C-65 was presented, which was not very long ago, we covered all territories north of 60. You were part of the consultation then. Considering the fact that the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut don't have any endangered species legislation at all, why would we agree to exclude territories north of 60 under this legislation compared with the previous one?

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Mr. Hiram Beaubier: My reading of this bill, sir, is that they're not excluded—

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: They are excluded.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: —that this bill covers the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: As a safety net of their legislation.

If that is your interpretation, I must say that the species at risk working group definition, which included the Pulp and Paper Association, the Mining Association of Canada, and the environmental groups, is that it doesn't, except for exclusions such as Parks Canada and certain specific federal institutions. In that case I must say that we have discovered something that is completely new. I can assure you that there has been extensive study of this legislation by the Sierra Club, by SARWG, the species at risk working group, and by others.

In fact, I have a document from SARWG right in front of me, which says:

    ...why is there no habitat protection on federally-owned lands in the north (i.e. the Bill gives the Territories primary responsibility for protecting habitat on federal lands north of 60, the federal government has only a residual role via the safety net)

This is what I've always read in all the papers I've been able to read, whereas in Bill C-65 there was no ambiguity at all as far as the north was concerned.

If you are definite that all land in addition to Parks Canada north of 60 is covered, it would be good to have your lawyer's confirmation, because it will put a completely new spin on it. It'll be the first time we hear of it.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I will undertake that. We will get a review of the legislation and provide that answer to the committee. My reading of the definition of “federal land” is that this takes in the north.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: North of 60.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Yes.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: In that case I'm really happy because you seem to imply that it's really important it should do so. You're happy it does, obviously, because you think that's the way it is. What would happen if you found out it wasn't?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I think we would have to have some discussions with Environment Canada and find out what their intent was.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Good. That's great.

With regard to the whole question of habitats on federal land, Bill C-65 included mandatory powers for the government on federal lands. In other words, once a species at risk was listed, the law was automatically put into gear, whereas now it's at the discretion of the Governor in Council whether or not a species is listed and habitats on federal lands are protected. This again is a distinct change from Bill C-65. Do you agree with this departure? In your role as a consultative ministry, a very important one in this process, can you tell us why you agreed to this very large change from one to the other?

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Mr. Lincoln. Can you give a response, please?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'm afraid I cannot answer that specific question at this time. I will have to go back and find out the details of that.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Can you provide the clerk with the answer to that question in writing, please?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I will, Madam Chairman.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: So there's no misunderstanding, we're talking about federal lands.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I understand that.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: All right.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mr. Lincoln, you can pursue this in the second round.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: All right.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

Mr. Reed, please.

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Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair.

Do aboriginal people sit on COSEWIC now? Do they consult as to the list?

Mr. Bob Watts: We're not sure.

Mr. Julian Reed: You mentioned in your statement the cooperation and the knowledge of aboriginal people that could apply to the successful enactment of this bill, and I'm curious to know that. We'll have to find that out.

Because of the change from the old bill to make things more discretionary and so on, obviously it's going to have to enlist the full cooperation and the consciousness of every citizen in Canada, including the aboriginal nations. Are you satisfied that this bill can do that? If it's implemented in its current state, can it engender that kind of cooperation and assistance that will be needed to make this bill work?

Mr. Bob Watts: That's a huge question, sir. I think what I would say is that there's a spirit and an intent to this legislation to find cooperation from all the elements of society to work together toward a particular goal. It lays out avenues for doing that, and it encourages people to work together toward a particular goal.

Mr. Julian Reed: The element of compensation, I take it, is one of the encouragements, if you like, to accept this.

I'll tell you why I bring this subject up. We could write a bill that would be very punitive, very harsh, and so on, but all we would do is encourage that phrase “shoot, shovel, and shut up”, which is commonplace in other jurisdictions. Of course, we don't want to go there if we can, and that's why I'm so concerned that this bill, through its various elements, encourage that cooperation.

