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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

• 0909


The Chair (Mr. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): Good morning, everybody.

We are on clause 130 this morning. We'll start with amendment G-20, on page 338 in your binder, and if that amendment carries, there are a number of amendments that cannot be put—more precisely, amendments L-38, L-39, L-40, L-41 and L-41A.

• 0910

If amendment G-20 is carried, then it is consequential to a number of amendments by the government, namely amendments G-3, G-9, G-15, and G-22.

Perhaps we could ask Madame Redman to introduce the government amendment.

Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I'm going to have to ask you to repeat the page we're starting on. I thought I heard two different numbers. If you could refresh my memory....

The Chair: All these numbers have been the result of intensive consultations with government officials in order to save time.

Mrs. Karen Redman: I'm not questioning your decision; I'm just asking for clarification as to the numbers.

The Chair: As I mentioned earlier, we are on page 338.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Page 338.

The Chair: If amendment G-20 carries, amendments L-38, L-39, L-40, L-41, and L-41A cannot be put, and if it carries, it is consequential on amendments G-3, G-9, G-15, and G-22.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you.

The Chair: I'm told we may be rudely interrupted for a vote around 10:30 a.m., but since we are so close to the chamber, we will reconvene here immediately after the vote.

Madame Redman.

(On clause 130—Assessment of status)

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you.

The amendment on page 338 reads that Bill C-5, in clause 130, be amended (a) by replacing lines 14 to 16 on page 63 with the following:


I'm sure the committee can continue to read through that.

The Chair: Are there any questions or comments?

Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London, Lib.): I think the government should be commended for rolling over the list. That's what this represents, and we should vote to adopt the schedule.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Knutson.

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: That vote takes us to amendment CA-76 on page 341, an amendment in the name of Mr. Mills.

• 0915

No, we cannot. I'm sorry. We thought it stood by itself, but there is a line conflict.

No, that stands by itself, Mr. Mills. You are fine.

Ms. Susan Baldwin (Procedural Clerk): No, it conflicts with the first part of the government amendment here.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance): I guess my reason for changing the word is that the bill now reads “potential”. My feeling is that's not very scientific. So I would remove that word. This then lets COSEWIC deal with the present, not potential, threats, which I believe would be more scientific and more reasonable.

The Chair: Science sometimes deals with potential.

Mr. Bob Mills: Sometimes, but we could debate that on another issue.

The Chair: Right.

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We've already established that COSEWIC uses science as the base for its assessment, and the reason “potential” is in this section is so that we look at prevention, as opposed to dealing with a situation that may be even worse. I don't know if Mr. Nadeau would like to speak on why we feel it's important that it remain there.

The Chair: Are there any other comments?

Mr. Nadeau.

Mr. Simon Nadeau (Head, Endangered Species Recovery, Environment Canada): Also it's consistent with paragraph 15(1)(a), where we say that COSEWIC is to “identify existing and potential threats”. So it's already there, in the first section.

It's very difficult anyway to distinguish between threats that are operating and potential threats. It's almost indistinguishable.

The Chair: All right. Are there any other questions or comments?

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Mr. Knutson's amendment is coming up. It's amendment L-42 on page 346.

Mr. Gar Knutson: In my view, this is a fairly minor technical amendment.

Subclause 130(7) currently reads:

    In making its assessment of a wildlife species, COSEWIC may take into account and rely on any report on the species that was prepared in the two-year period before this Act receives royal assent.

I'm just suggesting that it may be five years.

The Chair: Thank you. You so move.

Now, can we hear a comment?

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: I would ask Ms. Wherry if she would like to speak to this.

We have some questions on the appropriateness of the timeline.

Ms. Ruth Wherry (Director, Species at Risk, Canadian Wildlife Service; Environment Canada): Actually, the new criteria that COSEWIC has been using have only been developed in the last two years. That was the reason we put in two years.

• 0920

Mr. Gar Knutson: Mr. Chairman, is she suggesting that everything that went on before two years ago isn't worthy of consideration and shouldn't be taken into account?

Ms. Ruth Wherry: Do you need an answer?

Mr. Gar Knutson: If you feel that strongly about it, I'm not going to make a big deal of it, but....

Ms. Ruth Wherry: Again, the provision was put in simply to clarify that we could consider the species that have been reassessed by COSEWIC since they developed the new criteria in the last two years. We could use those reports and not have to redo them again after the bill was proclaimed. The intent of the provision is merely to enable this.

Mr. Gar Knutson: So is the information that was prepared more than two years ago still going to be relied on or taken into account?

Mr. Simon Nadeau: Yes, I think so. It's just that five years is a longer period, so we think that sometimes the information should be updated. So it's not that the information cannot be used, it's that it should be complemented with other information.

Mr. Gar Knutson: All right. On that basis, I'll withdraw the amendment.

(Amendment withdrawn)

(Clause 130 as amended agreed to)

(Clauses 131 to 134 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 135)

The Chair: We have amendment LL-56 by Madam Kraft Sloan on page 349.1, and this vote would apply also to amendments LL-57 and LL-58.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.): Mr. Chair, why does it apply to LL-56, LL-57, and LL-58?

The Chair: That's what I'm told by the legislative....

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I had another amendment to clause 8. If we passed clause 8, then perhaps we should have passed these as well. If that's the case, I'd be very happy to accept them as consequential.

The Chair: The amendment is the same in all three cases. If it carries...we can discuss them separately if you like, but the text is all the same.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I had the same amendment for clause 8 if clause 8 carried. So if that's the argument for these three amendments, then we should follow the same course for clause 8—

The Chair: What is the number of the amendment that you're referring to right now?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: On clause 8? I'll have to take a look for it, Mr. Chair. It had the same issue with delegation of authority.

The Chair: They're looking it up.

We can proceed with introducing this amendment so that we can have a discussion.

Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near (Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Department of Justice): I would like to verify that the wording is indeed identical to clause 8 with respect to the issue of delegation. However, the issue of delegation is...substantive points to be made with each act, and the first one in clause 8 was with respect to SARA. These next three are with respect to three different acts. These motions were subsequently delivered to the committee, so at the time they didn't exist when clause 8 was passed.

• 0925

The Chair: We'll take them one at a time so as to proceed in that fashion, as we did before.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: In clause 8 of this bill there was an original delegation of authority that allowed the minister to delegate any authority under this bill. It was incredibly widesweeping, which I've never seen in legislation before, to any government or any person, and we know that “person” includes a corporation.

With the government's support we amended that clause 8 to read that the minister may delegate to any other government and only in the area with regard to enforcement.

When we take a look at clause 135, committee members, as it is currently written, again, this is a widesweeping delegation of authority clause with regard to the Canada Wildlife Act. So we are dealing with amendments to other acts of Parliament.

And so again, Mr. Chair, we have a delegation to any person, which includes the corporation...any power conferred on the minister under the Canada Wildlife Act. We do have some concerns, and this amendment would seek to limit it to any government in Canada and it would be relegated to enforcement, which is exactly what was done for clause 8.

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: I appreciate the spirit in which my colleague is putting this amendment forward. However, as a matter of fact, the Canada Wildlife Act limits the designation of national wildlife areas to federal lands managed by the Minister of the Environment. If you take a look at other ministers of the crown and, for example, the Minister of National Defence, if he wishes to manage CFB Suffield in Alberta for conservation purposes as a national wildlife area, he does not want to relinquish that authority.

So specifically because of those issues and the fact that effective management of national wildlife areas means taking a range of action that's far broader than just enforcement, we feel the amendment, as it's put forward, would create a major impediment to obtaining agreement to create such areas as national wildlife areas and lands that are administered by ministers.

I would ask Mr. Near if he'd like to comment on this. We have some other wording we think would be appropriate.

Mr. David Near: This amendment comes as a result of years of experience with respect to the difficulty of convincing other ministers to transfer lands, for which they've been given responsibility, to the Minister of the Environment so that a national wildlife area can be created and managed as such. The previous clause that was just carried by the committee no longer requires those ministers to actually transfer the land to the Minister of the Environment, but it can create a national wildlife area and still administer those lands.

If we do not allow any delegation to another government minister, and I agree that perhaps any person is too wide, but any government official, in this case the Minister of National Defence, we would have an artificial situation. DND would be creating a national wildlife area in Suffield, because that's the one immediately at hand, and then it would have to come every time to the Minister of the Environment with respect to a permit on how to deal with those lands.

I should add that the Canada Wildlife Act is a very short act and the wildlife area regulations are very short. The only thing that's in them is that you need a permit to do certain things within a national wildlife area. It was felt that it would be reasonable for the Minister of National Defence, who's actually administering those lands, to issue those permits. In return we get a very sizeable national wildlife area in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The Chair: Are there any other comments or questions?

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Chair, the wording that we think may get at the heart of what the amendment is trying to do would see the language of...and perhaps I could just read it:

    The Minister may delegate to any other minister of the Crown any power conferred on the Minister under this Act. The Minister may then exercise the power subject to any terms and conditions that the Minister specifies.

• 0930

The Chair: I would repeat, you are now on line 10 of page 65. Correct?

Mrs. Karen Redman: Yes.

The Chair: You are suggesting that the minister may delegate to any other minister of the crown.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Yes. The next sentence would read, “The Minister may then exercise the power”. The upper and lower cases distinguish which minister we're referring to. I'll ask Ms. Wherry to go through it.

Ms. Ruth Wherry: In the first sentence, the first reference to “Minister” is upper case, the second is lower case, and the third is upper case. In the second sentence, the first reference to “minister” is lower case and the second is upper case.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, in reading the French, I see the references to “ministre” are all lower case, so I'm wondering how we differentiate in the French.