Mr. Bob Watts: If you're referring to the specific part of compensation, I think compensation is one of the elements the bill proposes in terms of not taking the stick approach, as you've phrased it. I think the idea of the creation of an aboriginal subcommittee, for example, is another means the bill looks at in terms of trying to bring people to the table who need to be at the table to look at these important matters.

Mr. Julian Reed: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you, Mr. Reed.

Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London, Lib.): Thanks very much, Madam Chair.

If the bill were amended to make habitat protection on federal lands or within federal jurisdiction mandatory, with the only exceptions being through permit, what would your views be on that? Would it create difficulty for people north of 60 or people living on native reserves?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: That's a difficult question. It depends on how that mandatory power and authority would be applied. If it were unilateral, yes, it would cause difficulty. If it's applied with reason and due consideration of other values, perhaps not.

Mr. Gar Knutson: But when we put mandatory language in legislation, don't we assume it's going to be used with reason?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Yes.

Mr. Gar Knutson: So we're safe in continuing that assumption.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I think the general experience of the Canadian application of administration would give us some sense of comfort, yes.

Mr. Gar Knutson: We recognize that because we're dealing with species that are on the verge of extinction, we're not talking huge numbers. We're not talking about, say, mandatory protection for all the habitats of Canada geese, for example.

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Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'm not sure I understood your question, sir.

Mr. Gar Knutson: My point is that it shouldn't be an onerous burden because we're not talking about huge numbers of animals. They're on the verge of extinction anyway, so there aren't many of them left. That's why they have to be, as someone would perhaps say, extreme. They're on the verge of extinction, so it requires fairly strong action. That sets up an argument for mandatory language; it makes habitat protection mandatory.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I don't know the answer to that. I don't feel qualified to respond. I think that's probably something you'd want to discuss with Environment Canada.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Well, if you're the experts, though, on north of 60....

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: We're the experts with respect to resource management other than wildlife, and we have an opinion with respect to how those sets of responsibilities might interplay with this bill.

Mr. Gar Knutson: But it doesn't set off any huge alarm bells. At least that's the sense I'm getting. I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: You asked whether in fact mandatory language would raise concerns and my answer would remain that there is other legislation, bills and acts, that has mandatory language, and it is applied in the tradition of the Canadian administration of law and justice. So I think it could be accommodated.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Mr. Knutson.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Obviously, there's some concern over SARA and the fact that it may be perceived as too discretionary when it comes to taking measures for recovery and critical habitat protection. I'm going to ask the question slightly differently than my colleague, Mr. Knutson. What assurances can you give the committee that critical habitat can be protected in the north, given the discretionary quality of some of the wording in the act?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: If there's a determination that in fact habitat needs to be protected, there are the tools available to government to make sure there are prohibitions and restrictions on activities associated with that habitat. Under the oil and gas legislation or the mining legislation, subsurface rights can be withdrawn and prohibitions put in place with respect to those activities.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Another piece of this legislation, which I find very significant, is the five-year review. I'm assuming that in your roles with DIAND you must have come across mandatory reviews that happen from time to time. I'm wondering if you can maybe speak to those experiences. Is this generally something that's taken with a fair bit of seriousness and done fairly thoroughly, in your experience, when we're looking at a kind of legislation like this?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Yes. It varies, of course, and it depends on the strength and the intent of that review. But those reviews that are prescribed, particularly in legislation or in particular orders of government, are taken quite seriously.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Madam Redman.

I believe Mr. Herron would like to be on the first round as well.

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): My sincere apologies for missing the actual presentation, but activities required me elsewhere.

Having said that, there are a couple of problems I have with respect to the legislation in general, and clearly DIAND could be a component of that. I was very struck by the fact that under Bill C-65, mandatory protection of critical habitat—the word “mandatory” was a component of Bill C-65. We all agree on that, right?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Yes.

Mr. John Herron: Although there may be enough reason for people to say it would be extremely rare where we wouldn't actually act, it is still discretionary. Did DIAND have a major problem with that issue under Bill C-65?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'll ask a question of clarification. On mandatory?