The Chair: Well, the translators will have to use some creative thinking here since in the French version a minister is always in the lower case. There will have to be an adequate way of circumventing that problem, but so long as it's understood....

Are there any further questions or comments?

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I'm willing to accept this amendment. However, I'm wondering why the original section was drafted to refer to “any person” as opposed to a minister of the crown.

The Chair: Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near: To be frank, I can't really remember. It was drafted six or seven years ago, and the clause was consistent with the earlier clause, clause 8.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, if it was six or seven years ago, he's referring to Bill C-65, and this wasn't in Bill C-65.

Ms. Ruth Wherry: The wording in the current bill was drafted the way it was, I think, simply to be consistent with the one we had put in under clause 8. That's all. It was just a matter of having done it one way in clause 8, so we carried forward. But the intent of what we were trying to do would be covered with the new wording Madam Redman has just given you.

• 0935

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I'm still waiting for an answer about clause 8, but that's fine, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you.

It should be clearly understood that what we are doing in one version, namely the English version, will be accurately reflected in the mirror version, in the other official language.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I have a question with regard to process here. Originally it had been suggested that if the amendment on page 349.1 carried, then they would all carry, but I don't see that they should all carry the same way. I think we need separate discussions because—

The Chair: We have already decided that.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you. I just wanted clarification.

The Chair: We are now dealing with this particular amendment, which has been proposed by Madam Redman on behalf of the government.

You heard the variations on the “M” theme in C minor. Are there any further questions?

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 135 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 136 agreed to)

(On clause 137)

The Chair: On page 347 we have another government amendment, G-21E.

If this amendment is approved, then we cannot deal with PC/DR-64, which follows immediately after. While Mr. Herron was out of the room, I indicated that if the amendment on page 347 carries, then his amendment on page 349 cannot be put.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We all have the amendment before us, and the proposed amendment amends the definition of “environmental effect” in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It would clarify the fact that direct effects on species at risk are to be considered. It would also make the definition less onerous with respect to residence.

It would be overly burdensome to define “environmental effect” as any change to the residence of any individual listed species. We have Ms. Smith at the table. I would ask her to speak to this and on how it impacts on the CEAA.

The Chair: Could you do that very briefly, please?

Ms. Heather Smith (Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency): The definition of “environmental effect” in the CEAA is a key definition because the act requires responsible authorities to assess environmental effects of projects.

This is a key definition in the act. It tells them what they have to look at. The intent behind the original provision in clause 137 was simply to emphasize the fact that listed wildlife species, critical habitat, and residences are part of the environment. In looking at the bill after hearing comments of other people after the bill was tabled, we realized there was a better way to do it, and that's what the government amendment is intended to do. It's simply to clarify, after the word “environment” in the definition of environmental effect, that these items are in fact part of the environment.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Redman.

Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC/DR): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

• 0940

My question to the official would be, concerning essentially the amendment we have coming on pages following page 349, is it the intent of the government to broaden the scope of CEAA with the same sentiment the Progressive Conservative amendment was trying to apply to the same clause?

The Chair: It's a policy question on another bill, isn't it?

Mr. John Herron: No, I think, Mr. Chair, it's the intent of the amendment to follow the same sentiment or approach, to have the same objective, as we're trying to have on the same clause, and if it's their technical opinion that it roughly does the same thing, then the Progressive Conservatives—or conservatives—would be willing to comply.

The Chair: Madam Smith, can you comment?

Ms. Heather Smith: The amendment put forth by the member has the same intent as the government amendment.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. John Herron: If they're advancing the policy in that vein, we're definitely willing to comply.

The Chair: Therefore, you will not move your amendment?

Mr. John Herron: If this passes, that's correct.

The Chair: Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment agreed to—See Minutes of Proceedings)

(Clause 137 as amended agreed to)

The Chair: So we will not go to your amendment, Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: No, I trust the learned officials in this circumstance.

The Chair: Thank you.

We go now to clause 138 and the amendment in the name of Madam Kraft Sloan at L-57.

(On clause 138)

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, Mr. Chair, in clause 138 is another proposed section where the minister may delegate to any person—which includes a corporation—any power conferred upon the minister under this act. The act we're referring to in this situation is the Migratory Birds Convention Act, Mr. Chair. Again my amendment would limit to whom the minister is able to delegate and what the minister is able to delegate—which is enforcement. It's “to any government in Canada”, and it's relating only to enforcement.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We don't have a problem with “to any government in Canada”; however, we do have an issue with “relating to its enforcement”. I would use the example of the fact that provincial and territorial governments help with the sale of migratory bird hunting permits. We see the need for the delegation of the government to be broader than just enforcement, and we see that “relating to its enforcement” unduly limits the scope in this section and would perhaps preclude the minister's facilitating cost-effective delivery of government services. I don't know if Mr. Near wanted to comment.

The Chair: Mr. Near doesn't want to comment. Does Ms. Wherry want to comment?

Any further comment?

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Well, Mr Chairman, perhaps we could amend this to say “relating to its enforcement and sale of hunting permits”.

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you.

That was merely an example. I don't know if the officials would like to comment on it, but that's a “for instance” and not the only time we would see this as being overly limiting.

The Chair: Mr. Near.

Mr David Near: I'm just quickly scrolling through my mind the Migratory Birds Convention Act and its regulations. The addition of the term “permits” would certainly cover 90% of what's required, and certainly that is the largest issue in terms of the provinces issuing permits on our behalf so the person doesn't have to go to two places. If the term “permits” were included in addition, that would be much better than simply “enforcement”.

The Chair: All right. As a subamendment, the insertion of “and sale of hunting permits” has been suggested.

Are there any comments or questions? No, there are no comments, no questions. Madam Kraft Sloan.

• 0945

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: If the government has more comfort, then certainly we can change the amendment to read, “relating to its enforcement and permitting”.

The Chair: Is there such a word in legal language? Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near: I think you actually refer to “permits” as opposed to the act of “permitting”, because you may get into a debate.

The Chair: It's a noun, so we could use “permits”.

Mr. David Near: Yes.

The Chair: It would read “relating to its enforcement and permits”.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: That's fine, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Are there any further comments or questions? Are you ready for the amendment as subamended?

(Amendment agreed to—See Minutes of Proceedings)

(Clause 138 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 139)

The Chair: Clause 139 has amendment LL-58. Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, again we have a situation with regard to WAPPRIITA, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. Again, clause 139 would allow the minister to delegate to any person, which includes a corporation, any power conferred on the minister under this section. My amendment would limit that to “any government in Canada”, Mr. Chair, and again limit the power delegated to “enforcement”.

The Chair: Thank you. Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would ask Mr. Near to speak to this.

Mr. David Near: My comments would simply mirror what I said with respect to the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Provinces do issue permits under WAPPRIITA, and if we could add exactly what we added for the Migratory Birds Convention Act it would be very helpful in avoiding redundancy.

The Chair: It would read “relating to its enforcement and permits”. Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: As I understand it, the language in Bill C-65 with regard to permits was “the issuance of permits”. Perhaps that would be useful in this situation.

Mr. David Near: I think the term “permits” as in the last clause would relate to the actual issuance of permits. Whether you add “issuance of permits” in both places or simply “permits”, I think your result would be the same.

The Chair: Keep it simple, in other words.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I am just wondering—and this bothered me the last time as well—if it's authority relating to permits, does it not mean they could then develop areas describing where and when permits would be applicable, as opposed to merely governing the issuance of permits?

Mr. David Near: No, it would be the issuance of permits as required under the statute. They couldn't start making up their own criteria for the issuance of permits under WAPPRIITA.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Unless, of course, the minister had delegated that authority to them.

Mr. David Near: Yes, but “permits” would not delegate that type of authority to them. I don't even know if it's possible, but certainly by including either the term “issuance of permits” or “permits” you would not be delegating a power to provincial ministers, for example, to just make up on their own whatever they want to do with respect to permits.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Is that clear? All right, that's fine.

The Chair: So the amendment proposed here would be the same as in the previous clause, by inserting the words “and permits” into the amendment, if I understand you correctly.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Yes.

(Amendment agreed to—See Minutes of Proceedings)

(Clause 139 as amended agreed to)

• 0950

(Clauses 140 to 142 inclusive agreed to)

The Chair: Now we go to the preamble. You have in front of you a number of clauses that have been stood. It's one sheet, starting with clause 2 and the amendment set out on page 13.

I am told this has been carried because the amendment was consequential to the schedule. So this amendment, G-3, has been carried, and therefore I can ask, shall clause 2 as amended carry?

(Clause 2 as amended agreed to)

The Chair: All right, we're on page 37. It stands alone, doesn't it?

Yes, Mr. Herron, you have the floor.

(On clause 10—Administrative agreements)

Mr. John Herron: Page 37, I believe, is my stewardship plan. There's one element I would like to stroke out of it in order to encourage government support. That is the issue related to proposed paragraph 10.2(h). Although I subscribe to having it there, paragraph (h) in this particular clause says there's “a commitment to notify the landowners subject to subsection 29(2.1) emergency listing and the wildlife species listing in the subsection 27(3)”.

What I'm trying to do is.... I'll talk about the amendment in general. The amendment is trying to follow the sentiment of what the government is trying to do with the SARA bill, in that it's encouraging stewardship with a graduated approach, where there are different mechanisms in place to encourage landowners, property owners, woodlot owners, and in some cases even residents—a graduated approach, where potentially tax incentives could be utilized; a strategy may be used for public education; there would be information sharing between the different levels of government and persons; there could even be a rewards program in recognition of those individuals who put their shoulder to the wheel in order to help protect species at risk on behalf of all Canadians.

There's nothing in this amendment—there's nothing to my knowledge, I will preface my comments—where we haven't heard the government say, “This is part of what we're trying to do.” Landowners are saying, if there is going to be a stewardship regime, what does that mean? This is an opportunity for us to put this on paper, which would be helpful, as the officials have often said, and it actually shows that good faith.

• 0955

There is one stickler that I tried to get some feedback on, but I don't have that yet. It has to do with paragraph 10.2(a). New clause 10.2 says:

    The National Stewardship Action Plan shall include, but is not limited to.

It doesn't inhibit or limit or tie the government's hands. It actually shows that this is part of the tool kit that could be considered. Paragraph 10.2(a) says:

    a commitment to regularly examine tax treatment and subsidies and to eliminate disincentives for actions taken by persons to protect species at risk

That's a commitment to regularly look at it to see if the tax code and providing tax incentives in certain circumstances could be part of the stewardship tool kit. I know the Conservatives like tax cuts. I think the Alliance does as well. So I don't see that aspect as being problematic.

The rest of it should be a piece of cake.

So I'd like to move this amendment. It really does put in black and white in the bill that the government is committed to stewardship and to not having an American-style piece of legislation. It shows that it's genuine in that stewardship approach.

The Chair: Thank you. Does your amendment include paragraph 10.2(h)?

Mr. John Herron: No, it doesn't, because I know that would be problematic for the government.

The Chair: Is that the only one you are deleting?

Mr. John Herron: Yes, sir.

The Chair: Thank you.

We'll hear from Madam Redman, followed by Mister Reed.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Where should I start? The National Stewardship Action Plan is much broader than the amendment before us would have it be. The establishment of a national plan is outside the scope of this bill.

Stewardship is about more than species at risk. It includes all species in a wide range of preventative activities, which are not specified in, nor are they the purview of, Bill C-5.

One of the things that is missing in new clause 10.1 is the fact that the stewardship program is actually in consultation with the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. That piece of consultation is not part of this amendment. Certainly, it is the intent of the stewardship program to have that broadbased support.

Another issue is that stewardship of land and water is really about conserving all ecological values and services, and this includes habitats for species at risk.

It's probably a good thing that the mover has taken out paragraph 10.2(h), but we still find other pieces of this to be problematic.

I don't know if Ms. Wherry or Mr. Near would like to comment on this.

The Chair: We'll go to Mr. Reed first.

Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Madam Redman has expressed my sentiments in her statement, Mr. Chairman, so I can forego the need to appear on television at this time.

The Chair: Ms. Wherry, please.

Ms. Ruth Wherry: I don't really have much to add, other than to say that the federal government is already working with the provincial and territorial governments to develop a Canada-wide stewardship action plan. As I say, these are programs, and you don't normally legislate mandatory provision of programs. As Madam Redman has pointed out, it is much broader than species at risk that they are working on to cover with this stewardship. I believe what we're trying to do with the provinces through the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council meets the intent of what Mr. Herron is trying to get at. We're already doing it with the provincial and territorial governments.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I think we've had other cases in this legislation where steps to be taken have been spelled out.

I'm very supportive of Mr. Herron's amendment. I think this is important to the work of preserving and protecting endangered species. I think it gives comfort to people that the government is moving in a particular direction to do the right thing.

• 1000

Also, I think that the ecological gifts program, which the Department of Finance brought forward in a previous budget, was a very important one. As a member of the board of directors of the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, it's a very helpful process to ensure that land is set aside for conservation purposes.

I think what Mr. Herron is attempting to do here is admirable, and we should support it, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are you ready for the question?

Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: I'll defer to Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: I think all of you have heard many times how I feel about the importance of spelling out in the bill what you're going to offer to those landowners. I think this spells it out and makes it clearer, and it becomes more of an incentive to work together in making this whole bill work. I think that just reaffirms it. Because we're not going to have compensation, we should be looking at other forms, including the tax plan and all kinds of other proposals. I feel we should strongly support this.

The Chair: Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: Just to rebut a couple of aspects, I know there could be other agreements that would be broader. My purpose is for the species at risk bill. That's why it has been limited in that regard.

On the comment that some things are missing here, the language clearly states “shall include, but is not limited to”. There's nothing there that would box the government in. They can always add something or do something even niftier still. I just know that if I'm a landowner, I want to see this stewardship plan. I want to see that there's a clear commitment in the bill that spells that aspect out.

With regard to Ms. Wherry's comment about mandatory aspects, it says “shall include, but is not limited to”. Again, there's still lots of flexibility.

I was just think this is a good thing. Landowners have been asking for something like this on the ground. It's in the same ilk that the Government of Canada is trying to do, which is having that non-American-style stewardship regime.

I would encourage all members of the committee to support this. I just think it makes a lot of sense.

The Chair: Thank you.

Next is Madam Redman, followed by Mr. Laliberte.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It isn't just the substantive part of this amendment. It is also the fact that we are forgoing consultation with the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, which is a large issue.

But I can't help but comment on the need for clarity and reassurance to ranchers, farmers, fishers, and people on the land, who are the very people who will be the wheels that make this legislation work.

There's a perpetuated misconception that there is not compensation in this bill. There is compensation in this bill because the government totally believes that is a necessary tool in a kit of many tools. We will always use the cooperative approach. We will always invite landowners to help protect species at risk in their habitat. That part remains part of the bedrock of what will make this bill work. It will be case by case, dealing with compensation and regulations brought in shortly after royal assent. Since this meeting is being televised, I wouldn't want that misconception to be perpetuated. It is a misconception. There will be compensation as part of the tool package.

I don't know if Ms. Wherry wants to add to that.

Ms. Ruth Wherry: I have just two brief comments. With regard to paragraph 10.2(a), which is a commitment to regularly examine tax treatment and to eliminate disincentives, I believe this is beyond the mandate of the Minister of the Environment.

The other comment I would like to make is on paragraph 10.2(g), which refers to shall include “a commitment to provide technical and scientific support to persons engaged in stewardship activities”. The boundaries of the commitment to do this are huge. It could be beyond the ability of the Minister of the Environment to provide that kind of technical and scientific support to persons engaged in stewardship. It's a mandatory commitment that would have tremendous financial implications.

The Chair: Thank you.

No one could, however, prevent the Minister of the Environment from making representations to the Minister of Finance in implementing paragraph 10.2(a).

Next is Mr. Laliberte.

Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

• 1005

I think that is what I wanted to touch on. It says “to regularly examine”; it doesn't say implement any tax regimes or powers that may not be at the purview of the environment minister. But if the department, and even this committee through the minister, could examine these tax treatment subsidies, and also disincentives, I think it would serve good purpose for a stewardship program.

I also want to reiterate that the compensation package that was mentioned this morning I believe already exists in the act. I think that is a big portion of the tools for this act. I wanted to put that in there as well.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Mills, to conclude.

Mr. Bob Mills: Mr. Chair, I don't want to come back to the issue of compensation, but seeing it has been mentioned, and because this particular amendment will lead to at least some feeling of goodwill by the landowners out there, I will. The fact is the government is basically saying, trust us, maybe we will have on a one-to-one basis some compensation, but we're not going to put it in the bill because we are going to have it in the regulations after the bill comes into order—maybe.

If the government is not prepared to put it into the bill, then I would basically say it's not there. I certainly don't trust the government to come up with regulations to cover this particular item. I think we shouldn't be misleading when we talk about this. I think this will clarify that at least there is something there for landowners to look at as a possibility, which would lead to stewardship and people cooperating with this bill.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Mills.

Are you ready for the question?

Mr. Comartin, briefly, please.

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I recall that when we first started this bill, and I think Mr. Mills gets some credit for this, we wanted to reach out to the community. If this is included in the law, it's going to force the government not only to do this plan but to communicate it to the public. I think it will go some great distance to that thrust we've been trying to make here of building a relationship with those people who are going to be affected by this legislation.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Comartin.

Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Shall clause 10 carry as amended?

Mr. John Herron: On a point of order, Mr. Chair. There is one aspect that Mrs. Redman thought I forgot about that consultation item. Maybe we would be receptive to a friendlier amendment, and she could put it in right now.

The Chair: We already passed the amendment. That's it.

(Clause 10 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 29—Emergency listing)

The Chair: Please move to page 95.

Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: Mr. Chair, I will move this amendment, PC/DR 19, in the same spirit. “To the extent possible” is softer than what we had before.

The Chair: When we discussed it the last time the word “possible” had been replaced by the word “known”. The word “private” had been deleted in that discussion, and the words “and lessees” had been added after landowners.

Mr. John Herron: That's right.

The Chair: The word “all” had been anticipated and placed before the word “directly”, so that it read at the time of that discussion, “ to the extent known, the Minister shall notify all directly affected landowners and lessees”. That's where we were.

Mr. John Herron: Could I have a brief moment.

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I'd like to move the amendment as we have morphed the wording. The rationale behind it is that maybe the first step in actually protecting species at risk is to empower that lessee or the landowner to actually even know that the species is even there. If there's good information available that indicates this, it would actually get the ball rolling.

Landowners have always felt trepidation over the issue of awareness. They'll say, “I didn't know it was there” or “I could have avoided doing something”, or “Maybe I can help you more if you let me know what I have to do”. So the first step is the actual notification as best possible...that's what the new language replicates. So I move the amendment.

The Chair: Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Chairman, our feel with this amendment, as it's put forward, is it will really take the teeth out of this piece of legislation. By having people able to argue about to the extent possible, or whether we took all efforts to notify, we will in fact never get convictions.

The whole structure of this legislation is cooperation first, inviting people to help participate, but there is a backstop of a safety net, as well as the fact of, when necessary, a stick for people who are destroying habitat and adversely impacting species at risk. By putting this amendment in, it is our fear that we will never be successful in the conviction of people who are harming species at risk.