Mr. John Herron: Mandatory protection of critical habitat on federal lands.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Not particularly.

Mr. John Herron: That's good. So we're heading in the right direction there. DIAND's on board with that particular issue.

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Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Well, if I could just clarify, the concern is in the way in which that would be applied and how it would be integrated with other legislative authorities that rest with this department and other departments.

Mr. John Herron: That's fair.

I missed some of your background. Are either one of you folks lawyers of any form? That's okay. Neither am I, so we're on a level footing.

There is this opinion that was addressed earlier by the Department of Environment, the guy in charge, the ministerial guy. He seemed to have this particular concern that if you had separate rules on federal lands versus non-federal lands, it might not hold up constitutionally. Obviously, this is a very critical issue in terms of a federal lands component. Have you heard that particular issue come up in your deliberations in any way, shape or form? We've never heard it.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I personally have not, sir.

Mr. John Herron: I'm not overly surprised. Moreover, if we have separate rules and regulations on prohibitions for species at risk on provincial lands, when it comes to provincial law, versus privately held lands—you have different rules and regulations—and we do it under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which was a very pioneering bill brought in in 1988 by the Conservative government for the use of toxins in our environment.... There are different prohibitions under that on federal lands versus non-federal lands. So you're aware of that, and that doesn't cause you any particular troubles.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: We do not administer that legislation, other than on our particular elements of federal land, so we don't have a direct experience with that.

Mr. John Herron: Again, I apologize for missing the presentation, because you've answered my questions exactly how I was hoping they would come out. Thank you.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: That worries me.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): You should be very worried. Thank you very much.

Was there anyone else on the first round?

With all due respect for my colleague on the government side, I have a little problem with this shoot, shovel, and shut up. Often there are very easy slogans that can get across complex ideas perhaps. Personally I would like to see some of the statistics on shoot, shovel, and shut up, because it's quite an easy thing to say, which shuts the argument or the debate down very quickly. That's just an aside. I may even talk to the Library of Parliament researchers to see if we can find some information that backs that up. We often hear a lot of things about the evil American endangered species legislation as well.

Anyway, there are a couple of quick questions I wanted to ask you, and I thank you for your presentation.

I'm always very interested in the integration of traditional ecological knowledge and western science. I guess it's a three-part question. One, how do you see this working practically with regard to the proposed legislation? Second, if, for example, there is some real contradiction between what western science is saying and what the people in the field who are looking at it from a traditional ecological knowledge perspective are seeing—if there is a real contradiction between the two—who is going to win out? I think we often hear witnesses coming in saying, the scientists didn't listen to us; we could have told them this. Third, are there practical examples of where this is currently working right now?

• 1625

Mr. Bob Watts: If I may, Madam Chair, perhaps I'll take a shot at the first question and Mr. Beaubier will follow through with the subsequent two.

Our reading of the act calls for a consultative process with aboriginal people at every step of the process. As you've said, it includes the integration of traditional ecological knowledge with western scientific knowledge in a number of things: the identification of species at risk and the development of recovery plans. In addition, as we noted earlier, the act also provides for the creation of an aboriginal subcommittee to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. That also will ensure the active participation of aboriginal people in the decision-making process as well as the integration of traditional ecological knowledge. Mr. Beaubier will touch on some of the committees, particularly in the north, where traditional ecological knowledge is being incorporated with western scientific knowledge.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Thank you.

Those indeed do provide the practical examples of where there is a blend of traditional and scientific knowledge brought to bear on decisions. There is a requirement in several of the land claims for traditional knowledge to be incorporated into the decision-making process. Those are usually conducted through the public boards and agencies that have been struck to deal with land-use permitting or water permitting or wildlife management. The way that is conducted is that those people who have that traditional knowledge are brought into the committees, or indeed in many instances are part of the committees, and there is an integration of those opinions that come from the scientific community and those that come from the aboriginal community. And there is a decision made at that committee—a commonsense approach to bringing those two issues together.