I don't know if Mr. Nadeau, Ms. Wherry, or Mr. Near want to comment.

Mr. David Near: I believe I commented on this when we dealt with it on page 90. It's a super-added requirement for the government to, essentially, personally serve notice on a limited number of people, lessees and landowners, that a listing has taken place and they may be subject to prohibitions. All of the other people who may be subject to the same prohibition do not have the benefit of this personal service.

Quite aside from the logistical problem of doing this, if we try to prosecute someone who falls in this category, there is no doubt in my mind that the argument will come back that you didn't personally notify us. It may jeopardize our attempts to have a successful prosecution.

The Chair: Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I think it's important to work as closely as we can with the landowners and anyone who may be in this sort of situation with regard to an endangered species on their land or affected by an endangered species.

However, I am deeply concerned about the possibility of how this may be interpreted. It was my understanding, Mr. Chair, that some kind of an agreement was in the process of being worked out with the mover of the amendment and the government around regulations to establish a process for notification, which would give people some comfort that they would be included in the development of the regulations. As I see the amendment before us today, Mr. Chair, it appears that this hasn't happened. I'm wondering if the mover could tell us what happened to that agreement.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: I think one of the biggest fears a landowner has is that he or she is going to destroy some habitat, or in fact an endangered species, and not even know it was there. I think it's important to put the onus on the government to make every attempt possible to notify those people that in fact this species has been listed and this species is or may be on your land. It seems to me the onus should be put on the government to do that.

The Chair: Mr. Bailey.

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Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Canadian Alliance): I don't think the landowner would be reluctant, and I don't think the landowner would consider a notification to be prying into personal business or property. I think they would be thankful for that.

I don't agree that this will somehow cause somebody who didn't get notified to say “You didn't notify me”. I don't look at it that way at all. I'm confident the government will attempt in every way possible—at least I hope so—to notify people. I can see people who have been notified once, twice, and three times and still pay no attention to the notification as being liable to suit, not those who weren't notified.

The Chair: Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: I would like to be as fair as I can. The government did make what I would perceive to be a genuine attempt at providing language surrounding this particular issue. In my view, and in particular in the view of my office, it wasn't substantive enough in terms of what we were trying to obtain. I'm still willing to receive language that would have a broader commitment to that aspect, if the government would be so willing.

I'd be so willing I'd even reopen the clause we previously passed right now at the committee stage, as opposed to having to deal with it at the report stage potentially. I made a commitment that I'd open that clause up. I think it's clause 29. I'm not sure of that.

The Chair: We are on clause 29 now.

Mr. John Herron: So I'd open clause 27 on that aspect if I could get a little better, more open language on it. I know that would deal with the problem the government has, and it's already passed as a motion.

I know we don't want to stand very much any more, but if we moved on to another clause even during this morning's session and we got another wording, I'd be amenable to receiving that.

The Chair: Mr. Reed, Madam Redman, and Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mr. Julian Reed: Mr. Chairman, a comment was made by Mr. Mills about how beneficial it would be to notify landowners that a species at risk is on their land, or might be on their land. I would like an explanation on what happens then to the onus. Whose onus is it to establish whether or not this species is indeed on this private land?

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Notwithstanding the goodwill around the table in the discussions that have taken place both at this table and in the corridors, the government still has concern that this amendment would, in our view, take the teeth and the enforceability out of this piece of legislation. It has always been our intent to bring something forward that works on the ground, not something that would perhaps make lawyers rich in the courts, and because of that we're prepared to go ahead with this amendment, and we cannot support it.

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I think this is an important issue that needs to be dealt with. As I said earlier, I have concerns about the way the amendment is currently drafted.

Mr. Herron, I was wondering if you could share the wording that was given to you? We could use that as a starting point for some discussions around dealing with this issue.

The Chair: Mr. Bailey.

Mr. Roy Bailey: I have a question for Mrs. Redman.

In your statement you said this amendment as is would handcuff the government. Is that basically what you're saying? Where within the bill do we have a different wording for a guarantee of notification and the method of notification? There are many different ways of notifying. Where in the act does it say, yes, they will be notified, and landowners will be contacted? If the wording here is inhibiting so much, why haven't we come up with someplace in the act where this in fact does occur?

• 1020

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: This amendment, in our view, shifts the mechanism for enforcing this act from strict liability to mens rea.

But in terms of the notification process, as it reads in the bill, I would ask Mr. Near to comment specifically on the wording.

Mr. David Near: The usual way the government informs citizens of a change in law is through publication in the Canada Gazette. This act, recognizing sensitivities with respect to landowners and others regarding the effect of a listing, also requires the government to post listings in the public registry. So in a sense, the government has gone one step beyond what is the norm, and this would require, as I said earlier, a third step with respect to personal service, essentially.

The Chair: Mr. Herron and Mr. Mills.

Mr. John Herron: I don't have a copy of the amendment we were kicking around. If Mrs. Kraft Sloan wants to take a look at it, I'm having it faxed to me, to the lobby out back, and I'll have a copy here within a couple of minutes. If the committee would like to revisit this issue, and perhaps inject that amendment in this clause, I made a commitment to the government that I would open up that other clause to inject the same wording in both.

So could we ask for a few minutes, Mr. Chair? We can go forward and then come back to this issue.

The Chair: You're referring to an amendment that was very close to the wording that is before us, as read at the beginning of this discussion, it seems to me.

Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: Again, with this whole amendment, it seems to me we're talking about the little guy, the little guy who doesn't, unfortunately, read the Canada Gazette every morning before coffee, and who just doesn't know. This is to protect him, so the government can help him know it is there. It puts that extra pressure on the government to do that.

The big corporation is going to do an environmental impact study. It has lawyers who read the Canada Gazette, and it does know about all of these things. The government will still be able to go after them. That won't be the problem. The problem is for that little guy, and that's what this wording does for the little farmer or rancher who's out there trying to eke out a living.

The Chair: I would like to ask the members of the committee to keep in mind that we are dealing with a clause—clause 29—that deals with emergency listing. So we are in an environment in which an element of urgency is dictating concern.

Let's now keep in mind that Mr. Herron's amendment reads: “To the extent known, the Minister shall notify all directly affected landowners and lessees”. That is the substance of what we are discussing, which is very similar to an amendment that was already approved in another section. We don't need to wait for faxes or further documentation.

Mr. Herron, you can conclude the discussion.

Mr. John Herron: I guess, in that particular vein, this is about emergency listing, as you just highlighted. Obviously, you have to know that emergency is taking place. If you know an emergency is taking place, you already have a high degree of knowledge that you can transfer, so it's not an issue of trying to define it to the same degree as you would for a general species at risk.

This is under an emergency situation. Obviously, in order to determine an emergency took place, information would have to transpire beforehand. So it's probably not that problematic in any shape or form in this clause, as opposed to the one we already approved, which would have had a broader scope. Under emergency listing, it just makes a lot of sense to deal with it.


The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Herron.

Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 29 agreed to)

• 1025

(On clause 32—Killing, harming, etc., listed wildlife species)

The Chair: We go now to pages 100 and 101. The first one is an amendment in the name of Madame Kraft Sloan. The amendment on page 101 is by Mr. Herron, and the wording is almost identical.

Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

This amendment would add in clause 32 the word “disturb” and then add:

    except in accordance with an agreement, permit, licence, order or document referred to in section 74 or 75.

Essentially, this adds clarity to this section. For people without a legal background, it indicates to them that while there is a prohibition against killing, harming, harassing, capturing, and so on, the individual of a wildlife species that is listed, it is possible to get a permit or an agreement, and so on, to do so.

So it just provides clarity to the bill. It's simply restating something that is written into the legalese of the bill that may not be known to the lay reader.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would ask—

The Chair: Mr. Near?

Mrs. Karen Redman: Actually, no. I was going to make a comment and ask Monsieur Nadeau. But if Mr. Near wants to speak to that as well, that's fine.

Mr. David Near: With respect to the last part, that says “except in accordance with an agreement, permit, licence, order or document referred to in section 74 or 75”, clause 74 as amended by the committee deals with critical habitat on federal lands. So it's not actually related to this. Clause 75 is no longer a permitting section; it's setting out the preconditions that have to go into the section 74 permit. So I would suggest that after the term “species”, the rest of it should be deleted, as the exceptions to the prohibitions, including this one, are covered in clause 83 of the bill.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Near.

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I was just going to comment on the word “disturb”. In our view, it's too low a threshold, and it leaves out “national security” in clause 83. I would ask Monsieur Nadeau to give us an illustration of why we feel this is not an amendment we can support.

Mr. Simon Nadeau: In terms of the low level of activity that could be related to a species at risk, taking a photo, for example, or making a little bit of noise near the site where a species occur could be considered a disturbance, but it's not really significant from the conservation perspective.

The Chair: Mr. Bailey.

Mr. Roy Bailey: The word “disturbing” is such a low level, as you said, and so I wonder if the committee could not come up with wording such as “molesting”. To me, that carries a much higher potential of the hindrance or a threat to the species. If the committee would agree to that, I would like to change the word “disturbing” to “molesting”.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bailey. That's very helpful.

Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I'm not sure what Mr. Bailey is suggesting in terms of an inter-species activity, but....

This is only a joke, Mr. Bailey.

“Disturb” is in the Migratory Birds Convention Act; however, if there's discomfort around the table for the inclusion of “disturb”, I would be willing to take a friendly amendment and delete it from my amendment.