In regard to this bill, if there is an obvious and clear conflict between those two sources of knowledge, I don't know how that would be resolved. Given the intent of this bill, which is through a cooperative and collaborative approach to species at risk, I would surmise that this would be worked through and there would be those kinds of compromises reached within the discussions.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

Now we have a second round, and on the second round I have Mr. Abbott and Mr. Lincoln. Is there anyone else who wants a second round? Mr. Gruending. Mr. Abbott, please.

Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you.

At the bottom of page 4 in the English version of your notes, the last sentence reads:

    The proposed SARA provides for consultation through ensuring that recovery strategies, action plans and management plans for species at risk are prepared in cooperation with DIAND and the affected Aboriginal communities.

With the greatest of respect, I must tell the witnesses that that sends shivers up my spine because I have five aboriginal communities in my constituency. One of them in particular is very forward-looking, the Shuswap, and they went through a process where, for the seven years that I've been a member of Parliament.... For six years I've been engaged with them in attempting to get through the bureaucratic nonsense that there is in DIAND for them to be able to proceed with logical, reasonable, rational projects in cooperation with other people.

I'd appreciate your comment, and I recognize that I'm making a rather harsh assertion here, but on the basis of that experience, you see why, when I read that now we're going to have DIAND bureaucracy working with the affected aboriginal communities in “ensuring that the recovery strategies, action plans and management plans for species at risk are prepared in cooperation....” On the basis of my experience and, I would suspect, on the basis of other MPs' experience, what confidence should we have that in fact this will not just create a further log-jam and we could probably end up losing some endangered species before you finally get through the paperwork?

• 1630

Mr. Bob Watts: The last time I was before a committee similar to this, we were talking about the First Nations Land Management Act, and I think some of the efforts through the First Nations Land Management Act are being reflected in other parts of the department in terms of modernization of the application of the act with respect to land management regimes, better training for land management officers and first nations communities, and a commitment to greater partnership, through Gathering Strength, with first nation communities. I would submit to you, sir, that this lays a foundation for greater cooperation and in fact the modernization of our processes and our permitting and our licensing processes with first nations communities.

Mr. Jim Abbott: There probably is a little light in this tunnel in that, with ABC, the department has had to work around the antiquated Indian Act. There was the confusion with ABC and also the provisions that were required under the act. What you're telling me is that because we're breaking new ground here, we are likely not going to run into the same kinds of snafus and bureaucracy that we ran into in attempting to help the aboriginal communities with their commercial endeavours.

Mr. Bob Watts: That would certainly be my submission and my hope, sir.

Mr. Jim Abbott: Now, one quick one. On page 6, which is a follow-up to the chair's question, I'd like you to expand on it a little bit more. The second part of her question, I think, might be reflected in the centre paragraph:

    Also, the act provides for the creation of an Aboriginal sub-committee to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to ensure the active participation

—emphasis on “active participation”—

    of Aboriginal people in the decision-making processes.

How comfortable are you, as officials of DIAND, that overall the aboriginal communities are going to be satisfied to be part of this process, active participants in the process, but nonetheless prepared to go along with the decisions that would flow from SARA?

Mr. Bob Watts: My understanding is that this part of the act that puts into place the aboriginal subcommittee is a result of the consultations with aboriginal people and enjoys the support of those aboriginal people who were part of the consultative process.

Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you.

It would be my understanding that an aboriginal subcommittee might employ traditional ecological knowledge, but it might also employ western science, because I know a lot of western-trained ecologists in the aboriginal community. So it's not a tech committee, is that correct? Specifically, it's an aboriginal subcommittee.

Mr. Bob Watts: That's my understanding, yes. And just to support that, the CIER, a centre of excellence in terms of aboriginal ecological knowledge that provides training to aboriginal people from across the country, incorporates both western scientific method and traditional ecological knowledge in the training of their environmental officers.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Right. Exactly. Thank you very much.

Mr. Lincoln.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: You mention in your brief, Mr. Watts, that of all the species at risk listed, over half can be found on aboriginal lands, which was very striking. You say:

    This demonstrates the important role Aboriginal communities have and will continue to play in the stewardship of protecting species at risk.

You say also that:

    ...the act provides for the creation of an Aboriginal sub-committee to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to ensure the active participation of Aboriginal people in the decision-making processes

which is a support of DIAND.

I take it, then, that in the present framework of COSEWIC there is an input from aboriginal peoples through DIAND or directly into the system of listing of species. What is your interaction with the listing of species presently in COSEWIC?

• 1635

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: We do not have a direct role in that designation. That is left with Environment, in consultation with the provincial and territorial jurisdictions.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: But you say the act provides for the creation of an aboriginal subcommittee. Considering half of the endangered species are on aboriginal lands, how do we make this connection today through your ministry with COSEWIC? Do you know? Can you tell us the mechanics?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'm sorry, sir, I can't.

Mr. Bob Watts: With permission of the chair, we can respond to that question in writing.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Yes, I would like to know.

I don't know if you have followed this legislation, the previous legislation.... Because of the importance in the north of aboriginal lands, you have been one of the ministries consulted over these pieces of legislation. The previous one, as I say, wasn't very far back. The listing that exists now under COSEWIC was enshrined in the legislation so that the legislation started with a list of species, which was about 350 species. Since then the committee has been reviewing the species, this list, to update its listing. Of the 353, some 125 have been relisted now, or reviewed, and they are working on the rest.

The big difference between the previous legislation and the present one is that the present one doesn't allow for a start-up list. The list has to be enshrined afterwards. Does your ministry see any hindrance or have you any objection to the list being enshrined at the start in the legislation?

Mr. Bob Watts: Madam Chair, we've been asked a number of times to compare clauses from one act with another. We didn't come here prepared to do that. I can say, as I said in our comments, that we're supportive of the act.

If you want, sir, we can try to respond to that question in writing, but we did come prepared to talk about this act and not to discuss a particular clause, in particular things like mandatory in one clause versus discretionary, or listing or not listing.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I understand that, Mr. Watts. I asked the question because your department was involved in the previous act, so you must have been quite happy with the previous act the way it was. Now you tell us you are happy with this one, and the differences are quite significant. That's why I was asking.... All these departments that have taken part in the first exercise were very happy with it. They came just the same way. I don't know who came from your department to testify to it, but I'm sure the record will show that everybody was happy with it. Now we are happy with something that is very different. I wanted to find out why you are happy with the difference.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Perhaps I can help by explaining that when we take a look at the legislation, we're looking at it from the perspective of how it will interplay with respect to the department's mandate and jurisdiction in the north and with aboriginal communities. We're not going through it in complete detail with respect to what the species at risk are, whether that list is complete or incomplete, or whether it should be a particular mandatory list and embedded in legislation at the outset or be built in through a process of integration afterwards. We're not looking at the legislation from that perspective, and that's why we're having a little difficulty responding to your question.

• 1640

We look at it from this view: How is this going to operate in the north? How is it going to blend in with the legislative and jurisdictional mandates we have for northerners and for our mandate legislated in the north? I suspect that's probably exactly the same view that's taken within the Indian program.

We're not going to be able to respond in a very complete way with respect to the kinds of questions you're asking.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I appreciate that. I just brought up the question because in your own words, 50% of the listed species were on aboriginal lands, which seems to me very striking. If 50% are there, it would seem to me you would have a very big part to play in how this list evolves.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mr. Lincoln, I understand your frustration about answering some of these questions, but this is the second time this committee has had this sort of process before it. We had a bill called the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that in 1996 was one kind of a bill. In 1998 it was another kind of a bill. Quite obviously, it was a huge process in 1996. Other government departments—Environment Canada—cabinet, whatever, all signed on to it; they agreed with it. In 1998, there were some significant changes. We could never find out why. If we are trying to assess the appropriateness of the legislation and some of the elements within the legislation, we have to try to understand. Likewise, we had a bill in 1997, ironically just prior to an election. We have a bill in 2000, ironically...soon.