With regard to what Mr. Near has said, yes, while it is true that clause 74 does relate to critical habitat, there is still subclause 74(1), which allows that “The competent minister may enter into an agreement with a person, or issue a permit”, and so on. It still refers to “wildlife species”, so it doesn't exclude what is being referred to in my amendment. My amendment just doesn't include everything that is in the new amended clause 74.

• 1030

As I said earlier, Mr. Chair, this is a simple amendment for clarity. If people who read current subclause 32(1) do not have legal training, they will look at it and say:

    No person shall kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a wildlife species that is listed as an extirpated species, an endangered species, or a threatened species.

They will take that to mean simply that, that you can't kill them. But as we all know, you can enter into a permit, or an agreement, or a licence to do so. So it merely adds clarity, and it provides information to individuals who do not have a legal background.

The Chair: All right. I have two questions, then, Madame Kraft Sloan. You are not accepting the friendly amendment by Mr. Bailey to replace this term with “molest”?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I think perhaps I'd be willing to remove “disturb”.

The Chair: So you are removing “disturb”?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Yes.

The Chair: And you are keeping the entire text as it is before us?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Yes, because that is at the heart of the amendment, and as I said, it provides clarity for the non-legal types amongst us.

The Chair: The amendment before us is the same as printed, except for the deletion of the word “disturb” on the first line.

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Further to the comments of my colleague, I would note that clause 83 is also an exemption clause, and it provides exemptions to the prohibitions for national security reasons. I'm wondering if that was an oversight or why that's not included in the exemptions.

The Chair: Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Joe Comartin: I would like to address a question to Mr. Nadeau on this point, around “disturbing”. My thinking is, is “harass” strong enough? Then I'm thinking, no, you could have activity that doesn't have a harassing nature to it but it is disturbing.

Let's take the bald eagle in its nest, a bird of that sensitivity, if I can put it that way. If somebody is playing loud music, I'm suggesting that could have the effect of disturbing it, but it wouldn't amount to harassing.

Mr. Simon Nadeau: A disturbance might be significant from a conservation perspective or not. If it's significant, it will amount to harming the species, from a conservation point of view. It has to be significant, and not just—

The Chair: How about inserting “significantly” before the word “disturb”?

Would that disturb you, Mr. Bailey, if “significantly” were inserted before that term?

Mr. Roy Bailey: Not really. I want to bring some teeth to this “disturb”. It could be a kid flying a kite. I want it to be more forceful than what is there at the present time. If the group wants to have “significantly” in front, I would go with that.

The Chair: Madame Kraft Sloan, are you amenable to the insertion of “significantly” before “disturb”?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I had actually made an offer to remove “disturb” from my amendment—

The Chair: Okay.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: —or I could put “significantly” in front of “disturb”, whatever the committee is amenable to.

Well, I'll just take it out, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: So it's taken out.

Mr. Comartin, do you have another question?

Mr. Joe Comartin: Just to follow up, to me, “harm” still suggests some type of intention and “disturb” doesn't. I understand that Manitoba and one of the maritime provinces have “disturb” in their legislation—Mr. Herron says it's Nova Scotia.

Are you aware of that, and do you know what has happened there, what their experience has been?

Mr. Simon Nadeau: Nova Scotia legislation was just passed, so they haven't prosecuted.

Mr. Joe Comartin: What about Manitoba?

Mr. Simon Nadeau: I'm not aware of any prosecution under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act either.

The Chair: I draw to the attention of the committee that efforts have been made in the last few minutes, strangely enough, despite the readiness of Madame Kraft Sloan to delete “disturb”, to come up with other alternatives, like “molest”, “harass”, or “harm”, or inserting “significantly”. Evidently there is something going on here that seems to be disturbing the peace of the committee members.

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Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: The Migratory Birds Convention includes “disturb”. In many respects “disturb” is a significant term to include, because as Mr. Comartin has pointed out, “harm” and “harass” have different levels of intent. However, I'm willing to be a servant of the committee. Whatever the committee feels comfortable putting into this amendment I'm willing to go with, whether it's the deletion of “disturb” or the addition of another word in front of “disturb”.

Perhaps, Mr. Chair, you could offer us some guidance on this because I see you are somewhat disturbed by this disturbing turn of events.

The Chair: Only the mover of this amendment can finally decide how to dispose of this amendment. Various options have been put forward. We now need a decision so we can take a vote.

Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: I guess when I went through this the word that bothered me was “disturb”. I prefer that it be removed. It's just too general and vague.

The Chair: Is there any further intervention? We are voting on an amendment that deletes the word “disturb”, as it stands now.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: As I said earlier, I'm willing to take “disturb” out.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 32 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 33—Damage or destruction of residence)

The Chair: We now go to page 102, again an amendment by Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: This amendment is on clause 33. Again, it adds “disturb”, which I will delete. It adds “the critical habitat or” before “the residence”. It also adds, “except in accordance with an agreement, permit, licence, order or document referred in section 74 or 75”.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This makes critical habitat protection mandatory. This approach has not been successful in other countries. Mandatory habitat protection may not be possible from a biological perspective. It's difficult to determine the critical habitat of species. Some species range widely during their life cycles, and it would take many years to identify their critical habitat.

This amendment eliminates the opportunity to take into account whether critical habitat is already being protected through voluntary means or under the laws of a province or a territory. We feel it undermines the very basis of the cooperative nature of this bill.

It also includes extirpated species. These, by definition, are species that are not living in the wild in Canada and therefore have no residence.

I will turn to Mr. Near to also comment on the possible impacts of this amendment before us.

The Chair: Mr. Near.

• 1040

Mr. David Near: I'm in danger of repeating myself. The words “except in accordance with agreement, permit, licence, order, or document referred to in section 74 or 75” are inconsistent and illogical, with respect to clause 83. It's the same comment I made with respect to clause 32.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson: If we put the language “except in accordance with an agreement, permit or licence” in this act, would that fix the logic, inconsistency, and contradiction?

Mr. David Near: The plan behind the act was to lump all the exceptions in clause 83, so a person could go to one place to find out what was expected from the prohibitions. From a purely legal point of view, especially a drafting point of view, it would be better to leave them all in one place, rather than scattering them and being redundant in the separate prohibition sections, with the whole sweep that's contained in clause 83.

Mr. Gar Knutson: That's nice but it doesn't answer my question. The original point was illogical, inconsistent and.... Can we fix that just by saying, “except in accordance with a permit”? You're not addressing whether that fixes it. You're saying it would be inconvenient because we only want to look in one place.

Mr. David Near: I guess I can answer your question. There are more exceptions in clause 83 than “permits, licences or other documents”. There are exceptions with respect to national security, public safety, and health. They're not captured in the partial listing of exceptions in this section.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Just on a supplementary then, can we fix it by saying “except in accordance with an agreement, permit, licence, order, document, or exception contemplated by this act”?

Mr. David Near: If you're asking for my opinion, the best fix is to take it out and let clause 83 operate, or you could be redundant and say, “except in accordance with section 83”.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Okay.

The Chair: Thank you.

Next are Madam Kraft Sloan, Mr. Reed, and Mr. Comartin.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: On the issue of extirpated species, in the current clause 33 it says:

    or that is listed as an extirpated species if a recovery strategy has recommended the reintroduction of the species into the wild in Canada.

So “extirpated species” is included in clause 33. I would defer to the original wording of this amendment with regard to “extirpated species”. It would then read:

    if a recovery strategy has recommended the reintroduction of the species into the wild in Canada

The Chair: So are you inserting some language?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I'm inserting the language that is currently in the clause with regard to extirpated species.

The Chair: You're inserting it on the fifth line of your amendment, after “extirpated species” and before “except in accordance”.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: That is the way it's currently written in clause 33, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: All right. We have that.

We have Mr. Comartin and Mr. Bailey.

Mr. Julian Reed: Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Oh, I apologize, Monsieur Reed.

Mr. Julian Reed: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, with respect, if an amendment like this is covered under another clause, injecting irrelevancies into the bill simply adds mud to an attempt to make something reasonably clear, as difficult as that is with this bill.

• 1045

If we say the same thing in a series of clauses in this bill through these amendments, we make the bill even more onerous than it is now.

I'm not a lawyer. If I were a lawyer, I would be really....

Mr. Simon Nadeau: You'd be blessed. If you were a lawyer, you'd be blessed.

Mr. Julian Reed: I'd probably be making more money than I'm making now.

I feel it's not in the interest of a good bill, or in the interest of clarity, to keep injecting irrelevances.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Reed.

Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Joe Comartin: I am a lawyer, Mr. Chair. In fact, I want to take issue with Mr. Reed and Mr. Near.

When drafting bills and laws, it's not unusual to repeat yourself in various sections to be very clear on the intent of the legislation. We do want to protect the species. We want to limit as much as possible the exceptions. It is what we're talking about in this amendment.

When Mr. Near uses the term “logically inconsistent”, I challenge him on it. This is repetitive. It is not logically inconsistent. We are being very logical in that we want to minimize the exceptions. We want to maximize the protection. By being repetitive, we do so.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Bailey.

Mr. Roy Bailey: Mr. Chairman, I find this amendment is really too broad. I say so with respect to the mover.

If you look at the amendment itself, we in fact could have a wildlife species in a given area. Many do and then move for various reasons. The person would be subject to damaging or destroying a critical habitat that would no longer be a critical habitat.

I'm finding you have too wide a scope in this amendment.

The Chair: Madam Redman, Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Further to Mr. Bailey's comments, the fact that this amendment changes “residence” to “critical habitat” means the general prohibition protecting residence of a species upon being listed is expanded widely. Critical habitat may well not be known at the time of listing.

We see this as a major objection to the amendment as it reads.

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan, Mr. Knutson.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I would be willing to remove “critical habitat”.