We're trying to understand why mandatory provisions were made discretionary. It's the job of parliamentarians around this table who represent constituents and Canadians at large to understand these things. Sometimes it's very difficult, let me tell you.

I have Mr. Gruending next on the list.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: Thank you.

We have approximately 354 species at risk. We're told that there are more being added each year and that time is of the essence. In that respect, I just want to understand something when it comes to north of 60. When it comes to the application of this legislation, if it's passed, and various plans of recovery, etc., is that the jurisdiction of the federal government, or does it have to share that jurisdiction with northern governments?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: It has to share that jurisdiction. My reading of this legislation is that those recovery plans and those strategies for dealing with species at risk are done in full consultation with the territorial government, who have the legislated mandate for wildlife, and for the boards and agencies, who have roles to play under the claims legislation.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: The legislation does seem to indicate that clause 7, clause 37, following clause 47—we have a conservation council and it includes territorial and provincial ministers. Recovery strategies include them and action plans and protection of habitat.

When I look now at something prepared by our good researchers here called “Comparison of Provincial Endangered Species Laws”.... When I look, for example, at Northwest Territories and Nunavut, it says no endangered species legislation. When I look at whether it's mandatory or discretionary, it's discretionary in the north. When I look at penalties, a maximum of $10,000 in the north where it's $100,000 or $150,000 in various southern jurisdictions. Habitat protection: no provisions in Northwest Territories and Nunavut. When I look at recovery planning, no provisions in Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Compensation: no provisions anywhere up there. Public participation: no provisions. Voluntary measures, stewardship: no provisions.

What concerns me is that we have these jurisdictions, which really do not seem to have developed anything along this line, or very little. It says in here “It should be noted that both Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories governments are expected to introduce new species at risk legislation in the future.”

The concern I have, given that we have all of these endangered species and the list is growing every year, and we have this extensive consultation built into the legislation, and yet these jurisdictions aren't developed at all in this way.... I'm really concerned about when this is going to get done. If it isn't getting done, if these laws don't get passed pretty quickly, what can the federal government do to be sure that these species and their habitats are protected?

• 1645

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: Sir, I don't see anything in the legislation that precludes action being taken on species at risk in the north in the absence of territorial legislation. What I see is a requirement for consultation and collaboration within the jurisdiction and the frameworks within which the territories are currently working. All three territories have vigorous and vibrant departments of renewable resources that deal with wildlife. They all have scientific knowledge associated with wildlife and habitat protection. I would surmise that it's that kind of discussion that would be brought to the federal government in terms of its actions on species at risk and recovery plans. So I don't think it necessarily precludes quick action.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: So you say that the fact that these jurisdictions don't have anything in place at all doesn't matter, that we can get on with it anyway.

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: That's not quite what I said. I said that I don't think it's going to be an impediment if there's a determination and a consensus that there is a species at risk. I think you could see fast movement there.

I agree with you that it would be beneficial and helpful if those jurisdictions with their stated intent were to pass the legislation, but my reading of this bill doesn't mean that nothing can happen until that legislation is in place.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: I have just one other question. I'm told that over 70% of Canada's species at risk migrate or range into the United States and that many of them will lose protection simply by crossing the border into Canada. Now, as people who are particularly concerned about the north, where many of these species may migrate, birds particularly, would you have preferred to see a bill that would protect them transboundary?

Mr. Hiram Beaubier: I'm sorry, I couldn't offer an opinion on that.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: Mr. Watts?

Mr. Bob Watts: I'm sorry, the same answer.

Mr. Dennis Gruending: Thank you.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe— Bradford, Lib.)): Yes.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I'd like unanimous consent to table a motion.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Mr. Brien has a question.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Yes, but I am entitled to raise a point of order, Madam Chair.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Have you no further questions for our witnesses?

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: No.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Really? Your name is on the list.

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Madam Chair...

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): You may continue if you wish.

Mr. Pierre Brien: Before I ask a question, I have a point of order.

I realize that discussions have been under way for some time and while we have a quorum—because I know some members have to leave—I would point out that you have all received a copy of a motion. I ask for unanimous consent to debate the motion after the witnesses have left.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): After the witnesses have left.

Mr. Pierre Brien: Is there unanimous consent to debate the motion after the witnesses have left?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): I have no objections. However, are there any further questions before we wrap things up?


Are there any other questions before we say thank you to our witnesses? My list is complete, but I'm certainly open to anybody else wishing to question.

If not, then in the name of the vice-chair, who has had to leave the room for a few moments, I will thank you, Mr. Watts and Monsieur Beaubier. We are very grateful for your taking the time to come and for your insights and information. We look forward as well to those responses that I understand you are going to send to the clerk in writing. Thank you very much for coming.

Mr. Bob Watts: Thank you very much.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): If I could have your attention, we have a point of order from our members from the Bloc regarding a desire on their part to bring forward a motion to the committee at this time. In order to have the motion brought forward for the consideration of the committee, it is necessary that unanimous consent be given by all members of the committee.

• 1650

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Do we have it?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): I'm asking you, as chair of the committee, do I have unanimous consent for them to bring forward this motion?

Ms. Marlene Catterall: What is the motion?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): I can read it for you.


One moment, please.


The motion is being passed to you in both official languages.


We'll have it in both English and French. Please be patient.


I'm certainly going to give you the opportunity to read it. But we are going to deal with the issue of whether or not we will consider this motion first, and that, as I said before, requires unanimous consent. We will only consider the motion once the committee does give consent. If it does not, we will not.

Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: With regard to the consideration of the motion, not the motion itself, I think this committee indeed put its shoulder to the wheel yesterday in terms of working over four hours to hear an issue of public policy. So I think the minimum that we owe our efforts is to have consideration of the motion pertaining to our efforts of last night. We're all adults here. We know we invested the time last night to hear the witnesses we did. So for us not to consider a motion on it right now kind of defeats the yeoman-like work we did last evening.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Thank you, Mr. Herron.

Mrs. Redman has indicated her desire to speak and also Mr. Pratt.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Not speaking to the motion but whether or not we'll accept the motion, I would just like to respond to Mr. Herron's comments.

Mr. John Herron: Through the chair.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Through the chair. I have to tell you that when we initially dealt with the motion that predicated last night's meeting, there was no framework, no expectation, and very few parameters. I commend both the clerk and the vice-chair for scrambling to get the groups together as they did. Because that was done in haste, I would not want us to think we would do something else in haste.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Thank you, Ms. Redman.

Mr. Pratt.

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair.

I must say that when I get motions like this and a request for unanimous consent, I have to fall back on a situation that occurred a couple of days ago when a motion was put forward where I was looking for unanimous consent from the Bloc and it was refused. The Bloc members had absolutely no problem with the motion itself. They just said, we have no problem with your motion, but go through the regular process. So I find it passing strange that they come here and ask for our cooperation when they themselves don't give cooperation in other fora in this Parliament.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Thank you for your comments as well, but I don't think I have to as chair—


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): That's not polite, Madam.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: No, but I would like to raise a point of order.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Go ahead.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Mr. Pratt said that we neglected to give our unanimous consent on one occasion. I'd like to know when that was, because I have no recollection of any such thing. Perhaps Mr. Pratt could refresh my memory.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Fine, thank you.


At this point I would have to say that we are engaging in repartee at the very minimum and that both comments, and yours, since it is a point of order from the Bloc, exceed what really falls under the definition of a point of order.