The Chair: Is it on the second line?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: On the second line, if committee members feel they can be more supportive of this amendment.

The Chair: Mr. Knutson.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I know Mr. Herron is having a fatal heart attack right now as we speak.

The Chair: Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson: I'm curious. Through the parliamentary secretary and through the officials' testimony to the committee, the government has raised a flag. We don't know where all the critical habitat is, so we can't protect it.

Do you know where all the residences are? Is it a known quantity? I think not.

Mr. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston, Lib.): We go out there every five years to find out.

Mr. Gar Knutson: It has been pointed out to us that the concept of residence is an indication of when this bill was written. They wanted to narrowly define it, even though the concept of residence, in a biological sense, didn't make a whole lot of sense. This is the main objection to the bill by environmental groups and scientists.

I think we should leave in “critical habitat”.

The Chair: Mr. Herron, Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mr. John Herron: I want to dovetail on Mr. Knutson's comment. This issue has been why the bill had difficulty from industrial groups and from environmentalists, both sides of the equation. They are amenable to protecting critical habitat. The government should be amenable to protecting critical habitat.

On Gar's comment with respect to not knowing all the residences, we don't know all the critical habitat necessarily either.

I think it would be extremely erroneous for us to take it out. The amendment is trying to fix a problem, an inadequacy in the bill. I think it would be wrong to do it.

I intend on supporting “critical habitat”. If the mover wants to move it out, I'll move it as a subamendment to put it in.

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan.

• 1050

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: As always, Mr. Herron is reading my mind on this. I feel very strongly about “critical habitat” myself. We know you're not going to save endangered species unless you protect their habitat. It's ridiculous to assume otherwise.

Mr. Chair, with your indulgence, I will accept a friendly movement to remove “critical habitat”. Perhaps Mr. Herron could make an amendment that it stay in. We can have a vote on it. Then we can vote on the amendment itself.

The Chair: Mr. Herron.

Mr. John Herron: I would be pleased to move that the wording as originally written by Mrs. Kraft Sloan be kept by moving a subamendment to her friendly amendment of taking it out. “Critical habitat” is still within the amendment as is.

The Chair: We're going to vote on an amendment whereby the text before us has only one deletion, namely the word “disturb” on the first line. It's how I understand it at least.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Yes, “disturb” is to come out, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Yes, thank you.

Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near: Briefly, I wanted to point out to the committee that clause 58 already deals with the general prohibition with respect to critical habitat on areas of federal jurisdiction. Clause 61 deals with the general prohibition on critical habitat on non-federal lands. The difference is the critical habitat would be identified in an action plan, whereas this would be automatic upon listing.

The Chair: Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: In case Mr. Near hadn't added the point, where we're not dealing with habitat until action planning, I wanted to make the point clear.

I'm going to be very happy to support Mr. Herron's amendment to reinsert “critical habitat”, if we can have the question.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Mr. Near made reference to clause 58 last week:

    Subsection (1) applies only to the portions of the critical habitat that the Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the competent minister, after consultation with every other competent minister, by order, specify.

This is what it says.

Mr. David Near: Not as amended.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Is the government now saying the amendment is going to stay?

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: We're getting the word from the government that the amendment will not be reversed in the House. Is that correct?

Mr. David Near: Obviously, I'm not going to say so. In dealing with the bill, I'm assuming one should deal with it as it's progressing.

The Chair: Are you ready for the question?

Mr. Joe Comartin: On which one?

The Chair: First, on the subamendment by Mr. Herron, to insert the words “critical habitat” on line 2.

(Subamendment negatived)

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 33 agreed to)

The Chair: The next one would be an amendment actually on clause 42, which is still open, on page 161. The amendment was carried with a schedule. I will call the clause.

(Clause 42 agreed to)

(On clause 44—Amendments)

The Chair: We then move to clause 44 on page 164.1. I believe it is an amendment in the name of Madame Kraft Sloan, on page 165.

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Madam Kraft Sloan, we are now on your amendment LL-29A.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Should we do it after the vote, Mr. Chair?

The Chair: No, we have a 30-minute bell, so we have plenty of time.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: All right.

The Chair: We are actually paired here so nicely that we could carry on. Nevertheless we don't want the whip to have an apoplectic attack, so we will reconvene shortly after the vote.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I will go over this amendment, Mr. Chair.

This deals with existing plans for recovery strategies. This is clause 44. This amendment deletes “substantially” so that it is just “meets the requirements” as opposed to “substantially meets the requirements”. By having “substantially” in here, Mr. Chair, it is open to an interpretation of whether or not it actually meets the requirements. Again, this provides clarity.

It also asks that the plan itself be included in the public registry. This amendment has already been passed in one clause by the committee.

This deals with issues around multi-species. If, for example, a plan is going to be used for another recovery strategy, but it is under the name of a different species than the one being suggested or dealt with in clause 44, it makes it easier for individuals who are looking into the public registry to be able to follow this. It clarifies how people can identify and find this within the public registry.

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: We have no problem with this amendment.

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 44 as amended agreed to)

• 1100

(On clause 49—Contents)

The Chair: There are two amendments on page 175 in the name of Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson: I'm not saved by the bell, am I?

The Chair: We could reconvene after the vote, if you like.

Mr. Gar Knutson: No, we'll keep going. I'd like Mr. Near to comment on this because it has difficult numbers that he doesn't like.

Mr. David Near: My preference would be to take out the reference to “section 74” because, by definition, a permit under 74 may not in fact protect a species as is contemplated by clause 11. In fact, the permits contemplated even under the new clause 74 would allow for some adverse effect on the species.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Chair, perhaps while Mr. Knutson is reflecting on Mr. Near's comments, we could ask Monsieur Nadeau for a comment.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Sure.

The Chair: Mr. Nadeau.

Mr. Simon Nadeau: An action plan is a document where you're listing all the activities that are going to help you reach your recovery goal. Clause 74 is a permitting section. When the recovery team has to devise a course of action to recover a species, they don't really know who will come to them to get a permit to conduct activities that will impact the species. So the issuing permit under clause 74 is reactive, while what the recovery team does is proactive. It's a completely different kind of problem.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Okay. I'll go with that.

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, as I look at subclause 74(2) on page 34, this has to do with agreements and permits, and it reads:

    (2) The agreement may be entered into, or the permit issued, only if the competent minister is of the opinion that

      (a) the activity is scientific research relating to the conservation of the species and conducted by qualified persons;

      (b) the activity benefits the species or is required to enhance its chance of survival in the wild; or

      (c) affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity.

The Chair: This discussion becomes a vacuum if Mr. Knutson is not of the intent to proceed with his amendment.

Mr. Gar Knutson: No.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: That doesn't clear this up. Mr. Knutson has an amendment on page 176 that does a similar thing.

The Chair: We are not there yet. We are now on page 175.

Mr. Knutson, are you withdrawing your amendment?

(Amendment withdrawn)

The Chair: We shall move to the next page, page 176.

Mr. Knutson.

Mr. Gar Knutson: If you look at clause 49 on page 24, it has to do with what an action plan includes. On line 22 in paragraph 49(1)(c) it says an action plan will include:

    an identification of any portions of the species' critical habitat that have not been protected;

—which is a segue. I guess we're going to know that at some point.

I'm also asking that the action plan include some identification of habitat that's not being protected under other legislation or under any agreement, or taken under clause 11 or clause 74. So, basically, we put in a document...this is a critical habitat that's not being identified and this is why.

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The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: We would be more comfortable with the proposed amendment stopping after “agreements” and not referencing “section 11 or 74”.

Mr. Gar Knutson: Fine.

Mrs. Karen Redman: I'd give the rationale, but obviously the arguments—

Mr. Gar Knutson: The bell's ringing.

The Chair: All right. We have the suggestion to delete everything after the word “agreements”.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to ask the officials about subclause 74(2). The question I'd like to ask is this. What is your response to subclause 74(2)? You always refer to clause 11 as good things that protect the species and clause 74 as bad things that hurt the species. Are these bad things that hurt the species, Mr. Chair?

Mr. David Near: I'll refer to the existing bill, to subclause 74(2), which would allow the issuance of these types of permits. They're designed to allow, in instances where the preconditions are met, activities that may adversely affect a species. Unlike clause 11, where the sole intention of those agreements is to protect a species, it is contemplated, by virtue of this permitting regime, that there will be some instances where there will be an adverse effect on species.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, subclause 74(2) says:

    the activity is scientific research relating to the conservation of the species and conducted by qualified persons;

Is conservation of species a bad thing, Mr. Near?

Mr. David Near: No, but, for example, paragraph 74(2)(c) refers to:

    affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity.

There may well be a negative impact upon the species that is incidental to an activity.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Under paragraph 74(2)(b), Mr. Chair, the activity benefits the species. I usually think when wording suggests that the activity is going to benefit the species, it's good for the species.

We've also had discussions around the table that conservation agreements aren't necessarily always going to be for the benefit of species, or every single species. I think Mr. Comartin has shared my concern.

So we have this black and white characterization of clause 11 versus clause 74, which is not entirely accurate when you actually look at the details, Mr. Chair.

Mr. David Near: May I point out for the clarification of the committee that in subclause 74(2), each paragraph, (a), (b), and (c), is distinct.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: That's correct, Mr. Chair. I am not suggesting that they are all-inclusive. I am suggesting that there are things in subclause 74(2) that work to benefit the species, whereas we have this very black and white characterization that clause 74 is only for bad things and clause 11 is only for good things.

And I think Mr. Comartin and I, and Mr. Laliberte as well, have shared concerns around clause 11 as well.

The Chair: All right.

We have an amendment before us. Mr. Knutson, if I understand correctly, has agreed to delete words after the word “agreements”. Is that correct?