So I would ask the committee to indicate by hand whether or not they feel they want to give unanimous consent. Please indicate by hand, those who consent—

An hon. member: No.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): From looking from left to right, I can see that there is not unanimous consent for the motion to be put forward.

Therefore, I thank all of you for attending this meeting, and I draw this meeting to a close.

• 1655

Mr. Dennis Gruending: Would we not have to vote on that, Madam Chair?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): I'm sorry, I have a point of information. I will just give you a procedural message. Pursuant to Standing Order 106(1), the report of the House procedure committee has just been tabled and adopted. Therefore, there will not be a meeting tomorrow. That is because what is required now, following the adoption of that motion, is that a chair and vice-chair be elected by the committee. Before that happens, there must be a period of 48 hours. This being Wednesday and tomorrow being Thursday, we do not have 48 hours prior to next week.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Madam Chair, on a point of order, I don't think we've adjourned yet.

The committee at its meeting yesterday agreed that it would hold hearings all day Monday. Does that mean those hearings will not proceed?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Madam, in response to your question, I understand that the vice-chair, who has left the room, has indicated that she has not organized for this coming Monday. However, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday those meetings are scheduled. It is merely Monday's meetings that have not been organized, but Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are all in place.

Like any other chair, I look forward to seeing your smiling faces on Tuesday.

Mrs. Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: I have a point of clarification. Madame Girard-Bujold was more than accommodating in agreeing to meet all day Monday, and I have already complemented the clerk and the chair on being able to pull together a very broad spectrum of interests for last night's meeting on the Adams Mine. I'm just wondering if they couldn't.... This is only Wednesday. Are we unable to meet on Monday?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Mrs. Redman, my understanding is that procedurally, yes, we can meet on Monday. I also agree with you in your compliments to the Bloc. I likewise, from my constituency office, made it very clear that I was available for all Mondays. But in the absence of the vice-chair, I am unable to give you the rationale as to why she has not organized for Monday.


One moment, please. The Clerk has some explanations for us.


The Clerk of the Committee: Just a point of clarification, Madam Chair. The next meeting of the committee is not for the committee to call. It will be the clerk of the House who will call that meeting. It's at that meeting that the chairs and vice-chairs will be elected. If by chance—and I understand the clerk simply conveys the wishes of the House leaders and whips—that meeting can take place on Tuesday morning, presumably the committee could continue with its program immediately after the election of chairs and vice-chairs. But if this is not the case, then the Tuesday morning meeting cannot take place.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Madam Chair, for clarification—


The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Kindly wait one moment, because others before you have asked to be recognized. Go ahead, Ms. Girard-Bujold.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: I'd like the clerk to clarify something for me.

You're saying that we will not be sitting tomorrow and that it will be up to the House Leader to decide whether or not we should sit on Monday. Is that correct?

The Clerk: Madam Chair, I merely meant that pursuant to the Standing Orders, the Clerk of the House of Commons convenes organization meetings. In actual fact, however, the leaders and whips consult on the scheduling of organization meetings. I suppose it's possible to arrange to hold an organization meeting and an actual committee meeting at the same time. Otherwise, each meeting is cancelled until such time as an organization meeting is held.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: Fine. Thank you.

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Go ahead, Mr. Brien.

• 1700

Mr. Pierre Brien: I simply want the record to show that this motion was tabled. Alright?

The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Fine. Thank you very much. Ms. Catterall.


Ms. Marlene Catterall: Just to be clear then, the committee could meet on Monday. The clerk could convene a founding meeting of the committee on Monday or as early as Friday. Is that my understanding?

The Clerk: You would have to have the 48 hours' notice.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Yes, and it was tabled in the House today before 4 o'clock.

The Clerk: Yes, but the notice of a meeting of the committee requires 48 hours.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Okay. So if the clerk were to give such notice tomorrow, a meeting could be held on Monday?

The Clerk: Yes.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Thank you.


The Acting Chair (Ms. Aileen Carroll): Thank you everyone and good day.