Mr. Gar Knutson: Okay.

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 49 as amended agreed to)

The Chair: After the vote we will immediately reconvene here so as to examine the next six stood amendments and the preamble.

The meeting is temporarily suspended.

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• 1141

The Chair: The clerk advises me that we have to leave this room at 12:30 for our colleagues on the agriculture committee, so I will seek your cooperation.

We're starting on clause 59, where an amendment is needed because of a typo in the amendment on page 227. You will notice on the fifth line of the amendment the word “band”. That is a typo. It should read “board”. Therefore, we need someone to entertain an amendment to that effect.

Mr. Laliberte.

(On clause 59—Regulations re federal lands)

Mr. Rick Laliberte: I'll so move.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laliberte. Are there any questions or comments on that amendment?

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 59 as amended agreed to)

The Chair: The next amendment, on clause 65, has already been carried with the schedules, so it no longer requires attention.

(Clause 65 agreed to)

(On clause 82—Recommendation to repeal)

The Chair: The next amendment is on page 326, and this is where Mr. Comartin comes on stage with his amendment NDP-19.

Mr. Comartin, do you agree that what was passed by way of an amendment on page 143 does the job you have in mind? Would you mind looking at page 143, an amendment in the name of Mr. Bigras? It has the same effect. You are satisfied with that? So we don't need to proceed with that amendment.

(Clause 82 agreed to)

• 1145

(On clause 83—General Exceptions)

The Chair: We have an amendment in the name of Mr. Laliberte and one in the name of Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Comartin, you have the floor on your amendment.

Mr. Joe Comartin: What I'm attempting to do here, Mr. Chair, is to tighten up what is treated as “emergency activities” as opposed to simply dealing with “emergency orders”. The amendment is to paragraph 83(1)(a), to change that wording so it's “emergency activities” and so the attention of the minister is addressed to that rather than simply to “emergency orders”.

I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman. The background is that this is the “Exceptions” part of the bill. We've had a lot of reference to it this morning.

In the (b) part of my amendment I want to address some specific wording, in particular to suggest the use of “immediate threat to public safety”, etc., in paragraph 83(2)(a), and then go on to say “that it is not possible in the time available to have a permit issued under section 74 or 75”.

Then in paragraph 83(2)(b), the intent is to incorporate “and complies with the requirements of subsection 74(3) to the greatest extent possible” when assessing what exceptions are going to be granted.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Comartin.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This deals with exceptions. I would ask Mr. Near to speak to it, but in our view it adds an unnecessary limitation on issues that are sufficiently important to public policy. We would see this as counter-productive.

The Chair: Mr. Near, briefly, please.

Mr. David Near: Just briefly, the policy behind clause 83 is to exempt activities with respect to “public safety, health or national security” from the prohibitions of the act.

The first part of the member's motion would add the qualifier “emergency” before “activities”, just by way of example. The government's position is that it's unnecessary to add this subjective test. It would probably invite some judicial review if it were inserted. The issues related to health and national security are in and of themselves sufficiently important public policy that this subjective limitation is unnecessary.

The second part with respect to “immediate” has the same effect.

As for the third part, with respect to adding a precondition for permit purposes, which is what subclause 74(3) speaks about, it kind of defeats the purpose. The whole purpose of this exemption is that one does not require a permit when dealing with matters of national security and health concerns.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Comartin, would you like to conclude the discussion?

Mr. Joe Comartin: Even if there's some valid argument on the national security side, applying the restrictions under subclause 74(3) to public safety and health, and the term “immediate” terms of trying to protect species. We're not talking about lengthy periods of time when these decisions are going to be made, but using these words I'm suggesting as guidelines for the minister is appropriate.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Comartin.

Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: The next one, page 326A, is in Mr. Laliberte's name.

Mr. Laliberte.

• 1150

Mr. Rick Laliberte: I'll so move the amendment. This one clarifies things in terms of additional exemptions for possession. As it stands, the clause calls for an exemption if something

    is used for ceremonial purposes, or it is part of ceremonial dress used for ceremonial or cultural purposes by an aboriginal person.

The amendment calls for, in addition, “medicinal” purposes to give greater certainty and clarification. This is the possession exemption, so for persons who are in possession of items for “medicinal” purposes, I would recommend that this be included here.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: The government has no problem accepting this amendment.

The Chair: Thank you.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 83 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 96—Suspension or conclusion of investigation)

The Chair: Could you please move to page 327A, an amendment in the name of Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Joe Comartin: In the face of opposition, I will not move the amendment.

(Clause 94 agreed to)

(On clause 97—Contraventions)

The Chair: Now we go to an amendment by Mr. Reed, in person: page 327.2.

Mr. Julian Reed: It was an issue brought to my attention by the snowmobile association. It simply creates an addition to the clause recognizing non-profit organizations, so when there's a penalty system, the non-profit organizations won't be lumped in with for-profit corporations. I think it's reasonable because non-profit organizations are often operated by volunteers, so the impact of penalty would be relatively greater than in other cases. This redefining of “corporation” would also mean that clause 98 would stand by itself, and it wouldn't be necessary to make an amendment to clause 98.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Reed.

Madame Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: The government has no objection to this amendment.

The Chair: Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: If I could, I'll ask our officials this. Something that bothers me about this clause is that, again, the focus is on the dollar figures that are there. You have $100,000 and $250,000, that kind of dollar figure. That tends to become the focal point: if I harm that habitat, it's going to cost me $250,000. Obviously, in a court—I believe the way the legislation is written—a judge might rule that you will do community service or pay $100 or whatever. But that's not the perception. That's not what people see when they look at that bill. It becomes, again, another lightning rod, if you will, that people will focus in on.

My question is, could you put in a minimum amount and say that it will be between this amount and that amount? I know this would then force a judge to put a dollar figure on it, but it would also eliminate the perception that everyone will be fined $250,000. I'm trying to grasp how you might fix that potential problem.

The Chair: Mr. Reed.

• 1155

Mr. Julian Reed: I want to point out what's listed in this clause is consistent with other legislation we have on the books. There's nothing radical or unusual about it.

The Chair: Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near: Briefly, we have a concern with respect to introducing minimum penalties. They almost always lead to some sort of charter challenge. We then have to justify the imposition of the penalty.

Rather than do so, we have a range that starts, as you indicated, from zero up to whatever dollar limit is set. The judge has complete discretion within those parameters.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment agreed to—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: I erroneously called clause 94 earlier. I should have called clause 96.

(Clause 96 agreed to)

The Chair: Thank you.

Shall clause 97 as amended carry?

Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Joe Comartin: Last week, as you recall, I was only here for part of the meeting on Thursday. I had asked that clause 94 stand down. I understand it did not happen. I had a proposed amendment to clause 94. I would ask the committee's indulgence to reopen clause 94 so that the amendment can be put.

The Chair: Is there agreement?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Mr. Comartin, on what page is your amendment?

Mr. Joe Comartin: It was a new one, 327A.

The Chair: NDP-22. Fine.

Mr. Comartin, you have the floor. Please elaborate.

Mr. Joe Comartin: It's fairly straightforward.

Clauses 93 and 94 provide for investigations, as a result of an application by any resident of Canada who is at least 18 years of age, with regard to an offence having been committed under this bill or act. It's what clause 93 provides for.

In clause 94, and specifically in subclause 94(4), the minister does not have to give notice if the investigation was started, in effect, by the department. It seems to me, from an administration standpoint, this doesn't make sense. If the public is not notified that an investigation is underway, they may very well want to invoke clause 93 and go through all the application. If you look at subclause 93(2), there's a fair amount of information they have to give in applying to the department for an investigation to be conducted when in fact it may already be ongoing.

If we simply take out subclause 94(4), it will require the minister...which is provided for in subclause 94(3). If the investigation does not proceed, or he decides not to conduct one, within 60 days they have to respond to the application.

In either event, whether the investigation is conducted by the department or as a result of an application, notice would be given. It would then preclude someone coming in, unbeknownst to them, in the midst of an investigation and asking for one to be conducted.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Near.

Mr. David Near: Actually, I can indicate to the committee that in fact the clause was originally drafted without subclause 94(4). However, concerns were raised by certain enforcement officials within the department. If they had, for example, an undercover operation already under way, and we had to tell someone the reasons we didn't investigate, the reason would be that we have an undercover operation under way. It would in fact perhaps jeopardize their investigation. It was the rationale behind adding subclause 94(4).

The Chair: Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: For that reason, we would not support this amendment as it's written, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Mr. Comartin.

• 1200

Mr. Joe Comartin: This is a question to Mr. Near. If an investigation is going on and you have someone apply under clause 93, what happens if the information comes out anyway?

Mr. David Near: If they didn't receive a reply, I suppose, by operation of subclause 94(4), they could infer there must be something else ongoing. At least in that instance, the government wouldn't be providing any information with respect to an ongoing investigation.

The Chair: We are moving here into the rarefied atmosphere of legal procedure and capturing something, Mr. Comartin, that only the members of your profession are capable of grasping in its refinements. Nevertheless, we appreciate your effort.

Are you ready for the question?

(Amendment negatived)

The Chair: I'm advised we should take clause 1 and then the preamble.

(Clause 1 agreed to)

The Chair: On the preamble, we have some amendments. Mr. Mills has an amendment on page 1.

Would you like to proceed, Mr. Mills?

Mr. Bob Mills: It seems we start the bill off with a philosophically contentious statement. Why start off that way?

I'm removing “has value in and of itself”. It seems to me to be a philosophical kind of comment. With the list of things there, we've simply alphabetized them. No one can say one is more important than the other. It seems a logical process.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Mills.

Could we have a brief answer? Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Chairman, the first line of the preamble actually is built on the preamble of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which reads “conscious of the intrinsic value of biological diversity”. The wording was chosen to be consistent in spirit and philosophy with some of our international undertakings.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Kraft Sloan, briefly, please.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, I would hope it wasn't because of international agreements that we have signed onto, but because wildlife does have value in and of itself.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Laliberte.

Mr. Rick Laliberte: Yes, I would concur with my colleague. With the value in and of itself, it's very crucial for the species and wildlife to be representative of itself, instead of the value Canadians put on it. I think it should be broader and more respectful.

The Chair: Thank you.

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: The next one is by Mr. Mills, followed by the one by Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: My reason for putting this forward is simply that I felt it was very broad and could lead to more bureaucracy. It seems to me the science in this is the foundation of the entire bill. It should always be given that significance.

• 1205

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Mills.

Madam Redman, do you have any comments?

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again, this is talking about the precautionary principle. It's referenced in many undertakings and is certainly key to this bill. As such, we would not want to see it removed. We feel it's a very important part of how we approach species at risk in this bill.

The Chair: Thank you.

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan, please, briefly.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, this deletes “cost effective”. There are many instances where the precautionary principle in an international and national setting does not include cost effectiveness. I also believe if we value wildlife in and of itself, then we should undertake measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species. Cost effective is too high a bar.

Also, when you take a look at Treasury Board regulations, there are requirements to do cost-benefit analysis with regard to regulations. It's already there. We're being extra redundant in this situation.

Since this is a preamble, it provides us with a clear philosophical statement on how we value wildlife and how wildlife ought to be valued in and of itself, Mr. Chair.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Comartin, Madam Redman.

Mr. Joe Comartin: I want to support this amendment as well. It seems to me the bill subsequently deals with the issue of when cost effectiveness is addressed. It shouldn't be in the preamble. We have socio-economic considerations in various parts of the bill. It's where they should be, not here. We're expressing a philosophical underpinning for this bill and subsequent act.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Comartin.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We feel it's very important that “cost effective” be left in. As a result, we would not support this amendment that would delete it. This is certainly consistent language in international agreements and it is something that we feel is fundamentally important in order to maintain the support of all stakeholders and in this legislation being effective.

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Mr. Mills, page 4, please.

Mr. Bob Mills: Mr. Chair, this is one where I'm on my knees begging the committee to support it. Simply, this would say to the people out there, when compensation is part of this bill, all Canadians should bear the cost. It should not be the landowner or be a partial item.

Of course, you know all of the arguments in making this bill work. It seems to me the wording I have chosen, where the cost of conserving species at risk should be shared by all Canadians, would be something all Canadians, 94% of them, would say yes to. We do believe saving species is a worthwhile effort. We are prepared to bear some of the responsibility and cost.

The Chair: Thank you.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We cannot support this amendment. It is a shift of bearing the cost of conservation of species at risk from some of the stewardship initiatives, and a lot of the other voluntary avenues, that we see as part of the bill. By deleting this from the preamble, it's really inconsistent with the substance and the spirit of the rest of Bill C-5.

The Chair: Thank you.

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: We go to page 5.

Mr. Mills.

• 1210

Mr. Bob Mills: I felt “impacts” was a better word. I believe this is how it will be done anyway. By adding the word, I felt it strengthened the bill.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Mills.

Madam Redman.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you.

Again, we would not support this motion. The amendment makes it implicit that socio-economic considerations would be a legal listing. It is something that is based on science in the current structure of the bill.

(Amendment negatived—[See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Chair: Shall the preamble carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the title carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the bill as amended carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall I report the bill as amended to the House?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall I order a reprint for the use of the committee?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: Before we conclude, there is a long list of thanks that have to be expressed in two categories.

Mr. Laliberte, on a point of order.

Mr. Rick Laliberte: I have a point of order.

I think on behalf of all our members here, the first order of thanks should be given to the chair for guiding us through this process. On everyone's behalf, a round of applause, Mr. Chair.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

The Chair: Thank you. I was not expecting that.

Let me just say, in the first category of thanks, that the entire committee would like to thank the people at the console, the interpreters, and the people on the staff who have been helping us all the way.

Then a particular word of thanks goes to the legislative assistants and to the researchers.

A particular word of thanks, of course, goes to our clerk, who has carried a tremendous load very courageously, without complaining, and actually in very good humour all the time.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

The Chair: I think also we should express a particular word of thanks to our officials, who have tried to guide us, not always successfully but most of the time, in giving us the advice they felt was the best. If it was not at times accepted, it was certainly not for a lack of confidence, but because politicians do have their own minds and their own approaches. In the end, they are the elected representatives.

In the second category of thanks, I would like to thank you for your understanding and patience for keeping me on the narrow path, and for showing a tremendous amount of patience at times when we had difficulties at the table in managing the amendments.

Now this exercise is over. Let's have a word of caution. Don't rest on your laurels. Bill C-19 is descending on us. This is the Environmental Assessment Act. It is a bill that is waiting for the committee's study.

We will start, if not this week, to give you a little break, next week. We will have to hear from the agency. We are making arrangements to the effect that the briefing will be on Bill C-19, of course, because that's the subject matter, and because so many members are somehow approaching the subject for the first time. The subject is a very complicated one.

There will also be a briefing on the whole approach to environmental impact assessment and the legislation that has worked until now, so as to give the best possible comprehensive outlook and understanding to the amendments. We will have two sessions on the subject. The minister has indicated his desire to appear at the end of the process.

We will, of course, discuss a list of witnesses. We invite you to submit names of witnesses that you may want to recommend. We will start this process, I believe, with the agency next Tuesday.

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Thursday we will meet briefly for an hour to discuss the joint meeting with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, so as to flesh out our preparations and the background papers being prepared by our researchers. We will resume therefore very soon again, so that we will not miss each other too much.

Madam Kraft Sloan.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Mr. Chair, first of all, with regard to the work that we've just completed, I want to thank colleagues on both sides of the table, because I think we've witnessed a rather unusual set of circumstances when members have decided that environmental considerations are non-partisan. In fact, they indeed do cross party lines.

We are also going to be embarking on a very challenging process, I would suspect, in the House. Some of the amendments that have been made in committee may make it through. They may not. I would also encourage the government that it has been the will of the committee, as an expression of all parties of the House, as well as a good cross-section—94%—of Canadians who have wanted a good number of these amendments that have been made.

I would also like to remind committee members that, when report stage does come, there will be a lot of opportunities for debate. I know that members around this table will want to engage in that debate. There will also be a number of speeches that have to be written. I'm sure that members will want to make sure they have ample time to put into preparing proper and meaningful speeches in the House.

So I do have a great deal of concern that this committee will be embarking on a very significant piece of legislation—the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act—without, first, a proper discussion of steering committee. Secondly, I think that any of the groups, whether they're industry groups or NGOs or environmental law associations, that have been following the debate have known that the committee has been heavily involved in endangered species and would not expect the committee to begin hearing witnesses until the new year. So I would think that, given the strained resources of a lot of those organizations, they will not have prepared adequate briefs.

I am concerned that we, in a frenzy, are putting names together for witnesses prior to adequate...even contemplation of what this bill is all about, before we even know what names to put forward. I think members are tired. This has been an exhausting, challenging, interesting process, but tiring all the same.

So, Mr. Chair, if you want to have a technical briefing on this bill, that's fine. I won't likely be here if indeed endangered species is in this House, because our challenge with endangered species is not over yet. I do have a concern that we're going to be hearing information on this bill and then we're going to have a lapse of five or six weeks—whatever number of weeks it is—before we can get back. So I have some concern.

We also haven't had a meeting of the steering committee so that we can have a proper discussion as to how we are going to approach this bill.

The Chair: As you know, the whole committee usually acts as a steering committee.

Mr. Mills.

Mr. Bob Mills: I just want to indicate some similar concerns, and with limited resources, the number of speaking points and the number of talking points for each amendment, the speeches that many of our members will want to office will be responsible for doing most of that counselling of our members. I would really like to continue to focus on species at risk and not get into something brand new, and then have to go back to the species at risk, which I assume will be in the House early on in the new year.

So to start something and then have to leave it over whatever number of weeks, I just don't feel is the thing to do.

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The Chair: To conclude, Monsieur Bigras.


Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, BQ): I too will be very brief.

We should not rush our consideration of Bill C-19. Going ahead with this bill would mean we are assuming that our work on Bill C-5 is complete. But we know very well that the debate on this bill will now move to the House. As spokespersons for each of our parties, we will probably have to manage the discussion in the House, arrange for speakers, brief members who have not closely followed our work here in this committee. So I think that we should not get ahead of ourselves in dealing with Bill C-19.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bigras.


Madam Redman, to conclude.

Mrs. Karen Redman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Notwithstanding the comments of colleagues around the table, I just point out that this five-year review of CEAA was actually tabled in February-March this spring, and there were briefings at that time to try to bring people up to speed. And notwithstanding the importance of the species at risk legislation and that it is going back into the House and will find its way through that process, I think your suggestion that we continue to prepare ourselves is a good one. Certainly the government is prepared to have a fulsome discussion. I believe approximately 20 groups have already indicated interest in coming to speak to us on this. So I do believe there are other people out there who have been watching this legislation quite closely.

The Chair: I believe that concludes the comments made by the members to the House leader in relation to the question of ensuring that debates in the House do not overlap with the sitting of the committee, so that members will not be under stress and facing difficulties of that nature.

With that we'd better adjourn, because there are colleagues of ours and members of the agriculture committee waiting to take hold of this room at 12:30. Therefore this committee stands adjourned.

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